foreign news coverage

Change Putin’s calculations: Put force back on the table, and begin active cyber-warfare measures to defend Ukraine

What can be done now to change Putin’s calculations, or to respond to an invasion?

The U.S. and NATO countries should begin active cyber-warfare countermeasures to help defend Ukraine from ongoing Russian attacks on its computer networks and infrastructure. In this realm, the  U.S. may have the most advanced capabilities, and should begin using them now. Above all, U.S. decision makers should avoid undue hesitance by  demanding absolute proof of attribution of the attacks. In a wartime setting, officials and nations may need to act in the absence of perfect information.

If Russia is not behind the attacks, who do U.S. analysts and policymakers think is? Nigeria? Lesotho? Fiji? It is immaterial whether the operators are Russian officials or others acting under their control.

Finally, in order to influence Putin’s calculations at this late stage in the game, NATO members should leave open the possibility of coming to Ukraine’s defense through the use of military force and active cyber-warfare measures, in exercise of the right of collective self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, if Russia invades Ukraine and a major war develops.

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Afghanistan today, October 28, 2021

Stroobants and Follorou report on divisions within the EU regarding the reestablishment of an EU presence in Kabul. Josep Borrell, the EU High Commisioner for Foreign Affairs, has announced the UE is sending a small group of technical experts to discuss humanitarian aid, stressing that its action in no way implies any kind of recognition of the Taliban government.

Borrell favors opening a diplomatic office to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid and the departure Afghans who are in danger. Germany and the Netherlands support this approach. The Germans are even considering reopening their embassy in Kabul.

France and Denmark are critical of this approach, arguing that even humanitarian assistance will help the Taliban stabilize the situation in the country without acceding to the EU’s conditions that they respect human rights in order to receive such assistance.




U.S.-Taliban meetings in Doha reach an impasse, as enormous humanitarian disaster approaches

With the Americans and the Europeans firmly set in their demands that the Taliban provide guarantees for the respect of human rights before assets can be freed or aid can flow, the Afghan economy appears on the verge of collapse.

As winter is fast approaching, a humanitarian disaster of enormous proportions becomes more likely very day.

It is difficult to see either side yielding, while diplomacy is awkward and takes a lot of time.

In these circumstances, it seems likely that millions of Afghans will starve to death before the assistance they so desperately need reaches them.


Afghanistan today, October 5, 2021

The best reporting out of Afghanistan continues to be by Jacques Follorou of Le Monde and Ángeles Espinoa of El País. Their dispatches are linked to here, and can be easily translated by using Google Translate (translate.google.com).

The window into Afghanistan is likely to start closing, as reader interest shifts to other subjects, as it did in the case of Syria. In the meantime, we can be grateful for the reporting by Folloroy and Espinosa, as well as that of as that of other excellent and courageous journalists who report on Afghanistan, sometimes from within the country.

There will be a continuous stream of stories about the disaster that is unfolding in Afghanistan, including the potential collapse of the economy, the enormous humanitarian disasters including famines which lie ahead, and ultimately whether civil war erupts once again among a desperate population struggling to survive.



Afghanistan faces famine, economic collapse as international community poses conditions for aid

The key point is that the international community should not deny to the people of Afghanistan–the individual life-and-blood human beings–the aid they need to survive, on the theory that withholding aid will make the Taliban respect human rights. For examples of the challenges of survival these human beings face, see Espinosa and Follorou, above.




Afghanistan today, September 3, 2021: The Taliban government is forming, with no nods to Western wishful thinking

The Taliban are forming their government in Kandahar, with few concessions such as those imagined by American and Western leaders in their illusionary wishful thinking. Espinosa reports from a source close to the Taliban that the protection of women’s rights seems to be a third priority, while there sa a push toward decentralization. The latter augurs poorly for those provinces under the control of the most hardline factions within the Taliban.

Those who know Afghanistan appear to be getting it right.


The situation in Afghanistan today, August 30, 2021

See,

1) Jacques Follorou, “En Afghanistan, les talibans seuls aux commandes; Après le départ des Américains, mardi 31 août, les fondamentalistes islamistes, dont les principaux dirigeants se sont réunis à Kandahar, vont devoir gérer une économie à l’arrêt,” Le Monde, le 30 août 2021 (à 10h05, mis à jour à 15h33).

Taliban leaders are gathered in Kandahar for a meeting to define the contours of the new government, and in doing so to sort out ideological and personnel issues related to internal divisions.

Jacques Follorou describes the three main factions within the Taliban .