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)


Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state

February 20, 2010

US recognition of severed Kosovo province was a serious mistake, leading to an escalation of tensions, instead of calming down the situation in the Balkans … consensus boils down to the fact that nobody knows where Kosovo is” (John Bolton)

The recognition of Kosovo was premature and conditioned by great pressure from the former American administration”… “Today, we can see that two-thirds of the international community does not recognize Kosovo … this shows that we are talking about a grave mistake” (Gerhard Schröder)


Two years has gone since Kosovo Albanians declared their independence from Serbia. However calling to Kosovo needs country code 381 – which is Serbia – or by GSM 377 44 (via Monaco Telecom) or others via Serbian operators. This because as at this time, Abkhazia, Kosovo, Transnistria, Somaliland, South Ossetia and others are not in the ISO 3166-1 standard due the absence of recognition by the United Nations. Situation is one minor example about Kosovo “statehood”. Besides formalities – like that the province is administrated as international protectorate by foreign powers – the on the ground status is more complicated and even going more far away from drawing board ideals of Washington and Brussels.

Those who supported Kosovo independence said that Kosovo was unique case and not precedent thousands of ethnic or separatist movements around the world made other conclusion – Abkhasia and South Ossetia came first from the “Pandora box” which Kosovo opened. To limit the degree of damage it is time to restore international forums and law.


Legal aspect

From legal aspect the Nato bombings and later orchestrated unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) of Kosovo Albanians were against international law and violation of the UN Charter, Helsinki Accords and a series of UN resolutions including the governing UNSC resolution #1244. Officially Kosovo is international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission. Now the case (UDI) is in International Court of Justice and its statement is expected Mid 2010. (More “UN is sending Kosovo case to ICJ”).

Whatever – depending point of view – status Kosovo has, the province is de facto administrated by international community. However the administration is still in full chaos because there is administrators more than enough. 1st (not order of authority) we have European Union Special representative (EUSR) who is double hatted as chef of International Community Office; 2nd we have Head of EU Commission liaison office; 3rd we have EULEX mission; 4th there is KFOR troops including Europe’s second largest Nato base, 5th international administrator is from UN side – SRSG as Head of UNMIK mission. All these administrators and other supervisors like OSCE, Quint etc – are playing in the same sandbox wondering who is doing what and where. In addition in Kosovo is also local stakeholders like separatist governments institutions in areas habitat by Albanians and parallel Serb institutions in areas habitat by Serbs. (More e.g. in (“EULEX, UN and mess-up in Kosovo” )

The fact on the ground is that northern part of Kosovo is integrated to Serbia like it always has been, as well those pats south of Ibar river, which are not ethnically cleansed by Kosovo Albanians. Between ethnic groups a huge operation of international community is going on with its foggy ideas.


Refugees and unrealized returns

The refugee and IDP (“internally displaced persons”) question is of paramount importance in Balkans. In Serbia the refugee problem came when Serbs were expelled from East Croatia and Croatian Krajina. The IDP problem is a follow-up of Kosovo conflict when some 200.000 Serbs and some thousands of Roma were expelled from there to northern Serb-dominated part of province or to Serbia. During Nato bombings also Kosovo Albanians – about 700.000 – escaped from the province but most of them have returned back. Most of Montenegro refugees – 16259 – fled from Kosovo. Nearly all of Serbia’s IDPs fled also from Albanian majority parts of Kosovo province. Despite EU’s nice ideas about multi-ethnic Kosovo and implementation of housing and other return programs only a fraction (few per cent) of Serb IDPs have returned to Kosovo after ten years of international administration while majority of Kosovo Albanian refugees returned during last half of year 1999.

To table below I have collected the numbers of refugees and IDPs in western Balkans; the sum total includes also asylum-seekers, stateless etc. persons. As source I have used UNHCR report 16thJune 2009 and “Internal Displacement in Europe and Central Asia” report made by UNCHR and The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), established in 1998 by the Norwegian Refugee Council.


Country Refugees IDPs Total
Albania 65 0 87
Bosnia-Herzegovina 7257 124529 194448
Croatia 1597 2497 33943
(FRY) Macedonia 1672 0 2823
Montenegro 24741 0 26242
Serbia 96739 225879 341083

The table above is maybe surprising to those who have the picture – made by western mainstream media – in their minds, that (only) Serbs were making ethnic cleansing. In reality today the Serbs are the biggest victims of Balkan wars. (More in my article Forgotten Refugees – West Balkans”).

