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Thursday 28 June 2012

NATO: Paul Craig Roberts on Hubris

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, an economist, former government official (Assistant Treasury Secretary under Reagan), journalist, member of France's Legion of Honor, and currently one of the most distinguished online voices of sanity, also sees the irony in NATO's name:

Those old enough to remember know that NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was an alliance between Western Europe and the US against the threat of the Red Army overrunning Western Europe. The North Atlantic is a long, long ways from the Black and Caspian Seas. What is the purpose of Georgia being a NATO member except to give Washington a military base on the Russian underbelly?


Rick Rozoff of StopNATO has of course been making that point for some time, most recently by detailing NATO's machinations in the Caucasus.

In "Can The World Survive Washington’s Hubris?," Dr. Roberts gives a quick summary of Washington's/NATO's "idiocy" since the end of the Cold War, ending by pointing out that The evidence is simply overwhelming that Washington–both parties–have Russia and China targeted. Washington seems to want to prevent the rise of any power - be it Russia or China - that could rival the US's "full-spectrum domination", as articulated in the PNAC's Statement of Principles in 1997:
We need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.
Never mind that that prosperity seems to depend heavily on the existence of a military/security/petroleum complex that wreaks destruction around the world, and that despite - or because of - its efforts to maintain that "friendly international order", the US economy is headed for disaster:  

In the thrall and under the control of Wall Street and other special interest business groups, Washington is unable to rescue the US economy from its decline. The short-run gambling profits of Wall Street, the war profits of the military/security complex, and the profits from offshoring the production of goods and services for US markets have far more representation in Washington than the wellbeing of US citizens. As the US economy sinks, the Chinese economy rises.

Needless to say, the only focus of the PNAC was on continued militarization - "Rebuilding America's defenses" - as if that were all that was needed to secure that prosperity and that friendly international order. In a way that's understandable, since as we've pointed out before, the US has basically been on a war economy since 1942. But is creating another Cold War and ensuring that emerging world powers drag themselves down with us in a never-ending, spiraling arms race the way to do it?

Dr. Roberts goes on to trace the US's efforts to "corral" China as well as Russia (the Cold War term was "contain"), and draws the obvious conclusions as to where such a "strategy" can lead:

For a country incapable of occupying Iraq after 8 years and incapable of occupying Afghanistan after 11 years, to simultaneously take on two nuclear powers is an act of insanity. The hubris in Washington, fed daily by the crazed neocons, despite extraordinary failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, has now targeted formidable powers–Russia and China. The world has never in its entire history witnessed such idiocy.

In the name of "preserving our prosperity," the US, Dr. Roberts feels, is preparing to drag the world into apocalypse. The former Reagan cabinet member ends with a characterization that takes on chilling weight coming from him:

The psychopaths, sociopaths, and morons who prevail in Washington are leading the world to destruction.

We've bookmarked Paul Craig Roberts's site. He promises a follow-up to a recent article on the US economy in which the former Assistant Treasury Secretary for Economic Policy and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and columnist for Business Week will examine whether the US economy will complete its collapse before the war criminals in Washington can destroy the world.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

NATO: What's in a name? II

We've had a few comments from people who agree that there is a certain irony in NATO's name but pointing out that we're actually confusing NATO with the various Partners for which it is a kind of umbrella organization. People have also observed that it's unfair to criticize NATO for existing under a name which no longer seems to correspond to its true function - corporations, for example, often evolve far beyond their original business specialty. True. But corporations also  sometimes evolve their names - if not to reflect what they do, at least not to contradict it. Others point out that ultimately, an organization should not be judged by its name, or by what it says it does, but by what it does.

Fair enough. In fact we urge you all to learn as much as you can about what NATO, or whatever you want to call it (a name containing, say, "Peace", Dialogue," or Cooperation") has done and is doing. Read Rick Rozoff's blog.  Start with the post about the meeting being held in Brussels today, June 26, 2012. Read William Blum's work - start with "We came, we saw, we destroyed, we forgot." Read this post that appeared on AntiWar.com yesterday.

The business of America is business. Fine. But we all need to learn about, and think about, what that business really is.

Monday 25 June 2012

NATO: What's in a name?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has now expanded to include South America. And into countries with no Atlantic coast at all, let alone on the North Atlantic. Unless you count the Caribbean...

Rick Rozoff, in a post entitled "NATO Expands Military Network To All Continents," reports on the recent Strategic Military Partnership Conference held in Zagreb and reveals that:

The South American nation(s) were not identified, but NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Admiral James Stavridis, recently identified El Salvador in Central America and Colombia in South America, respectively, as current and future NATO partners and troop contributors...

Of course, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are members of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, a NATO Partner. And Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Tunisia (and soon, possibly, Libya) are members of Mediterranean Dialogue, also a NATO Partner. None of them have an Atlantic coast either. And Admiral Stavridis, Rozoff reports, also told Congress in March that Brazil and India also were potential NATO partnership states. India?

Rozoff points out that: The inclusion of South America marks the crossing of a new threshold for NATO: It now has members and partners on all six inhabited continents, accounting for over a third of the nations in the world.

NATO's name is likely to become something of a PR handicap if it continues this expansion. We hereby launch a challenge to our many readers: come up with a new name to fit the existing acronym. A friend has already jokingly suggested "New American Terrorism Overseas," but of course he was engaging in irony. We all know that NATO is an international organization, that its purpose is peace and the protection of civilian populations, and that it is not in the business of advancing the cause of US foreign policy and arms sales for US manufacturers... Though we have to admit that there is at least a hint of that in NATO's language: As NATO has remarked of the Connected Forces Initiative, it is "aimed at ensuring that NATO retains and builds on the valuable gains of interoperability among Allies and partners as a result of NATO’s recent operations."

