Europe on the brink of catastrophe 0

Germany and France drove the creation of the European Union (EU). Both wanted to be part of a vaster, more powerful political entity: Germany in order, forlornly, to dissolve its national guilt in it; and France, pathetically, to rival the power of the United States with it. Neither hope has been fulfilled. The EU is a failure.

What is the EU? It’s a conglomerate of disparate nations, run by unelected bureaucrats. It has a parliament with no power worth having.

How could it have been expected to succeed? It doesn’t even have a common language. Every document “of major public importance or interest” has to be translated into every one of its 23 official languages.

Imagine the cost of that alone. Bill Bryson wrote (in his book Mother Tongue) that way back in 1987, when the inchoate union was called the European Economic Community (EEC) –

An internal survey found that it was costing $25 a word, $500 dollars a page, to translate all its documents. One in every three employees of the European Community is engaged in translating papers and speeches. A third of all administrative costs – $700 million in 1987 – was taken up with paying for translators and interpreters. Every time a member is added [to the original 6], as most recently with Greece, Spain, and Portugal, the translation problems multiply exponentially.

There are now 27 member states, prices have risen steeply, and in any case no one knows how much the EU pays for anything. Its costs are never accurately calculated.

Because it is irredeemably corrupt, its accounts cannot be cleared. Despairing auditors who turned whistle-blower have been sacked and abused. Officials riding the  gravy-train grow rich on fraud.

Now its nemesis has caught up with it. The 16 member states that adopted the euro as their currency  are not at ease with one another. Their socialist policies are bankrupting them as they were bound to do. Greece has been temporarily saved from economic death by the rest of the EU (and also by the IMF, to which American tax-payers contribute the most). But the peoples, especially the Germans who’ve been made to fork out the bulk of the EU contribution, resent having to do it. (Recent elections in Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia indicate that voters are angry with the federal government’s decision to help Greece and “defend the Euro”.)

The dream of a United States of Europe was always an impossible one. The attempt to realize it is a nightmare.

George Will writes:

The EU has a flag no one salutes, an anthem no one sings, a president no one can name, a parliament (in Strasbourg) no one other than its members wants to have power (which must subtract from the powers of national legislatures), a capital (Brussels) of coagulated bureaucracy no one admires or controls, a currency that presupposes what neither does nor should nor soon will exist (a European central government), and rules of fiscal behavior that no member has been penalized for ignoring. The euro currency both presupposes and promotes a fiction — that “Europe” has somehow become, against the wishes of most Europeans, a political rather than a merely geographic expression.

The designs of the paper euros, introduced in 2002, proclaim a utopian aspiration… The bills depict nonexistent windows, gateways and bridges. They are from … nowhere, which is what “utopia” means… [The euro] is an attempt to erase nationalities and subsume politics in economics in order to escape from European history.

The euro pleases dispirited people for whom European history is not Chartres and Shakespeare but the Holocaust and the Somme. The euro expresses cultural despair.

It also presupposes something else nonexistent. The word “democracy” incorporates the Greek demos — people. As the recent rampages of Greece’s demos, and the reciprocated disdain of Germany’s demos, demonstrate, Europe remains a continent of distinct and unaffectionate peoples. There is no “European people” united by common mores.

Even the Financial Times – which is pink in color politically as well as literally – warned on May 14 that “displays of anger” in the member states may “become more widespread”,  and that “a Europe hounded [sic] by market forces has acted too late” with sudden desperate programs of austerity to save itself from economic catastrophe.

The Euro will fall further. The EU itself may fall apart. That at least, to our mind, is an eventuality devoutly to be wished.

Is America in decline? 2

Is the world entering a post-American era? Will the 21st century be dominated by some other power, or several others?

In the splendid speech that John Bolton delivered at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2010, he said of Obama, “He is the first post-American president.”

In Obama’s eyes, American superpower status is already over. The decline is happening. There’s no reason to regret it, and it would be pointless and unnecessary to try to halt or reverse it. Obama is content to let America be a nation among the nations, no different in any important respect, and certainly no better. “He sees American decline as a kind of natural phenomenon,” Bolton said.

In Bolton’s own view, however, America is still exceptional and still the one and only superpower. If its status as such is under threat, that threat proceeds from Obama himself, who, almost casually – not caring very much, as John Bolton remarked, about foreign and national security policy – is himself weakening it.

What Obama does care about is domestic policy. To achieve his redistributionist goals he has put America into crushing debt; and being determined, it seems, to turn America into a European-style socialist state, he can only make the debt vaster and heavier. That alone weakens America.

China is America’s chief creditor, but that does not mean China is now a second superpower. A China growing in wealth and confidence, and becoming an increasingly significant world actor, may pose an economic threat to America but is not, or not yet, a rival world power. Militarily it is far from a match. Militarily, America is still far and away the most powerful nation.

But there again, if Obama has his way, it won’t be for much longer. He has, in Bolton’s words, an “incredibly naïve idea” that if the US would get rid of its own nuclear weapons, other countries would give up theirs; those that do not have them but want them – such as Iran and North Korea – would abandon their intense efforts to obtain them; and the world would live at peace forever after. This belief or ambition represents, as John Bolton put it, “a pretty deep-seated strain in the left wing of the Democratic Party.” Obama will soon negotiate an arms control agreement with Russia by which he will undertake substantially to reduce America’s nuclear capability. America will not develop new nuclear weapons, or arms in outer space, or even keep its existing arsenal battle-ready by testing for safety and reliability. It is as if America had no enemies; as if America were not under attack; as if 9/11 had never happened; and as if Iran and North Korea would not drop nuclear bombs on America and its allies if they could do it and get away with it.

Furthermore, with the rest of the dreaming Left both at home and internationally, he aspires to another vision of a new earth: one that is not only sweetly irenic but held forcibly in union by a supreme governing authority. Those proposals for world taxes that we hear of; the intricate business of trading in carbon indulgences in the name of saving the earth from being consumed by fire or ice; international treaty regulations that would result in banning the private ownership of guns – all these are measures to realize the tremendous objective of “world governance”. It would mean the end of American independence, the end of national sovereignty. It would mean that the Revolution was lost, as Bolton said.

In a sense it would be the end of America, because America is an idea of liberty. And it is an idea that the world needs. Its loss would be a colossal disaster, a tragedy for the whole human race.

Can America be saved?

