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The Empire Strikes Back

By Brad Benson | OffGuardian | February 17, 2017

On the surface, the resignation of General Michael Flynn is being sold as a cut-and-dried case of the General getting ahead of his skis by calling the Russian Ambassador to discuss the lifting of sanctions. This was ostensibly then complicated by the General not being honest about his discussions, when queried about it by Vice President Mike Pence. However, as is always the case in these types of affairs, the real story will go untold and General Flynn’s “resignation” will have ramifications far beyond these first headlines.

In reality, the General’s early fall is a signal that the Deep State is not about to permit rapprochement with Russia. This is because any moves to defuse the New Cold War could threaten to undercut Obama’s $1 Trillion, 30 year nuclear arms rearmament program, which has been quietly moving forward for several years.

Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which is the military’s counterpart to the CIA, was originally fired by Obama for an intelligence assessment, which disputed information that Obama was being fed by the CIA. In retrospect, this report was rather prescient, since it noted that an infant ISIS was a much bigger threat than Obama was being told, while further advising that it was a mistake for the CIA to be supplying them with arms in their ill-fated effort to bring down Assad in Syria.

This put Flynn in direct conflict with then CIA Director, John Brennan, then Director of National Intelligence, John Clapper, and a whole cadre of Neo-Con Interventionists inside Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Flynn’s timing was also bad, since the War Hawks had only recently overthrown Gaddafi and, in the ecstasy of their “success”, no one, especially Obama, wanted to be told that rain clouds were already gathering over their parade.

When General Flynn reemerged as an advisor to Trump during the campaign, there was no immediate concern within the Deep State, since Trump was not seen as a serious factor. However, as Trump began to talk about rapprochement with Putin’s Russia on the campaign trail, Flynn was identified as one of the driving forces behind this idea and, as a result, the Clinton Campaign opened up a new front to denigrate him as a racist nut-case. This may very well have been true, but it does not, as a consequence, make him wrong in regard to his recognition of the necessity to defuse the New Cold War with Russia.

Flynn’s early departure is a big victory for the Deep State Thugs who are heavily invested in the New Cold War. It is most certainly also a signal to Trump that he can be removed, since MSM talking heads are already spinning stories about the fired DOJ Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, having previously warned the White House that tapped phone calls, between Flynn and the Russian Ambassador, might make the General subject to “blackmail” by the Russians.

Indeed, not-so-subtle threats of impeachment are already being floated, with nuances of the famous question, “What did the President know and when did he know it?” One Neo-Con Flim-flam man has already gone so far as to refer to the “Russian Stench” and demanded to know what is behind this “Russian connection”, which, if anyone gave it any real thought, was essentially a move toward peace.

However, this was apparently just the warm up act for the big guns, since the next up was Thomas Friedman, the influential NY Times op-ed writer, who helped the Bush and Obama Administrations to lie us into several wars. Adopting a stern demeanor, while staring directly into the camera, Friedman demands no less than a full investigation into Trump’s associations with these pesky Russkies, who “undermined our election”, ominously concluding that this was an “event as significant as Pearl Harbor”.

Meanwhile, early rumblings from Moscow are noting that this could be bad news for future relations with the US and could ultimately lead to a deterioration of relations. This is a nice way of saying that they know that our Deep State is undermining the move toward rapprochement, while also sending a subtle message to Trump that they hope he’s not falling for it. Sadly, it may already be too late.

This is the first move to set up Trump for impeachment, with Mike Pence, a Neo-Con, sitting in the catbird seat. Those that celebrate the demise of Flynn and hope for the early fall of Trump should be careful in regard to their wishes. The ultimate result intended in all of this is that there will be no rapprochement with Russia and that the New Cold War might eventually develop into a hot one.

The Empire has struck back. Whether one likes Trump or not, no one should be distracted by the “Russian Connection” Sideshow. This is about the future of a major rearmament program and the Deep State has subtly enlisted the support of the Trump haters on the left to create the conditions for Trump’s early removal.

With many Neo-Cons on the right also poised to feed on the carcass of a guy they couldn’t stop in the primaries, the American People better wake up. This is not a question of left or right. It may very well be a question of survival.

February 17, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Draining the swamp won’t be easy for Trump

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | February 17, 2017

After reading my Asia Times column yesterday, World community sizes up a diminished Trump, a well-meaning warm-hearted friend, an American from New York, wrote to me to explain gently that what we are witnessing in the United States is a mere “tantrum” by a clutch of spooks whose jobs are under threat and their hangers-on in the intelligence services, along with the liberal press having a “parallel tantrum” who cannot believe that they lost the election to Donald Trump. I was in two minds after reading the mail. Should I have called it a “civil war”, after all?

That is, until this morning when I read the transcript of the extraordinary 75-minute press conference in the White House late Thursday night. The press conference was originally called by Trump to announce his new pick for Labour Secretary, but in no time degenerated into a verbal brawl between the President of the United States of America and the White House press corps with former NSA Michael Flynn and Russia ties at the epicenter. It was all so surreal, to say the least.

Not even in the darkest hour of the Vietnam War or in the shameful hours of the Watergate cover-up or the sly escapades of Bill Clinton in the Oval Office would the White House have witnessed anything like this. Perhaps, this becomes an unprecedented event in American political history – the US president openly trading insults with the journalists who cover his presidency in real time.

The good thing for us who are non-Americans, in this extraordinary free-for-all with tooth and claw is that we learn so much about the American political system, how it works, what dissimulation and falsehood it spreads abroad while staking claim to the hogwash of “values”.

Trump tore into the so-called “Deep State” in America and the unscrupulous media, which is serving as its stand-in. He denounced loudly and repeatedly the “illegal leaks” by sources within the military-intelligence apparatus within the establishment to defame his presidency. Funnily, when Trump denounced the media as the mouthpieces of the intelligence agencies – even nailing the flag carriers such as New York Times and Wall Street Journal – there was no dissenting voice, no protest. In fact, the journalists seemed to accept it as a statement of fact. They didn’t show the spunk to refute the accusation even for purposes of record. So much for the Fourth Estate in America and the freedom of the press!

In the process, Trump also blurted out certain remarks on issues of war and peace, which make highly combustible stuff and will make many world chancelleries sit up and worry. They are indeed extremely worrisome.

Referring to a Russian warship apparently on a surveillance mission off the US west coast – something which the US and NATO routinely and incessantly do to Russia – Trump says, “The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles off shore right out of the water. Everyone in this country’s going to say ‘oh, it’s so great’… If I was just brutal on Russia right now, just brutal, people would say, you would say, ‘Oh, isn’t that wonderful’.”

Then, Trump went on to explain the implications: “We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I have been briefed. And I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, a nuclear holocaust would be like no other.”

One shudders at the very thought of it – that a potential nuclear war between the US Russia has been the stuff of a briefing taken by Trump.

Like puss oozing out of a tumor that is fast becoming terminal, the US political system is throwing into the open the cumulative eddies of decades of its interventionist policies – with the military-industrial complex and the intelligence agencies that fattened up on the countless wars and horrific destruction in foreign lands refusing to give up their privileges and make way for an upstart president who walked in from nowhere who, they think, has no business to be running the White House, and on top of it, has the impudence to say that he intends to “drain the swamp”. (A columnist wrote a couple of days ago, Yes, Trump can drain the swamp but he must do THIS first or get eaten by the alligators.)

Look at the extent to which the military-industrial complex and the intelligence establishment in Washington goes to thwart any attempt by Trump to improve US-Russia relations. It’s a sickening scenario that without wars and bloodshed America cannot have a future — that the prospect of detente, peace and co-existence becomes so abhorrent a proposition for the Deep State as to stage an insurrection against the elected head of state.

No, this is more than about swamps. What we see here is nothing else than metastatic cancer. The cancer cells in America’s body polity have broken away to enter the bloodstream and the lymph system. Doctors call it “stage 4” cancer.

The full transcript of Trump’s press conference is here.

February 17, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

‘Democrats & neocon warmongers formed unholy alliance against Trump’

RT | February 16, 2017

One should be quite skeptical about the “leaks” coming from “unnamed officials,” former FBI agent Coleen Rowley has warned since its common practice to spread misinformation through “journalists, who are cozy with the CIA and other top officials.”

The media’s reaction to the so-called “leaks” on alleged connections between Trump’s team and Russia shows that we live in a “very surreal moment,” since the same people who have been calling for prosecutions and even executions of the well-known whistleblowers are now praising as heroes those “unnamed officials” who leak information of questionable authenticity, Coleen Rowley told RT.

