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Most Europeans Want Better Relations With Russia, Not Sanctions War – Poll

Sputnik | November 23, 2107

As the European Union continues to bear the economic brunt of its sanctions policy towards Russia, a recent poll by Sputnik has revealed that an absolute majority of Britons, Germans, French and Poles want better relations between Brussels and Moscow.

The French Institute of Public Opinion (Ifop) has conducted an opinion poll at Sputnik’s behest, in an attempt to gauge the attitude of Europeans towards the deteriorating relationship between the EU and Russia.

Relations between Brussels and Moscow took a turn for the worse in 2014 amid the crisis in Ukraine, resulting in a perpetuating cycle of sanctions and counter-sanctions which tax the economies of European states.

Ifop interviewed a total of 3,228 respondents of 18 years old or older in the UK, France, Germany and Poland, asking them a single question: “As a result of sanctions and counter-sanctions the political as well as economic relations between Russia and the EU continue to deteriorate. Would you like relations between the EU and Russia to improve in the near future?”

The vast majority of respondents favored improvement in relations between Brussels and Moscow, with 87 percent of Germans, 85 percent of Poles, 79 percent of French and 68 percent of Britons answering “Yes.” It is noteworthy that the economies of the four countries are among those hit hardest by sanctions and Russia’s responsive countermeasures in terms of economic losses.

Vast Majority of Germans, Poles, French, Britons Want to Improve Ties With Russia

In Germany, which has lost “tens, if not hundreds of billions euros” and nearly 60,000 jobs due to anti-Russian sanctions, according to a study, 90 percent of male respondents in Germany turned out to be more inclined towards better relations with Russia. In France and the UK, which have reportedly lost €2.1 billion ($2.5 billion) and €3.1 billion ($3.7 billion) in exports respectively, 82 percent and 71 percent of male respondents favored better relations between Brussels and Moscow, the poll has shown.

The relationship between Russia and the European Union soured after Crimean peninsula seceded from Ukraine and reunified with Russia following the March 2014 referendum. The Western countries, including the EU members, have not recognized the legitimacy of the vote, imposing several rounds of sanctions on Russia.

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

When Washington Cheered the Jihadists

By Daniel Lazare | Consortium News | December 8, 2017

When a Department of Defense intelligence report about the Syrian rebel movement became public in May 2015, lots of people didn’t know what to make of it. After all, what the report said was unthinkable – not only that Al Qaeda had dominated the so-called democratic revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for years, but that the West continued to support the jihadis regardless, even to the point of backing their goal of creating a Sunni Salafist principality in the eastern deserts.

The United States lining up behind Sunni terrorism – how could this be? How could a nice liberal like Barack Obama team up with the same people who had brought down the World Trade Center?

It was impossible, which perhaps explains why the report remained a non-story long after it was released courtesy of a Judicial Watch freedom-of-information lawsuit. The New York Times didn’t mention it until six months later while the Washington Post waited more than a year before dismissing it as “loopy” and “relatively unimportant.” With ISIS rampaging across much of Syria and Iraq, no one wanted to admit that U.S. attitudes were ever anything other than hostile.

But three years earlier, when the Defense Intelligence Agency was compiling the report, attitudes were different. Jihadis were heroes rather than terrorists, and all the experts agreed that they were a low-risk, high-yield way of removing Assad from office.

After spending five days with a Syrian rebel unit, for instance, New York Times reporter C.J. Chivers wrote that the group “mixes paramilitary discipline, civilian policing, Islamic law, and the harsh demands of necessity with battlefield coldness and outright cunning.”

Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, assured the Washington Post that “al Qaeda is a fringe element” among the rebels, while, not to be outdone, the gossip site Buzzfeed published a pin-up of a “ridiculously photogenic” jihadi toting an RPG.

“Hey girl,” said the subhead. “Nothing sexier than fighting the oppression of tyranny.”

And then there was Foreign Policy, the magazine founded by neocon guru Samuel P. Huntington, which was most enthusiastic of all. Gary Gambill’s “Two Cheers for Syrian Islamists,” which ran on the FP web site just a couple of weeks after the DIA report was completed, didn’t distort the facts or make stuff up in any obvious way. Nonetheless, it is a classic of U.S. propaganda. Its subhead glibly observed: “So the rebels aren’t secular Jeffersonians. As far as America is concerned, it doesn’t much matter.”

Assessing the Damage

Five years later, it’s worth a second look to see how Washington uses self-serving logic to reduce an entire nation to rubble.

First a bit of background. After displacing France and Britain as the region’s prime imperial overlord during the 1956 Suez Crisis and then breaking with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser a few years later, the United States committed itself to the goal of defeating Arab nationalism and Soviet Communism, two sides of the same coin as far as Washington was concerned. Over the next half-century, this would mean steering Egypt to the right with assistance from the Saudis, isolating Libyan strong man Muammar Gaddafi, and doing what it could to undermine the Syrian Baathist regime as well.