Still, Rozoff's article should be read by anyone who finds it curious that NATO even continues to exist, let alone expand. And everyone with a nervous system capable of engaging with the outside world should read his last paragraph:

The steady expansion of NATO military partnerships and operations around the world, which now include all populated continents, has no precedent in history. This is the first attempt to establish an international military alliance that is capable of and prepared to intervene in any nation and region it chooses to for the geopolitical benefit of its leading member states.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

NATO Summit: Obama To Fete 50-Nation Expeditionary Military Force

by Rick Rozoff of StopNATO

Last week the Sun-Times, one of Chicago's two major dailies, reported that the president and his wife will host complementary receptions during next month's North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit attended by the heads of state and government (presidents and prime ministers), defense ministers and foreign ministers of fifty countries supplying troops for NATO's International Security Assistance Force war effort in Afghanistan.
On May 20 President Obama is to host a working dinner with the heads of state of NATO's 28 member states at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears football team; the same night a dinner for perhaps all 22 non-NATO countries providing troops for the alliance's over decade-long military campaign in Afghanistan will be held at the Field Museum of Natural History not far away from sports stadium.
First Lady Michelle Obama is to officiate over a "spouse dinner" with NATO's women's auxiliary the same evening, possibly at the Symphony Center complex.
The fifty nations with troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan are collectively referred to in NATOese as Troop Contributing Nations.
The Sun-Times listed the contributors in alphabetical order and the roster is both impressive and not a little alarming: Never before have armed forces from so many states participated in one war, surely not on one side under a unified command and in a single war theater, much less in one country.
The NATO nations are Albania, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the United States.
The non-NATO (or rather not yet NATO) contributors are in almost all instances members of one or more NATO military partnership programs, listed in parentheses below:
Armenia (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan), Australia (Contact Country), Austria (Partnership for Peace), Azerbaijan (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan), Bahrain (Istanbul Cooperation Initiative), Bosnia (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan) El Salvador, Finland (Partnership for Peace), Georgia (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan, NATO-Georgia Commission), Ireland (Partnership for Peace), Jordan (Mediterranean Dialogue), Macedonia (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan), Malaysia, Mongolia (Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme), Montenegro (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan candidate), New Zealand (Contact Country), Singapore, South Korea (Contact Country), Sweden (Partnership for Peace), Tonga, Ukraine (Partnership for Peace, NATO-Ukraine Commission) and the United Arab Emirates (Istanbul Cooperation
Organization).
Other nations that are providing or have provided (Switzerland until 2008) military and security personnel for ISAF and for the Afghanistan-Pakistan war front in general include Afghanistan (Afghanistan-Pakistan-International Security Assistance Force Tripartite Commission, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan) Colombia, Egypt (Mediterranean Dialogue), Japan (Contact Country), Kazakhstan (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan), Moldova (Partnership for Peace, Individual Partnership Action Plan) Pakistan (Afghanistan-Pakistan-International Security Assistance Force Tripartite Commission) and Switzerland (Partnership for Peace).
That is, military forces from all six inhabited continents.
In addition, NATO troops are stationed in military bases in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and the bloc has transit centers in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, all five Central Asian countries being members of NATO's Partnership for Peace program.
  
The war in Afghanistan has been employed as the longest, largest and most ambitious effort to date by the U.S. and NATO to consolidate an integrated expeditionary military force ready for global deployments.
That effort has built upon three previous stages in the development of the above objective: In Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq.
With Bosnia, in 1996 NATO led 60,000 troops under its Stabilisation Force command from its current 28 members, although 12 of those would join in the decade of 1999-2009 after proving their mettle in the missions in Bosnia and later Kosovo. They were joined by contingents from Australia, Austria, Egypt, Finland, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand and Sweden among others.
Three years later NATO moved into the Serbian province of Kosovo in charge of the 50,000-troop Kosovo Force with soldiers from its then-19 members, nine more which would join in the following decade and several partnership members which would later send troops to Iraq and/or Afghanistan, including Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Mongolia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine. 
From 2004-2010 the U.S.-led Multi-National Force – Iraq consisted of troops from 22 of NATO's current 28 members, all but Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg and Turkey. Canada, France and Germany compensated by increasing their troop strength in Afghanistan, where they among the largest contributors after the U.S. and Britain.
The twelve new NATO states - Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia - all had troops in Iraq during the period of most intense combat, for the most part in the Polish-led South-Central zone which was supported by NATO.
NATO partner states in addition to the nine that joined the alliance in 2004 and 2009 also served their apprenticeship in Iraq: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Australia, Bosnia, Georgia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Tonga and Ukraine.
In 2008 the above nations started withdrawing their contingents from Iraq ahead of redeploying them to Afghanistan, where they remain.
The steady military involvement of the same fifty or so nations over the past sixteen years in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya (Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, an Istanbul Cooperation Initiative member, provided warplanes for NATO's six-month air war last year) demonstrate how the U.S. has used NATO in the post-Cold War period to forge an international intervention force unparalleled in history, working together in active and post-conflict war zones under the same command, often in integrated units, with interoperability of weapons, tactics and language.
Over the past decade the U.S. and NATO allies have conducted annual military operations in two of the three countries that border both Russia and China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan - Operation Khaan Quest and Operation Steppe Eagle - to advance that global integration. Last month Mongolia became the first nation to join NATO's Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme instituted a year ago.
The 50 heads of state gathering in Chicago next month, like the chiefs of defense staff and military experts from 66 countries (over a third of the world's nations) that met at NATO headquarters in late January, represent a growing U.S.-led military network that is the main threat to world peace.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

"The Military-Petroleum Complex" by Nick Turse

In "The Military-Petroleum Complex," Nick Turse (author of the essential The Complex) points out that the amount of oil consumed by the Pentagon (I don't know if that includes NATO allies' consumption) exceeds the entire national consumption of Sweden and amounts to 5.46 billion gallons annnually, according to the Pentagon itself.

[...]

The Pentagon needs two things to survive: war and oil. And it can’t make the first if it doesn’t have the second. In fact, the Pentagon’s methods of mass destruction -- fighters, bombers, tanks, Humvees, and other vehicles -- burn 75 percent of the fuel used by the DoD. For example, B-52 bombers consume 47,000 gallons per mission over Afghanistan. But don’t expect big oil (or even smaller petroplayers) to turn off the tap for peace. Such corporations are just as wedded to war as their most loyal junkie. After all, every time an F-16 fighter “kicks in its afterburners and blasts through the sound barrier,” it burns through $300 worth of fuel a minute, while each of those B-52 missions means a $100,000 tax-funded payout.

According to retired lieutenant general Lawrence P. Farrell Jr., the president of the National Defense Industrial Association (“America’s leading Defense Industry association promoting National Security”), the Pentagon is “the single largest consumer of petroleum fuels in the United States.” In fact, it’s the world’s largest energy consumer, according to Shachtman. That, alone, guarantees the military-petroleum complex isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon – just some fuel for thought next time you head out to a Shell, BP, Exxon, or Mobil station to fill ’er up.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

How the New American Empire Really Works

I’ve often said that the reason behind the US/NATO’s military adventures is control of resources – including pools of cheap labor – and strategic points on the globe. That last point leads us back to the origin – the purpose of the military is the military. We are in a circular process. The serpent of American exceptionality fellates its own tail, mutes its own warning.
In How the New American Empire Really Works, Paul Craig Roberts nails that circularity to the wall: The military-security-financial complex is not only a means of ensuring the extraction of wealth from the peoples of the world. It is itself the means of extracting the wealth of the American people. And one way to explain what James Petras calls the crisis of labor – essentially, government by capital, for capital – is the refusal of Americans to learn history and their fatal weakness (which at the same time is their great strength) of empathy, best shown in their empathy with the families of “those who serve” when they lose a loved one. They close ranks, as they did in September of 2001. Yet among our ranks were those who were not – are not – above using such a tragedy to extend the very machine whose diabolical operation resulted in the blowback of 9/11. And as Roberts points out with such startling clarity, ultimately the purpose of that machine is to extract wealth.