“It’s surreal to have called for the death and prosecutions of Manning, and Snowden and Julian Assange and many other whistleblowers. And you had many people piling on, calling them traitors and they were actually very good whistleblowers. And now, when you have other leaks the same people who thought they were traitors are saying they are heroes for giving out this information,” Rowley said.

It is essential to be able to distinguish between a real whistleblower and leaker, since the former are motivated by a desire to do society a service, uncovering wrongdoings of the government, while the latter pursue their own agenda and might even plant completely fabricated information.

“The motivation of the person disclosing the information greatly matters. It’s actually what distinguishes a whistleblower from a leaker and even from someone like Scooter Libby who was planting false information. And these things all got blurred together,” Rowley told RT.

Leaks are powerful tools in information warfare, which is waged to fuel real wars across the globe by a part of the US establishment in cooperation with the powerful military, industrial and surveillance complex, which simply needs to sell their products. The useful misinformation is routinely being spread through “journalists, who are cozy with the CIA and other top officials,” Rowley believes.

“The most pernicious aspect is that this is now information warfare, which is now geared towards… launching more wars. It’s exactly where we were back when Scooter Libby went to the New York Times and planted the false information about the [Saddam Hussein’s] uranium tubes,” Rowley said.

“I think that is the worst aspect of what is going on, and I think it’s accomplished in a lot of different ways. We need to reduce secrecy, but we need to be able to weigh and analyze the real truthful evidence that’s out there. Right now we have leaks, but we still haven’t seen any documents. The public still doesn’t know the full truth of this.”

The situation is quite alarming, since military industry hawks, craving wars have formed an “unholy alliance” with the Democrats, who want revenge for Hillary Clinton’s loss in the presidential elections, Rowley said. Such an alliance harms both international security and the power structure in the US.

“We’re living in this moment when we have a polarized government in Washington DC, extremely polarized. The media has taken sides with the Democrats and actually some of the neo-con warmongers. It’s really an unholy alliance,” Rowley said.

“It’s debatable as to who’s actually in power right now. We’re supposed to have three equal and separate branches, but I think it’s a good question as to whether the executive, as you know would be Trump’s administration, or the legislative along with the deep-state, which includes the media. I don’t know who’s actually in power.”

February 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Israeli Companies Accrued $1 Billion From F-35 Deals

Sputnik – 15.02.2017

Israeli defense contractors have generated more than $1 billion in revenues since 2010 for assisting with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the most expensive weapons program in history.

The Israeli Defense Ministry reported Sunday that 2016 was a banner year for F-35 partners. Contracts tied to production of the F-35 shot up 33 percent last year for a total of $258 million in new deals for Israeli companies. Since Israel inked a deal to buy 19 F-35 fighters in 2010, Israeli firms have won more than $1 billion in ‘buy-back contracts.’

“The scope of industrial cooperation between [Lockheed Martin] and Israeli industry, in just the last year, shows the immense potential inherent in this arrangement for the Israeli economy,” Col. Avi Dadon, deputy director of purchasing at the Ministry of Defense, noted.

A bulk of the new revenues stemmed from the F-35 virtual reality helmets. Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins scored a $206 million contract for headgear production.

Like the F-35 project as a whole, the F-35 helmets have faced their share of struggles. The 4.5-pound helmets are reported to cause neck problems for pilots. What’s more, the visor has been seen to pop off the heads of pilots during take-off. Since the helmets are critical for pilots to visualize flight, mission, and target information, this essentially leaves pilots blind. In a separate incident, Tom Briggs of the US Navy described the helmets as being comparable to “looking through a dirty window” due to a green glow in the display area.

Meanwhile, Italian officials have complained recently that Lockheed Martin and the US are not following through on jet maintenance contracts. Guido Crosetto, head of Italy’s aerospace and defense industry association said Washington has not “honored promises” made when Italy joined the list of US allies to buy the F-35s.

Back in 2002, Italy was told that it would receive contracts for maintenance work worth 65 percent of the $1 billion Rome invested to buy 90 joint strike fighters, Italian media outlets reported. Italian firms currently have contracts valued less than 20 percent of its initial investment, the official added. Instead, contracts went to places like the UK, the Netherlands and Australia “because the competition favored large companies,” Crosetto said.

February 15, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

As a Critic of NATO, Trump Is in Good Company

By Stephen J. Sniegoski • Unz Review • February 15, 2017

The media has generally presented Trump as being ignorant and nonsensical in his discussion of American policies, and one example is his negative references to NATO as obsolete. The mainstream media is aghast that any political leader of the U.S. could possibly take a negative view of such an allegedly iconic alliance as NATO. A few days before Trump’s inauguration, the New York Times Editorial Board, for example, in an article entitled “Russian Gains When Trump Trashes NAT0,” found it “puzzling indeed for a president-elect to publicly denigrate leaders of his country’s closest allies as well as an alliance that for 70 years has stood firm against Russian expansion.”[1] The Editorial Board of the Washington Post, in its praise for NATO, on the same date as the aforementioned New York Times editorial came out, maintained that “[i]t has greatly magnified U.S. power and global influence, even when its members were underspending on their military forces. Without it, the West would have no effective way to contain Russian neo-imperialism.”[2]

The only question seems to be whether Trump is a total ignoramus or is he, for some malevolent reason, a traitor who puts the interests of Putinist Russia [3] above those of the United States. But if we take a brief walk down memory lane, we will discover that Trump is actually in very good company in his criticism of NATO, and those NATO critics include luminaries of the foreign policy establishment whom the Washington Post and the New York Times once readily embraced.

When NATO was coming into existence in 1949, it was not only being opposed by those who retained their World War II sympathy for the Soviet Union, such as former Vice President Henry Wallace, and conservative non-interventionists lead by Senator Robert Taft, but also by the most influential columnist and political intellectual of the era, Walter Lippmann. In 1947, Lippmann had written a series of articles called The Cold War that criticized the policy of containment—which called for efforts to prevent the expansion of Communism. The containment policy underpins NATO. And it is the intellectual architect of containment, George F. Kennan, who will be discussed shortly. Interestingly, while Kennan first applied the term “containment” to a foreign policy strategy, Lippmann, although he did not originate the term “Cold War,” made it an integral part of the political lexicon. [4]

Regarding Lippmann’s thinking on NATO, Lippmann biographer Ronald Steel writes: “Unlike the State Department and Pentagon planners, Lippmann saw no need for a military alliance with Western Europe. ‘I am convinced that the question of war or peace hangs upon the Soviet willingness to engage in a general war, and not on the strength of the local defenses in any particular part of the world,’ he [Lippmann] wrote.” [5]

Lippmann made a considerable effort to stop the development of NATO. Steel writes: “Lippmann put forth a six-page single spaced document on the German problem for John Foster Dulles to take to the Paris foreign ministers meeting in May 1949. In the memo Lippmann urged the demilitarization and neutralization of Germany, along with the withdrawal of all foreign troops. This plan, he argued, would keep German nationalists in check and remove the need for NATO.”[6] In short, the Red Army’s occupation of central Europe, in Lippmann’s view, only existed because of the existence of Western troops in the vicinity. And if the Western troops were removed, Russia would reciprocate and, in Lippmann’s view, “there would be no more Russian problem today than there had been for a century.” [7]

Lippmann’s opposition went for naught and the NATO treaty passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin. Lippmann would express his opposition to NATO once again in 1952 when the alliance proposed to add two new members, Greece and Turkey. Lippmann maintained: “A great power like the United States gains no advantage and it loses prestige by offering, indeed peddling, its alliances to all and sundry. An alliance should be hard diplomatic currency, valuable and hard to get, and not inflationary paper from the mimeograph machine in the State Department.” [8] Once again, Lippmann lost the battle.

