The US’ ABM sites in Europe and on warships patrolling Russia’s borders are creating the potential for America to launch an overwhelming surprise nuclear strike on Russia, the Russian general staff said.
“The presence of American ABM sites in Europe and ABM-capable ships in the seas and oceans close to Russia’s territory creates a powerful clandestine potential for delivering a surprise nuclear missile strike against Russia,” Viktor Poznikhir, deputy head of operations of the Russian general staff, told a disarmament conference in Geneva.
The Conference on Disarmament being held in Switzerland over five days this week is an international forum focusing on global security and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with the participation of 65 member states.
The US’ global antiballistic missile system is provoking a new arms race, Russia’s top brass has warned, adding that the US system, which includes sites in Alaska, Romania, and Poland, compromises Russia’s nuclear deterrence capabilities.
Russia estimates that by 2020 the US will have as many as 1,000 interceptor missiles at its disposal, which would be a threat to Russia’s missile capacity.
“The presence of the global ABM system lowers the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, because it gives the US the illusion of impunity for using strategic offensive weapons from under the protection of the ABM ‘umbrella,’” Poznikhir said.
“The ABM shield is a symbol of the build-up of rocket forces in the world and a trigger for a new arms race.”
Poznikhir also said that the American system poses a risk to the peaceful use of space by other nations.
He said the US is continuing to develop the system under a pretext of countering a perceived threat from North Korea and Iran, while ignoring Russia’s wider concerns.
The US’ attempt to get an advantage over Russia and China is undermining the global security system, Russia’s top brass said.
Poznikhir rejected the US’ contention that the ABM shield is incapable of intercepting all of Russia’s ICBMs if Moscow fires them en masse, and thus does not undermine its security, noting that the system can already intercept some missiles and would only become more capable in the future.
The US’ continuing development of the ABM shield “narrows down the opportunity for nuclear reduction dialogue,” the Russian official argued.
Nuclear weapons are once again high on the international agenda, and experts note that the risk of a nuclear detonation is the highest since the Cold War.
As global tensions, uncertainty and risks of conflict rise amongst nuclear-armed states, nuclear weapons are treated as sabres to rattle, further heightening the risks of intentional or inadvertent use.
Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created. Both in terms of the scale of the immediate devastation they cause and the threat of a uniquely persistent, pervasive and genetically damaging radioactive fallout, they would cause unacceptable harm to civilians.
But while the nuclear-armed states are implementing policies based on unpredictability, nationalism and weakening of international institutions, the majority of the world’s states are preparing to finally outlaw nuclear weapons.
Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of Hiroshima, described the nuclear bombing as blinding the whole city with its flash, being flattened by a hurricane-like blast, and burned in the 4,000-degree Celsius heat. She said a bright summer morning turned to a dark twilight in seconds with smoke and dust rising from the mushroom cloud, and the dead and injured covering the ground, begging desperately for water, and receiving no medical care at all. The spreading firestorm and the foul stench of burnt flesh filled the air.
A single nuclear bomb detonated over a large city could kill millions of people and cause catastrophic and long-term damage to the environment. The use of tens or hundreds of nuclear bombs would be cataclysmic, severely disrupting the global climate and causing widespread famine.
Strikes of this kind would invariably violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law, yet, these weapons are still not explicitly and universally prohibited under international law. Nine states are known to possess them and many more continue to rely on them through military alliances.
The alarming evidence presented by physicians, physicists, climate scientists, human rights organisations, humanitarian agencies, and survivors of nuclear weapons attacks have been successful in changing the discourse, and opened space for greater engagement from civil society, international organisations, and states.
Because the humanitarian and environmental consequences of using nuclear weapons would be global and catastrophic, eliminating such dangers is the responsibility of all governments in accordance with their obligation to ensure respect for international humanitarian law.
The world is now facing a historic opportunity to prohibit nuclear weapons.
In October last year, a majority of the world’s states at the United Nations General Assembly agreed to start negotiations of a new legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, in line with other treaties that prohibit chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions.
As we’ve seen with these weapons, an international prohibition has created a strong norm against their use and speed up their elimination.
The negotiations will start at the United Nations in New York on 27-31 March, and continue on 15 June-7 July, with the aim of concluding a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.
Amnesty International, Oxfam and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) believe that it is time to negotiate a treaty that would prohibit the use, possession, production and transfer of nuclear weapons, given their indiscriminate nature. No state, including permanent members of the UN Security Council, should possess nuclear weapons.
This is the moment to stand up for international law, multilateralism and international institutions. All governments should seize this opportunity and participate actively in the negotiations of a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons in 2017.
As the Swedish manufacturer Saab experiences growing problems trying to market its Gripen fighter jet, the company is forced to try and woo previously unbeknown markets. This, however, has attracted criticism from peace researchers, who claim the move contradicts Sweden’s long-lasting foreign policy goals.
A group of peace researchers from Uppsala University condemned Saab’s campaigning in Botswana, saying the move was in direct conflict with Sweden’s foreign policy goals. These are peace, human rights and poverty reduction, according to an opinion piece published by the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.
In 2016, a high-ranking Swedish delegation, led by Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, toured Botswana. The subsequent scandal involving ballooning costs diverted Swedes’ attention from more pressing issues, such as Sweden’s plans to market JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets to the African nation. According to peace researchers Johan Brosché, Kristine Höglund and Sebastian van Baalen, the deal is highly controversial, especially given the bribery scandals that followed a similar deal with South Africa.
Firstly, in Botswana, which has long been touted as an African success story in terms of equality, human rights and economic development, democracy has gradually eroded. The country’s government is hardly an eligible partner for Sweden, which is trying to emerge as a champion of human rights on the international arena. Botswana, according to Uppsala University researchers, is clearly heading in an authoritarian direction, with growing surveillance, reduced opportunities for freedom of expression and reprisals against anti-government views.
