‘UK Govt priorities were wrong over Libya’
The UK government spent 13 times more bombing Libya than securing peace in the years afterwards, it has been revealed.
The House of Commons library has released information which shows the UK government spent around £320 million in a bombing campaign against Libya, and just £25 million in re-building programmes following the conflict.
The revelations follows serious concerns raised by the SNP over the UK’s current involvement in Syria -which had been taken forward despite a vote against bombing Syria in the House of Commons two years ago.
Stephen Gethins MP said:
“These figures are eye-watering. The amount of money the UK government will spend bombing a country dwarves the re-building programme thirteen to one.
“The lessons of Libya, like Iraq, is that you cannot just bomb somewhere and move on. The figures are especially alarming given the UK government’s current involvement in Syria.
“The case for bombing in Syria has simply not been made – and the involvement of British service personnel in bombing without the approval of Parliament clearly flouts the democratic decision taken by the House of Commons.
“We urgently need honesty and transparency about the UK intentions in Syria- and a strong commitment to the country following the conflict.”
Commenting on UK intervention in Syria on the Marr show this morning, SNP Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alex Salmond said:
“Parliament has to be consulted and Parliament would have to be persuaded. And I’ve heard nothing yet from the Prime Minister that would persuade me that there’s an integrated strategy that would justify a bombing campaign.
“Spending £320m on a bombing campaign and £25m to help restore the country is one reason perhaps that we have a failed state in Libya.”
67.8% of respondents to a Google Consumer Survey said Israel should receive no compensation for the US finalizing a deal with Iran over its civilian nuclear program, which was begun at the behest of the US when Washington’s puppet, the Shah, one of the world’s worst human rights violators, ruled over Iran.
Obama is currently offering Israel increased aid to compensate for the agreement. Israel is the biggest recipient of US aid at over $3 billion per year, and Obama has increased aid to Israel after each of Israel’s major massacres in the Gaza refugee camp since Obama assumed power.
The major study of the issue of citizen impact on US government policy, conducted in 2014 by research teams out of Princeton and Northwestern universities, looked at nearly 2,000 policies and found that average-income US citizens have “near zero, statistically non-significant” impact on them, while the most affluent citizens essentially dictate policy. This dynamic has been illustrated by previous research, such as by Larry Bartels of Vanderbilt.
Another issue to watch for: the “world’s most influential” think tank, the Washington-based Brookings Institute, has suggested (among other options), as a way for the US to gain dominance over Iran, making it appear that Iran has rejected a “great” deal, then using Israel to attack Iran. (Note the above poll asks if Israel should be given long-range bombers and “bunker-buster” explosives.)
The US and Israel have both continued to make threats of force, criminal acts under the UN charter adopted by both countries, against Iran since the agreement, and Obama’s anti-democratic offering of increased aid to Israel could possibly signal that the “leave it to Bibi” strategy is still being entertained, along with any number of other goals.
Author is a US-based researcher focusing on force dynamics, national and global. @_DirtyTruths
We should expect conflicts in which adversaries, because of cultural affinities different from our own, will resort to forms and levels of violence shocking to our sensibilities.
— Department of Defense, 1999, with thanks to William Blum
One quote has reverberated throughout the United States decades of decimations of the lands of others. Journalist Peter Arnett, reporting from Vietnam, in a piece published on 7 July 1968, quoted an American officer saying of the provincial capital Bến Tre: “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” He was referring to the decision to bomb and shell the town no matter what the cost of civilian lives, in order to rout the Vietcong.
The US led “coalitions” of recent years have, it seems, moved on from destroying towns, now entire sovereign nations are laid to waste to free, liberate, and democratize them. The cemeteries and ruins of much of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya are recent silent witness to this munificence, with Syria set to be the latest centre of the eye of the storm.
ISIS/ISIL/IS has replaced the Vietcong and the “town” is where ever the liberating bombs, missiles, drone strikes blast homes and humanity across the entire country and of course in neighbouring Iraq, bombed in the name of protection and salvation for 24 years — approaching a quarter of a century.