In 1958, Lippmann, like many American thinkers at that time, interpreted the launching of the Sputnik satellites as an indication that the Soviet Union was a power equal to that of the Western alliance. Lippmann contended: “The defenders of the existing policy consider themselves great realists who have put aside all wishful thinking. On what calculation, then, in the power relationships of great states, do they lease their expectation that Russia will withdraw from Europe while the United States and Great Britain remain, and are allowed to advance their military frontiers at least to the borders of Poland?” He maintained that “a settlement [with Russia] must be designed not only to protect our own vital interests. It must respect the vital interests of Russia.” [9]

George F. Kennan, who is widely considered to be the intellectual architect of America’s Cold War “containment” policy toward the Soviet Union in 1946 and 1947, expressed skepticism about the need to create NATO. His biographer John Lewis Gaddis writes that Kennan believed that “[I]f there had to be a military alliance, its members should include only the North Atlantic countries, where there was ‘a community of defense interest firmly rooted in geography and tradition.’ To go further would invite still further demands for protection: there would then be ‘no stopping point in the development of a system of anti-Russian alliances until that system has circled the globe and has embraced all the non-communist countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa.’ By then one of two things would have happened: the alliance would become meaningless like the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, or the United States would have become hopelessly extended, in which case it would have ignored warnings about the increased discrepancy between its resources and its commitments.”[10] Such a situation did, in fact, materialize during the Cold War period as the United States established one alliance after the other in various areas of the globe—CENTO (Central Asia], SEATO (Southeast Asia).

Kennan maintained that the containment strategy he proposed had been excessively militarized by the U.S. government. In a 1996 interview with CNN he had said “[m]y thoughts about containment were of course distorted by the people who understood it and pursued it exclusively as a military concept; and I think that that, as much as any other cause, led to [the] 40 years of unnecessary, fearfully expensive and disoriented process of the Cold War.”[11]

In a 1998 interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Kennan described the U.S. Senate’s decision to ratify NATO’s expansion–which in 1999 would add Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to the alliance—as the “the beginning of a new cold war.” He held that “the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else . . . . We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way.”[12]

Kennan said that he “was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe.” It seemed to him that Americans failed to realize that “[o]ur differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.” Kennan warned that this expansion showed “little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course, there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong.”[13]

Friedman did not disagree with Kennan and saw this development as having a negative effect on peace in Europe. If everything went well, future historians, he surmised, would say that in spite of this NATO expansion, Russia would continue to move along the path of “democratization and Westernization” because of the powerful impact of “globalization and arms control agreements.” However, “[i]f we are unlucky they will say, as Mr. Kennan predicts, that NATO expansion set up a situation in which NATO now has to either expand all the way to Russia’s border, triggering a new cold war, or stop expanding after these three new countries and create a new dividing line through Europe.”[14]

In his concluding remarks in this article, Friedman wrote that “there is one thing future historians will surely remark upon, and that is the utter poverty of imagination that characterized U.S. foreign policy in the late 1990′s. They will note that one of the seminal events of this century took place between 1989 and 1992 — the collapse of the Soviet Empire, which had the capability, imperial intentions and ideology to truly threaten the entire free world . . . And what was America’s response? It was to expand the NATO cold-war alliance against Russia and bring it closer to Russia’s borders.”[15]

As Putin began to exercise more and more power, Friedman’s views of NATO begin to change. In a 2014 column Friedman wrote that he had “opposed expanding NATO toward Russia after the Cold War . . . . It remains one of the dumbest things we’ve ever done and, of course, laid the groundwork for Putin’s rise.” [16] Later that year Friedman, although still acknowledging the negative impact of NATO expansion, began to put greater blame on Putin. Friedman stated that “[b]y expanding NATO at the end of the Cold War, when Russia was weak, we helped to cultivate a politics there that would one day be very receptive to Putin’s message that the West is ganging up on Russia. But, that said, the message is a lie. The West has no intention of bringing Ukraine into NATO. And please raise your hand if you think the European Union plans to invade Russia.”[17]

In placing blame on Putin, Friedman ignored the fact while his American readers would not expect the European Union to invade Russia—and let us grant that Friedman is engaging in hyperbole here, and would mean the U.S. along with the European Union–it is not clear that Russians could be so sanguine. The United States did not feel secure with Soviet missiles being stationed in Cuba in 1962 and quite likely would not feel so today. And, of course, if Friedman were correct here, there never should have been any concern by Russia about having NATO near its borders, and Friedman never should have identified at all with Kennan’s position in 1998. Both Lippmann and Kennan recognized that the U.S. needed to consider the Russian view—and Russia had historical reasons for being worried about strong enemies on its borders since it had been invaded in the past.

Friedman even denied that Putin sought to protect Russia. “By seizing Crimea and stoking up nationalism, Putin was not protecting Russia from NATO,” Friedman asserted. “He was protecting himself from the viruses of E.U. accountability and transparency, which, if they took hold in Ukraine, could spread to Moscow, undermining his kleptocracy.”[18]

Note that by making a distinction between Putin’s government and Russia, Friedman implied that the interests of Putin’s “kleptocracy” ran counter to those of Russia. Now Kennan and Lippmann, in line with the thinking of most Americans, did not believe that the Communist government was good for Russia; nonetheless, Kennan and Lippmann realized that it was in the interest of the United States to respect the interests of the Soviet government of Russia in order to avoid a dangerous conflict.

Finally, all of Friedman’s negative views of NATO disappear when he deals with Trump, as would be expected by a mainstream liberal. “How in the world do we put a man in the Oval Office,” Friedman maintained, “who thinks NATO is a shopping mall where the tenants aren’t paying enough rent to the U.S. landlord”?

“NATO is not a shopping mall,” Friedman averred; “it is a strategic alliance that won the Cold War, keeps Europe a stable trading partner for U.S. companies and prevents every European country — particularly Germany — from getting their own nukes to counterbalance Russia, by sheltering them all under America’s nuclear umbrella.”[19]

Friedman’s change of opinion is indicative of the current view of mainstream liberalism. First, there is a definite proclivity to resist anything that Trump proposes—one result of what critics have labeled as Trump Derangement Syndrome. Moreover, there is now a tendency on the part of American liberals to be far more critical of Putin than they were of Soviet Communism. Liberals during the Cold War saw the Soviet planned economic system as being beneficial in some ways. In contrast, liberals find nothing in Putin’s system. In short, Putin’s Russia is widely attacked as a “kleptocracy,” as Friedman put it, and for its institutionalization of traditional values–Christianity, anti-abortion measures, natalism, discrimination against the homosexual life-style, and nationalism—which liberals now lambaste as retrograde and harmful to minorities and women.[20]

Liberals’ views of the Russian internal system have impacted on how they judge Russia’s international threat. Mainstream liberals were far less willing to staunchly oppose the Soviet Union despite the fact that its military power was about on par with that of the United States and it promoted a popular global ideology with supporters throughout the world. Today Russia is much weaker militarily, especially in its conventional forces, and has an ideology with little global appeal. Moreover, the expansion of NATO has made it far more threatening to Russia as it now encroaches on Russia’s borders.

This focus on liberals does not mean that they are now the foremost supporters of NATO, which is also being backed by a number of other factions, including: neoconservatives, unchanged Cold Warriors, conservative hawks, and militarists. But the addition of staunch support from liberals for NATO has made that alliance politically invulnerable because of their dominance of the mainstream media.

The upshot of the reference to notable critics of NATO clearly illustrates that one does not have to be a Russian dupe or an ignoramus to question the existence of NATO. And, for various reasons to which this essay has alluded, the value of NATO deserves to be questioned more now than it was when mainstream luminaries Lippmann and Kennan were doing so. This is one thing for which Trump deserves credit, although he does not make a good case for his position. It is unfortunate that he has been moving away from this position as his appointees for national security positions in his administration have voiced their whole-hearted support for the alliance.

Endnotes

[1] The Editorial Board, “Russian Gains When Trump Trashes NATO,” New York Times, January 17, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/17/opinion/russia-gains-when-donald-trump-trashes-nato.html

[2] Editorial Board, “Trump’s Cabinet knows NATO is Important. It’s not clear he agrees.,” Washington Post, January 17, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trumps-cabinet-knows-nato-is-important-its-not-clear-he-agrees/2017/01/17/e767258a-dcd2-11e6-acdf-14da832ae861_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.f4ec576cdb3c

[3] The mainstream media implies that Putin exercises absolute control of Russia and thus refers to Putinism as in the past Stalinism was used.

[4] “Cold War Origins—Genealogy of the term,” Encyclopedia of the New American Nation, http://www.americanforeignrelations.com/A-D/Cold-War-Origins-Genealogy-of-the-term.html

[5] Ronald Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century, with a new introduction by the author (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1999), p. 459.

[6] Steel, p. 460.

[7] Quoted in Steel, p. 478.

[8] Steel, p. 459.

[9] Walter Lippmann, “Mr. Kennan and Reappraisal in Europe,” The Atlantic Monthly, April, 1958 (originally published) accessed from The Atlantic Online, http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/96jan/nato/lipp.htm

[10] John Lewis Gaddis, George F. Kennan: An American Life (New York: Penguin Press, 2011), p. 333.