Secondly, a Saab deal would contradict Sweden’s goal of combating poverty, as Botswana is facing major economic problems. Over a fifth of its population of two million live in absolute poverty and subsist on less than two dollars a day, despite the country’s large diamond resources. The billions to be invested in fighter jets would undermine efforts to curb unemployment, and fight drought and corruption.
Third, the idea of Botswana acquiring a fleet of advanced fighter aircraft may trigger a regional arms race, with Namibia and other neighboring countries to follow suit, with detrimental consequences for everyone but the arms dealers. At present, Botswana is not faced with any direct external threat and it is unclear why huge sums must be invested in the acquisition of advanced fighter jets. Whereas the need to protect the country’s tourism industry, combat poaching and monitor the flow of refugees previously were indicated as reasons, none of these problems can be solved with advanced fighter jets.
The Swedish researchers concluded that the arms deal with Botswana would worsen the economic and democratic development in the country, undermine regional security and mar Sweden’s reputation in Southern Africa.
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft in the same class as Airbus’ Eurofighter Typhoon, the Rafale by Dassault and Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter.
Despite Saab’s ambitious hopes for the Gripen to “dominate the market,” the company’s bids were consequently rejected by Norway, Poland, Denmark and the Netherlands. The Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon are also regarded as favorites in Malaysia, where the government will decide on an aircraft fleet upgrade.
So far, Sweden remains the largest consumer of the Gripen, with an order of 60 new-generation Gripens placed by the Defense Ministry. Saab’s agreement with Brazil on 36 planes worth 40 billion SEK ($4.5bln) remains the company’s largest overseas success. Other Gripen consumers include South Africa and Thailand, while the Czech Republic continues to rent Gripens from Sweden.
The US preemptive nuclear strike capability has significantly grown. The strategic nuclear forces modernization program has implemented new revolutionary technologies to vastly increase the targeting capability of the US submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) arsenal.
The Bulletin of American Scientists reports that as a result of improvements in the killing power of US SLBMs, they carry more than three times the number of warheads needed to destroy the entire fleet of Russian land-based missiles. Since only part of the W76 force would be needed to eliminate Russia’s silo-based ICBMs, the United States will be left with a substantial number of higher-yield warheads that could be used for other missions.
The increase in the lethality comes from the Mk4A «super-fuze» device that since 2009 has been incorporated into the Navy’s W76-1/Mk4A warhead as part of a decade-long life-extension program.
The super-fuze capability is now operational on all nuclear warheads deployed on the Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The new fuze has also been installed on British SLBMs.
It provides for an adjustable height-of-burst as it arrives. The fuze is designed to destroy fixed hard targets by detonating above and around a target in a much more effective way. Warheads that would otherwise overfly a target and land too far away will now, because of the new fuzing system, detonate above the target. Explosions that occur near and above the ground over a target can be lethal to it. This above-target area is known as a «lethal volume»; the detonation of a warhead of appropriate yield in this volume will result in the destruction of the target. The result of this fuzing scheme is a significant increase in the probability that a warhead will explode close enough to destroy the target even though the accuracy of the missile-warhead system has itself not improved. Thus, an enhanced fuze would allow the United States to reduce the number of warheads on its ballistic missile submarines, but increase the targeting effectiveness of the fleet.
It’s worth mentioning that in addition to hundreds of W76-1/Mk4A warheads with a 100kiloton warhead that have a very high probability of destroying fixed silos, Navy submarines also carry the 455kiloton W88 Mk-5 that can destroy extremely hard and deeply buried targets such as military command centers.
According to Hans Kristiansen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, «As a consequence, the US submarine force today is much more capable than it was previously against hardened targets such as Russian ICBM silos. A decade ago, only about 20 percent of US submarine warheads had hard-target kill capability; today they all do».
It should be noted that the US has always enjoyed significant advantage in sea-based nuclear forces. Together, the Ohio-class submarines carry approximately 60% of US strategic nuclear warheads. The Navy has been constantly upgrading its Trident missiles. Additionally, a new submarine, the SSBN(X), which will replace the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, is undergoing development and is expected to cost about $140 billion to develop, according to the Defense Department.
Under the circumstances, Russia has the right to invoke Article VIII of the New START treaty, which provides that in those cases in which one of the Parties determines that its actions may lead to an ambiguous situation, that Party is to take measures to ensure the viability and effectiveness of this Treaty and to enhance confidence, openness, and predictability concerning the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. Such measures may include, among other things, providing information in advance on activities of that Party associated with deployment or increased readiness of strategic offensive arms to preclude the possibility of misinterpretation of its actions by the other Party. This information is to be provided through diplomatic or other channels.
The enhanced capability could be used only against land-based targets, leaving SSBNs immune, at least those who are on patrol. Train-based systems have a good chance to survive and strike back. The super fuze does not eliminate the capability to deliver a retaliatory strike. What really matters is the fact that the US does not view the strategic potential as a deterrent but rather as a means to deliver the first strike reducing the opponent’s capability to respond.
The background also matters. While blaming Russia for starting an arms race, the US beefs up its nuclear potential. The US Air Force is modernizing the Minuteman-III missiles, replacing and upgrading their rocket motors, guidance systems, and other components, so that they can remain in the force through 2030. The service released a new ICBM solicitation last July. It plans to build a new weapons system to replace the long-serving Minuteman under a program called the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD). The US Defense Department plans to buy 642 GBSD missiles for roughly $66.4 million each to support a deployed force of 400 weapons and to budget at least $1.25 billion annually from 2036 to 2040. The goal is to deliver the first batch of new missiles by 2029.
In 2023, the USAF will receive the B61 Mod 12 guided, standoff nuclear gravity bomb to replace all existing gravity bombs in the arsenal. The weapon with earth-penetrating capability and selectable yield from 50 kilotons to 0.3 kilotons, is will be carried by both strategic and tactical stealth aircraft. The planned deployment foresees that others NATO members would use their aircraft as delivery means in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 that forbids non-nuclear states from receiving nuclear weapons.