In context, prior to the illegal invasion of 2003, from 1993 onwards, wrote John Pilger (7 August 2000):
The Royal Air Force, together with the US, bombs Iraq almost every day. Since December 1998, the Ministry of Defence has admitted dropping 780 tonnes of bombs on a country with which Britain is not at war. During the same period, the United States has conducted 24,000 combat missions over southern Iraq alone, mostly in populated areas. In one five-month period, forty one per cent of casualties were civilians: farmers, fishermen, shepherds, their children and their sheep – the circumstances of their killing were documented by the United Nations Security Sector”, it was: “the longest such campaign since the Second World War.”
The Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain in a breathtaking lie, even by UK Minister’s standards told Parliament on 2 May 2000: “As I have told the House on many occasions, we are not conducting a bombing campaign against Iraq …”
On 6 July 2000, commentator Jonathan Power pointed out that: “the Pentagon says more than 280,000 sorties have been flown in the near decade since no-flight zones were imposed on Saddam in the north and south of the country.”
Turkey has now given permission for the US to use the country’s Incirlik air base “after months of negotiations”, according to the BBC. Since the US also used the base during the 1991 Iraq war and in 2001 at the start of the attack on Afghanistan, it has to be wondered what further horror is planned for Syria.
In the last forty eight hours Turkey has enjoined in bombing Syria and has also bombed northern Iraq. There are unconfirmed reports of Turkish troops in Aleppo.
In spite of the UK Parliament voting not to become militarily involved in Syria, it transpired this week that British Air Force pilots have anyway been bombarding Syria in defiance of Parliament. They simply swopped their uniforms and fighter jets for those of countries who were involved in the attacks.
Although the US has been terrorizing Iraq and Syria since 8 August 2014, they took until 15 of October to dream up another silly name for another mass slaughter and announced that “Operation Inherent Resolve” was: “officially designated as the name given to US military operations against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.” The name is intended: “to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the US and partner nations … to eliminate ISIL …” Heaven help the people of Syria and Iraq.
The US military is clearly not a superstitious body; 15 of October was not an auspicious day for Empire. On that day in 1793, Queen Marie Antoinette of France was condemned to death and executed the following day; Napoleon 1st began his exile on St Helena.
In 1863, following his defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War, General Robert E Lee proffered his resignation to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
The population of Syria is just 22.85 million; it is being assaulted by the US, population 318.9 million, Turkey population 74.93 million, the UK with a population of 64.1 million, plus a few other less visible and enthusiastic members of the “coalition”: Jordan, Canada, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The UAE stopped flying in December, reportedly after a dispute over the US not providing sufficient combat air rescue. By 6 February the US had mounted 946 air strikes in Syria, with Jordan, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia completing just 79. (News, websites.)
The number of weapons rained down on Syria between August 2014 and June 30th 2015 is staggering. According to the US Department of Defence:
December: Unaccounted for
The average cost, August 8 2014 to June 18 2015 is $9.2 million a day for the 315 killing days. To 22 June this year “Targets Damaged or Destroyed” in Syria and Iraq include 98 tanks, 325 trucks, 472 staging areas (these are illustrated with a tent, so presumably could be displaced families mistaken for “terrorists”) 2,045 buildings, 1,859 “fighting positions” (again, as Iraq, how many people gathered for a wedding, funeral, waiting for transport were designated “fighters” from the safety of 35,000 ft?) 154 oil infrastructures and “other targets” 2,702. Total 7,655.
The carnage is ongoing. The most recent are on 21 July with ten airstrikes on Syria and 15 on Iraq, on 24 July eight on Syria and 19 in Iraq, and 25 July, nine air strikes on Syria and 22 on Iraq with drones also being used. The “assessments” of that destroyed is tragic and sometimes farcical. In Iraq “an ISIS excavator” for example, could it not just be some soul mending a road? Two “ISIS bridges” near mortally damaged Fallujah — Iraq is divided by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers — the great soaring engineering triumphs that are the country’s bridges are the arteries of the nation’s body. Now they are designated “ISIS bridges” and destroyed – again.