In his book titled The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria asserts that “America is closing down”, but allows that it “won’t be demoted from its superpower position in the foreseeable future” because “it’s not that the United States has been doing badly over the last two decades. It’s that, all of a sudden, everyone else is playing the game.”

America can “remain a vital, vibrant economy, at the forefront of the next revolutions in science, technology and industry, as long as it can embrace and adjust to the challenges confronting it”.

“The challenges” come from other nations, now rising, which he groups together as “the rest”.

China is the first of them because it is becoming an economic giant. The 21st century, he considers, may be the Chinese century.

What if [China ] quietly positions itself as the alternative to a hectoring and arrogant America? How will America cope with such a scenario – a kind of Cold War, but this time with a vibrant market economy, a nation that is not showing a hopeless model of state socialism, or squandering its power in pointless military interventions? This is a new challenge for the United States, one it has not tackled before, and for which it is largely unprepared.

Next in line is India. Poorer but democratic, India is “the ally”. Then come Brazil and Chile (plausibly); South Africa (less plausibly); and (implausibly) Russia. (Russia is a demographic basket case.)

Ironically, Zakaria says, these nations are rising because they learnt from America:

For sixty years, American politicians and diplomats have traveled around the world pushing countries to open their markets, free up their politics, and embrace trade and technology. … We counseled them to be unafraid of change and learn the secrets of our success. And it worked: the natives have gotten good at capitalism.

America, then, has not been a malign power, or not always. In Roosevelt’s day other countries believed that “America’s mammoth power was not to be feared”. It was after it had won the Cold War, when it became the only superpower, that it began to go to the bad. “Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has walked the world like a colossus, unrivaled and unchecked”, and this “has made Washington arrogant, careless, and lazy.” Furthermore, he tell us, “people round the world worry about living in a world in which one country has so much power.”

To relieve that worry, America “must reduce its weaponry and work towards a non-nuclear world.” It is hypocritical for the US to insist that other countries should not have nuclear weapons while it is hoarding a nuclear arsenal of its own. By giving them up it would “gain credibility”, an end he apparently considers so desirable that it would be worth risking the nation’s very survival to achieve it.

The summer of 2002, Zakaria says, was “the high water-mark of unipolarity”. The world felt sympathy for America after 9/11. America went to war in Afghanistan, which was not good but not too bad. But then it invaded Iraq, which was very bad, and the world’s sympathy dried up. America was being too “unilateral”, too “imperial and imperious”.

George W Bush and “the nefarious neoconservative conspiracy” antagonized the world. He and his conspirators “disdained treaties, multilateral organizations, international public opinion, and anything that suggested a conciliatory approach to world politics.”

So the world’s dislike, contempt, and fear of America were justified, or at least understandable, in the light of the foreign policies of the “arrogant” Bush administration. Zakaria even claims that the animosity filled the Republicans – already full of “chest-thumping machismo” – with pride.

He asks:

Can Washington adjust and adapt to a world in which others have moved up? Can it respond to shift in economic and political power? … Can Washington truly embrace a world with a diversity of voices and viewpoints? Can it thrive in a world it cannot dominate?

The advice he gives to “Washington” for success in adjusting, adapting, responding, embracing, and thriving is to be conciliatory, apologetic. It must listen more; proclaim universal values”, but “phrase its positions carefully”; be like the chair of a board gently guiding a group of independent directors. America must “learn from the rest”. The president must meet more non-government people, have smaller entourages, rely more on diplomacy. Consultation, cooperation, compromise are the key words. He objects to such accomodations being called appeasement. Consult and cooperate, he urges, with Russia, and with “multilateral institutions” such as the UN, NATO, AFRICOM, OAS, and the International Criminal Court. (Even internally, the US legal system “should take note of transnational standards”.)

The federal government has been “too narrow-minded” about terrorism. When bin Laden got America to “come racing out to fight” him (in response to 9/11) this was “over-reaction.”  Zakaria’s advice: “take it on the chin” and “bounce back”. The government must stop thinking of terrorism as a national security issue, and think of it as criminal activity carried out by “small groups of misfits”. Although Democrats were on the whole “more sensible” about terrorism, both parties, he says, spoke “in language entirely designed for a domestic audience with no concern for the poisonous effect it has everywhere else.” His solution is better airport control round the world. The more urgent problem in his view is that American Muslims have become victims of over-reaction to terrorist attacks. Instead of being “questioned, harassed, and detained” they should, he urges, “be enlisted in the effort to understand the appeal of Islamic fundamentalism.”

Zakaria does not consider himself anti-American. He does not even see himself as a man of the left. He reiterates that he is a free marketeer. It is because America became “suspicious of free markets”, he says, that partly explains its “closing down”.

He wrote his book before the economic crisis. He saw a globalized economy bringing about an increasingly prosperous world in which the poorest nations were rising strongly enough for him to declare that “the world is swimming in capital”, and “there really isn’t a Third World any more “. But even then the dollar was sliding, and America was showing signs of being “enfeebled”.

At a military-political level America still dominates the world, but the larger structure of unipolarity – economic, financial, cultural – is weakening… every year it becomes weaker and other nations and actors grow in strength.

For all its military might, its chest-thumping phase is over and now it is “cowering in fear”. It must, he says, “recover its confidence.” ‘It must stop being “a nation consumed by anxiety”, with a tendency to “hunker down”, unreasonably “worried about unreal threats” such as terrorism, and rogue nations like North Korea and Iran. (Iran, he explains, has good reason to fear the United States, with its armies on two of its borders. It’s only to be expected that Iran would try to arm itself with nuclear bombs and missile delivery systems. He does not explain why America should not fear this as a real threat.)

He is certain about what America needs to do to propitiate and serve the world it has alienated. It should ‘‘build broad rules by which the world will be bound’’, rather than pursue “narrow interests”.

What the world really wants from America is … that it affirm its own ideals. That role, as the country that will define universal ideals, remains one that only America can play.

We know Obama has read Zakaria’s book, or at least looked into it, because there is a photograph of him holding it, one finger marking his place. Obama is doing much that Zakaria advises in foreign affairs. But that’s less likely to be because the writer has impressed the president with his arguments than because they have both drunk from the same ideological well.

Obama’s foreign policy lets us see if Zakaria’s theory works. So far it has not.

So is America’s decline beyond all remedy?

