Thursday, 26 April 2018
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Penny Bochum 1Re-introducing compulsory military service, 'restoring' Germany's military capabilities, toughening up 'soft' soldiers, setting up a German border police force and deleting the UN's 'Enemy States' clause: these are all policies from Germany's fastest growing party, the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is celebrating its fifth birthday this month, writes Penny Bochum.

Formed in response to the Eurozone crisis, the party was officially established in April 2013 at an inauguration meeting in Berlin.The AFD's short life has been dramatic. It is a party riven with internal contradictions, in-fighting and factionalism. Nevertheless, it has achieved stunning electoral success. It only just came under the "5% hurdle" political parties have to jump in order to win seats in the Bundestag in the same year as it was formed, won 7.1% in the 2014 European Parliament elections and then gained seats in ten states in regional elections in subsequent years.

Penny Bochum 1Re-introducing compulsory military service, 'restoring' Germany's military capabilities, toughening up 'soft' soldiers, setting up a German border police force and deleting the UN's 'Enemy States' clause: these are all policies from Germany's fastest growing party, the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is celebrating its fifth birthday this month, writes Penny Bochum.

Formed in response to the Eurozone crisis, the party was officially established in April 2013 at an inauguration meeting in Berlin.The AFD's short life has been dramatic. It is a party riven with internal contradictions, in-fighting and factionalism. Nevertheless, it has achieved stunning electoral success. It only just came under the "5% hurdle" political parties have to jump in order to win seats in the Bundestag in the same year as it was formed, won 7.1% in the 2014 European Parliament elections and then gained seats in ten states in regional elections in subsequent years.

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The Holocaust was the moral death of Europe, one with which it has since struggled to cope, writes Professor Jeremy Black to mark Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day on 12th April 2018 (and the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising).

A continent whose leaders saw themselves as at the cutting-edge of history, and as destined to rule over much of the world, was horribly compromised for it was not only Germany (very much including Austria) that was responsible but also the many that actively co-operated. This row of infamy spanned Europe, from the authorities to France to the government of Romania. Just as many brave and worthy individuals risked much trying to thwart the Holocaust, so all too many were culpable, whether directly involved or by not doing what they could and should have done to oppose, limit or condemn the process. The excuses were to be many, as the Catholic hierarchy exemplified, but the reality as passing along on the other side of the road, if not, in some cases, crossing it to co-operate.

We mark the recent passing of those who have served this country. Contributions from comrades and families welcome

"Broken helicopters, Panzer tanks without parts, and submarines which lie on the land like dead whales."

Penny Bochum 1That was the Frankfurter Allgemeine's blistering comment on the state of German military equipment, following the annual report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces in February. The report found that there is 'equipment misery' in every part of the armed force, writes Penny Bochum.

This report, and the reaction to it in the German press, illustrates a conflict at the heart of German defence policy. There is an acceptance in government that Germany's status as a leading European power means that it has to take a more prominent role on the world stage, especially against the backdrop of changing world security needs highlighted by Trump, Brexit and Putin. However, greater military involvement and an increase in defence spending is not accepted either by the German public or by many members of the German parliament.

This conflict is seen in the agreement made by Angela Merkel's new coalition government with the SPD. Following the election in September 2017, Merkel's CDU and the SPD both lost seats. However, Merkel's failure to negotiate a 'traffic light' coalition with the FDP and Greens meant that she had to go back to the SPD, which, despite a historically low vote, now has major influence as part of the new coalition government.

The Paracel and Spratly Islands, two obscure archipelagos in the South China Sea with little arable land and no indigenous population, consist of coral islands, reefs, and shoals, many of which are barely above sea level -- the highest points of land are 46 feet and 13 feet respectively. We first reported on them in 1998 as "Conflict in the South China Sea" http://www.ukdf.org.uk/assets/downloads/rs8.htm U.K. Defence Forum Research Associate Joseph E Fallon has returned to and updated the story of how they are at the centre of international disputes between China and six of her neighbours: Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and the Philippines reject China's claim of legal ownership of those islands and/or their surrounding waters.

JL PHOTO--ELECTION ADDRESSIn 1945, after long experience of Anglo-Soviet anti-Nazi co-operation, the British Chiefs of Staff realised that Russia would respect only strength as the basis for any future relationship. This mirrored Lord Palmerston's view, almost a century earlier: "The policy and practice of the Russian Government has always been to push forward its encroachments as fast and as far as the apathy or want of firmness of other Governments would allow it to go, but always to stop and retire when it met with decided resistance and then to wait for the next favourable opportunity."


Not much has changed, writes Dr Julian Lewis.

nickwattsIMG 20170907 0924504Gavin Williamson, Britain's new Defence Secretary has won his first battle with the old enemy – the Treasury. He has managed to block plans for a 'fiscally neutral' review of Britain's defence and security capability. The so called National Security and Capability Review had all the hallmarks of a Whitehall led defence review. By separating Defence, he has bought his department time to put its house in order. The Modernising Defence Plan will report by July. He is the latest incumbent to face the challenge of balancing expenditure and capability to produce a credible military in a changing world, writes Nick Watts, pictured.

Williamson appeared before the House of Commons Defence Select Committee on 21st February. Julian Lewis MP the committee chairman supports an uplift to 3% of GDP to be spent on defence. Any further reductions in the UK's military capability will adversely impact its credibility as a defence partner and ally. The UK is struggling to achieve the NATO minimum level of expenditure.

According to media reports, the UK and Saudi Arabia agreed on a goal of 65 billion pounds ($90 billion of mutual trade and investment in the coming years, with the Prime Minister Theresa May's office calling it a "vote of confidence" in the economy before Britain leaves the European Union, Nehad Ismail write recently inn Newshour.

Queen Elizabeth II welcomed Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to London with a luncheon at Buckingham Palace, a rare honor usually reserved for heads of state, during a viist to London and other capitals. The 32-year-old Crown Prince, who is first in line to inherit the throne from his 82-year-old father, King Salman, was given the red carpet treatment during his official visit to Britain's capital.

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