[...] America’s wars are very expensive. Bush and Obama have doubled the national debt, and the American people have no benefits from it. No riches, no bread and circuses flow to Americans from Washington’s wars. So what is it all about? The answer is that Washington’s empire extracts resources from the American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that rule America. The military-security complex, Wall Street, agri-business and the Israel Lobby use the government to extract resources from Americans to serve their profits and power. The US Constitution has been extracted in the interests of the Security State, and Americans’ incomes have been redirected to the pockets of the 1 percent. That is how the American Empire functions. The New Empire is different. It happens without achieving conquest. The American military did not conquer Iraq and has been forced out politically by the government that Washington established. There is no victory in Afghanistan, and after a decade the American military does not control the country. In the New Empire success at war no longer matters. The extraction takes place by being at war. Huge sums of American taxpayers’ money have flowed into the American armaments industries and huge amounts of power into Homeland Security. The American empire works by stripping Americans of wealth and liberty. This is why the wars cannot end, or if one does end another starts. [...]

Saturday 31 March 2012

US turns blind eye on own violation of human rights

Eric Sommer in the Tanzania Citizen

US media and political figures constantly attack China for alleged human rights violations, while conveniently turning a blind eye to human rights violations perpetrated by the United States in the name of its war on terror, for instance the use of torture at Abu Ghraib, the illegal detention of suspects at Guantanamo, the apprehension and extrajudicial transfer of individuals from one state to another, and the unauthorised surveillance of citizens are just some of the US' well-documented human rights abuses.

And as important as rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of religion may be, these rights pale in significance beside the most fundamental of human rights, which is the right to live, with its corollary of security from actions or conditions which threaten life, such as military aggression, criminal acts, or similar threats that put people's lives at risk.

With this in mind let's compare China and the US, to see who is the real human rights violator.
US military forces have been responsible for thousands, possibly millions, of civilian deaths around the world in the past decade.While there are no accurate figures for the civilian death toll in Iraq, household surveys have been conducted asking Iraqis to list the family members they have lost and the results then extrapolated to the total population to give a nationwide estimate.

The prominent British medical journal, the Lancet, ran into a storm of controversy when it published an article by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore which extrapolated the results of a survey of a randomly chosen sample of 1,849 households to the total Iraqi population and estimated that there were 655,000 deaths between April 2003 and June 2006.

Yet in 2007, the British polling firm Opinion Research Business surveyed 1,720 Iraqi adults and extrapolated a figure that was even higher - a "minimum of 733,158 to a maximum of 1,446,063" - Iraqi civilaians killed.

The independent UK-based research group, the Iraq Body Count, which only counts civilan deaths where there is documentary evidence, such as cross-checked media reports, hospital, and morgue records - which is likely to be the minority seeing as so few bodies are recovered - has a minimum civilian death toll of 105,753.

Nor is there a single figure for the overall number of civilians killed by the 10-year war in Afghanistan, but according to the latest report from the United Nations, 12,793 have been killed in just the past six years.

And these figures do not include those that have been injured in the two wars, nor those killed or injured by the US military in Pakistan and Libya.

The US military, supported by the US government, defines its goal as "full spectrum" - that is global land, sea and air and indeed space - military dominance. In support of this goal, the US military is deployed in more than 150 countries and according to an official Pentagon accounting of US military bases, the Base Structure Report, Fiscal 2010 Baseline the US has at least 662 overseas bases in 38 foreign countries, although the figure is more because the list excludes bases in several nations integral to active operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Chinese government has emphasized that the Chinese military's role is strictly defensive: protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and peaceful economic development. China adheres to a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and during the same period it has had no military conflicts with other countries.

It also has no military bases in other countries. The US' rate of imprisonment is the highest in the world: about 760 out of every 100,000 US citizens are in jail. China, with a population very nearly four times as big, has a rate of imprisonment that is one-seventh that of the US, about 118 out of every 100,000 of its citizens are in jail.
In the US there is unofficial media censorship by the central government -which seeks control over news content relating to its military operations.


Mr Somer, a Canadian independent researcher, filed this analysis for Xinhua from Beijing

Monday 12 March 2012

NATO to hold big sales convention in Chicago

In this interview on Chicago TV, Rick Rozoff of StopNATO succinctly explains how NATO's ongoing expansion and aggression just make good economic sense for a country whose manufacturing base is now pretty much reduced to military hardware. Notice that Rozoff talks about how NATO has dragged a lot of the Eastern European countries into its club, requiring them to spend 2% of GDP on guns and planes from the good old USA. Note also that Greece has been a NATO client since 'way back, and that at least part of the billions the Greek taxpayers (a group which, remember, excludes all of Greece's elite shipowners et al) are being made to pay back are for forced sales of US planes, French frigates, and German submarines. Now the salesmen and their biggest customers are getting ready to hold a bang-up convention in Chi in May - unless it gets relocated to Camp David too...

Tuesday 17 January 2012

WW III - View from India

US, not Iran, is to blame

by Sandhya Jain

“We now have two contending worldviews. One buys what it desires by negotiating the price; the other grabs (or tries to) what it desires regardless of the price it (and others) may have to pay. Should a Third World War break out, it would differ from the First and Second World Wars where rival colonial factions fought for hegemony. This time, the winners of the two Wars are on the rampage; they have lost the propaganda war as their naked greed has been exposed in the public arena and their opponents are not colonial raiders.”

As America escalates tension with Iran, the world should stand by Tehran and the UN must cease to behave like the handmaiden of the West.

The Government of India has moved with commendable alacrity to clarify that it has not asked oil firms to reduce crude imports from Tehran. Iran remains this country’s second largest crude oil supplier despite India twice voting that the International Atomic Energy Commission refer Iran’s nuclear issue to the US Security Council in February 2006 and November 2009. Both times India could have abstained; the mindless quest for a strategic partnership with America nearly compromised our national interest.