It’s a relief to turn from Zakaria’s dull and weakly reasoned book with its uncongenial credo to an article titled The Seductions of Decline (February 2, 2010) by brilliantly witty and insightful Mark Steyn. If America believes it is in decline, he says, it will be. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The view that America has been too arrogant a power; that it is not and should not be exceptional; that humility and apology are required of it; that only endlessly patient negotiation in a spirit of compromise will improve foreign relations and dissuade states like North Korea and Iran from acquiring nuclear arms; that Islamic terrorism should be treated as crime and not as the jihad its perpetrators declare it to be; that Russia should be consulted on, say, the deployment of American missile defense; and that the US should reduce its nuclear arsenal and work towards a non-nuclear world – will bring about the decline.

National decline is psychological – and therefore what matters is accepting the psychology of decline.

His answer to the question “is America set for decline?” is yes, because of the policies of Obama and the Democrats, which arise from their acceptance of decline.

Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: Unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the American economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet.

American decline, he says, “will be steeper, faster and more devastating than Britain’s – and something far closer to Rome’s.” It will not be like France’s, or Austria’s.

Why did decline prove so pleasant in Europe? Because it was cushioned by American power. The United States is such a perversely non-imperial power that it garrisons not ramshackle colonies but its wealthiest “allies”, from Germany to Japan. For most of its members, “the free world” has been a free ride.

And after “Washington’s retreat from la gloire” as hegemon of the world, when America “becomes Europe in its domestic disposition and geopolitical decline, then who will be America?”

Of the many competing schools of declinism, perhaps the most gleeful are those who salivate over the rise of China. For years, Sinophiles have been penning orgasmic fantasies of mid-century when China will bestride the world and America will be consigned to the garbage heap of history. It will never happen: As I’ve been saying for years, China has profound structural problems. It will get old before it gets rich.

Not China then. Russia?

The demographic deformation of Tsar Putin’s new empire is even more severe than Beijing’s. Russia is a global power only to the extent of the mischief it can make on its acceleration into a death spiral.

Not Russia. How about the Caliphate that the terrorist war is being fought to establish?

Even if every dimestore jihadist’s dreams came true, almost by definition an Islamic imperium will be in decline from Day One.

So what might the post-American world look like? Mark Steyn’s answer is deeply depressing:

The most likely future is not a world under a new order but a world with no order – in which pipsqueak states go nuclear while the planet’s wealthiest nations, from New Zealand to Norway, are unable to defend their own borders and are forced to adjust to the post-American era as they can. Yet, in such a geopolitical scene, the United States will still remain the most inviting target – first, because it’s big, and secondly, because, as Britain knows, the durbar moves on but imperial resentments linger long after imperial grandeur.

But nothing is inevitable, and Mark Steyn offers a last hope. Though “decline is the way to bet”, the only thing that will ensure it is “if the American people accept decline as a price worth paying for European social democracy.”

When in 2008 a majority of the American electorate voted for Barack Obama to be president of the United States, it seemed that the deal had been made. But now Obama is failing, the Democratic majority is under threat, and the Tea Party movement is reclaiming the Revolution.

This could be another American century after all.

Jillian Becker   March 1, 2010

The colossal shipwreck of Europe 2

Socialism doesn’t work.

Mark Steyn explains the colossal shipwreck of Europe, and observes that the Democrats are hell-bent on steering America on to the same rocks.

Here’s part of what he writes:

For Germany an Obama-sized stimulus was out of the question simply because its foreign creditors know there are not enough young Germans around ever to repay it. Over 30 percent of German women are childless; among German university graduates, it’s over 40 percent. And for the ever-dwindling band of young Germans who make it out of the maternity ward there’s precious little reason to stick around. Why be the last handsome blond lederhosen-clad Aryan lad working the late shift at the beer garden in order to prop up singlehandedly entire retirement homes? And that’s before the EU decides to add the Greeks to your burdens. Germans, who retire at 67, are now expected to sustain the unsustainable 14 monthly payments per year of Greeks who retire at 58.

Think of Greece as California: Every year an irresponsible and corrupt bureaucracy awards itself higher pay and better benefits paid for by an ever-shrinking wealth-generating class. And think of Germany as one of the less-profligate, still-just-about-functioning corners of America such as my own state of New Hampshire: Responsibility doesn’t pay. You’ll wind up bailing out, anyway. The problem is there are never enough of “the rich” to fund the entitlement state, because in the end it disincentivizes everything from wealth creation to self-reliance to the basic survival instinct, as represented by the fertility rate. In Greece, they’ve run out of Greeks, so they’ll stick it to the Germans, like French farmers do. In Germany, the Germans have only been able to afford to subsidize French farming because they stick Americans with their defense tab. And, in America, Obama, Pelosi and Reid are saying we need to paddle faster to catch up with the Greeks and Germans. What could go wrong?

The end of the welfare state? 0

Most west European governments have known for the last thirty years at least that it is impossible to maintain the welfare state. None has had the courage to start dismantling it. No matter what party was in power, whether outrightly socialist or nominally conservative, each successive government tried only to postpone the day of reckoning.

It seems that day has now arrived.

Vasko Kohlmayer writes at Front Page about the eurozone’s ‘skyrocketing debt’ and its likely consequences:

The European Monetary Union lays down strict regulations … The so-called Stability and Growth Pact requires each country’s to hold down its annual budget deficit below 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). The Pact also stipulates that any member’s public debt is not to exceed 60 percent of GDP.

This year only one eurozone country is expected to have a budget deficit that falls within the three percent limit. The rest will go over, most by a large margin. Germany, which was the country that lobbied most rigorously for the strict fiscal requirements, was among the first to break them. Greece is currently the leading offender with a deficit that equals 12.7 percent of its GDP. But the figures are generally abysmal throughout the monetary union. Ireland’s deficit, for example, is 11.5 percent, Spain’s 11.4 percent, Portugal’s 9.3 percent.

As far as public debt is concerned the average European ratio is 88% of GDP, nearly 50 percent above the “allowable” limit. The worst offender is Italy whose public debt stands at an astounding 127 percent GDP. Greece’s debt is 113 percent, Belgium’s 105 percent, Germany’s nearly 80 percent. High as these figures are, the reality is probably worse as EU countries routinely use an assortment of accounting tricks to understate their deficits and obligations.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that if the euro is to continue as a viable currency, eurozone states must take decisive measures bring their finances under control. This, however, appears to be a nearly impossible task. Greece shows us why. Shortly after the government announced a package of budget cuts and tax increases the country’s civil servants took part in a nation-wide strike. Plans are afoot for another one next month. At the same time, Greece’s umbrella private sector union is planning an extensive walk-out for the last week of February. The Associated Press observed that the Greek government “may find that unions and voters push back against cutbacks that will take years to show results. With a potential public backlash, their chance to win approval for such measures remains unclear.”