William Roebuck, the American embassy’s chargé d’affaires in Damascus, thus urged Washington in 2006 to coordinate with Egypt and Saudi Arabia to encourage Sunni Syrian fears of Shi‘ite Iranian proselytizing even though such concerns are “often exaggerated.” It was akin to playing up fears of Jewish dominance in the 1930s in coordination with Nazi Germany.

A year later, former NATO commander Wesley Clark learned of a classified Defense Department memo stating that U.S. policy was now to “attack and destroy the governments in seven countries in five years,” first Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. (Quote starts at 2:07.)

Since the United States didn’t like what such governments were doing, the solution was to install more pliable ones in their place. Hence Washington’s joy when the Arab Spring struck Syria in March 2011 and it appeared that protesters would soon topple the Baathists on their own.

Even when lofty democratic rhetoric gave way to ominous sectarian chants of “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the coffin,” U.S. enthusiasm remained strong. With Sunnis accounting for perhaps 60 percent of the population, strategists figured that there was no way Assad could hold out against religious outrage welling up from below.

Enter Gambill and the FP. The big news, his article began, is that secularists are no longer in command of the burgeoning Syrian rebel movement and that Sunni Islamists are taking the lead instead. As unfortunate as this might seem, he argued that such a development was both unavoidable and far from entirely negative.

“Islamist political ascendancy is inevitable in a majority Sunni Muslim country brutalized for more than four decades by a secular minoritarian dictatorship,” he wrote in reference to the Baathists. “Moreover, enormous financial resources are pouring in from the Arab-Islamic world to promote explicitly Islamist resistance to Assad’s Alawite-dominated, Iranian-backed regime.”

So the answer was not to oppose the Islamists, but to use them. Even though “the Islamist surge will not be a picnic for the Syrian people,” Gambill said, “it has two important silver linings for US interests.” One is that the jihadis “are simply more effective fighters than their secular counterparts” thanks to their skill with “suicide bombings and roadside bombs.”

The other is that a Sunni Islamist victory in Syria will result in “a full-blown strategic defeat” for Iran, thereby putting Washington at least part way toward fulfilling the seven-country demolition job discussed by Wesley Clark.

“So long as Syrian jihadis are committed to fighting Iran and its Arab proxies,” the article concluded, “we should quietly root for them – while keeping our distance from a conflict that is going to get very ugly before the smoke clears. There will be plenty of time to tame the beast after Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions have gone down in flames.”

Deals with the Devil

The U.S. would settle with the jihadis only after the jihadis had settled with Assad. The good would ultimately outweigh the bad. This kind of self-centered moral calculus would not have mattered had Gambill only spoken for himself. But he didn’t. Rather, he was expressing the viewpoint of Official Washington in general, which is why the ultra-respectable FP ran his piece in the first place.

The Islamists were something America could employ to their advantage and then throw away like a squeezed lemon. A few Syrians would suffer, but America would win, and that’s all that counts.

The parallels with the DIA report are striking. “The west, gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition,” the intelligence report declared, even though “the Salafist[s], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [i.e. Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency.”

Where Gambill predicted that “Assad and his minions will likely retreat to northwestern Syria,” the DIA speculated that the jihadis might establish “a declared or undeclared Salafist principality” at the other end of the country near cities like Hasaka and Der Zor (also known as Deir ez-Zor).

Where the FP said that the ultimate aim was to roll back Iranian influence and undermine Shi‘ite rule, the DIA said that a Salafist principality “is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

Bottle up the Shi‘ites in northwestern Syria, in other words, while encouraging Sunni extremists to establish a base in the east so as to put pressure on Shi‘ite-influenced Iraq and Shi‘ite-ruled Iran.

As Gambill put it: “Whatever misfortunes Sunni Islamists may visit upon the Syrian people, any government they form will be strategically preferable to the Assad regime, for three reasons: A new government in Damascus will find continuing the alliance with Tehran unthinkable, it won’t have to distract Syrians from its minority status with foreign policy adventurism like the ancien régime, and it will be flush with petrodollars from Arab Gulf states (relatively) friendly to Washington.”

With the Saudis footing the bill, the U.S. would exercise untrammeled sway.

Disastrous Thinking

Has a forecast ever gone more spectacularly wrong? Syria’s Baathist government is hardly blameless in this affair. But thanks largely to the U.S.-backed sectarian offensive, 400,000 Syrians or more have died since Gambill’s article appeared, with another 6.1 million displaced and an estimated 4.8 million fleeing abroad.

War-time destruction totals around $250 billion, according to U.N. estimates, a staggering sum for a country of 18.8 million people where per-capita income prior to the outbreak of violence was under $3,000. From Syria, the specter of sectarian violence has spread across Asia and Africa and into Europe and North America as well. Political leaders throughout the advanced industrial world are still struggling to contain the populist fury that the Middle East refugee crisis, the result of U.S.-instituted regime change, helped set off.

So instead of advancing U.S. policy goals, Gambill helped do the opposite. The Middle East is more explosive than ever while U.S. influence has fallen to sub-basement levels. Iranian influence now extends from the Arabian Sea to the Mediterranean, while the country that now seems to be wobbling out of control is Saudi Arabia where Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman is lurching from one self-induced crisis to another. The country that Gambill counted on to shore up the status quo turns out to be undermining it.