In the late 2020s and through the 2030s the Air Force will begin receiving the first of 100 new B-21 strategic stealth bombers.
The Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) cruise missile program is to develop a weapon that can penetrate and survive integrated air defense systems and prosecute strategic targets. Both conventional and nuclear versions of the weapon are required to reach initial operational capability (IOC) before the retirement of their respective ALCM versions, around 2030. According to the plans, the LRSO will replace the Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) program with 1,000 to 1,100 cruise missiles, representing the US Air Force’s standoff nuclear delivery capability.
The US implements an ambitious program of putting weapons in space. It includes the concept of «Rods of God» – secret space weapons deployed on orbital kinetic weapon platform that could achieve a velocity of about 11 km/s (around 36,000 feet per second). The ground-based BMD systems, the X-37B spacecraft and Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) platforms could be repurposed into instruments of war in space.
The US goals have been strictly defined. According to White House spokesman Sean Spicer, that the president «was very clear on is that the United States will not yield its supremacy in this area to anybody. That’s what he made very clear in there. And that if other countries have nuclear capabilities, it will always be the United States that has the supremacy and commitment to this».
President Donald Trump is critical toward the New START Treaty, calling it «a one-sided deal. «Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal … We’re going to start making good deals», he stated.
Expanding the US arsenal with new or additional nuclear weapons would cost billions at the time the national debt is nearing $20 trillion, while the New START allows the United States to keep enough nuclear weapons to destroy the planet several times over. Without the New START and other arms control agreements, like the INF Treaty, the US America will be compelled to waste enormous military and financial resources on nuclear arms race.
The US is doing its best to gain supremacy in nuclear weapons. This policy may lead to total disintegration of the existing framework of treaties and regimes followed by resumption of arms race with dire consequences for the US itself.
With all the efforts on the way, there is little doubt about the Russia’s ability to survive the first nuclear strike and respond on kind.
Without violating the New START, the upgrade of the W76 warheads undermines future efforts to negotiate a New START treaty.
As history teaches, an arms race will never make anybody victorious. Nobody gains, everybody loses. It took a series of risky crises, like the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and several cycles of an extremely costly arms race to realize how dangerous the nuclear threat is. The history of arms control reveals the wisdom of Soviet (Russian) and US leaders finding ways to cap their arsenals even in the heat of the Cold War. Now all the efforts applied in the past may go down the drain as the US is going back to the once tried policy of seeking nuclear dominance. Now it starts again at the time the whole system of arms control is on the brink of collapse. The tide must be turned. Nuclear arms control treaties should have become a top priority of the bilateral relationship.
US Senator John McCain said on Friday that the world desperately needs the US and Europe to unite once more to preserve globalism.
The current chairman of the armed services committee in the US Senate said that Washington should restore cooperation with the EU — long one of America’s “most important alliances.”
The remarks came at the Brussels Forum, a conference organized by the transatlantic think tank German Marshall Fund. The globalist ideologue, who once was a presidential candidate for the Republican Party, has once again put himself in direct opposition to President Trump by saying that it is essential for the allies to develop more connectivity and cooperation.
“I trust the EU,” he said, elaborating that EU and NATO were “the best two sums in history” and have maintained global peace for the last 70 years.
“We need to rely on NATO and have a NATO that adjusts to new challenges.”
Earlier in January the new US President Donald Trump complimented the UK on its “smart” decision to withdraw from the EU and dubbed NATO an “obsolete” coalition.
McCain said he supported Trump’s calls on Europe to increase defense spending for NATO, but added that Americans should “also appreciate the fact that over 1,000 young [European] people have given their lives in Afghanistan or Iraq.”
“I don’t know what price tag you put on that,” he said. “That’s quite a contribution I would say, if you ask their mothers.”
McCain hesitated to prejudge Trump’s presidency based on his first months in office but said that he should fill intelligence gaps and address what the Senator believes was Russia’s attempts to influence the outcome of the US election in November.
McCain also accused Russia of trying to influence approaching elections in France and Germany, and the president of Russia Vladimir Putin in particular in trying to restore the Russian empire, despite providing no evidence for those allegations.
The influential Science Council of Japan (SCJ) adopted a statement rejecting research at civilian institutions for military purposes. It comes in response to government investment in dual-use technologies.
The SCJ, which was created in 1949 as an independent body representing academia, warned Japanese universities and research institutions against participating in military-related research, the Japan Times reported. In a statement adopted by the council’s executive body on Friday, it said taking grants from the defense ministry would compromise scientific independence.
It comes after 10 months of deliberation by a 15-member committee, which was formed in May 2016 to consider whether the long-held opposition to military research should be overturned. The SCJ previously rejected military research in 1950, and again in 1967.
The policy statement carries no legal force, but the council’s opinion carries great weigh in Japanese scientific circles and the government.
The council was called to revise its policy, after Japan’s Defense Ministry boosted its funding of research into dual-use technologies, which can have both civilian and military applications. The funding almost doubled for 2017 to $96 million, compared to the previous year, according to The Asahi Shimbun.
The decision to reject military research came earlier in March. At the meeting on Friday, the council’s board debated on whether to adopt the statement directly or submit it to the SCJ General Assembly, which is to convene next month. The executives chose the former.
Japanese academia remains reluctant to deal with military technologies for historical reasons. Imperial Japan rounded up scientists to participate in the war effort during World War II.
US and European interests continue to portray the government and nation of North Korea as a perpetual security threat to both Asia and the world. Allegations regarding the nation’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs are continuously used as justification for not only a continuous US military presence on the Korean Peninsula, but as justification for a wider continued presence across all of Asia-Pacific.
In reality, what is portrayed as an irrational and provocative posture by the North Korean government, is in fact driven by a very overt, and genuinely provocative posture by the United States and its allies within the South Korean government.
