Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bildt to Last?


Carl Bildt, Sweden's foreign minister and the man now coordinating Europe's foreign policy -- insofar as it has one -- has everything going for him. He's telegenic, charming, experienced, and ambitious. Savvy when it comes to the media, he has a cunning, deft touch for geopolitics. One month into Sweden's six-month presidency of the EU, Bildt has already provided a pleasant contrast to the equivocating, dissembling politicians that usually serve as Europe's public face. To put it kindly, he's a rare commodity among his colleagues in Brussels these days.

That, however, is precisely the problem: Bildt is too damn good. Qualified, robust, and charismatic, Bildt is an odd fit for an EU paralyzed by the need for consensus among its member states. Before he ever came to Brussels, the assertive Swede had already upset some of the EU's heavyweights. The trouble began in Germany, which doesn't care for Bildt's career-long tough tone on Russia. France wasn't keen on Bildt's vigor for EU expansion into the Balkans and Turkey. He's ruffled feathers in Spain for marshalling Sweden's recognition of Kosovar independence. And Cyprus didn't take kindly to Bildt's suggestion that it may have provoked the Turkish military invasion that continues to territorially divide the island nation.

So while Europe watchers are enjoying the Carl Bildt show in Brussels, it's no surprise that his colleagues in the EU bureaucracy are already angling to ensure he's denied any opportunity to stick around past his current six-month stint. The EU will likely be in the market for a robust foreign minister next year, if the Lisbon Treaty is passed as expected. And although European policymakers unanimously acknowledge that Bildt is qualified for the post, everyone knows that he won't be tapped. He would never survive the horse-trading negotiations that member states partake in to divvy up EU portfolios.

The probable brevity of Bildt's time in Brussels speaks to the quiet aspirations of today's EU -- and its aversion to anyone who tries to upset the status quo. Bildt has run afoul of the upside-down value system currently framing Europe foreign policy. His preference for a unified EU, acting as a confident strategic actor on the international stage, crosses a de facto red line for states loathe to see the EU chart a bold course. The 60 year-old Bildt, who came of age as a thinker at a time when politicians and intellectuals sought refuge from war in the power of international organizations, embraces the EU as a means to oversee the continent's wars, peace and security. It's an ideal he's lived out, partnering with Richard Holbrooke in Dayton to bring an end to the Bosnian war in 1995 and later serving in Sarajevo as an envoy, first for Europe and then the United Nations.

Back then, Bildt was not so out of place. The late 1990s were heady times for the EU. European countries had successfully fought together in Kosovo - a big test for the Union. And in 1999, when Joschka Fischer, then Germany's foreign minister, gave a speech at Berlin's Humboldt University outlining his vision of a deeply integrated, "federalized" Europe, policymakers seriously considered moving in that direction. Indeed, earlier that same year, the EU had agreed to appoint a "high representative" to coordinate the union's common security policies. The momentum was toward greater cooperation at home and more dynamic action abroad.

But as elsewhere, the September 11 attacks changed everything. Ulrike Guérot, director of the Berlin office of the European Council of Foreign Relations, calls that day the "tipping point" back toward a quiet, decentralized Europe. With the United States demanding quick commitments and signs of support for first "the global war on terror" and later the divisive Iraq campaign, European member states lost confidence that the EU could represent all their interests. Some countries joined the "coalition of the willing," and others began to more nakedly pursue their own national interests in foreign policy. Trust unraveled, and the spirit of compromise was drained from agenda-setting meetings. Countries were more apt to employ their veto rights than before.

Into this circular firing squad steps Bildt, in an EU hierarchy where the first line of any bureaucrat's job description is to avoid offending member countries' national interests. That means any prospective EU foreign minister is going to have to be a blank slate, and needless to say, Bildt doesn't qualify.

