Daily Archives: January 15, 2009

Putin Alert – Swedish edition

ell, Super villain Vladimir Putin is at it again.  In what is supposed to be an effort to demonstrate his ‘artistic’ and ‘softer’ side, Comrade Putin has donated one of his watercolor paintings to be auctioned off at a charity.  According to the art critic at the Daily Telegraph:

“I like the way the yellow window frame and white curtain fill the blue canvas, so that we find ourselves looking through four panes of glass in the centre at a night sky filled with snow and stars.Notice the confidence with which those curtains are drawn – how with each long stroke Putin never loses contact with the canvas until the of his loaded brush is dry. There isn’t a wasted or unnecessary brushstroke and nothing childish or naïve about this picture.Putin gives us all the information we need but nothing more…This is an artist who has been struck by something most of us wouldn’t look at twice. With remarkable economy he contrasts the warmth, light, and gaiety of the interior with the cold and darkness beyond”

Maybe…or maybe there’s a darker interpretation to the picture.  After all, the picture bears an eerie resemblance to the national flag of a country that has a history of wars with Russia.

Perhaps this was a glimpse into his subconscious desires to make a grab for the land of the three crowns.  Or, maybe it’s even more sinister.  Perhaps it was an intentional, if veiled, threat against Sweden.  First Georgia…now Sweden?

I suggest King Gustav begin contingency planning immediately…

Guantanamo alum return to terrorism…

According to Reuters story the DIA is reporting an 11% recidivism rate among those released from Guantanamo.

11% recidivism rate?

I suspect the Bureau of Justice would love to see those numbers in the prison system.

“Of the 272,111 persons released from prisons in 15 States in 1994, an estimated 67.5% were rearrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within 3 years, 46.9% were reconvicted, and 25.4% resentenced to prison for a new crime.”

This is what happens when you get a story without context.  The headline is designed to shock you.  ‘How dare these people take up terrorism after we were nice enough to release them?!’  If, however, you assume that those who found their way to Guantanamo were the ‘worst of the worst‘ then it seems pretty remarkable that only one in ten are deciding to take up arms once they get out.

The numbers are even more shocking when you realize the the government can only confirm 18 detainees as returning to jihad and they get to the 11% figure by including those ‘suspected’ of being militants.

Perhaps the story would be better if they looked into why so few of the ‘worst of the worst’ were taking up the mantle of jihad.

Department of Bad Ideas – Afghanistan Branch

So, now the U.S. has a new scheme to battle the Taliban:

Afghanistan and the United States are mulling the creation of unarmed community guards to help defend against insurgents as troops cannot be deployed in every village, the US ambassador said Tuesday…The forces — which Wood called “community guards” — would be given training, clothing and other supplies, as well as international back-up, so they could respond “with confidence” to insurgents.”

Ah…that will strike fear in the hearts of the Taliban.  Unarmed guards.  Yes, I’d certainly have confidence facing down some insurgents with a nice uniform and some MREs.

Of course, that line was a couple of weeks ago.  The party line now is:

“Mr Wood was adamant the US would not provide any weapons, and would restrict its involvement to supplying uniforms, training and other equipment…But one senior official in the Ministry of the Interior said his department would be in charge of finding suitable weapons, possibly by repairing “old and broken” guns.

At the same time Mohammad Masom Stanekzai, a vice-chairman of Afghanistan’s disarmament organization, said members of the guard forces would be encouraged to supply first their own weapons, which would allow the government to increase the number of weapons that have been officially registered.”

So, you see the U.S. won’t provide guns but perhaps the Ministry of Interior will find a way around that.  But fear not:

“He said the defense forces would be under a clear “command and control mechanism” and would be “owned by” the village shuras, or traditional representative councils, which will help to recruit men. “This is not the rearming of militias, because we won’t be handing all the funding to individual militia leaders – that just leads the men to be loyal to the militia leader, not the government.”

Oh, ok.  It’s nice to see that someone with some cash and ambition wouldn’t be able to buy off a shura or leap frog over them and buy the loyalty of the militia directly (perhaps through the handing out of weapons?).  So we basically rearm militias (Wait for it…you can almost hear the ‘No one could have forseen this.’ nonsense that will spew from the talking heads.) who may or may not fight the insurgents but, in either case, you’re not exactly building institutions of a central government.

Yet another indicator that the U.S. strategy has devolved to a panicked ‘Oh my God!  Throw something,  something, quick!’

Apparently I’m not the only one with misgivings, however:

“But the Canadian defence minister, Peter MacKay, said: “The tribal militia idea that has been around for some time now is controversial; we are not onboard with that. Our preference is to continue with this more formal training process that leads to a more reliable, more professional soldier and Afghan national security force.” MacKay said the issue had been debated at a meeting of Nato troop contributors in Afghanistan in November and that there was “no agreement around the table on it”. He added: “Not all of the tactics and not all of the decisions made in Iraq are applicable in Afghanistan.”

For a much (much) more informed view on this check out Peter’s blog here, here and here.