Thursday, 4 December 2008

Malaysian ex-Minister Zaid Ibrahim: Ruling Party Jeopardising Racial Unity

Agence France-Presse - 12/4/2008 5:52 AM GMT

Racist and provocative sentiments from within Malaysia's ruling party are jeopardising the stability of the multiracial nation, a former cabinet minister said Thursday.
Zaid Ibrahim, who was sacked from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) this week after attending the opposition's annual assembly, raised concern over the state of race relations in a country that has seen ethnic violence in the past.
He took aim at "provocative" statements by government lawmakers, including one who referred to ethnic Chinese citizens as "squatters" and another who proposed dismantling Chinese and Tamil schools.
"It is as if we don't want unity," he said. "If the party is not inclusive, cannot accommodate the views of many, then it will carry on with this narrow, very communal struggle," he told a press conference.
"I think it's not just race relations but the stability of the country," he said when asked whether ethnic tensions will worsen if there are further racist outbursts from UMNO figures.
Zaid, a maverick figure tasked with cleaning up the judiciary and police force, quit the cabinet in September after complaining he was blocked from carrying out the promised reforms.
He was sacked from the party after attending the annual assembly of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan party, but quashed speculation that he was planning to join the opposition ranks.
"I have always been very... tolerant of people with different views, I didn't do anything to cause me to be expelled," he said. "They resent my views, my more accommodating approach to other people," he said of UMNO.
Zaid said that the ruling party, which has dominated Malaysian politics for half a century but suffered its worst-ever showing in March elections, had to restore relations with minority ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.
He urged the party, which represents ethnic Malays who dominate the population, to go back to its roots as an institution that brought unity to a diverse country.
"UMNO has become more ethnocentric, more communitarian but that is not our role," he said.
"UMNO's role is to be the provider, the one who takes care of everyone, the one who has the trust of all the communities. That's how we started, that's our achievement."
"We have to do everything possible to maintain good relations, harmony in the country and stability, because there is no economic stability if there is no political or social stability," he said.

Why the German Army Must Return to Germany: Too Fat and Drunk to Chase and Run After the Taliban

They drink too much and they're too fat to fight, that's the damning conclusion of German parliamentary reports into the country's 3,500 troops stationed in Afghanistan. While British and U.S. troops in the country face a strict ban on alcohol, their German comrades are allowed two pints a day.

The stunning statistics reveal that in 2007 German forces in northern Afghanistan drank 1.7million pints of beer and 90,000 bottles of wine. The troops also downed 896,000 pints of beer in the first six months of this year, the Times reported.

The statistics only add to the embarrassment of the country's federal army, Bundeswehr, after a report earlier this year found troops to be too fat, smoked too much and didn't exercise enough.
It showed they lived on beer and sausages while shunning fruit and vegetables. The parliamentary report claimed that some 40 per cent of all German army personnel are overweight - a higher percentage than in the civilian population.

At the time Reinhold Robbe, the parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces, stated: 'Plainly put, the soldiers are too fat, exercise too little, and take little care of their diet.' The Times also reported the damning allegation from a senior officer that Germany is failing in its main mission to train the Afghan police. He descibed the efforts as 'a miserable failure'.

Since 2001, 28 German soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan.

Originally published on

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Former Japan Air Self-Defense Force Chief Gen Toshio Tamogami: Japan not "aggressor nation" in '30s and '40s

Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008

Tamogami says views shared in Diet, SDF

Staff writer

Ousted Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Gen. Toshio Tamogami stuck to his revisionist historical views Monday, saying his justification of Japan's wartime acts is shared by many lawmakers and Self-Defense Forces personnel.

I see it my way: Former Air Self-Defense Force chief of staff Toshio Tamogami speaks Monday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.

"I don't think my opinions are particularly militaristic or of a rightwing nature," Tamogami said during a news conference in Tokyo at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, adding many of his supporters are merely keeping their views to themselves.
Tamogami was sacked as ASDF chief Oct. 31 after winning an essay contest with an entry that defended the nation's wartime past and colonial rule. He upheld his revisionist views during unsworn testimony before an Upper House committee last month, maintaining his opinion that Japan was not an "aggressor nation" during the 1930s and '40s.

"Freedom of speech in the SDF is being suppressed, but there are many who support" such views, Tamogami said. The now-retired general criticized the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition force, on Monday, saying the DPJ is wrongfully blaming the government for allowing someone with views like his to head the ASDF.

"The DPJ is demanding that a person who speaks ill of Japan (by being apologetic about the war) should lead (the ASDF). That is absurd."
In explaining the backdrop of the essay, Tamogami said Japan cannot protect its allies without engaging in collective self-defense and must enact a special law to allow the SDF to contribute to international antiterrorism campaigns such as the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.

"This all stems from an erroneous history education" that taught that Japan was an aggressor, he said, reiterating his view that the government must get back on track and again become capable of defending the nation.

While the essay accuses the United States of "trapping" Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor, Tamogami told the press briefing that he does not intend to criticize Washington for past acts.
"I don't have any antipathy toward America. I like America very much," he joked.

