Holbrooke no hero to general

Holbrooke no hero to general

By MICHAEL HARRIS, OTTAWA SUN

 

This week, the Globe and Mail asked General Lewis McKenzie (Retired) to write the obituary of American diplomat Richard Holbrooke.

It was a good idea. The two men had crossed paths more than once on the global stage of the Great Game.

McKenzie declined. Holbrooke had just died and the general knew that what he had to say would hardly produce the standard panegyric.

When I caught up with McKenzie, he was shoveling snow after a spell away from home. I asked for an interview and to my surprise, he agreed.

“I’m just going to tell you what I thought of him through my own prism. All of my experiences with Holbrooke were all bad.” The men were both involved in Vietnam. Holbrooke was Henry Kissinger’s primary assistant at the time of the Paris Peace Accords.  McKenzie was part of the International Commission of Control and Supervision. “It wasn’t an accord at all, it was just a way of getting the U.S. out of the war. They just wanted diplomatic cover to get the troops out. And of course you know what happened next.”

On Friday March 13, 1992, McKenzie arrived in Sarajevo as part of a United Nations Protection Force. Holbrooke was part of the American diplomatic effort. The Portuguese ambassador had already brokered an accord between the combatants which would have seen the “canonization” of Bosnia. But U.S. Ambassador Warren Zimmerman advised Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic to turn the plan down. Three years later, virtually the same plan was adopted with thousands killed in the interim.

“The war was for nothing. The Serbs had already committed to Dayton after the Croatian offensive in southwest Bosnia. Clearly the bombing was unwarranted. And that is the real history not the myth. I don’t think Holbrooke had a positive influence on the Balkans.” And then, in 1999, there was Kosovo, where Holbrooke played a role.

“We had NATO bombing a sovereign country on behalf of the Kosovo Liberation Army, (KLA) a listed terrorist group.  Now we have the president of Kosovo mixed up in an organ-harvesting ring. Unfortunately, Canada is one of the 72 countries at the UN that recognized Kosovo.” Diplomat Richard Holbrooke and soldier Lewis McKenzie met face-to-face on U.S. network television in the wake of 9/11. With millions of furious Americans watching, Holbrooke leveled an accusation that has “peed off” the general ever since.

“We were on Ted Koppel’s Nightline. Holbrooke said ‘General McKenzie, it is my understanding that all the terrorists who flew planes into the Twin Towers came on a ferry from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Bar Harbor Maine.’ ” The general’s cousin, owner of McKenzie Security, was responsible for that ferry run and the soldier knew that the diplomat was out to lunch.

‘Absolutely livid’

“I was absolutely livid. That was the start of the myth of how the 9/11 terrorists came through Canada and executed their attack.”

Holbrooke re-emerged when the Democrats swept to power in 2008, but General McKenzie wasn’t cheering.

“When I heard that Obama had appointed him envoy to Af-Pak, I couldn’t think of a worse personality to put in that job. Rest his soul, and yes, I admired his intellect, but the man was a bully.”

No one, not even in death, bullies the general.

mharris@cfra.com

Pacifist Vegans Turn Mercenaries

Will Blackwater Go Vegan After Sale to Hippie Firm?

The next time you sink into the tub after a stressful day, your relaxation illuminated by the plume of the soy candle you bought at Whole Foods, know this: you are funding the world’s most infamous private security company.

Long on the auction block, Blackwater/Xe has finally been sold, Dealbook reports, to a team of investors led by Forté Capital Advisors and Manhattan Growth Partners for an estimated $200 million. The first of those investors should come as no surprise: Forte’s Jason DeYonker is a confidante of the family of company founder Erik Prince. But the second, well — sorry, hippies.

War is Business does some digging and finds that Manhattan Growth Partners likes to put its money in the crunchier side of the consumer-goods market. Among its investments: organic beauty company Hugo Naturals, which pledges only to use “the highest quality vegan, natural, organic and kosher food-grade ingredients.” It’s their scrubs and lotions you bought at Whole Foods. Now that their moneymen have a piece of Blackwater, can it be long before the high-priced market stocks organic steroids and cocaine?

Well, probably, yeah. But it remains to be seen how much of a rebranding the company will undergo after the sale. As Dealbook points out, Prince has hinted that in order to get rid of the taint of Nisour Square — in which Blackwater security guards protecting U.S. diplomats killed 17 Iraqi civilians in a confusing 2007 melee in Baghdad — the company will make training military forces and law enforcement the core of its business. But one of its partnerships recently won part of a huge State Department contract for protecting diplomats. And with a huge Army deal to train Afghan police soon to be awarded, it’s possible that the New-Look Blackwater will find the Prince era teed up its future quite naturally. DeYonker has yet to return a request for comment, and a vague statement from the new investors, USTC Holdings, doesn’t clarify.

 

And if the deal shows anything, it shows that the branding problems the company has — renaming itself “Xe” in 2009 earned it ridicule and didn’t fool anyone — conceal how large the market is for its services. Training foreign armies and police forces might be a core function of the U.S. military in an era of insurgents and terrorists, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates advocates, but the military would rather fight people, as evidenced by the fact that it hasn’t built an institutional command for foreign partner training. That’s where contractors come in.

Same thing with guarding diplomats and aid workers, a task the military decidedly does not want. While Blackwater may have a long list of misdeeds to its name, getting its charges killed is not one of them.

Still, should the company really want to get under the skin of its liberal critics, it now has an inroads to do some serious greenwashing.

Chinese trawler clashes with South Korean coast guard

[Since this incident is taking place in the quiet before the great storm that is sure to follow the planned live fire drills on the disputed island, it is pretty safe to assume that this Chinese “trawler” is probably like the Russian “trawlers” of the Cold war era, a surveillance ship.  Whether anyone else realizes it or not, the death of the Chinese fisherman by N. Korean Coast Guard puts China directly between S. Korean/US Navies and North Korea, even though no Chinese warships are involved yet.  The US govt. keeps pushing for this confrontation.  It looks like we may be about to find-out just how far Washington is willing to go to achieve clear military dominance over China in the S. China Sea.]

China fisherman dies in clash with S Korea coast guard

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Fishermen and officers are seen fighting in footage filmed by the coast guard

The crew of a Chinese trawler and a South Korean patrol ship have clashed, leaving one fisherman dead and two missing, South Korean officials say.The clash reportedly happened as the coast guards tried to prevent Chinese boats from fishing illegally off South Korea’s west coast.Video filmed by the coast guard shows officers fighting with fishermen wielding metal bars.Four coast guard officers were injured, reports say.About 50 Chinese fishing boats were in waters off the South Korean city of Gunsan at the time of the clash, coast guard spokesman Ji Kwan-tae said, according to the Associated Press.Mr Ji said one of the boats intentionally struck the patrol ship to try to allow the others to sail back into their waters – but the boat sank after the impact.At least eight men were rescued from the sea, but one later died.Seafood demandMore guard boats and helicopters were dispatched to try to locate two missing fishermen. China has also reportedly sent a rescue boat to the area.Scores of Chinese fishing boats are captured for illegal fishing every year, the South Korean coast guard says.Chinese vessels appear to be going further afield to feed growing domestic demand for seafood.In September, a confrontation between two Japanese patrol boats and a Chinese trawler in the East China Sea provoked a bitter diplomatic spat.The latest clash comes amid heightened tension on the Korean peninsula and in the waters around it.Last month North Korea – incensed by live-fire military exercises conducted close to its coast by the US and South Korea – shelled a South Korean island.It has threatened fresh action if a planned new drill takes place.

 

Pakistan, China sign 35 pacts and MoUs for cooperation

Beijing will ‘never give up’ Islamabad: Wen

Pakistan, China ink $35bn deals

* Two countries sign 35 pacts and MoUs for cooperation in energy, security, banking, technology sectors

* Biggest deal worth $6.5bn for development of wind, solar power

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China inked 35 agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs), worth $35 billion, on cooperation in economy, energy, banking, security and technology as the Pak-China Business Cooperation Summit concluded on Saturday.

Of the 35 agreements, 13 will be implemented in the public sector and 22 in the private sector. They are expected to bring around $25-$30 billion of investment over the next five years. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao, who said Beijing would “never give up” on Pakistan.

Agreement and MoUs relating to investment worth $10 billion are to be implemented under the public-private partnership basis while $5 billion investment is to be undertaken under the private sector to private sector investment initiatives. According to a list handed out to journalists, the biggest deal was worth $6.5 billion to develop wind and solar power. Though not specifically mentioned, behind-the-scenes talks were expected on China building a one-gigawatt nuclear power plant as part of Pakistani plans to produce 8,000 megawatts of nuclear electricity by 2025 to make up its energy shortfall.

China extended full support to Pakistan’s sovereignty, security and political integrity besides extending strong support in enhancing defence, cooperation in economic areas and the space programme, said Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir. In their address to Pak-China Business Cooperation Summit, both the premiers vowed to strengthen economic and trade relations between the two countries. Speaking on the occasion, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said that China was aware of Pakistan’s desire for cooperation to bridge the pressing gap in energy and would continue to cooperate in peaceful use of nuclear energy with Pakistan. He said that the Karakoram Highway, Gwadar Port and newly inaugurated Pak-China Friendship Centre were a symbol of friendship between the two countries.

Prime Minister Gilani said that China had always been a generous and reliable partner in Pakistan’s national development efforts. He said that monumental projects such as the Karakoram Highway, Chashma power plants, Heavy Mechanical and Electrical Complexes, the Gwadar Port, were all examples of the outstanding cooperation between our two countries, he added.