The need for caution has doubled. As Washington, DC escalates tension with Tehran, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta admitted on CBS’s Face the Nation programme on January 8 that despite the rhetoric, America is aware that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons but is only pursuing “a nuclear capability”.

Yet the Obama Administration last December enacted a law under which the US can impose sanctions on any financial institution dealing with Iran’s central bank, its main clearing house for oil payments. This could jeopardise India’s oil payment system which is currently routed through Turkey’s Halkbank; a delegation to Tehran is expected to take up the matter.

The Washington-Tehran face-off is causing unease in world capitals as the Iranian resistance is likely to be superior to what America and its allies faced in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. In all these theatres, the Western allies bludgeoned the states with brute military force, but had no strategy to hold the ground thereafter. Hence America ran from Iraq and is trying to quit Afghanistan; the Libya story has yet to unfold.

A conflict with Iran will not be one-sided. For one, Russia under Mr Vladimir Putin, aligned with China and Iran, with silent approval from nations like India and Germany that seek energy security by peaceful means, may resist US-led Western hegemony more forcefully. Both Moscow and Beijing feel remorse at permitting the shoddy politics in the UN and handing over Libya and Muammar Gaddafi to the oil-hungry Nato powers.

Already amidst escalating uncertainties, China, Russia, Iran, India, Brazil, Venezuela and other countries have moved to do bilateral trade in their own currencies and avoid using the dollar as the reserve currency. Indeed, Saddam Hussein’s decision not to sell oil in dollars and Muammar Gaddafi’s quest for the Arab gold dinar led to their deaths and the ruination of their countries. Now Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmad-inejad also seeks an alternate currency to the dollar, causing Washington to stride towards a showdown with Tehran.

Nevertheless, the US will have to come to terms with the fact that its currency —once the world’s reserve currency — is losing traction in international trade. China and Japan now trade in bilateral currencies and Russia is making similar deals with major trading partners. In fact, one reason why the US attacked the Euro in 2009 was to nix its emergence as the new international reserve currency. But this has failed to restore the dollar’s hegemony.

Once he becomes Russia’s President, Mr  Putin is likely to resist the US on Iran and also address the issue of Nato’s encirclement of Russia with ballistic missile installations. He will almost certainly intensify energy politics via pipeline diplomacy with Nato members such as Germany, France and Italy to woo them away from the US.

That leaves America with only formidable military power, which is not enough without commensurate economic might. The US could fund the fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and other places because China and other trade surplus nations invested in America’s treasury debt. They will now shift, cutting the US adrift at a time when it needs to throttle the emerging Russia-China-Iran axis.

The core issue is that as the need for energy security increases the mutual interdependence of countries, the US seeks monopolistic control over the raw materials of others. Confrontation and conflict are built into this 19th century style buccaneering ideal; as a result, war clouds loom over Iran.

We now have two contending worldviews. One buys what it desires by negotiating the price; the other grabs (or tries to) what it desires regardless of the price it (and others) may have to pay. Should a Third World War break out, it would differ from the First and Second World Wars where rival colonial factions fought for hegemony. This time, the winners of the two Wars are on the rampage; they have lost the propaganda war as their naked greed has been exposed in the public arena and their opponents are not colonial raiders.

The Strait of Hormuz that links the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean has emerged as the axis mundi of international politics. Twenty per cent of the world’s daily energy supply (17 million barrels of oil) passes through this waterway which is the sole maritime link between oil-producing Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the rest of the world. Last month, Tehran threatened to block the strait in anger at Washington’s new sanctions against Iranian oil exports. A lengthy closure could cause a 50 per cent spurt in oil prices and wreck the global economy.

Attitudes have hardened with the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists with chilling regularity over the past two years. In January 2010, a remote-controlled bomb attached to a motorcycle killed Masoud Ali Moham-madi, 50; he taught neutron physics at Tehran University. In November 2010, two separate car bombs exploded on the same day — one killed nuclear scientist Majid Shahriar and injured his wife; the other wounded nuclear scientist Fereidoun Abbasi and his wife.

In July 2011, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation member Darioush Rezaei, 35, was shot dead and his wife injured by two gunmen firing from motorcycles outside their daughter’s kindergarten; he was a specialist in neutron transport which lies at the core of nuclear chain reactions in reactors. On January 11, Professor Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, 32, was killed when a magnetic bomb attached to his car by motorcycle-borne person went off.

Iran is justly enraged and will fight for its honour and sovereignty. Recently, it conducted naval exercises in the Arabian Sea near the Strait of Hormuz and sternly warned American aircraft carrier, USS John C Stennis, which had just left the Gulf, not to return. The world cannot afford the ruination that an Iran war could wreak upon us all. De-escalation of the crisis is imperative. For a start, the major capitals must ensure that the UN ceases to behave like a handmaiden of Western colonial interests.

Monday 2 January 2012

WW III, continued


Saturday 10 December 2011

WW III, continued

You didn't think the US's leaders would declare war on the middle class. And you probably didn't think they'd start the Cold War over again:

Obama Raises the Military Stakes: Confrontation on the Frontiers of China and Russia

by  James Petras

[...]

The speeches and pronouncements of Obama and Clinton reek of nostalgia for a past of neo-colonial overseers and comprador collaborators – a mindless delusion.  Their attempts at political realism, in finally recognizing Asia as the economic pivot of the present world order, takes a bizarre turn in imagining that military posturing and projections of armed force will reduce China to a marginal player in the region.

Obama’s Escalation of Confrontation with Russia

The Obama regime has launched a major frontal military thrust on Russia’s borders.  The US has moved forward missile sites and Air Force bases in Poland, Rumania, Turkey, Spain, Czech Republic and Bulgaria:  Patriot PAC-3 anti-aircraft missile complexes in Poland; advanced radar AN/TPY-2 in Turkey; and several missile (SM-3 IA) loaded warships in Spain are among the prominent weapons encircling Russia, most only minutes away from it strategic heartland.  Secondly, the Obama regime has mounted an all-out effort to secure and expand US military bases in Central Asia among former Soviet republics.  Thirdly, Washington, via NATO, has launched major economic and military operations against Russia’s major trading partners in North Africa and the Middle East.  The NATO war against Libya, which ousted the Gadhafi regime, has paralyzed or nullified multi-billion dollar Russian oil and gas investments, arms sales and substituted a NATO puppet for the former Russia-friendly regime.