Failed post-conflict reconstruction

The new report made by Minority Rights Group International (MRG) gives a bare picture about worsening situation of minority rights in today’s Kosovo. Instead to return to their homes after ethnic cleansing implemented by Kosovo Albanians after Nato intervention 1999 minorities are beginning to leave Kosovo, because they face exclusion and discrimination.

One of the cruellest example of failed post-conflict reconstruction is the case of Roma children living in UN camps in North Mitrovica, Kosovo. So far 81 has already dead after ten years suffering in United Nations Camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), living in place which is described the most toxic site in Eastern Europe. Their case gives another perspective related to “humanitarian intervention” implemented by Nato and to international administration implemented afterwards and backed with billions of Euros EU financing. (More in my article “UN death camps, EU money, local negligence”)

Despite huge EU programmes and reports singing their praises the progress in Kosovo has been modest if not non-existing. Kosovo faces major challenges, including ensuring the rule of law, the fight against corruption and organised crime, the strengthening of administrative capacity, and the protection of the Serb and other minorities. EU Commision’s 2009 progress reports of Kosovo province and its neighbours can be found as pdf from my Document library.

The focus of international state-building efforts in Kosovo has been predominantly on political and security issues, and since 2008 in particular the rule of law. The long-term challenges are however related in general first to conflict between international law and present status and second to poor state of Kosovo’s economy. Today’s EU rule & law mission – Eulex – does not address either of these challenges.

Kosovo highlights the fact that states and international organisations intervening in post-conflict situations should be realistic about what socio-political change they can actually achieve. Despite huge resources and strong mandate international administration can fail if the situation analysis is combination of false supposition and actions based to high flown drawer desk plans. The state-building process can also cease due pressure. This was evident in Kosovo when the eruption of violence in March 2004 pushed the international community towards addressing the status question and throw earlier “standards before status” principle to litter box. (More e.g. in “Pogrom with Prize”)

Insignificant economic base and remarkable social challenge

Official statistics from year 2008 shows that export from Kosovo amounted about 200 millon Euro while import increased to 2 billion Euro, which makes trade balance almost 1,800 million Euro minus. If export is covering some 10 percent of import so from where is money coming to this consumption. The estimate is that when export brings mentioned 71 million Euro the organised crime (mainly drug trafficing) brings 1 billion Euro, diaspora gives 500 million Euro and international community 200 million Euro.

In 2007, more than 40 percent of contributes to direct tax revenues and sustains the delivery of public services Kosovo’s GDP was made up of foreign assistance, remittances and foreign direct investment – mostly privatisation proceeds and the issuing of a second mobile phone licence. All of these outside contributions are likely to decline substantially as a consequence of the global financial crisis, with dire consequences for Kosovo’s budget.

Kosovo has Europe’s youngest and fastest – growing population. Yearly 30,000 more young people enters working age than the number that leave labour markets which due Kosovo’s poor economy can not absorb them. Same time the education system is poorly governed, poorly resourced, and prone to corruption. Hardly any of the 30 private universities in Kosovo, for example, have met accreditation criteria (BritishAccreditationCouncil2008), and with few exceptions they provide sub-standard education. This leaves a whole generation of Kosovars without marketable skills and with very limited economic perspectives – at least legal ones.

The poor state of Kosovo’s economy combined to demographic challenge is likely to fuel a range of security threats, such as illegal trafficking, migration, and organised crime.

Organised crime

Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) were established mid-90s. In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society.

In some other important drug transit zones trafficking is reflected in high levels of violence but not in Balkans. UN report explains this that good links between crime organizations and commercial/political elites have ensured that Balkan organized crime groups have traditionally encountered little resistance from the state or rival groups. To keep fragile situation calm (western) international community don’t interfere criminal activities leaded its former allies.

The real power in Kosovo lays with 15 to 20 family clans who control “almost all substantial key social positions” and are closely linked to prominent political decision makers. German intelligence services (BND) have concluded that Prime Minister Thaçi is a key figure in a Kosovar-Albanian mafia network. Two German intelligence reports – BND report 2005 and BND-IEP report Kosovo 2007 – are giving clear picture about connection between politics and organized crime; both reports can be found from my document library under headline Kosovo.

