Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize Continues But EU Could Show Way For Better Crisis Management

October 18, 2012

The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” (Thorbjorn Jagland, chair of awarding committee)

The leader of the E.U. is Germany, which is in an economic war with southern Europe, I consider this war equal to a real war. (Comment of Mr. Polychronopoulos, Greece)

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2012 peace prize to the European Union, lauding its role over six decades in building peace and reconciliation among enemies who fought Europe’s bloodiest wars. So far I have noticed this selection described as scandalous, parody, joke, sarcastic and bizarre act and late April fool. Also timing has been seen wrong as Europe is facing “increasing violence and division, the EU now appears to critics impotent amid a debt crisis that has widened north-south divisions.

I can agree that the origins of peace in Europe lie in the alliance made between France and Germany it gave birth to the European Coal and Steel Community, a forerunner of the EU. However in my opinion it is questioned whether the EU’s track record in the Balkan wars of the 1990s justified a Prize for spreading peace. However I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.

There are hundreds of worthwhile grass roots organisations and individuals for whom the award of the Nobel Peace Prize would have made a huge difference. For EU the Prize probably will be only one lucky event and photo-opportunity. Interesting but trivial alltough describing detail will be which EU president should collect the prize – Mr Barroso, Mr Van Rompuy or Martin Schulz as none of them or their institutions during their time has done nothing to solve conflicts or build peace. In my opinion the right address of this years Nobel award in EU would be ”spiritual father” of EU, Mr. Robert Schuman, for creating peace by making former Nazi Germany a “member of the family,” in the European Community.

Nobel’s Will questioned

There probably never was a finer gift donated to ‘the greatest benefit of mankind’ than the prize that the Swedish inventor and tycoon Alfred Nobel (1833-96) established for ‘the champions of peace’. When, on November 27th, 1895, Nobel signed his last will he had concluded that his desire for global peace required global disarmament founded on global law. He intended his prize to promote a systemic change in international relations.

Many years there has been debate are peace laureates reflecting Nobel’s last will. Norwegian lawyer and Nobel historian Fredrik S. Heffermehl claims the Norwegian Nobel Committee isn’t following Alfred Nobel’s wishes. His interview in The Local (Swedish news in English) highlights the orginal idea of Alfred Nobel.

Nobel’s will states that the prize should be given to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. According Heffermehl the reason might be that ”the military sector in Norway is a strong sector and the reality today is that a majority politicians favoring a strong military defense are in control of a prize, which was initially meant for their opponents.”

There is justified doubt that the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision does not comply with Alfred Nobel’s mission statement, which sets out to reward peace activists’ efforts throughout the preceding year. Nobel did not meant the prize to be a reward or recognition of civil right movements, social reforms and taming of ethnic conflict, but precisely and exclusively for substantial achievements on behalf of demilitarization in the world. This and nothing else was – and is – the exclusive intention of the prize.

EU has sadly done little for the demilitarization of Europe. Whilst the EU imposes severe austerity measures upon many EU countries, it simultaneously supports the growing militarization of Europe through support for US/NATO (guilty of war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). It continues to support the policies of American nuclear weapons deployed to six EU States.


Degradation of Nobel Peace Prize

“Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries”. (Johan Galtung)

The best example of Nobel peace prize degradation during last decade could be President Obama who has ordered hundreds assassinations with drones, has accepted serious war crimes and human right violations e.g. in Guantamo, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen … and who has continued promoting interests of Military-Industrial-Complex.

Because Obama is too obvious choice in ”worst selections category” I would take other example which is No 119 peace laureate Mr. Ahtisaari. Personally I lost my respect to Nobel Peace Prize after his selection as laureate. No doubt that formally he has worked with many conflicts – Namibia, Yugoslavia(Bosnia and Kosovo), Indonesia – as ”peace broker”.

My critique is based first to his record and second to his methods and values behind them.

  • Ahtisaari, after consulting South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, agreed to a South African Defence Force “hunt and destroy” mission, which led to the deaths of some 300 SWAPO fighters. SWAPO leader Sam Nujoma condemned the massacre saying, “At this crucial and critical hour for Namibia’s freedom, [Ahtisaari’s] action betrayed our cause and resulted in the deaths of many civilians.” Despite calling Ahtisaari “very much a collaborator with the US and pro-British [and] more concerned with his career at the United Nations than with his responsibilities to the oppressed people of Namibia”. Now Namibia keeps white landownership and black misery.
  • The role of Ahtisaari in Bosnia was insignificant; anyway after him the bloodiest war since WWII started. The compromise solution in Dayton can be described as temporary one as it never respected the Croat wish to join Croatia and the Serb wish for independence (also of Beograd).
  • In 1999 he was the envoy who persuaded the Serb state to give in after NATO’s 78 days of bombing, the most brutal event in Europe since 1945, which also lacked a UN Security Council mandate. .He then was appointed as the “architect” of the plan behind the separation of now “quasi-independent” Kosovo which, following this bombing, broke off from Serbia. Kosovo bypassed the Security Council and set a dangerous precedent.
  • Aceh was one lucky strike due to a tsunami washing the arms into the ocean. Ahtisaari himself recalled how the 2004 tsunami in South Asia was one factor that came to help open talks he facilitated between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and Indonesia resulting in the August 2005 deal.

