Posts tagged ‘Bundeswehr’

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Beer in Peace: the Middle East, and German Anger

I’m no Mideast expert. I’m not a Germany expert either – I’m German, and only foreigners can be Germany experts. But given that there are views you will hardly find on the Voice of Germany, and out of a patriotic sense of mission, I’ve decided to create a new category on this blog – MyCountry. Blogposts on this particular topic will be sparse, hence no extra blog.

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It was probably Kurt Tucholsky, a journalist, and even more famously a satirist, during the Weimar era, who suggested that the most dangerous man was the one who just wanted to drink his beer in peace.

And even if Tucholsky never really wrote that (can’t find it on the internet, and I lent the book in question to someone and never got it back), it doesn’t really matter, because people will have other beef with him anyway. Stuff like Wo waren Sie im Kriege, Herr –? (This refers to world war 1.)
Another famous sentence of his, Soldiers are Murderers, is not so unpopular in Germany any longer, but that may be owing to the fact that we lost world war 2, as well. By 1945, it had become too obvious that going to war doesn’t pay, at least not for Germans.

Anyway – during the years of the Weimar Republic, Tucholsky belonged to the minority of Germans who strongly believed in free speech (his own freedom, and that of others), and who opposed the rising nazis openly, and consistently. Once the nazis had come to power, Tucholsky lived in exile. Otherwise, he might have been among the first citizens to be arrested, murdered, or put into a concentration camp after January 30, 1933. Carl von Ossietzky, one of his colleagues at the Weltbühne weekly, was arrested on February 28, 1933, and put into “protective custody”.

If his record as a journalist hadn’t been enough to get Tucholsky arrested, too, his life would have been in danger soon after, anyway – Tucholsky was Jewish.

Ever since 1945, an uncertain number of Germans has been busy with either white-washing the twelve years of nazi rule (usually a habit of those who, due to their personal record, prominent nazi membership etc stood no chance to make their contemporaries – or the allied forces’ authorities – believe that they had merely been fellow travellers or Mitläufer), or with distancing themselves both from the nazi ideology, and from any earlier German tradition that might have contributed to nazism. And of course, also to this day, an uncertain number of Germans continues to whitewash the nazi years because they believe that Germany had been attacked by Poland, in 1939.

Rudolf Augstein, a Wehrmacht lieutenant in world war 2, and founder of Germany’s news magazine Der Spiegel in 1947, liked to dive deep into history. He seemed to see a line of tradition from Friedrich II of Prussia right down to Adolf Hitler. He didn’t condemn Friedrich II, but he certainly wasn’t one of his greatest fans. Augstein was just as outspoken – rightly or wrongly – when it came to the Middle East conflict:

Ariel Sharon wants war, he has left no doubt. He brushed aside two decades of peace efforts. He accuses Yasser Arafat in the first place for the need [for Israel] to withdraw from Lebanon in 1982. He had wanted to turn Lebanon into an Israeli protectorate. And he would tinker one over Palestine if only he was allowed to.
(Ariel Scharon will den Krieg, daran hat er nun keinen Zweifel mehr gelassen. Zwei Jahrzehnte Friedensbemühungen hat er beiseite gewischt. In Jassir Arafat sieht er den Hauptschuldigen dafür, dass er 1982 aus dem Libanon zurückweichen musste. Den Libanon wollte Scharon zu einem israelischen Protektorat machen. Ein Protektorat über Palästina würde er sich auch heute zurechtzimmern, wenn man ihn nur ließe.)

If anyone who can read my post here can read Ariel Sharon‘s mind – as of 1982 -, too, please volunteer your findings now. To be clear, Augstein’s choice of the word “protectorate” would earn him a lot of critics nowadays – and maybe it did, too, back in December 2001, when he wrote the a/m article. After all, the nazis liked the concept of protectorates. Bohemia and Moravia were explicitly named protectorates, proclaimed by Adolf Hitler, from Prague Castle. Vichy France may count as another protectorate.

The concept existed long before nazi rule – but mentioning protectorates in the context of Israeli policies was an absolute NO in Germany – unless your name was Rudolf Augstein.

All that said, I found his article refreshing when reading it back then, in Der Spiegel’s printed edition.

Almost exactly two years after Augstein’s accusation, Sharon announced his disengagement plan from Gaza. Maybe Augstein had been wrong, and Sharon wasn’t that fond of protectorates after all.