The UN-NATO economic sanctions and US-Israeli clandestine terrorist activity aimed at Iran has undermined Russia’s lucrative billion-dollar nuclear trade and joint oil ventures.  NATO, including Turkey, backed by the Gulf monarchical dictatorships, has implemented harsh sanctions and funded terrorist assaults on Syria, Russia’s last remaining ally in the region and where it has a sole naval facility (Tartus) on the Mediterranean Sea.  Russia’s previous collaboration with NATO in weakening its own economic and security position is a product of the monumental misreading of NATO and especially Obama’s imperial policies. Russian President Medvedev and his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mistakenly assumed (like Gorbachev and Yeltsin before them) that backing US-NATO policies against Russia’s trading partners would result in some sort of “reciprocity”:  US dismantling its offensive “missile shield” on its frontiers and support for Russia’s admission into the World Trade Organization.  Medvedev, following his liberal pro-western illusions, fell into line and backed US-Israeli sanctions against Iran, believing the tales of a “nuclear weapons programs”. Then Lavrov fell for the NATO line of “no fly zones to protect Libyan civilian lives” and voted in favor, only to feebly “protest”, much too late, that NATO was “exceeding its mandate” by bombing Libya into the Middle Ages and installing a pro-NATO puppet regime of rogues and fundamentalists.  Finally when the US aimed a cleaver at Russia’s heartland by pushing ahead with an all-out effort to install missile launch sites 5 minutes by air from Moscow while organizing mass and armed assaults on Syria, did the Medvedev-Lavrov duet awake from its stupor and oppose UN sanctions.  Medvedev threatened to abandon the nuclear missile reduction treaty (START) and to place medium-range missiles with 5 minute launch-time from Berlin, Paris and London.

Medvedev-Lavrov’s policy of consolidation and co-operation based on Obama’s rhetoric of “resetting relations” invited aggressive empire building:  Each capitulation led to a further aggression.  As a result, Russia is surrounded by missiles on its western frontier; it has suffered losses among its major trading partners in the Middle East and faces US bases in southwest and Central Asia.

Belatedly Russian officials have moved to replace the delusional Medvedev for the realist Putin, as next President.  This shift to a political realist has predictably evoked a wave of hostility toward Putin in all the Western media.  Obama’s aggressive policy to isolate Russia by undermining independent regimes has, however, not affected Russia’s status as a nuclear weapons power.  It has only heightened tensions in Europe and perhaps ended any future chance of peaceful nuclear weapons reduction or efforts to secure a UN Security Council consensus on issues of peaceful conflict resolution.  Washington, under Obama-Clinton, has turned Russia from a pliant client to a major adversary.

Putin looks to deepening and expanding ties with the East, namely China, in the face of threats from the West.  The combination of Russian advanced weapons technology and energy resources and Chinese dynamic manufacturing and industrial growth are more than a match for crisis-ridden EU-USA economies wallowing in stagnation.

[...]

read the entire article

Tuesday 6 December 2011

World War III

World War III: The Launching of a Preemptive Nuclear War against Iran

by Michel Chossudovsky
on Global Research

In an earlier post here, I mentioned that there seems to a blind spot among otherwise highly aware Occupy activists and sympathizers about what used to be called the "military-industrial complex." As I mentioned, people I run into and have fruitful, inspiring talks with often take the attitude that "oh, all that stuff about the US trying to dominate the world is just conspiracy theory." If you read Michel Chossudovsky's article and use it as a starting point for some research, you'll start to realize that the "conspiracy theory" is not something put together with a few facts, a taste for shadowy plots, and a large dose of old-time pacifism; in fact such ideas as, for example, using mini-nuclear warheads as "bunker busters" against probably nonexistent superhardened underground palaces built by Muammar Ghaddafi are not the stuff of paranoid fantasy. They have been actively, clearheadedly, and minutely planned, and such equally insane ideas are now being actively, clearheadedly, and minutely planned - this time against Iran. And have been minutely, clearheadedly, and actively planned more or less continuously since before Hiroshima, through the Korean War and the Cold War and Vietnam and the War on Instability and the War on Terror.

Read Chossudovsky's piece and, as I say, do your research. Separate the wheat from the chaff. Think the whole thing over, and then ask yourself the old question: cui bono? Who has more to gain? The defense contractors and the generals and colonels who enter and exit the revolving doors between the Pentagon, the boardrooms, the media studios, and the halls of Congress like the figures in one of the astronomical clocks found in Europe's cathedrals (such figures as Death, the Fool - smiling at the flower in his hand as he steps into the abyss - and so on)? Or we old-fashioned, well-intentioned-but-naif, and slightly paranoid pacifists?

Dr. Chossudovsky has a message for us in the second half of his piece:

The antiwar movement is in crisis: civil society organizations are misinformed, manipulated or co-opted.  A large segment of "progressive" opinion is supportive of NATO's  R2P "humanitarian"  mandate to extent that these war plans are being carried out with the "rubber stamp" of civil society.  

There is a definite need to rebuild the antiwar movement on entirely new premises.

The holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well organized grassroots antiwar network, across the land, nationally and internationally, which challenges the structures of power and authority. People must mobilize not only against the military agenda; the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged.

Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled: “We must fight against evil in all its forms as a means to preserving the Western way of life.”

Breaking the "big lie" which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.

Now allow me to paraphrase slightly one of his sentences:

"A broad and well organized grassroots anti-Wall Street network, across the land, nationally and internationally, which challenges the structures of power and authority. People must mobilize not only against the financial agenda; the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged.

Now let me suggest that  "military-industrial complex" should be amended to "military-financial complex" as a means of making it clearer that the economy of the United States is fundamentally a war economy and that what Chossudovsky calls the "profit-driven military agenda" is inextricable from the issue of finance and banking and their control over the political process.

Let me end by quoting from an edited version of the seminal Declaration of the Occupation of New York City that I saw somewhere:

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have participated in maintaining a war economy and a global military presence in order to ensure access to resources, including cheap labor, thus perpetuating colonialism at home and abroad, supporting repressive regimes and overthrowing legitimate governments, thus participating in the repression of free speech and the imprisonment, torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.

I say to all of you, anti-war activists and Occupiers, as the drums of war again beat and the US and its allies prepare once again to pervert the sacred legacy of the United Nations for the perpetuation of the business of global militarism, that we are fighting the same battle.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Cold War II

New post on Stop NATO

Hypersonic Missiles: Who Is The Target?

by richardrozoff

http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/11/28/61168605.html

Voice of Russia
November 28, 2011

Hypersonic missile: who is the target?
John Robles

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca.

====

The first thing that is on everybody’s minds is President Medvedev’s statement regarding NATO. Why at this late date exactly, at this juncture?