About peace broking methods of Mr. Ahtisaari the following quote gives good idea from2nd June 1999 when it was the task of Ahtisaari and Chernomyrdin visited President Milosevic to deliver NATO’s final terms to end bombings against Yugoslavia:

Ahtisaari opened the meeting by declaring, “We are not here to discuss or negotiate,” after which Chernomyrdin read aloud the text of the plan. Ahtisaari says that Milosevic asked about the possibility of modifying the plan, to which he replied, “No.” Milosevic took the papers and asked, “What will happen if I do not sign?” In answer, “Ahtisaari made a gesture on the table,” and then moved aside the flower centerpiece. Then Ahtisaari said, “Belgrade will be like this table. We will immediately begin carpet-bombing Belgrade.” Repeating the gesture of sweeping the table, Ahtisaari threatened, “This is what we will do to Belgrade.” A moment of silence passed, and then he added, “There will be half a million dead within a week. (Source How the Nobel Peace Prize Was Won by Gregory Elich at CounterPunch)

The result with Kosovo I have summarized following: Kosovo … a Serbian province, occupied and international protectorate, as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers and international money laundry”. When Kosovo unilatarally declared intependence only less than half UN memberstates recognized it many of them after some pressure from U.S. Ahtisaari was not worried, describing to his values is following comment: “It really doesn’t matter if Paraguay hasn’t recognized,” Ahtisaari said. “Well over 65 percent of the wealth of the world has recognized. That matters.” This is in line with Ahtisaari’s role as messenger boy of U.S., if one doesn’t have money that opinion doesn’t matter.

I agree with Johan Galtung, who noted that “Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through a short-term solutions that please western countries”. My conclusion: Mr. Ahtisaari – an unofficial spokesperson of U.S. State Department and Nato who repeatedly functioned as “peace fixer” for Western power elites – good example of degradation of Nobel Peace Prize.


EU’s role with crisis management now and hopefully in the future

Putting Mr. Nobel and his Will aside, taking creative interpretation of peace award criteria of Nobel Committee as such I like to put focus on EU’s role with crisis management. The arguments given by the Norwegian Nobel Committee are not entirely false. I agree that “The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” The EU has played the historical role that it describes. Degradation of Peace Prize described above might have a positive follow-up; to avoid total devaluation of Prize the further selections should have more original content. I hope that Peace Prize will give some self-confidence to EU to develop this content so that the block could increase its role in relation of conflict prevention and crisis management.

Earlier The League of Nations and then The United Nations were created to prevent one nation-state from invading another nation-state and going to war with that other nation-state. Today most wars are intrastate ethnic conflicts. Current peacemaking, peace-building or crisis management structures are not designed to cope with this type of conflict.

U.S. itself has experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, that old military strategy is not effective. The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy was strategic development from military alone approach. COIN has been applied last years in Afghanistan and it has many components: protecting Afghan civilians, rapidly expanding the Afghan army and police, reforming government, providing economic development assistance, weaning Taliban fighters and leaders away from Mullah Omar and al-Qaeda, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse. This makes it a demanding strategy, maybe too demanding for U.S. However the good idea of COIN is that it emphasises a “population-centric” over an “enemy-centric” approach.

The events on Arab Street are reflecting also another problem with U.S. Strategies for dominating the rest of world. For similar reasons as the failure of COIN strategy in Afghanistan in Arab Street the strategy might be good in Theory but the Americans can not implement them. It seems that the Americans don’t understand deeply the operational theatre, they are unfamiliar in another cultural environment, in this case with Muslim world.

Hard vs. Soft Power
Hard Power Soft Power
Spectrum of behaviors Command, coercion and inducement Agenda-setting, attraction and co-opt
Most likely resources Force, sanctions and payments Institutions, values, culture and policies

EU has applied a bit similar approach. At theoretical level the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), launched in 1999, exemplifies the EU’s commitment to the so-called “comprehensive approach” – a strategy that emphasises the importance of combining civilian and military tools when dealing with external security challenges.

Crisis management in the future -by EU hopefully

I think that the conflict resolution by peacemakers is an ad hock fire department activity, important but secondary question. The primary issue from my viewpoint is prevention of problems and their causes, or at least awareness of them. Also important is to put single conflicts in wider context such as game between great powers, struggle over global energy resources and their supply routes, economic profits of military-industrial-complex etc. So in my view peace mediation is one part of handling conflicts.

The new approach should in my opinion cover the whole crisis cycle, from prevention to crisis management to post-crisis stabilization and capacity-building measures. The European Union prides itself on being able to deal with fragile and failing states outside its borders, from Kosovo to Kabul, through what it believes to be its distinctive combination of “hard” power – coercion by military or other means – and “soft” power – persuasion through trade, diplomacy, aid and the spread of values.

The key question is how to replace U.S. hard power with EU soft power. In Eastern Europe U.S. controls crucial foreign and/or domestic policies of another nation through ties with its military and intelligence institutions. EU’s military, political, and corporate elites have already increasingly become dependents or confederates of the US military-industrial complex. To take step forward EU must work to establish its own security structure in order to free itself from tactics which are now used under the current US-dominated Alliance. EU should stop outsourcing its strategical planning to U.S. The key question is focusing on EU civilian capabilities.

EU already has remarkable financial resources for capacity building measures. The EU accounts for half of all global aid. Last year, it donated €53.1bn (£42.8bn). The European commission by itself is the world’s second largest bilateral donor after the US, providing €12.3bn of external aid in 2011. Aid constitutes about 9% of the EU budget. EU is a formidable player in global development.

Replacing U.S. Cowboy policy by EU’s soft power in conflicts and crisis management is possible, if EU can find a common vision, strategy and position with its external relations. Even better would be if the OSCE could make this. It can be argued that the OSCE has a much better claim to represent all the states of Europe, (and possibly a better candidate for Peace Prize) since it has 56 States from Europe, Central Asia and North America – compared to the EU’s 27 — a “Europe with the windows open” rather than the “Fortress Europe” image associated with the EU. Ihope that Nobel Peace Prize can help with this even in EU.

More e.g. in my related articles:

Civil Crisis Management: Filling the Gaps Between the Aims and on the Ground Effectiveness of a Mission

Nobel: Do you hear Mr. Nobel rolling in his grave” – and more specific about Ahtisaari’s mediator tactics in my article500.000 bodies or sign” –headlines are describing quite well the content and my shock after his selection

Interventions in general: R2P vs Facades of Interventions, Multifaceted Intervention Practices , Is Peace more than absence of the War? , Could EU lead the 3rd Way out from Confrontation? , Quality Peace? and Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

About U.S. strategy in Afghanistan: Will COIN work in Afghanistan? andAfghanistan – to be or not?