Memories are still fresh of the protests that took place early last year. Angry at cuts in their subsidies, Greek farmers blocked major roads and paralyzed the country. Parts of the nation were thrown into chaos as lines of vehicles stretched for 12 miles or more. Unable to restore order, the prime minister was forced to beg the farmers to remove the roadblocks. “There is an urgent need to free up the roads. A whole society cannot be held hostage,” he pleaded.

This time around far more substantial steps must be taken in order to put Greece’s fiscal house in order. This is certainly not going to sit well with the Greek public and there is fear that things could deteriorate in dramatic fashion. …

The Eurozone … faces a seemingly unsolvable conundrum. Even though it is steeped deeply in debt, almost every serious effort to curtail spending meets with popular rage. The problem is that they cannot have it both ways. It is impossible to have a large welfare state and a sound fiscal house at the same time. It is either one or the other.

Until recently the euro was considered a possible alternative to the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. It was thought that the Monetary Union’s strict guidelines would safeguard its debasement. But it turns out that the Union’s respect for its founding documents is only paper deep. It is now becoming apparent that the disregard will have dire consequences. It may even bring about the break up of the eurozone and the demise of what once seemed like a solid currency.

Given that the United States is taking the same path of unrestrained spending, we would do well to take heed and learn from Europe’s painful lessons.

*NOTE: The eurozone is not the same as the European Union (EU). The European Union has twenty seven members as of this year. The eurozone is made up of those countries within the European Union that use the euro as their sole currency. The eurozone currently has sixteen member states.

The crisis may cause the break-up of the eurozone. Undesirable as this may be for economic reasons, one highly desirable political consequence could be the end of the welfare state as such, with the proof of its unsustainability so incontrovertible that no one – not even Barack Obama – would attempt to resurrect it.

The welfare state pays people not to work, not to produce, not to innovate, not to marry, not to have children – or if they do, not to take care of them themselves.

It may be that the peoples of Europe are dwindling away (which they are) because they have no incentive to beget children and strive to raise them. Or to put it another way, they may be dying out because they have nothing to go on living for.

Posted under Commentary, Europe, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, February 19, 2010

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Europe betrayed 0

Here is an account of how and why twenty million Muslims were imported into Europe, and to what effect.

The information is condensed from Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis by Bat Ye’or. (The wording is largely hers, with some added notes and comments of my own – JB.)

1969 France sells 110 Mirage jets to new Libyan dictator, Muammar Qaddafi. Explores with him the concept of a Euro-Arab dialogue. Becomes in the following years a major supplier of arms to many Arab states.

1973 May: London. Conference of Islamic Cultural Centers.  Islamic leaders decide to create, fund and support cultural centres in Europe as ‘a great need was felt [in Europe] for the tenets of Islam’ and such centres would help Muslim communities in Europe play this role [of teaching the tenets of Islam] effectively and fruitfully.’ The Conference also ‘decided to establish the Islamic Council of Europe to serve as an organ of co-ordination among all Islamic institutions and centres.’ It was to ‘propagate the true teachings of Islam throughout Europe.’ Thus there was to be a ‘stepping up of the activities of the Islamic Da’awa [proselytism]’.  To this end, an International Islamic News Agency was to be established, also a Jihad Fund open to subscription ‘with no restrictions’.

The ‘rights’ of immigrants to preserve their beliefs, traditions and national cultures were to be guaranteed by the Europeans. Facilities for the teaching of Arabic were to be ‘improved’. The establishment of a Euro-Arab University was proposed (and initial steps to do so were taken in subsequent years including the founding of the Euro-Arab Business Management School in Granada in 1994).

October 16-17: Kuwait. Mortified by the defeat of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in their war against Israel, the Arab oil-producing countries meet and decide to quadruple the price of oil and to reduce their production of crude oil by 5% each month until Israel withdraws from the territories those three countries lost to Israel in 1967 and failed to recover in 1973. Impose an oil embargo on the US, Denmark, the Netherlands as states friendly to Israel. Sheikh Yamani of Saudi Arabia threatens that the oil states could ‘reduce production by 80%’ and asks the West ‘How could you survive with that?’ In response the US stands firm, France and Germany panic.

November 6: Brussels. Meeting of the EEC nine members. Ignoring objections from Washington, the meeting insists on starting an appeasing approach to the Arab oil states. They issue a joint Resolution based on their dependence on Arab oil, in which they pledge themselves to support the Arabs diplomatically in their conflict with Israel. This was sufficient to induce the Arab states to increase oil supplies and ‘open a dialogue’ (as already conceived in discussions between France and Libya). Thus began a Euro-Arab political solidarity pact that was hostile not only to Israel but also to America.

November 26-27: Georges Pompidou, President of France, and Willy Brandt, Chancellor of West Germany meet. Reaffirm intention to ‘engage in a dialogue with the Arabs’.

November 28: Algiers. Sixth Summit of the Arab Conference. Arab heads of state address a Declaration to the EEC,  noting with interest ‘the first manifestations of a better understanding of the Arab cause by the states of Western Europe’, and setting out Arab political preconditions for the projected dialogue.  The Declaration stresses that the political and economic aspects are interdependent and non-negotiable – ie the supply of oil depends on EEC acceptance of Arab political conditions concerning Israel.

December 15:   Copenhagen. An EEC summit,  called by President Pompidou of France, considers the planning for co-operation between the EEC countries and the Arab League. Four Arab foreign ministers, delegated by the Algiers Arab summit, are invited  to monitor the project. They suggest various strategies in the context of the conditions that the Arab states place on any accord with the EEC.

1974 February 24: Lahore. The Second Islamic Conference, organized by the recently created Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) confirms and elaborates the conditions for co-operation with the EEC.

June 10: Bonn. Britain (which had joined the EEC in 1973, as had Ireland and Denmark), had vetoed the Euro-Arab Dialogue in protest against Holland being under an Arab embargo ‘for being pro-Israeli’, but  the embargo was lifted against Holland, so now  the foreign ministers of the EEC states meet to discuss ‘the Dialogue’.  Areas of co-operation  between Europe and the Arab states include industry and agriculture, science and technology, finance, education, and ‘civil infrastructure’. The Arab states, in other words, are being promised massive transfers of money and know-how with programmes to industrialise and modernise their countries.

