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Diplomacy & Crisis News

Que reste-t-il de la culture est-allemande<small class="fine"> </small>?

Le Monde Diplomatique - Fri, 07/02/2020 - 15:33
Tout au long de l'été, alors que se préparait dans la fièvre l'unification allemande, une violente polémique se poursuivait dans les milieux intellectuels de la RFA à propos du livre « Ce qui reste » de Christa Wolf, la romancière (est-)allemande la plus lue et la plus traduite dans le monde. Ce vif (...) / , , , - 1990/10

Au Maghreb, les blogueurs sont fatigués

Le Monde Diplomatique - Thu, 06/02/2020 - 16:25
Les révoltes arabes ont fait émerger dans les médias la figure du cyberactiviste, documentant les conditions de vie de la population et le sentiment d'injustice qu'elles engendrent. Issus de milieux urbains et aisés, souvent dépourvus d'expérience militante, ces jeunes gens revendiquent pour la (...) / , , , , , , , , - 2012/02

Anonymous, de l'humour potache à l'action politique

Le Monde Diplomatique - Wed, 05/02/2020 - 19:46
Le 19 janvier, le FBI fermait le site de téléchargement Megaupload, déclenchant une riposte du collectif Anonymous : les sites de la Maison Blanche et d'Universal Music, notamment, étaient touchés. De New York au Caire en passant par Tunis, des réseaux virtuels à la rue, une nouvelle culture de la (...) / , , , , , , , , - 2012/02

Révolte égyptienne, avec ou sans Twitter

Le Monde Diplomatique - Wed, 05/02/2020 - 15:45
« Si vous voulez libérer une société, vous n'avez qu'à lui donner accès à Internet. » Les événements égyptiens offrent un terrain d'étude unique pour vérifier la validité de cette maxime. En effet, une décision de M. Moubarak, alors au pouvoir, a constitué une expérience grandeur nature pour mesurer le poids (...) / , , , , , , , , , , , - 2012/02

Du temps de la colonisation à l'Algérie contemporaine

Le Monde Diplomatique - Tue, 04/02/2020 - 16:32
1830-1835 Occupation restreinte L'histoire de la colonisation de l'Algérie commence avec la capitulation du dey d'Alger en 1830. L'autorité de l'Empire ottoman est transférée à la France, qui, jusqu'en 1835, établira six postes le long du littoral algérien. 1835-1847 Conquête des « pays arabes » Les (...) / , , , , , , , - Décolonisation

Et si Shakespeare était Shakespeare<small class="fine"> </small>?

Le Monde Diplomatique - Mon, 03/02/2020 - 16:31
Savant éclairé, aristocrate romantique, intellectuel engagé : la quête du « vrai Shakespeare » s'est dotée de multiples Graal. Mais, à chaque époque, un point commun unit les sceptiques : une forme plus ou moins avouée d'élitisme. / Royaume-Uni, Culture, Histoire, Idées, Théâtre - (...) / , , , , - 2012/01

L'utopie réalisée de la Commune

Le Monde Diplomatique - Sun, 02/02/2020 - 18:32
Changer la politique, instaurer l'égalité entre hommes et femmes, inventer un nouveau mode de gouvernement, faire participer les citoyens... En 1871, le peuple parisien insurgé donnait à ces mots d'ordre une signification concrète. / France, Art, Citoyenneté, Culture, Démocratie, Droit, Histoire, (...) / , , , , , , , , , , , , , , - 2011/12

How the Russians Fought Valiantly Against Napoleon at the Battle of Borodino

The National Interest - Sun, 02/02/2020 - 02:30

Warfare History Network

History, Europe

Impressive--but thousands paid the ultimate price. 

At 11 o’clock on the evening of June 23, 1812, the first elements of Napoleon’s mighty army marched on three pontoon bridges over the river Niemen and set foot on Russian soil; the epic invasion of Russia had begun. For this massive undertaking Napoleon had assembled an enormous force, drawn from every corner of Europe. Some 450,000 men poured into Russia that summer.