It’s not easy to screw things up so badly, but somehow Washington’s bloated foreign-policy establishment has done it. Since helping to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, Gambill has moved on to a post at the rightwing Middle East Forum where Daniel Pipes, the group’s founder and chief, now inveighs against the same Sunni ethnic cleansing that his employee defended or at least apologized for.

The forum is particularly well known for its Campus Watch program, which targets academic critics of Israel, Islamists, and – despite Gambill’s kind words about “suicide bombings and roadside bombs” – anyone it considers the least bit apologetic about Islamic terrorism.

Double your standard, double the fun. Terrorism, it seems, is only terrorism when others do it to the U.S., not when the U.S. does it to others.

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump Approves New Sanctions Against Russia Over Alleged INF Treaty Violations

Sputnik – December 8, 2017

The US Commerce Department will impose sanctions on Russian companies that have provided technology to help develop the new weapon outlawed by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Politico reported on Friday.

US media also reported, citing a senior administration official that US President Donald Trump has approved these new restrictions against Moscow.

Earlier in the day, US Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a release the United States is prepared to stop its intermediate-range missile systems research if Russia complies with all the terms of the INF treaty. Nauert explained that while the United States will continue to seek a diplomatic solution, it is now pursuing economic and military measures to induce Russia to return to the INF treaty compliance.

The State Department spokesperson added the United States remains committed to its INF treaty obligations and seeks Russia’s return to compliance with the agreement.Earlier on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow will comply with all the terms of the INF treaty as long as the United States complies with them, and is ready to conduct professional dialogue with Washington.

The Foreign Ministry stressed that the United States was interpreting its commitments under the INF treaty freely while bringing unfounded accusations against Russia of violating the agreement. Moreover, the Foreign Ministry warned the United States against attempting to talk to Russia with the language of ultimatums, or to exert military and political pressure.

In September, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused Russia of violating the INF treaty. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the US accusations were groundless, adding that the United States did not present any evidence to support its claims.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in October that, before the INF treaty, US missile capabilities had already included air- and sea-launched missiles, while the Soviet Union had not developed such weapons. Since the INF treaty banned land-based missile launchers, the disarmament was done unilaterally by the Soviet Union.

The 1987 INF treaty prohibits the development, deployment and testing of ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles.

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Do You Hold Dual Citizenship? You Can Serve in Congress–but not the Israeli Knesset!

By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | December 8, 2017

A few days ago I posted an article entitled Zionists Form Group to Promote Kurdish Statehood, about the latest efforts underway to carve up the Middle East. In the course of researching that article I made a rather interesting discovery: that Israel has a law prohibiting holders of dual citizenship from serving in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

Needless to say, we need such a law here in the US, but of course anyone who suggests this gets accused of anti-Semitism.

A couple of years ago when talk show host Diane Rhem interjected a discussion about dual Israeli citizenship into an interview with Senator Bernie Sanders, Rhem was subjected to withering criticism. The ADL, among others, jumped into the fray, accusing Rhem of playing into “classic anti-Semitic charges of dual loyalty,” and the talk show host was forced to issue an apology.

And this kind of thing doesn’t just happen in America. When an official in South Africa proposed a law that would revoke South African citizenship under certain circumstances, one of them being if dual citizens were to serve in the armed forces of the other country, the reaction from South African Jews was about what you’d expect:

South African Jewish community leaders have expressed outrage at an African National Congress (ANC) official’s recent announcement of possible plans to ban dual citizenship.

While Obed Bapela, head of the ANC’s national executive committee’s subcommittee on international relations, has countered that the idea includes anybody with dual citizenship without discrimination, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and South African Zionist Federation have issued a joint communication condemning the move as discriminatory towards Jews.

But dual citizens are banned from serving in the Israeli Knesset and no one seems to get too upset over it.

In my article of a few days ago, I mentioned a Knesset member by the name of Ksenia Svetlova, who is passionately advocating the formation of a Kurdish state. According to a Times of Israel article, Svetlova held dual Israeli-Russian citizenship until 2015, when she was elected to the Knesset, at which time she was forced to formally renounce her Russian citizenship.

“While Israelis may hold dual citizenship, a Basic Law passed in 1958 states that Knesset members cannot pledge allegiance as parliamentarians unless their foreign citizenship has been revoked under the laws of that country,” the article states.

Another Israeli politician, who was elected at the same time as Svetlova is Rachel Azaria, who was also forced to renounce her foreign citizenship–in the US! Again from the Times of Israel :

Azaria, a 38-year-old Jerusalem deputy mayor, renounced her American citizenship, which she had held by virtue of her mother having been born in the US.

It is astounding, is it not? Israel gets billions of dollars per year courtesy of US taxpayers–but anyone holding US citizenship is barred from serving in the Knesset! But we are not allowed to have a similar law here in the US banning Israeli citizens from serving in Congress!

And not only do we not have a similar in the US, but apparently Freedom of Information Act requests aimed at finding out which Congress members do in fact hold dual citizenship–are denied. The following is a 2015 article that was published at Counterpunch.