U.S. practising intervention first in the Bosnian War 1992-95 and selecting terrorist/OC-groups to U.S. alliese.g. Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? and Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and the outcome Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution

Racak fabrication and “humanitarian intervention” aka since WWII first ever full scale bombing operation in center of Europe 1999 High pressure to fabricate Racak reports and 10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia

Other related articles: Libya Intervention is creating problems instead of solving them and Some framework to Syrian crisis

Article (short version) first published as Devaluation of Nobel Peace Prize to be Continued on Technorati.

Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

May 26, 2010

The only way to solve a conflict at any level of society is to sit down face to face and talk about it.” (John W. McDonald)

A new peace mediation study , that states Finland’s accomplishment in the field of mediation and conflict prevention, was released on Thursday, May 6, 2010 by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The study recommends strengthening Finland’s peace mediation capacity. Finland has some evidence of peace mediation to show and former President Ahtisaari even got Nobelprize for his efforts on the field.“The peace mediation initiative is a starting shot; the aim is to make Finland a great power in peace mediation,” Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said and revealed two of his dreams at the event. “It would be great if Finland established a peace mediation fund from which money could be withdrawn in a pinch. The second dream would be a peace mediation institute where Finnish or international peace mediators could be trained.”


I am in favour of both opening of the debate over peace mediation issue as well with FM Stubb’s dreams. If the decision-makers take the initiative serious, so then should be considered the content for it, the strategy how to develop dreams into actions, put the issue in a broader context and, of course, resourcing the development of individual projects. While the international community is now willing to invest 200 times more to the war than peace a shift to resource peace building activities is always welcome.


Definition problems


Peace is nice word, however the definition of “peace” can vary with religion, culture, or subject of study. From same reason I think it is important define also peace mediation and different aspects of that. I think that the conflict resolution by peacemakers is an ad hock fire department activity, important but secondary question. The primary issue from my viewpoint is prevention of problems and their causes, or at least awareness of them. Also important is to put single conflicts in wider context such as game between great powers, struggle over global energy resources and their supply routes, economic profits of military-industrial-complex etc. So in my view peace mediation is one part of handling conflicts, it should be applied also before armed conflicts, also post-conflict crisis management in short term and seeking sustainable solutions in long term should from my viewpoint be integral part of peace mediation and its training activities.

Since the end of the Cold War also the conflict environment has totally changed. Earlier The League of Nations and then The United Nations were created to prevent one nation-state from invading another nation-state and going to war with that other nation-state. Today most wars are intrastate ethnic conflicts. Current peacemaking, peace-building or crisis management structures are not designed to cope with this type of conflict.


Traditional Approach


An eye for an eye for an eye for an eye … ends in making everybody blind (Mahatma Gandhi)

One popular method in peacemaking process is “Quid pro quo” meaning “something for something”a favor for a favor” or “give and take”. All meaning are close ancient eye-for-an-eye codes of justice (or mirror punishment). This approach is familiar also for “tit for tat” game theory strategy.

In peacemaking there are four traditional ways in which conflicts between two parties are handled:

  1. A wins, B loses;
  2. B wins, A loses;
  3. the solution is postponed because neither A nor B feels ready to end the conflict;
  4. a confused compromise is reached, which neither A nor B are happy with.

From my viewpoint these traditional methods have at least following shortages. Basically peace deals are made between elite’s and their (game) interests where participants are calculating are the wins due the peace bigger than the wins due the war. Many times the process is coercive based to will of outsiders not necessary local needs. From my opinion the traditional process will produce temporary – tactical – solutions and the outcome is frozen conflict. The best examples of these are maybe Bosnia after Dayton and Kosovo after Ahtisaari’s pseudo talks.

Fortunately there is also better alternatives for these traditional methods. Here three examples.


Multi-Track Diplomacy


The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) is a U.S. based nonprofit organization founded in 1992 working now globally + 20 conflicts. IMTD uses a holistic and participatory approach to assess the key variables in deep-rooted conflicts and post-conflict settings. The Institute is focused on identifying and understanding the causes of conflict within a nation. Their method – sc. Multi-Track Diplomacy– is a conceptual way to view the process of international peacemaking as a living system. It looks at the web of interconnected activities, individuals, institutions, and communities that operate together for a common goal: a world at peace. Multi-Track Diplomacy is an expansion of the “Track One, Track Two” paradigm that has defined the conflict resolution field during the last decade. Track One Diplomacy is official government diplomacy whereby communication and interaction is between governments. Track Two Diplomacy is the unofficial interaction and intervention of non-state actors.


IMTD’s utilizes its “systems-based approach” by recognizing that the transformation of deep-rooted conflicts cannot be left solely to governmental entities, but must be expanded to include non-governmental actors, civil society and other informal channels. By expanding the approach to peacemaking and peace-building outside of Track One, IMTD works to ensure a holistic, comprehensive approach to conflict transformation with a greater likelihood of long-term, sustainable peace. More about Multi-Track Diplomacy in IMTD site.


Holistic Integrated Model of Peacebuilding

Since 2003 Pacific Peacebuilding Initiatives Ltd (operating as Peacebuilders International) has been working throughout the Asia/Pacific Region with the goal of establishing justpeace, a sustainable peace that allow communities to develop. Even the main stakeholders are from different churches they have applied quite holistic approach for building sustainable peace. In figure below is described the main components of Peacebuilders International approach:


More in Peacebuilders International web-site .

TRANSCEND – maybe the best Approach


Johan Galtung (born 24 October 1930) is a Norwegian mathematician and sociologist and a principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies. In 1993, he founded TRANSCEND, a network for Peace and Development, which is now running Transcend Peace University with a number of courses online, Transcend University Press, Transcend Media Service with material on current events, and Transcend Research Institute. Galtung himself has employed the “TRANSCEND” Method while serving as a negotiator in a number of international conflicts. He views his role as that of helping the parties clarify their objectives, and working to come up with solutions that meet the objectives of all parties. He presents them with concrete proposals that are intended to give both sides the sense that they are winners.