[11] Kennan on the Cold War, An Interview on CNN TV, Transcript, May and June 1996, http://www.johndclare.net/cold_war7_Kennan_interview.htm

[12] Quoted in Thomas L. Friedman, “Now a Word From X,” New York Times, May 2, 1998, http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/02/opinion/foreign-affairs-now-a-word-from-x.html

[13] Quoted in Friedman, “Now a Word From X.”

[14] Friedman, “Now a Word From X.”

[15] Friedman, “Now a Word From X.”

[16] Thomas L. Friedman, “Why Putin Doesn’t Respect Us,” New York Times, March 4, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/05/opinion/friedman-why-putin-doesnt-respect-us.html

[17] Thomas L. Friedman, “Putin and the Pope,” New York Times, October 21, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/opinion/thomas-friedman-putin-and-the-pope.html

[18] Friedman, “Putin and the Pope.”

[19] Thomas L. Friedman, “Trump? How Could We?,” New York Times, September 27, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/opinion/trump-how-could-we.html

[20] For a discussion of this subject see: Boyd D. Cathey, “Examining the Hatred of Vladimir Putin and Russia,” Unz Review, December 29, 2014, http://www.unz.com/article/examining-the-hatred-of-vladimir-putin-and-russia/

February 15, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Imam Khamenei: The Real War Economic, Cultural

Al-Manar | February 15, 2017

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei warned that the real war against the Islamic Republic is an economic and a cultural one.

“Both the former and new administrations in the United States have been threatening us with wars,” said the Leader reacting to all war rhetoric used by Washington against the Islamic Republic.

Addressing a large group of visiting people from Tabriz, Imam Khamenei said: “They have always said that the military option is on the table,” he said.

“But the real war remains to be an economic one, the imposition of sanctions and denying the people the chance to promote businesses and economic and technological activities in the country,” the Leader said.

His eminence also recalled comments by some European officials warning Iranian authorities that Iran had to go to war in the absence of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Such comments are just plain lies, the Leader said, elaborating on why some insist on threatening Iran with a war option.

“They just want to keep us too much involved with a military war to detract us from the economic war we face,” he said.

“The real war is also a cultural one,” Imam Khamenei added.

February 15, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hearts and Minds

Hearts and Minds (Peter davis, 1974) from John on Vimeo.

Hearts and Minds is a 1974 American documentary film about the Vietnam War directed by Peter Davis.
The film’s title is based on a quote from President Lyndon B. Johnson: “the ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds of the people who actually live out there”.
The movie was chosen as Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 47th Academy Awards presented in 1975.

February 14, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

US admits using toxic depleted uranium against ISIS in Syria

RT | February 14, 2017

More than 5,000 rounds of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition were used in two attacks on Islamic State oil tankers in eastern Syria, the US military has confirmed. The US-led coalition previously pledged it would not use the controversial ordnance.

A spokesman for the US Central Command (CENTCOM) told Foreign Policy that 5,265 armor-piercing DU rounds were used in November 2015, during two air raids against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) oil tanker convoys in the Deir ez-Zor and Hasakah provinces in eastern Syria.

A-10 ground attack aircraft fired the projectiles from their 30mm rotating cannons, destroying about 500 tanker trucks, according to CENTCOM spokesman Major Josh Jacques.

In March 2015, spokesman for the US-led coalition John Moore had explicitly ruled out the use of the controversial ammunition, saying that “US and coalition aircraft have not been and will not be using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.” The Pentagon explained that armor-piercing DU rounds were not necessary because IS did not have the tanks it was designed to penetrate.

Investigative reporter Samuel Oakford first brought up the use of DU ammunition by the coalition in October 2016, when a US Air Force congressional liaison told Representative Martha McSally (R-Arizona) that A-10s flying missions over Syria had fired 6,479 rounds of “combat mix” on two occasions. The officer explained that a fifth of the “combat mix” consisted of high-explosive incendiary (HEI) rounds, while the rest were DU armor-piercers.

The first attack took place on November 16, near Al-Bukamal in the Deir ez-Zor province, with US planes destroying 116 tanker trucks. The strike took place entirely in Syrian territory. According to CENTCOM, 1,790 rounds of “combat mix” were used during the strike, including 1,490 rounds of DU.November 16

The second attack, on November 22, destroyed 283 oil tankers in the desert between Deir ez-Zor and Hasakah. On this occasion, the A-10s fired 4,530 rounds – of which 3,775 were DU armor-piercers.

Depleted uranium is prized by the US military for exceptional toughness, which enables it to pierce heavy tank armor. However, airborne DU particles can contaminate nearby ground and water and pose a significant risk of toxicity, birth defects and cancer when inhaled or ingested by humans or animals.

The coalition’s promise not to use DU munitions in Iraq was made after an estimated one million rounds were used during the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion. Between Iraq and the Balkans, where they were also used in the 1990s, DU rounds have been blamed on a massive increase in cancer and birth defects.

DU is also the prime suspect in the medical condition dubbed the “Gulf War Syndrome” afflicting US veterans of the 1991 conflict and some peacekeepers deployed in the Balkans.

February 14, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 4 Comments

The Negotiation Option with North Korea

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium news | February 14, 2117

The unexpected missile launch this weekend by North Korea hit a bulls-eye. Its perfect aim, however, owed more to Pyongyang’s mastery of international theatrics than to rocket technology.

Traveling just 310 miles, the intermediate-range Pukguksong-2 missile struck nothing but water in the Sea of Japan. But it fully succeeded, as planned, in grabbing the attention of two of North Korea’s biggest enemies: Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Shinzo Abe of Japan.

Instead of relaxing over dinner at Trump’s $200,000-per-membership Mar-a-Lago club, the two heads of state had to surround themselves with advisers and translators Saturday evening, scrambling to draft a joint statement by the light of their cell phones.

They came up with the usual bluster: Abe denounced the launch as “absolutely intolerable,” and Trump vowed to stand behind Japan, America’s “great ally, 100 percent.”

North Korean Premier Kim Jon Un certainly didn’t win any friends with the launch. China criticized it as a provocation, and Russia declared that the test was in “defiant disregard” of United Nations resolutions. But it gave Kim something to brag about at home and, more important, kept his demands front and center on the world’s stage.

No Good Options?

A Reuters news report summed up the conventional wisdom among U.S. analysts: “Few good options in Trump arsenal to counter defiant North Korea.” In a nutshell, President Obama’s eight-year policy of “strategic patience” — ratcheting up economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure — was a spectacular failure. Leaning on China to make it dictate terms to Pyongyang hasn’t worked either—in part because Beijing doesn’t want to risk triggering a collapse of North Korea’s regime. Tough U.N. resolutions condemning North Korea are worth less than a bowl of steaming kimche.

Then there is the military option. Its many advocates in Washington — including former Secretary of State John Kerry — argue the United States may need to wipe out North Korea’s nuclear and missile launch facilities, or even decapitate its regime, to prevent it from acquiring long-range missiles capable of reaching U.S. soil.

But North Korea’s nuclear facilities are designed to withstand anything short of a nuclear attack, and its conventional forces could quickly leave Seoul a smoldering ruin. How China would react to a preemptive U.S. attack is anyone’s guess. No less an authority than former Secretary of Defense William Perry says that a war with North Korea would be “catastrophic, possibly destroying the societies of both Koreas as well as causing large casualties in the U.S. military.”

A Voice of Reason

Perry is one of the few voices of reason who contests the militant groupthink prevalent in Washington. He counsels instead an attempt to engage Pyongyang in diplomacy. That strategy should appeal to the dealmaker who now inhabits the White House.

As Trump said during his campaign, responding to Hillary Clinton’s disparagement of trying to engage with Kim, “What the hell is wrong with speaking? . . . It’s called opening a dialogue.”

Perry participated in the Clinton administration’s successful negotiation of a 1994 deal with North Korea that suspended its plutonium enrichment program. George W. Bush, in his wisdom, scrapped the agreement and made North Korea a charter member of his “axis of evil.”

Watching Presidents Bush and Obama in action, Pyongyang understandably redoubled its nuclear program. “North Korea has decided, based on lessons from Iran, Iraq, and Libya, that its only sure means of survival is to be ‘too nuclear’ to fail,” remarked Scott Snyder, a Korea expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, during a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Or as committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, put it, “What they learned is, you get rid of your WMDs, we take you out.”