I have earlier described circumstances in Kosovo with “Quadruple Helix Model” where government, underworld, Wahhabbi schools and international terrorism have win-win symbiosis. (More in “Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo”) In general there is expectations that Kosovo is sliding to be a “failed state” I am however tending to the opinion that a “captured state” is better definition.

quadruple helix model

War crimes

The present day circumstances are shadowed also by the fact that most of the war crimes committed 1999 are still unsolved. On the other hand the situation declares null and void the efforts for multi-ethnic society, on the other hand it prevents transformation of Kosovo-Albanian political field from tribe level more democratic practice. For today’s politicians war crimes are important to keep non-existing due the imago reasons or because they now are part of regular (illegal) business. Occasionally some details pop up like it was case with organ trafficking (More in “New Cannibalism in Europe too?”)

The actions of the Nato campaign 1999 are quite well documented but despite bombings were against international and war crimes committed no trials has been made. Nato planes destroyed 4 % of its military targets during bombing – partly because for avoiding own casualties they launched missiles so high that could not make difference between wooden decoys and real weapons. Instead of military targets the main damage was made against civilian targets such as destroying an embassy (China), a prison (Istok), three column of Albanian refugees (81 dead March 13th and 75 April 14th), radio-tv station (Belgrade, 16 civilians dead), a passenger train (Grdelica bridge, 14 dead), also a number of infrastructure, commercial buildings, schools, health institutions, cultural monuments were damaged or destroyed. Some 2.500 people (mostly civilians) were dead, material civil infrastructure damage is estimated to be some 30 billion dollars. (More e.g. in “10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia”)

Kosovo is still suffering of some consequences of Nato’s 1999 bombings such as the effects of the use of depleted uranium (DU) on the civilian population. The Nato allegedly used shells with depleted uranium which are still today causing an increase in the number of cancer patients. (More from article Use of Depleted Uranium proved in Nato bombings”)

Epilogue

The outcome today in Kosovo is a quasi-independent pseudo-state with good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state if international community does not firm its grip in province. Today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers.

From my viewpoint the only way to get sustainable solution to Kosovo is through real negotiations between local stakeholders. To get start of real talks US should freeze or withdraw its recognition of Kosovo UDI; otherwise it takes too long time for Kosovo Albanians to find out that some negotiated outcome ? be it cantonization, partition or whatever agreed – could be better than status quo. (About possible solutions “Dividing Kosovo – a pragmatic solution to frozen conflict” and Cantonisation – a middle course for separatist movements)

The readiness to open new talks over status question may be increasing. I quote Gallup

The latest Gallup Balkan Monitor survey conducted in September 2009 showed Kosovo Albanians are less positive toward independence. Seventy-five percent of Kosovo Albanians said independence was a good thing, down from 93% who said so in 2008. One in five Kosovo Albanians said they did not have an opinion. Furthermore, in 2009, 80% of Kosovo Serbs believed that independence was a bad thing, statistically unchanged since 2008.

When time runs so I think that more and more local population would like to un-freeze conflict and concentrate to issues that matters.

Of course if US wants keep one frozen conflict more in world and if EU is ready to squander more billions of euros for its capacity building efforts nothing needs to be done. (More e.g. in “Kosovo-update”)



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)



IRAN – revolution postponed

July 7, 2009

Revolution in Iran seems to happen only in western dreams and media. Protests took place only in Tehran and a few large cities and are now nearly disappeared. Smaller towns and rural areas have been very quiet whole the time after elections. The opposition may not yet have been defeated, but the problems are much deeper than calming the streets. The struggle inside ruling elite is continuing and one could estimate that Iran’s political system is now undergoing a major crisis of legitimacy over allegations of a fraudulent presidential elections.  So revolution is postponed in this still theocratic state.

Iran is one of the oldest existing civilizations on globe, its population is well educated young and big and it owns huge energy resources so the country can have sustainable success also in future as regional superpower.  From my point of view people in Iran know best how to develop their country without outside guidance – indeed foreign interference can only make situation worse as seen in history.  However for foreign countries it is extremely important to try understand developments in Iran and consider their future cooperation according that background. From western perspective the key question is if foreign policy of Iran is changing and if to which direction.