For a start, Bildt's rhetorical gifts and media savvy are a problem as far as the big member states are concerned. The new office of high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy will have more autonomy to set the EU's foreign-policy agenda, more money to pump into it, and a newly developed European foreign service to pursue it. France, Germany, and Britain dread the headache of taming an official who might be inclined to independently set foreign-policy goals. Their (un-visionary) vision of a model High Representative more closely resembles the incumbent Javier Solana -- an uninspiring public figure who has always emphasized behind-the-scenes consensus- building among European member states.

Bildt's strong connections to the United States don't help, either. Many of those with a stake in common European foreign policy believe in an independent Europe, one that's generally distrustful of Washington and prepared to distance itself from the United States at a moment's notice. In contrast, Bildt has made the transatlantic relationship a hallmark of his career. In fact, he first made his mark in foreign affairs pleading for closer between the United States and Sweden. In the 1980s, he challenged the Cold War foreign policy consensus in Stockholm, arguing for a firmer stance against the Soviet Union after its submarines allegedly entered into Swedish maritime territory. His image in Sweden has occasionally suffered for his Atlantic aficion -- not least, two years ago, when it came to light that he was a member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which lobbied for the assault on Baghdad.

For now, Bildt is trying to make all he can of his six months near the top of the EU hierarchy. His agenda is ambitious. He's promised Iceland expedited entry into the union, and made it a priority to improve ties with countries on the EU's eastern border. Bildt is also working the diplomatic circuit hard to ensure a good showing at the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen at the end of the year.

Few doubt that he will impress. Even pronounced Bildt skeptics, like German diplomats, are glad that someone with his knowledge and experience will be at the helm to manage the tricky negotiations that will follow the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty -- or to lead crisis negotiations should it fail to pass. The same crowd, of course, is also happy that Bildt will be packing his things and returning to Stockholm at year's end.

In truth, it's fitting that he won't be sticking around Brussels. Bildt might represent the public figure that today's Europe needs, but he's far better than what it deserves.

Make Them Wait


No one said diplomacy with Iran would be easy. And now, before it even started, the Iranian election crisis has left Tehran politically paralyzed and Washington without a clear diplomatic path ahead. Iranian centrifuges keep spinning, leading some to think that September should be the deadline for Iran to accept the U.S. offer of talks. Although diplomacy must remain the policy, the momentous upheaval in Iran has completely changed the political landscape. Opening talks with Iran's current government at this decisive moment could backfire severely. Indeed, now is the time for a tactical pause with Iran.

U.S. President Barack Obama has stated that the United States is in a wait-and-see mode until Iran's post-election crisis comes to a conclusion. Clearly, that has not happened yet. The Iranian opposition is alive and kicking. Two weeks ago, former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani cast doubt on the election results during the Tehran Friday prayers, an important venue for political speeches. A day later, former President Mohammad Khatami upped the ante and called for a referendum on the elections and the government. And presidential hopeful Mir Hossein Mousavi continues to defy Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accusing him of insulting the Iranian nation by claiming that the protesters are acting on behalf of foreigners. Meanwhile, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the official election winner, is entangled in a battle with conservatives over his cabinet picks.

The opposition's resilience has clearly taken Ahmadinejad and Khamenei by surprise. At a minimum, the opposition has deprived Ahmadinejad of any sense of normalcy, forcing him to devote several hours a day to address the election dispute instead of advancing his own political agenda. Khamenei is increasingly resorting to warnings and threats rather than calls for unity and reconciliation. "The elite should be watchful, since they have been faced with a big test. Failing the test will cause their collapse," Khamenei said last Monday in a speech that many perceived as verging on desperation. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad now seem to be off balance.

The dispute between the Ahmadinejad government and the opposition is about far more than a disputed election. It goes to the core question of whether there is a peaceful path toward changing Iran's political system from within. For a population that is highly critical of the government, but values stability, the existence of such a path has been important. It enabled Iranians to push for gradual, controllable change without risking another revolution that could end up like the previous one, when one unpopular, repressive political system was replaced with another.