That exchange was a rare recognition by Washington insiders that Kim, however, brutish and blustering, is pushing his country’s weapons program for the same reason that other nuclear powers acquired the Bomb: not to commit suicide, but to deter enemies. His regime states unequivocally that “we will not use our weapons on anyone unless they have attacked us.”

As Perry commented in January, “During my discussions and negotiations with members of the North Korean government, I have found that they are not irrational, nor do they have the objective of achieving martyrdom. Their goals, in order of priority, are: preserving the Kim dynasty, gaining international respect and improving their economy.”

Risk to Peace

Those words offer only a small measure of comfort, however. A nuclear-armed North Korea, with its inherently unstable political system, remains a huge risk to peace — all the more so if it prompts revived militarism in South Korea and Japan and unleashes a regional arms race.

The logical response is to try diplomacy, not more military threats, to reduce North Korea’s sense of isolation and paranoia. As China’s foreign ministry has repeatedly pointed out, “the root cause (of) the North Korea nuclear missile issue is the conflicts between North Korea and the United States, as well as between North and South Korea.”

The place to start resolving those conflicts, according to many Korea experts, is with negotiations to end the state of war between North Korea and its adversaries. The Korean War ended in 1953 with a temporary armistice, not a peace treaty. Washington’s failure to negotiate such a treaty tells a deeply insecure Pyongyang that the United States views its regime as illegitimate and ripe for forcible change.

By refusing to consider unconditional normalization of relations with North Korea, President Obama forfeited real opportunities to rein in its nuclear program. Instead, he continued holding huge annual military exercises with South Korea, complete with mock amphibious landings, which sent Pyongyang into “a frenzy of bloodthirsty threats and sabre rattling.”

North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations told a reporter in November that diplomacy remains a viable option: “If (Trump) really gives up the hostile policy towards DPRK, withdrawing all the military equipment from South Korea, including the U.S. troops and coming to conclude the peace treaty, then I think it might be an opportunity to discuss the relations as we did in the 1990s.”

That was a rhetorical opening position, not a final demand, but it pointed to a peaceful way forward. Diplomacy offers no panacea. In particular, nothing will likely put North Korea’s nuclear genie back in its lamp anytime soon.

As Perry observed, “We lost the opportunity to negotiate with a non-nuclear North Korea when we cut off negotiations in 2001, before it had a nuclear arsenal. The most we can reasonably expect today is an agreement that lowers the dangers of that arsenal. The goals would be an agreement with Pyongyang to not export nuclear technology, to conduct no further nuclear testing and to conduct no further ICBM testing. These goals are worth achieving and, if we succeed, could be the basis for a later discussion of a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula.”

Joe Cirincione, a leading arms control expert, reminds us that “It was the negotiations, not the sanctions, that ultimately stopped Iran’s (nuclear) program.”

President Trump, a harsh critic of the nuclear treaty with Iran, now stands at a critical crossroads with North Korea. Will he heed the increasingly loud demands of interventionists for greater shows of force on the Korean peninsula, or channel candidate Trump and seek talks with Premier Kim? It’s no exaggeration to say that the fate of world peace may rest in part on his decision.

February 14, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Your Daily Reminder: The War of Terror is A CIA-Sponsored PsyOp

Corbett • 02/13/2017

While people on both sides of the phoney left/right divide squabble over terrorist boogeymen and Trump’s CIA chief gives Saudi Arabia an award for “counter”terrorism, everyone has lost sight of the bigger picture: The blithering morons who are the face of international terror are aided, funded, controlled and handled by the intelligence agencies. It is all part of the con to get you scared of your own shadow so the terror-industrial complex can laugh all the way to the bank. Today James breaks down the latest chapter in this never-ending psy-op saga.

SHOW NOTES
CIA honors Saudi Crown Prince for efforts against terrorism

Episode 279 – Who Is Really Behind the Syrian War?

Debunking the 28 Pages

Executive Order: “Protecting” the Nation From Foreign (CIA-sponsored) Terrorist Entry Into The United States

Trump’s Homeland Security Team Likely to Emphasize Facial Recognition and Biometric Surveillance

Chertoff pimps his company’s body scanners in WaPo

Beware the Terror Industrial Complex

Kennedy Admits the Intel Agencies Allowed the Underwear Bomber on the Plane

Interview 1019 – Michael Springmann on Visas for Terrorists

February 13, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

US-North Korean Relations in a Time of Change

mattis

By Gregory Elich | February 13, 2017

The months ahead may reveal the direction that U.S.-North Korean relations will take under the Trump administration. After eight years of ‘strategic patience’ and the Rebalance to Asia, those relations now stand at their lowest point in decades. Many foreign policy elites are expressing frustration over Washington’s failure to impose its will on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). There are increasing calls for a change in policy, but what kind of change do they have in mind? We may be at the point of a major transition.

President Trump has given mixed signals on North Korea, ranging from saying he is open to dialogue, to insisting that North Korea cannot be allowed to possess nuclear weapons and that he could solve the dispute with a single call to China. It is fair to say that any change in policy direction is possible, although deeply entrenched interests can be counted on to resist any positive movement.

Other than his frequently expressed hard line on China, Trump has not otherwise demonstrated much interest in Asian-Pacific affairs. That may mean an increased likelihood that he will defer to his advisors, and conventional wisdom may prevail. The more influence Trump’s advisors have on North Korea policy, the more dangerous the prospects.

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn could be a key figure. Back in November, he told a South Korean delegation that the North Korean nuclear issue would be a top priority for the Trump administration. [1] At around the same time, he told a Japanese newspaper that the North Korean government should not be allowed to last very long, and he has no intention of negotiating an agreement. [2]

Flynn has written that North Korea, Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela are in a global alliance with radical Islam, a loopy concept if ever there was one. [3] It is a disturbing thought that a man so disconnected from reality is helping to shape policy.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo believes that Iran and North Korea cooperate in what he calls “an evil partnership.” [4] He has also called for the mobilization of economic and military powers against the DPRK. [5]

Establishment think tanks have churned out a number of policy papers, filled with recommendations for the new administration. Their advice is likely to fall on receptive ears among Trump’s advisors. How much influence they will have on Trump’s decision-making is another question, but he is hearing a single message from those around him and from the Washington establishment.

A common theme running through these think tank policy papers is the demand to punish China for its relations with the DPRK.

The most moderate set of proposals offered the Trump administration is the one produced by Joel Wit for the U.S.-Korea Institute, in that it at least calls for an initial stage that Wit terms “phased coercive diplomacy.” Initial diplomatic contacts would “explore whether agreements that serve U.S. interests are possible while at the same time” the U.S. would lay the groundwork for “increasing pressure” on North Korea. A modest scaling back of the annual U.S. war games could be offered as an incentive to North Korea, along with negotiations on a peace treaty, as long as the U.S. feels it can gain more from North Korean concessions.

At the same time, Wit calls for the new administration to “communicate toughness” and implement a “long-term deterrence campaign.” This would include the rotation of B-1 and B-52 bombers into South Korea on a regular basis, along with stationing nuclear weapons-armed submarines off the Korean coast.

While negotiations are underway, Wit wants the U.S. to direct a propaganda war against the DPRK, by increasing radio broadcasts and infiltrating portable storage devices containing information designed to destabilize the government. What he does not say is that such hostile measures can only have the effect of derailing diplomacy.

If North Korea proves less than compliant to U.S. demands, or if it prepares to test an ICBM, then Wit advises Washington to impose a total “energy and non-food embargo” on North Korea. Wit argues that China must accede to U.S. demands in the UN Security Council for what amounts to economic warfare on North Korea, or else the United States should impose “crippling sanctions” on the DPRK and secondary sanctions on China. By attacking the Chinese economy in this manner, Wit says this would send a message “that the United States would be prepared to face a serious crisis with China over North Korean behavior.” The arrogance is stunning. If China does not agree to American demands in the United Nations, then it is to be punished through U.S. sanctions. [6]

This is what passes as the “moderate” approach among Washington’s foreign policy establishment.

Wit is not alone in his eagerness to punish China. Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute believes that “the next round of penalties will probably have to be ones which have some sort of collateral fallout for China…Sanctions are fine, more sanctions are better,” he says. “Increasing the cost for China, I think, is the way to go.” [7]

Eberstadt argues that U.S. North Korea policy should “consist mainly, though not entirely, of military measures.” “It is time for Beijing to pay a penalty for all its support” for North Korea, he declares. “We can begin by exacting it in diplomatic venues all around the world.” [8] Displaying the presumption all too typical of Washington elites, he has nothing to say about how China might react to his hostile policy prescriptions. The assumption is that China should just take the punishment without complaint. That will not happen.