"I am being touted as a dangerous figure, but it only takes five minutes with me for anyone to understand that I am kind-hearted." But asked how he would have acted when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Tamogami said he would have retaliated in kind had Japan had that capability.

The unapologetic ex-general did acknowledge he blundered, saying he never expected his essay to cause such a Diet or media stir. "Some say I was a fool for misjudging that," he said. "I have to acknowledge that I am."
courtesy of The Japan Times on-line

Monday, 1 December 2008

And Now The German Army Also Admits Afghanistan is Going to Be a Lost Cause

Several armies had fought many big battles in the past. They won some, and they lost some too. The German army had fought two world wars. They lost the first one in 1918 and the lost the second one in 1945 and badly too. The British were always lucky when they fought their wars in Europe. Apart from getting help from Belgium, France and various British Commonwealth countries the British had UNCLE SAM to help them. The Germans were not so lucky in Europe. They were not so lucky in Africa. Now after so many years after the demise of Nazi Germany, modern Germany seems to be keen in rebuilding their Aryan pride by sending their army to Afghanistan. They should have learned some valuable lessons from the British experience in Afghanistan. The British lost their wars in Afghanistan and against the poor Pashtun tribes. Recently, one superior British officer just stopped short of admitting that the British neo-colonial army is going to suffer a shameful defeat in Afghanistan. Now, another high ranking commander of a very powerful German Army (Deutsches Heer) is indirectly telling the whole world and most of all the Muslim world that Germany is not going to win their war against our Muslim brothers in Afghanistan. Didn't our Muslim scholars tell many Western leaders and nations in the past that the American-led modern Crusade against the Muslim world is not going to work and succeed? Now, Great Britain, Gemany and many other western countries are going to join Russia in coming out of Afghanistan with a shaken, broken and flattened military EGO and perhaps economically bankrupt.

German General Breaks silence on Afghanistan

Monday, 01 December 2008 01:49
By Judy Dempsey

BERLIN: Breaking with a military tradition of keeping silent about policy, a top German general has branded his country's efforts in Afghanistan a failure, singling out its poor record in training the Afghan police and allocating development aid.

The comments came from General Hans-Christoph Ammon, head of the army's elite special commando unit, or KSK, whose officers are in Afghanistan fighting alongside U.S. forces against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Germany was responsible for training the Afghan police, but the German Interior Ministry, led by the conservative Wolfgang Schäuble, has come under repeated criticism from the United States and other NATO allies for providing too few experts and inappropriate training.

The training scheme was "a miserable failure," Ammon told DPA, the German press agency, after describing the German record in Afghanistan to a gathering last week of a reservists' association. The government had provided a mere €12 million for training the Afghan Army and police while the United States has already given more than $1 billion, he said.

"At that rate, it would take 82 years to have a properly trained police force," he said. More damaging for Germany's reputation, Ammon said, was that its police-training mission was considered such a "disaster" that the United States and EU had taken over responsibility.
The Defense Ministry said Ammon was expressing his personal views. Even so, because such views are rare, security experts said they showed the level of frustration building among senior military officers over German reluctance to provide adequate financing for Afghan mission or even explain to the public why Germany has 4,500 soldiers there.

Neither Chancellor Angela Merkel nor her conservative defense minister, Franz-Josef Jung, have been willing to debate the issue publicly. For the first time since German soldiers were sent to Afghanistan six years ago, Jung referred in November to the "Gefallene," or fallen soldiers, who had died there. Until now, any German soldiers killed in Afghanistan were referred to as casualties. In addition, the word "Krieg," or war, has been banned from use in any Defense Ministry public statements or speeches, say advisers to the ministry.

"I keep saying that it is time the public was told why we are in Afghanistan, what is happening there and what we are doing there," said Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, general secretary of the Christian Social Union, the allied party of the Christian Democrats led by Merkel.
Merkel, who has visited Afghanistan just once in three years in office, said in an interview with the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung that she was prepared to defend the mission in Afghanistan in the national election campaign next year. That could be a high-risk strategy given that the mission is highly unpopular with the public. The foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a Social Democrat who will run against Merkel to become chancellor, supports the mission.

But as foreign minister, he has to strike a balance between defending the war and taking account of the unpopularity of it. The pacifist wing in his party opposes keeping German troops there, particularly given the increasing attacks. Two Afghan civilians were killed Sunday by a suicide bomber after he had strapped explosives to his body, targeting a vehicle used by German military attachés, the Afghan police said. No Germans were wounded.

Merkel, who will give a major speech Monday at the congress of her Christian Democratic Union party, is coming under pressure from a small group of defense and foreign policy advisers inside and outside her party to address the subject of Afghanistan. The matter is considered urgent because President-elect Barack Obama has made Afghanistan a foreign policy priority. NATO officials said last week that they were expecting the incoming U.S. administration to ask NATO allies to contribute more troops and experts in order to beat back the Taliban and train up an Afghan Army and police force.

Only then, Obama has said, can the Afghan forces take responsibility for the security of their own country.
Article was originally on

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