In a rather alarming manner we’ve seen an expanding recruitment for the U.S. missile system in Europe, through the mechanism of NATO, in the last couple of months where, in addition to the countries where we know there are going to be US interceptor missiles stationed, the deployment of a Forward-Based X-Band Radar facility in Turkey has been confirmed.

We’ve also seen the recruitment of nations like Spain, the Netherlands and others into what the White House and the Pentagon refer to as the European Phased Adaptive Approach missile system, one that is going to proceed in four phases, the third and fourth phases with the introduction of very advanced-stage Standard Missile-3 land-based interceptors, with the understanding that these can be employed not strictly for defensive purposes but to target all Russian strategic deterrent forces and capabilities in Europe.

Recently, the U.S. and NATO conducted tests for their new hypersonic missile. Could you tell the listeners a little bit about that?

Earlier this month, the US DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) did just that. It’s actually an interdepartmental weapon system, its part of what’s called Conventional Prompt Global Strike, or sometimes simply Prompt Global Strike.

Last year, for example, the Obama administration asked for somewhere in the neighbourhood of a quarter of a billion dollars for this year to develop the capacity. It’s meant to deliver conventional weapon attacks to any site on the planet within no more than 60 minutes. And what happened earlier this month was that the U.S. Army tested the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW), which traveled an estimated 7,400 km/h, which is over six times the speed of sound.

In August, an unsuccessful test of an AHW-related component was to have traveled at 27,000 km/h, which is over MACH 20 – that is 20 times the speed of sound. To be hypersonic one has to exceed MACH 5, or five times the speed of sound.

The day before President Medvedev’s statement about moving mobile ISKANDER missiles into the Kaliningrad District, but also potentially into Belarus and into the southern Krasnodar region, which would be closer to US missiles in Romania and to the NATO radar facility in Turkey, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov mentioned that Russia’s new air-defense systems are capable of intercepting any kind of missiles, including U.S. interceptor missiles but also, he explicitly mentioned, hypersonic weapons.

He said that explicitly? Hypersonic?

Yes, he said it specifically in reference to the test that had been conducted a week earlier by the U.S.

You mentioned earlier this was a part of the Prompt Global Strike system? Is this a first-strike system?

I’ll read you a comment that was made a couple of years ago by a person who is now retired, then-Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Cartwright, who stated that the proclaimed intent of the Prompt Global Strike program was to deliver strikes by conventional missiles or heavy bombers – long-range bombers – anywhere on the face of the Earth within an hour.

Marine General James Cartwright stated: “At the high end, strikes could be delivered in 300 milliseconds,” which is a fraction of a second.

There was also a comment by another person who is now retired, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense William Lynn, who stated roughly the same thing a year and a half ago. He said: “The next air warfare priority for the Pentagon is developing a next-generation, deep-penetrating strike capability that can overcome air defenses,” meaning again that a first-strike capability or part of a general first-strike capability that would permit the US to strike fast, deep and undetected presumably into the interior of countries that have advanced air defense systems. I can only think of three countries that would match that description – Iran, to a lesser extent, and Russia and China, to a greater.

How would this all tie in with the Cyber Warfare Center that’s been active recently in Estonia?

Yes, in 2008, NATO set up one of what they call, what NATO calls, a Center of Excellence, a Cyber Defense Centre in the capital of Estonia, in reaction to cyber attacks, real or alleged.

So we have three components being integrated, one of them being the so-called global missile shield. But, first of all, there is no real assurance that the missiles in fact pack a non-explosive warhead. They are supposed to be what are called kinetic or hit-to-kill missiles, but at any time that the U.S. chooses I suspect it can put a strategic warhead on one of these missiles after they are deployed in Poland or Romania and no one would be the wiser.

We know that the momentous statement by President Medvedev on Wednesday cited the fact that Russia was not consulted about anything. In his own words, the U.S. rather blithely announces developments after the fact or rather the president or defense minister of Russia have to read in Western newspapers information concerning U.S. plans to deploy, under NATO auspices, 48 Standard Missile-3 interceptors in Romania and Poland, 24 each, and, as he put it, it’s presented to Russia as an accomplished fact.

With that lack of consultation, with that lack of openness, transparency, one would be justified in fearing the ultimate purpose of U.S. missiles in nations like Poland and Romania or ship-based versions of Standard Missile-3 interceptors that will be deployed in the Baltic Sea and may well find their way into the Barents, Norwegian and Black Seas.

richardrozoff | November 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/pCpOz-2Dr

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Libya: The contradictions of force

From the Wall St. Journal:

What is left of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces, said North Atlantic Treaty Organization Col. Roland Lavoie, "gives no sign of giving up their aggressive actions."

Little is left of Ghaddafi's forces, yet they "give no sign of giving up their aggressive actions..." So, NATO  will continue its... aggressive actions. After all, let's remember who began the aggression, and that the pretext - Ghaddafi's alleged bombing of civilians in Benghazi - has been shown to be a fabrication.

So, Even when Ghaddafi and his sons - except for the one who was killed, along with this three-year-old daughter, at the start of the NATO bombings - are all hanged and all the frozen assets belonging to the Libyan people have been handed over to the new government, will there still be a need for NATO presence? Even "boots on the ground"? Apparently we are being prepared for that:

One important truth emerging Tuesday is that the rebel forces are probably even more disorganized than feared by Western allies. The rebels "are not military formations," Col. Lavoie said. "These are citizens, doctors, farmers, who realized that their cities and villages were no longer under control. These are simple citizens who realized they could take their destiny in their hands and do something about it." That makes NATO's role in protecting civilians as important as ever. "The situation around Tripoli is still very dangerous," he said.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

What's really going on in Libya?

Media Wars - Many Mouths, One Voice

Libya Coverage Provides a Peek Behind the Curtain

By Don DeBar

Coverage of the situation in Libya over the past three days, while useless to anyone trying to understand what is actually happening in Libya, nevertheless provides an interesting peek into the modus operandi of the global media that has broad application for the decoding of its coverage of all of the issues that touch our lives.

The manufacture of events in Libya has been underway since the lead-up to the US-led invasion, including the narrative that enabled the UN resolutions 1970 and 1973 - prominent among these were the claim that the Libyan government was conducting an aerial war against protestors, countered by satellite evidence from the Russian military showing no such attacks took place, and the claim that African mercenaries were firing on protestors, which was both untrue and provoked racist killings of Libyans with African features and skin by rebel gangs.