U.S. Navy Commander ‘Skip’ Vincenzo prepared a set of recommendations that proved so popular that it was jointly published by four think tanks. Vincenzo is looking ahead and planning for how the United States and South Korea could attack the DPRK without suffering great losses. He urges the Trump administration to conduct an information war to undermine North Korea from within. The aim would be “convincing regime elites that their best options” in a conflict “would be to support ROK-U.S. alliance efforts.” He adds that “easily understood themes such as ‘stay in your garrisons and you will get paid’ should target the military rank and file.” North Korean military commanders should be told they would be “financially rewarded” for avoiding combat. “The objective is to get them to act independently when the time comes with the expectation that they will benefit later.” [9]

Interesting phrase, ‘when the time comes.’ Vincenzo anticipates that military intervention in North Korea is only a matter of time. He clearly envisions a scenario like the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when many Iraqi units melted away rather than fight. The fantasy that the U.S. could repeat the Iraqi experience in the DPRK is based on a misjudgment of the Korean national character. Nor does it take into account that what followed the invasion of Iraq could hardly be construed as a peaceful development.

The Brookings Institute, despite its centrist reputation, encourages Trump to take actions that are savage and reckless. “The new president,” the Institute says, “should adopt an approach that focuses on North Korea’s main goal: regime survival… The United States and its allies and partners should make North Korea choose between nuclear weapons and survival.”

The Brookings Institute calls for all-out economic warfare on the North Korean people. “A more robust approach,” it advises, “should go after “the financial lifeblood of the North Korean regime in new ways: starving the regime of foreign currency, cutting Pyongyang off from the international financial and trading system, squeezing its trading networks, interdicting its commerce, and using covert and overt means to take advantage of the regime’s many vulnerabilities. A strong foundation of military measures must underline this approach.”

In a major understatement, the Institute admits that “such an approach carries risks.” Indeed it does, and it is the Korean people who would bear that cost, while Washington’s elites would face none of the consequences of their actions. What the Brookings Institute is calling for is the economic strangulation of North Korea, which would bring about the collapse of people’s livelihoods and mass starvation.

Like other think tanks, the Brookings Institute advocates targeting China, calling for the imposition of secondary sanctions on “Chinese firms, banks, and state-owned enterprises” that do business with North Korea. [10] The aim would be to cut North Korea off from all trade with China.

Walter Sharp, a former commander of U.S. Forces Korea, says that the United States should launch a preemptive strike if North Korea prepares to launch a satellite or test a ballistic missile. “The missile should be destroyed,” he declares. It is easy to imagine the violent response by the United States, were a foreign nation to attack one of its missiles on the launch pad. It is delusional to expect that North Korea not only wouldn’t respond in some manner but would have no right to do so. But Sharp advocates “overwhelming force” if North Korea retaliates, because, as he puts it, Kim Jong-un should know “that there is a lot more coming his way, something he will fear.” [11] If this sounds like a prescription for war, that is because it is.

It is a measure of how decades of militarized foreign policy have degraded public discourse in this country to such an extent that these lunatic notions are not only taken seriously, but advocates are sought out for advice and treated with respect.

With suggestions like that, it is not surprising that Walter Sharp was invited to join the task force that produced a set of recommendations on behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations. The task force calls for the early stages of negotiations to focus on a nuclear freeze, limitations on North Korean conventional forces and missile development, and inspection of nuclear facilities. Obligations on North Korea would be front-loaded, with absolutely nothing offered in return. The promise of a peace treaty and gradual normalization of relations would be back-loaded, contingent on full disarmament, an improvement on human rights, and allowing U.S. and South Korean media to saturate the DPRK. Certainly, that last demand would be a non-starter, as it is impossible to imagine that North Korea would agree to allow its media space to be dominated by hostile foreign entities.

Such a one-sided approach has no chance of achieving a diplomatic settlement. As a solution, the Council recommends that the United States continually escalate sanctions during the negotiating process.

The Council on Foreign Relations calls for the U.S., South Korea, and Japan to build up the capability to intercept North Korean missile launches, “whether they are declared to be ballistic missile tests or civil space launch vehicles.” If negotiations falter, it advises the three allies to shoot down North Korean missiles as soon as they are launched. That would be an act of war. And how does the Council on Foreign Relations imagine North Korea would respond to having a satellite launch shot down? It does not say.

Further development of North Korea’s nuclear program, the Council suggests, would require “more assertive diplomatic and military steps, including some that directly threaten the regime’s nuclear and missile programs and, therefore, the regime itself.”

“The United States should support enhanced information operations” against North Korea, the Council adds, to undermine the government and “strengthen emerging market forces.” Predictably enough, it advocates “severe economic pressure” on North Korea, as well as encouraging private companies to bring legal suits against nations and companies that do business with North Korea. [12]

It is not diplomacy that the Council on Foreign Relations seeks, but regime change, and its policy paper is filled with the language of the bully.

Bruce Bennett is a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corporation. He warns that North Korea’s desire for a peace treaty is a ruse. “In reality,” he says, “by insisting on a peace treaty, North Korea is probably not seeking peace, but war.” He goes on to claim that a peace treaty might lead to the withdrawal of U.S. forces, after which the North could be counted on to invade South Korea. Calls for a peace treaty, he adds, “should be regarded as nothing but a deceitful scam that could lead to the devastation of South Korea, a U.S. ally.” [13] This is an argument that other analysts also make, and is clearly delusional. But it serves as a good illustration of how in the blinkered mindset of Washington’s policy analysts, unsupported assertion takes the place of any sense of reality.

The Center for a New American Security has planted deep roots in the U.S. establishment. Ashton Carter, secretary of defense in the Obama administration, expressed the level of respect and influence that CNAS holds in Washington. “For almost a decade now,” Carter said, “CNAS has been an engine for the ideas and talent that have shaped American foreign policy and defense policy.” Carter added that “in meeting after meeting, on issue after issue,” he worked with CNAS members. [14] His comments reveal that this is an organization that has constant access to the halls of power.

The Center for a New American Security has produced a set of policy documents intended to influence the Trump administration. Not surprisingly, it favors the Rebalance to Asia that was initiated by President Obama, and advocates a further expansion of U.S. military forces in Asia. [15] It also wants to see greater involvement by NATO in the Asia-Pacific in support of the U.S. military. [16]

Patrick Cronin is senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at CNAS, and as such, he wields considerable influence on U.S. policy. Cronin asserts that “Trump will want to enact harsh sanctions and undertake a serious crackdown” on North Korean financial operations, but these steps should be of secondary importance. Trump should “double down” on the U.S. military buildup in the region, he says, and alliance strategy should send the message to Kim Jong-un that nuclear weapons would threaten his survival. There it is again: the the proposal to threaten North Korea’s survival if it does not abandon its nuclear program.

Regardless of diplomatic progress, Cronin believes the U.S. and its allies should conduct an information war against North Korea “at both elite and grassroots’ levels.” [17]

China is not to be ignored, and Cronin feels Trump will need to integrate “tougher diplomacy” with economic sanctions against China. [18]

It remains to be seen to what extent Trump will heed such advice. But the entire foreign policy establishment and mainstream media are united in staunch opposition to any genuinely diplomatic resolution of the dispute. Trump has expressed a healthy skepticism concerning CIA intelligence briefings. Whether that skepticism will be extended to the advice coming from Washington think tanks is an open question.

If the aim of these proposals is to bring about denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, then they are recipes for failure. But if the intent is to impose economic hardship on the North Korean people, while capitalizing on the nuclear issue as a pretext to dominate the region, then these think tanks know what they are doing. As always, human considerations mean nothing when it comes to serving corporate and imperial interests, and if they fully have their way, it will be no surprise if they succeed in bringing to the Korean Peninsula the same chaos and destruction that they gave to the Middle East. One can only hope that more reasonable voices will prevail during policy formulation.

What none of the policy papers address is the role that South Korea has to play. It is simply assumed that the status quo will continue, and South Korea will go along with any action the U.S. chooses to take, no matter how harsh or dangerous. In the mind of the Washington establishment, this is a master-servant relationship and nothing more.

