Sunday, January 17, 2010

Karzai's New Plan to Lure Taliban, Israel Sucks Up To Turkey So It Can Sell It Drones

TReihan Salam
Michael Barone
Frank Rich
"Yet there are miserable corners of the world where cameras and correspondents are few and far between, and Haiti has been one of them for at least the past 15 years" - Reihan Salam

I can't find anything on Haiti that hasn't already been put on television, so it's time to send a few prayers that way and look at the rest of the world. Rescue teams even came from Russia to help, and food has been sent from Middle Eastern gulf countries. I think there has been even more international effort to help Haiti than any other time I can think of.  Of course, a whole country has never been so devastated before, and it took something like this to get President Clinton and President Bush to finally work together...

Drones have been diverted from being used in Afghanistan and are now flying over Haiti and sending pictures back. According to Wired's Danger Room, the US has lamented that there are not enough amoral geeks out there who it can hire to come up with the next wave of robotic warfare. Playing HALO is not enough...

The most promising item is the announcement from the Karzai government in Afghanistan. Even though most of his proposed second round of ministers has also been shot down by Parliament, they are proud of the newest plan to intergrate the Taliban into society and the government: "The Afghan government will soon unveil a major new plan offering jobs, security, education and other social benefits to Taliban followers who defect, according to the spokesman for President Hamid Karzai.

The plan, in the final stages of preparation, will go beyond the government’s previous offers to the Taliban, Wahid Omer, the spokesman, said at a news conference on Sunday. “The mistakes we have committed before have been considered in developing this new plan,” he said. “We have not done enough.”

The reconciliation and reintegration plan is aimed at luring large numbers of the Taliban’s followers, estimated by NATO officials at 25 to 30,000 active fighters, to change sides, and has qualified support from American officials. "
“Can’t be worse.” - Richard Holbrooke
The early announcement is to try and get some confidence from the Afghan Parliament, and allow him some slack on the next round of presentations of candidates. Karzai needs to reward some warlord supporters, but members of Parliament are adamant not to have cronyism or incompetents in the jobs, and want to see someone who will perform their job without ripping everyone off and stashing their gains in a Swiss bank account. Maybe the face of politics is changing and there are a few honest men left. They certainly would be a good influence on the Taliban. Now to see if the Taliban leadership is willing to share, or if they want it all and feel they have the upper hand in taking it...

Also, Israel sent its Minister of Defense to Turkey for some serious apologizing and sucking up, hoping to mend some fences that were torn down since Israel's Gaza offensive. The political ties may never be healed, but Turkey is rising in influence in the region, and the two countries have been doing some dumb stunts aimed at snubbing each other, where saving face is considered important.

An interesting parallel is reported by the BBC: "Turkey has been infuriated by a diplomatic snub in which its ambassador to Israel was deliberately seated lower than the Israeli deputy foreign minister during a meeting.

Perhaps someone in the Israeli foreign ministry had seen The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin's great 1940 film mocking Hitler and Mussolini.
Chaplin, playing Dictator Adenoid Hynkel of Tomania, prepares for a meeting with Dictator Napolini of Bacteria.
He is told by his scheming aide, Garbitsch: "This interview is solely to impress upon him the force of your personality, to make him feel inferior."
To that end, Garbitsch says that "applied psychology" will be used. Napolini will be made to walk across the long hall to Hynkel's desk, will be seated dramatically lower than Hynkel and will have a bust of Hynkel annoyingly placed by him.
Needless to say, Napolini, outrageously played by Jack Oakie, steals the show by entering suddenly from behind, by sitting on the desk and by striking a match on the bust.
The moral is perhaps that these ploys sometimes backfire and Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon has found that out.
He was forced to make a semi-apology for his devices - no smiles, no Turkish flag, and the classic lower seat.
He removed any style from his gesture by pointing them out to the camera crews present, who naturally broadcast his comment.
Mr Ayalon later apologised fully, which Turkey accepted."

But, the real reason for the visit is financial. Turkey's military has already expressed interest in buying Israeli drones, the hottest commodity on the military market right now: "political relations are still very strained, but there are surprisingly strong links between the two countries' military establishments, dating back to a co-operation agreement in 1996, and Mr Barak is expected to finalise details of a long-planned sale of Israeli-made unmanned aircraft to Turkey during this visit." See, the world is ruled by a bunch of boys who must have the latest toys...

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