As Syria’s President Assad said today (26 July) in an address to the nation: “The West calls it ‘terrorism’ when it hits them, and ‘revolution, freedom, democracy and human rights’ when it hits us.’”
Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger’s Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.)
Last week, Retired General Wesley Clark, who was NATO commander during the US bombing of Serbia, proposed that “disloyal Americans” be sent to internment camps for the “duration of the conflict.” Discussing the recent military base shootings in Chattanooga, TN, in which five US service members were killed, Clark recalled the internment of American citizens during World War II who were merely suspected of having Nazi sympathies. He said: “back then we didn’t say ‘that was freedom of speech,’ we put him in a camp.”
He called for the government to identify people most likely to be radicalized so we can “cut this off at the beginning.” That sounds like “pre-crime”!
Gen. Clark ran for president in 2004 and it’s probably a good thing he didn’t win considering what seems to be his disregard for the Constitution. Unfortunately in the current presidential race Donald Trump even one-upped Clark, stating recently that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is a traitor and should be treated like one, implying that the government should kill him.
These statements and others like them most likely reflect the frustration felt in Washington over a 15 year war on terror where there has been no victory and where we actually seem worse off than when we started. The real problem is they will argue and bicker over changing tactics but their interventionist strategy remains the same.
Retired Army Gen. Mike Flynn, who was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, told al-Jazeera this week that US drones create more terrorists than they kill. He said: “The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just … fuels the conflict.”
Still Washington pursues the same strategy while expecting different results.
It is probably almost inevitable that the warhawks will turn their anger inward, toward Americans who are sick of the endless and costly wars. The US loss of the Vietnam war is still blamed by many on the protesters at home rather than on the foolishness of the war based on a lie in the first place.
Let’s hope these threats from Clark and Trump are not a trial balloon leading to a clampdown on our liberties. There are a few reasons we should be concerned. Last week the US House passed a bill that would allow the Secretary of State to unilaterally cancel an American citizen’s passport if he determines that person has “aided” or “abetted” a terrorist organization. And as of this writing, the Senate is debating a highway funding bill that would allow the Secretary of State to cancel the passport of any American who owes too much money to the IRS.
Canceling a passport means removing the right to travel, which is a kind of virtual internment camp. The person would find his movements restricted, either being prevented from leaving or entering the United States. Neither of these measures involves any due process or possibility of appeal, and the government’s evidence supporting the action can be kept secret.
We should demand an end to these foolish wars that even the experts admit are making matters worse. Of course we need a strong defense, but we should not provoke the hatred of others through drones, bombs, or pushing regime change overseas. And we must protect our civil liberties here at home from government elites who increasingly view us as the enemy.
… The war is not meant to be won – it is meant to be continuous.…” – George Orwell, 1984
David Kilcullen has a message for us over at the Guardian, and this is it:
We’re living in an era of persistent conflict…”
Which is sadly, true. You might think the next thing to be discussed on that topic would be – why? Why are we now living in an era of endless war? What forces are behind this development? Who, if anyone, is profiting from the same? But, no, David doesn’t think any of this is worthy of our attention. He simply wants us to understand that “perpetual conflict” is absolutely and inescapably the new reality.
… you can read it in the latest concept documents of half a dozen western militaries. But it doesn’t seem to have hit home, for the public or some policymakers, that the notion that this can all end, that we can get back to some pre-9/ 11 “normal,” is a fantasy.
Do we get that? Is it hitting home? Peace is now a “fantasy”. It’s official. And in case you are still harbouring some smidgen of doubt, Dave is going to say it again in different words:
This – this instability, this regional conflict surrounded by networked global violence, this convergence of war and crime, of domestic and international threats, this rise of a new aggressive totalitarian state from the rubble of the last war – is the new normal, and it’s not going to change for a very, very long time. There are no quick solutions: we need to settle in for the long haul.
That being the case, we have to figure out methods of dealing with persistent conflict.