Napoleon hoped for a quick campaign and decisive engagement, the type he was used to, and he gave three weeks’ rations to his men. The Russians did not oblige. They pulled back in an orderly fashion before the invading host, withdrawing deeper and deeper into the heart of the Russian Empire. The Russian commanders, Barclay and Bagration, more by necessity than design, marched eastward and, with a combination of skill and staggering good fortune, succeeded in avoiding the decisive battle Napoleon so ardently sought.

The speedy advance into Russia wrought a terrible toll on the masses of imperial troops; Napoleon’s soldiers found themselves tormented by the heat of a Russian summer and an almost complete breakdown in supplies. Few, save for the ever-active vanguard, fired shots in anger before the Grande Armée reached Smolensk seven weeks into the invasion. There, in a confused and desperate battle, the two sides fought the first major action of the campaign. It ended in a defeat for the Russians and, having suffered 6,000 casualties, they slipped out of Smolensk, abandoning the burned-out remnant of a once-impressive city, and again resumed their exodus eastward.

Russia’s Terrible Predicament

Smolensk had not been the decisive confrontation the French desired. After the fighting died down, a number of senior commanders sought to end the interminable advance by advocating that the army halt in Smolensk, gain some respite from the relentless marching, and prepare winter quarters. But Napoleon still sought the specter of the battle that would end the campaign. He pressed his subordinates to continue the advance and push on toward the new goal—Moscow. The Russians would either defend the city or its loss would bring them to their knees so that the Czar, surely, would sue for peace.

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When Destroyers Were Too Large For Vietnam, Navy Swift Boats Answered The Call

The National Interest - Sun, 02/02/2020 - 02:00

Warfare History Network

Security, Asia

Its destroyers and other warships being too large, the U.S. Navy developed the Swift Boat to patrol coastal areas and rivers during the Vietnam War.

In addition to standard aircraft carrier and warship patrol operations in the open sea, naval action during the Vietnam War developed a character of its own. While the U.S. Navy maintained responsibility for more traditional functions, the interior waterways of Vietnam became an area of operations that required a different approach.

Since the early 20-century, the patrol workhorse of the U.S. Navy had been the destroyer, which rose to prominence during the two world wars. Destroyers provided perimeter security for formations of surface ships, anti-submarine and antiaircraft defenses, and search-and-rescue duties among others. These warships rendered invaluable service; however, during the Vietnam War the ocean-going vessels were unsuited for operations along the deltas, coastal areas, and rivers of the country.

A Holdover From World War II

The American Fletcher-class Navy destroyer was a weapon of World War II. Armed with main batteries of five-inch guns, 40mm Bofors antiaircraft weapons, 20mm cannon, torpedoes, and an array of machine guns and automatic weapons, these were formidable warships, and a number of them remained in service through both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. These destroyers displaced 2,500 tons fully loaded, were more than 375 feet long, and their draft exceeded 17 feet.

Clearly, a smaller warship was needed to navigate the confines of Vietnam’s coastal areas and to patrol the waterways of the country’s interior. By 1965, the Navy recognized the need for such craft, and the primary weapon of the so-called “Brown Water Navy” was born. The Patrol Craft Fast (PCF) became commonly known as the Swift Boat and was the most prominent of the Navy’s riverine patrol craft during the Vietnam War.

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War Powers Problem: Congress Has Forgotten Its Constitutional Duties

The National Interest - Sun, 02/02/2020 - 01:27

Nate Anderson

Security, Americas

If men and women are going to sacrifice their lives for this country, we should demand nothing less than Congress taking back its war powers and having a louder voice on foreign policy.

As the House of Representatives earlier this month debated a nonbinding resolution re-affirming the constitutional war powers of Congress, Rep. Matt Gaetz gave an address on the House floor. 

The Florida Republican spoke for just a few moments but boldly proclaimed “If the members of our armed services have the courage to go and fight and die in these wars, as Congress we ought to have the courage to vote for them or against them. And I think it’s ludicrous to suggest that we are impairing the troops from doing their job by not doing our job articulated in the Constitution to speak to these matters of war and peace.” 

