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The official website of Paul Franklin: a father, veteran, activist, motivational speaker, and proud Canadian.

Friday, March 7, 2014

In Russia what is old is new

During the crimean war of 1854-55 the Russians sunk several ships in an effort to block the combined navies from entering the inlet at Sevastopol.  Here we are 160 years alter and they are doing the same thing.
People watch the Russian anti-submarine ship "Ochakov" which was scuttled by Russian forces at a Black Sea shore outside the town of Myrnyi, western Crimea, Ukraine, March 6, 2014. Russian seamen sank the noncommissioned ship to block the exit for Ukrainian naval vessels located at Donuzlav lake. 

The question is what will Putin do next? 

I think if we are to ask this question we must look to how the last war was won and lost on Crimean soil.

Siege of Sevastopol
The city of Sevastopol suffered an intense siege that lasted for about a month with Russian casualties being about 100 000 dead and a complete destruction of the city.  Here we are this time Sevastopol held by Ukrainian forces and the Russians intent on taking not only the city but the entire peninsula.  

If the people of Crimea vote on succession we should expect some violent reaction from those remaining in Crimea and more likely those of Russian decent falling into a wave of ethnic cleansing.  This is of course the worst case scenario but if cooler heads prevail and allow the Russians to annex Crimea there will be long term consequences to stability not necessarily in Eastern Europe but more likely in the old soviet states such as Uzbekistan and Kazakistan.

Putin is not really playing poker as much as he is brutally trying to recover old Soviet ground.  Russians have a long and well to be honest a depressing history this current war in the Crimea seems to be the same old tune just with a new conductor.

If Russia annexes Crimea the end result is a Putin win in the eyes of the Russians, if he does not annex Crimea then it is still a win as he will be seen to looking tough on the world stage and at home.  Russians love to hate a strong man.  Putin is that man.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What was Afghanistan for? 2001 to 2014

As we come to the end of Canada's longest war in the nations history its fair to ask some hard questions. Questions mothers of the fallen have always asked, amputees now hardly able to walk and those with PTSD and an in ability to complete basic life tasks.......why?

The questions of why war can be as complex as a politicians answer or as simple as a Generals.  A politicians will talk about backing the Afghan government in their bid to ensure the country is not a safe haven for al qeada and that the Taliban and their fascist ways will for ever be on the edge of society and not in charge of it.   Many generals will say something a little less poetic.   Its not about a grid square, or a town, its not about land its about killing as many bad guys as possible. As with all things in life both statements are true.

The strategies of the countries involved can be as confusing as the war itself...

America with its head in the sand chasing Saddam led to a lack of troops just when more was required. The world and NATO did not want to send troops to what they saw as an American endeavour if America would take the first step.  So the Afghan war plodded along.  Americans in their short sightedness continues to "give" Pakistan military and industrial aid to the tune of some $18 billion a year and with much of that money being used to equip, train and hide the Taliban, al qeada and the Haqanni network within Pakistan borders.   Pakistan is no friend and has not been since 1979.

We will look at lessons learned from this war for generations.... the US forces are now better equipped at the basic soldier level than ever before, the same with troops from Sweden to Canada, to the UK, to Dutch and French.   This war has done one amazing thing and that it has shown that European and North American (and some Oceania) countries can quite literally be the best in the world.

Will Afghan collapse to a civil war?   I honestly dont think so and I base that on the fact that the main cities of Afghan do not want this they wish to be part of the real world and wish to bring their expertise and intelligence to that world.   The question is what will Pakistan do? (WWPD?)  This when asked with the simple question, what will india's influence in a ISAF free Afghan be like?  If India chooses to have closer ties with Afghan than this could bring fear into the heart of the Pakistan military and secret service (ISI, those who created the Taliban).  

With fear comes stupid decisions.

As we look at this complex world where Putin has decreed that he is the new worlds "hitler" we have to start looking at the concepts of just war and the questions of why to go to war.  

In the future what wars will be the right and correct ones?
What wars are morally just and correct?
What wars follow international law?
When is right to defend an innocent?

In a society that is finishing its longest war its time we look to the reasons why, the outcomes and even how the war was fought to see who we are as a society.