Note:  All this was desperately desired by the Arab states, and the provision of it could have been used by Europe as a counter-lever to the oil blackmail which the Arabs had brought to bear on Europe. Furthermore, the Arab oil states needed to sell their oil to Europe, and needed to invest in a thriving European economy. The European governments could have dictated terms. But the EEC, under insistent French leadership, preferred to appease rather than negotiate. The motivation for France was not only commercial. It was a desire to re-acquire a large sphere of influence in the Arab world, in pursuit of an intense ambition to achieve super-power status and so to rival the United States.

July 31: Paris. The first official meeting at ministerial level between the Europeans and the Arabs to discuss the organization of the Dialogue.  An institutionalized structure is created to harmonize and unify the trade and co-operation policies of each of the  EEC countries with the member states of the Arab League.

The EEC founds The European Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation ‘to improve political, cultural, and economic cooperation between Europe and the Arab world’.   Its Executive Committee set to meet regularly every six months.  All the  political parties and groupings of Europe are members of it.  It is to keep in regular contact with European governments, the Presidency of the European Council of Ministers, and the EEC Commission.

September 14-17: Damascus. To meet Arab demands in preparation for the next summit of the Arab Conference, the Association convenes representatives of all the parliamentary parties of the EEC member states except Denmark and resolves, inter alia, to permit the participation of the PLO and its leader, Yasser Arafat, into all negotiations, and  to bring pressure to bear on the United States to shift its Middle East policy in favour of the Arabs. Also to permit Arab countries to export millions of their populations into all the EEC countries, along with their culture and their customs.

October: Rabat. The Seventh Summit of the Arab Conference confirms that the indispensable political preconditions for the Euro-Arab Dialogue have been met by the EEC. The Arabs stress that the interdependence of the political and economic aspects of European-Arab cooperation is not negotiable, ie European oil supplies are dependent on European support for Arab political demands.

A permanent Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD) secretariat of 350 members is created, with its seat in Paris,  for the purpose of promoting economic and political cooperation. The EAD is organized into various committees charged with planning ‘joint industrial, commercial, political, scientific, technical, cultural, and social projects’.  European members are for the most part persons with vested interests in the Arab and Islamic world, whether commercial or in relation to their academic jobs as Arabists and Islamists.

Note: The EEC had been conceived of as an economic institution, dealing with markets, finance, and trade. The Arab states’ pressure for a unified European policy to meet  their political demands were a vital factor in the development of the EEC  from an economic to a political union.

1975 June 10: Cairo. First meeting of The Euro-Arab Dialogue. EEC delegates meet with those of 20 Arab states and the PLO.  The basis of the agreement with Europe is emphasised:  economic deals with Europe in exchange for European alignment with Arab policy on Israel.

With that locked in place, other agreements could follow.

July 24: Rome, and November 27: Abu Dhabi.  EAD meetings. Co-operation extends and deepens.

1976 May 18-20: Luxembourg.  EAD organization and procedures are defined. ‘The Dialogue’ is composed of three organs:

A General Committee – presidency jointly held by heads of Arab and European delegations.  All delegates on both sides are of ministerial and ambassadorial rank.  Purpose, to keep the Dialogue on track. (No wavering on Europe’s part from the founding commitments.) Meetings secret.  No recorded minutes. Can publish summaries of decisions and issue press releases.

A Working Committee. Made up of business experts, economists, oil specialists along with Arab League and EC representatives.  Again, joint Arab League/EC presidency.

A Coordinating Committee.  To co-ordinate the work of various working parties set up by the other committees.

Further EAD meetings (several in Brussels, then in Tunis in February 1977) establish the conditions for an intertwining of Arab and European policies: the establishment of a Palestinian state with Yasser Arafat as its leader; a campaign to bring worldwide political and economic pressure on Israel to force its withdrawal to its 1949 armistice border [as a step in a policy of ‘stages’ with the ultimate aim of extinguishing the State of Israel]; an international boycott of Israel and opposition to any separate peace treaties; promotion of Anti-Israel media propaganda.

Note: The Arabs at this point had not got all they wanted from Europe. They had to accept some significant failures – attested to by the fact that Israel continued to exist, which is nothing short of astonishing in the light of the jihad campaign working so persistently and in most respects triumphantly against it – but they contented themselves temporarily with partial success.

Meetings of the EAD committees continue into 1978.  Then the Camp David agreement between Egypt and Israel acts as a brake on EAD activity.

1980 The EAD meets again when the Europeans are worried about declining oil production in Iran, and the Arabs want to complain to Europe about the Israeli-Egyptian treaty.

1981 January 25-28: Mecca and Taif. The Third Islamic Summit Conference issues a Declaration of Holy Jihad ‘as the duty of every Muslim, man or woman, ordained by the Shariah and the glorious traditions of Islam; to call upon all Muslims, living inside or outside Islamic countries, to discharge this duty by contributing each according to his capacity in the cause of Allah Almighty, Islamic brotherhood, and righteousness.’

One of the chief aims the declaration specifies is ‘to save Al-Quds’ – ie to take Jerusalem into Arab possession. To this aim, through the EAD, Europe accedes, co-operating with the Arab campaign to isolate and vilify Israel and  helping to deliver the United Nations as an  instrument of Arab jihadic purpose.

Note: The EC/EU’s moral commitment to connive at the Palestinian jihad compromised the very foundations of freedom and Western culture, and did not make Europe safer.

Europe is also a designated target of jihad. The national governments are not unaware of the threat that hangs over them, and from early on fear has been one of the motivating causes of the European policy of appeasement:-

1998 Damascus:  Three years before ‘Islamikazes’ carried out the 9/11 mass murder of Americans in New York, six years before the massacres of commuter-train passengers in Madrid, seven years before the underground and bus bombing atrocities in London, a conference of the Euro-Arab Parliamentary Dialogue is held in Syria, under the auspices of the murderous dictator Hafiz al-Assad. Members of fourteen national European parliaments and the European Parliament attend, also representatives of the European Commission. Arab members of sixteen non-democratic parliaments and representatives of the Arab League bring a heavy threat to bear openly on the Europeans: they stress that ‘peace and stability in Europeis ‘closely connected’ to Europe’s compliance with Arab Middle East policy. The official reports of the Dialogue constantly reiterate this point. It could not have been impressed more firmly on European parliamentarians and the EU Commission that jihad could be unleashed against Europe itself if Arab conditions were not met.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the EAD continued to serve as a vehicle for policy decided at Islamic Conferences. It was the principle instrument for implementing the resolutions of the Arab conferences. It advanced the Arab mission of implanting millions of Muslims into Europe who come with no intention of integrating into European culture and society, but arrive with the desire and the legal right, granted by the EEC/EU, to impose their own culture upon the host country – a culture fired by a fundamentalist mission of violent jihad.