***

Dual Citizens in Congress?

By L. Michael Hager

Is dual citizenship in the U.S. Congress and administration creating potentially serious conflicts of interest?

My Counterpunch piece of November 12, 2014 described a failed effort to identify members of Congress who hold dual citizenship and to ascertain the second nationality of those members. I mentioned the then outstanding Freedom of Information Act request that I filed with the Congressional Research Service (CRS) last October.

This week I received the information I sought, in the form of a telephone call from a legal officer of the Library of Congress. After reminding me that Congress (and the CRS by its connection with Congress) is exempt from FOIA requests, he verbally confirmed my suspicion that CRS does not currently collect dual citizenship data.

That’s bad news for those of us who believe that citizens should know if their representatives in Congress (and senior government officials and judges, for that matter) owe allegiance to any other nation. For example, when a Senator, a House Member or a high USG official speaks out, submits bills or determines policy on an issue of importance to a second country, shouldn’t constituents (and citizens at large) be able to judge whether there is or is not a conflict (or apparent) conflict of interest?

Without transparency on dual citizenship, Americans remain in the dark, free to speculate on which representatives may have divided loyalties. Current entries on the Internet reveal a wide range of such speculation. The lack of transparency is dangerous, for it erodes trust in government, creating credibility doubts where there should be none and allowing some conflicts to continue undetected, without question or debate.

Thus the first requirement is transparency. We need a government agency (presumably the CRS) or a non-governmental organization to disclose the names and non-U.S. national affiliations of Members of Congress and senior government officials and to track and report on this issue.

Secondly, we need more media attention to the subject of dual citizenship. Senator Ted Cruz and Representative Michelle Bachman both received wide press coverage, when they renounced their Canadian and Swiss nationalities, respectively.

Stanley Fischer, who currently serves as vice chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, became an Israeli citizen in 2005 while retaining his American citizenship. Prior to his appointment to the Fed in 2014, he served for eight years as governor of the Bank of Israel. Although the New York Times article of March 13, 2014 reporting on his then upcoming confirmation hearings, disclosed his dual nationality, it failed to ask the obvious question of why one appointed to such a senior policy position should not be required to renounce his Israeli citizenship. Why has the mainstream media largely ignored the potential conflict of interest inherent in dual citizen Members of Congress and Executive Branch officers?

What about those members and government officials who fail even to disclose their second or more nationalities?  As mentioned in my previous article on this subject, U.S. officials and government officers with Jewish identity may acquire Israeli citizenship without much or any formality under the Israeli Law of Return.  Thus it is possible, if not probable, that some of such officials hold Israeli citizenship.

Beyond the threshold issue of transparency are equally important questions of whether a dual citizen elected to Congress or appointed to a senior USG position should be required to renounce his or her citizenship in the second nation. Even if American law continues to allow the government service of dual citizens, should it not require such persons at least to recuse themselves from participating in decisions or policy debates that relate to their second nationality?

To address these question we need accurate information on who are the dual citizens in our government.  To obtain such data will require a vigorous campaign by interested citizens and NGOs, first to have elected Members disclose any non-U.S. citizenship they hold and second to have the CRS begin to track and report on the presence of dual citizens in Congress and in the higher levels of Government.

Conflicts of interest and apparent conflicts by public officials erode trust in government. Allowing dual citizenship in Congress (and in the Executive and Judicial Branches) to flourish under cover of non-disclosure puts our democracy at risk.

It’s time to bring this issue  into open debate.

 L. Michael Hager is co-founder and former director general of the International Development Law Organization, Rome

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 9 Comments

The Nutball the Neocons Wanted in NATO

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • December 8, 2017

Even interventionists are regretting some of the wars into which they helped plunge the United States in this century.

Among those wars are Afghanistan and Iraq, the longest in our history; Libya, which was left without a stable government; Syria’s civil war, a six-year human rights disaster we helped kick off by arming rebels to overthrow Bashar Assad; and Yemen, where a U.S.-backed Saudi bombing campaign and starvation blockade is causing a humanitarian catastrophe.

Yet, twice this century, the War Party was beaten back when seeking a clash with Putin’s Russia. And the “neo-isolationists” who won those arguments served America well.

What triggered this observation was an item on Page 1 of Wednesday’s New York Times that read in its entirety:

“Mikheil Saakashvili, former president of Georgia, led marchers through Kiev after threatening to jump from a five-story building to evade arrest. Page A4″

Who is Saakashvili? The wunderkind elected in 2004 in Tbilisi after a “Rose Revolution” we backed during George W. Bush’s crusade for global democracy.

During the Beijing Olympics in August 2008, Saakashvili sent his army crashing into the tiny enclave of South Ossetia, which had broken free of Georgia when Georgia broke free of Russia.

In overrunning the enclave, however, Saakashvili’s troops killed Russian peacekeepers. Big mistake. Within 24 hours, Putin’s tanks and troops were pouring through Roki Tunnel, running Saakashvili’s army out of South Ossetia, and occupying parts of Georgia itself.