If Ahmadinejad succeeds in silencing his internal critics and opponents, many will conclude that this path has been closed. Iran cannot be changed through the ballot box if people's votes won't be honored. The likely result will be a radicalized population whose opposition to the government will be met with increased repression at home and more adventurism abroad.

The Obama administration should avoid repeating the key mistake of the Bush administration, for which Iran was solely viewed through the prism of its nuclear program. Delaying nuclear talks a few months won't make a dramatic difference to Iran's nuclear program. It could, however, determine which Iran America and the region will be dealing with for the next few decades -- one in which democratic elements strengthen over time, or one where the will of the people grows increasingly irrelevant to Iran's decision-makers.

Moreover, even nuclear talks would have a negligible impact on the election dispute, Iran currently is not in a position to negotiate. Some in Washington believe that the paralysis in Tehran has weakened Iran and made it more prone to compromise. But rather than delivering more, Iran's government currently couldn't deliver anything at all. The infighting has simply incapacitated Iranian decision makers.

Iran's lack of capacity creates a tremendous danger for the White House. Of all scenarios the Obama administration could end up facing -- an Iran that refuses to come to the table, for example, or an Iran that only uses talks to play for time -- the worst scenario is another one: where the parties begin talks according to the set timetable, but fail to reach an agreement due to an inability to deliver. If talks fail, U.S. policymakers will be left with increasingly unpalatable options as a result.

Obama should not be married to any artificial deadlines. Pushing for talks now simply because he decided on a timetable before the elections could undermine the chances for diplomacy to succeed. Paradoxically, the best way to enhance prospects for diplomacy might actually be not to pursue diplomacy for now. Better instead to make a tactical pause, see how things develop, and be ready to engage at the right time.

The List: The World's Biggest Military Boondoggles


TYPE 45 DARING-CLASS DESTROYER

Country: Britain

Budget: $10.6 billion for six ships

Status: Delayed

The plan: Advertised as the "world's most advanced warship" by defense contractor BAE Systems, the T45 is the Royal Navy's next-generation air defense platform. The destroyers will be armed with the newly developed Primary Anti-Air Missile System, whose surface-to-air Aster missiles are said to be capable of destroying a fist-sized target traveling at Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound, from 19 miles away.

But this destroyer's problems more than match its ballyhooed capabilities. The T45 has been plagued by delays and massive cost overruns -- the project is two years behind schedule and 29 percent more expensive than estimates initially suggested. The HMS Daring, Britain’s first T45, was rushed into service late last year without a missile system -- all but crippling the ship -- and won't be fully operational until as late as 2011. Recent reports suggest the Ministry of Defence wants to put a T45 in the Thames River during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games to ward off any attempts at an airborne terrorist attack.




SS-NX-30 BULAVA SUBMARINE-LAUNCHED BALLISTIC MISSILE


Country: Russia

Budget: $500 million and counting

Status: Stalled

The plan: Russia's minister of defense hopes to have this missile operational by the end of 2009, but even after 10 years of work, it’s still not clear the kinks have been ironed out. A variant of the land-based Topol-M missile, the Bulava is a three-stage projectile with a theoretical range of 8,000 kilometers. Allegedly hardened against electromagnetic, physical, and radioactive interference, and possibly capable of making in-flight evasive maneuvers, the missile is touted by some supporters as unstoppable.

The Bulava can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads, each with a 150-kiloton yield. It was created in part to modernize the sea-based arm of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, but mostly to restore the country's pride and self-confidence after the political and economic instability of the 1990s. The missile’s only downside may be that it just doesn't work. Out of the Bulava's 11 flight tests, six -- including the latest one this month -- have failed. Back to the drawing board.