While U.S. and EU are still looking their positions related postelection situation in Iran the country itself appears to be caught between strategies: one that does not want to downgrade diplomatic relations with other nations for fear of international isolation, and another that is pushing the concept of foreign interference for domestic reasons.

U.S. interference

Tehran’s foreign policy, particularly its policies toward the U.S., has its own strategic logic, and is based on Iran’s ambitions and Tehran’s perception of what threatens them.

Iranians are deeply skeptical about American motives in the Middle East. In 1953, the CIA, with cooperation with Intelligence Service, triggered a coup that deposed the popular Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, who had nationalised Iran’s oil industry, monopolised by the British. Mossadeq had wanted to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in which the British had a majority share. The British and Americans organised a coup, put Mossadeq under house arrest and placed Pahlavi firmly in control as Shah.

Added to this are the insults and damages that the United States has inflicted on Iran over the past two-and-a-half decades. Iranians will never forget that the United States tilted toward Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. By all accounts, Iran would have won the war if the United States had not interfered. Moreover, it is widely known that the United States provided poison gas and other chemical weapons to Iraq during that conflict.

Behind the soothing rhetoric of  “the promotion of democracy “, Washington’s actions aim to impose regimes that are opening their markets to the US without conditions and which are aligning themselves to their foreign policy claims Thierry Meyssan, a journalist and chairperson of Voltaire Network.  Meyssan describes in his article “Color revolution fails in Iran” –  two of U.S. tools for democracy promotion related also to Iran namely the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), created in 1982 and the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) in 1984; both of these institutions are organically intertwined. I quote:

Legally the NED is a not-for-profit organization under US law, financed by an annual grant voted by Congress as part of the State Department budget. In order to operate, this organization is co-financed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which is part of the State Department. This legal structure is used jointly as a cover by the American CIA, the British MI6 and the Australian ASIS (and occasionally by Canadian and New Zealand secret services).

The NED presents itself as an agency promoting democracy. It intervenes either directly or using one of its four tentacles: one designed to subvert unions, the second responsible for corrupting management organizations, the third for left-wing parties and the fourth for right-wing parties.

The operation conducted in 2009 in Iran belongs to the long list of pseudo revolutions. First, a 400 million dollar budget was voted in 2007 by Congress to orchestrate a « regime change » in Iran. This was in addition to the ad hoc budgets of the NED, the USAID, the CIA & Co. How this money is being used is unclear, but the three main recipients are the following: the Rafsanjani family, the Pahlavi family and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran. “Another is the presence in the UK of the Iranian opposition group MKO.” The MKO is the People’s Mujahedin Organisation, which was taken off the list of terrorist groups by the EU in January.

Western manuscript – Restore Monarchy project

What was the practical plan to change regime in Iran?  One quite well based option is described by William O.Beeman in an article “Washington might have picked Iran’s future king and premier” -published in Iran Press Service.  Of course IPS can be seen as biased media but the script shows how western interference can be seen from Iran’s perspective.  Anyway  Mr. Beeman is a writer and professor of anthropology at The University of Minnesota and he describes western script for regime change in Iran as follows:

The form of government would be a Constitutional Monarchy, with the Head of State being Reza Pahlavi, son of the former Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was deposed in the 1978-79 Islamic revolution, and Sohrab Sobhani as his Prime Minister. The Bush Administration apparently has a handpicked American “plumber” ready to go in Iran, much like Ahmed Chalabi (the leader of the Defence Department-backed Iraqi National Congress) in Iraq. This is Sohrab “Rob” Sobhani, an Iranian-American associated with the neoconservatives in Washington. With Reza Pahlavi as Shah, the 40-ish Sobhani would presumably be prime minister or president.

The promoter of the Administration policy is American Enterprise Institute Freedom Chair Holder Michael Ledeen –  one of four advisers in regular consultation with White House strategist, Karl Rove.  ledeen and Sobhani recently established the Coalition for Democracy in Iran (CDI) to promote this regime change.

Reza Pahlavi had been living quietly in Maryland until 11 September, when he began to address the Iranian community via the internet and satellite television. This prompted the Iranian community to dub him the “Internet Prince.” Rob Sobhani, who has known Reza Pahlavi since childhood, was actually born in Kansas. He became a specialist in energy policy. He has had his finger in many pies in Washington, including consultation on the construction of an oil and gas pipeline across Afghanistan. Sobhani’s interests in regime change are very clear and very consonant with American desires. They are largely commercial. Following his graduation from Georgetown, he became head of a Caspian Energy Consulting, a firm dealing with the transport and sale of Caspian oil. He also notes that supporting a secularisation of Iran would lead to easier transport of Caspian oil through Iranian territory.

Sobhani also sees secularisation of Iran as beneficial for Israel. This is not surprising, since Israel and Iran had excellent ties before the 1978-79 Islamic Revolution. The Iranian Jewish community is the oldest continuous Jewish community in the world. The community is as prominent in Diaspora as in Iran, with members in powerful positions in the Israeli government and in American life, particularly in California. Elimination of the clerical regime in Iran would eliminate support for (the Iran-backed Lebanese) Hezbollah. It might even lead to renewed trade between Tehran and Tel Aviv.

Ledeen and Sobhani expect to have the coup first, and then present Reza Pahlavi as the emergent ruler. Ledeen said as much in a rally in Los Angeles for Iranian monarchists, saying in effect: Let’s have the revolution first, then worry about who will rule Iran. What Ledeen, who has never traveled to Iran, and Sobhani don’t understand is that for such an operation to work, it cannot be tied to an overt embracing of a restoration of the Monarchy (remembering the CIA engineered counter-coup in 1953 that created an American puppet regime in Iran until 1979). Moreover, it cannot specifically espouse use of the Mojahedeen Khalq Organisation (MKO), the guerrilla movement opposing the Iranian government from Iraq. Both the Pahlavi regime and the Mojahedeen are widely opposed in Iran, even from people who would like to see clerical rule eliminated. To have Reza Pahlavi return to power with American blessing would, for many Iranians, be a continuation of American interference in Iranian affairs.

Change in foreign policy – western view?

European diplomats had meeting on 1st July 2009 but  they made no formal decision to order their envoys home, however  this measure was an option as the European Union — Iran’s biggest trading partner — tried to work out how to defuse the dispute in a way that would shield other embassies in Tehran from similar action (detention of the British Embassy’s Iranian personnel).  A high-ranking Iranian military official demanded that the Europeans apologize for interference in Iran’s affairs, which, he said, disqualified European countries from negotiating on Iran’s nuclear program. The official, Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, the armed forces chief of staff, was quoted by the semiofficial Fars news agency as saying that because of the European Union’s “interference” in the postelection unrest, the bloc had “totally lost the competence and qualifications needed for holding any kind of talks with Iran.” (Source NYT)

In an interview with The New York Times, a day before his scheduled departure for Moscow on Sunday, Mr. Obama said he had “grave concern” about the arrests and intimidation of Iran’s opposition leaders, but insisted, as he has throughout the Iranian crisis, that the repression would not close the door on negotiations with the Iranian government. “We’ve got some fixed national security interests in Iran not developing nuclear weapons, in not exporting terrorism, and we have offered a pathway for Iran to rejoining the international community,” Mr. Obama said. (US) The administration, meanwhile, has been preparing for two opposite possibilities: One in which the Iranian leadership seeks to regain a measure of legitimacy by taking up Mr. Obama’s offer to talk — a situation that could put Washington in the uncomfortable position of giving credibility to a government whose actions Mr. Obama has deplored — or one in which Iran rejects negotiations. In comments on the CBS News program “Face the Nation,” Admiral Mullen (the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) seemed to underscore the Pentagon’s concern that an Israeli strike could start a broader conflict, and might simply drive the Iranian nuclear efforts deeper underground. He said any strike on Iran could be “very destabilizing — not just in and of itself but the unintended consequences of a strike like that.” (Source NYT)

Israeli leaders have not asked the United States for approval to attack Iran for fear Washington will turn them down, according to a news report on July 7, 2009 in The Washington Times. Two unnamed Israeli officials close to Benjamin Netanyahu said the prime minister is concerned the White House would not approve an Israeli request to launch military strikes on Iran’s nuclear program. “There was a decision not to press this because it was probably inadequate for the engagement policy and what we know about Obama’s approach to Iran,” one of the officials told the Washington Times.