During this year’s Foal Eagle joint US-South Korean military exercises, US-European and South Korean media sources intentionally made mention of preparations for a “decapitation” strike on North Korea. Such an operation would be intended to quickly eliminate North Korean military and civilian leadership to utterly paralyze the state and any possible response to what would most certainly be the subsequent invasion, occupation and subjugation of North Korea.
The Business Insider in an article titled, “SEAL Team 6 is reportedly training for a decapitation strike against North Korea’s Kim regime,” would report:
The annual Foal Eagle military drills between the US and South Korea will include some heavy hitters this year — the Navy SEAL team that took out Osama bin Laden, Army Special Forces, and F-35s — South Korea’s Joon Gang Daily reports.
South Korean news outlets report that the SEALs, who will join the exercise for the first time, will simulate a “decapitation attack,” or a strike to remove North Korea’s leadership.
To introduce an element of plausible deniability to South Korean reports, the article would continue by stating:
Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross later told Business Insider that the US military “does not train for decapitation missions” of any kind.
Yet this is a categorically false statement. Throughout the entirety of the Cold War, US policymakers, military planners and operational preparations focused almost solely on devising methods of “decapitating” the Soviet Union’s political and military leadership.
In more recent years, policy papers and the wars inspired by them have lead to documented instances of attempted “decapitation” operations, including the 2011 US-NATO assault on Libya in which the government of Muammar Qaddafi was targeted by airstrikes aimed at crippling the Libyan state and assassinating both members of the Qaddafi family as well as members of the then ruling government.
Similar operations were aimed at Iraq earlier during the 2003 invasion and occupation by US-led forces.
Regarding North Korea more specifically, entire policy papers have been produced by prominent US policy think tanks including the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) devising plans to decimate North Korea’s military and civilian leadership, invade and occupy the nation and confound North Korea’s capacity to resist what would inevitably be its integration with its southern neighbor.
A 2009 report titled, “Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea,” lays out policy recommendations regarding regime change in North Korea. It states in its description:
The authors consider the challenges that these scenarios would pose–ranging from securing Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal to providing humanitarian assistance–and analyze the interests of the United States and others. They then provide recommendations for U.S. policy. In particular, they urge Washington to bolster its contingency planning and capabilities in cooperation with South Korea, Japan, and others, and to build a dialogue with China that could address each side’s concerns.
Preparations for these documented plans which include provisions for invasion, occupation and the eventual integration of North Korea with South Korea have been ongoing for years with the most recent Foal Eagle exercises being merely their latest, and most blatant manifestation.
The aforementioned Business Insider article would also report:
Yet a decapitation force would fit with a March 1 Wall Street Journal report that the White House is considering military action against the Kim regime.
The SEALs boarded the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and should arrive in South Korea on Wednesday, Joon Gang Daily reports.
South Korea has also made efforts toward a decapitation force, and international calls for action have increased in intensity after North Korea’s latest missile test, which simulated a saturation attack to defeat US and allied missile defenses.
While US-European and South Korean media platforms continue claiming such preparations are being made in reaction to North Korean military programs, careful analysis of North Korea and South Korea’s respective economic and military power reveal immense disparity and North Korea’s military capabilities as solely defensive with any first strike against its neighbors almost certainly leading to retaliation and the nation’s destruction.
North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and its expanding ballistic missile capabilities serve then only to raise the costs of any first strike carried out against it by US and South Korean forces. Claims that preparations by US and South Korean forces to carry out these first strikes are in response to North Korean provocations mirror similar political deceit that surrounded and clouded debate and analysis regarding US aggression in North Africa and the Middle East over the past two decades.
Ultimately, regardless of what political leaders in Washington or Seoul claim, the historical track record of the United States and its allies speaks for itself. Its annual military exercises and its adversarial approach to negotiations and relations with North Korea serve only to further drive tensions on both the peninsula and across the wider Asia-Pacific region.
For the United States, the perpetuation of instability helps justify its otherwise unjustifiable presence in a region literally an ocean away from its own borders. And while Washington cites “North Korean” weapons as a pretext for its continued presence in South Korea, its decades-spanning policy of encircling and attempting to contain neighboring China serves as its actual purpose for remaining involved in Korea’s affairs.
Provocative policies coupled with equally provocative military preparations including these most recent exercises openly aimed at North Korea’s leadership, guarantee continued instability and thus continued justification for a US presence in the region.
Washington’s careful cultivation of tensions on the peninsula serve as just one of many intentionally engineered and perpetuated conflicts across the region. Knowing well that nations targeted by US subversion and provocations will make preparations to defend against them, and possessing the media platforms to portray these preparations as “provocations” in and of themselves, the US has persuaded entire swaths of both its own population and those in regions inflicted by instability it itself drives, that Washington alone possesses the ability to contain such instability with its continued, extraterritorial presence.
In reality, the true solution for establishing peace and prosperity in these inflicted regions is for the US to simply withdraw.
At least 1,350 American, British and Romanian soldiers have been sent to Poland from a base in Germany. US commanders said that the troops were ready “to deter Russian aggressive actions.”
The US, British and Romanian soldiers left the Rose Barracks military base in Vilseck, western Germany, for Poland where they are expected take part in NATO’s mission. The troops are “fully prepared to deter Russian offensive actions,” US Colonel Patrick Ellis said at the departure ceremony on Saturday.
“As a result of Russia’s aggressive actions and in light of the changing and evolving security environment, at the Warsaw summit in July 2016 NATO members agreed to strengthen our deterrence and defensive posture,” US Major General Timothy P. McGuire said.
The NATO group is to be stationed in the town of Orzysz, 220 kilometers northeast of the capital, Warsaw, according to Reuters.
NATO troops in Estonia
Also on Saturday, NATO’s heavy armored vehicles of the French armed forces were delivered to Estonia, according to a video published by the General Staff of the Estonian Defense Forces.