Country: China

Budget: Unknown

Status: In development

The plan: The Chinese are known to have considered a domestic aircraft-carrier program in the past, and have even purchased old Soviet-era carriers to take apart and examine. Beijing made waves in April when it announced ambitious plans to construct its own “large surface-combat ships” and other sophisticated naval weapons systems as part of a massive ongoing modernization campaign. The government claims it will finish two carriers in the next decade: a lighter, 60,000-ton craft ("085 Project") by 2010, which would house between 30 and 40 J-10 fighter jets -- or 10-20 Russian Su-33s -- and the big kahuna ("089 Project"), a world-class, 93,000-ton nuclear-powered super carrier for 2020.

But can China deliver? Critics say the country has neither the technology nor the skills nor the time to achieve its targets. It could conceivably field a small carrier fairly soon -- a military hardware expo on July 4 revealed mock-ups closely resembling a Soviet Kuznetsov-class vessel. That type of carrier, however, doesn’t feature the steam catapults necessary to launch heavier, more sophisticated planes off the deck. China would have to design such a system from scratch or modify its
existing maglev technology to fit. The albatross potential here is considerable.




PORTE-AVIONS 2

Country: France

Budget: $4.7 billion and counting

Status: Stalled

The plan: The French Navy is eager to procure a second aircraft carrier to replace two that were scrapped in recent years. The asbestos-infested FNS Clemencau (pictured) was decomissioned in 1997, and the Foch was sold to Brazil in 2000. With a displacement of 75,000 tons, the Porte-Avions 2, known as the PA2 for short, will likely be powered by electric engines and should have room to carry roughly 50 aircraft. The project began as a joint effort between France and Britain, but French President Nicolas Sarkozy withdrew from the agreement last year, saying he wouldn't make a final decision about ordering a new carrier until 2011.

Critics complain that postponing the PA2 project would leave France without a single carrier when the FNS Charles de Gaulle gets a refit starting in 2015. But the delays could actually play to the country's advantage. The PA2 was to use Britain's experimental Queen Elizabeth-class design -- an unpopular architecture that ruled out any possibility of a nuclear-powered engine.

New design studies being conducted this year suggest that France might ultimately reject the British design altogether, start from scratch, and include all the features it wanted the first time around. The bad news? France has allocated only $280 billion to its entire defense procurement budget for the next decade, and 30 percent of that will already have been spent by the time Sarkozy makes up his mind.





A400M TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT


Country: Multiple

Budget: $27.7 billion

Status: Endangered

The plan: Under a contract awarded to the European Aeronautic Defense and Space company, the A400M military transport aircraft is being designed for nine countries. The plane boasts four special turboprop engines (allegedly the largest ever made in the West) and can take off and land on short runways. It is built to hold as many as 120 soldiers in full battle gear, up to 66 stretchers for evacuating the wounded, or nine military cargo pallets.

But the versatile plane isn't going anywhere fast. Nearly 200 of them are on order, yet the project is almost four years overdue and $7 billion over budget. At this point, the nine customers could cancel their orders, get a partial refund amounting to $8.5 billion, and reinvest it in much cheaper American C-130Js. But they won't, because while the contract doesn't explicitly contain a "buy European" clause, this is the European Union’s opportunity to prove it has its act together on defense. It may have to wait a while.

Iraq, the unraveling (XX): "Time to declare victory and go home?"


Colonel Timothy Reese's suggestion is appealing, of course. And he is good in listing everything that is going wrong. Reading his lists, you'd almost think the situation in Iraq is unraveling:

1. The ineffectiveness and corruption of GOI Ministries is the stuff of legend.
2. The anti-corruption drive is little more than a campaign tool for Maliki
3. The GOI is failing to take rational steps to improve its electrical infrastructure and to improve their oil exploration, production and exports.
4. There is no progress towards resolving the Kirkuk situation.
5. Sunni Reconciliation is at best at a standstill and probably going backwards.
6. Sons of Iraq (SOI) or Sahwa transition to ISF and GOI civil service is not happening, and SOI monthly paydays continue to fall further behind.
7. The Kurdish situation continues to fester.
8. Political violence and intimidation is rampant in the civilian community as well as military and legal institutions.
9. The Vice President received a rather cool reception this past weekend and was publicly told that the internal affairs of Iraq are none of the US's business.