But some German critics of Israel’s occupation policies might think of this policy change as a change of mind, and attribute it to critics like Augstein – when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they frequently overestimate our country’s role. German daily Die Welt‘s Clemens Wergin, a blogger, and one of the critics’ opposite numbers in our daily Mideast brawls, relishes in pointing out how insignificant Germany – and Europe – actually are when it comes to current affairs south and east of the Mediterranean. His point, of course, isn’t that we did nothing to help building peace in the Middle East more in general. It is that we did nothing, or too little, to protect Israel in particular.

In another blogpost, he pointed out that opinions concerning the Mideast conflict were usually stronger than (background) knowledge.

Wergin usually sticks to the political or security issues, although he may sometimes try to draw psychic profiles of the German public and its Israel– or America-related debates.

In a recent post, he suggested that  U.S. president Barack Obama‘s recent policies on the Middle East were a disaster, in that Obama had joined Europe in believing that the Israeli-Palestine conflict was the central cause for all other problems in the region. The commenter thread which followed Wergin’s post was little more than an exchange of credos – either blanketly defending or attacking Israel’s policies. And soon enough, the first critic was lablelled an anti-semite. Both sides accused each other of being uncapable of listening to actual points in an argument. Some commenters from both sides indeed seemed to be unable or unwilling to argue – especially those who accused the other side of such incapacities.

Such accusations of anti-semitism can make sense, at times. But about as frequently, they are a convenient ersatz for an actual discussions of issues. That may be the case elsewhere, too, but particularly in Germany, and given our country’s nazi past, with millions of Jewish people murdered, it will usually carry weight, no matter who is applying the label on whom, and no matter if the accusation is justified or not.

Wergin’s posts take a perspective which might be described as Western, American, and Israeli security interests. Apart from relative outsiders to the Mideast conflict, people with an immediate interest in the conflict may occasionally be commenting on his blog, too – but you can’t usually tell from the way they express their views, and once the commenter threads begin, the my-beer-in-peace mechanism kicks in, either way. To those who side with Israel, Israel is seen as the party which wants peace, but is refused a peacful arrangement by its enemies. To those who side with Palestine, Palestine is the innocent party who is refused such a peaceful arrangement. To many of both sides, plus many of those who don’t really care about the Middle East, it seems to be seen as a region that doesn’t allow Germans to drink their beer in peace.

Anyway – while you may find characteristics in this debate which may apply to discussions in your country, too, some aspects and forms of such exchanges amount to an argument with particularly German characteristics. Israel and Palestine then mainly serve as dummies in exchanges of German righteousness (“we’ve learned our lessons from ww2”), anger and frustration – all that, however, with tons of explanations, and showing off individual Mideast expertise. Both sides prove each other wrong all along the time, or claim that they are doing that, and once nothing else works anymore, each side makes referrals to Germany’s nazi past in ways which suit its case best.

What both sides – and that’s pretty German, too – seem to ignore is that in the end, an individual’s opportunities to influence his or her country’s security policies are usually limited – and there is little evidence that as many Germans, if in a situation similar to Israel’s, would be prepared to join Gush Shalom, as are Israelis. Neither too many Israelis, nor too many Palestinians, can be happy with everyday life under today’s circumstances – but just as for people elsewhere, politics is only one aspect of daily life, and people have to earn a life, and to have some fun and family life after hours.

It’s only fair to point out that some very modest welfare state reforms in Germany, not too long ago, led to an old and venerable political party being shredded in subsequent elections. But removing the Israeli settlers from the West Bank is considered to be a piece of cake, from a German perspective. Or – an argument from the other side of the German debate – the concessions the Palestinian peace negotiators reportedly put on the negotiation table  were either too little to be taken serious, or too much to be believable.

I usually prefer to discuss such issues without too many referrals to my own country, or to the nazi past. The past is a factor, but when defenders and critics of either (German) side refer to it too often, I begin to doubt that the Middle East is the actual issue, and I begin to believe that our domestic issues are actually taking control of the debate. In that light, I have started to re-think my past ideas about the Middle East. What America does for Israel in security terms may not be glorious, but it may be a necessity. I have believed that before. What Europe does for Israel – and Palestine – may not be glorious either, but Israel’s and Palestine’s connections with Europe in terms of the economy, and culture, shouldn’t be despised as “too little to count”. That’s where I have changed my mind. I used to wonder if Europe couldn’t do more.