Galtung tries to break with these four unsatisfactory ways of handling a conflict by finding a “fifth way,” where both A and B feel that they win. TRANSCEND’s “conflict transformation” approach relies on nonviolence, creativity, and empathy to facilitate an outcome where both parties move beyond their stated positions to create a new reality in their relationship. This represents a clear contrast to competitive diplomacy and war, the coercive approaches to conflict traditionally used on the international level, which often serve only to perpetuate bitterness and asymmetry. (More background e.g. TRANSCENDand Johan Galtung: Transcend and Transform : An Introduction to Conflict Work; London: Pluto Press, 2004)

TRANSCEND mission statement defines four pillars: To bring about a more peaceful world by using action, education/training, dissemination and research to handle conflicts with empathy, nonviolence and creativity. TRANSCEND is organized in a dozen regions around the world and during last years most of the work has been on conflict mediation and violence conciliation, using Diagnosis-Prognosis-Therapy, on often very difficult and complex conflicts.

I think that “Transcend” approach hits the core question in peace-building process. First it is based to wide participation and even commitment of local stakeholders through dialogue, second it goes to the roots of conflicts and third it is future-oriented.


War costs vs. peace costs

Global military industrial consumption per year is 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars, representing a few percent of GDP and still rising. U.S. share of the cake is about 40% to the current year, 664 billion dollars. This is a good comparison of the UN budget (27 billion), which is a sum of nearly three per cent of its Member States on military expenditure. UN’s “Millennium Development Goals” are dreaming 135 billion per year, this one only a fraction of military spending.

An other comparison (dollars / year): the world’s military spending 1.2 trillion, the OECD Development 106 billion, Peace work 6 billion and 0.6 billion of conflict prevention. The international community is now willing to invest 200 times more to the war than peace. Peace Research, could help prevent conflicts, but development of tools for killing is much more lucrative. Against one peace researcher, is estimated to be more than 1100 researcher for weapon (and their use) developers.



The 2005 statistics, the light can make another comparison (dollars / year): the world’s military spending 1.2 trillion, the OECD Development 106 billion, Peace work 6 billion and 0.6 billion of conflict prevention. The difference in what countries are prepared to invest in weapons and their use is huge compared to what they use for example, poverty elimination and economic development in developing countries. And just poverty is one of the causes of violence.

The international community is now willing to invest 200 times more to the war than peace. Peace Research, could help prevent conflicts, but to kill the development of tools is much more lucrative. Against one peace researcher, is estimated to be more than 1100 researcher for weapon (and their use) developers. I think then it is clear that the State should be the main financier of peace-education, -research, building etc activities which are not attractive for private companies while war activities are producing high quarterly bonuses for owners of military-industrial-complex.


The Future of Peace Operations


Today U.S./Nato is trying a new comprehensive approach in Afghanistan and maybe in other areas in future too. This counter-insurgency – or COIN – strategy tries e.g. to work more closely with NGOs, so that their “soft power” could complement our hard power.Critics of the new focus on counter-insurgency theory claim it is a tactical gimmick, it is not a recipe for winning the war in the long run, they say; it is only for avoiding defeat in the short run. Also from my viewpoint Nato’s peace operations are missing the core aspect which by my opinion is following: Without local commitment any solution – military or civilian – is not sustainable. If local commitment or participation to “new” strategy is weak I think that it does not have any possibilities to realize. Of course if the perspective is only to next U.S. election campaign or guaranteeing the quarterly bonuses in military-industrial-complex then real solutions are not the core question.

Beginning in 2003, the European Union began deploying civilian missions under the auspices of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). prefer to see the EU remain a purely civilian power. Focusing on EU civilian capabilities may be an attractive option financially and politically within Europe.


Bottom line


I assume that intrastate conflicts will continue, they will not be only ethnic ones but economic factors will be cause too. Also global challenges e.g. struggle over energy, raw materials, water with their environmental effects will play their role in future conflicts.


From my point of view peacemaking is only secondary action by managing conflicts – a deeper holistic approach is needed to make more sustainable solutions. The main components by my opinion are the following:

  • An approach of active or creative peace-building should be applied to achieve long term solutions
  • Dialogue between local stakeholders is the key component in peace-building process as if the parties are willing to discuss the conflict and work toward reaching a holistic resolution the outcome may be sustainable.
  • Dialogue should be applied through high, middle-range and grassroots levels horizontally across the lines of division in a society. There should also be no gap of interdependence of coordinated relationships up and down the levels of leadership in a society – the vertical capacity means developing relationships between higher and grassroots levels of leadership.
  • To understand the true nature of security issues in each particular context it is necessary to apply also a non-western theoretical framework as the non-western social, political and cultural reality demands maybe different approach – or viewpoint – than normal western practice.
  • Creating an environment of lasting peace is the primary goal of peace-building. The main tool can be different creative therapies being used to create peace, within individuals, groups, and societies. Although used primarily to overcome violence, creative peace-building can also be used as a preventative measure to make the foundations of peace stronger, especially when used with children.
  • The value of civilians in post-conflict stabilization has become increasingly clear and should be appreciated at the expense of military alternatives.

Some of my related writings:


EUś unused option the U.S. cowboy-policy: Could EU lead the 3rd Way out from Confrontation

My critics due Mr.Ahtisaari’s Nobelprize:Do you hear Mr. Nobel rolling in hisgrave? and his peace mediation methods: 500.000 bodies or sign! and outcome in Kosovo: Kosovo-Two years of Quasi-State

The new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan: Will COIN work in Afghanistan?

Is Yemen the next target for the War on Terror?







Is Yemen the next target for the War on Terror?