As defeat loomed for the neocon hero, U.S. foreign policy elites were alive with denunciations of “Russian aggression” and calls to send in the 82nd Airborne, bring Georgia into NATO, and station U.S. forces in the Caucasus.

“We are all Georgians!” thundered John McCain.

Not quite. When an outcry arose against getting into a collision with Russia, Bush, reading the nation right, decided to confine U.S. protests to the nonviolent. A wise call.

And Saakashvili? He held power until 2013, and then saw his party defeated, was charged with corruption, and fled to Ukraine. There, President Boris Poroshenko, beneficiary of the Kiev coup the U.S. had backed in 2014, put him in charge of Odessa, one of the most corrupt provinces in a country rife with corruption.

In 2016, an exasperated Saakashvili quit, charged his patron Poroshenko with corruption, and fled Ukraine. In September, with a band of supporters, he made a forced entry back across the border.

Here is the Times’ Andrew Higgins on his latest antics:

“On Tuesday … Saakashvili, onetime darling of the West, took his high-wire political career to bizarre new heights when he climbed onto the roof of his five-story apartment building in the center of Kiev…

“As … hundreds of supporters gathered below, he shouted insults at Ukraine’s leaders … and threatened to jump if security agents tried to grab him.

“Dragged from the roof after denouncing Mr. Poroshenko as a traitor and a thief, the former Georgian leader was detained but then freed by his supporters, who … blocked a security service van before it could take Mr. Saakashvili to a Kiev detention center and allowed him to escape.

“With a Ukrainian flag draped across his shoulders and a pair of handcuffs still attached to one of his wrists, Mr. Saakashvili then led hundreds of supporters in a march across Kiev toward Parliament. Speaking through a bullhorn he called for ‘peaceful protests’ to remove Mr. Poroshenko from office, just as protests had toppled the former President, Victor F. Yanukovych, in February 2014.”

This reads like a script for a Peter Sellers movie in the ’60s.

Yet this clown was president of Georgia, for whose cause in South Ossetia some in our foreign policy elite thought we should go to the brink of war with Russia.

And there was broad support for bringing Georgia into NATO. This would have given Saakashvili an ability to ignite a confrontation with Russia, which could have forced U.S. intervention.

Consider Ukraine. Three years ago, McCain was declaring, in support of the overthrow of the elected pro-Russian government in Kiev, “We are all Ukrainians now.”

Following that coup, U.S. elites were urging us to confront Putin in Crimea, bring Ukraine, as well as Georgia, into NATO, and send Kiev the lethal weapons needed to defeat Russian-backed rebels in the East.

This could have led straight to a Ukraine-Russia war, precipitated by our sending of U.S. arms.

Do we really want to cede to folks of the temperament of Mikhail Saakashvili an ability to instigate a war with a nuclear-armed Russia, which every Cold War president was resolved to avoid, even if it meant accepting Moscow’s hegemony in Eastern Europe all the way to the Elbe?

Watching Saakashvili losing it in the streets of Kiev like some blitzed college student should cause us to reassess the stability of all these allies to whom we have ceded a capacity to drag us into war.

Alliances, after all, are the transmission belts of war.

Copyright 2017 Creators.com.

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments

State of Fear: How History’s Deadliest Bombing Campaign Created Today’s Crisis in Korea

By Ted Nace | CounterPunch | December 8, 2017

As the world watches with mounting concern the growing tensions and bellicose rhetoric between the United States and North Korea, one of the most remarkable aspects of the situation is the absence of any public acknowledgement of the underlying reason for North Korean fears—or, as termed by United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, “state of paranoia”—namely, the horrific firebombing campaign waged by the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and the unprecedented death toll that resulted from that bombing.

Although the full facts will never be known, the available evidence points toward the conclusion that the firebombing of North Korea’s cities, towns, and villages produced more civilian deaths than any other bombing campaign in history.

Historian Bruce Cumings describes the bombing campaign as “probably one of the worst episodes of unrestrained American violence against another people, but it’s certainly the one that the fewest Americans know about.”

The campaign, carried out from 1950 to 1953, killed 2 million North Koreans, according to General Curtis LeMay, the head of the Strategic Air Command and the organizer of the firebombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities. In 1984, LeMay told the Office of Air Force History that the bombing of North Korea had “killed off 20 percent of the population.”

Other sources cite a somewhat lower number. According to a data set developed by researchers at the Centre for the Study of Civil War (CSCW) and the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO), the “best estimate” of civilian deaths in North Korea is 995,000, with a low estimate of 645,000 and a high estimate of 1.5 million.

Though half of LeMay’s estimate, the CSCW/PRIO estimate of 995,000 deaths still exceeds the civilian death tolls of any other bombing campaign, including the Allied firebombing of German cities in World War II, which claimed as estimated 400,000 to 600,000 lives; the firebombing and nuclear bombing of Japanese cities, which caused an estimated 330,000 to 900,000 deaths; and the bombing of Indochina from 1964 to 1973, which caused an estimated 121,000 to 361,000 deaths overall during Operation Rolling Thunder, Operation Linebacker, and Operation Linebacker II (Vietnam); Operation Menu and Operation Freedom Deal (Cambodia), and Operation Barrel Roll (Laos).