“We have established an all-weather friendship and engaged in all-round cooperation. The China-Pakistan relationship has withstood the test of time and changes in the international landscape,” Wen told a lunch in his honour. “Under no circumstances we will give up on our commitment to pursuing this partnership.” Wen pledged China’s full support in the wake of the floods, saying Beijing would help the country “lay a new solid foundation for you to achieve self-owned, stable and sustainable development.” He inaugurated the Pak-China Friendship Centre built as a monument to Pak–China friendship and held talks with opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and senior figures in the military. staff report/agencies

Ukraine’s Brawl Started With Attempt To Block Yulia Tymoshenko Investigation

Ukraine’s Opposition Demands Investigation Of Parliament Brawl

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian opposition parties urged the Prosecutor General to investigate a tussle in parliament Thursday that left six people hospitalized.

Yulia Tymoshenko

Lawmakers loyal to President Viktor Yanukovych last night scuffled with deputies who physically blocked the rostrum to protest a criminal probe against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader of the opposition.

“We demand the Prosecutor General’s office thoroughly investigate the acts of all of the fight participants,” Tymoshenko’s group said today in a statement posted on the website of its allied Our Ukraine party.

The prosecutor’s office summoned Tymoshenko yesterday, accusing her of misusing funds from the 2009 sale of emissions permits to Japan. Ukraine sold 30 million Assigned Amount Unit credits to Japan for 10.40 euros ($13.85) each last year, according to Bloomberg data.

Opposition lawmakers wanted to spend the night in the assembly building in the capital, Kiev, to continue their protest. Members of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions returned to the site at night and started the fight, according to Tymoshenko’s allies.

Mykhaylo Volynets, a supporter of the former premier, sustained a head injury after being hit with a chair and was taken to hospital, deputy Ivan Kyrylenko told lawmakers today.

‘Fractured Bones, Faces’

“Those who fracture the bones and faces of their colleagues should be held legally responsible,” said Mykola Martynenko, the head of Our Ukraine’s parliamentary group, in an address to the deputies. He called for the dismissal of Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn.

Yesterday’s fight was the second act of violence in parliament this year. Lawmakers in April clashed over extending a lease for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on Ukrainian territory in an exchange for lower natural gas price.

The vote then ended with deputies hurling eggs and smoke bombs during a brawl that led to injuries, including a broken nose and a concussion for lawmakers from Our Ukraine.

Yanukovych supporters “were forced to take measures to unblock the parliament and approve laws needed for the country,” Oleksandr Yefremov, the ruling party’s parliamentary leader, told lawmakers.

He said the opposition’s aim was to halt work until Dec. 31 to undermine the adoption of the 2011 budget.

Source: Bloomberg

US House Blocks Palestinian Steps To Gain EU Recognition

Palestinians ‘regret’ US House move against state

By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Compiled by Daily Star staff

 

The Palestinian Authority Friday said it regretted a US House of Representatives decision to oppose any unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state, a day after it requested pressed European countries to commit to the state.

The remarks came a day after Palestinians asked European countries to recognize an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip – the latest step in the campaign to pursue statehood outside the framework of a peace deal with Israel.

“We have devoted ourselves to negotiations for nearly two decades and today we are trapped in a framework that thus far has not yet lifted the occupation,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said in a statement.

“Unlike the Israeli government, which is comfortable with the status quo of occupation and continued colonization, the Palestinian people must seek their freedom through any peaceful channel available to us.”

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved a measure condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state, and backing a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The move came after Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay in early December recognized a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, the boundaries that existed before Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that such recognition by the South Americans was “counter-productive” to achieving Middle East peace.

Erakat on Friday accused the US lower house of placing “one more obstacle toward achieving peace between Palestine and Israel.”

“Israel has done nothing but sabotage the efforts of the [US President Barack] Obama administration to restart meaningful negotiations by refusing to freeze settlement expansion and negotiate based on clear terms of reference,” Erakat said.

“Through the passage of this resolution, the US Congress is contradicting the policy of the American government to create a Palestinian state by hindering the ability of the Palestinians to navigate around the Israeli government’s obstructionist policies.”

The US resolution urges Palestinian leaders to “cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiation process” and calls on foreign governments “not to extend such recognition.”

The latest round of peace talks, launched in early September, broke down just three weeks later after a limited Israeli freeze on settlement construction expired.

The Palestinians say they will not resume direct negotiations as long as Israel continues to build homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying the construction is a sign of bad faith.

Unable to coax a renewed settlement freeze out of Israel, the US is now shuttling between the sides in indirect talks.

Late Thursday, Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said he asked representatives of several EU countries to recognize the truce lines before the 1967 Middle East war as the borders between Israel and a Palestinian state.

Officials from two of the countries, however, said he made no formal request. One said he merely praised other countries who had taken the step. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity under diplomatic protocol.

The European Union has not recognized an independent Palestinian state, saying peace can only be reached through negotiations.

Last week, European Union foreign ministers said that they would recognize a Palestinian state “when appropriate,” emphasizing the need for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

On Friday, Erakat said: “Recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders is a sovereign, unilateral decision of individual states. While the United States can choose to withhold recognition of our state, it cannot obstruct other countries from exercising this sovereign right.”

Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed after Washington admitted it had failed to secure Israel’s agreement to a new freeze on settlement building, the Palestinian condition for continuing to negotiate.