There are some who believe Bush’s mistake was not to have shifted his aim eastward: that if he was looking for an oil-rich state in the Persian Gulf with links to terrorism and dreams of weapons of mass destruction then Iran, not Iraq, should have been his target. That kind of talk makes others nervous. They fear that the US might one day repeat the Iraq calamity, with the ayatollahs cast in the role of Saddam Hussein.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday that Moscow supports US Administration’s plan to hold direct talks with Iran.Medvedev told reporters that the talks would prepare ground for US to discuss its concerns.
Referring to the countries rights to gain nuclear technology for civilian utility, Medvedev said that producing nuclear energy within the framework of the international regulations and the IAEA must not be considered problematic. The Russian president drew a line between the Iranian nuclear program and that of North Korea and said that Iranian nuclear program is underway while interacting with international bodies, the Islamic republic news agency reported. “North Korea has cut its contacts with the outside world,” the Russian president said expressing his concern about the North Korean test-firing missiles. (Source Farsnes)

Energy aspect

Putting democracy  and civil rights aside for a while the economical aspect has been and is maybe the most important while foreign powers are looking their positions with Iran. As the world’s fourth-highest oil and gas producer Iran can have good economical growth, petrochemical revenues account some 80 % of Iran’s export earnings, much of this income is used to public spending and subsidies (energy subsidies amount to about 17.5 % of GPD according IMF) while a lack of domestic refining capacity means that Iran imports around 40% of its petrol. Iran boasts the biggest reserves of natural gas in the Middle East but its consumption is also high, behind only the US and Russia.  EU and Russia have big interests where this gas will be exported.  More about this e.g. in my article “Is it time to bury Nabucco?


As mentioned earlier privatization of energy sector and transportation routes were a priority in US blueprint “restore Monarchy”.  Also during the last electoral campaign, Rafsanjani required Mir-Hossain Mousavani, his former adversary, to promise he would privatize the oil sector.

Iran’s plans to develop nuclear energy facilities has been crucial factor with Iran’s international relations. Russia has been helping Iran with the construction of the nuclear facility in the southern port city of Bushehr under a contract signed in 1995. Bushehr power plant started its pre-commissioning stage in the presence of Iranian and Russian nuclear experts in February 2009. Tehran and Moscow planning to expand nuclear cooperation in future. (Source Irannewsdaily)

Color revolution postponed

Thierry Meayssan hits the nail on the head in his article “Color revolution fails in Iran”  giving following description:

“ Color revolutions” are to revolutions what Canada Dry is to beer. They look like the real thing, but they lack the flavor. They are regime changes which appear to be revolutions because they mobilize huge segments of the population but are more akin to takeovers, because they do not aim at changing social structures. Instead they aspire to replace an elite with another, in order to carry out pro-American economic and foreign policies. The  “green revolution”  in Tehran is the latest example of this trend.  Behind the soothing rhetoric of “the promotion of democracy”, Washington’s actions aim to impose regimes that are opening their markets to the US without conditions and which are aligning themselves to their foreign policy. However, while these goals are known by the leaders of the “color revolutions”, they are never discussed and accepted by the mobilized demonstrators. In the event when these takeovers succeed, citizens soon rebel against the new policies imposed on them, even if it is too late to turn back. Besides, how can opposition groups who sold their country to foreign interests behind their populations’ backs be considered “democratic”?

When post-election riots started the Western media relied on its reporters covering the mass demonstrations of opposition supporters, ignoring and downplaying the huge turnout for Ahmadinejad. Worse still, the Western media ignored the class composition of the competing demonstrations – the fact that the Ahmadinejad was drawing his support from the far more numerous poor working class, peasant, artisan and public employee sectors while the bulk of the opposition demonstrators was drawn from the upper and middle class students, business and professional class.  The most news coverage came from Tehran via English speaking students ignoring the provinces, small and medium size cities and villages where Ahmadinejad has his mass base of support (more in pre-election survey).

While the opposition’s supporters were students easily mobilized for street activities Ahmadinejad’s support drew on the majority of working youth and household women workers who would express their views at the ballot box and had little time or inclination to engage in street politics. Ahmadinejad did very well in the oil and chemical producing provinces. This may reflect energy sector workers’ opposition to the reformist plans privatize public enterprises.  The great majority of voters for the incumbent probably felt that national security interests, the integrity of the country and the social welfare system, with all of its faults and excesses, could be better defended and improved with Ahmadinejad than with upper-class technocrats supported by Western-oriented privileged youth who prize individual life styles over community values and solidarity.