The heavy death toll from the bombing of North Korea is especially notable in view of the relatively modest population of the country: just 9.7 million people in 1950. By comparison, there were 65 million people in Germany and 72 million people in Japan at the end of World War II.

The attacks by the U.S. Air Force against North Korea used the firebombing tactics that had been developed in the World War II bombing of Europe and Japan: explosives to break up buildings, napalm, and other incendiaries to ignite massive fires, and strafing to prevent fire-fighting crews from extinguishing the blazes.

The use of these tactics was not a foregone conclusion. According to United States policies in effect at the onset of the Korean War, firebombing directed at civilian populations was forbidden. A year earlier, in 1949, a series of U.S. Navy admirals had condemned such tactics in testimony before Congressional hearings. During this “Revolt of the Admirals,” the Navy had taken issue with their Air Force colleagues, contending that attacks carried out against civilian populations were counterproductive from a military perspective and violated global moral norms.

Coming at a time when the Nuremberg tribunals had heightened public awareness of war crimes, the criticisms of the Navy admirals found a sympathetic ear in the court of public opinion. Consequently, attacking civilian populations was forbidden as a matter of U.S. policy at the beginning of the Korean War. When Air Force General George E. Stratemeyer requested permission to use the same firebombing methods on five North Korean cities that “brought Japan to its knees,” General Douglas MacArthur denied the request, citing “general policy.”

Five months into the war, with Chinese forces having intervened on the side of North Korea and UN forces in retreat, General MacArthur changed his position, agreeing to General Stratemeyer’s request on November 3, 1950, to burn the North Korean city of Kanggye and several other towns: “Burn it if you so desire. Not only that, Strat, but burn and destroy as a lesson to any other of those towns that you consider of military value to the enemy.” The same evening, MacArthur’s chief of staff told Stratemeyer that the firebombing of Sinuiju had also been approved. In his diary, Stratemeyer summarized the instructions as follows: “Every installation, facility, and village in North Korea now becomes a military and tactical target.” Stratemeyer sent orders to the Fifth Air Force and Bomber Command to “destroy every means of communications and every installation, factory, city, and village.”

While the Air Force was blunt in its own internal communications about the nature of the bombing campaign—including maps showing the exact percentage of each city that had been incinerated—communications to the press described the bombing campaign as one directed solely at “enemy troop concentrations, supply dumps, war plants, and communication lines.”

The orders given to the Fifth Air Force were more clear: “Aircraft under Fifth Air Force control will destroy all other targets including all buildings capable of affording shelter.”

Within less than three weeks of the initial assault on Kanggye, ten cities had been burned, including Ch’osan (85%), Hoeryong (90%), Huich’on (75%), Kanggye (75%), Kointong (90%), Manp’ochin (95%), Namsi (90%), Sakchu (75%), Sinuichu (60%), and Uichu (20%).

On November 17, 1950, General MacArthur told U.S. Ambassador to Korea John J. Muccio, “Unfortunately, this area will be left a desert.” By “this area” MacArthur meant the entire area between “our present positions and the border.”

As the Air Force continued burning cities, it kept careful track of the resulting levels of destruction:

* Anju – 15%
* Chinnampo (Namp’o)- 80%
* Chongju (Chŏngju) – 60%
* Haeju – 75%
* Hamhung (Hamhŭng) – 80%
* Hungnam (Hŭngnam) – 85%
* Hwangju (Hwangju County) – 97%
* Kanggye – 60% (reduced from previous estimate of 75%)
* Kunu-ri (Kunu-dong)- 100%
*Kyomipo (Songnim) – 80%
* Musan – 5%
* Najin (Rashin) – 5%
* Pyongyang – 75%
* Sariwon (Sariwŏn) – 95%
* Sinanju – 100%
* Sinuiju – 50%
* Songjin (Kimchaek) – 50%
* Sunan (Sunan-guyok) – 90%
* Unggi (Sonbong County) – 5%
* Wonsan (Wŏnsan)- 80%

In May 1951, an international fact-finding team stated, “The members, in the whole course of their journey, did not see one town that had not been destroyed, and there were very few undamaged villages.”

On June 25, 1951, General O’Donnell, commander of the Far Eastern Air Force Bomber Command, testified in answer to a question from Senator Stennis (“… North Korea has been virtually destroyed, hasn’t it?):

“Oh, yes; … I would say that the entire, almost the entire Korean Peninsula is just a terrible mess. Everything is destroyed. There is nothing standing worthy of the name … Just before the Chinese came in we were grounded. There were no more targets in Korea.”

In August 1951, war correspondent Tibor Meray stated that he had witnessed “a complete devastation between the Yalu River and the capital.” He said that there were “no more cities in North Korea.” He added, “My impression was that I am traveling on the moon because there was only devastation…. [E]very city was a collection of chimneys.”

Several factors combined to intensify the deadliness of the firebombing attacks. As had been learned in World War II, incendiary attacks could devastate cities with incredible speed: the Royal Air Force’s firebombing attack on Würzburg, Germany, in the closing months of World War II had required only 20 minutes to envelop the city in a firestorm with temperatures estimated at 1500–2000°C.

