NATO 2020: Downsizing Instead of Reshaping

August 30, 2010

Note:

My article was originally published on August 30, 2010 as OP-ED in a collaborative project to create recommendations for NATO’s new Strategic Concept by Atlantic-Community.Org (open think tank).

Ari RUSILA: Rather than providing for collective defense, today’s Alliance is invited to join American wars. Instead of scribbling a new Strategic Concept for NATO that will preserve the dominant position of the US, it might be wiser for European states to develop a New Security Structure within the EU to replace the Cold War relic.

During last sixty years, the security environment and NATO’s role within it have both changed considerably. Threats are more diverse, as the main enemy of the Alliance disappeared in the 1990s. An attack in North America or Europe by the army of an outside state is highly unlikely. Instead of providing for collective defense, NATO is invited to fight US wars by attacking sovereign states. While experts are busy planning the new Strategic Concept, they have avoided a core question: Is NATO needed in the post-Cold War security structure, or could today’s challenges be better met by replacing the Alliance with existing, modernized organizations?

Attack is the Best Defense?

Today’s NATO is an extension of US State Department, where the role of other members is to support US wars, guarantee the quarterly profits of the US military-industrial complex (MIC), and try to cover damages and failures of these aggressions economically by using “soft power.”

From her side, the US is motivated by the prospect of gaining control over the world’s main energy resources. Examples include the US “Silk Road Strategy” (SRS) and the GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) Group, which aimed to block Russia from gas fields in the Caspian Sea, cut her connection to Iran, and isolate Moscow politically. Most conflicts from the Balkans to Afghanistan have their roots in the SRS. Russia’s counter actions have been successful, and both the SRS strategy and GUUAM have been failures. Today, the main focus of the US is to keep a foothold in Central and South Asia and to prevent the expansion of China. NATO’s role is to provide political backing and financial support for these American foreign policy goals, and does not necessarily reflect the EU’s interests (read more in my article Is GUUAM dead?).

Threats Today and in the Near Future

The collapse of Communism removed the original idea of NATO’s existence, and among the Allies there is a growing fatigue to participate in real or imaginary attacks around the world led by an American cowboy policy. The changed security environment has raised the question of NATO’s continuing relevance, and so a new Strategic Concept is being developed to define new threats in order to legitimate the Alliance’s existence. The following can have some relevance:

  • Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and their means of delivery, whether in the hands of irresponsible states or non-state actors.
  • Malevolent use of modern technology and information systems by individuals, organizations and states to target the vulnerable areas of societies is today’s reality – cyber space is a growing battlefield.
  • Globalization is making borders more fluid, so the flow of goods, services, people, technology, crime and weapons is increasing. Open borders can be used to harm different societies by groups with political, religious, economic, or criminal motivations. Also, the communication, transport, and transit routes that link the multi-polar world together are increasingly vulnerable.
  • Climate change, migration of people, struggle over raw materials, and clean water can also be the cause of future conflicts.
  • Intrastate conflicts will continue, caused by both ethnic and economic factors.

The New Security Structure

The New Security Structure – which could replace NATO – should in my opinion cover the whole crisis cycle, from prevention to crisis management to post-crisis stabilization and capacity-building measures. From the EU perspective, the core of this structure should be a combination of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), and EU Battlegroups (EUBG). An even wider structure could be created by reinforcing the OSCE as the main security organization in Europe, but this may require a longer time. In order to respond to today’s threats, the ESDP/CFSP/EUBG should coordinate its activities with the UN/Department of Peacekeeping Operations (world wide crisis cycle management), the IAEA (nuclear and other WMD), Interpol/Europol (organized crime, cyberwar) and FRONTEX (borders).

One crucial question, at least during the transitional period from NATO to the New Security Structure, is the coordination of US hard power with EU soft power in ongoing operations. If EUBG is not enough, more military muscle can be provided by the US. However, America will only help its European partners if the US military-industrial complex has some interest in doing so. Additionally, private firms will be more than ready to take on the dirty jobs: assassinations of terrorists, torture, and trafficking, among others (as they are currently doing in Pakistan on the CIAs payroll). Europe must work to establish its own security structure in order to free itself from the obligation of being complicit in such tactics, which are accepted means of defending and spreading western democratic values under the current US-dominated Alliance.