It facilitated the creation of those fundamentalist trends. It introduced the educational and cultural programs of the European Islamic Centres into European schools – programs enthusiastically accepted and applied by European political leaders, intellectuals, and activists. EAD facilitated the creation of fundamentalist trends.

2000 The European Commission provides  funds to revive a dormant organisation called the European Institute for Research on Mediterranean and Euro-Arab Cooperation, known as MEDEA. (The Euro-Arab political partnership was increasingly called ‘Mediterranean’, the Arab states being referred to as ‘the South’ and the EU states as ‘the North’.)  MEDEA is now chaired by a  Belgian minister for foreign affairs who reorganises MEDEA’s European Parliament section of over 100 members. There are also MEDEA sections in individual national parliaments. Subsequently the organisation issues regular press releases to opinion- makers, intellectuals and pressure groups, and plays a major role in spreading Arab influence in Europe.

2001 September 11: New York and Washington. ‘Islamikaze’ terrorists fly hijacked planes into the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, killing close on 3000 people. Another hijacked plane is forced down by its passengers near Shanksville in Pennsylvania. President Bush declares ‘War on Terror’.

October: The US, its military assisted by seven other countries, the UK primarily, also Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and Italy, invades Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to overthrow  that fundamentalist Islamic government. The Taliban had equipped al-Qaeda, the  organization, led by Osama bin Laden, which had despatched the terrorist attackers of America. The Taliban is (temporarily) overthrown.

2002 June 20. Brussels:  The Arabs ask for special privileges for Arab immigrants into the EU to put them ‘on an equal basis with Europeans’. The host countries are exhorted to provide Arab immigrants with vocational training, freedom of movement, suitable living conditions, and financial aid if they should choose to return to their homelands.

2003 March 20: The US and Britain invade Iraq to overthrow the dictator Saddam Hussein. Other countries, including Spain, lend various degrees of military assistance.  France and Russia emphatically oppose the invasion. Anti-war demonstrations, intensely anti-American, are staged throughout Europe.

In this year the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI) reports to the European Commission that the economic outlook for Europe is  gloomy but would be brightened if there were to be increased Arab immigrationIn Britain, however, the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, warns that the imposing of mass immigration on a populace that did not want it, threatened the social fabric of Britain because of “the disintegration of community relations and social cohesion”.

December 2-3. Naples:  At a Euro-Mediterranean Conference of ministers of foreign affairs, EU officials reaffirm Europe’s ‘solidarity’ with its ‘Mediterranean partners’. At this conference even more foundations, committees and subcommittees are proposed.  The European Bank  – an institution funded entirely by Europe’s tax-payers – will open a subsidiary to serve Arab (sharia conforming) requirements. The absence of democracy in the Arab states, their economic stagnation, continuing terrorism carried out in many parts of the world in the name of Islam, are not matters on which the Europeans choose to lay stress.

2004 March 11 Madrid: Terrorist bombs are exploded by Muslim residents of Spain on commuter trains. Nearly 200 people killed, nearly 2000 injured. The response of the Spanish electorate a few days later is to vote Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who supported President Bush in his war on Iraq, out of power, and vote in Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero who has opposed Spain’s participation in the Iraq war. The change favours the Islamic terrorists. The result amounts to a national capitulation to terrorism.

November 2.  Amsterdam: Theo van Gogh, Dutch film maker, is shot, stabbed and has his throat slit by a Dutch-born Muslim. The victim had made a film about the abuse of Muslim women.

In this year Eastern European countries are admitted into the EU. Arab leaders fear that their immigrants will no longer be welcome in Western Europe. They ask for and are granted assurances that Europe’s chief sources of immigration will continue to be ‘above all the Mediterranean Arab countries.’  So EU policy in this regard is (yet again) shaped to conform to Arab demands. It will ‘balance’ its expansion into Eastern Europe with an increase in Arab immigration.

2005 July 7: London. Terrorist bombs explode on three underground trains and a bus in central London.  56 killed, about 700 injured. The killers are identified as British born Muslims.

Violent jihad had been unleashed against Europe from within.

Increasingly the continent is being made to feel the tragic consequences of its policies. In the light of the demographic facts on the ground – a drastic shrinking of indigenous populations and an exponential rise in the numbers of  Muslims – it seems it may now be too late for it to save itself.

Jillian Becker February 11, 2010

Injustice 1

Reward should go to the deserving. But the judges who award the Nobel Peace Prize have bestowed it on the most undeserving, notably the terrorist (Yasser Arafat), and con-men (the authors of the IPCC report and Al Gore).

The following is from a chain email that has been going the rounds since 2008.

We are posting it here chiefly for what it says in the last 3 lines.

There recently was a death of a 98 year-old lady named Irena Sendler.

During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist.

She had an ulterior motive.

She KNEW what the Nazi’s plans were for the Jews (being German).

Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried, and she carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack for larger kids.

She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.

The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.

She was caught, and the Nazi’s broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard.

After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it to reunite the families.

Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

Last year [2007] Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize.

She was not selected.

Al Gore won — for a film on Global Warming.

Footnote: Thanks to one of our readers, Kelly, we learn that the essentials of the story of Irena Sendler are confirmed as true by this obituary.

She was Polish, not German. And we’re very glad to read that she was honored in her lifetime, and touched that she was nursed in her old age by one of the children she had saved.