I see no alternative to a larger, more intense, conventional war against Isis than the one currently being contemplated…
Do you see that children? That’s called “paradigm-creation.” The topic for discussion is evidently intended to be “how do we deal with persistent conflict?” The question of why the persistent conflict is happening, or who is funding these “aggressive new totalitarian states” is NOT part of the agenda, and is being excised from our collective conscious. All we need to know is:
Isis is an escalating threat that’s growing and worsening.
We do not need to worry our little heads about what this entity called “ISIS” actually is, how plausible the clownish stories of its super-villain powers are. Nor are we supposed to waste a single moment asking who is picking up its not inconsiderable tab. What matters is that Syria and Iraq are “problems” (never mind why or how) and that “greater western involvement would mitigate all these problems” (because that is what western involvement does – ask Libya). Most importantly, the US needs to get over its scruples and do more:
…US passivity and reluctance to target Assad (though his regime kills more people than Isis) makes many Syrians wary of joining the “moderate” rebels.
“US passivity and reluctance”? Really, Dave? What about the article in the Washington Times claiming the US state department lied about Syrian chemical attacks in order to fabricate a reason for attacking Assad? And what about this article at Global Research which alleges the US is actually targeting the Syrian government- not ISIS – with its current air strikes.
I’m left wondering – is Assad really any worse than the dreadful and medieval Saudis? He certainly seems to be pretty popular in Syria, where they apparently have a different take on things (but Dave doesn’t bother to tell us that). If we in the west have no problem with murderous tyrants, why do we have a problem with Assad? Is it because he isn’t our murderous tyrant?
Is the US really out there in Syria trying (but inexplicably failing) to defeat ISIS? Or is it happy to aid and abet ISIS in doing the dirty work it tried and failed to do itself? If Dave gets his way and we launch a “more intense conventional war” in Syria, will our soldiers’ lives and our taxes really be spent on defeating ISIS or is that just a shallow ruse to enable the US to finally go in and get Assad?
Is “perpetual conflict” really something we should all just accept as inevitable and leave it to people like Dave to sort out? Or is it something we should be resisting and interrogating at every level and at every opportunity?
Nah. Never mind. None of this matters. Let’s just keep it simple. The message is:
1. Persistent conflict is the new normal
2. There is no need to ask why.
Everyone got that?
What is exactly stopping a solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine?
By this time, it should be obvious that the west does not want a conflict in Ukraine to be resolved any time soon. If that were the case, it would apply pressure to both parties of the conflict: the government in Kiev and the separatists in Donbas. Instead, the west applies pressure to the third party: the Russian government, admittedly the separatists’ best friend and supplier, but not the one that has direct stakes in the conflict at hand.
Let us recount those stakes. For Kiev: territorial integrity, full sovereignty over Donbas, and the right to determine its foreign policies independently from external influences (or so the government spokespersons in Kiev say).
For Donbas: linguistic and cultural autonomy, elements of a robust home rule, the right to preserve a privileged relationship with the Russian Federation, and amnesty to the local separatist leaders and militiamen.
Does Russia have stakes separate from any of these? Not that I know of. Putin keeps repeating the separatists’ demands: an amnesty, local autonomy; full implementation of the Minsk agreements. In spite of what we hear so often in the west, there are no separate demands presumably infringing on Ukraine’s sovereignty; Russia says nothing about whether Ukraine should or should not join the EU, should or should not claim Donbas as its own, should or should not be friendly with Russia itself. Yes, the Kremlin would be extremely disappointed were Ukraine to join NATO. Even so, the Kremlin has more than once assured the world it did not claim to have a veto over Ukraine’s foreign policy choices.
All the same, demanding that Russia seal the border and stop the influx of volunteers into the conflict zone is extremely unrealistic. Putin staked his reputation on support of Russia’s so-called compatriots in the near abroad; his abandoning those compatriots to the gallows would sink his presidency.
What is, then, the solution and is it even possible?
It seems the solution is possible, and it has been clearly defined in the Minsk agreements. The problem is, Kiev does not want to implement them, and therefore protracts the conflict.
Firstly, the promised amnesty to the separatists has never been announced. Ukraine’s pundits are musing over who should be pardoned and who should not. Those with blood on their hands should not be pardoned, seems to be the common wisdom. Not a word about the blood of civilians in Donbas killed in the process of carrying out Kiev’s so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation. With such an attitude, the choice facing the Donbas militia leaders seems to be simple: continue fighting or face imprisonment (or worse) at the hand of the Ukrainian authorities. Why are we surprised they keep fighting?
Secondly, the Minsk agreements called for extensive home rule provisions for Donbas, and for a requisite change in the Constitution of Ukraine.
None of this seems to be in the works. The latest proposal on changes to the Constitution of Ukraine, dated July 1, 2015, has nothing about a special status for the affected regions of Donbas beyond a fuzzy promise – in the law, not in the Constitution itself – that the ‘special modalities of local governance in separate regions of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasti will be determined by a separate law’. This is not what the Government of Ukraine promised its partners when talking about the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.
Thirdly, the Minsk Agreements call for the ‘linguistic self-definition’ of the affected regions or, in short, the right to continue using Russian as the language of daily communication and local governance. Official Kiev keeps quiet on the issue.
Finally, according to the Minsk agreements, Ukraine should support social and economic development of the affected regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In the meantime, since November 2014, no pensions have been paid to the retired Ukrainian citizens living in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.
Although Kiev has not begun implementing even the first basic point of the Minsk agreements (the ‘immediate and comprehensive cease-fire’ in Donbas), the west seems to be fully okay with that. Well, the separatists fire on Ukraine’s positions, the Ukrainian army should return fire, so goes the conventional explanation.
What if the Ukrainian army didn’t return fire? Would it risk losing an inch more territory? The answer is far from obvious, yet the the regular army continues using heavy artillery in densely populated civilian areas in Donbas (and killing unarmed civilians in the process). This fact alone should have moved Ukraine’s western sponsors to an obvious course of action: press the Ukrainian government to stop abusing human rights of its own citizens in eastern Ukraine.
It is almost exactly a year since Human Rights Watch, in an open communication to President Poroshenko, lamented the actions of the Ukrainian army and the pro-government militias, in particular the shelling of a hospital in Krasny Liman and air strikes in the villages of Luhanskaya and Kondrashevka.
In January and February 2015, government forces (and the separatists) used widely banned cluster munitions to attack rebels; earlier, the use of incendiary weapons in densely populated areas was documented. By July 2015, more than 6,500 people have died as a result of the conflict; close to 3,500 of them civilians. More than 16,000 have been wounded; close to 1.4 million people internally displaced. At least 660,000 Ukrainian refugees came to Russia.
The civil war in Ukraine has generated a humanitarian catastrophe that can only be resolved with the joint efforts of all parties concerned, the USA and the EU included. It goes without saying, Kiev should be prepared to sit together at the same table with separatist leaders and offer them some concessions before any deal can be reached.
Instead, Kiev promises an amnesty after the elections, and a law on the status of territories after Ukraine’s full control over its eastern borders is restored. To many an observer inside and outside, this must look like deceiving one’s opponent and negotiating in bad faith. Yet western powers stand firm in their resolve to lay all the blame for the failure of the Minsk agreement at Russia’s feet.
Last month, at the G-7 meeting in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, western powers agreed to keep sanctions against Russia in place until the Minsk agreements are implemented in full. The Canadian government went further than the rest of the G-7 nations, having decided not only to keep, but to expand the sanctions with the blacklisting of Gazprom, its oil subsidiary Gazprom Neft, Russia’s state-owned Transneft and a major oil producer Surgutneftegaz. In addition, Canada decided to sanction a conservative nationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin and Eurasian Youth Union, a non-governmental organization known for its pro-Putin views.
All of this looks more than somewhat one-sided given a recent revelation that Canada’s embassy in Kiev was used as a base for anti-government protesters to re-group and re-cuperate during the Maidan uprising that toppled former president Viktor Yanukovych.
As for Canada’s big brother, the United States, it has publicly admitted spending $5.1 billion to support democracy-building programs in Ukraine since 1992. While western champions of democracy have proudly claimed their right to interfere in internal affairs of a sovereign country for the sake of a regime change when it suited their interests, they do surprisingly little to stop continuing human rights abuses committed by Ukraine government troops and far-right militias in the pro-Russian Donbas.
If the Minsk agreements are ever to be implemented in full, there is no other way but for all sides to follow the agreed-upon commitments.
This includes, first and foremost, the immediate cessation of artillery barrages targeting Donbas cities and villages; further, the unequivocal and unconditional declaration of an amnesty for the Donbas fighters; and finally, a provision for Donbas autonomy enshrined into the Constitution of Ukraine before – not after – any local elections will be allowed to happen.
Only such a range of measures will ensure full withdrawal of Russian volunteers from Donbas, and Russian regular forces from the Russo-Ukrainian borderlands.
Only such a gambit will restore peace and a hope of prosperity to the whole of Ukraine. It is not Moscow, or Donetsk, or Luhansk that should make a first move. It is fully up to Kiev to choose between war and peace in Ukraine’s south east.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos ordered to suspend air strikes on positions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), he said via his Twitter microblog.
On Monday, FARC ordered all their units to observe a ceasefire and released a Colombian soldier it had captured earlier this month as a gesture of goodwill.
“I have ordered to suspend airstrikes on FARC camps starting today. They will be carried out only in the case of an explicit order of the president,” Santos said Saturday.
He added that the sides were able to revive the peace talks and “are closer than ever to put an end to the war.”
Colombian armed forces have been fighting FARC, the country’s largest rebel group, since 1964. The two sides have been holding peace talks in Cuba since 2012.
Recent progress in peace talks between FARC and the government was achieved in June with an agreement on the creation of a joint Truth Commission.
The commission is tasked with gathering testimony from victims and witnesses of Colombia’s civil war. However, it is unable to use the information to bring up criminal charges against FARC members, government troops or other fighters.
As many as 220,000 people have been killed as a result of the armed conflict in Colombia.
The US Defense Department has awarded major weapons maker Raytheon to provide the Persian Gulf Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with 355 air-to-ground missiles amid its persisting campaign of aerial strikes against civilian and economic targets in neighboring Yemen.
According to a Pentagon announcement cited Saturday by the Russia-based Sputnik News, in a $180-million contract assigned to the arms manufacturer, Raytheon is to deliver the AGM-154 series missiles to the Saudi regime in a move clearly regarded as a bid to support the aerial strikes against Yemen.
The AGM-154 is described as a Global Positioning System and infrared guided air-to-ground missile with stand-off capability.
The contract, the report adds, also includes the delivery of 200 AGM-154C-1 missiles to the US Navy.
Washington, the report adds, has justified the missile sales to Riyadh as part of an agreement by Persian Gulf Arab dictatorships to expand their military cooperation with Washington amid “concerns” over the recent nuclear talks conclusion with Iran as well as the Islamic Republic’s persisting influence as a major power and the most stable nation in the strategic region.
Meanwhile, the oil-rich Saudi Arabia, widely regarded as a US client in the Persian Gulf region, has been among the world’s largest importers of lethal weaponry over the years and has significantly expanded its purchase of armaments in recent months, becoming the world’s top importer in 2015 so far.
This is while Riyadh signed major arms deals worth billions of dollars with France last month for the purchase of patrol ships, border guard helicopters and aircraft as it escalated its war effort against Yemen.
The announcement of the deals came during a visit by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud to Paris.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius defended the selling of French patrol boats to Riyadh, claiming that they are meant “to enhance the capability of the Saudi Coast Guard, which is today facing growing threats.”
Saudi Arabia has been carrying out airstrikes against Yemen since March 26 without a UN mandate. The strikes are meant to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of the Al Saud regime.
Thousands have been killed and at least 11,000 more injured in the airstrikes.
US military instructors are expanding their mission in Ukraine beyond the National Guard and will boost the army’s “defense capabilities” as part of a security partnership which has been going on for the “last 20 years,” the US State Department said.
“The United States intends to continue training Ukrainian security forces this fall in western Ukraine,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner has announced. He labeled the training part of a long-running defense cooperation with Ukraine.