France’s heavy armored vehicles include Leclerc tanks and VBCI infantry fighting vehicles, as well as dozens of VAB armored vehicles, a spokesman of the 1st Infantry Brigade said, according to the Kuulutaja newspaper.
The UK is to deliver Challenger 2, Titan and Trojan tanks to Estonia as well as self-propelled artillery mounts AS90, Warrior infantry fighting vehicles and reconnaissance drones, he added.
The battalion will be stationed in the military town of Tapa and will interact with the first infantry brigade of the Estonian Defense Forces.
The alignment of forces in Estonia is planned to finish in early April. By that time, Estonia is to host 800 soldiers from the UK and around 300 soldiers from France. The French group is to spend some eight months in the Baltic country. After that, Danish soldiers are expected to replace them.
NATO leaders agreed to deploy four multinational battalions to Poland as well as Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia on July 8 at the summit in Warsaw.
Russia has repeatedly criticized NATO’s military buildup along its borders, seen as a threat to national security.
In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed NATO for provoking a conflict with Moscow and using its “newly-declared official mission to deter Russia” as a pretext.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that “NATO’s expansion has led to an unprecedented level of tension over the last 30 years in Europe.”
Moscow has condemned the new US ground-based missile defense system in Eastern Europe and increased presence of NATO vessels in the Black Sea.
An appeal landed in my mailbox yesterday from I suppose the editors of Mother Jones or their marketing machine in conjunction with an outfit called Citizens United. The letter blares across the page something that can only be of interest to people suffering from a bizarre sense of priority, abysmal ignorance or clinical stupidity:
Donald Trump just SLANDERED President Obama!
The implication is that we should urgently do something about this. Aux armes! Further, in what we must accept as a compelling supporting rationale for action, the authors of the appeal, proving they do come from Lalaland, offer this laughable argument:
… Donald Trump is wrong!!! President Obama has always been on our side. He’s been fighting to overturn Citizens United since Day One.
With equal breathless dishonesty, the letter has the audacity to talk about defending “Obama’s legacy”, a supposedly sterling body of work apparently about to be wrecked by the horrid Trumpinator.
By the standards of silliness this marks a new low; by the standards of left thinking, such as it is practiced in the US, it confirms the irrelevancy of this “new”, thoroughly bourgeois identity politics “left” to the problems really threatening humanity. By the standards of honesty, well, it does not qualify in that category, but let’s just say it is yet another contorted effort at bashing Trump. Which would be alright—considering the man offers any serious critic a multitude of valid grounds on which to oppose him— if these guardians of political correctness and truth also looked homeward for many of the curses besetting the nation.
The fact that these liberal champions refuse to recognize the horrid, smoothly hypocritical track record of the Democrats (their darling Obama and the abjectly corrupt Clintons, in particular), and their favorite party’s drive to war, in lockstep with their new pals, the CIA and the resilient Neocon vermin, a posture which now almost guarantees some sort of nuclear confrontation with Russia or China in the near horizon (with unthinkable consequences for this planet as we know it lest we quickly correct course), says all you need to know about the degeneracy of the so-called left in the United States and in the West, in general.
The traditional “left” in the US (always basically a bunch of centrist liberals since the radical left was reduced to ashes by unrelenting campaigns of anticommunism endorsed by the very same liberals) is so wanting these days in essential morality that now even voices that just a few years ago would have been categorized as unqualifiedly on the Right—and therefore by the left’s own reckoning “on the wrong side of history”, are about the only ones saying and doing things that are desperately needed.
Like opposing imperialist wars, for example. Do you see any of the legendary voices on the mainstream “left” uttering a single word of opposition to the dishonest campaign to demonize Russia? Instead, they are busily criminalizing any kind of contact with Russian diplomats or politicians that could lead to a de-escalation of tensions. So, nope. They are not there. Quite the opposite. Which leaves us as I say with the likes of Ron and Rand Paul and other libertarians, or the new French right champion, ultranationalist Marine Le Pen (already in the CIA crosshairs), doing wittingly or unwittingly what the left should be doing.
Incidentally, Le Pen’s banishment from polite society is predicated on her opposition to the EU’s slavish attachment to Washington’s push to war with Russia, and her impatience with NATO. I suppose that were France’s WW2 iconic hero Gen. Charles de Gaulle alive, he too would be promptly consigned to the netherworld of political undesirables since, as a recalcitrant nationalist and one suspicious of Anglo-American intrigues and treacheries, he held almost exactly the same views as Le Pen. This all by itself shows how much the world has changed.
The question arises: Has humanity —with the help of the lying, escapist mainstream media — really forgotten how to use its imagination? Sure, capitalism with its endless economic-insecurity distractions and malignantly convoluted superficial politics does consume a great deal of a person’s psychic space. This certainly stunts the imagination, especially in a culture that boasts a long history of proud anti-intellectualism. But still.
Not too long ago, when some sanity and probity still held sway and when the collapse of liberaloid values was not yet total, most people in these formations clearly understood that the first and foremost duty of a progressive was to avoid wars at all costs, particularly a terminal, horrid war between the nuclear superpowers. This was and is the ultimate sin, the ultimate obscenity. Besides being the most elementary proof of common sense. Avoiding the Doomsday scenario was seen as imperative. People openly pushing for such confrontational policies would have lost much if not all political traction and even the presstitutes would have filed some demurring comment. Some on the liberal left might have even risen to denounce such dangerous warmongering.
This was the basic consensus for generations, ever since atomic weapons came to occupy center stage in world politics.
Even the ever supremacist, devious, and savagely capitalist United States agreed with its nemesis, the Soviet Union, to lower the threat of an Armageddon by signing treaties of weapons parity and reduction in nuclear arsenals, thereby at least assuring a balance of terror: the aptly labeled Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), a concept promulgated and observed even by reactionaries like Ronald Reagan. Apparently it worked.