EU’s phone number?

March 23, 2010

HOW many presidents does it take to represent the EU at a diplomatic conference? Three. That’s the number of European “leaders” going to future G20 talks. (The Sunday Express Comment)

Former US Foreign secretary Henry Kissinger once asked what’s the EU’s phone number. Few months ago EU finally started to act according the Lisbon Treaty with promises that it would make the EU more streamlined in reaching objective that the EU should speak with one voice. Seems it didn’t.

The Sunday Express reported following:


Under the treaty terms, an obscure Belgian politician, Herman Van Rompuy, was appointed EU president and meant to represent all the people in the EU. He doesn’t. His jealous rival, Commission president José Barroso, will accompany him to the talks as will, at times, the head of state holding the rotating presidency of the European Council. No wonder foreign leaders are confused. Politically, the EU is a joke.

Mr Van Rompuy, the former Belgian prime minister dismissed last month by Ukip MEP Nigel Farage as a “damp rag” and a “low-grade bank clerk”, is the permanent president of the European Council. That means he has overall responsibility for foreign policy and security matters.And while the commission’s President Barroso will speak on climate change, there are a number of areas where their responsibilities overlap. One is energy, which is considered both a security and a commission policy area. Only when these circumstances arise will the pair of presidents decide who is to speak, however.

So even three EU presidents to one summit? Is this the last final nail in the coffin of the Lisbon Treaty aim to clarify the positions of EU? How about baroness Ashton, doomed to be a bystander? It seems that instead EU’s phone number Brussels will send a phone book to Washington, Moscow and Beijing.

After top post EC selection I concluded in my article “EU foreign policy in relation of EC selections”following:

The appointments may be good or bad depending which European perspective one likes most. Besides EC bureaucracy and puppet parliament we now have two more officials without authority, respect and proven skills at top level international politics. This means that big players are still calling to London, Berlin and Paris instead of Brussels. For Euro-sceptics this guarantees that EU will not be a key player in international politics its role will be controlling citizens with directives in small details, an discussion forum for joint economical actions.

There is urgent need to streamline EU foreign policy, EC and European External Action Service (EEAS) for implementing Lisbon ideas. Otherwise EU must wait similar situations as e.g. in “Floppenhagen” COP15. Of course if the whole EEAS, with its €6 billion a year development budget to squander, is such a joke than the nomination of Ashton allows to understand so nothing needs to be done and decline of EU as actor in international politics can continue so that the union can concentrate to its core function as distributor of agricultural funds. Is it good or bad depends from the viewpoint.

I’ve always questioned whether the construction would work… the post [EU foreign minister] is set up in a way that makes it virtually impossible.(Carl Bild)


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)



Afghanistan – to be or not?

November 2, 2009

“democracies make elections, elections don’t make democracies”


After Afghanistan’s fraudulent elections President Obama’s future politics in failing state is still foggy. Conflicting views of Obama’s staff, escalation of War to Pakistan, lack of clear vision and strategy are not making choice easy. The rest of the world is waiting U.S. leadership and considering same time their exit strategies. For EU latest now it is time for a rethink (European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and crisis management practice.

After catastrophic first round there is a plan to have a bit more fair second round on 7th November. However Karzai’s opponent former FM Abdullah Abdullah has indicated that he does not believe election system and is planning to withdraw his candidature. After that people can make the democratic choice between one candidate only. This mess with elections shows clearly that central government in Kabul can not be effective partner while seeking new strategy for Afghanistan. It also underscores how ridiculous it is to import desk drawer plans from Brussels or Washington to totally different environment. On the other hand on country side the Taliban are the residents of that place and historically they have proved how resistant they are towards the foreign invaders and their ideas.

Some historical background

In Afghanistan, prior to the Russian invasion, the PDPA or ( the Peoples Democratic Party of
Afghanistan) invited the USSR to assist in modernizing its economic infrastructure, mainly exploration and mining of minerals and natural gas. The USSR also sent contractors to build hospitals, roads and schools and to drill water wells. They also trained and equipped the Afghan army. The country was then renamed the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), and the PDPA regime lasted, in some form or another, until April 1992.