Posted under Climate, Environmentalism, Ethics, Europe, Germany, Miscellaneous, nazism, Race, Socialism, Totalitarianism, War by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, February 3, 2010

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Suicide, not murder 1

In a must-read article, Mark Steyn writes in the National Review about the possibility of American decline, pointing out that it is a matter of choice, and that the Democrats now in power are offering that choice. Here are some paragraphs:

Permanence is an illusion – and you would be surprised at how fast mighty nations can be entirely transformed. But, more importantly, national decline is psychological – and therefore what matters is accepting the psychology of decline. Within two generations, for example, the German people became just as obnoxiously pacifist as they once were obnoxiously militarist, and as avowedly “European” as they once were menacingly nationalist. Well, who can blame ‘em? You’d hardly be receptive to pitches for national greatness after half-a-century of Kaiser Bill, Weimar, the Third Reich, and the Holocaust.

But what are we to make of the British? They were on the right side of all the great conflicts of the last century; and they have been, in the scales of history, a force for good in the world. Even as their colonies advanced to independence, they retained the English language, and English legal system, not to mention cricket and all kinds of other cultural ties. Even in imperial retreat, there is no rational basis for late 20th century Britain’s conclusion that it had no future other than as an outlying province of a centralized Euro nanny state dominated by nations whose political, legal and cultural traditions are entirely alien to its own. The embrace of such an alien fate is a psychological condition, not an economic one.

Is America set for decline? It’s been a grand run. The country’s been the leading economic power since it overtook Britain in the 1880s. That’s impressive. Nevertheless, over the course of that century and a quarter, Detroit went from the world’s industrial powerhouse to an urban wasteland, and the once golden state of California atrophied into a land of government run by the government for the government. What happens when the policies that brought ruin to Detroit and sclerosis to California became the basis for the nation at large? Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: Unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the American economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet. But what will ensure it is if the American people accept decline as a price worth paying for European social democracy.

Is that so hard to imagine? Every time I retail the latest indignity imposed upon the “citizen” by some or other Continental apparatchik, I receive e-mails from the heartland pointing out, with much reference to the Second Amendment, that it couldn’t happen here because Americans aren’t Euro-weenies. But nor were Euro-weenies once upon a time. Hayek’s greatest insight in The Road To Serfdom is psychological: “There is one aspect of the change in moral values brought about by the advance of collectivism which at the present time provides special food for thought,” he wrote with an immigrant’s eye on the Britain of 1944. “It is that the virtues which are held less and less in esteem and which consequently become rarer are precisely those on which the British people justly prided themselves and in which they were generally agreed to excel.

The virtues possessed by Anglo-Saxons in a higher degree than most other people, excepting only a few of the smaller nations, like the Swiss and the Dutch, were independence and self-reliance, individual initiative and local responsibility, the successful reliance on voluntary activity, non-interference with one’s neighbor and tolerance of the different and queer, respect for custom and tradition, and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.” Two-thirds of a century on, almost every item on the list has been abandoned, from “independence and self-reliance” (40 per cent of people receive state handouts) to “a healthy suspicion of power and authority” – the reflex response now to almost any passing inconvenience is to demand the government “do something”, the cost to individual liberty be damned. American exceptionalism would have to be awfully exceptional to suffer a similar expansion of government and not witness, in enough of the populace, the same descent into dependency and fatalism. As Europe demonstrates, a determined state can change the character of a people in the space of a generation or two. Look at what the Great Society did to the black family and imagine it applied to the general population: That’s what happened in Britain…

One sympathizes with Americans weary of global responsibilities that they, unlike the European empires, never sought. The United States now spends more on its military than the next 40 or so nations combined. In research and development, it spends more than the rest of the planet put together. Yet in two rinky-dink no-account semi-colonial policing campaigns, it doesn’t feel like that, does it? A lot of bucks, but not much of a bang. You can understand why the entire left and an increasing chunk of the right would rather vote for a quiet life. But that’s not an option. The first victims of American retreat will be the many corners of the world that have benefitted from an unusually benign hegemon. But the consequences of retreat will come home, too. In a more dangerous world, American decline will be steeper, faster and more devastating than Britain’s – and something far closer to Rome’s.

In the modern era, the two halves of “the west” form a mirror image. “The Old World” has thousand-year old churches and medieval street plans and ancient hedgerows, but has been distressingly susceptible to every insane political fad from Communism to Fascism to European Union. “The New World” has a superficial novelty – you can have your macchiato tweeted directly to your iPod – but underneath the surface noise it has remained truer to older political ideas than “the Old World” ever has. Economic dynamism and political continuity seem far more central to America’s sense of itself than they are to most nations. Which is why it’s easier to contemplate Spain or Germany as a backwater than America. In a fundamental sense, an America in eclipse would no longer be America.

But, as Charles Krauthammer said recently, “decline is a choice.” The Democrats are offering it to the American people, and a certain proportion of them seem minded to accept. Enough to make decline inevitable? … In the words of [the seldom so insightful historian] Arnold Toynbee: “Civilizations die from suicide, not from murder.”

Less free, therefore less prosperous 0

We agree wholly with the opinion we quote here, though the author does not seem to believe as we do that Obama does not want America to be free. He is a collectivist, a redistributionist, a socialist. To reduce individual freedom, to replace the free market with centralized control of the economy, to expand government is what he is about.

From the Washington Times:

Consider our recent economic policy. In late 2008, the specter of a financial meltdown triggered dangerous decisions under President Bush. He approved an unprecedented intervention in the financial sector – the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program – which actually fed the crisis. Instead of changing course, President Obama not only doubled down on those decisions, but went even further, in the belief that only bigger government can “lift us from a recession this deep and severe.” …

In December, the U.S. economy lost an additional 85,000 jobs. Despite all the bailouts and stimulus spending, the economy shed 3.4 million net jobs in 2009. But while employment has shrunk, the federal deficit has ballooned. One year after Mr. Obama took office, the deficit has grown to $1.4 trillion. His 10-year budget will add $13 trillion to the national debt by 2019. …

The bad news is that the United States is falling behind. The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom, released Wednesday, finds that the U.S. experienced the most precipitous drop in economic freedom among the world’s top 20 economies (as measured by the gross domestic product). The decline was steep enough to tumble the U.S. from the ranks of truly “free” economies. We are now numbered among the ranks of the “mostly free” – the same as Botswana, Belgium and Sweden. Canada now stands as the sole beacon of economic freedom in North America, getting a higher score on the economic-freedom Index than the United States.

On the index’s 100-point scale of economic freedom, the U.S. fell 2.7 points. Canada’s score dropped, too, but only one-tenth of a point. Meanwhile, countries such as Germany, France, Poland, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Indonesia managed to maintain or even improve their scores, despite the economic crisis.