The importance of this glimmer of sanity in the engulfing madness cannot be overestimated. But the dark forces never give up and in the intervening years the Anglo-American establishment quietly retired the MAD principle, reinstating the far more dangerous and de-stabilzing “first strike” principle. Meanwhile, nuclear weapons have become even more potent, and there’s now almost open acknowledgement by the Pentagon that DU (depleted uranium) munitions, warheads and other forms of “tactical nukes” are standard choices for field commanders. The Middle East, of course, has been the testing lab, with Iraq, Syria and other victim nations subjected to what many suspect is an international crime of truly horrifying and unprecedented dimensions.
The problem with the development and use of tactical nuclear weapons in the modern battlefield (besides the abject cowardly criminality involved in using such weapons against weaker nations) is that when used by a superpower on another superpower’s troops or “prime assets”, things can get rapidly out of control. A shooting war is no moment for cool heads to prevail, especially in utterly brainwashed and self-righteous chauvinist nations like America, where the public has been systematically denied access to truth in these essential matters. In America, for most people, the first realization that a war had begun would be a huge flash and thunder and then—well nothing. Utter pulverization. In other words, for most Americans the final war and their own death sentences would come as total surprise.
In Russia at least the public is well aware of where the world stands, and some, many I hazard, perfectly understand the context and support their leaders’ struggles to maintain the peace. That said, if attacked by the US and the rest of the NATO mafia, Russia will not back down. It will respond with devastating efficiency. After all, last time Russia was attacked it lost 27 million lives, the equivalent in those days of the whole population of New York, California and Texas combined. This is something the American mind, still obsessed with less than 3,000 casualties on 9/11, can’t begin to wrap its jingoist mind around. So there will not be a repetition of Barbarossa no matter how much the despicable, overwhelmingly Zionist US Neocons push and huff to make it happen. Prominent, highly respectable Russians residing in the US, filed a letter of warning to the American people. The media naturally chose to ignore the document entirely.
The Russians’ warning packed a sobering sentence. It should be obligatory reading:
If there is going to be a war with Russia, then the United States will most certainly be destroyed, and most of us will end up dead. (1)
The dream of nuclear supremacy, the longed for “pre-emptive strike”, the ability to deal Russia a disabling blow, with a “tolerable” level of retaliation, say only 50 to 75 million dead in the US, is talked about seriously in high military policy precincts. The submerged crime that such a war would be provoked and waged to secure not US national security but decisive advantage for its ruling class of billionaires and associated cliques of privileged rulers around the world, is never discussed. How could it? This truly insane posture has also been official Pentagon policy since at least 2006 when some people began to believe the US had attained nuclear supremacy over Russia and China. A paper filed in 2006 by two analysts with Foreign Affairs, a blue-ribbon establishment think tank, summed up the situation rather nicely:
For almost half a century, the world’s most powerful nuclear states have been locked in a military stalemate known as mutual assured destruction (MAD). By the early 1960s, the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union had grown so large and sophisticated that neither country could entirely destroy the other’s retaliatory force by launching first, even with a surprise attack. Starting a nuclear war was therefore tantamount to committing suicide.
During the Cold War, many scholars and policy analysts believed that MAD made the world relatively stable and peaceful because it induced great caution in international politics, discouraged the use of nuclear threats to resolve disputes, and generally restrained the superpowers’ behavior. (Revealingly, the last intense nuclear standoff, the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, occurred at the dawn of the era of MAD.) Because of the nuclear stalemate, the optimists argued, the era of intentional great-power wars had ended. Critics of MAD, however, argued that it prevented not great-power war but the rolling back of the power and influence of a dangerously expansionist and totalitarian Soviet Union. From that perspective, MAD prolonged the life of an evil empire.
This debate may now seem like ancient history, but it is actually more relevant than ever — because the age of MAD is nearing an end. Today, for the first time in almost 50 years, the United States stands on the verge of attaining nuclear primacy. It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike. This dramatic shift in the nuclear balance of power stems from a series of improvements in the United States’ nuclear systems, the precipitous decline of Russia’s arsenal, and the glacial pace of modernization of China’s nuclear forces. Unless Washington’s policies change or Moscow and Beijing take steps to increase the size and readiness of their forces, Russia and China — and the rest of the world — will live in the shadow of U.S. nuclear primacy for many years to come.
One’s views on the implications of this change will depend on one’s theoretical perspective. Hawks, who believe that the United States is a benevolent force in the world, will welcome the new nuclear era because they trust that U.S. dominance in both conventional and nuclear weapons will help deter aggression by other countries. For example, as U.S. nuclear primacy grows, China’s leaders may act more cautiously on issues such as Taiwan, realizing that their vulnerable nuclear forces will not deter U.S. intervention — and that Chinese nuclear threats could invite a U.S. strike on Beijing’s arsenal. But doves, who oppose using nuclear threats to coerce other states and fear an emboldened and unconstrained United States, will worry. Nuclear primacy might lure Washington into more aggressive behavior, they argue, especially when combined with U.S. dominance in so many other dimensions of national power.
Finally, a third group — owls, who worry about the possibility of inadvertent conflict — will fret that U.S. nuclear primacy could prompt other nuclear powers to adopt strategic postures, such as by giving control of nuclear weapons to lower-level commanders, that would make an unauthorized nuclear strike more likely — thereby creating what strategic theorists call “crisis instability.”
Goes without saying that enormous, obscene sums are being dedicated by the US to achieve this “nuclear supremacy”, all, as previously stated, under an almost complete news blackout about the subject. Problem is, the Russians and the Chinese are not exactly pikers, and Russia’s nothing short of astonishing rebirth as a first class world power, its Phoenix-like re-emergence from the Western-inspired Yeltsin putrefaction, has created new realities to factor in. Western leadership, of course, we see from their actions, continues to ignore them. And yet, as even some Western news sources have indicated, the Russian nuclear defence/deterrent force is something that should compel attention and respect. Ponder:
Russia Unveils RS-28 Sarmat ‘Satan 2’ Nuclear Missile
Russia has declassified the first image of its new thermonuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile.