Earlier that day, Gaetz had attended the burial of a constituent at Arlington National Cemetery. That soldier died in service to this country just a few weeks prior while deployed to Afghanistan, in the very war Congress refuses to cast a vote on. 

Gaetz’s words were especially meaningful to me because I served with that fallen service member. We trained together, deployed together and fought together. He was a father, a friend and a warrior. 

As a special operations soldier with multiple deployments to Afghanistan, this service member and his teammates have remained on the front lines of a war that has claimed the lives of more than two thousand American service members.  

His remains arrived on Christmas Day for the dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base—a scene that has occurred all too many times since the war in Afghanistan began more than eighteen years ago. 

Stories such as this are uncomfortable to hear. They should be. 

War has extreme consequences. Every flag-draped coffin is a child, parent or spouse who won’t be returning home.

Gaetz is right. The courage to make that sacrifice should be met with the courage to make tough decisions about war.

But in the last several decades, we’ve seen Congress choose to back away from tough decisions. Many have ceded their responsibilities, choosing instead to stand with their own party, or against the other party, or simply to avoid executing their constitutional duty because they lack the courage to lead. 

But constitutional duty should never take a back seat to party politics, not when there are service members’ lives on the line.

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Rapidly Rising Power China Has Been Put on Notice Over Contested Waters

The National Interest - Sun, 02/02/2020 - 01:27

Richard Javad Heydarian

Security, Asia

In geopolitics, even nations’ interests and their willingness to stand up for them are not permanent.

One of the great clichés of politics is the iron belief that there are no permanent enemies or permanent friends, only permanent interests. Upon closer examination, however, Bill Clay’s immortal dictum should be understood in even more radical terms in twenty-first-century geopolitics. After all, nation-states’ interpretation of their interests themselves can dialectically evolve, not to mention the range of interests themselves. This is most especially true in the case of rapidly rising powers such as China.

As perspicacious observers such as Robert Kaplan have noted, “China is only able to act aggressively in its adjacent seas because it is now, for the time being, secure on land to a degree it has never been in its history.” Since the fall of the Ming Dynasty at the dawn of the modern age, China has never been a legitimate maritime power. Within the last generation, however, the Asian powerhouse not only strengthened its economic foundation but also secured much of its land borders, crucially with Russia and Central Asian nations.

As political scientist Taylor Fravel explains in his seminal work, Strong Borders, Secure Nation, Beijing patiently and skillfully resolved seventeen border disputes, including with post-Soviet nations of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan as well as Russia, not to mention with Southeast Asian neighbors of Vietnam and Laos. In most cases, China abandoned as much as 50 percent of its original claim to facilitate its big-picture border-stabilization strategy. This historic strategic achievement, overseen by the Jiang Zemin administration, has allowed Beijing to upgrade from a primarily continental power into increasingly a “two-ocean” global force.

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Getting Critical Technologies Into U.S. Defense Applications

The National Interest - Sun, 02/02/2020 - 01:26

Ankit Panda

Security, Americas

The United States remains the most innovative nation in the world, but much innovation is unlikely to find itself into useful national defense applications without the right incentives.

In today’s changing geopolitical environment, concerns in Washington that the United States is falling behind in critical emerging technologies are commonplace. China and Russia—both identified as great-power competitors of the United States by the current administration—are forging forward with critical investments in technologies ranging from quantum computing to artificial intelligence.

But the United States is still by far the most innovative nation on earth. America’s strengths run from its fundamental pull to brilliant minds the world over through its relatively open immigration system to the unparalleled resources of its universities. The free-market structure of the economy, vibrant venture capital ecosystems, world-class universities, and government support of R&D combine to form the most innovative ecosystem in the world. 

However, when it comes to defense and positioning for future competition with Beijing and Moscow, the government has not figured out how to tap this flow of innovation emanating from the civilian sector. 

Commercial firms that do little business with the U.S. Department of Defense have much to offer in the way of expertise, but often have little idea where to start when it comes to the byzantine acquisitions process that longstanding defense industry stalwarts have grown accustomed to navigating.

There’s already some awareness of this among the community of China-watchers in Washington, many of whom have watched China pursue its strategy of “military-civil fusion”—a top-down, stage-managed marriage between the country’s fast-growing and increasingly innovative technology sector and the Communist Party-led government.

The United States isn’t China—and it shouldn’t be. A top-down, government-managed effort to wring out every last drop of innovation in Silicon Valley is anathema to American values and to the rugged, do-it-yourself spirit of free enterprise that has been the engine of American innovation. The challenge is not how to improve innovation, but rather, how to facilitate innovation finding its way into applications in defense—as needed?

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This Picture Shows What Might Have Been the Worst 'War' of World War II

The National Interest - Sun, 02/02/2020 - 01:00

Robert Farley

History, Europe

The eastern front was hell. 

Key point: Berlin and Moscow tore each other apart, killing millions in the process. The fighting was utterly brutal, with few-to-no holds barred.

The war between Germany and the Soviet Union officially began in late June 1941, although the threat of conflict had loomed since the early 1930s. Germany and the USSR launched a joint war against Poland in September of 1939, which the Soviets followed up with invasions of Finland, Romania, and the Baltic states across the following year.

After Germany crushed France, and determined that it could not easily drive Great Britain from the war, the Wehrmacht turned its attention back to the East. Following the conquests of Greece and Yugolavia in the spring of 1941, Berlin prepared its most ambitious campaign; the destruction of Soviet Russia. The ensuing war would result in a staggering loss of human life, and in the final destruction of the Nazi regime.

The Fight on Land

On June 22, 1941, the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe struck Soviet forces across a wide front along the German-Soviet frontier. Romanian forces attacked into Soviet-occupied Bessarabia on the same day. The Finnish armed forces joined the fight later that week, with Hungarian troops and aircraft entering combat at the beginning of July. By that time, a significant contribution of Italian troops was on its way to the Eastern Front. A Spanish volunteer division would eventually join the fight, along with large formations recruited from Soviet prisoners of war and from the local civilian population of occupied Soviet territories.

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How Tet Offensive Changed the Tide of the Vietnam War (Why America Lost)

The National Interest - Sun, 02/02/2020 - 00:30

Warfare History Network

History, Asia

A bloody assault.

The city of Hue was the capital of a unified Vietnam from 1802 until 1945. With its stately, tree-lined boulevards, Buddhist temples, national university, and ornate imperial palace within a massive walled city known as the Citadel, Hue was the cradle of the country’s culture and heritage. As late as 1967, Hue remained an open city, unscathed by the various wars that since World War II had raged up and down the Indochinese peninsula. But when Communist leaders in North Vietnam felt compelled to alter their strategy and launch a massive offensive in South Vietnam in early 1968, Hue suddenly found itself the focus of some of the heaviest fighting of the Vietnam War.
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Stung by reversals on southern battlefields and fearful of an American invasion of their homeland, North Vietnam’s Politburo members voted to abandon protracted-war tactics and mount a three-phase general offensive that would reverse the course of the war against the South Vietnamese and their American allies. When Defense Minister and Chief of Staff General Vo Nguyen Giap, vanquisher of the French in 1954 after a brutal eight-year war, voiced opposition to the offensive, command was given to General Nguyen Chi Thanh, leader of Communist Viet Cong guerrilla forces in South Vietnam. When Thanh died unexpectedly, Giap reassumed command and rapidly massed six North Vietnamese Army infantry divisions in South Vietnam’s northernmost province, Quang Tri.

The Tet Offensive Begins

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Mexico: UNICEF calls for implementation of protocol to protect migrant children

UN News Centre - Sun, 02/02/2020 - 00:24
Authorities in Mexico are being reminded by the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, of the need to protect the rights of migrant children who enter the country.

From F-35 To F/A-18: Wingman Drones Are Making Air Force Fighter Jets More Powerful

The National Interest - Sun, 02/02/2020 - 00:00

David Axe

Security,

The prototypes are here.

Key point: "The idea of a robot wingman is that it can keep pace with manned planes, but be tasked out for parts of the mission that you wouldn't send a human teammate to do."

Boeing is preparing to test prototype wingman drones, apparently at a secretive site in the Australian Outback.

The Australian subsidiary of the Chicago-based plane-maker is developing the so-called “Airpower Teaming System” using company funds as well as $27 million from the Australian military.

Boeing revealed the 38-feet-long Loyal Wingman drone at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon in February 2019. The drone has the distinctive, sharp angles of a radar-evading stealth aircraft.

But the most novel part of the Airpower Teaming System/Loyal Wingman is invisible. Algorithms and radio datalinks allow human operators aboard manned planes or on the ground to command the highly autonomous drones.

“The idea of a robot wingman is that it can keep pace with manned planes, but be tasked out for parts of the mission that you wouldn't send a human teammate to do,” said Peter W. Singer, author of Wired for War.

A Boeing video depicts the Loyal Wingman drone flying in formation with an F/A-18 fighter and an E-7 radar plane, both of which Boeing builds for the Australian air force. "The Boeing Airpower Teaming System is designed to team with a wide range of existing military aircraft from fighters to commercial derivative aircraft," said Ashlee Erwin, a Boeing spokesperson.

Fast, armed and highly autonomous drones could scout ahead of manned planes and add their missiles to an aerial dogfight. It's a compelling concept for a small air force such as Australia's that trains to fight much larger air arms such as China’s. The Australian air force has just 110 fighters. The Chinese air force has no fewer than 1,400.

“Forces around the world are looking to maximize and extend their current fleets in a way that balances the need for quantity, capability and affordability,” Erwin said.

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Failure: How General Patton Botched the Rescue of Pows During World War II

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 23:30

Warfare History Network

History, Europe

Just terrible. In December 1944 the vaunted Third Reich was in its death throes, crushed by Allied forces on all sides. While Stalin’s Red Army thrust its way through Eastern Europe, Anglo-American forces had liberated France and were on Germany’s western borders. Adolf Hitler had enough resources to stage a final offensive, a last throw of the dice to stave off an inevitable and ignominious defeat.

The result was the Ardennes offensive of December 1944 to January 1945, usually called the “Battle of the Bulge,” in reference to the how the Allied line gave way to the German onslaught. The goal of Hitler’s plan, which even his generals thought was quixotic, was to seize the port of Antwerp, at the same time dividing Allied forces in two.

But thanks to the heroic resistance of such units as the 101st Airborne, and the return of good weather, which meant Allied planes could once more take to the air, Hitler’s offensive ran out of steam. Allied forces advanced, reducing the “bulge” and pushing the Germans back to their original starting point.

In January 1945, Lieutenant Herndon Inge, Jr., was serving with the 94th Infantry Division, part of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton’s famous Third Army. The 94th was in the process of punching through Germany’s fortified Siegfried Line (West Wall), but progress was slow, and the weather bitterly cold. Lieutenant Inge was cut off near Orscholz and captured by the Germans.

Eventually Inge found himself in Oflag (Offizierlager) XIII-B, an officers’ POW camp that held some 1,200 American and 3,000 Serbian officers at the German town of Hammelburg, near Schweinfurt. Lt. Col. John Knight Waters, Patton’s son-in-law [married to Patton’s oldest daughter, Bee], who had been captured in North Africa, was also in the camp, setting the stage for one of the most controversial episodes of the war. Patton ordered XII Corps commander Manton S. Eddy to have William M. Hoge’s 4th Armored Division form a task force (Task Force Baum) and send it on a mission 50 miles behind enemy lines to liberate Oflag XIII-B. Patton later denied all knowledge of his son-in-law’s whereabouts at the camp, but there is evidence to the contrary.

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New Iraqi Prime Minister-designate urged to act on reforms and accountability

UN News Centre - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 23:07
The top UN official in Iraq is calling on the country’s newly designated Prime Minister to urgently deliver on reforms and demands for accountability, amid ongoing protests.