Absent from the manufactured narrative was the report by the Pakistan Observer on February 25th that US, UK and French troops had landed in Benghazi on February 23rd and 24th. Also absent were photographs of captured Qatari weapons that were intended for rebel forces in Brega, and reports of French arms also sent to the rebels.

Since March 19th, a US-led NATO bombing campaign has been conducted against Libya. On one day alone, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney reported from Tripoli that she and a group from the African Union counted 89 bomb explosions in that city alone during a twelve-hour period. In terms of TNT poundage, that is somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 to 50 World Trade Center explosions in a city the size of Manhattan EACH DAY for more than 180 consecutive days.

I discussed some of the issues surrounding the coverage of the Libyan invasion with PressTV yesterday and thank them for allowing me to get this information out, including my statement - made some 7 hours before Saif al-Islam Gadhaffi surfaced in Tripoli not as a captive, but a free man cruising the city in his SUV - that the press claims of the capture of the Gadhaffi sons was "suspect." Here's a transcript of my remarks:

Press TV: How do you see the events that have been taking place in Libya? It seems that they have changed very rapidly and when we talk to a lot of our people on the ground in Tripoli, they were also quite taken aback at the speed of which everything changed in Tripoli especially.

Don DeBar: Well, I was fortunate enough to be in touch with people on the ground in Tripoli who somehow were able to stay on the internet and stay in touch. Almost all of the reporting that is coming from there is coming from inside a hotel that the reporters cannot leave. One reporter was shot at trying to post a press sign out. Several have been threatened by the western journalists in the building with death. There was an article published calling for the killing of a French journalist from a website in France - the Voiltaire website - and Lizzie Phelan who you have featured here before.

So the information itself, a lot of it, is coming from the people pointing a camera out the window of the hotel, and the information that has come to me from some of the people on the ground there, including Lizzie Phelan, has come from calling around to the contacts that they have nurtured in Tripoli over the last month that she has been there, with reports from different neighborhoods. And those reports were quite different.

Keep in mind that since Friday the western media has been saying that Gaddafi left the country. They were reporting him in Tunisia on Friday afternoon on NBC and this was parroted in the western media all weekend. Now today again - somehow - he is back in Tripoli and they are trying to find him and they have arrested his sons and so the information itself is suspect.

But this entire war, people have to think about this fact: the United States has been funding this and conducting the bulk of the military operations here. And anyone on the ground, anywhere where the United States has their guns pointed, including at Tehran, that takes comfort in that the fact that the United States is about to achieve a military victory in Libya should really reconsider that position and think about what's the next step going to be for this type of policy which, believe me, has a map. And they've expressed Tehran as a destination now for the last 20 to 25 years.

So I would be mostly concerned about what does this mean for the people that these guns will be pointed at next and I would question every report you are hearing out of Tripoli right now that says that they are in charge because they have been saying it for days before there was anyone there.

The last point is that the reports that we got were that the people that had come into Tripoli from the outside with arms were actually Qataris - with their own commanders running this operation - and I am told that there are many dead Qataris on the ground in Tripoli.

Press TV: Don DeBar, you mentioned as far as the role of the media - let's expand on this in general. How do you see the role in general, especially in this situation that is taking place in Tripoli from the beginning till today, as far as the role of the mainstream media and how they have reported the events that have taken place?

Don DeBar: OK, the enabling rhetorical point is that this is a popular uprising against Gaddafi, OK? And from there it was that the government is brutalizing protesters - including with aerial bombardment - and that was the enabling narrative for resolutions 1970 and 1973 out of the United Nations Security Council.

Now the Russians, who conduct satellite surveillance of planet Earth, because they have been prepared for 50 years for a nuclear strike from the United States, said that, on the specific dates that the charges were delineated that Gaddafi had attacked his people from the air, here are the photographs: there are no planes in the air, there were no aeral activities conducted whatsoever.

This has not made the media in the west at all - including on programs like Democracy Now and on Al Jazeera which is carried on progressive radio networks, if you can believe that, in the United States.

In addition to that, it was reported in the Pakistan Observer, the English language daily in Pakistan, on February 25 that there were US, UK and French troops that landed in Benghazi from Indian naval vessels on the 23 and 24 of February. Now this is in advance of the UN Security Council Resolutions and that also has never been reported and I personally reported both that and the Russian intelligence information to Amy Goodman at Democracy Now, for example, and other progressive media outlets here, and have yet to hear them even set it up as a straw man to shoot down, let alone actually report these things that were reported elsewhere, including from government officials - the foreign minister and defense minister of Russia.

So the media has been not just deficient but, in my mind, active and complicit with this effort by NATO to take the oil of Libya and to establish for anyone that does not do what the United States tells them, you're next.

Press TV: If the Gaddafi regime has totally fallen, or will fall, how likely is it that the Libyan people will actually go further towards independence and be freer people as a lot of them who have been in the streets, and they have been showing some of them today, are saying? What's the likely scenario in your perspective?

Don DeBar: The likely scenario is colonialism, and the reason for the invasion of Libya is that Libya was one of the places organizing against colonialism of the continent of Africa.

This is the second stop for AFRICOM [Africa Command], the first direct stop for AFRICOM under Obama's regime. AFRICOM came online about two months before he was elected but after Cote D'Ivoire - where they carried the elected president out of the country at gunpoint, the French did, the former colonial power - this episode began. And Libya has played - if you want to believe Nelson Mandela - Libya played a major role in ending apartheid in South Africa, and Muammar Gaddafi in particular played a major role in doing that. He has been active in building a communications infrastructure and a financial infrastructure owned by Africa in Africa.

The people of Libya, by the way, went from being the poorest people on the planet in 1969, by every objective measure, to having the highest standard of living in Africa, and one of the highest standards of living in the Muslim world - housing is owned by the people, free of any mortgages, everyone, it is a human right there under the law - and the entire education system and free healthcare...(out of time).



Video at http://presstv.com/detail/195306.html

Sunday 26 June 2011

We came, we saw, we destroyed, we forgot

We came, we saw, we destroyed, we forgot
by William Blum (with the author's kind permission)

An updated summary of the charming record of US foreign policy. Since the end of the Second World War, the United States of America has ...