That Koreans, north and south, may have their own goals and interests is not considered. The truly astonishing mass protests against South Korean President Park Geun-hye, which led to her impeachment, have opened up a world of possibilities. Whatever happens in the months ahead, it won’t be business as usual. U.S. policymakers are in a panic at the prospect of a more progressive and independent-minded government taking power after the next election in South Korea, and this is what lies behind plans to rush the deployment of a THAAD battery ahead of schedule. But in a sense, it may already be too late. Park Geun-hye, and by implication her policies, have been thoroughly discredited. It may well be that the harsher the measures Washington wants to impose on the DPRK, the less it can count on cooperation from South Korea. And it could be this that prevents the United States from recklessly plunging the Korean Peninsula into chaos or even war.

Let us imagine a more progressive government taking power in South Korea, engaging in dialogue with its neighbor to the north and signing agreements on economic cooperation. Were the U.S. so inclined, it could work together with such a government in South Korea to reduce tensions and develop economic ties with the DPRK. Rail and gas links could cross North Korea, connecting the south with China and Russia, and provide an economic boost to the entire region. North and South Korea could shift resources from military to civilian needs and start to dismantle national security state structures. The nuclear issue would cease to matter. All of those things could be done, but it would take a change in mentality in Washington and a willingness to defy the entire establishment.

Alas, it is far more likely that tensions will continue to be ratcheted up. Longstanding confrontation with Russia and China has been the keynote of U.S. policy, leading to the encirclement of those nations by a ring of military bases and anti-ballistic missile systems. The Rebalance to Asia aims to reinforce military power around China. North Korea, in this context, serves as a convenient justification for the U.S. military and economic domination of the Asia-Pacific.

Why is North Korea’s nuclear weapons program regarded as an unacceptable threat, whereas those of other nations are not? Why do we not see the United States imposing sanctions on Pakistan for its nuclear program, or conducting war games in the Indian Ocean, practicing the invasion of India? Why do we not hear calls for regime change in Israel over its nuclear program?

Instead, Pakistan is the fifth largest recipient of U.S. aid, slated to receive $742 million this year. India receives one-tenth of that amount, and the United States recently signed an agreement with it on military cooperation. [19] As for Israel, the United States has pledged to provide it with $38 billion in military aid over the next ten years. [20]

What is it about its nuclear weapons program that causes North Korea to be sanctioned and threatened, whereas the U.S. warmly embraces the others? Pakistan, India, and Israel have nuclear programs that are far more advanced than North Korea’s, with sizeable arsenals and well-tested ballistic missiles. The other major difference is that North Korea is the only one of the four nations facing an existential threat from the United States, and therefore has the greatest need of a nuclear deterrent.

There is no threat of North Korea attacking the United States. It has yet to test a re-entry vehicle, and so cannot be said to have the means of delivering a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, the nation will never have more than a small arsenal relative to the size of that owned by the U.S., so its nuclear weapons can only play a deterrent role.

The “threat” that North Korea’s nuclear program presents is twofold. Once North Korea succeeds in completing development of its program, the United States will lose any realistic possibility of attacking it. Whether the U.S. would choose to exercise that capability or not, it wants to retain that option.

The other aspect of the “threat” is that if the DPRK succeeds in establishing an effective nuclear weapons program, then other small nations facing U.S. hostility may feel emboldened to develop nuclear programs, thereby reducing the ability of the U.S. to impose its will on others.

It’s difficult to see why North Korea would ever give up its nuclear program. For one thing, according to U.S. State Department estimates, North Korea is spending anywhere from 15 to 24 percent of its GDP on the military. [21] This is unsustainable for an economy in recovery, and nuclear weapons are cheap in comparison to the expense of conventional armed forces. The DPRK is placing great emphasis on economic development, and a nuclear weapons program allows it to shift more resources to the civilian economy. [22]

Recent history has also shown that a small nation relying on conventional military forces has no chance of defending itself against attack by the United States. For a nation like North Korea, nuclear weapons present the only reliable means of defense.

North Korea attaches great importance to the signing of a peace treaty. After more than six decades since the Korean War, a peace treaty is long overdue and a worthy goal. But if the DPRK imagines that a peace treaty would provide a measure of security, I think it is mistaken. The U.S. was officially at peace with each of the nations it attacked or undermined.

What kind of guarantees could the United States possibly give North Korea to ensure its security in exchange for disarmament? An agreement could be signed, and promises made, and mean nothing. Libya, it should be recalled, signed a nuclear disarmament agreement with one U.S. administration, only to be bombed by the next. No verbal or written promise could provide any measure of security.

The one-sided record of U.S. negotiators is hardly an encouragement for North Korea to disarm either.

For example, shortly after the United States signed the September 2005 Joint Agreement with North Korea, U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill sought to reassure Congress that the United States was not about to begin to normalize relations, even though that is precisely what the agreement obligated it to do.

Normalization of relations, he explained to Congress, would be “subject to resolution of our longstanding concerns. By this, I meant that as a necessary part of the process leading to normalization, we must discuss important issues, including human rights, biological and chemical weapons, ballistic missile programs, proliferation of conventional weapons, terrorism, and other illicit activities.” North Korea “would have to commit to international standards across the board, and then prove its intentions.” Christopher Hill’s point was clear. Even if North Korea were to denuclearize fully, relations would still not move toward normalization. North Korea would only be faced with a host of additional demands. [23]

Indeed, far from beginning to normalize relations, within days of the signing of the September 2005 agreement, the Treasury Department designated Macao-based Banco Delta Asia as a “primary money-laundering concern,” despite a lack of any evidence to back that claim. U.S. financial firms were ordered to sever relations with the bank, which led to a wave of withdrawals by panicked customers, and the bank’s closure. The aim of the Treasury Department was to shut off one of the key institutions North Korea used to conduct regular international trade. That action killed the agreement.

The Libyan nuclear agreement provides the model that Washington expects North Korea to follow. That agreement compelled Libya to dismantle its nuclear program as a precondition for receiving any rewards, and it was only after that process was complete that many of the sanctions on Libya were lifted. It took another two years to remove Libya from the list of sponsors of terrorism and restore diplomatic relations.

Upon closer examination, these ‘rewards’ look more like a reduction in punishment. Can it be said that a reduction in sanctions is a reward? If someone is beating you, and then promises to cut back on the number of beatings, is he rewarding you?

It did not seem so to the Libyans, who often complained that U.S. officials had not rewarded them for their compliance. [24]

What the U.S. did have to offer Libya, though, were more demands. Early on, Undersecretary of State John Bolton told Libyan officials that they had to halt military cooperation with Iran in order to complete the denuclearization agreement.[25]  And on at least one occasion, a U.S. official pressured Libya to cut off military trade with North Korea, Iran, and Syria. [26]

American officials demanded that Libya recognize the unilateral independence of Kosovo, a position which Libya had consistently opposed. [27] This was followed by a U.S. diplomatic note to Libya, ordering it to vote against the Serbian government’s resolution at the United Nations, which asked for a ruling by the International Court of Justice on Kosovo independence. [28]

Under the circumstances, Libya preferred to absent itself from the vote, rather than join the United States and three other nations in opposing the measure.

The U.S. did succeed, however, in obtaining Libya’s vote for UN sanctions against Iran. [29] In response to U.S. directives, Libya repeatedly advised North Korea to follow its example and denuclearize. Under U.S. pressure, Libya also launched a privatization program and opened opportunities for U.S. businesses.

U.S. officials often urged the North Koreans to take note of the Libyan deal and learn from its example. These days, that example looks rather different, given the bombing of Libya by U.S. warplanes and missiles. Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was rewarded for his cooperation with the United States by being beaten, impaled on a bayonet, and shot several times. There is a lesson here, all right, and the North Koreans have taken due note of it.

It is time to challenge the standard Western narrative.

Under international space law, every nation has the right to launch a satellite into orbit, yet North Korea alone is singled out for condemnation and denied that right. The United States, with over one thousand nuclear tests, [30] reacts with outrage to North Korea’s five.

To quote political analyst Tim Beal, “The construction of North Korea as an international pariah is an expression of American power rather than, as is usually claimed, a result of the infringement of international law. In fact, the discriminatory charges against North Korea are themselves a violation of the norms of international law and the equal sovereignty of states.” [31]

Since 1953, North Korea has never been at war.

During that same period, to list only a sampling of interventions, the U.S. overthrew the government of Guatemala, sent a proxy army to invade Cuba, and bombed and invaded Vietnam, at the cost of two million lives. It bombed Cambodia and Laos, sent troops into the Dominican Republic, backed a military coup in Indonesia, in which half a million people were killed, organized a military coup in Chile, backed Islamic extremists in their efforts to topple a secular government in Afghanistan. The U.S. invaded Grenada, mined harbors and armed anti-government forces in Nicaragua, armed right-wing guerrillas in Angola and Mozambique, armed and trained Croatian forces and supplied air cover as they expelled 200,000 people from their homes in Krajina, bombed half of Bosnia, armed and trained the Kosovo Liberation Army, attacked Yugoslavia, invaded Iraq, backed the overthrow of governments in Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Georgia, Honduras, and many other nations, bombed Libya, and armed and trained jihadists in Syria.