And:

1. If there ever was a window where the seeds of a professional military culture could have been implanted, it is now long past. US combat forces will not be here long enough or with sufficient influence to change it.

2. The military culture of the Baathist-Soviet model under Saddam Hussein remains entrenched and will not change. The senior leadership of the ISF is incapable of change in the current environment.

a) Corruption among officers is widespread

b) Neglect and mistreatment of enlisted men is the norm

c) The unwillingness to accept a role for the NCO corps continues

d) Cronyism and nepotism are rampant in the assignment and promotion system

e) Laziness is endemic

f) Extreme centralization of C2 is the norm

g) Lack of initiative is legion

h) Unwillingness to change, do anything new blocks progress

i) Near total ineffectiveness of the Iraq Army and National Police institutional organizations and systems prevents the ISF from becoming self-sustaining
j) For every positive story about a good ISF junior officer with initiative, or an ISF commander who conducts a rehearsal or an after action review or some individual MOS training event, there are ten examples of the most basic lack of military understanding despite the massive partnership efforts by our combat forces and advisory efforts by MiTT and NPTT teams.

The question the colonel's memo begs is just how bad it gets after we leave, and whether Turkey, Iran and more intervene more than they have already. What are the chances of a regional war? Feeling lucky, punk? Well, are you?

What happens after we leave? How do we mitigate the damage done? I really don't see how hanging a "mission accomplished" banner would work any better for the Obama administration than it did for the Bush administration.

Obama's China street-cred is Nixonian (but not what you think)


Perhaps the most striking aspect of this week's Strategic and Economic Dialogue between top U.S. and Chinese officials is how amicable and sedate it has been. The Washington Post described how Chinese officials heard "soothing words of reassurance" in lieu of the traditional litany of currency and trade complaints. Secretary Clinton acknowledged that there may not have been a lot of concrete achievements, but said the talks laid the groundwork for closer ties. Meanwhile, the Chinese currency remained roughly fixed against the dollar, just as it has been since last summer.

Had this been a Bush Strategic Economic Dialogue, one could have expected howls of outrage: The American worker is being sold out! When will the administration get tough? Don't they know what has happened to manufacturing employment? Let's pass a law and force their hand! I suspect a McCain administration would have been similarly attacked. Indeed, it is a sign of how far Sino-American relations have come that a U.S. leader on the left now enjoys an advantage over his right-wing counterparts in the eyes of most Americans when negotiating economic issues with China.

Just think back almost forty years ago to how Nixon was uniquely positioned to open relations with the People's Republic. The issue then was whether a president who made such an overture would be seen as soft on communism. As an ardent and well-established anti-communist, Nixon was relatively immune to such attacks. In the same way, Obama is now relatively immune to attacks that he is soft on China's currency. He's not lacking in his desire to bring change, and of course, he's not doing any better in delivering it. He's just more credible when he says he can't.

To be sure, there were some grumbles even for the Obama team. Simon Johnson writes:

The US should put on the table the possibility of more assertively taking China to the World Trade Organization over its fundamentally undervalued exchange rate and associated trade policies ... The Treasury apparently thinks it should be deferential and on the defensive vis-a-vis China. This is not only bad economics, this is bad geopolitical strategy.

The economic arguments for a reorientation of the Chinese economy and an appreciation of China's currency are compelling and are qualitatively the same as they have been for several years. China's current economic path is unsustainable. The day of reckoning has only been brought closer by China's recent approach to stimulus through wild bank lending. As Derek Scissors puts it: "China's economic policies have shifted from being unsustainable over the very long term to being unsustainable for any more than one year."

So why not threaten and abuse the Chinese until they push their currency up by 20 percent? That would encourage Chinese consumers to buy up newly-cheap imports and would help reverse China's astonishing surpluses and reserve accumulation.