The US instructors are to focus on small unit training aimed at bolstering Ukraine’s “internal defense capabilities” as conflict in the Donbass region continues for over a year. The new program would increase Washington’s military assistance provided to Ukraine by more than $244 million.
“This is going be small unit training conducted by US Army Europe for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense personnel,” Toner told reporters Friday. “It’s similar quite frankly to our ongoing training of the National Guard which we announced last March.”
Some 300 US troops are already training the country’s National Guard, which is a semi-official Ukrainian military force hastily created in 2014 to legalize groups of volunteers, patriots and activists following the coup and protests on Maidan. Earlier this month, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said that US was considering the expansion of its military training to Ukrainian army soldiers.
“We have been providing this kind of assistance training program to Ukraine, over the last 20 years,” Toner stated, adding the new program is not unique and is in line with the US’ “ongoing partnership” with Ukraine.
Meanwhile Washington has stepped up military exercises in Eastern Europe to “reassure” NATO allies in the face of a perceived “Russian threat.” NATO’s Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident 2015 military drills have been seeing almost 2,000 soldiers from 18 different countries displaying their military might this week near the city of Lvov in western Ukraine, inching further towards the Russian border.
The US-led drills are fueling “revanchist moods among the ‘party of war’ in Kiev, which jeopardizes the outlined progress in the peaceful settlement of a deep internal crisis in Ukraine,” the Russian Foreign ministry said in a statement, earlier this week.
The ministry called the drills “a clear manifestation of NATO’s course of unconditional support for the current policy of the Kiev authorities in the south-east of Ukraine, which leads to civilians dying on a daily basis in the region.”
NATO drills will continue until the end of July, but Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has already called for more cooperation in the defense sector since meeting the Supreme Allied Commander Europe US General Philip Breedlove in Kiev.
“We’ve got an effective military and technical cooperation,” he said. “There are also good prospects for cooperation in terms of military exercises.”
Kiev is also pushing for Washington to provide lethal military aid to Ukraine, which the US has so far been reluctant to do.
“We expect to get additional support from the United States,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told AP, less than 10 days ago. “We do understand that some NATO allies are a little bit reluctant in the decision to supply defensive weapons to Ukraine. But this is not just about Ukraine. This is about the security of the world.”
Commenting on the possibility of sending non-lethal aid to Ukraine, Toner stated on Friday that he had nothing to announce, assuring that for now Washington’s focus is on providing non-lethal aid.
“There’s no plan to change that,” Toner said.
Nevertheless Washington said last month that more heavy equipment, including artillery and tanks, will be moved closer to the Russian borders and stationed on a rotating basis in a number of Eastern European NATO countries. Amid the “Russian threat” hysteria, NATO is also tripling the size of its Response Force, recently reinforced with a new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.
George Clooney is being paid by the world’s top two war profiteers, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, to oppose war profiteering by Africans disloyal to the U.S. government’s agenda.
Way back yonder before World War II, war profiteering was widely frowned on in the United States. Those of us trying to bring back that attitude, and working for barely-funded peace organizations, ought to be thrilled when a wealthy celebrity like George Clooney decides to take on war profiteering, and the corporate media laps it up.
“Real leverage for peace and human rights will come when the people who benefit from war will pay a price for the damage they cause,” said Clooney — without encountering anything like the blowback Donald Trump received when he criticized John McCain.
Really, is that all it takes to give peace a chance, a celebrity? Will the media now cover the matter of who funds opponents of the Iran deal, and who funds supporters of the wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.?
Well, no, not really.
It turns out Clooney opposes, not war profiteering in general, but war profiteering while African. In fact, Clooney’s concern is limited, at least thus far, to five African nations: Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, though these are not the only nations in Africa or the world with serious wars underway.
Of the top 100 weapons makers in the world, not a single one is based in Africa. Only 1 is in South or Central America. Fifteen are in Western allies and protectorates in Asia (and China is not included in the list). Three are in Israel, one in Ukraine, and 13 in Russia. Sixty-six are in the United States, Western Europe, and Canada. Forty are in the U.S. alone. Seventeen of the top 30 are in the U.S. Six of the top 10 mega-profiteers are in the U.S. The other four in the top 10 are in Western Europe.