Once in power, the PDPA moved to permit freedom of religion and carried out an ambitious land reform waiving farmers’ debts countrywide. They also made a number of statements on women’s rights and introduced women to political life. A prominent example was Anahita Ratebzad, who was a major Marxist leader and a member of the Revolutionary Council. Ratebzad wrote the famous May 28, 1978 New Kabul Times editorial which declared: “Privileges which women, by right, must have are equal education, job security, health services, and free time to rear a healthy generation for building the future of the country … Educating and enlightening women is now the subject of close government attention.”

As part of a Cold War, in 1979 the United States government began to covertly fund forces ranged against the pro-Soviet government, although warned that this might prompt a Soviet intervention. The secular nature of the government made it unpopular with conservative Afghans in the villages and the countryside who favoured traditionalist ” Islamic” restrictions on women’s rights and in daily life. Many groups, led by members of the traditional establishment were formed, some of them resorting to violence and sabotage to the country’s infrastructure and industry. under the umbrella of Mujahideen, or ” Holy Muslim Warriors”. The Mujahideen belonged to various different factions, but all shared, to varying degrees, a similarly conservative ‘Islamic’ ideology.

The Soviet Union intervened on December 24, 1979. Over 100,000 Soviet troops took part in the invasion backed by another one hundred thousand and by members of the Parcham faction. For over nine years the Soviet Army conducted military operations against the Afghan Mujahideen rebels. The American CIA, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia assisted in the financing of the resistance also because of the anti-communist stance. Among the foreign participants in the war was Osama bin Laden, whose MAK ( maktab al-Khidamat/Office of Order) organization trained a small number of Mujahideen and provided some arms and funds to fight the Soviets. Around 1988 MAK broke away from the Mujahideen to expand the anti-Soviet resistance effort into a world-wide Islamic fundamentalist movement.

The Soviets withdrew its troops in February of 1989, but continued aid to the government led by Mohammed Najibullah. Massive amounts of aid from the CIA and Saudi Arabia to the Mujahideen also continued. Fighting continued among the victorious Mujahideen factions, which gave rise to a state of warlordism. It was at this time that the Taliban developed as a politico-religious force, eventually seizing Kabul in 1996 and establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. By the end of 2000 the Taliban had captured 95% of the country.

During the Taliban’s seven-year rule, much of the population experienced restrictions on their freedom and violations of their human rights. Women were banned from jobs, girls forbidden to attend schools or universities. Communists were systematically eradicated and thieves were punished by amputating one of their hands or feet. Opium production was nearly wiped out by the Taliban by 2001.

Now war in Afghanistan has slogged on for nearly nine years, making it longer than America’s involvement in World Wars I and II combined. U.S. has already spent $228 billion, almost 1000 Americans have been killed (nearly 200 so far this year), and Obama’s summer surge has muscled up America’s Afghan presence to 68,000 troops (plus another 42,000 from NATO. After last elections there is some base to claim that Obama is strengthening a central government that is “infamously incompetent, openly corrupt, criminally abusive, and thoroughly despised”.

Interactive tracking the U.S. War in Afghanistan here!

COIN: McChrystal’s plan

“Our strategy cannot be focused on seizing terrain or destroying insurgent forces; our objective must be the population. In the struggle to gain the support of the people, every action we take must enable this effort.” (Gen. McChrystal)

The integrated counterinsurgency, or COIN, strategy that McChrystal wants to pursue 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 Osama bin Laden, reconciling them into the new government, and targeting those who refuse. This makes it a demanding strategy that McChrystal reportedly believes will require providing at least an additional 10,000 to 40,000 U.S. troops and more than doubling existing Afghan forces to a total of 400,000 indigenous soldiers and police.

McChrystal says that, “Our strategy cannot be focused on seizing terrain or destroying insurgent forces; our objective must be the population. In the struggle to gain the support of the people, every action we take must enable this effort.”