January 7, 2010

Somebody in our government said to me in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, Iraq was yesterday’s war. Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act pre-emptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.” (Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.)

On December 25 US authorities arrested a Nigerian named Abdulmutallab aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from to on charges of having tried to blow up the plane with smuggled explosives. He was “suspected” of having been trained in for his terror mission in Yemen. A new target for the “War on Terror” has been found. Is it really so that a guy who burnt his trousers with some powder hidden there has so big influence to geopolitics – I have some doubts. More than from trousers of this desperate Nigerian wannabe terrorist the hidden agenda may be found again from great energy game and from interests of military-industrial complex.

Yemen has a population 23.8 million is located at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula , bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, Oman to the east, Red Sea to the west and Gulf of Aden to the south. It is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. Per capita GDP estimated at $2,500; 45% live below the poverty line, and 35% are unemployed. The Republic of Yemen was created in 1990 when North and South Yemen united. President is Ali Abdallah Saleh became the first elected President in reunified Yemen in 1999 (though he had been President of unified Yemen since 1990 and President of North Yemen since 1978). 53% of the Muslim population is Sunni and 47% is Shi’a. Among Yemen’s natural and cultural attractions are four World Heritage sites.


The fight now

Yemen’s southern provinces have recently been the scene of US air strikes which Washington claims to be aimed at uprooting an al-Qaeda cell operative in the Persian Gulf state. But the residents of the area dismiss the claims that al-Qaeda members are being targeted in the US-sponsored air strikes, while Yemen’s government says the strike targeted militants and their relatives.

The Yemen-based group, which claims to be affiliated with Osama bin Laden’s organisation, had earlier claimed responsibility for the failed attack and called for strikes on embassies in Yemen.

The US operation in southern Yemen comes on top of a joint Saudi-Yemeni military campaign in the country’s war-weary north where Sana’a and Riyadh forces are engaged in a fierce fighting against the Houthi fighters. The Houthis, who accuse the Sunni-dominated Sana’a government of discrimination and repression against Yemen’s Shia minority, were the target of the army’s off and on attacks before the central government launched an all-out fighting against them in early August. Saudi Arabia joined the operation later following alleged clashes between its border guards and the Houthis, carrying out regular air strikes and ground incursions against the fighters.

One presumption is that US has gave the Saudis a green light to militarily intervene in Yemen to defend the Sunnis against Shias. It remains to see if this outsourcing of US foreign policy to the Saudis is enough or will escalation occur.

The Oil

The actual reason for planned U.S. involvement can be the fact that the U.S.-backed dictator, Yemen’s President Saleh, increasingly is losing control after two decades as despotic ruler of the unified Yemen. Economic conditions in the country took a drastic downward slide in 2008 when world oil prices collapsed. Some 70% of the state revenues derive from Yemen’s oil sales. The central government of Saleh sits in former North Yemen in Sana’a, while the oil is in former South Yemen. Yet Saleh controls the oil revenue flows. Lack of oil revenue has made Saleh’s usual option of buying off opposition groups all but impossible. The government has little control outside the capital, leaving a power vacuum in large swaths of the mountainous, impoverished nations.

For U.S. Yemen is important for two energy related issues: one is Yemen’s geopolitical location as one of the world’s most important oil transport routes and the other is undeveloped – some say one of the world’s largest – petroleum reserves in the territory.

The U.S. Government Energy Information Agency states that “closure of the Bab el-Mandab could keep tankers from the Persian Gulf from reaching the Suez Canal/Sumed pipeline complex, diverting them around the southern tip of Africa. The Strait of Bab el-Mandab is a chokepoint between the horn of Africa and the Middle East, and a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.”


Important World Oil Transit Chokepoints

In addition to its geopolitical position as a major global oil transit chokepoint, Yemen is reported to hold some of the world’s greatest untapped oil reserves. Yemen’s Masila Basin and Shabwa Basin are reported by international oil companies to contain “world class discoveries.”

The US military-industrial-complex

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” (Dwight Eisenhower)


The same forces that steered the Bush Administration still seem alive and well today. The Military-Industrial-Complex (MIC) has its decisive say in U.S. foreign policy. Why so? The explanation can be found from picture above describing spending in U.S. federal budget.

The military industry is a dominant player in the US economy. Military orders drive America’s manufacturing sector. More than one-third of all engineers and scientists in the US are engaged in military-related jobs. Several sections of the country and a number of industrial sectors, particularly shipbuilding and aerospace, are greatly dependent upon military spending or foreign arms sales. The Department of Defense (DoD), together with the top defense corporations – or what is known as the “military-industrial complex” – controls the largest coordinated bloc of industry in the US. Roughly 75% of federal research and development expenditure is devoted to military projects.

While military contractors are looking for new markets, the Pentagon is seeking a new mission. Pentagon and U.S. intelligence are moving to militarize a strategic chokepoint for the world’s oil flows, Bab el-Mandab. The Somalia piracy incident, together with claims of a new Al Qaeda threat arising from Yemen, are serving as good excuse to this campaign.


Citing an unnamed former top CIA official, the New York Times wrote that a year ago the Central Intelligence Agency sent many field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country. At the same time, some of the most secretive special operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counter-terrorism tactics, the report said. The Pentagon will be spending more than 70 million dollars over the next 18 months, and using teams of special forces, to train and equip Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels, the paper noted.


Without doubt, the military-industrial complex has a stake in expanding areas to be exploited for oil as well as protecting U.S. oil sources. This is good news to the weapons industry. While many sectors in the US are suffering from the economic crunch, top weapons manufacturers are awaiting new orders, hiring new people, looking for new investments and gaining attention on the stock market. Political connections are also helpful in ensuring business and creating new markets. This connection helped influence overthrows of several foreign governments perceived as unfriendly to American business. It also allowed the companies to be at the right place at the right time to take advantage of new business opportunities with puppet regimes.