Why? In large measure, it’s because of the way Washington has exacerbated the financial and economic crisis since 2008. By June of last year, when we cut off data collection in order to begin our analysis, Washington’s interventionist policies had already caused a decline in seven of the 10 categories of economic freedom we measure. Particularly significant were declines in financial freedom, monetary freedom and property rights.

Conditions attached to large government bailouts of financial and automotive firms significantly undermined investors’ property rights. Additionally, politically influenced regulatory changes – such as the imposition of executive salary caps – have had perverse effects, discouraging entrepreneurship and job creation and slowing recovery. On top of this, we had massive stimulus spending that is leading to unprecedented deficits….

We are heading the wrong way. The index, co-published annually by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, has become a “leading indicator” of economic vitality, but other surveys also show that when economic freedom drops, falling opportunity and declining prosperity follow. Unless Washington takes steps to reverse the poor decisions it has made, Americans can expect a long and difficult time ahead.

The good news is that we’ve been here before, and we’ve turned things around before. There’s no reason we can’t do that again. Poll after poll demonstrates that the American people understand this, even if their politicians don’t. They clearly want Washington to gather up the political will to do things such as lowering taxes and reducing regulation and massive spending that feeds the federal debt. We need to unleash the power of the market to create jobs and to reclaim our competitive edge in the global economy. …

The less government intervenes in our lives and our economy, the freer and more prosperous we can become. The choices Mr. Obama takes in the future will determine whether America remains a land of opportunity and can reclaim its international reputation as “the land of the free.”

View the Index of Economic Freedom list here.

Let these people go 2

Here is part of a story from the Washington Post. (Note the PC use of ‘paramilitary’ instead of ‘terrorist’. By the up-side down values of the left, terrorists must be treated with respect.)

U.S. and European counterterrorism officials say a rising number of Western recruits — including Americans — are traveling to Afghanistan and Pakistan to attend paramilitary training camps. The flow of recruits has continued unabated, officials said, in spite of an intensified campaign over the past year by the CIA to eliminate al-Qaeda and Taliban commanders in drone missile attacks.

Since January, at least 30 recruits from Germany have traveled to Pakistan for training, according to German security sources. About 10 people — not necessarily the same individuals — have returned to Germany this year, fueling concerns that fresh plots are in the works against European targets.

“We think this is sufficient to show how serious the threat is,” said a senior German counterterrorism official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

German security services have been on high alert since last month, when groups affiliated with the Taliban and al-Qaeda issued several videos warning that an attack on German targets was imminent if the government did not bring home its forces from Afghanistan.

There are about 3,800 German troops in the country, the third-largest NATO contingent after those of the United States and Britain. German officials say Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders are trying to exploit domestic opposition in Germany to the war; surveys show that a majority of German voters favor a withdrawal of their soldiers.

The videos all featured German speakers who urged Muslims to travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan to join their cause.

“They’re doing such good business that they are dropping a new video every week or so,” said Ronald Sandee, a former Dutch military intelligence officer who serves as research director of the NEFA Foundation, a U.S. group that monitors terrorist networks. “If I were a young Muslim, I’d find them very convincing.”

Last week, German officials disclosed that a 10-member cell from Hamburg had left for Pakistan earlier this year. The cell is allegedly led by a German of Syrian descent but also includes ethnic Turks, German converts to Islam and one member with Afghan roots.

Other European countries are also struggling to keep their citizens from going to Pakistan for paramilitary training.

In August, Pakistani officials arrested a group of 12 foreigners headed to North Waziristan, a tribal region near the Afghan border where many of the camps are located. Among those arrested were four Swedes, including Mehdi Ghezali, a former inmate of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay

They shouldn’t have been let into Europe, they shouldn’t have been given citizenship. European states should be glad to let them all go, including the converts who are of European descent. They should never be let back in again. It’s when they return that they are most dangerous, not when they stay in North Waziristan. The treacherous immigrants who seek terrorist training out there should have their families sent after them.

Paying tribute 2

Certain countries contributing soldiers to the coalition forces in Afghanistan are buying their troops protection by paying the enemy tribute, according to some reports. The allegations seem all too probable. The aim would be not to defeat the Taliban but just to keep them temporarily at bay. It is not a tactic for conquest and victory. If true, it is yet another sign that NATO is in disarray and the Taliban are winning.

From The Australian:

The Times [London] newspaper  said 10 French troops killed in Sarobi, near Kabul, last year had not properly assessed the risks, because their Italian predecessors failed to inform them they had paid the Taliban not to attack them.

The Italian government described the British newspaper’s report as “totally baseless” and said it had “never authorised any kind of money payment to members of the Taliban insurrection in Afghanistan”.

But a senior Afghan official suggested otherwise. “I certainly can confirm that we were aware that the Italian forces were paying the opposition in Sarobi not to attack them,” he said.

“We have reports of similar deals in (western) Herat province by Italian troops based there under NATO’s umbrella.

“It’s a deal: you don’t attack me, I don’t attack you,” he said, adding the practice was passed on between foreign forces and it was likely that senior commanders were either involved or turned a blind eye to it. It is simply a matter of buying time and surviving.”

A French army spokesman in Kabul, Lieutenant Colonel Jackie Fouquereau, said: “The French do not give money to insurgents.”

NATO spokesman in Afghanistan, General Eric Tremblay, said he was “not aware” of such practices and had no information about the Italian case. …

But according to a number of Western and Afghan officers, the politically sensitive practice is fairly widespread among NATO forces in Afghanistan.

One Western military source told of payments made by Canadian soldiers stationed in the violent southern province of Kandahar, while another officer spoke of similar practices by the German army in northern Kunduz.

“I can tell you that lots of countries under the NATO umbrella operating out in rural parts of Afghanistan do pay the militants for not attacking them,” the senior Afghan official said. …

He said he did not want to say precisely how many but one Western officer said: “As it’s not very positive and not officially recognised, it’s never spoken about openly. It’s a bit shameful. Consequently, it’s sometimes not communicated properly between the old unit and the new unit that comes in to relieve them,”  which may have happened between the Italians and the French. According to The Times, the Italian secret service gave tens of thousands of dollars to Taliban commanders and local warlords to keep the peace in the Sarobi region.

Posted under Afghanistan, Commentary, Defense, NATO, News, Terrorism, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Saturday, October 17, 2009

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