McChrystal’s strategy can be seen as an applied version of Gen. Petraeus’ strategy in Iraq. However when in Iraq could be found an inner conflict between Shia and Sunni factions, between Kurds and other ethnic groups in Afghanistan there is no popular revolt against the Taliban, only a culture in which dominant local warlords flit from one allegiance to another. It defeated the British in 1842 and the Soviets in 1989.

Now the coalition has enough troops to carry out a “clear, hold and build” strategy – but only in a few districts. Overall force levels remain far below what they were in Iraq during the surge – when 174,000 foreign troops worked with 430,000 Iraqi security personnel. Afghanistan, which is bigger than Iraq, has just 102,000 coalition troops and 175,000 local security forces. More from article by Max Boot “There’s No Substitute for Troops on the Ground” October 22, 2009/New york Times.

Integrated COIN is itself no guarantee of success. Social scientists have estimated its success rate at somewhere between 25 and 70 percent at best.

Other alternatives

Today, the war in Afghanistan is at a historic juncture. At this crucial stage President Obama is set to take a risky decision. He has to decide between sending more troops in line with General McChrystal’s demand or to reduce forces in accordance with an exit strategy. There is alternative strategies and quite comprehensive analysis can be found e.g. from article “Is There a Middle Way” by Stephen Biddle in The New Republic on October 20th, 2009 which has been my main source with options below.


1) Use Drones

Another popular middle way is to rely on drone attacks, of the kind now ongoing in northwest Pakistan, to suppress Al Qaeda without a major ground commitment in Afghanistan. By killing key leaders and limiting the others’ freedom of action, it is argued, the drone strikes make large-scale terrorism much harder. Drone-based counterterrorism cannot destroy Al Qaeda outright, but it might be able to constrain it far more cheaply than a major counterinsurgency campaign could.

The biggest challenge to relying on drones is the need for intelligence. Drones are not wonder weapons; in particular, they require information on targets’ whereabouts that is normally provided by other assets–and especially by host government cooperation on the ground. It was Pakistani government penetration of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, for example, that reportedly enabled a U.S. Predator drone to kill terrorist leader Baitullah Meshud in August 2009. In general, such spies, informants, and other tipsters are key intelligence sources for drone attacks on secretive terrorist groups. This “human intelligence,” however, is very hard to get if the government on the ground decides to deny it to the United States.


According to media reports, significant elements within the civilian leadership of the government, led by Vice President Joe Biden, have opposed McChrystal’s plan for an intensified counterinsurgency campaign aimed at breaking the resistance of the Afghan people to US occupation. Instead, Biden and others have proposed an alternative strategy, which reportedly relies on air strikes, accelerated training of Afghan puppet forces and the use of US special forces troops to strike against insurgents across the border in Pakistan.

2) Reconcile with the Taliban


“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants to have good and positive relations with all neighbors based on mutual respect and open a new chapter of good neighborliness of mutual cooperation and economic development. We consider the whole region as a common home against colonialism and want to play our role in peace and stability of the region. “

The quote above is from open letter of Taliban leader Mullah Omar to Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit on 19th September 2009. The letter indicated a shift in Taliban’s general policy and approach towards neighboring countries, the US and Europe.In the same tone, he assured China, India and Russia that the Taliban is going to play positive role in establishing peace and stability in the region. According to some observers who closely monitor the Taliban’s activities, these are new efforts to set out their priorities by focusing on Afghani interests rather than holding to a wide global network.

Recently the Taliban have become more watchful of the foreign Jihadists in Afghanistan. They require foreign militants to work the under supervision of the Taliban provincial commanders. Foreign militant are now not allowed, like before, to carry out their activities. independently.

Another common proposal is to negotiate a power-sharing deal with some or all of the Taliban as a means of ending the war without the escalation embodied in the McChrystal recommendations. America’s real interests are quite limited, it is often argued, so why not pursue a settlement to bring the Taliban into a coalition government on the proviso that they keep Al Qaeda out and deny the use of Afghan territory for destabilizing Pakistan?Karzai has reportedly been reaching out to the Quetta Shura and Hekmatyar factions of the Taliban via Saudi intermediaries for some time now; the talks have never made real progress because the Taliban insist on a total withdrawal of foreign forces as a precondition for negotiation.