Military Industrial Complex is much more than only developing, producing and marketing weapons. One part is hired guns – private armies – like DynCorp and Xe (formerly Blackwater USA) costing tens of billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lack of oversight so scandalous that rampant waste, fraud, and abuse plus war crimes go unmonitored. While U.S. troops are implementing COIN strategy in Afghanistan these companies like the infamous Blackwater, now called Xe, are at work for the CIA, which is spearheading the covert Pakistan war, and this all costs money, big money. Fortunately, the agency still has the opium crop to cover the shortfalls in budget or cash.


War vs. Solution

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi warned that the United States

should learn from its experiences in Pakistan and Afganistan and not repeat the mistakes in Yemen, both in dealing with the government of Yemen and confronting al-Qaeda. The United States and other Western powers need to provide long-term economic development to reduce poverty and raise educational standards, which can help combat terrorism in a more effective fashion than just using military force.

Recently in his interview to Al Jazeera al-Qirbi stated that

Yemen is going to deal with terrorism in its own way, out of its own interests and therefore I don’t think it will counterfire, … The negative impact on Yemen is if there is direct intervention of the US and this is not the case.

One task is to prevent exaggeration of problem. The “war on terror” can be used as Yemen’s internal policy instrument when the President tries to transfer his power to his son by stamping the opposition as supporters of al Qaeda. In overall Yemen’s fragile government is in a delicate balancing act between its allegiance to the United States and tribal, political and religious forces that resent U.S. interference in Yemen and sympathize with al-Qaeda’s ideology.

From my point of view this the core question which often seems to be forgotten while U.S.MIC tries to secure its quarterly bonuses. I hope that at least EU understands that for solution one needs to take account sociological, religious, tribal and political aspects.

U.S. Coin strategy in Afghanistan tries to be more comprehensive than pure military attack, but it also can fail if presumptions are false – or moderated to get political acceptance. More about this in my article “Will Coin work in Afghanistan?


Sure also civil crisis management operation can fail like it has been case in Balkans Some examples in my articles “Bosnia collapsing?” and “Kosovo update” . However this failure probably does not cost so many lives than failed or even successful military operation.


With these kind of economical interests it is easy to understand that a guy with burning trousers serves only as part of marketing plan to gain public acceptance. The planning of war started much earlier and probably MIC has already started planning of next invasion options after Yemen.



Will Coin work in Afghanistan?

December 11, 2009

“After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.” (Barack Obama)

They are coming already in coffins.” (Ari Rusila)


US President Obama finally announced his new counter-insurgency (aka “Coin”) strategy in Afghanistan – which continues mostly the strategy of his predecessor Mr. Bush. Generals and influential – if not decisive – military-industrial complex got what they want and once again USA is seeking military solution to mainly political problem. I am interested to see if the selected strategy can be implemented, against or for whom it is planed, what is the role of Europe in this game and whether there would be maybe better alternatives available.

President Obama justified sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan at a cost of $30 billion a year. US mission is seize the initiative against a resurgent Taliban while building the capacity of Afghan forces so that American and NATO forces can gradually hand off security responsibilities to the Afghans. Also, support the further development of the Afghan economy and key Afghan civilian institutions. The troops should start to return after 18 months on Summer 2011 just before next US President election.

COIN

Counterinsurgency: military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency. Political power is the central issue in insurgencies and counterinsurgencies.

A figure of Mr. David Kilcullen, the counterinsurgency strategist and aid of General Petraeus, describes well the different elements of Coin.


Coin theory emphasises a “population-centric” over an “enemy-centric” approach. It disinters the language of “clear, hold and build”, resonant of the Vietnam era, and describes soldiers and marines as “nation-builders as well as warriors” (to borrow a phrase from the US army’s much-lauded 2006 counter-insurgency field manual, co-authored by the celebrated General David Petraeus). Coin is predicated on the idea that it is possible to win supporters for an insurgency by providing security and basic services, and ensuring the presence of a strong, legitimate government.

Mike Whitney in his article Obama’s plan for Afghanistan gives an other perspective to new strategy:

Militarily, the goal is to pit one ethnicity against the other, to incite civil war, and to split the country in smaller units that can be controlled by warlords working with Washington. But instead of unifying the different ethnic regions of Afghanistan, the NATO occupation seems headed more toward a de facto partition of these regions. The foreign policy team that President Obama has assembled includes some of the same figures who advocated the ethnic-sectarian partition of Yugoslavia and Iraq. Obama’s Special Envoy to Af-Pak, Richard Holbrooke, authored the agreement that partioned Bosnia into Serb and Muslim-Croat republics in 1995, in effect rubber-stamping the ethnic cleansing that had forcibly removed populations during a three-year civil war. He also turned a blind eye when Serb civilians were expelled from Croatia the same year, and from Kosovo in 1999.

During his inaugural visit to Washington, new German defence secretary, Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg said it was necessary to put aside “the romantic idea of democratization of the whole country along the lines of the western model” and instead “transfer control of individual provinces step by step to the Afghan security forces.” The new strategy of “regionalization” is aimed at dividing Afghanistan into individual cantons—in a similar manner to what took place in Lebanon and the former Yugoslavia. Up to now the US-NATO occupation supported the government of Hamid Karzai and sold the process to the public as “democratization”. However, occupation forces are moving increasingly to hand over power directly to regional warlords and their militias—on the assumption that such regional forces will follow the orders of their imperial masters. As soon as there is no more danger in a specific province, Guttenberg declared, then the international troops should be withdrawn from that area.

Will it work?

“It’s an expensive gamble to undertake armed nation-building on behalf of a corrupt government of questionable legitimacy.” (Russ Feingold, Democrat Senator of Wisconsin)

Leave the Rag Heads to their rocks . Close the borders. (one alternative strategy in discussion forums)

The only Afghans that will welcome US troops are the ones that can successfully exploit them to wipe out rival tribes. The rest want them dead. However the new plan hopes that U.S. troop numbers and operations will set the Taliban on its heels and give the Afghan government and friendly regional authorities the time and space they need to hold off the Taliban on their own.