  1. Attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, most of which were democratically-elected. 7
  2. Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries. 8
  3. Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries. 9
  4. Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries. 10
  5. Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders. 11

In total: Since 1945, the United States has carried out one or more of the above actions, on one or more occasions, in the following 69 countries (more than one third of the countries of the world):

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Australia
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia
  • Brazil
  • British Guiana (now Guyana)
  • Bulgaria
  • Cambodia
  • Chad
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Congo (also as Zaire)
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • East Timor
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Fiji
  • France
  • Germany (plus East Germany)
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Laos
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Mongolia
  • Morocco
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • North Korea
  • Pakistan
  • Palestine
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Seychelles
  • Slovakia
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Soviet Union
  • Sudan
  • Suriname
  • Syria
  • Thailand
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam (plus North Vietnam)
  • Yemen (plus South Yemen)
  • Yugoslavia

 

Monday 30 May 2011

Minerals in Africa: Putting Libya Into Perspective

Rick Rozoff at StopNATO sends a heads-up to an article dated May 27 by Tirivangani Masawi of Southern Times  which analyzes a study by a Dr. Stephen Burgess. Burgess, a native Zimbabwean and a professor at the US Air War College in Washington, expresses concern over a coming struggle with China over 'defence critical resources' and compares that struggle with the grappling between European colonial powers that was one of the causes of World War I:

According to a study by Dr Stephen Burgess, a Zimbabwean-born associate professor at the US Air War College, Washington may have to enlist the services of the Department of Defence, the National Security Agency and the Africa Command (AFRICOM) to secure Southern Africa's resources.

'In particular, the US government is concerned about access to 'defence critical resources'. This requires increased levels of engagement with the African countries concerned, using all the instruments of American power and working with American and Western mining companies, as well as engagement with China and Chinese companies.

'In the future, a 'worst-case' scenario might see the United States having to use coercive diplomacy in the not-too-distant future (perhaps in 10-20 years) in order to regain access to vital resources.

'The onset of 'resource wars' has been predicted by a number of scholars and experts. Given the rising level of Chinese demand for resources, the probability of conflict is likely to rise.

'The new scramble for African mineral resources (and petroleum) is most similar to the 19th century European scramble for African minerals and land that contributed to interstate conflict, especially the First World War.'

[...]

'The United States produces a range of materials from strategic minerals, including warships, aircraft, and high tech devices and components.


'Thus far, the United States and its allies have relied on free market forces in Southern Africa and elsewhere. 'However, US and allied industries may not always have access in the future and may have to reduce output or even close. 'For example, a worrisome problem has been Chinese control of production of more than 90 percent of rare earth minerals.

'Recently, Chinese companies withheld them from Japan over the Senkaku/Daioyu Islands dispute and threatening to withhold them from the United States over arms sales to Taiwan.

'The minerals are the ingredients in key components in communications devices, satellites, and electric fuel cells and batteries that US industry and the military require.'

Friday 6 May 2011

NATO bombs state TV in Tripoli

Like they did in Belgrade

But don't worry, it's not really a civilian target (see below). It's true that I was a civilian when I worked for French state TV, or at least they didn't make us wear uniforms, but then I also understood that the French government "uses state TV to transmit messages and propaganda to supporters across the country", so I guess if a Hellfire missile came in the window I would've had only myself to blame... __ Los Angeles Times, via StopNATO April 27, 2011

NATO widens air war in Libya, targeting key sites in Tripoli

By David S. Cloud Reporting from Washington

Frustrated at their inability to break the military deadlock in Libya and to stop the shelling of civilian areas, NATO commanders are expanding their air war by launching strikes against military command facilities and other regime buildings used by Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi and his top aides.

NATO officials said the escalation, supported by armed U.S. Predator drones, is meant to sever Kadafi's communication and supply links with army units battling the rebellion based in eastern Libya. But privately, some NATO officials say the goal is to strike directly at the pillars of the regime, including Kadafi, in the heart of Tripoli.

"This is a shift, absolutely," a senior NATO officer said Tuesday. "We're picking up attacks on these command-and-control facilities. If he happens to be in one of those buildings, all the better." .... NATO's ability to identify Kadafi's command facilities increased with the deployment last week of the Predator drones, which can circle overhead for as long as 20 hours, beaming live video to intelligence analysts responsible for selecting targets.

Kadafi also has to worry that the drones, which are armed with Hellfire missiles, could be used to track and attack his location.

The U.S. has supplied NATO with a Global Hawk drone as well, which can fly even longer missions than the Predator but is unarmed.

The U.S. has largely stopped using attack planes to conduct strikes in Libya but is providing intelligence and surveillance aircraft for the mission, a role that could grow as NATO seeks additional targets.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is also intercepting cellphone conversations and other communications to find facilities used by the regime's inner circle, senior NATO officers said. .... An airstrike Monday on a broadcasting facility in Tripoli, which briefly knocked Libya's state television off the air, was the first sign of the new target list.

U.S. officials said the attack on what could be considered a civilian facility was authorized because Kadafi's commanders use state TV to transmit messages and propaganda to supporters across the country. NATO warplanes also struck a compound in Tripoli that Kadafi has used as an official residence, the third attack on that facility since the air war began. ....

Monday 25 April 2011

What do drone operators say to each other?

The LA Times' obtaining and publishing the transcripts - of US forces coodinating a missile strike on Afghan civilians - excerpted in the article quoted below is a major event in US journalism - on a par with the White House Tapes. Everyone should at least skim over the transcripts, which are available here. And read the entire LA Times article, quoted below:

Nearly three miles above the rugged hills of central Afghanistan, American eyes silently tracked two SUVs and a pickup truck as they snaked down a dirt road in the pre-dawn darkness.

The vehicles, packed with people, were 3 1/2 miles from a dozen U.S. special operations soldiers, who had been dropped into the area hours earlier to root out insurgents. The convoy was closing in on them.

At 6:15 a.m., just before the sun crested the mountains, the convoy halted.

"We have 18 pax [passengers] dismounted and spreading out at this time," an Air Force pilot said from a cramped control room at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, 7,000 miles away. He was flying a Predator drone remotely using a joystick, watching its live video transmissions from the Afghan sky and radioing his crew and the unit on the ground.

The Afghans unfolded what looked like blankets and kneeled. "They're praying. They are praying," said the Predator's camera operator, seated near the pilot.

By now, the Predator crew was sure that the men were Taliban. "This is definitely it, this is their force," the cameraman said. "Praying? I mean, seriously, that's what they do."

"They're gonna do something nefarious," the crew's intelligence coordinator chimed in.

At 6:22 a.m., the drone pilot radioed an update: "All . are finishing up praying and rallying up near all three vehicles at this time."

The camera operator watched the men climb back into the vehicles.

"Oh, sweet target," he said.

---

None of those Afghans was an insurgent. They were men, women and children going about their business, unaware that a unit of U.S. soldiers was just a few miles away, and that teams of U.S. military pilots, camera operators and video screeners had taken them for a group of Taliban fighters.

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