There are sources to the fruitless German public debate which can be found in Germany itself – both in circumstances of today, and of the past. There is an incapacity to take the perspective of a common citizen in the Middle East. Every discussion seems to boil down to angry exchanges between armchair politicians or armchair generals.

But another source is the incapability of either side in the argument to think of themselves as people with an anti-semitic heritage. That heritage is generously applied to Germany as a nation, especially by pro-Israeli posters. But it never seems to dawn on them that unconditional support for Israel can be no substitute for occasional individual soul-searching. Generations of people everywhere in Europe, and in Germany in particular, have inherited prejudices against Jewish people. Neither criticizing, nor supporting either side in the Middle East can be a replacement for self-awareness.

As far as that’s concerned, I’m beginning to appreciate the EU’s Mideast policies (to the extent that common EU policies exist). These policies aren’t rushing to conclusions. They provide for the role that the immediate stakeholders – Israelis and Palestinians themselves – need to play, before relative outsiders can begin to play a helpful role. And they have – by and large – resisted the temptations that lie in heroic, but hollow, rhetoric and gestures.

Those may work for newspapers, but not usually in politics, or in daily life.

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Related
» Exorcising Hitler, Hester Vaizey / The Independent, April 29, 2011
» My fearful Country, March 19, 2011
» We Invented the Katyusha, October 30, 2009
» Mit Panzern nach Berlin, Henry Kissinger, November 8, 2002

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kosovo Status: “Unique” and “Irreversible”

In an advisory opinion on Kosovo’s declaration of independence, the International Court of Justice found that Kosovo’s declaration was not in violation of any applicable rule of international law.

German daily Der Tagesspiegel writes that

[t]his court has shown courage. Hardly anyone had expected that the International Court in Den Haag would arrive at this opinion that clearly, that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 wasn’t colliding with international law. The verdict isn’t legally binding, but it will encourage autonomy aspirations elsewhere in the world.

The right to self-determination here, and every state’s right to territorial integrity there – nowhere in Europe have these fundamental principles of international law been violated as frequently as in the Balkans. Nowhere would both principles collide this heavily. 69 states, among them 21 EU members, have recognized the sovereignty of the former Serbian province so far. Germany and the USA are among them. 120 more nations refuse that recognition, Russia, China and Spain among them. The reason for their reluctance is obvious. You can hardly deny the peoples of the Caucasus, the Tibetans or the Basques what you confirm as right for the Kosovans.

In democratic countries such as Spain, ethnic minorities, in the course of decades, have reached a degree of autonomy which would make violent rebellion appear out of proportions. It’s a different story under dictatorial regimes. China still wants to break up the Tibetans’ cultural and historical identity. The pictures from Grosny, the Chechnyan capital destroyed by Russian forces, went around the world.

The weekly Der Freitag writes:

In the end, the judges decided to keep the question as narrow as possible and to focus on the declaration of independence alone, rather than on the legitimacy or legality of the independence itself. As far as that [the former – JR] was concerned, they went along with the supporters of Kosovo’s independence. The majority of the judges found that a declaration of independence doesn’t conflict with international law.

Der Freitag’s take is basically in line with Tanjug‘s view of the court’s opinion.

Even if so, the Serbian government – which had asked the court’s opinion -, is in a more difficult position than before, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

In September, foreign minister Vuk Jeremic wants to take a resolution to the UN General Assembly – with a demand for new negotiations about Kosovo’s status. But after this opinion by the UN judges this will happen even less – Serbia had lost one of its most important arguments after this decision, says politologist and former diplomat Predrag Simic.

People’s Daily (English) quotes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as urging “all sides to avoid any steps that could be seen as provocative and derail the dialogue”. According to the statement quoted by People’s Daily, Ban will be forwarding the advisory opinion to the General Assembly, which had requested the Court’s advice and which will determine how to proceed on this matter.

Spain’s El Mundo quotes US State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley as saying that Kosovo’s situation had been unique and exclusive, and that these circumstances were not applicable to other situations.

In a daily press briefing on July 22, Crowley was asked if the State Department had any kind of view regarding the issue of preoccupations in southern European countries,

particularly in Spain, where the government of certain sectors of the public opinion fear that this could be used by certain nationalistic movements in the Basque country or in Catalonia as a base for their own political demands. […] Do you think that this could trigger more nationalistic movements in the rest of Europe?