The US Army Field manual (2006) emphasises the importance of “troop density”, or the ratio of security forces to inhabitants: “20 counter-insurgents per 1,000 residents (or 1:50) is often considered the minimum troop density required for effective Coin operations”.

The CIA estimates Afghanistan’s population, as of July 2009, to be roughly 28.4 million. Thus, going by the 1:50 ratio, the size of the US-led coalition force would need to be approximately 568,000 troops. Even adding in the 97,000 Afghan police officers and the 100,000-odd Afghan soldiers leaves the NATO-led force more than 200,000 counter-insurgents short of the “minimum”.

Mehdi Hassan gives even more pessimistic view over Coin numbers game in his article “Two sides of the Coin”. He claims that the Afghan National Army is plagued by desertion: 10,000 recruits have disappeared in recent months. Soldiers are under-equipped and underpaid; some 15 per cent of them are thought to be drug addicts. Dominated by Tajik troops from the north of the country, the “national” army has little or no credibility in the southern, Pashtun areas of Afghanistan, where the Taliban mainly operate, and from where they draw ethnic support.

A quote from mentioned article of Mr. Hassan:

The Afghan army is useless and the police are corrupt,” says Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the School of Oriental and African Studies. “So what does McChrystal propose? More useless troops and corrupt police. It’s a counter-intuitive solution.” According to Plesch, there is a yawning gap between Coin theory and practice. “It’s all fine on paper, but that doesn’t translate into success on the ground,”

According to a recent statistics, one gallon oil costs the invading troops $ 400 and annual expenditure of one soldier is almost one million US dollar. They have to pay $ 30 billion more per year for the troops surge recently announced by Obama. The administration already planned to spend $73bn on Afghanistan in the fiscal year 2010. Now the total will be over $100bn.

To these numbers, add a shadow footprint consisting of tens of thousands of private contractors – 73,968 according to a September 21, 2009 Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report as of June 2009. Included are familiar names like Kellogg, Brown and Root, Fluor Corp, Lockheed Martin and hired guns like DynCorp and Xe (formerly Blackwater USA) costing tens of billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan for lack of oversight so scandalous that rampant waste, fraud, and abuse go unmonitored and will worsen with more troops. Additionally the infamous Blackwater, now called Xe, is at work for the CIA, which is spearheading the covert Pakistan war, and this all costs money, big money. So, fortunately, the agency still has the opium crop to cover the shortfalls in budget or cash.

President Karzai said that Afghanistan would not be able to pay for its own security until at least 2024, underscoring his government’s long-term financial dependence on the United States and NATO even as President Obama has pledged to begin withdrawing American troops in 2011.

Against whom?

Afghanistan is no longer home to al-Qaeda (Pakistan is), and al-Qaeda doesn’t need Afghan territory to be a threat. Nor is it certain the Taliban would invite al-Qaeda back in if it had the chance. President Barack Obama’s description of the al Qaeda “cancer” in that country left out one key fact: U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country. With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year.

A powerful grass roots movement has blossomed in Afghanistan, giving its people new hope, self-esteem and a sense of belonging. The problem for US is that this movement is the Taliban. The Taliban and their allies have shadow governments in 33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. There is a fear among Western military officials and diplomats that the Taliban insurgents are doing much more than the Afghan government to establish good governance and accountability. The Taliban aid groups also coordinate widely their activities with the Taliban in remote areas, so the Taliban can claim the credit and not the government. In the remote provinces, the Taliban’s efforts have reinforced two images: on the other hand an absent and/or corrupt Afghan central government and effective and accountable Taliban administration on the other. It seems logical that what Afghanistan needs is not solutions from the top down but from the bottom up. Now it seems that the Taliban — a dispersed people’s movement, spanning thousands of villages, through which the Afghan people can regain a sense of control over their government – is answering better the to the needs of ordinary citizens than US and their puppet government in Kabul.

If local commitment or participation to “new” strategy is weak I think that it does not have any possibilities to realize. Speaking about local motivation to help Yanks to implement their task it might be good idea to recall a couple of years old CBS documentary – “Bombing Afghanistan“- A little comparison of the Russian past and current practice of a Yank in Afghanistan. A couple of extracts:

“During the Russian invasion we have not heard of 10 members of one family being killed by Russians in one incident. But the Americans did that, “remarked a Villager.

“We used to hate the Russians much more than Americans,” replied the Villager. “But now when we see all this happening, I am telling you Russians behave much better than the Americans.”

Instead of terrorists or Al Oaeda US seem to fight against just ordinary citizens.

For whom?

If it is difficult to find the real enemy for new US strategy in Afghanistan the better question could be for whom the strategy will be implemented. Given the influence of military-industrial complex in US (foreign)policy the answer may be found from that direction.

The vital interest of US could be to ensure that Pakistan does not become a failed state with, in the worst case, its nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. Ironically the US provides one-third of the entire budget of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence, which e.g. India consistently highlights as the mastermind of terrorism in the region.

One can have an reasonable understanding that the core issue in this war is not Afghanistan or “defending the American people” — but establishing a stable U.S. domination over a broad and highly strategic swath reaching from Iran (east of Afghanistan) to Pakistan (west of Afghanistan).

Equally, there is better awareness in Delhi that the war in Afghanistan is not merely about hunting down Osama bin Laden but is also a war with an agenda towards Central Asia, Russia, China and Iran.

US military-industrial complex has been shaping the country’s economy and affecting its foreign policy. the last decade of military adventurism A recent count found the Department had 47,000 primary contractors, or over 100,000 firms, including subcontractors, and if a full tally of the Federal money headed their way were made, it would lift the published defense budget by about two-thirds, or $300 billion. The avalanche of money sustains and coopts everyone from Halliburton ($6 billion in one recent year) to Electronic Data Systems Corporation ($2.4 billion) to Verizon ($277 million) to Proctor & Gamble ($362 million) Even academia is in tow, with about 350 colleges and universities agreeing to do Pentagon-funded research. Amid all this waste the Pentagon spares no effort to keep the media on its side, both in the US and elsewhere. Believe it or not, the military allocated at least $4.7 billion this year to “influence operations” and has more than 27,000 employees devoted to such activities.