The answer: because there's no sign it would work. For the Chinese leadership, this is their paramount domestic issue. Their legitimacy rests heavily upon a record of economic success. A wrenching and sudden economic shock, of the sort that would come with a large appreciation, would threaten to flood the streets of southern China with aggrieved, unemployed workers. On the other hand, a gradual appreciation of the currency would threaten to flood China with inflows of hot money as global investors perceive a guaranteed return. None of China's choices look particularly appealing, but it is the central domestic issue they need to fix.

To draw a parallel, imagine that the Chinese delegation had arrived in Washington this week and issued an ultimatum: Obama must set aside plans for expanding health care coverage, and whatever savings or increased revenue he can muster should be used to pare down unsustainable federal budget deficits. The Chinese did no such thing, of course. They are vocally worried about U.S. deficit spending, but they are sensible enough to realize that no external threat would deter Obama on this point; his promise to deliver on healthcare is at the core of his political legitimacy.

With similar good sense, Clinton and Geithner opted to build understanding in this week's S&ED rather than to pick a fight. The rationale is the same as that given in the Bush administration, though, so how does Team Obama avoid getting lambasted as their predecessors did? If anything, recent economic developments make the question more acute: the U.S. labor market is distinctly worse than before, and we are -- for the moment -- less dependent on the Chinese for financing as the U.S. current account deficit has dipped sharply.

Obama has street-cred on China in a way his predecessor did not. Whenever bilateral talks end and an administration is left extolling the virtues of better mutual understanding, it raises the question of whether diplomatic imperatives trumped advocacy. That was clearly the suspicion in the Bush administration; hence the recurrent attempts at legislation demanding more economic advocacy. In Obama's case, there is greater confidence among the critics that he has done all he could.

This week culminated six months of "new" diplomacy toward China, and the results look indistinguishable from the old diplomacy. It's laudable that the two sides are working to better understand each other, but for each, domestic political imperatives still trump the urgings of a foreign partner.

Digo amor y digo libertad..


DIGO AMOR Y DIGO LIBERTAD

Digo amor y digo libertad
porque se que es algo más que compartir la soledad;
digo amor y entrego a los demás
los rincones que me sobras y no quieres ocupar.

Amor... mejor vivir provisional que la rutina es una amor mortal...
amor... reposa tu silencio aquí en mi pecho
que me entrego todo entero como soy.
Digo amor y digo libertad
que tu cuerpo es el timón que hace dibujos en el mar;
digo amor y digo en realidad
que el amor como las plantas si se riega crecerá,

Amor... no vuelvas tarde a casa que la noche es más oscura en soledad.
amor... reposa tu silencio aquí en mi pecho
que me entrego todo entero como soy.
Digo amor y digo libertad
y las cosas que me empujan a vivir con los demás:
digo amor y nombro la amistad
canto al hijo y hasta olvido a los que quiero olvidar.

Amor... desnudos somos uno y me sorprendes con tu cuerpo de cristal.
amor... reposa tu silencio aquí en mi pecho
que me entrego todo entero como soy.
Digo amor y digo libertad
que el amor me libera

From humble tool to global icon


In Switzerland, there is a saying that every good Swiss citizen has one in his or her pocket.

It is an object that is recognised all over the world, and it is globally popular.

But the Swiss army knife had humble beginnings, and, at the start, it wasn't even red.

In the late 19th Century, the Swiss army issued its soldiers with a gun which required a special screwdriver to dismantle and clean it.


At the same time, tinned food was becoming common in army rations. Swiss generals decided to issue each soldier with a standard knife.

It was a life-saver for Swiss knife makers, who were, at the time, struggling to compete with cheaper German imports.

"My great-grandfather started a small business in 1884, 125 years ago," explains Carl Elsener, head of the Swiss knife manufacturer Victorinox.