Another factor contributing to the deadliness of attacks was the severity of North Korea’s winter. In Pyongyang, the average low temperature in January is 8° Fahrenheit. Since the most severe bombing took place in November 1950, those who escaped immediate death by fire were left at risk of death by exposure in the days and months that followed. Survivors created makeshift shelters in canyons, caves, or abandoned cellars. In May 1951 a visiting delegation to the bombed city of Sinuiju from the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF) reported:

“The overwhelming majority of the inhabitants live in dug-outs made of earth supported from salvaged timber. Some of these dug-outs have roofs made of tiles and timber, salvaged from destroyed buildings. Others are living in cellars that remained after the bombardment and still others in thatched tents with the frame-work of destroyed buildings and in huts made of unmortared brick and rubble.”

In Pyongyang, the delegation described a family of five members, including a three-year-old child and an eight-month-old infant, living in an underground space measuring two square meters that could only be entered by crawling through a three-meter tunnel.

A third deadly factor was the extensive use of napalm. Developed at Harvard University in 1942, the sticky, flammable substance was first used in War War II. It became a key weapon during the Korean War, in which 32,557 tons were used, under a logic that historian Bruce Cumings characterized: “They are savages, so that gives us the right to shower napalm on innocents.” Long after the war, Cumings described an encounter with one aging survivor:

“On a street corner stood a man (I think it was a man or a woman with broad shoulders) who had a peculiar purple crust on every visible part of his skin—thick on his hands, thin on his arms, fully covering his entire head and face. He was bald, he had no ears or lips, and his eyes, lacking lids, were a grayish white, with no pupils…. [T]his purplish crust resulted from a drenching with napalm, after which the untreated victim’s body was left to somehow cure itself.”

During armistice talks at the conclusion of the fighting, U.S. commanders had run out of cities and towns to target. In order to place pressure on the negotiations, they now turned the bombers toward Korea’s major dams. As reported in New York Times, the flood from the destruction of one dam “scooped clean” twenty-seven miles of river valley and destroyed thousands of acres of newly planted rice.

In the wake of the firebombing campaigns against Germany and Japan during World War II, a Pentagon research group comprising 1,000 members carried out an exhaustive assessment known as the United States Strategic Bombing Survey. The USSBS released 208 volumes for Europe and 108 volumes for Japan and the Pacific, including casualty counts, interviews with survivors, and economic surveys. These industry-by-industry reports were so detailed that General Motors used the results to successfully sue the U.S. government for $32 million in damages to its German plants.

After the Korean War, no survey of the bombing was done other than the Air Force’s own internal maps showing city-by-city destruction. These maps were kept secret for the next twenty years. By the time the maps were quietly declassified in 1973, America’s interest in the Korean War had long since faded. Only in recent years has the full picture begun to emerge in studies by historians such as Taewoo Kim of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, Conrad Crane of the U.S. Military Academy, and Su-kyoung Hwang of the University of Pennsylvania.

In North Korea, the memory of lives on. According to historian Bruce Cumings, “It was the first thing my guide brought up with me. Cumings writes: “The unhindered machinery of incendiary bombing was visited on the North for three years, yielding a wasteland and a surviving mole people who had learned to love the shelter of caves, mountains, tunnels and redoubts, a subterranean world that became the basis for reconstructing a country and a memento for building a fierce hatred through the ranks of the population.”

To this day, the firebombing of North Korea’s cities, towns, and villages remains virtually unknown to the general public and unacknowledged in media discussions of the crisis, despite the obvious relevance to North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear deterrent. Yet without knowing and confronting these facts, the American public cannot begin to comprehend the fear that lies at the heart of North Korean attitudes and actions.

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

US Views the Balkans As Battlefield to Fight Russia

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 06.12.2017

Otto von Bismarck, the legendary first Chancellor of Germany, scoffed at the notion of intervening in the Balkans. He believed that the region was “not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.” The US appears to hold quite a different view on the matter. With a resurgent Russia on the international stage, it plans to ramp up the attempts aimed at establishing its dominance in the Balkan region.

Moscow is concerned over Washington’s attempts to increase its influence on the politics of the Balkan states and draw them into NATO. Andrey Kelin, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of European Cooperation, said that the US wants to “fully master the Western Balkans, and, after Montenegro, to draw other countries into its orbit too.” According to him, any wave of NATO expansion, especially at a time of poor relations between the bloc and Russia “is an additional factor complicating European security.”

The statement comes after the report entitled ‘Balkans Forward: A New US Strategy for the Region’, was published by the Washington-based Atlantic Council on Nov.28. It warns of increased Russia’s influence, blaming Moscow for “attempts by Russia to capitalize on the region’s lingering pathologies to undermine the European project” and other alleged wrongdoings. The authors claim that Russia is seeking “leverage” by making “as big a mess as possible” in the Balkans region, citing unconfirmed assertions and invented stories as evidence. For instance, the report states that Moscow has been “cultivating a client” in Milorad Dodik, the leader of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska. Russia’s “playing games” in Kosovo is another example. The list can go on. Not a single fact is adduced to support the stories.