The RS-28 Sarmat could carry a payload capable of wiping out a landmass “the size of Texas or France,” according to a report by the Kremlin-aligned Sputnik news agency.
Known colloquially as “Satan 2,” the missile will replace the RS-36M — which was dubbed “Satan” by NATO after entering service in the 1970s.
Satan 2 missile: Good bye to all that. Just one can wipe out all of Texas or France. An image of an RS-28 Sarmat missile. Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau.
Robert Kelley, a former nuclear weapons expert at the U.S. Department of Energy, said the new missile was likely an upgrade of electronics — rather than explosive power or range.
“The range of the missiles will be about the same, the explosive destructive power will be about the same [but] the reliability, flexibility and confidence [in the warheads’ ability to hit their targets] will go way up,” said Kelley, who is now a now a distinguished associate fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
He added: “Your iPhone can do thousands of more things today than in the 1970s when these systems were first deployed. Many of the clunky electronic circuits of that era no longer exist and no one knows how to make them anymore.”
According to Russian media, the missile’s first stage engine PDU-99 was tested in August, while a hypersonic warhead was reportedly tested in April.
The new version of the Sarmat is expected to enter service late in 2017.
(Source: NBC News)
That means that just two of these “Satans” could wipe out the whole US Eastern Seaboard for the next 50,000 years. What do you call a leadership that consciously and recklessly plays with such diabolical weapons of mass destruction? That constantly taunts and provokes the population of a nuclear-armed nation that wishes no conflict with anyone but which has suffered terribly in recent wars?
Silence and misdirection
The whore media will not talk about these things—things that really matter— because the US ruling class thinks that it can win a nuclear clash with Russia, and that the sooner this is resolved, the better. The thousands of prostituted “strategic analysts” crawling all over the so-called “defence establishment” of the West, the people who furnish the MIC with its excuses and raison d’etre, believe this posture is “rational”, well, their careers and livelihoods depend on that.
The current situation means that a huge war can now occur by choice—following Washington’s unquenchable desire for hegemony— or by a concatenation of absurd grotesque increments, as the Great War of 1914 demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. This folly which buried a whole generation and destroyed 40 million lives, as documented by historians such as Barbara Tuchman, showed that humanity can indeed bumble its way, inch by inch, into a horrid conflagration. And politicians in 1914 Europe, multiple defects aside, were towering statesmen when compared to the sociopathic dwarves, cowards, and drooling fools running the show these days on both sides of the Atlantic.
This is the backdrop against which we measure the ludicrous sense of priority exhibited by the editors of Mother Jones, their cohorts in the rest of the liberal media, and their millions of low-info, desperately confused followers, as they feed off of these inflammatory messages about Trumpian sins.
MJ wants Trump’s scalp for daring to imply that the saintly Obama wiretapped his phones. But, is Trump so far from the truth in this case? Apparently, to the alarm of his innumerable critics, all zealous guardians of the warmongering imperial status quo, this is a broken clock that manages to tell the right time more than twice a day. Too often for their comfort. Accordingly, and quite possibly dishonestly given the IQ prevailing in this segment, this crowd remains tediously and recklessly fixated on the admittedly ugly idiosyncrasies defining Trump and his regime as if the US had never seen a repulsive chief of state before, well, not so overtly, that is. More than that, they are tilting at windmills. Donald Trump for all his bluster caved in to the Deep State with the firing of Michael Flynn, and these days, stylistic questions aside, he is simply more of the same criminality at the helm of the empire and no longer represents a real neofascist threat, as continually proclaimed.
The only real and credible neofascist threat to the people of the United States and the world at large can now emanate exclusively from the unified councils of the US ruling plutocracy, acting through their favorite tool, the mendacious duopoly, and the power ministries (CIA, FBI, NSA, Pentagon agencies, etc.) operating with the usual support of the whore media (including so-called alternative media such as Mother Jones, which provide a “left” imprimatur to these undemocratic proceedings). In other words, the US will go into full overt fascist mode when the deep state deems it necessary and not a moment sooner, Trump or no Trump in the equation.
Glen Ford, for one, refuses to be swept into the anti-Trumpian frenzy on the basis of stupid or fabricated reasons. Declares the editor of Black Agenda Report, dismissing the charge that Trump is in this case offering just one more of his famous “alternative facts”:
The ruling class/War Party/corporate media campaign for regime change in Washington has moments of pure silliness, with grown men claiming that U.S. presidents don’t have the power to wiretap people. Someone should have informed Dr. Martin Luther King. But, if self-described “progressives” can believe that the CIA is a benign, democratic institution, they can believe anything. “The destabilization of the U.S. bourgeois state is a project, not of the Kremlin, but of multinational and finance capital headquartered in the U.S.” (Corporate Media Counting Cadence to Fascism, BAR )
Facile observers like to compare Trump to Hitler and Mussolini, but those two, despite their criminality, perhaps insanity in the former, at least had the ability in their prime to thread coherent thoughts and even weave a complete ideology. Hitler and Mussolini took pride in writing their own speeches, in an age without teleprompters. They both read voraciously, and even wrote books, without the aid of a corral of ghost writers, not to mention professional spin doctors. Hitler, no chicken hawk, fought with valor in WW1 and entertained dreams of artistic distinction. That Mein Kampf, besides its ugly message, is basically unreadable due to pervasive incoherence and shall we say, “philosophical overreach”, is nonetheless an accomplishment that the Donald could only dream of. What’s more, both Mussolini and der Fuhrer faced at the beginning of their careers a real left, something that Trump has never seen in his entire minuscule tenure. Because a real left has not existed in the United Sates for generations.
Still, by shilling for the Democrats and the imperialist Duopoly, Mother Jones, along with the rest of the bankrupt “liberal intelligentsia”, has become a joke, even if millions of low-info liberals, sold on the largely manufactured anti-Trump hysteria, continue to cheer.
As said many times on these pages and articulated by numerous authors, this is NOT to excuse, defend or endorse Trump, except in those moments when the man, regrettably in a rather incompetent and opportunistic fashion, happened to make noises toward peace and non-intervention in the world. Such worthy ideas —perhaps the difference between life and death for this planet, or at the very least untold suffering for many millions of human beings around the globe—have now been betrayed by Trump himself, or abandoned or neutralized in large part as a result of the machinations of the deep state and their allies in what used to be the left in America.
Should we now kneel and pray on the altar of St. Obama?
Patrice Greanville is founding editor of The Greanville Post.
American troops will apparently remain in Iraq even when the fight against Islamic State has ended, according to Pentagon officials, including US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who said that keeping soldiers on the ground is in America’s “national interest.”
The US Defense Department’s top officials expressed their desire to keep US troops in Iraq at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Wednesday.
Mattis made it clear that US involvement will not end when Mosul is finally captured from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
“I believe it’s in our national interest that we keep Iraqi security forces in a position to keep our mutual enemies on their back foot,” he said, as quoted by the Military Times.
The defense secretary went on to say that he does not “see any reason to pull out again and face the same lesson,” adding that the US “needs to remain decisively engaged in Iraq and in the region.”
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. agreed with Mattis, stating that Iraqi security forces will need US support “for years to come.”
The comments come as the brutal battle continues for Mosul, the self-proclaimed capital of IS in Iraq.
Around 400,000 civilians are stuck in Mosul’s old city, which is currently held by IS militants. They are facing food and electricity shortages, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees believing the “worst is yet to come.”
US involvement in the military campaign against IS is approaching its third anniversary, evolving from airstrikes in the summer of 2014 to the eventual deployment of around 6,000 ground troops across Iraq and Syria, whom Washington mostly calls “advisors.”
During a Tuesday meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, US President Donald Trump himself said that American troops should have remained in Iraq.
“Certainly, we shouldn’t have left. We should never ever have left,” Trump said as quoted by Newsweek, noting that the withdrawal was followed by chaos.
But Abadi appears to have another plan in mind, stating last week that the international military presence in Iraq should be reduced once IS militants are defeated.
“As we are crushing Daesh [Arabic pejorative term for IS], it is clear that there is a need to reduce the number of our allies who are helping us,” he told Middle East Eye.
Around half a million people died in Iraq from war-related causes during the US-led intervention between 2003 and mid-2011, according to a study published in 2013. That figure was around four times bigger than previous estimates.
A separate 2013 study found that the Iraq War cost $1.7 trillion, with an additional $490 billion owed to war veterans, noting that the expenses could grow to around $4 trillion over the next four decades, counting interest.
Earlier this week, Abadi reportedly said that rebuilding Mosul and the reconstruction of Anbar province could cost up to $50 billion in the coming years.
Mattis acknowledged a financial need for re-building, but stressed that the US will not be solely responsible for the bill.
“It’s going to be an international effort, it should not be carried fully by the American taxpayer,” he said on Wednesday. “But we should certainly be part of it.”
Israel is likely to try to retain the existing status quo in Syria since it has benefited from the ongoing conflict in the war-torn neighboring nation, political analyst Sergei Balmasov asserted, saying that Tel Aviv’s combat missions are not aimed at President Bashar al-Assad, but are rather meant to prevent the crisis from being resolved.
“Israel is deeply interested in the ongoing standoff between the Sunnis and the Shia. Tel Aviv wants them to continue killing each other. Nothing presents a threat to Israel as long as this war is ongoing. The Israeli Air Force launches airstrikes against Shia militias in Syria, tipping the balance. This evens out the chances and the war drags on,” he told RT.
Balmasov, an expert at the Middle East Institute at the Russian International Affairs Council, also suggested that Israel could use a border incident to move its forces into southern Syria.
“One could not rule out that Israel does not deploy its troops to the southern buffer zone which borders the Golan Heights to create a territorial entity on the basis of Druze settlements using some kind of an incident as a pretext,” he said.
Israel has largely refrained from taking an active part in the devastating Syrian conflict, but has occasionally sent its warplanes to launch airstrikes on Hezbollah in a bid to eliminate its leaders and destroy its weapons. Several such missions are reported to have taken place in recent days in what marks the most serious incident between Tel Aviv and Damascus since the 2011 foreign-sponsored insurgency in Syria morphed into a large-scale war.
It started on Friday, with the Israeli Air Force launching airstrikes on several Hezbollah targets near the Syrian city of Palmyra, close to an area where Russian experts have been engaged in demining efforts following the successful campaign to push Daesh out of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The operation prompted the Syrian Arab Army to launch three anti-aircraft missiles at the departing Israeli planes, with Israel’s Arrow missile defense system intercepting one of the projectiles.
The incident sparked a war of words among high-ranking officials on both sides. On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman pledged that Tel Aviv would destroy all Syrian air defense systems “without thinking twice” should a similar situation occur in the future. Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Tel Aviv would continue to carry out airstrikes on convoys suspected of transferring advanced weapons to Hezbollah.President Bashar al-Assad reiterated that it was Damascus’ right and duty to defend Syrian borders.
“Why has Israel squared off against the Syrian Arab Army? Israel views the SAA’s links to Hezbollah as unacceptable. Tel Aviv is concerned that the group could become stronger,” Irina Zvyagelskaya, a senior research fellow at the Center for Arab and Islamic Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies, told RT.
Israel considers Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization and views the Lebanon-based Shia movement, one of Assad’s key allies in Damascus’s war against Daesh, to be one of the top security threats.