Mohsen M.Milani, University of South Florida/political science department, estimates that

Unless there is a fundamental change in the existing structural configuration of the Islamic Republic, or in a change in the institution of the Supreme Leader, it is unlikely that Iran will radically change its foreign policy. If anything, the next president of Iran is likely to rely increasingly on nationalistic sentiments in order to bring harmony to a divided, dynamic and assertive Iranian electorate. The Islamic Constitution was deliberately structured to insure that the unelected component of the government, or its Islamic part, dominates its elected or the republican part.

A summary below made by BBC describes good today’s ruling system in Iran:

Tehran’s top priority is the survival of the Islamic Republic as it exists now. The strategic direction of the Islamic Republic of Iran has always been determined by the Supreme Leader, in consultation with the main centers of power in Iran’s highly factionalized polity. As the second most powerful man in the country, the Iranian president has profound impact on strategy and policy, but the Supreme Leader — Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — is the final “decider.” As the country’s most powerful figure, he is the commander of the armed forces and in charge of the intelligence and security forces and serves for life. He — not the president — makes the key decisions regarding war and peace, Iran’s nuclear policies, and relations with Washington. The Islamic Constitution was deliberately structured to insure that the unelected component of the government, or its Islamic part, dominates its elected or the republican part.

One aspect that something is changing inside Iran’s power structure is that the opponents of new elite is making mass-scale money transfers from Iran. European security experts, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, confirmed reports in Italian and Turkish newspapers that large sums of money had been sent to havens outside the country from banks controlled by the Revolutionary Guards.

Ahmadinejad’s success in last  election is strenghtening a process begun in June 2005, with his first election as president. Slowly he is making power swift from clerics of Qom to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), particularly the veterans of the Iran-Iraq war. Revolutionary Guards have seized ownership of Iranian revolution from the clerics, whom they accused of being weak-willed opportunists and corrupted hypocrites.

From discussion forums a couple of opinions maybe are expressing also wider mood in today’s Iran:

However under Ahmadinejad I see that we have a president who will not take insults from anyone or any country, this makes me and millions of other Iranians very happy.

I have no doubt, he also did an excellent job standing up to the world war criminals, thieves, liars and hypocrites. My only dilemma is accepting the way ordinary citizens & protestors on the streets were treated.

Bottom line

Abbas Barzegar concludes the post election outcome quite good in his article  “Media fantacies in Iran” as follows:

Soon, Iran will fade from the news cycle and its horrors will blend with those of the rest of the world. Ahmadinejad will serve four years as a lame-duck president, tempered by Khamenei domestically and internationally. Mousavi, along with Khatami, will probably retire from politics while Rafsanjani secures his assets as quickly as possible. (Ali) Larijani (Parliament Speaker)  will be the supreme leader’s new man and after leading the charge on election reform will probably be the next president.

The West cannot afford to ignore any regime in Iran –  there are a number of issues that one just has to negotiate with the current Iranian regime such as the nuclear programme, regional security and economy-related problems

Professor Ali Ansari, a noted authority on the country, predicts that a regime that now “suffers from a serious domestic legitimacy problem – and which knows it – will seek a foreign foe, something to rally the country around.” He predicts “acts of provocation”, and only hopes Israel is wise enough not to take the bait.

The worst thing for foreign powers – excluding Israel’s airstrike and all its consequences –  is to come out in open support of opposition demonstrations – as the Bush administration did so recklessly in 2003, forcing reformist leaders and opposition politicians to shun protesters for fear of being denounced as traitors.  Same action today would be fatal for Mousavi and the current Iranian opposition.

The best thing the United States and EU could do is to re-establish diplomatic relations with Iran, get involved with commercial dealings, and give the Iranians some reason to undertake reforms ­ a better life in partnership with the West. From other side Russia has long-term interests in Central Eurasia and with Iran it will continue to implement large-scale economic projects so Iran’s partnership with Russia can also create economical base for Iran’s reforms. In time, the younger generation, which makes up more than 75 percent of the population, will take over the system which now is on developing stage.

Related articles:

No revolution but potential for change anyway” by Ari Rusila

Iran-Twitter-Revolution” by Ari Rusila

Where will the power lie in Iran?” By New York Times

Iran: the new elite” by Vladimir Yurtayev


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.



%d bloggers like this: