I Thought Germans Were Good At Math

Posted March 22nd, 2011 in International by Adrian MacNair

A 48-year-old man who raped and forced his children into prostitution has been found guilty of sexual abuse in Germany and sentenced to 14 years, six months in prison:

The court found 48-year-old defendant, identified only as Detlef S., guilty of 162 counts of sexually abusing his children and forcing his daughter and stepdaughter into prostitution between 1987 and 2010.

23 years of sexual abuse for the victims. Unfortunately there will only be 14 years of sexual abuse for him.

How to get the Cheka, OGPU, NKVD, KGB…

Posted December 13th, 2010 in International by MarkOttawa

…and other manifestations of Soviet security and intelligence a better reputation.  From an article worth the read in the London Review of Books:

…One of my fantasies – along with importing a branch of Marks and Spencer and a Penguin bookshop to Moscow – was that one day the Soviets would…give Western scholars access to the most taboo of Soviet archives, the NKVD’s, so that the scholars would stop slandering this fine institution and see things from its perspective: the Central Committee cadres department reassigning any Gulag officers who showed signs of competence and sending the Gulag administration nothing but duds, the difficulties in setting up native-language kindergartens for Chechen deportees to Kazakhstan, and so on…

On the other hand:

Katyn and coming clean about a mass murderer

Good writing does not excuse moral vacuity.  It is revealing to realize that no-one would (at least one hopes) ever be so jocular about the tough lives of those who ran the Nazi extermination camps.  There still is a serious double standard in dealing with the monstrous crimes Hitler and Stalin (not to mention Lenin and Mao) are responsible for.  Bloodlands is an effort to right the balance–see also this exchange of letters in the LRB.

The Polish movie “Katyn” is itself well worth the watch (saw it via Fred).  As far as I know not one Soviet killer in this, and their countless other killings, ever faced any justice.  Think about it.


The Grand Mufti and the Nazis–and the NY Times

Posted December 12th, 2010 in International, Islam, united states by MarkOttawa

The Gray Lady has interesting priorities.  Here’s the headline:

Declassified Papers Show U.S. Recruited Ex-Nazis

Then there’s this, starting at the fourth para and not considered worthy of a headline mention:

In chilling detail, the report also elaborates on the close working relationship between Nazi leaders and the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini [see the photos here, plus "The Mufti and the Holocaust"], who later claimed that he sought refuge in wartime Germany only to avoid arrest by the British.

In fact, the report says, the Muslim leader was paid “an absolute fortune” of 50,000 marks a month (when a German field marshal was making 25,000 marks a year). It also said he energetically recruited Muslims for the SS, the Nazi Party’s elite military command, and was promised that he would be installed as the leader of Palestine after German troops drove out the British and exterminated more than 350,000 Jews there.

On Nov. 28, 1941, the authors say, Hitler told Mr. Husseini that the Afrika Corps and German troops deployed from the Caucasus region would liberate Arabs in the Middle East and that “Germany’s only objective there would be the destruction of the Jews.”

The report details how Mr. Husseini himself was allowed to flee after the war to Syria — he was in the custody of the French, who did not want to alienate Middle East regimes — and how high-ranking Nazis escaped from Germany to become advisers to anti-Israeli Arab leaders and “were able to carry on and transmit to others Nazi racial-ideological anti-Semitism.”

“You have an actual contract between officials of the Nazi Foreign Ministry with Arab leaders, including Husseini, extending after the war because they saw a cause they believed in,” [co-author of the report] Dr. Breitman said. “And after the war, you have real Nazi war criminals — Wilhelm Beisner, Franz Rademacher and Alois Brunner — who were quite influential in Arab countries.”..

The report, “Hitler’s Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence and the Cold War,” grew out of an interagency group created by Congress to identify, declassify and release federal records on Nazi war crimes and on Allied efforts to hold war criminals accountable. It is drawn from a sampling of 1,100 C.I.A files and 1.2 million Army counterintelligence files that were not declassified until after the group issued its final report in 2007…

One photo:


Update: A version of this post is in the National Post’s “Full Comment”:


Afstan and Canada’s National Whatever, or, “Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless”

Posted December 4th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

Here’s how the NY Times gives context in a news story on President Obama’s recent quick visit to the troops at Bagram:

Wrapped in a tight cocoon of secrecy and security, Mr. Obama landed at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, on a pitch-black evening and told thousands of American service members who greeted him that they had begun to turn the tide in a war that has frustrated commanders and soldiers alike for nearly a decade…

The president’s remarks offered a more positive assessment of the situation on the ground than he has in some time, influenced perhaps by the optimism expressed in recent weeks by his commanding general, Gen. David H. Petraeus. American military forces have tripled, to 100,000, on Mr. Obama’s watch, and he has vowed to begin reducing the number of troops next July.

But others in Washington and Kabul have been more skeptical of the claims of progress, noting the unabated and pervasive corruption of Mr. Karzai’s government, the resilience of the insurgency despite escalated attacks and the debacle of recent peace talks that turned out to be held not with a senior Taliban leader but an impostor…

Mr. Obama’s visit came at a pivotal moment in the war on both sides. In Washington, the administration is completing a review of the surge and counterinsurgency strategy that the president approved a year ago, although officials played down its import. “I don’t think you’ll see any immediate adjustments,” Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the president’s top Afghan policy adviser, told reporters on Air Force One.

In Kabul, an election held on Sept. 18 has yet to result in a sitting Parliament, as Mr. Karzai has neither endorsed nor condemned its outcome. And State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks and made public on Friday laid bare the unvarnished and dubious view of American diplomats toward Mr. Karzai and his government. The cables questioned whether Mr. Karzai will ever be “a responsible partner” and depicted him as “erratic” and “indecisive and unprepared.”..

Fair enough I’d say. Now compare with what appears in the Globe and Mail’s, er, report; I’ve emphasized certain words:

Tellingly, Mr. Obama – who sent a surge of thousands more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan – omitted any mention of his promise to start pulling troops out next summer…

The President’s unannounced visit after a 13-hour flight, came only days after leaked documents confirmed the endemic corruption that infests the Karzai government and the grave doubts senior U.S. military officers and diplomats voice privately about the chances of success in the war. His visit also came on the 3,344th day since the U.S. attacked the Taliban regime in October, 2001.

After more than nine years of fighting – already six days [what's this fixation on days?] longer than the failed Soviet Union effort to subjugate Afghanistan – Mr. Obama claimed the surge had turned the tide…

But later this month, General David Petraeus, whom Mr. Obama hailed for changing “the way we fight wars and win wars in the 21st century” is expected to deliver a sombre assessment to Congress, warning that much dying lies ahead before Afghanistan’s unreliable army and corrupt police can take over the country’s security.

Mr. Obama made only passing reference to the grim reality that U.S. combat deaths – and the toll on Afghan civilians, Taliban fighters and coalition contingents – have soared in the past year to the highest levels of the war…

At home, the Afghan war is increasingly unpopular. A clear majority of Americans want a pullout of the more than 100,000 U.S. troops currently carrying the combat load in southern and eastern Afghanistan, where the resurgent Taliban control much of the country.

An unpopular war with no clear exit strategy and no way of determining victory hangs darkly over Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Although he claimed that the U.S.-led coalition has swelled to 49 countries [is that number true or not? if it is there is no "claim"] – up from 43 when he took office – the soldiers in Bagram knew that few nations are willing to commit troops to combat. There is spreading war-weariness even among the few fighting allies, such as Canada and the Netherlands, both of which are quitting combat. Meanwhile, major European powers such as Germany, Spain and Italy continue to keep their thousands of troops far from the raging Taliban insurgency in the south.

Get the picture the Globe’s authors, Incorrigible Paul Koring and Susan Sachs, want you to have? Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless. The piece is simply a deliberate and disgraceful, agenda-driven, effort to undermine Canadian support for the NATO mission.

As I keep saying the Globe is no longer a newspaper, see here, here and here.  And it stinks.  Gives renewed meaning to the phrase “committing journalism”.


Raging anti-Americanism, or, the Canadian mental disorder/Inferiority complex Update

Posted November 27th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

The United States has been the world’s worst warmonger for over two centuries.  I guess they should have turned the other cheek to the Japs and also not responded to Hitler’s declaration of war. The world would certainly have been a better place. And, having actually bothered (at long last, delaying for good domestic political reasons) to get into the Second World War, the United States thereafter should have given Stalin and the Soviet Union free rein to try and wreak their will around the globe, starting with turning western Europe Communist one way or another.  And let Kim-il Sung, with Stalin’s and Mao’s backing, conquer South Korea.

Hell, perhaps better yet not to have fought the Civil War and left the Confederate States of America a free, independent and slave state (though ending slavery was not the purpose of the war, either not fighting it or losing it would have left the peculiar institution fully in force).

I give you Gerald Caplan, a true soul of Canada’s New Democratic Party:

Canada enlists in America’s permanent war for peace

Why “Canada’s National Whatever” publishes such venom, if only online, is a very good question. By the way, the ideologically-blinded and ignorant Mr Caplan seems not to realize that the US Marines went “to the shores of Tripoli” after war was declared on the United States when it refused to continue paying tribute to buy off the Barbary Pirates.

What a bitter and small-minded fool. A true useful idiot.  If the Marine Corps did not exist perhaps God would create them.  My personal theology or something.

Update:  What may really underlie Mr Caplan’s rant (and the views of many other Canadians):

The leaked diplomatic cables, dating from January 2009 to June 2010, cover a huge range of issues and include ”lively commentaries” to Washington about a host of world leaders. A series of leaks is thought to deal with Canada’s ”inferiority complex”…

It’ll be fun city watching our greatest and goodest go ape-shit.


Katyn and coming clean about a mass murderer

Posted November 26th, 2010 in International by MarkOttawa

Further to this post,

“Bloodlands”: Where WW II in Europe was really fought…

good on the Russian Parliament:

Stalin ordered Katyn massacre

Via Spotlight on Military News and International Affairs. As for the Germans:

Expense claim: “liquidation of Jews in Belgrade”


Where Canada and Denmark led…

Posted November 20th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

…the US Marines follow:

Marines Sending in the Tanks

There has been some skepticism over the Marine Corps’ decision to send a company of M1 Abrams tanks to join the battle in southern Afghanistan, but the use of tanks in a counterinsurgency in general, and in Afghanistan in particular, is hardly new.

In Afghanistan, the Canadians and the Danes have used their tanks to great effect–and Canadian Army Maj. Trevor Cadieu has written a detailed account on how tanks became an integral part of the Canadian fight in Kandahar—the place U.S. Marines are fighting now [in fact they are mainly in neighbouring Helmand province]. In December 2006, the Canadians deployed a squadron of Leopard C2 tanks to Kandahar, and the major writes that “after deploying forward … the tank squadron and armoured engineers featured prominently in all major combat operations undertaken by the Canadian BG … Since May 2007, the tank squadron has fought almost constantly alongside Canadian and Afghan infantry in close combat with the Taliban.”

The Canadians say that they’ve found so much success in Afghanistan with the German-made Leopard tank that they completely revised plans for the structure of their ground forces…

The Danes have had much the same experience with the Leopard II in Afghanistan, claiming that the tank’s 120mm gun is so accurate that it minimizes civilian casualties, and the RAND team reports that the Danes “noted that tanks can respond very quickly when contact is made with insurgents, and that it was clear the Taliban respects tank firepower. Indeed, it was stated that Taliban activity drops considerably when tanks are operating in an area.” [The Danes, by the way, are staying fully in the fight.]

And this morning, Jason Fritz, an Army vet and consultant, has this to say about the use of tanks in a counterinsurgency fight in Afghanistan:

You know what scares the hell out of dismounted insurgents? 70 tons of badassery that will make them dead if they mess with it…

Canadian badassery (with some German help):

More here.


Afstan round-up/Obama’s 2011 withdrawal going, going…/Canadian angle Update/German Upperdate

Posted November 15th, 2010 in Afghanistan, International, Uncategorized by MarkOttawa

Further to this post,

Afstan: US not cutting and running

an excerpt from Foreign Policy’s “AfPak Daily brief”:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave an interview to the Washington Post over the weekend in which he called for the reduction in military operations in Afghanistan and the end of night raids (Post). Excerpts of the interview are here (Post). NATO officials said Karzai’s remarks frustrated Gen. David Petraeus, top commander in Afghanistan, and that NATO had received assurances that Karzai was on board with the coalition’s strategy (AP, AFP). Karzai’s spokesman said the comments were a sign of a “maturing partnership” (Post).

At the NATO summit in Lisbon at the end of this week, the Obama administration will reportedly present a plan to begin transferring control of certain areas of Afghanistan to Afghan security forces over the next 18 to 24 months, with the aim of keeping U.S. combat forces there until 2014, a date originally set by Karzai (NYT, Post). By the end of 2014, though combat forces could be withdrawn if conditions permit, “tens of thousands” will likely remain in training roles [emphasis added] (NYT). Obama administration envoy to the region Amb. Richard Holbrooke said, “From Lisbon on, we will be on a transition strategy with a target date of the end of 2014 for Afghanistan taking over responsibility for leading the security” (Reuters).

Gen. Petraeus is reportedly upping efforts to increase Afghan police forces drawn from local villages in southern Afghanistan, with the help of former mujahideen commanders to aid the recruiting efforts [in other words local militias] (NYT). NATO commanders hope to raise at least 30,000 local officers in the next six months. The Obama administration is also seeking to halt the flow of ammonium nitrate, the main ingredient in roadside bombs in Afghanistan, into the country, though is facing trouble from Pakistan, “where the police routinely wave tons of ammonium nitrate shipments across the border into Afghanistan despite that country’s ban on imports of the chemical” (NYT)…

Update: Canadian angle:

Teaching Afghans more important than combat: army trainer [see this also]

Upperdate: The German government, for its part, doesn’t want to change its mission for a while:

The German government does not plan to start reducing German troop levels in Afghanistan until 2012, a decision which could result in a dispute with the center-left Social Democrats, the largest opposition party in Germany’s parliament.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and the interior and development ministers agreed in a meeting at the Chancellery to renew the existing parliamentary mandate for an upper limit of 5,000 troops plus a flexible reserve of 350 at the start of 2011…

The Bundeswehr moreover has been seeing more action recently:

Blitzkrieg in Kunduz


Afstan: Some reactions to, and consequences of, Canada’s bugging out/Fighting Germans Update

Posted November 4th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, united states by MarkOttawa

From a recent post:

Afstan: I’ll bet you didn’t know…

…about this American military contract for helicopter services to a Canadian company…

So Canadian civilians will be helping the US military–and probably the Afghan Air Corps–chopper effort after the government pulls out most of the CF. Nice. And nastily ironic given that the government refuses to keep our Air Wing, or part of it, at Kandahar.  The Americans for their part have noticed our Air Force’s coming departure. From the Update at this post yesterday:

Filling the hole left by departing Canadian Forces was “a great concern,” [Brig.-Gen. Fred] Hodges said. “It is not just the battle group, with a squadron of tanks, but all the enablers. They are a big chunk of our aviation. They have some of the best ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) collection capabilities…

Now more from Andrew Potter, recently back from Afstan, at his Maclean’s blog:

Afghanistan: Sorry about the mess…

The surge was only completed in early September, the crucial operations in Kandahar have only been underway for about six weeks, and it simply is not clear yet how things are going to turn out. There are plenty of negative signs, a few positive signs, and it won’t be clear which way the wind is really blowing until the “fighting season” resumes in early spring. Which is why Canada’s decision to cease combat operations next July 1 is increasingly turning into a big headache for our allies.

In private, American and British military officers have never hidden their disdain for the way Canada is handling this pullout. In February, a British general I was speaking with in Kabul called it “bad campaign work, and bad coalition work”…

This is not to say that Canada’s combat commitment to Afghanistan should be permanent…

…maybe that mission is impossible. But it is the way we are leaving that is making our NATO allies and our Afghan friends extremely unhappy. As [Afghan] ambassador Ludin noted in his opening remarks at the panel last week (repeating a plea he made back in March) despite frequent promises to do so, the Canadian government has given no indication of what form our engagement in the country will take after we cease combat operations. The military people are desperate for trainers [emphasis added, more here], Ludin says his country is desperate for our expertise on governance, but the message we’ve been giving is that we’re leaving, but we’re staying, but we’re not sure how.

This didn’t come up as one of the purported reasons for why Canada didn’t win a seat on the security council at the UN. But given the ignoble way we’re skulking out of one of the UN’s biggest security and development operations in decades [more here], it is mystifying why we ever thought we deserved the seat.

On the other hand one could just not give a damn, my dears–at least about that seat.  But it truly is crass and callous for this government basically to be giving up on the Afghans.

Plus the regular Conference of Defence Associations’ media round-up:

The Future in Southern Afghanistan…

On his blog, Matthew Fisher points out that Canadian casualties in Kandahar have fallen nearly 80 percent, and the region is becoming increasingly safe and pacified [do read the whole piece, one excerpt: "...you'd never know about this sea change from reading and hearing the usual doom and gloom about Afghanistan that passes for informed commentary in much of the Canadian media.].

Update: The Bundeswehr is now getting seriously into the action:

Blitzkrieg in Kunduz
Photo: Bundeswehr/Von Söhnen


I’ll bet you didn’t know…/Long-lived AK Upperdate

Posted October 31st, 2010 in International, Technology by MarkOttawa

…the AK-47′s German background (clever devils they):

From “The Gun”
A Dutch soldier with an AK-47 captured in Western New Guinea in 1962.

By C. J. Chivers…

Exactly how the winning design was created remains murky, but contrary to Soviet propaganda, it is clear that Kalashnikov got plenty of help — not only from other Russian konstruktors but (more embarrassing) from a captured German arms designer, Hugo Schmeisser, who during World War II had created an early assault rifle (the Sturmgewehr) that bore an uncanny resemblance to what became the AK-47

The Haenel/Schmeisser MP 43 MP 44 Stg. 44 assault rifle:

MP 43 assault rifle, the first production variant of the Sturmgewehr, left side

Another review of the book.

Update thought: As for capitalism with Bear characteristics, does anyone ever buy anything made in Russia other than…And, as commenter sdc notes, of course there’s more to it regarding the Kalashnikov.

Upperdate: A rather long-lived AK, fairly recently in service in Afstan (via my knowledgeable friend):

As weapons go, the Kalashnikov is not alone in lasting this long. Many rifles and pistols from an earlier era — the old Lee-Enfields are but one example — are still fully functional. But in the main these weapons were not automatics, and were of a more simple design. In a post we’ll likely publish this week in the At War blog, I’ll publish from a large set of photos of the varied rifles in use by the Taliban in Marja, Afghanistan. Many of the rifles predate World War Two, and one is nearly a century old. The post on At War will describe how the weapons were collected, and what they might tell us…

Mr Chivers reports for the NY Times; can you imagine a Globe and Mail reporter (more here and here) writing as he does?


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