And yet, we are told that it is North Korea that is the threat to international peace.

2017 could be a pivotal year for the Korean Peninsula. An energized population is bringing change to South Korea. We should join them and demand change here in the United States, as well. It is time to resist continued calls for a reckless and militarized foreign policy.

 

Notes

[1] Jesse Johnson, “Trump National Security Pick Tells South Koreans that North’s Nuke Program will be Priority,” The Japan Times, November 19, 2016.

[2] Chang Jae-soon, “Trump Names Former DIA Chief Mike Flynn as his National Security Advisor,” Yonhap, November 19, 2016.

[3] Edward Wong, “Michael Flynn, a Top Trump Adviser, Ties China and North Korea to Jihadists,” New York Times, November 30, 2016.

[4] Press Release, “Pompeo on North Korea’s Nuclear Test,” U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo, January 16, 2016.

[5] Chang Jae-soon, “Trump’s Foreign Policy Lineup Expected to be Supportive of Alliance with Seoul, Tough on N.K.,” December 13, 2016.

[6] Joel S. Wit, “The Way Ahead: North Korea Policy Recommendations for the Trump Administration,” U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), December 2016.

[7] FPI Conference Call: North Korea’s Dangerous Nuclear Escalation,” The Foreign Policy Initiative, September 15, 2016.

[8] Nicholas Eberstadt, “Wishful Thinking has Prevented Effective Threat Reduction in North Korea,” National Review, February 29, 2016.

[9] Commander Frederick ‘Skip’ Vincenzo, “An Information Based Strategy to Reduce North Korea’s Increasing Threat: Recommendations for ROK & U.S. Policy Makers,” Center for a New American Security, U.S.-Korea Institute, National Defense University, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service Center for Security Studies,” October 2016.

[10] Evans J.R. Revere, “Dealing with a Nuclear-Armed North Korea: Rising Danger, Narrowing Options, Hard Choices,” Brookings Institute, October 4, 2016.

[11] Richard Sisk, “Former US General Calls for Pre-emptive Strike on North Korea,” Defense Tech, December 1, 2016.

[12] Mike Mullen and Sam Nunn, chairs, and Adam Mount, project director, “A Sharper Choice on North Korea: Engaging China for a Stable Northeast Asia,” Independent Task Force Report No. 74, Council on Foreign Relations, 2016.

[13] Bruce W. Bennett, “Kim Jong-un is Trolling America Again,” The National Interest, May 17, 2016.

[14] Ashton Carter, “Networking Defense in the 21st Century”, Remarks at CNAS, Washington, DC, Defense.gov, June 20, 2016.

[15] Mira Rapp-Hooper, Patrick M. Cronin, Harry Krejsa, Hannah Suh, “Counterbalance: Red Teaming the Rebalance in the Asia-Pacific,” Center for a New American Security, November 2016.

[16] Julianne Smith, Erik Brattberg, and Rachel Rizzo, “Translatlantic Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific,” Center for a New American Security, October 2016.

[17] Patrick M. Cronin, “4 Ways Trump Can Avoid a North Korea Disaster,” The Diplomat, December 13, 2016.

[18] Patrick M. Cronin and Marcel Angliviel de la Beaumelle, “How the Next US President Should Handle the South China Sea,” The Diplomat. May 2, 2016.

[19] “Foreign Assistance in Pakistan,” foreignassistance.gov

Rama Lakshmi, “India and U.S. Deepen Defense Ties with Landmark Agreement,” Washington Post, August 30, 2016.

[20] “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” everycrsreport.com, December 22, 2016.

[21] U.S. Department of State, “World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 2016,” December 2016.

[22] Bradley O. Babson, “After the Party Congress: What to Make of North Korea’s Commitment to Economic Development?” 38 North, May 19, 2016.Elizabeth Shim, “Kim Jong Un’s Economic Plan Targets Foreign Investment,” UPI, May 19, 2015.

[23] “The Six-Party Talks and the North Korean Nuclear Issue: Old Wine in New Bottles?” Hearing Before the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, October 6, 2005.

[24] “Libya Nuclear Chronology,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, February 2011.

[25] U.S. Department of State cable, “U/S Bolton’s July 10 Meeting with Libyan Officials, August 11, 2004.

[26] William Tobey, “A Message from Tripoli, Part 4: How Libya Gave Up its WMD,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December 7, 2014.

[27] U.S. Embassy Tripoli cable, “Libya/UNSC: 1267, Iran and Kosovo, July 1, 2008.

[28] U.S. Embassy Tripoli cable, “Kosovo ICJ Resolution at UNGA — Libya,” October 6, 2008.

[29] “Libya Nuclear Chronology,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, February 2011.

[30] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_weapons_tests_of_the_United_States

[31] Tim Beal, “The Korean Peninsula within the Framework of US Global Hegemony,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, November 15, 2016.

Gregory Elich is on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute and the Advisory Board of the Korea Policy Institute. He a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, a columnist for Voice of the People, and one of the co-authors of Killing Democracy: CIA and Pentagon Operations in the Post-Soviet Period, published in the Russian language. He is also a member of the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific. His website is https://gregoryelich.org

February 13, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ships from 4 NATO countries conduct naval drills in Black Sea

RT | February 13, 2017

Ships from four NATO member states – Canada, Spain, Romania, and Bulgaria – have taken part in PASSEX 2017, a joint military exercise in the Black Sea.

The exercise features “tactical maneuvering, air defense, repelling asymmetric attacks from an enemy above water, delivery of cargo by helicopter, and other maneuvers,” TASS reports, citing a statement from the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense press service.

According to military authorities, two frigates from the NATO Permanent On Call Joint Maritime Battle Force – Canadian Navy frigate St. John’s and Spanish Navy frigate Almirante Juan de Borbón, a frigate from Romania, Bulgarian corvette Reshitelni, and a special unit of Bulgarian Naval intelligence – have entered the port of Varna, Bulgaria to take part in the PASSEX 2017 drills.

The Canadian and Spanish vessels participated before in the Romanian-led Sea Shield 2017 exercise in the Black Sea, Bulgarian military website Pan.bg reported. The Sea Shield drills took place February 1-10. The naval drills involved 16 warships and 10 warplanes. The exercises were held in the eastern part of the Black Sea, not far from the Russian border.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Moscow was keeping an eye on the Sea Shield drills: “At present, we are watching and monitoring everything that is happening there.”

“We hope that the exercise will be conducted in the safest possible environment, without any challenges to Russia. In any case, we are ready to take on these challenges,” he added.

On January 31, US and Polish soldiers, alongside newly delivered American military hardware, also conducted joint drills in what has been described as the biggest US deployment in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

Moscow has repeatedly voiced concerns over NATO’s military activity by its border.

“These actions threaten our interests, our security,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this month. “Especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders.”

In response, Russia stationed its most modern weaponry and armaments in its western regions, including the exclave of Kaliningrad, which shares a border with Poland and Lithuania, and is carrying out large-scale military drills on its home soil.

Elsa Rassbach, of the War Resisters International German affiliate and Code Pink, told RT that NATO’s war games and rotational deployments negatively affect the overall security situation in Europe.

“I think they have a very negative impact, in particular actually, in those countries that are nearer to the Russian border. Any error, many things could happen that could lead out of these exercises to a real conflict. But the security of all of Europe is threatened, and this is one reason why so many people in Germany are hopeful that there will be peace made with Russia and are very fearful that a war could develop out these kinds of exercises, which seems to indicate a willingness to go to war by the US and NATO, unfortunately.”

Nearly 70 percent of Russians currently view NATO as a threat, a new survey from Gallup has showed. It is the highest number recorded since 2008.

Eastern European countries that see NATO as a source of protection are mostly members of the alliance. In Poland, 62 percent see NATO as their protector. Estonia, with 52 percent backing NATO, is hosting 800 NATO personnel, while Romania, where 50 percent approve of NATO, is expected to receive several Royal Air Force Typhoon jets in 2017.

Read more:

US military helicopters arrive in Germany amid NATO buildup in E. Europe (VIDEOS)

February 13, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment