Friday, February 29, 2008

Sarko in South Africa and Army Ads

Light blogging over the weekend, but next week there should be stuff on missile defense and perhaps other things as I will be going to DC. So just two small links. First, while looking up details on conscription and its alternatives this oldish ComingAnarchy post popped up - with British, Russian and Ukrainian "join the army" ads. Not very subtle stuff, especially the Ukrainian.

Second, France's president Sarkozy elaborated in a speech in SA on his proposed change in France's African policy. France no longer wants to "be the gendarme of Africa". Notable is the introduction of a principle of transparency in French relations with African countries, which apparently also means a hitherto unknown democratization of France's foreign policy with regard to Africa (in bold):
Et je veux devant le Parlement d’Afrique du Sud faire quatre propositions. La première porte sur les accords de défense entre la France et les pays africains. Ils doivent refléter l’Afrique d’aujourd’hui, et non pas l’Afrique d’hier. Ils doivent reposer sur les intérêts stratégiques de la France et de ses partenaires africains. Je ne dis pas qu’il faille nécessairement faire tablerase et tout effacer d’un seul trait de plume. Mais je dis que la France souhaite engager des discussions avec tous les Etats africains concernés pour adapter les accords existants aux réalités du temps présent et en tenant le plus grand compte de la propre volonté des pays africains. La France sera ouverte au dialogue avec tous ceux qui souhaiteront nouer avec elle un nouveau partenariat en matière de sécurité.
Deuxième proposition, je vais refonder nos relations sur un principe qui n’existait pas et que j’imposerai, le principe de la transparence. La transparence, c’est la meilleure garantie pour des relations solides et durables, le meilleur antidote aux fantasmes et aux incompréhensions. Contrairement à la pratique passée, j’annonce au Parlement d’Afrique du Sud que tous les accords de défense entre la France et les pays africains seront intégralement publiés. J’associerai également étroitement le Parlement français aux grandes orientations de la politique de la France en Afrique.
Troisièmement, je propose que la présence militaire française en Afrique serve en priorité à aider l’Afrique à bâtir, comme elle en a l’ambition, son propre dispositif de sécurité collective. L’Union africaine souhaite disposer de forces en attente à l’horizon 2010 – 2012 ? Eh bien que cet objectif soit aussi celui de la France ! La France n’a pas vocation à maintenir indéfiniment des forces armées en Afrique, l’Afrique doit prendre en charge ses problèmes de sécurité. Que l’on me comprenne bien : il ne s’agit nullement d’un désengagement de la France en Afrique. C’est tout le contraire. Je souhaite que la France s’engage davantage au côté de l’Union Africaine, cher Thabo, pour construire le système de sécurité collective dont l’Afrique a besoin car la sécurité de l’Afrique c’est d’abord naturellement l’affaire des Africains.
Enfin, ma dernière proposition vise à faire de l’Europe un partenaire majeur de l’Afrique en matière de paix et de sécurité. C’est le sens du partenariat conclu entre nos deux continents à Lisbonne en décembre dernier. C’est notre intérêt à tous, car une Europe forte a besoin d’une Afrique forte. Mais je sais bien que le meilleur garant de la paix et de la sécurité, c’est la démocratie et la justice. Alors parlons-en de démocratie et de justice. La France souhaite en en Côte d’Ivoire la tenue d’élections libres, justes et reconnues. Aucun pays ne peut espérer le développement sans organiser des élections démocratiques.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

State Department Memo on Iraq

Last post today. Just had to recommend Barnett's latest on State Dept and SSTR:
I've been hearing a lot about this memo from various political appointees and senior bureaucrats recently, with everyone saying it would be a big deal when it hit the Net. Well, now it's here and while it is truly damning, to me it's just another nail in the coffin of the idea, promoted by the HELP Commission, that somehow a better or bigger State can handle this sort of operation in the future. Nothing could be further from the truth and this memo speaks to that reality. (...)

The problem is, of course, that our State Department and U.S. foreign policy in general (meaning Bush and Cheney) are largely missing from the scene. Yes, lotsa trips and many talking points delivered, and certainly there's been a vast shuffling of paper in the Green Zone, but where is the diplomacy? The security space created by the Surge was designed to create a political space that remains unexploited and even largely unaddressed. Nowhere is this lack of effort more apparent than in the diplomatic trenches of our State Department presence on the ground in Iraq, which this memo addresses.

Iraq and Afghanistan are transforming our military, with that transformation starting to penetrate the Pentagon itself. But no such transformation is brewing within the State Department, either on the ground or in Foggy Bottom. In the end, I don't expect one to ever brew inside State and, truth be told, I'm not sure one should brew, because I don't see the logic of trying to get this institution to add on such capacity in what will inevitably be a "lesser included" manner. It didn't work at Defense and it won't work at State, even as each department is a key player in this process.