The Russia bogie is used as a pretext to justify the calls for a permanent American military presence in the Balkans, a “historic rapprochement” between the US and Serbia, and for the US to regain its reputation as an “honest broker”. The authors believe that establishing a permanent US military presence in the region would “anchor the United States’ ability to influence developments”. Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, which is built on Serbian land without consulting with the government of Serbia, is believed to be ideal for this purpose.

The report does not shy away from advocating outright interference into internal affairs. It singles out Serbia, saying “Belgrade can and should be a close partner and ally in the region, but it can only become one if it begins to meaningfully distance itself from Russia.”

The Atlantic Council is a meeting place for heads of state, military leaders, and international leaders from both sides of the Atlantic. It has great influence on the US foreign policy decision-making process. Some proposals unveiled in the report align with prior calls by US policy hawks, such as Senator John McCain, who in April called for a substantially strengthened US commitment to the region.

Looks like his calls are heard and recommendations are followed. Hoyt Brian Yee, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, will soon take up the post of US Ambassador to Macedonian capital Skopje. “For a long time, the United States is present in the Western Balkans, and we are planning to stay there,” he said at the conference organized by the Atlantic Council in Washington the next day after the report was published.

James Jay Carafano, a Heritage Foundation Vice President, has come up with a plan of his own, offering guidelines to boost US diplomatic, economic and military efforts to drive Russia from the region and make it dominated by the United States. He believes that “The Balkans remain a soft spot in US transatlantic policy. We need to be more proactive there – and sooner rather than later.”

With Montenegro having joint NATO recently, Macedonia appears to be next. The Atlantic Council’s report offers to launch mediation efforts aimed at putting an end the long-standing row between Athens and Skopje over Macedonia name and, thus, unblock Greece’s ongoing objections to the latter’s membership in NATO. The center-left government, which came to power in late May, sees NATO membership as a top priority. The Macedonian people think otherwise. According to a recent poll by the International Republican Institute (IRI), Macedonian support for NATO membership is at its lowest level since 2008.

It all goes to show that the US views the Balkans not as a region with prospects of economic cooperation and partnership on equal terms but rather as a battlefield against Russia. What the United States does is enforcing an openly destructive choice between the West and Russia on the Balkan countries. Such a policy will lead to increased tensions and destabilization on the European continent as well as in the region. The last thing the region needs is US military presence to oppose Russia – the country with strong historic and cultural ties to the Balkan states.

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 5 Comments

Pyongyang seeks direct dialogue with Washington, Moscow ready to help – Lavrov

RT | December 7, 2017

North Korea wants to engage directly with the US to assure its security, Russia’s foreign minister has revealed. Sergey Lavrov said he has briefed US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the developments and that Moscow is ready to “facilitate such talks.”

“We know that, above all, North Korea wants to talk to the US about its own security assurances,” he said in Vienna following his meeting with Tillerson. “Russia is ready to take part in facilitating such talks.” Lavrov and Tillerson spoke on the sidelines of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting.

Lavrov reiterated that all parties involved in the Korean crisis should “break the vicious cycle of confrontation, reckless schemes and sanctions” and engage in meaningful dialogue instead. He also pointed to American military exercises near the Korean Peninsula and Washington’s aggressive rhetoric, which he said only leads to a further escalation of tensions. This is “unacceptable,” Lavrov made clear.

Earlier Thursday, the head of Russia’s Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Konsantin Kosachev, met with North Korea’s Ambassador to Moscow to discuss the situation on the peninsula. Following his exchange with Kim Young Jae, Kosachev said Pyongyang has absolutely no interest in ratcheting tensions, not to mention starting a full-blown military conflict. But, Kim added, Pyongyang “does not fear war” either.

Kosachev said a viable way to resolve the crisis is an all-in dialogue between relevant parties and joint efforts aimed at lowering tensions. “We are absolutely not interested in the escalation of tensions, in any military action,” Kosachev told the Interfax news agency following the meeting. Russia “will do everything it can to prevent this escalation,” he added.

Both Lavrov and Kosachev once again referred to the so-called “double freeze” initiative put forward by Russia and China soon after tensions heightened in early September. The plan envisages the US and its allies stop all major military exercises in the region in exchange for Pyongyang suspending its nuclear and ballistic missile program. The initiative, however, has been spurned by Washington, with the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, denouncing it as “insulting.”

On Wednesday, the North Korean foreign ministry said US military drills near the Korean Peninsula as well as Washington’s belligerent rhetoric make an outbreak of war in the region inevitable. “The remaining question now is, when will the war break out,” the ministry’s spokesperson told the North Korean state news agency KCNA Wednesday.

On Monday, the US launched massive air drills together with South Korea. The five-day exercises, scheduled to last until December 8, involve a total of 12,000 personnel and over 230 military aircraft. Pointedly, the maneuvers particularly simulate attacks on Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile installations while claiming it to be “defensive.”

In late November, North Korea conducted yet another missile test, claiming it had successfully launched a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the US mainland.

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 2 Comments