"He was making knives for farmers, for in the kitchen and so on, and then he heard that the Swiss army wanted a knife for every Swiss soldier."

Carl Elsener senior seized that opportunity with both hands, and designed a knife that the army loved.

"It was a very simple thing," explains his great-grandson. "It had a black handle, one big blade, a tin opener and a screwdriver."

Global cult object

Now, to mark the 125th anniversary, that first knife is on display at an exhibition at the Forum for Swiss History, together with hundreds of other Swiss army knives.

"The thing about the army knife is that it really has become a kind of global cult object," says Pia Schubiger, curator of the museum. "Everyone seems to have one, lots of people even have collections of them, and we wanted to explore this phenomenon."

Exhibits include the "Schweizer Offizier Messer", or Swiss Officer's Knife, which came on the market a few years after the soldier's knife.

The original Swiss army knife, with its one blade
The very first knife was designed to dismantle guns and open tinned food

A more elegant design, it included a corkscrew and a pair of scissors.

Interestingly, the officer's knife was never issued to those serving in the army. The Swiss military purchasers considered the corkscrew not "essential for survival", and so officers had to buy this knife individually.

But it was this design, says Carl Elsener, which launched the knife as a global brand.

"After the Second World War, Europe was full of American soldiers," he explains. "And as they could buy the Swiss army knife at PX stores (shops on military bases), they bought huge quantities of them."

"But it seems "Schweizer Offizier Messer" was too difficult for them to say, so they just called it the Swiss army knife, and that is the name it is now known by all over the world."

Prototypes

Today, there seems to be a knife for every kind of activity. There are knives with altimeters for mountaineers and knives for anglers with special tools to get hooks out of the mouths of fish.

But not every prototype proved successful, and some of these are on display as well, including a knife with a pencil sharpener. It made an ugly bulge at one end of the knife, and was eventually rejected.

Then there is the knife with a special blade for cutting cheese in precise slices of exactly the same shape and thickness. It seems that even in Switzerland, there was not enough of a market for this one.

And in pride of place, there is the knife which no-one will ever put in their pocket, but which has an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. With 314 blades, it is the world's biggest penknife.

Visitors also have the chance to make their own knives - a basic design, including the ever popular corkscrew, bottle opener, tweezers, toothpick and screwdriver.

Space shuttle

Master knife makers can put one together in less than two minutes, but for amateurs it takes much more time, patience, and a very steady hand. Nevertheless, visitors to the exhibition are queuing up to try.

It is a sign of just how successful the idea has become, despite one or two false starts, like the cheese blade.

The Swiss army knife has even been into space with the crew of the space shuttle.

And an oversized copy is on display in New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Its original designer probably never dreamt of such attention.

"I do not expect my great-grandfather ever had the idea that the Swiss army knife would be popular over the whole world, and become a symbol for Swiss quality and reliability," says Carl Elsener.

"I think for him his vision was, in his small workshop, to manufacture a knife for the Swiss army."

Quien puso mas....



Entra los restos del naufragio la memoria,
como un sombra
Despues de casi nueve inviernos el final

Quien puso mas?
Tu y yo nos hechamos en cara
Quien puso mas?
Que incline la balanza
Quien puso mas?
Calor, ternura comprension
Quien puso mas amor?

Sigo poniendo dos cubiertos en la mesa,
y dos copas de vino
No existe noche que no sea un,
duermevela
Y los dos recuerdos son un gran
rompecabezas y dolor
Son mis nueve otonos contra el dedo acusador
solos tu y yo y la gente alrededor......

Cuando se pierde el miedo ..




Cuando se pierde el miedo es porque antes uno se ha sentido primero comprendido, luego amado, luego ayudado... Cuando se pierde el miedo se habla, se cuenta, no es necesario fingir, no es ya necesario mentir... Ya no es necesario llevar la mascara puesta ante todos.

El amor no proviene de los otros, sino de uno mismo.....