We either create a legitimate bureaucratic center of gravity for such efforts, or we'll continue to underperform.

This seems to be a widespread problem in all of the Western foreign offices. But the diplomats are not the ones who are operative, traditionally. That role befalls the state aid agencies (USAID etc): But does the DFIDs, DANIDAs and NORADs of the world accept that they are in war with the Taliban in Afghanistan?

Regarding Iraq in particular, the memo comes at the same time as Global Guerilla's reflections on the Rosen article in Rolling Stone. Discomforting. For a 100 years?

New Army Field Manual - Implementing Iraq

New Army Field Manual out: This time including SSTR. No time to look at it in detail now, defensetech has the preview here:
...the manual has finally taken the step of elevating stabilization operations to the level of offensive and defensive ops. (...) Chapter 3 is the most important chapter in the book; describing the Army's operational concept -- full spectrum operations. Full spectrum operations seize, retain, and exploit the initiative through combinations of four elements: offense, defense, and stability or civil support operations. Mission command is the preferred method of exercising battle command.
Basically, this is the practical implementation of the DoD Directive 3000.05 - and the result of necessities on the ground forcing top Army brass to accept the comprehensive or political COINesque approach to armed conflict championed by Petraeus and smart people at JFCOM.

Get the manual here at the Army site (direct link to pdf, 7,3 megs)

Speaking of JFCOM: Apparantly, a draft version of the Shaping JOC should be close to greenlighting mid March.

China Getting Involved in Darfur?

One major fault line in global politics is the Chinese foreign policy dictum of non-interference vs. the West-sponsored human rights/enlightenment line which is for e.g. humanitarian interventions or at least believes in the right to humanitarian assistance, i.e. in moral imperatives. (More on China's foreign policy doctrine in this old post and more on China in Darfur in this post).

China might now be moving on Darfur - perhaps a sign that Spielberg's personal foreign policy is working?

China's envoy to Darfur has urged Sudan to accept the full deployment of a UN-African Union peacekeeping force. In a rare public rebuke to Khartoum, visiting envoy Liu Guijin said it should "co-operate better with the international community" on the force, according to a report by Chinese official news agency Xinhua. The force began deploying in January, but still lacks most of the 26,000 personnel planned for the mission - due in part to Sudanese objections concerning the international composition of the force. (...)

In his comments to Xinhua, Mr Liu said deploying the peacekeeping operation and resolving the Darfur issue required "the joint efforts of all sides. "First, the Sudan government should co-operate better with the international community and demonstrate greater flexibility on some technical issues. Next, anti-government organisations in the Darfur region should return to the negotiating table."

China has long had strong trade and military links with Khartoum, which is accused of backing militias that have raped and murdered civilians in Darfur - accusations it denies. But Beijing is keen to show it is playing a positive role in the region, says the BBC's Amber Henshaw in Khartoum. Mr Liu said Sudan only bought 8% of its weapons from China and said if China stopped selling weapons, they could easily be purchased from other countries.

Here, from the BBC.

Replacing the F16 - Norwegian Television

For Scandinavian speakers, Norwegian National Television (NRK) broadcast an interesting documentary yesterday. It is a real behind-the-scenes-look at the as of yet not finished decision process about whether to replace the F16s in Norway (a parallel process goes on in Denmark and Holland).

Eurofighter left the three-way competition just before christmas, apparently convinced that they were not getting a fair deal (or that they did not have a competitive product). This leaves the JSF and the Gripen in the run
ning for the largest defence aquisitions ever in Danish and Norwegian history.

About the program

See the program

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


True to form we not only repeat the TicTacs but also the referrals to MountainRunner who's got the latest inside info on the new African Command. E.g.:

I attended USC's AFRICOM conference earlier this month and between panel discussions and offline conversations, I came away with a new appreciation (and hope) for the newest, and very different, command.

This is not like the other Combatant Commands (one DOD representative said they dropped "Combatant" from the title, but depending on where you look, all commands have that word or none of the commands include that adjective).

Also unlike other commands, this is "focused on prevention and not containment or fighting wars." This is, as one speaker continued, is a "risk-laden experiment" that is like an Ironman with multidisciplinary requirements and always different demands [...]. The goal, he continued, was to "keep combat troops off the continent for 50 years" because the consensus was, once troops landed on Africa, it would be extremely difficult to take them off.

Dracobs has been covering Africom of course from the early start - so check out the earlier posts, including those that project the Shaping JOC to be of central relevance for Africom. Shaping aims to do conflict prevention in the shape of grievance settlement, meaning that Pentagon has to do real political development policy.

Monday, February 25, 2008

TicTacs #8: Como decimos ayer

Fittingly, somehow, we return to fore with another round of TicTacs. Not so much because these are tiny sweet bits of info, but because that's where we left off.