3) Buy Off Warlords


It is sometimes argued that the West should stabilize Afghanistan and control Al Qaeda by paying warlords, tribal leaders, or other local power brokers to police their own turf, rather than relying on the national government in Kabul to control the entire country. Afghanistan has never had a strong central government, and order in the provinces has often been maintained by local authorities, legal and otherwise. The British, it is said, found direct control impossible but managed to wield influence by paying tribal or factional leaders. If the United States is willing to settle for government-by-warlord, then it could avoid the expense and risk of an orthodox counterinsurgency campaign while still denying militants access to Afghan havens.The traditional tribal leadership is one thing, but many of Afghanistan’s former warlords and current narcotics kingpins are hated figures whose predatory rule is disliked even more than that of the Taliban.


About a month ago there was stories that some Nato troops bribed local Taliban in exchange for safer environment. Now same idea is considered also by U.S. Americans believe that local Taliban fighters are motivated largely by the need for a job or loyalty to the local leader who pays them and not by ideology or religious zeal, so there could be change to attract these fighters to the government’s side.

The idea of bribing people, local guys, is one of the most cost-effective ways to get people to lay down their arms. It’s based to believe that most Taliban are not politically motivated but are operating for pay or due frustration. However while the plan has a reasonable chance for some success it may not be a long-term solution, it’s more a temporary allegiance.

4) Send Aid, Not Troops

Another proposal would shift the international contribution from combat to development assistance. Prosperity and an economic stake in the government, it is argued, can wean the population from the Taliban more effectively than force, which inevitably causes collateral damage and kills innocent civilians.

Aid is inherently political and is clearly understood to be so by the Taliban, who systematically target Western aid projects for attack. Without large security forces to defend them, aid projects cannot survive. In fact, development projects in Afghanistan are often destroyed even when they are defended, if those defenses are inadequate. No sensible Taliban would allow aid projects to undermine their control over the population when insurgents have the means at their disposal to destroy them or to intimidate their staff. Aid without security in Afghanistan would be fruitless.

EU’s role

EU Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan), launched June 2007 has a mandate to support the Afghan government in establishing a police force that respects human rights. Intended to employ 400 police officers, the mission has struggled to attract 280 and has seen its leadership change three times in two years. The mission’s mandate is due to expire in June 2010, though is likely to be extended.

European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) report “Can the EU rebuild failing states?” is a critical analysis about EU’s ESDP practice and I have used it as my main source related to EU’s role in Afghanistan.

The next generation of ESDP missions are likely to look more like Gaza, Afghanistan and Somalia: fluid, violent and with few clear-cut good and bad guys. To ensure that speed, security and self-sufficiency are at the heart of future interventions, the EU must scrap the idea that civilian missions are best designed by diplomats and European Council officials in Brussels. Responsibility must shift to civilians on the ground, whom the EU should deploy early to develop scalable assistance partnerships with unstable countries.

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 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. The new mission concept can only be effective if complemented by developments in Brussels. First, assuming the Lisbon treaty is passed, the new high representative for foreign policy should appoint a senior deputy to oversee the EU’s policy towards fragile and failing states. Second, the new External Action Service (EAS) should be structured to support integration in the field. Each mission should have “best practice” officers, reporting directly to the EUSR, who would draft reports on how to avoid past mistakes. Additionally, a “lesson-learning” unit should be set up in the Council Secretariat to synthesise reports from the field. Finally, each intervention must work to a set of benchmarks, progress of which should be tracked regularly.

While the total Afghan population is 28,150,000. Some 3.3 million Afghans are now involved in producing opium. A low estimate of the amount that the Taliban earn from the opium economy is $10 million, but considering the tradition of imposing tithes on cultivation and activities further up the value chain, the total is likely to be at least $20 million. As part of EU’s soft power one priority is developing agriculture in Afghanistan. One concrete project could be investigate a licensing scheme to start the production of medicines such as morphine and codeine from poppy crops to help it escape the economic dependence on opium. As much as one-third of Afghanistan’s GPD comes from growing poppy and illicit drugs including opium, morphine and heroin as well as hashish production. Proposed development project however can be difficult to implement politically as Ahmed Wali Karzai – The brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai – is a suspected player in Afghanistan’s opium trade and has been paid by the CIA over the past eight years for services.

Democracy?

The history of Afghanistan shows that they’ve practised pure Greek democracy at the village level for two millennia – to export today’s western democracy idea to Afghanistan without understanding this background may work in cabinets but not on the field. It’s arrogance to think that West easily could come in and install Jeffersonian representative democracy on Afghanistan.


Maybe the best democratic idea could be use an emergency loya jirga (a temporary council traditionally made up of representatives from Afghan tribes and opposing factions used decide matters of national significance). Loya jirga with 1,500 to 2,000 delegates representing all of the major players and parts of the countries could resolve today’s problems like they have traditionally resolved them in the past.

Real U.S. Motives?

It appears that the U.S. military may be a wholly owned subsidiary of the international (i.e. American and British)oil companies). U.S.military’s involvement in Afghanistan is directly related to the large reserves of natural gas in Turkmenistan. It seems that the U.S. interest in increasing troop levels in Afghanistan jumped a notch along with the recently publicized discovery of the very large large natural gas reserves in the Yoloten-Osman gas field in southern Turkmenistan. The TAPI gas pipeline can be one answer why U.S. invade Afghanistan. The wider picture is that U.S. tries to implement its Silk Road Strategy (SRS) by securing control over extensive oil and gas reserves, as well as “protecting” pipeline routes and trade on Eurasian corridor. This militarization is largely directed against China, Russia and Iran. More about SRS in my article “Is GUUAM dead?


Spin-offs

While Afghanistan could be an attractive terrorist base, it is not at all crucial to al Qaeda, which now has many ‘homes,’ including fiery spinoffs in Indonesia, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, as well as in enclaves in France and England. The anti-Taliban operations launched in the valley of Swat in May 2009 forced some parts of foreign hirelings move to Central Asian states bordering with Afghanistan. This May a 100-men detachment led by the former field commander of the United Tajik Opposition Mullo Abdullo (Rakhimov) showed up in eastern Tajikistan. In late May an Uzbek check-point in Khanabad on the Kyrgyz border was attacked at night, and a few blasts later hit Andizhan. In July two operations were carried out in Southern Kyrgyzstan. All these incidents are linked with the return of some militants from the Afghan-Pakistan areas to Central Asia.


By autumn the situation in Uzbekistan worsened. The republic saw an outbreak of violent attacks aimed at high-ranking religious figures followed by a series of armed clashes and detentions of suspected criminals. The exact number of militants from Central Asia who have been staying in the Tribe Zone (on the Afghan-Pakistan border) is yet unknown. In mid September western media reported some 5.000 Uzbek militants to be hiding in North and South Waziristan. The real thread is growing terror activity in Russia’s southern borders (in Central Asia) and in Russia’s North Caucasus.


Opium etc production and politics have interactive connection especially in Afghanistan. Earlier I have studied how US foreign policy tactics helped to create logistics between markets via Balkan route and producers of heroin. This creature has been further developed by itself more strong by financial connection between Wahhabi organizations e.g. in Kosovo and international terrorism and Wahhabis as potential pool for operations. Same time there is historical and social link between organized crime groups and Kosovo’s political leaders. All this has also its international dimensions. I have described the outcome as Fourfold or Quadruple Helix Model where government, underworld, Wahhabbi schools and international terrorism have win-win symbiosis. More in my article “Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo”.

Al-Qaeda does not require Afghan real estate to constitute a regional or global threat. Terrorists gravitate to areas of least resistance; if they cannot use Afghanistan, they will use countries such as Yemen or Somalia, as in fact they already are. The one issue that should be at the core of the United States’ Afghan strategy is Pakistan. It is there, not Afghanistan, where the United States has vital national interests. These stem from Pakistan’s dozens of nuclear weapons, the presence on its soil of the world’s most dangerous terrorists and the potential for a clash with India that could escalate to a nuclear confrontation.


My view

Speaking about “War on Terror” I think it is time to make a difference between the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The Taliban are mainly local Afghans who do not want to be occupied by any invading army, local Afghan nationalists resisting occupation. They may be ISI Pakistani agents fighting a proxy war against the US, drug smugglers and opium growers protecting their drug territories, foreign jihadists and the angry relatives of Afghans killed by coalition forces getting revenge.

One does not need to like about Taliban nor accept their ideology, but one should agree that they more or less represent their country. So if they concentrate – as indicated in last letter of Mullah Omar to SCO – Afghanistan’s inner policy without affection towards terror export to foreign countries why not give them change.

From my point of view the future strategy towards Afghanistan – if the aim is to get some sustainability – should be based on two principles:

  • Bottom-up principle, where the actions, development plans and administration are made starting from local, village level; not from high flown programmes made in Brussels or Washington.
  • Integrated approach where security, economy, local participation/commitment and administration are not separate sectors.

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 U.S./EU and Afghanistan. The local stakeholder may or may not accept cooperation with foreigners but it is their choice as it is choice for U.S./EU to participate and invest to Afghanistan’s development plans or not.



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.

 



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.

 



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.



EU’s Community Initiatives would bring Europe closer to its people

June 20, 2009

Blogactiv.eu” –article, posted by “Challenge for Europe” on 19th June 2009  highlights the importance of EU’s Community Initiatives as most successful popular direct contacts between the EU institutions and the citizens in their local communities.

“The EU mobilized European citizens in getting together, discovering sustainable practices elsewhere, while getting involved in decision-making at home. It opened doors to similar initiatives in Member states and accession countries and made Europe tangible.”

The article also makes proposal that EU should again substantially invest into local initiatives and bottom-up support in order to bring Europe closer to its people.

I full agree with initiative made by “Challenge for Europe“.  I personally have been enjoying about the real progress on the ground while managing many international “bottom up” projects financed by EU.  I also agree that real effect can best be achieved through participatory planning methods and commitment of local stakeholders is the key element for successful project implementation. As side effect I don’t expect only EU citizens feel EU closer but also that people outside member-states could see EU as practical partner instead of colonialist administrator or mastermind.

When the project is made like desk plan in Washington or Brussels with some cooperation with state’s central government there always is a risk of more or less big gap between beneficiary needs and centralized aims. Some of these failures I  have earlier described in my writings “World Bank destroyed Albanian village in joint operation with corrupted Government…” , “UN death Camps, EU money, local negligence” and “Squandering Kosovo’s Aid Funds”.

Personally I am most interested about EU community initiatives which are improving cooperation between regions/institutions inside EU and those outside of them.  Projects inside ENPI (EU’s neighbourhood policy tool) as well Interreg and Framework programs allow some actions implemented also outside EU borders.  As the challenges and practices many times differ a lot of those inside EU the situation makes it possible to develop good and creative practices to all participants.


From my point of view new community initiatives should be more implemented especially on the fields which normally are under EU’s external relations, enlargement policy, pre-accession instruments, CFSP (common foreign policy) or ESDP (security & defence policy). Characteristic today is that huge EU funding is going through programmes, operations and missions on those fields based on centralized planning and only fraction at best is planned with local stakeholders.

The key element is the local participation, without it the results can be like in Afghanistan which is going opposite direction than originally intended (more e.g. in my article “Karzai’s administration worse than Taliban”).  Same case in Bosnia-Herzegovina where ethnic groups are building their own statehood components against EU’s efforts to strengthen centralized state. Same in Kosovo where despite high-flown statements about developing “European” standards the province is still a tribe leaded protectorate with poor administrative record, unsustainable economy and captured by crime organized crime groups.

To close the gap between centralized (Brussels, state level) aims and practice on field (regional or mission level) the following actions could according my experience be useful:

  • improvement of situation analysis,
  • developing field experience feedback during missions or program period,
  • applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission/program planning procedure,
  • Logical Framework Approach should be applied through the process,
  • Special need is also use Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions.

The EU funding(programs) should not be too fixed, new – and old – community initiatives should give free space for local challenges because then it is also possible to find some creative solutions, good practices for both participants in EU member-states as well outside of them.



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