Clooney’s new organization, “The Sentry,” is part of The Enough Project, which is part of the Center for American Progress, which is a leading backer of “humanitarian” wars, and various other wars for that matter — and which is funded by the world’s top war profiteer, Lockheed Martin, and by number-two Boeing, among other war profiteers.
According to the Congressional Research Service, in the most recent edition of an annual report that it has now discontinued, 79% of all weapons transfers to poor nations are from the United States. That doesn’t include U.S. weapons in the hands of the U.S. military, which has now moved into nearly every nation in Africa. When drugs flow north the United States focuses on the supply end of the exchange as an excuse for wars. When weapons flow south, George Clooney announces that we’ll stop backward violence at the demand side by exposing African corruption.
The spreading of the U.S. empire through militarism is most often justified by the example of Rwanda as a place where the opportunity for a humanitarian war, to prevent the Rwanda Genocide, was supposedly missed. But the United States backed an invasion of Rwanda in 1990 by a Ugandan army led by U.S.-trained killers, and supported their attacks for three-and-a-half years, applying more pressure through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and USAID. U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained war-maker Paul Kagame — now president of Rwanda — is the leading suspect behind the shooting down of a plane carrying the then-presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, 1994. As chaos followed, the U.N. might have sent in peacekeepers (not the same thing, be it noted, as dropping bombs) but Washington was opposed. President Bill Clinton wanted Kagame in power, and Kagame has now taken the war into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with U.S. aid and weapons, where 6 million have been killed. And yet nobody ever says “We must prevent another Congo!”
What does George Clooney’s new organization say about the DRC? A very different story from that told by Friends of the Congo. According to Clooney’s group the killing in the Congo happens “despite years of international attention,” not because of it. Clooney’s organization also promotes this argument for more U.S. warmaking in the DRC from Kathryn Bigelow, best known for producing the CIA propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty.
On Sudan as well, there’s no blame for U.S. interference; instead Clooney’s crew has produced a brief for regime change.
The Central African Republic gets the same diagnosis as the others: local ahistorical spontaneous corruption and backwardness leading to war.
Clooney’s co-founder of the Sentry (dictionary definition of “Sentry” is “A guard, especially a soldier posted at a given spot to prevent the passage of unauthorized persons”) is John Prendergast, former Africa director for the National Security Council. Watch Prendergast find himself awkwardly in a debate with an informed person here.
Clooney’s wife, incidentally, works for U.S.-friendly dictators and brutal killers in places like Bahrain and Libya.
More nations could soon be spotted by The Sentry. The President of Nigeria was at the U.S. Institute of “Peace” this week pleading for weapons. U.S. troops are in Cameroon this week training fighters.
Another is to let The Sentry know what it’s missing. It asks for anonymous tips when you spot war profiteering. Have you ever turned on C-Span? If you see something, say something. Let The Sentry know about the Pentagon.
MOSCOW – According to the Thursday release, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed during phone talks held earlier in the day “to find practical solutions, by August 3, for the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops and the installation of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.”
According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the situation has been tense in the village of Shyrokyne (Shirokino), located in Ukraine’s southeastern region of Donetsk.
Shyrokyne was considered neutral territory in the internal armed conflict that started in Ukraine’s southeast in April, 2014, when Kiev launched a military operation against Donetsk and Lugansk independence supporters.
At the beginning of 2015 fighting in Ukraine’s southeast intensified, with the Donetsk Airport and Shyrokyne being some of the hotspots of violence.
At the start of February, Shyrokyne was seized by Kiev forces.
In mid-February, Kiev and the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Lugansk and Donetsk (LPR and DPR) signed a ceasefire agreement after Normandy Quartet talks in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. However, both sides have since repeatedly accused each other of violating the deal.
Jeremy Corbyn on his record and that of his rivals on the Iraq war, NHS privatisation, banks deregulation, and the future for Labour and possibly the country under his leadership.