Since September 2001, the Pentagon has listed $40 billion worth of contracts for small arms intended for Afghanistan and Iraq, supplying 1.45 million guns to both countries while only accounting for 3 percent of them, says a new report by a British NGO.
The London-based nonprofit Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) pored over 14 years’ worth of contracts issued by the US Department of Defense, documenting the purchases of small arms – defined as anything under 30mm in caliber – ammunition and attachments, such as sniper scopes or tripods. They found a massive amount of weapons supplied by the US to the primary theaters of the “War on Terror,” and remarkably little accounting of whose hands they ended up in.
“Our findings raise concerns about the DOD’s own transparency and accountability when it comes to issuing contracts,” Iain Overton, AOAV’s director of investigations, said when announcing the report’s publication Wednesday.
Not only has the Pentagon’s contract database listed only 3 percent of the approximately 1.45 million small arms sent to Iraq and Afghanistan over the years, “we also know the US government has acknowledged they don’t know where many of these weapons now are,” Overton added.
A team of AOAV researchers spent almost a year looking into every contract published by the Pentagon between September 11, 2001 and September 10, 2015, said the organization, whose mission is “research and advocacy in order to reduce the incidence and impact of global armed violence.”
What they found was just over $40 billion of solicitations for small arms, ammunition and attachments, with just under $20 billion actually paid out to contractors. Of the 412 published contracts, 137 – or 33 percent – contained errors and discrepancies.
Ten companies accounted for 65 percent of the total published contract values, the researchers found. The top five contractors were Alliant Techsystems – now split into OrbitalATK and Vista Outdoor – DRS Technologies, BAE Systems Inc., Knight’s Armament Co, and General Dynamics. The largest single contract was for the modernization of Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri, worth up to $8.48 billion.
Some 949,582 small arms were sent to Iraq, and another 503,328 to Afghanistan, amounting to 1,452,910 assault and sniper rifles, pistols, machine guns and other unspecified firearms. Yet the Department of Defense contract publications listed only 19,602 of these weapons, just over 1 percent of the total. When AOAV pressed for verification, the DOD provided itemized lists for 719,474 weapons provided through June 2016.
The numbers “tell the story of two wars that did not go as pitched,” veteran military correspondent CJ Chivers wrote in the New York Times Magazine, commenting on AOAV’s findings.
The retired Marine and author of The Gun also filled in a piece of the puzzle the researchers missed by not counting the grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons provided by the Pentagon.
“The data offer no insight into a startlingly risky aspect of the Pentagon’s arming of local forces with infantry arms: the wide distribution of anti-armor weapons, including RPG-7s,” Chivers wrote.
After the first few weeks of each war, the only armor on either battlefield was either American or allied, “which made the Pentagon’s practice of providing anti-armor weapons to Afghan and Iraqi security forces puzzling,” Chivers wrote. “Why would they need anti-armor weapons when they had no armor to fight? All the while rockets were somehow mysteriously being fired at American convoys and patrols in each war.”
American weapon manufacturers have made bigger contributions to the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a major turnaround after years of backing the Republican ticket.
According to a report by Politico released on Wednesday, Clinton has received more donations from high-ranking employees of giant Pentagon contractors like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, outperforming her GOP rival Donald Trump by a 5-to-1 ratio.
According to filings with the Federal Election Committee, Trump’s campaign has banked nearly $55,000 in contributions from executives of the 25 major defense contractors, compared to $273,000 given to Clinton.
This marks a significant break from the years-old habit of supporting the Republican candidate. In fact, the arms industry has teamed with Republican congressional and presidential candidates in eight of the past 10 election cycles.
In the 2012 election cycle, for example, then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney received far more support from military contractors, compared to President Barack Obama.
Analysts attribute the change to Trump’s stance on national security, including his criticism of NATO and other military allies.
The real estate mogul said in late July that if he is elected president, the US would only aid the allies who have “fulfilled their obligations to us.”
The New York businessman has also blasted military contractors for the way they influence government spending.
Clinton, however, made a reputation for having good relations with military contractors during her run in the US Senate, where she served on the Armed Services Committee.
“I’ve worked with Republicans and Democrats of all stripes over the years, and it’s the first time I’ve seen one who scares the hell out of me if he were to become president,” said Linda Hudson, who once headed the US branch of British arms provider BAE Systems, which is the Pentagon’s eighth largest contractor.
One Republican defense lobbyist told Politico that the arms manufacturing “community is just much more comfortable with Clinton.”
“With Hillary Clinton we have some sense of where she would go, and with Trump we have none,” the lobbyist said. “He knows nothing about the system.”
The US has pitted the Syrian Kurds against Damascus-led forces in the northeastern city of Hasakah in a bid not to lose regional influence should Turkey, Russia and Iran create an alliance to resolve the Syrian conflict, analyst and journalist Hüsnü Mahalli told Sputnik, adding that recent clashes are part of the West’s “geopolitical games.”
“Up until now Russia and Iran have helped to maintain cordial relations between the Syrian Kurds from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Damascus. The PYD made a mistake when it opted to cooperate with the US,” he said.
Kurdish militias, assisted by the US, have been trying to push radical groups, including Daesh and al-Nusra Front from northern Syria and secure the porous border with Turkey. At the same time, the Kurds have established a de-facto autonomy in the areas under their control.
Mahalli emphasized that any efforts on the part of the PYD and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to create an independent state will be a mistake that could not be undone.
“The Americans have repeatedly said that they have a Plan B for Syria. Perhaps, this is what they meant. I’m afraid that the US has decided to drag the Kurds into a large-scale bloodbath,” he added.
The standoff in Hasakah was sparked last week when the Kurdish forces tried to take the entire city under control, violating the ceasefire regime. The Kurds are reported to have captured large parts of government-held areas in Hasaka on Tuesday. The same day the YPG and Damascus-led forces agreed to halt fighting. The ceasefire came into force at 11:00 GMT.
The political analyst maintained that these events are part of a larger US plan for the region. “If the West is serious about its large-scale geopolitical games – and judging from what is happening in Hasakah, it is – then the situation is disturbing,” he said.
The clashes between the Kurdish militias and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) took place at a time when a major stakeholder, Turkey, made a U-turn in its foreign policy.
Turkey recently improved relations with Russia and Iran. The two countries were swift in providing support to the Turkish authorities when a group of military officers tried to overthrow the government on July 15 despite the fact that they were on the opposing sides of the Syrian conflict. Ankara sponsored radical groups trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, while Moscow and Tehran have tried to prevent Islamist from destroying the Arab country.
Turkish authorities are currently intent on repairing relations with Damascus.
The regional balance of power, according to Mahalli, will alter even further if the three nations decide to join their efforts to bring an end to the five years of violence in Syria. This will lead to what the analyst described as Washington’s “inevitable weakening.”
Mahalli further said that Turkey has found itself in the hot water. On the one hand, approximately 15-20 million Kurds live in Turkey. On the other hand, Ankara has become the target of Islamist terrorism even though the country supported radical groups fighting in Syria.
“The only right choice Turkey could make is to admit its mistakes and act decisively to overcome the deadlock. The Turkish leadership needs to act decisively. Should it wait for the outcome of the presidential election in the US, the implications could be hard to predict. My main concern is that Turkey will ultimately be shattered,” he noted.
The Clinton Foundation needs to return every dollar it received in foreign donations, the Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus said in a Twitter message on Tuesday.
“All of the Clinton Foundation foreign money should never have been accepted and needs to be returned today,” Priebus stated.
The RNC chairman also said he supported Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate the Clinton Foundation.
The Foundation has come under severe scrutiny for donations it accepted from foreign governments and entities during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as US secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
The State Department said last week it was not aware of any actions taken by Hillary Clinton that were influenced by the Clinton Foundation.
Clinton stepped down from the Foundation’s board in April 2015 when she decided to run for US president.
In May 2015, former US President Bill Clinton said the non-profit foundation previously accepted between $10 and $25 million from Saudi Arabia, but now only accepts donations from six western countries: Australia, Canada, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
Last week, the Clinton campaign noted the charity would stop accepting corporate and foreign donations if Hillary Clinton is elected president in November.
The British government has dismissed concerns about selling arms to Saudi Arabia amid accusations that it misled the parliament over the case.
On Tuesday, a British government spokeswoman defended the recent weapon sales to Riyadh, saying the Saudis have stuck to conditions set by the United Kingdom.
She also noted that London is ensuring Riyadh is not breaking humanitarian laws by bombing civilian targets.
“The UK Government takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world,” the spokeswoman said.
“The Government is satisfied that extant licenses for Saudi Arabia are compliant with the UK’s export licensing criteria,” she added.
The dismissal came in response to a statement by charity group Oxfam, which accused the UK government of being in a state of “denial and disarray” over its continued sales of weapons to the kingdom.
Penny Lawrence, deputy chief executive of Oxfam GB, said Britain was “flagrantly” ignoring its own arms control rules as well as international treaties.
“UK arms and military support are fueling a brutal war in Yemen, harming the very people the Arms Trade Treaty is designed to protect,” she said.
“Schools, hospitals and homes have been bombed in contravention of the rules of war. The UK Government is in denial and disarray over its arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign in Yemen,” Lawrence added.
“It has misled its own parliament about its oversight of arms sales and its international credibility is in jeopardy as it commits to action on paper but does the opposite in reality.”
Oxfam has launched a public appeal calling on the government to stop the war on Yemen.
The UK, the second-largest exporter of weapons in the world, approved licenses for the sale of $11.2 billion in armaments last year, but its licensing export regime is under acute scrutiny amid fears British weaponry, including cluster bombs, is being routinely used in Yemen.
According to sources, London supplied export licenses for close to £3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia last year. The British government has also been accused of being involved in guiding the Saudi military aggression in Yemen.
Since the beginning of the Saudi war against Yemen in March of last year, nearly 10,000 people, including over 2,000 children, have been killed.
Meanwhile, the regimes that have made major arms purchases from the UK since last year include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and Burundi.
In 2014, Britain only licensed $248 million worth of arm sales. The massive surge in the arms sales in 2015 is largely attributable to sales of weapons to the Saudi kingdom.
The largest export license granted was worth $2.48 billion of fighter jets agreed in May 2015. Additionally, the UK approved the export of $1.45 billion of air-to-air missiles to the Saudi regime in July 2015.
In September, it further approved the sale of $90.5 million worth of bombs to Riyadh. All three sales took place after the Saudi’s brutal bombing campaign of Yemen began in March 2015, prompting concerns that civilian buildings have been targeted in widespread human rights violations.
In 2015, the British government also approved licenses of $123 million in sales of military equipment to Egypt, despite concerns over the country’s repressive policies since the July 2013 coup that ousted the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi.
“This is a clear case of the government saying one thing and doing another, and exposes the blatant doublespeak and hypocrisy that lies at the heart of UK foreign policy,” said Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), which compiled the export sales figures.
By Brandon Turbeville – Activist Post – August 22, 2016
As tension between the West and Russia over the Syrian crisis heats up yet again, a combination effort on the part of elements within the United States and the UK are pushing for direct military confrontation with the Syrian military as well as the Russians. Indeed, after a period of time suggesting a major improvement on the ground, it appears that there is now the possibility of renewed vigor on the part of the imperialist Western powers in their goal to destroy Syria, even at the cost of igniting World War 3.
After having violated international law and Syria’s national sovereignty by not only funding and supporting proxy soldiers for the purpose of destroying the secular government of Bashar al-Assad but also by deploying aircraft and troops in the country despite not being invited in by the legitimate government, the U.S. is now warning Russia and Syria against targeting terrorists and Western proxy fighters within Syria’s own territory.
The new U.S. Commander of American troops in Iraq and Syria stated on August 22 that he will “defend” the Special Operations Forces aggressively deployed by the United States to Northern Syria if Syrian warplanes or Syrian artillery again strike areas where U.S. troops are located.
During an interview with CNN, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend stated from his headquarters in Baghdad that “We’ve informed the Russians where we’re at … (they) tell us they’ve informed the Syrians, and I’d just say that we will defend ourselves if we feel threatened.”
The hypocrisy and deception of the United States government on this issue has now reached a staggering level. An accurate translation of what Townsend is saying is that “We have funded proxy terrorists to destroy the Syrian government. Those terrorists started losing so we deployed troops to support them and forge new brigades of terrorism with Kurds. Despite the fact that we deployed these troops against international law, violated Syria’s national sovereignty, as well as the wishes of the majority of the world, we will play the victim if those troops are injured during the course of Syria’s battle with the terrorists we support. We will then attack Syrian planes as a response to attacking terrorists whom our soldiers are assisting in attacking the Syrian government.” In other words, the U.S. position is that “We will attack you whenever we want, however we want, and everyone and everything else in the world be damned. And if you dare respond, we will play the victim, drum up sympathy and good ‘ol fashioned ‘Murican patriotism back home so that we can launch a full-scale war upon your country.”
Essentially, Syria is being threatened with full scale war if it defends itself and a death of a thousand cuts if it does not. This is an epic level of hypocrisy even for the U.S. government but the most surprising element is that it can be carried out so openly. Perhaps Western audiences are now so utterly befuddled as to foreign policy that such overt acts of deception and aggression simply go unnoticed.
Enter the British. Never known to take a backseat in hypocrisy, thirty Labour MP’s are now calling for a “safe zone” in Syria, an obvious and admitted act of war that would initiate the creation of Libya 2.0. The pro-war camp is fully playing up the “spirit of Jo Cox,” the celebrated humanitarian bomber and warmonger who was murdered earlier this year. The campaign to create “safe zones” and “buffer zones” in Syria is being promoted not only by the war hawks in parliament but also by “friends” of Cox and the UK military establishment.
“In life, Jo argued with such passion and eloquence that the UK armed forces could play a role in protecting civilians in Syria by enforcing a ‘no bomb’ zone,” said John Woodstock, friend of Cox. “This is a time for Britain to show the courage and resolve which Jo herself exemplified by taking bolder action to end the horrific bloodshed.”
Translation: a warmongering MP was murdered so let’s pretend to honor her by ensuring that the people she wanted to murder while she was still alive are murdered now that she is dead.
This may be poor logic and poor presentation but, unfortunately, this type of propaganda is effective in the modern day UK.
The former Shadow Minister, Pat McFadden chimed in as well. “The British contribution to attacking Isis strongholds – in which our pilots do everything they can to avoid civilian casualties – is an important part of the effort to free the people of Syria from the brutality of what they have been enduring. The whole approach to Syria has been marked by a reluctance to intervene but telling ourselves that because we didn’t break it we didn’t buy it is of little comfort to the innocent victims of the war.”
Translation: We have been bombing intermittently for some time and that is good but we should just go all in, to hell with civilian casualties and to hell with international law. In fact, to hell with our own population who will pay the price in blood and sacrifice as well as lower living standards back home.
The UK military voice is chiming in as well. As Col. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said:
There is a military solution here and now is the time to be bold. We aren’t talking about boots on the ground, the very least we can do is place no bomb zones around hospitals. As the Russian government have strenuously denied that they target hospitals there should, in theory, be little danger of the nightmare scenario of a British or US jet shooting down a Russian one.
I have suggested creating a Safe Zone for civilians to go to in North West Syria and protect it otherwise they will remain and die in Aleppo or leave and turn right to Raqqa, where we could see them turn to ISIL. The very least we can do is place no bomb zones around hospitals.
Translation: We have to destroy the Syrian government. I think we can do this without starting thermonuclear World War 3 but it’s just a chance we will have to take. Let’s create a “safe zone” that is, in effect, a refuge for terrorists and an excuse to bomb the Syrian Air Force out of existence. We can use hospitals and civilians as excuses. And if that nuclear world war happens, we will know we made the wrong decision.
According to the Telegraph, sources close to Hillary Clinton have stated that Killary is planning on a “safe zone” approach upon her coronation, er, election.
The idea of establishing a “safe zone” in Syria is, of course, not a new concept. In July, 2015, the agreement being discussed would have effectively created a “buffer zone” that would have spanned from the Turkish border line into Syria. It would have extended from Azaz in the East to Jarablus in the West and as far south as al-Bab. The width of the zone would have been about 68 miles and would have extended around 40 miles deep into Syria, right on the doorstep of Aleppo.
The zone would have much smaller than that which Turkey and the United States have been calling for in the years prior and wouldn’t have necessarily stretched the length of the Turkey-Syria border. But it is a start.
True to form, the US and Turkey attempted to obfuscate the fact that their agreement was the creation of a no-fly zone by renaming it an “ISIL-free zone.” This is the same tactic used when the term “no-fly zone” and “buffer zone” began to draw too much ire from observers only a year ago. Then, the term became “safe zone.”
Semantics have served NATO and the United States well over the years. After all, a simple name change of terrorist organizations has made the Anglo-American powers able to produce “moderate rebels” and the most frightening terrorist organization the world has ever seen while using the same group of terrorists.
The description of the “ISIL-free zone” of 2015 was that it would be a distinguished area in which the Turkish and U.S. military would engage in aggressive operations against ISIS. It was floated that this area would have also functioned as a place where civilians displaced by the Syrian crisis may run to for safe haven and where “moderate rebel” forces can maintain a higher presence free from the battles with ISIS.
“Once the area is cleared, the plan is to give control to as-yet-unidentified moderate Syrian rebel groups. The United States and Turkey have differing interpretations as to which groups can be defined as ‘moderate,’” the Washington Post reported.
The reality, however, is that the “ISIL-free zone” would have been nothing more than a Forward Operating Base deeper into Syrian territory, working under the direct protection of the U.S. military and Turkish air force. That is exactly what the British and the U.S. are arguing for today.
Going further back, public discussion of the implementation of a “buffer zone” began as far back as 2012 when the Brookings Institution, in their memo “Assessing Options For Regime Change” stated
An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.
The Brookings Institution went further, however, describing a possible scenario that mirrors the one currently unfolding in Syria where Turkey, in coordination with Israel, could help overthrow Assad by establishing a “multi-front war” on Syria’s borders. Brookings writes,
In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.
Of course, the establishment of a “No-Fly Zone” is tantamount to a declaration of war. Such has even been admitted by top U.S. Generals when explaining exactly what a No Fly Zone would entail. As General Carter Ham stated,
We should make no bones about it. It first entails killing a lot of people and destroying the Syrian air defenses and those people who are manning those systems. And then it entails destroying the Syrian air force, preferably on the ground, in the air if necessary. This is a violent combat action that results in lots of casualties and increased risk to our own personnel.
General Philip Breedlove also echoed this description when he said,
I know it sounds stark, but what I always tell people when they talk to me about a no-fly zone is . . . it’s basically to start a war with that country because you are going to have to go in and kinetically take out their air defense capability
Regardless of the fact that the Anglo-American empire may very well be risking a direct military confrontation with another nuclear power, the NATO forces are intent on moving forward in their attempt to destroy Syria and its government. The major victories by the Syrian military that have taken place in recent weeks as well as the inability of the West’s terrorists to roll back SAA gains have obviously convinced NATO that more drastic measures are needed and that proxies are simply not enough to defeat a committed military supported by its people.
For a national oligarchy intent on “warning” other countries against defending themselves, we encourage the United States establishment to begin paying attention to warning signs themselves.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President.
Reading through a recent interview with former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, it becomes clear that his world is one in which US foreign policy has only ever made us all safer and the biggest risk we now face is diminished US power.
The entire premise of his argument throughout the interview is that if the US steps back from playing global policeman, the “bad guys” will win. Simple as that.
The interview, which focuses on Donald Trump, opens with a question about Trump’s views regarding the NATO alliance and how the candidate sees the US’s role in the world. Rasmussen immediately declares he is “not taking sides” in the US election, but his attempt at neutrality goes swiftly out the window moments later when he complains that Trump is undermining “the credibility of the United States” and putting at stake America’s “role as the global superpower”. If Trump were to be elected, he laments, that could usher in “the end of the American-led world order”.
This would be very bad, he says, because if NATO is undermined by a Trump victory, then Vladimir Putin would “open a bottle of champagne” and be “tempted to test” the alliance. This assumes that Putin has simply been waiting in the wings for the 16 years that he has held positions of power for Donald Trump to come along so that he can invade Estonia for no reason. Because Rasmussen doesn’t give us a reason and we’re not supposed to ask. We’re just supposed to assume invading the Baltics is on Putin’s to-do list.
So, keeping with his policy of “not taking sides” Rasmussen then argues that Hillary Clinton would be “more determined to defend” the country’s NATO allies than Trump would. When asked whether eastern European nations are worried about Trump’s take-it-or-leave-it approach to NATO’s Article 5 (principle of collective defense) Rasmussen says they are indeed very concerned, particularly following “Russian aggression” against Ukraine. So concerned in fact, that only five of the 28 alliance members have reached the 2 percent of GDP benchmark that NATO requires. Now, this is either because they aren’t really as terrified of Russia as they claim, or that they’re simply taking the US for a ride — in which case, Trump might actually have a point about getting them to cough up before putting American lives in harm’s way to defend them.
It’s hybrid warfare, stupid!
Next up, Rasmussen is asked whether the threat environment for NATO has changed and how the alliance is dealing with the changes. Rasmussen here employs one of my favorite terms: “hybrid warfare”. It’s not just conventional warfare (tanks rolling across borders etc.) that eastern European nations need to be aware of, he says. It’s a whole load of other stuff, too. Like what? Well, sophisticated “disinformation campaigns” for one thing.
But the great thing about “hybrid warfare” is that when you use the term, you don’t really need to explain what you mean. Even NATO itself published an article about the fact that it can mean everything and nothing at the same time. Pretty nifty, right?
Moving on to Crimea, another victim of hybrid warfare. Trump isn’t too bothered by the fact that Crimea was annexed by/invaded by/reunited with Russia in 2014. That’s Europe’s business, he has said — and it shouldn’t prevent Washington and Moscow from getting along and working together on common threats like international terrorism. You don’t have to be a Trump fan to see the common sense in this, but it’s another no-no for Rasmussen.
Trump also hasn’t been so gung-ho about sending weapons to Ukraine. This is very scary and “disturbing” Rasmussen says, because if the US doesn’t support the government in Kiev, the West “risks losing a democratic Ukraine”.
Democracy and world peace
So, how is “democratic Ukraine” doing, then? Well, a few months ago The Guardian published an op-ed arguing that Ukraine was at risk of becoming not a democracy, but a “failed state”. Since the country’s democratic “revolution” in 2013, living standards have plummeted, as has the value of the country’s currency — and the government, ideologically driven to sever all ties with Russia, has pursued economic policies that “can only be termed suicidal”. But the solution is obviously to send them some new weapons. Regardless of whether you believe Russia has acted aggressively in Ukraine or not, this kind of thinking is simply delusional.
Next Rasmussen is asked about Trump’s “America first” campaign slogan, which he also doesn’t happen to like (surprise!). Using the term “America first” for an American presidential election is “out of touch” he says. How so? Well, of course it comes back to America’s role in the world again. You can’t use the term “America first” when you’re supposed to be “the world’s leader”. I swear, I’m not making this up.
After World War 2, Rasmussen tells us, the US established a “rules-based world order” and it has “served us very well” because “freedom has flourished” and we’ve seen “world peace”. All of this freedom and world peace (really?!) is now at stake… because of Donald Trump (are you sensing the “not taking sides” thing?). Anyway, I could list all of the occasions on which the US decided to flout its own “rules-based” order, but that would take too long.
If the US “retreats and retrenches” now, it will create a power vacuum that will be filled by “the bad guy,” Rasmussen warns. He doesn’t tell us who the bad guy is this time; he’s just there, malevolently waiting for Trump’s election. Trump needs to understand that the US has “special obligations” to “maintain world order” and “promote peace”. Not only this, but it’s the “only power on earth” with such a “destiny”.
Barack Obama has also been a disappointment to Rasmussen. He has been “too reluctant” to use American force around the world. Obama and Trump are proponents of a “less interventionist” movement in the world and this simply won’t do.
By the end, Rasmussen had lavished so much praise on the United States and its role and “destiny” in the world that I had forgotten he was not an American himself, but a Dane. The real kicker was when he dramatically pleaded with the next president: “We need a global policeman, and that policeman should be the United States. We don’t have any other.”
Could he really be so profoundly in awe of Washington and its power, or is this waxing lyrical about American destiny simply, as one writer put it, “the practiced gambit of a con man, who knows flattery is the surest means to success” ?
Decide for yourself.
Donald Trump has appointed at least two neocons to his foreign policy group.
First, let’s consider Joseph E. Schmitz. He is a former Inspector General of the Department of Defense and a former executive with Blackwater Worldwide. He fled the Pentagon after he was accused of protecting top Bush officials accused of wrongdoing.
Blackwater, now Academi, the military contractor founded by Eric Prince, played a substantial role during the Iraq War. It is infamous for killing seventeen Iraqi citizens in 2007, the same year the corporation was accused of illegally smuggling weapons into the country. Blackwater did not like being investigated for its misdeeds. In 2007, Blackwater Manager Daniel Carroll threatened to kill Jean Richter, a State Department Investigator.
Schmitz is connected to the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a think tank formed by Frank Gaffney, a neocon so radical he was rejected by the Pentagon when he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy in the Reagan Administration. He is associated with other neocons, including Richard Perle, who rose to prominence as aides of the late Democrat Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson.
The Center for Security Policy, described by William Arkin as the “Domino’s Pizza of the policy business,” claims there is a “stealth jihad” underway in America and Muslims plan to install sharia law. Former CIA director and staunch neocon James Woolsey coauthored a report for the center claiming sharia law is a major threat to the United States.
After CSP sent a letter to the State Department Inspector General accusing Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin of working undercover for the Muslim Brotherhood, a number of Republicans, including John McCain, John Boehner, and Marco Rubio, denounced the group.
Trump and former Republican member of the House, Michele Bachmann, often cited CSP propaganda.
Trump’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” was in part inspired by the results of a CSP poll. The poll said 25% of Muslims queried supported violent jihad and more than half favored sharia law. The methodology and accuracy of the poll is suspect. Philip Bump of The Washington Post said the poll’s structure encouraged Muslims to select the options endorsing violence.
On Friday The Canary reported Schmitz worked with a Saudi prince to illegally provide arms to the jihadists in Syria. “Schmitz was in direct contact with then Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Gen. Salim Idris. Schmitz hoped his deal with Gen. Idris would be a first step toward potential future assistance from Blackwater founder Erik Prince himself,” writes Brad Hoff.
Idris, a former Syrian Army commander, was appointed to lead a Salafist dominated military command in 2012. “The unified command includes many with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Salafists, who follow a puritanical interpretation of Islam. It excludes the most senior officers who had defected from Assad’s military,” Reuters reported.
Its composition, estimated to be two-thirds from the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, reflects the growing strength of Islamist fighters on the ground and resembles that of the civilian opposition leadership coalition created under Western and Arab auspices in Qatar…
“Idris and [Col. Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi] were the very men that Joseph Schmitz stood ready to arm through a mysterious Saudi middle man before the whole private venture was reportedly shut down by a CIA official who intervened in Amman, Jordan,” writes Hoff.
Trump has a second fringe neocon in his circle of confidants—Walid Phares.
Phares is associated with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neocon organization that teamed up with the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute to propagandize (and lie) America into invading Iraq.
In 2011, Phares became one of several neocon advisors to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. Other advisers included Eliot Cohen, Robert Kagan, Michael Chertoff, Eric Edelman, John Lehman, Dan Senor, Vin Weber, and Paula Dobriansky.
Phares, a Christian Maronite of Lebanese origin, was associated with the Lebanese Forces in the 1980s.
In the 1970s the Lebanese Forces were part the Kataeb Party, also known as the Lebanese Phalanges Party. Its militia killed 3,500 Palestinians at the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut in 1982 during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Elie Hobeika, a prominent figure in the Phalanges, served as the Lebanese Forces intelligence chief and liaison officer with Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.
Many of Donald Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements are contradictory. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has demonstrated her willingness to do the bidding of the neocons in Libya and Syria. She has not vacillated in her commitment to total war. More than a few neocons, most notably Max Boot, have said they will vote her.
The danger for America “is not Trump, but Hillary Clinton,” writes John Pilger. “She is no maverick. She embodies the resilience and violence of a system whose vaunted ‘exceptionalism’ is totalitarian with an occasional liberal face.”
Trump may indeed rollback the aggressive military posture of the United States, as promised, then again, considering his coterie of foreign policy advisers and his penchant for flip-flopping, he may continue to engage in foreign interventionism, albeit with his signature flair.
Meryl Streep must be a very intelligent woman to be such a good actress. So it was embarrassing to see her dressed in an American flag playing cheer leader for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic Convention. One must suppose that she is too busy studying for all her varied movie roles to have learned much about the sinister nature of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy. She proclaimed that President Hillary Clinton would be “making history” simply by being a woman. That means symbolic history. The fact that President Hillary Clinton is more likely to make real history by starting another war even more disastrous than those she has already helped get us into seems not to have occurred to Meryl Streep.
Nor does it occur to millions of other American women who share the same illusion.
Those women are thinking too much in terms of symbols and images. They are ignoring the major issue facing the United States: whether to make peace or war. They don’t worry that the imminent conflict with the other major nuclear power, Russia, might affect themselves, their families, the world and the future. They feel that they will somehow personally benefit from the election of a woman to the U.S. Presidency.
The feminist idea behind this illusion is that by becoming President, Hillary will be “shattering the glass ceilings” – the invisible obstacles – that prevent women from rising to the top. Women everywhere will benefit – just as American blacks all benefited from the election of Barack Obama. Oops, wait a minute, did they really? What about the growing black prison population, or the unarmed blacks shot dead in the street by policemen? Never mind, it made many blacks feel good to have a black President, which is understandable given American history. But in concrete terms, it did nothing for the black population as a whole.
Women seek the same feel-good experience. They believe it will be provided by Hillary Clinton when she shatters the glass ceiling – “for you”, as Hillary likes to say.
But wait a minute. If it’s glass, you can’t see it, and to what extent is it really there? What about Christine Lagarde, the French woman who currently heads the International Monetary Fund? What about the fact that the current German Chancellor, the current British Prime Minister, the foreign minister of the European Union, and Meryl Streep herself have all pursued successful careers to the top?
Madeleine Albright, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Loretta Lynch, Michele Flournoy do not seem to be standing in heaps of shattered glass. They have floated to the top with no more opposition than your average ambitious man – and perhaps with less.
In reality, hasn’t the “glass ceiling” preventing women from pursuing successful careers already been shattered, precisely by the current neoliberal world order which favors promoting women and token members of various ethnic groups? Isn’t it part of the strategy of neoliberalism to prove that modern capitalism enables the best to rise to the top, a circumstance that should win the adherence of all “identity groups” – whose self-identification has largely succeeded in wiping the old concept of class consciousness out of people’s minds? Isn’t this a main cause that is being promoted by George Soros’s Open Society Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy all over the world (more about that in another article)? Doesn’t it help win public support for U.S. wars to have women in the front lines, proclaiming their devotion to “human rights”?
For most women, as for most blacks, when wages are low, their wages are low. When good housing or education is too expensive for most people, it’s too expensive for women. When spending for war ruins the economy, it’s their economy too.
The plain fact is that the successful careers of these ceiling breakers do nothing for the majority of women who are nowhere near any ceiling that needs to be broken.
It isn’t Hillary who is changing the system. Rather, it is the change in the system that promotes Hillary.
Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
In July 2016, while swearing in 105 Polish soldiers being promoted to the rank of podporucznik (roughly equivalent to the rank of second lieutenant and a junior officer rank of the Polish Army), the Minister of National Defence for Poland, Antoni Macierewicz, announced Warsaw’s military plans for the near future:
– to increase the number of Polish troops from 100,000 to 150,000 by 2017;
– to set up 17 brigades, one in each of Poland’s 16 provinces and two in Mazovia Province (where Warsaw is situated);
– to urgently deploy new brigades in the provinces of Podlaskie, Podkarpackie and Lubelskie and four battalions in Białystok (on the border with Belarus), Lublin and Rzeszów (both on the border with Ukraine), and Siedlce (90 kilometres from Warsaw); and
– to set up territorial defence forces consisting of 35,000 volunteers, or 164 units, to assist the army.
The territorial defence forces will be the fifth branch of the Polish Armed Forces (after the Land Forces, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Special Forces).
Antoni Macierewicz said that an army of 150,000 is the minimum required for cooperation between Poland and its allies «in the event of a real threat to our independence». And in order to justify this militaristic itch to the Polish people, the defence minister added: «This threat is real and it is coming from the Russian government».
It is impossible to deny the achievements of the Polish authorities in whipping up war hysteria in the country, of course, but their role is ultimately secondary. The root cause should be sought in the work of leading Western think tanks.
The authors of a report published in July (2016) by the European Council on Foreign Relations entitled «An unpredictable Russia: the impact on Poland» are trying to make the Polish people believe that the risk posed by Russia is comparable with the threat of terrorism to Europe (!), that «Central and eastern Europe represents the testing ground for Vladimir Putin’s project to create a new world order». And this statement is presented as an axiom.
On 11 August, an article was published on the BBC’s website under the headline «The Polish paramilitaries preparing for war» which states that nearly 100,000 people have now joined paramilitary organisations in Poland and others are learning how to survive a possible invasion. US National Guard units will serve as the prototype for the territorial defence forces, which are to be an integral part of the Polish Armed Forces, and US instructors are involved in their training and indoctrination.
On 19 July 2016, the Atlantic Council presented a 25-page report entitled «Arming for deterrence. How Poland and NATO should counter a resurgent Russia», which is a kind of postscript to the alliance’s summit in July. Calling for a large-scale military build-up in NATO’s zone of responsibility, the report suggests that Poland should be regarded as a front-line bastion in a war with Russia.
Half of the report deals with recommendations to the Polish government regarding the militarisation of the country, with the clear aim of creating war hysteria among the population.
Thus, the Atlantic Council recommends that Warsaw should:
– issue a statement declaring that Poland will come to the aid of the Baltic States and Romania should they be attacked by Russia;
– publish a list of potential targets for Polish strikes in Russia, primarily in the Kaliningrad Oblast;
– enable Polish F-16s to be carriers of tactical nuclear ordnance;
– declare that, if attacked, Poland reserves the right to dispatch Special Operations Forces deep into Russian territory to carry out acts of sabotage;
– be prepared to destroy Russian infrastructure facilities using missiles; and
– announce that, if attacked by Russia, Poland reserves the right to deploy offensive cyber operations against such targets as the Moscow metro, the St. Petersburg power network, and the TV news channel RT.
Generally speaking, the list of recommendations in the report can reasonably be considered the ravings of a madman. This feeling is intensified by the name of the report’s author – retired British General Sir Richard Shirreff, who served as NATO’s deputy supreme allied commander in Europe between 2011 and 2014 and who has recently gained renown as a novelist.
In May this year, Sir Shirreff presented his book «2017: War with Russia» in London, in which the author states that war between Russia and the West is inevitable. The book opens with a colourful description of the beginning of the war, and this heart-rending scene was written with the firm belief that it would capture anyone’s imagination: Russian troops attack a school in Donetsk and kill around a hundred innocent children in order to blame it on the Ukrainian military and thus create a pretext for large-scale aggression against Ukraine and Europe, which has dropped its guard. Sir Shirreff himself called his work a «prophesy novel».
The politicians currently in power in Poland can boast about their supposed independence in international affairs as much as they like, but in reality, immersed in an atmosphere of hatred with their Russian neighbour, they can only dance obediently to the tune of gentlemen like the retired British General and aspiring novelist Richard Shirreff. And dances like that will never end well.
Is Crimea about to explode? The mainstream media reports that Russia has amassed troops on the border with Ukraine and may be spoiling for a fight. The Russians claim to have stopped a Ukrainian sabotage team that snuck into Crimea to attack key infrastructure. The Russian military is holding exercises in Crimea and Russian President Vladimir Putin made a visit to the peninsula at the end of the week.
The Ukrainians have complained to their western supporters that a full-scale Russian invasion is coming, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he may have to rule by martial law due to the Russian threat.
Though the US media pins the blame exclusively on Russia for these tensions, in reality there is plenty of blame to go around. We do know that the US government has been involved with “regime change” in Ukraine repeatedly since the break up of the Soviet Union. The US was deeply involved with the “Orange Revolution” that overthrew elected president Viktor Yanukovych in 2005. And we know that the US government was heavily involved in another coup that overthrew the same elected Yanukovych again in 2014.
How do we know that the US was behind the 2014 coup? For one, we have the intercepted telephone call between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. In the recording, the two US officials are plotting to remove the elected government and discussing which US puppet they will put in place.
You would think such undiplomatic behavior could get diplomats fired, but sadly in today’s State Department it can actually get you promoted! Nuland is widely expected to get a big promotion – perhaps to even Secretary of State – in a Hillary Clinton administration, and Geoffrey Pyatt has just moved up to an Ambassadorship in Athens.
Ambassador Pyatt can’t seem to control himself: Just as tensions were peaking between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea this month, he published a series of Tweets urging Ukraine to take back Crimea. Is this how our diplomats overseas should be acting? Should they be promoting actions they know will lead to war?
When the mainstream media discusses Crimea they are all lock-step: that’s the peninsula Putin annexed. Never do they mention that there was a referendum in which the vast majority of the population (who are mostly ethnic Russians) voted to join Russia. The US media never reports on this referendum because it produced results that Washington doesn’t like. How arrogant it must sound to the rest of the world that Washington reserves the right to approve or disapprove elections thousands of miles away – meanwhile we find out from the DNC hacked files that we don’t have a lot of room to criticize elections overseas.
What should we do about Ukraine and Russia? We should stop egging Ukraine on, we should stop subsidizing the government in Kiev, we should stop NATO exercises on the Russian border, we should end sanctions, we should return to diplomacy, we should send the policy of “regime change” to the dustbin of history. The idea that we would be facing the prospect of World War III over which flag flies above a tiny finger of land that most US politicians couldn’t find on a map is utterly ridiculous. When are we going to come to our senses?
On Aug. 17, TV interviewer Charlie Rose gave former acting CIA Director Michael Morell a “mulligan” for an earlier wayward drive on Aug. 8 that sliced deep into the rough and even stirred up some nonviolent animals by advocating the murder of Russians and Iranians. But, alas, Morell duffed the second drive, too.
Morell did so despite Rose’s efforts to tee up the questions as favorably as possible, trying to help Morell explain what he meant about “killing” Russians and Iranians in Syria and bombing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into submission.
In the earlier interview, Morell said he wanted to “make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. … make the Russians pay a price in Syria.”
Rose: “We make them pay the price by killing Russians?”
Rose: “And killing Iranians?”
Morell: “Yes … You don’t tell the world about it. … But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran.”
In the follow-up interview, some of Rose’s fretful comments made it clear that there are still some American non-neocons around who were withholding applause for Morell’s belligerent suggestion.
Rose apparently has some viewers who oppose all terrorism, including the state-sponsored variety that would involve a few assassinations to send a message, and the notion that U.S. bombing Syria to “scare” Assad is somehow okay (as long as the perpetrator is the sole “indispensable” nation in the world).
Rose helped Morell ‘splain that he really did not want to have U.S. Special Forces kill Russians and Iranians. No, he would be satisfied if the U.S.-sponsored “moderate opposition” in Syria did that particular killing. But Morell would not back away from his advocacy of the U.S. Air Force bombing Syrian government targets. That would be “an okay thing” in Morell’s lexicon.
The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” That would seem to cover Morell’s plan.
But Morell seems oblivious to international law and to the vast human suffering already inflicted in Syria over the past five years by government forces, rebels, terrorists and outside nations trying to advance one geopolitical goal or another.
What is needed is a serious commitment to peace talks without unacceptable preconditions, such as outside demands for “regime change.” Instead, the focus should be on creating conditions for Syrians to make that choice themselves through elections or power-sharing negotiations.
Morell prefers to think that a few more U.S.-directed murders and some more aerial-inflicted mayhem should do the trick. Perhaps he thinks that’s the sort of tough-guy/gal talk that will impress a prospective President Hillary Clinton.
A Slight Imprecision?
Charlie Rose begins the “mulligan” segment with the suggestion that Morell might have slightly misspoken: “Tell me what you wanted to say so we understand it … Tell me what you meant to say … perhaps you did not speak as precisely as you should have or I didn’t ask the right questions.”
Morell responded, “No, no, Charlie, you always ask the right questions,” and then he presented his killing plan as a route to peace, albeit one in which the United States dictates “regime change” in Syria: “So there’s not a military solution to this, there is only a political solution. … And that political solution is, in my view, a transition of power from Assad to a, a, a transitional government that represents all of the Syrian people.
“That is only going to happen if Assad wants it to happen, if Russia wants it to happen, if Iran wants it to happen. So … we need to increase our leverage over those … three people and countries, in order to get them more interested in having a conversation about a transition to a new government.
“And sometimes you use military force for military ends. Sometimes you use military force to give you political leverage. … So what I tried to say was, Look, we need to find some ways to put some pressure on Assad, or put some pressure on Russia, and put some pressure on Iran. Now, with regard to Russia and Iran, what I said was, what I wanted to say was: Look, the moderate opposition, which the United States is supporting (everybody knows that, right?), the moderate opposition is already fighting the Syrian government, and they’re already fighting Russians and Iranians. …
“So … the Syrian military, supported by Russia and the Iranians, is fighting the moderate opposition. And the moderate opposition is already killing Iranians and Syrians. What, what I said is that’s an okay thing, right, because it puts pressure on Iran and Russia to try to see some value in ending this thing politically. And what I said is that we should encourage the moderate opposition to continue to do that and perhaps get a lot more aggressive.” (Emphasis added)
Rose: “You weren’t suggesting that the United States should do that, but the moderate forces on the ground.”
Morell: “And I think I came across as saying U.S. Special Forces should go in there and start killing Iranians and Russians. I did not say that. …
“So that’s Russia and Iran. Now, Assad. How do you put some pressure on Assad, right? And here I did argue, Charlie, that the U.S. military itself should take some action, and what I would see as valuable is limited, very, very, very limited U.S. airstrikes against those assets that are extremely important to Assad personally. So, in the middle of the night you destroy one of his offices; you don’t kill anybody, right, zero collateral. … You do this with the same rules of engagement we use against terrorists. … (Emphasis added)
“You take out his presidential aircraft, his presidential helicopters, in the middle of the night, right, just to send him a message and get his attention that, that maybe your days are numbered here, just to put some pressure on him to think about maybe, maybe the need to think about a way out of this.
“Now these issues that I’m talking about here, right, are talked about in the sit room. They’re talked about in national security circles all the time, right. These are debates that people have, and I certainly understand that there are people on the other side of the argument from me, right. But I wasn’t talking about the U.S. starting a major war with Iran and Russia, and I think that was the way people interpreted it.”
Acts of Illegal War
Not to put too fine a point on this, but everything that Morell is advocating here violates international law, the rules that – in other circumstances, i.e. when another government is involved – the U.S. government condemns as “aggression” or as an “invasion” or as “terrorism.”
Remember, after the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in February 2014, when Russia intervened to allow Crimea to hold a referendum on splitting away from the new regime in Kiev and rejoining Russia, the U.S. government insisted that there was no excuse for President Vladimir Putin not respecting the sovereignty of the coup regime even if it had illegally ousted an elected president.
However, regarding Syria, the United States and its various “allies,” including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel, have intervened directly and indirectly in supporting various armed groups, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, seeking the violent overthrow of Syria’s government.
Without any legal authorization from the United Nations, President Barack Obama has ordered the arming and training of anti-government rebels (including some who have fought under Nusra’s command structure), has carried out airstrikes inside Syria (aimed at Islamic State militants), and has deployed U.S. Special Forces inside Syria with Kurdish rebels.
Now, a former senior U.S. intelligence official is publicly urging bombing of Syrian government targets and the killing of Iranians and Russians who are legally inside Syria at the invitation of the internationally recognized government. In other words, not only does the U.S. government operate with breathtaking hypocrisy in the Syrian crisis, but it functions completely outside international law.
And, Morell says that in attacking Syrian government targets — supposedly without causing any deaths — the United States would employ “the same rules of engagement we use against terrorists,” except those rules of engagement explicitly seek to kill targeted individuals. So, what kind of dangerously muddled thinking do we have here?
One can only imagine the reaction if some Russian version of Morell went on Moscow TV and urged the murder of U.S. military trainers operating inside Ukraine – to send a message to Washington. And then, the Russian Morell would advocate Russia bombing Ukrainian government targets in Kiev with the supposed goal of forcing the U.S.-backed government to accept a “regime change” acceptable to Moscow.
Rather than calls for him to be locked up or at least decisively repudiated, the American Morell was allowed to continue his fawning audition for a possible job in a Hillary Clinton administration by extolling her trustworthiness and “humanity.” – Full article