Besides military industry also energy sector has its interests in Afghanistan. In his article “The Great Game – The War For Caspian Oil And Gas” Christopher Bollyn describes following:


Those that control the oil routes out of Central Asia will impact all future direction and quantities of flow and the distribution of revenues from new production, Enron, the biggest contributor to the Bush campaign of 2000, conducted the feasibility study for a $2.5 billion Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, which is being built under a joint venture agreement signed in February 1999 between Turkmenistan and two American companies, Bechtel and General Electric Capital Services. Enron, a Texas-based gas and energy company, together with Amoco, British Petroleum, Chevron, Exxon, Mobil and Unocal are all engaged in a multi-billion dollar frenzy to extract the reserves of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan.

Noble rhetoric about fighting for justice and democracy is masking a less noble struggle for control of an estimated $5 trillion of oil and gas resources from the Caspian Basin .,” The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline is slated to be completed in 2014, with $7.6 billion in funding from the Asian Development Bank.

EU as bystander – Russia proposes Security Treaty


From an European perspective has it has been humiliating to wait months what President Obama will decide about Afghanistan – where is the EU alternative given the praise above in my quote? There is much talk in EU of civilian crisis management skills and soft power to resolve conflicts. If such expertise exists why there is no alternative strategies prepared in EU, why EU is outsourcing strategical planning to USA.

I am not saying that an Afghanistan strategy prepared in EU machinery or by European think tanks would be better than that now planned in Pentagon. What interferers me is that there is even try to make it. There is some civil-military co-operation models in Europe, some experience about implemented missions, some studies about “comprehensive approach”. Why EU’s machinery has not developed a program for Afghanistan with its own LogFrame methods?

How the EU’s role in international politics can grow if it does not create alternative models from EU’s own strengths. and not anticipated the initiative to implement them?

More over EU foreign policy possibilities e.g. in my article “Could EU lead the 3rd way out from confrontation

There is also possibilities for wider preparation to deal with international conflicts by developing the ideas proposed Russian President Medvedev. From my point of view his Treaty of European security –draft should be given the change. In his speech in the Serbian Parliament 20/10/2009 he summarized as follows:

Preparing and signing a European Security Treaty could be a starting point for creating a common security zone in the Euro-Atlantic region, and would provide equal and reliable guarantees to all states.

The idea is to build an international cooperation mechanism under UN Security Council responding to threads and challenges in the security sphere. I think that now it is time at least discuss about lessons learned, develop, copy and apply better practices and the forum should be much more wider than Pentagon only. Will the outcome be a new structure or updated old one shall be seen but even more important is to start process itself.

A guestion of Pashtunistan?

Pashtunistan is not on any map, but it’s where leaders of Al Qaeda and the Taliban both hide. It straddles 1,000 miles of the 1,600-mile Afghan-Pakistani border. It is inhabited by the ethnic Pashtuns, a fiercely independent people that number 12 million on the Afghan side and 27 million on the Pakistani side. They have a language (Pashto), an elaborate traditional code of legal and moral conduct (Pashtunwali), a habit of crossing the largely unmarked border at will, and a centuries-long history of foreign interventions that ended badly for the foreigners. Today, the enemies of the United States are nearly all in Pashtunistan, an aspirational name coined long ago by advocates of an independent Pashtun homeland.

The Americans can fight openly only in Afghanistan, not in Pakistan, and the Taliban know it. What to do with Pakistan, bomb it to stone age or what? I hope that planning of Pakistan case has started and is going on with higher standards that Afghanistan case has implemented.

Grass root approach needed instead top to bottom

A revolutionary war is 20 per cent military action and 80 per cent political is a formula that reflects the truth.” (David Galula, Counter-Insurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, 1964)

U.S. spending in Iraq 2003-2006 was 1.4% civilian, 98.6% military” (Dan Sullivan, Sep 2006)

The strategy which Obama now selected has been in public more than three months. I really wonder how the brainstorming during this time has not better outcome than to continue strategy which President Bush already began years ago.

In my previous article “Afghanistan – to be or not” I present other options and summarize my idea as follows:

My conclusion is that the core question is not in or out. I would see the word with as best practice for future relations between the US / EU and Afghanistan.

The civil component and its use is a core question related to further developments in Afghanistan. Normally in US operations the numbers of civilians are normally a tiny fraction of what the military surge numbers are. Capacity building is critical not just in Kabul or inside military compounds, but out there in the field at the district and local levels.

Without local commitment any solution – military or civilian – is not sustainable. Of course if the perspective is only to next U.S. election campaign then real solutions are not the core question.

Bottom line

15. Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them. Actually, also, under the very odd conditions of Arabia, your practical work will not be as good as, perhaps, you think it is.” (T.E.Lawrence, “Twenty-Seven Articles”, 20.08.1917)

This is a 10-year, trillion-dollar effort and does not match up with our interests,” Obama said while receiving a memo over costs of McChrystal plan. I agree and have doubts whether the new strategy will serve only to guarantee the wins of military-industrial complex.

The Taliban wrote in a statement emailed to news organizations that they have “no agenda of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries and is ready to give legal guarantee if the foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan,”

Critics of the new focus on counter-insurgency theory claim it is a tactical gimmick that enables policy-makers to avoid thinking long and hard about what the endgame in Afghanistan will actually look like. It is not a recipe for winning the war in the long run, they say; it is only for avoiding defeat in the short run.

Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War following: “Strategy without tactics is the slow road to victory, but tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” I agree and would add that if there is no vision about endgame one does not even know is the road leading to victory or defeat.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed…. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people…. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. (President Dwight Eisenhower)