Mr. Crowley: No. The short answer is no. And I should say that there will be a briefing at the Foreign Press Center this afternoon at 4:00 with our legal advisor Harold Koh and our Ambassador to Kosovo. But this was a very – a set of facts unique to Kosovo. The court was applying these facts. We don’t think it’s applicable to any other situation.

In a statement after the court published its opinion, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said that

Bearing in mind the probable disappointment of the Serbs and the likely satisfaction of the Kosovars, I reaffirm my personal friendship and that of the French people to these two countries.
The Court’s opinion consolidates Kosovo’s independence, which has been in effect for more than two years, and is already recognized by 69 States. The independence of Kosovo is irreversible.

Germany was one of the first European countries in 1991 that pushed for recognition of a Yugoslav member state’s independence. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, then Germany’s foreign minister, considered recognition of Croatia‘s sovereignty the only way to end fighting on its territory, Verica Spasovska of Deutsche Welle wrote in a review on July 19 this year. France, Great Britain and Spain, themselves confronted with regionalist movements, had wanted to maintain the status quo. Genscher was particularly criticized for having Germany recognize Croatia before a commission of experts, chaired by French constitutional judge Robert Badinter (and with Roman Herzog, later German federal president, as a member) had published its findings on the issue.

Besides, German weekly Die Zeit wrote in November 1996, the early recognition for Croatia didn’t take Bosnia Hercegovina’s fate into account, which consequently felt compelled to start a referendum at once. And while Serbia had achieved its war goals in Croatia anyway, before  recognition for Croatia, the European Community’s recognition for Bosnia-Hercegovina on April 6, 1992, didn’t stop the Serb offensive which began two days later.

At that time, French foreign minister Roland Dumas remonstrated with Germany for it’s “colossal responsibility for accelerating the crisis”.

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Related
Xinjiang White Paper: Governmental Incapacity, Sept 22, 2009

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Press Review: “a Hate-Filled Press Campaign”

Asked to comment on the resignation of Koehler, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said China hopes to work with Germany to develop a stable and long-term bilateral relationship.  “This is in the interests of the two nations and their people,” he told a regular press conference in Beijing.  Ma said Koehler is an old friend of the Chinese people, who had made important contributions to further mutual understanding and cooperation between China and Germany.

Xinhua, June 1, 2010, on German president Horst Köhler’s resignation one day earlier.

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“As on my previous visits, I raised the issue of exchange rate policy. The IMF has for some time believed that it would be in China’s best interests to move gradually toward a more flexible exchange rate system. Such a move would improve the central bank’s ability to control money and credit growth, and also help cushion China’s economy from domestic and external shocks. The authorities continue to see exchange rate flexibility as a desirable goal as China integrates further into the global economy. However, they feel that the time is not yet right to move in that direction. As regards capital account liberalization, I fully support the authorities’ cautious and deliberate approach.”

Horst Köhler, in his capacity as IMF managing director, September 2003

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The sudden departure of a good man as Germany’s president is profoundly destabilising for Europe. Horst Köhler has resigned following a hate-filled press campaign against him fuelled by headline-pandering German politicians who fail to see that 21st-century Germany is no longer the post-1945 dwarf orphan of world politics. […]

Köhler has resigned with honour and dignity. But those whose loud voices called for his head are now part of the problem and will never contribute to the solution. The anti-politics and anti-politician mood now unleashed in Germany and elsewhere in Europe is ugly and is doing damage to representative democracy.

Denis MacShane, Labour MP and politician, in The Guardian, June 1, 2010

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Horst Köhler’s resignation isn’t only the first one by a federal president with immediate effect, but also one with significant blog participation. […] The issue was first picked up by blogs and identified as a scandal. […] Stefan Graunke’s Unpolitik Blog picks up the Deutschlandfunk report [quoting from Köhler’s interview] […] and asks: “Really, Mr. Köhler? A public call to enforce economic interests by military force?

[Following: a description on how Deutschlandfunk (a nationwide radio broadcaster), Der Spiegel, and christian democrat MP Ruprecht Polenz pick up the interview again and more critically, reportedly after several more blog entries.]

Horst Köhler: Ein Rücktritt unter Blog-Mitwirkung, Carta, May 31, 2010

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Is a civic president allowed to invoke lèse-majesté? Horst Köhler can’t seriously expect that the German public will comprehend his interpretation of his resignation.

Frankfurter Rundschau, quoted by Deutschlandfunk / Tagesschau, June 1, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Horst Köhler: Full of Trade

Afghanistan: is the Cat out of the Bag?

Afghanistan: is the Cat out of the Bag?

Horst Köhler, Germany’s federal president,  “articulated” differences with the Chinese leadership “in a way the Chinese can handle and which are still effective”. How effective these aspects of his talks really were is debatable – after all, the president also told the press that during a previous trip to China, he had delivered a name list of dissidents, just as he did this month – and nothing happened. “But we will keep doing it.”

For sure, the Chinese leaders were able to “handle it”, and Köhler spoiled no business opportunities there.

And maybe on a surprise visit to German troops stationed in Afghanistan during a stopover on his way back to Germany from China, the president had become a bit too relaxed when he articulated his views about Germany’s military involvement there, in an interview with a German radio reporter:

“But my estimation is that, on the whole, we are on the way to understanding, even broadly in society, that a country of our size, with this orientation toward foreign trade and therefore also dependence on foreign trade, has to be aware that when in doubt in case of an emergency, military deployment is also necessary to protect our interests.

For example, free trade routes, for example to prevent instability in a whole region, which certainly have an negative impact on our opportunities via trade, jobs and income. All of that ought to be discussed and I believe that we are not doing too badly.”

The German social democrats, who already struggle with their own misgivings about the war (which must not be referred to as a war in this country) every time they decide to continue their political support for the military mandate, are angry. Thomas Oppermann, speaker of the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) parliamentary group, told news magazine Der Spiegel that Köhler was “damaging the acceptance of the Bundeswehr’s foreign missions.” Germany was not conducting “a war for economic interests,” Oppermann said. It was, on the contrary, about security. Anyone who said differently was “making the case of the Left party,” he added, referring to Germany’s far-left socialists who strongly oppose the war.

Constitutional lawyer Ulrich Preuß of Berlin’s Hertie School of Governance also critcised Köhler’s choice of words.

“That is a thinly veiled expansion, through the constitution, of the acceptable grounds for a Bundeswehr mission for economic interests,” he told Der Spiegel.

Preuß said Köhler’s remarks were a “discernibly imperialist choice of words.”

“It reminds me of the English imperialists of the 19th century, who defended their naval supremacy with similar arguments,” Preuß said.

Left party co-chairman Klaus Ernst, said Köhler had “openly said, what cannot be denied.”

Bundeswehr soldiers were risking “life and limb for the export interests of giant companies.” It was a “war about influence and commodities,” which was not the idea covered by the Afghanistan mandate passed by the parliament, he said.

Chancellor Merkel’s christian democrats stand behind Köhler’s statement (although they don’t seem to be too happy with it), and the Greens recommend that the president should correct it – he had apparently been talking without knowledge about military missions abroad. Ruprecht Polenz, chairman of the federal parliament’s foreign relations committee, pointed out that Köhler had said nothing new – after all, the international navy missions at the Horn of Africa served economic ends, too. However Polenz, himself a christian democrat, too, conceded that Köhler’s phrasing hadn’t been too fortunate, “to put it carefully”.

For sure, Köhler’s words shift public attention from security justifications to economics. He may have said said nothing wrong, and before mentioning economic interests, he had mentioned security interests first of all – but with his choice of words, he has entered a minefield, and he stands no chance to see this ensuing discussion through at his security-and-economic double-term.

Köhler’s interview in full (in German) is here.

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Related
Will Köhler speak for Hu and Liu, May 16, 2010

Friday, January 8, 2010

Taiwan Arms Sales: “A Fly-Head-Sized Benefit”

The U.S. defense department cleared a contract late on Wednesday to allowing Lockheed Martin Corp to sell an unspecified number of advanced Patriot air defense missiles to Taiwan, Washington’s de facto embassy in Taipei said, according to Reuters News Agency. The package had originally been approved by former US President George W Bush in 2008. Scholars interviewed by Singapore’s United Morning News believe that the Obama administration chose this timing to make it clear to both sides of the Taiwan Strait, i. e. China and Taiwan, that a current brawl between Washington and Taipei on U.S. beef exports to Taiwan, and American arms sales to Taiwan, were two separate issues. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) immediately denounced the American decision on Thursday’s regular foreign ministry press conference. While the foreign ministry spokeswoman referred to general harm to U.S.-Chinese relations, Chinese Vice Admiral Yang Yi (杨毅) suggested that China should take defensive countermeasures against U.S. companies which sold weapons to Taiwan, but also wanted to sell aircraft and other goods to China, writes Reuters.