The Nazi's All-Terrain Kettenkrad Vehicle Was So Popular That Allied Troops Were Soon Riding Them

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 23:00

Warfare History Network

History,

The NSU Kettenkrad served on all fronts and on all surfaces during World War II.

The first published photo of one of the odd—but highly versatile —frontline vehicles of World War II appeared on the cover of the July 1942 edition of German Propaganda Minister Dr. Josef Goebbels’s publication, The Illustrated Newspaper, in its famous hill-climbing mode. Since it appeared to be a motorcycle, complete with front wheel, handlebars, and headlamp with wartime nightlight emissions cover, many readers later concluded that it was, in fact, an actual motorcycle, and thus saw wartime service with motorcycle units.

Such was not the case. In reality, it was a half-tracked vehicle with a motorcycle fork for steering functions on all types of paved and off-road surfaces. Another confusing aspect was that the vehicle’s official nomenclature in German was Kettenkrad, which in English translates as “tracked motorcycle.” Still, it was designed by the NSU Motorenwerke AG based at Neckarsulm, Germany, as a light tractor for towing trailers, artillery, and even, later in the war, such aircraft as the Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter plane.

In its myriad of combat roles, the Kettenkrad saw service on all fighting fronts on which German troops saw action after 1940: in the snowy reaches of the Soviet Union, in the sandy wastes of North Africa and the rugged landscapes of Tunisia, on Sicily and up the Italian boot, in the guerrilla battles of the hotly contested Balkan region, in northern France during the Normandy campaign in June-July 1944, and in Nazi Germany itself during 1944-1945.

Indeed, the vehicle was so popular that not only did the far-flung armies of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich ride them, but captured Krads, as they were nicknamed, were ridden by the British Eighth Army Tommies in North Africa and American G.I. Joes in France in 1944. The Krad’s only real competitor, perhaps, at least on the German side of the armament vehicle ledger (it also carried both troops and unit commanders into combat), was the popular Schwimmwagen (swimming car) designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche that was also used by both sides when the Allies captured them. But the Schwimmer (as it was nicknamed) never saw service in either North Africa or the Sicilian-Italian campaigns.

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Does Supporting the Public Charge Rule Make You A Nazi?

The National Interest - Sat, 01/02/2020 - 22:45

Laurel Leff

Security,

During the Nazi era, roughly 300,000 additional Jewish refugees could have gained entry to the U.S. without exceeding the nation’s existing quotas.

During the Nazi era, roughly 300,000 additional Jewish refugees could have gained entry to the U.S. without exceeding the nation’s existing quotas.

The primary mechanism that kept them out: the immigration law’s “likely to become a public charge” clause. Consular officials with the authority to issue visas denied them to everyone they deemed incapable of supporting themselves in the U.S.

It is not possible to say what happened to these refugees. Some immigrated to other countries that remained outside Germany’s grip, such as Great Britain. But many – perhaps most – were forced into hiding, imprisoned in concentration camps and ghettos, and deported to extermination centers.

In August, the Trump administration resurrected the “the public charge” clause as a way to limit legal immigration without changing the immigration laws. The rules would deny admission to those unable to prove under tough new standards that they won’t claim government benefits. A lower court had blocked that new rule with a preliminary injunction, but the Supreme Court lifted the injunction on January 27. The court’s decision allows the rules to go into effect everywhere, except Illinois.

Neither the five conservative justices in the majority, nor the four more liberal justices in dissent, explained their reasoning.

The many different organizations and states who have challenged the rules can continue their litigation, but the odds of ultimately winning aren’t good. Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco, who asked the Court to lift the stay, argued that the new rule was a reasonable interpretation of the statute that denies admission to anyone who is “likely at any time to become a public charge.”

As someone who has studied European Jews’ attempts to escape Nazi persecution and immigrate to the U.S., the administration’s evocation of the public charge clause is chilling.

Preventing 1930s immigration

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