A patriotic military Chinese blogger who puts the pen to the front (以笔为锋) quotes a major general, Luo Yuan (罗援) as saying on Phoenix TV on Thursday that while the U.S. announcement harmed only recently-established trust between the American and Chinese military, it didn’t pose a threat towards China, quoting from a Sunzi strategem (小敌之坚,大敌之擒 – the smaller troops would be captured by the larger troops).

Barack Obama‘s supply list for Taiwan could also include design work on diesel-electric submarines, which warranted much more attention than the Patriot missiles, the blogger quotes Luo Yuan, but Luo didn’t believe that Taiwan had the capability of applying the design for building these submarines by itself, while the Netherlands and other countries which were able to build them [America isn’t] wouldn’t offend China (得罪中国) for petty profits (蝇头小利 ying tou xiao li, literally a fly head’s benefit) from arms sales to Taiwan.

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Related:
MIM-104 Patriot, PAC-3 upgrade, Wikipedia as of January 8, 2010
German Type 209 diesel-electric submarine, Wikipedia as of January 8, 2010
Lee Kwan Yew: America must strike a Balance, November 7, 2009
Taiwan’s Hai Lung II submarine, Global Security, date unspecified

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Familiar Stuff

This stuff looks disturbingly familiar to me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Internet is a Military Secret

Guy-Philippe Goldstein is a novelist and a strategy consultant. He considers cyberwar a destabilizing innovation in warfare, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, reporting on a TED Conference in Oxford. Such destabilizing innovations are nothing rare in military history, he says. Cross-country vehicles and high-speed planes powered the German Blitzkrieg from the 1930s to 1940s. On realclearpolitics, Austin Bay recently cited some more communication-related attacks of the past century.

Fortresses of the five-pointed shape as developed by French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban during the 17th century on the other hand – they were practically impregnable – belong to the stabilizing kind of innovation.

America planned the biggest cyber attack to date before invading Iraq in 2003 – aiming at the country’s financial system and at freezing billions of Dollars. Only fears within the Pentagon that digital and financial collateral damage wouldn’t be limited to the Middle East, but affect Europe and America too, led to the cancellation of the plan, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Andrian Kreye, the paper’s correspondent, likens cyberwar to the Mongol invasion of Persia, on their way to Europe. Half a million Persians were there to defend their country. Only 120,000 Mongols defeated them. Their main advantage was intelligence. The archers bridged the distance between the fronts and the central camp, and kept the commanders informed. They kept charging where the Persians were least prepared.
Genghis Khan had developed this information system, writes Kreye. It revolutionized warfare, and the world order.

There are only few countries these days that have the potential to get in on cyberwar, says Goldstein – America, Germany, France, Britain, China, and Russia (it strikes me that Japan isn’t mentioned – after all, cyberwar is no traditional warfare). The Obama administration plans to create a new military command to coordinate the defense of Pentagon computer networks – and to improve U.S. offensive capabilities in cyberwarfare.

The notion of what cyberwar is meant to be seems to remain vague – and so do the U.S. government’s plans. UK-based IT magazine The Register quotes from a report by Washington’s National Academy of Sciences: “Today’s policy and legal framework for guiding and regulating the US use of cyberattack is ill-formed, undeveloped, and highly uncertain,” the report, published by the National Academy of Sciences, states. “Secrecy has impeded widespread understanding and debate about the nature and implications of US cyberattack.” The Academy’s report urges a broad, unclassified national debate and discussion about cyberattack policy.

The American plans have suffered some setbacks recently, especially when Melissa E. Hathaway, a cybersecurity aide inherited from the Bush jr. administration, resigned her post early this month, and consequently withdrew her application for coordinating the cyberattacks initiative.

But like in every arms race, unilateral restrictions won’t necessarily lead to competitors restricting themselves, too – the potential of cyberwar is more likely to worry the existing great powers, than countries like China which are intent on rising. Window speeches are one thing. A lack of transparency or accountability on the other hand may worry Americans, but not the Chinese. For now, there are no arms reduction talks in this field anyway. Germany is getting prepared for the new arsenal, too. Die Welt reported in February that the Bundeswehr now operates a cyberwar department of its own – the army neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

It’s all a big secret. If you really want to know what’s going on there, you’ll need to become a hacker.

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Related:
Serve your Country – Become a Network Security Adviser, July 31, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

NATO Secretary Generals

NATO Secretary Generals usually have very funny accents.

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