TEHRAN – There’s going to be no solution to the Afghan crisis, and it’s all Obama’s fault.
At a time when the people of Afghanistan seek the international community’s help for peace and prosperity, the United States has decided to scrap their pullout plans once again, leaving thousands of occupying troops behind through the end of President Obama’s final term in office.
The silly argument by those in favor of increasing the American troops in place is largely the same throughout the war, that the Afghan government isn’t capable of beating the Taliban on their own, and that a US pullout would add pressure to that struggling military.
Conceivably, American troops may end up being there for many decades because this is where the action is. What’s more, US generals say they need more troops. In this fallacy, their call for a bigger deployment has forced Obama to consider different options while Republicans have lambasted him for letting political motivations override the needs of commanders.
The Pentagon insists Obama’s failure to promptly back their surge could dishonor America, while corporate media say no matter what the president wants, it will be very hard to stop the army generals. And that’s exactly what Obama, mired in proverbial perplexity, is not doing right now: In Washington, the Pentagon and the warmongers have the final say.
“Avoiding another Vietnam,” says this school of thought, “requires a figurehead government – one that delegates all military decision-making power to generals and effectively strips it from elected civilians who will supposedly be too politically motivated.” This authoritarian ideology explains not only the spiteful reaction to Obama’s Afghanistan deliberations but also some of the most anti-democratic statements ever uttered by American leaders.
It explains, for instance, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s assertion that “public opinion doesn’t matter when it comes to military policy.” Nevertheless, it is the US Constitution which gives political figures in Washington the final say: Article I empowers Congress “to declare and finance wars,” and Article II states that “while the White House may require the opinion of military officers, ultimately the President shall be Commander in Chief.”
In this new world order geopolitical business, Obama and congressional leaders have however decided to defy public will – and international law – by making the terrible choice to escalate the Afghanistan War. This is while the illegal occupation has reached its sell-by date. A majority of Americans now tell presidential candidates the mission was a mistake. Regrettably, the generals who run wars, and the defense contractors who profit from them, want more troops and more war in Afghanistan. And that includes many presidential candidates.
From experience, the military buildup will only ensure more violence, attract more armed opposition, and postpone the day of reckoning among political factions in Afghanistan. It will never have a ghost of a chance of success.
Right on cue, the American people should wisely turn against such a destructive wave that will once again cost too many lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, while only making a terrible situation worse for the Afghans. The American people have the power to stop this madness and folly they know is irresponsible, inconclusive and unpopular. It falls to them to demand an exit strategy and not an escalation. They could start doing so by electing a pacifist president – if there’s any.
Inessa Sinchougova – edited by J. Flores | September 24, 2015
Putin answers a loaded set of misinformed questions from a UK journalist – John Simpson from the BBC – and the journalist gets a polite 5 minute schooling on the recent history of Russia-US bilateral relations and US military expansionism the process.
The questions are in relation to Putin’s intentions of getting along with the US. The treaty that he refers to in the conversation is the The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty or ABMT) between the United States and the Soviet Union on the limitation of the anti-ballistic missile (ABM).
The refugee crisis in Europe could be easily solved. The problem is that the real solution would not suit the the political establishment of the United States or Western Europe. We’ve distilled what needs to be done down to 5 simple steps.
- Stop funding and arming rebel groups attempting to overthrow the Syrian government. It’s well established that these weapons have been ending up in the hands of ISIS and its affiliates. This has caused nothing but chaos and destruction. Money being funneled into these shady operations should be immediately redirected to an intensive reconstruction effort.
- Pressure Turkey and Jordan to cut off ISIS supply routes, and impose sanctions on any country facilitating the sale of oil from IS territory or allowing funds or materials to reach them. No army can function if their supply chain is broken. It’s not an accident these routes start at the Turkish and Jordanian borders.
- Support the Syrian government. An entire year of U.S. airstrikes in Syria have utterly failed to destroy or even significantly weaken ISIS. Of course this is because the real strategy isn’t to bring ISIS down, but rather to contain them and allow them to weaken Assad gradually. If Washington really wanted to stop this group, they would take a hint from Russia and provide the Syrian government with weapons, training and logistical support to enable them to push ISIS back. This means Washington and its allies would have to officially abandon all plans for a forced regime change. They might not like Assad, but the majority of the citizens of Syria support him. In fact he has more support within his country than Obama or the U.S. congress have in America. And at various intervals he’s had more support than Congress and Obama combined. Any government installed after a U.S. backed regime change will be viewed as a puppet government, and will therefore lack the legitimacy needed to stabilize the region. If you need evidence of this, just look at Afghanistan or Iraq.
- Provide direct assistance to rebuild housing, infrastructure and businesses destroyed by the conflict. In the short term temporary refugee camps should be set up in areas outside of the conflict zone, and food and medical supplies shipped in on a regular basis. Yes this will cost money, but so has the five year regime change push that created the problem in the first place.
- Return the refugees to these stabilized regions. It is in no one’s interest to flood Europe with masses of unemployed refugees. Doing so will only lead to heightened tensions and will strengthen xenophobic movements. These people don’t need to be transplanted into the ghettos of Europe, they need their homes back.
Poland’s lower house of parliament has given the green light to the country’s president to ratify a technical agreement on establishing a US anti-missile base in Redzikowo. Under the NATO-backed plan, the facility should be operational by 2018.
A total of 422 members of the Polish Sejm voted in favor of the bill, with three MPs against and five abstaining.
The agreement in question is a part of a much-debated NATO-backed plan that was first agreed on by the US and Poland in 2008. At that time, it was claimed that the base was necessary to counter the risk of a possible missile attack from Iran or North Korea.
The document outlines technical conditions for the US anti-missile base’s operation on Polish soil, such as restrictions on the height of the buildings that can be built around the base, the use of devices emitting electromagnetic waves, and flights of military aircraft over and around the future facility.
Washington wants to expand the European anti-missile defense (AMD) by putting land- and sea-based radar and interceptors in the village of Redzikowo near the northern Polish town of Slupsk.
The same agreement to host anti-missile bases for of AMD has already been signed with Romania.
The deal stipulates that both countries will host some 24 vertical-launch SM-3 missiles each. The construction of AMD components in Poland is set to start next year and be completed by 2018.
Washington’s plans to install anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe have been one of the biggest stumbling blocks in US-Russia relations.
In 2009, a year after Warsaw and Washington signed the agreement, President Barack Obama assured that the deal would be canceled if the issue with Iran over its nuclear program was sorted out.
However, despite the agreement with Tehran, which curbed its controversial nuclear program in exchange for the easing of international sanctions, the NATO-backed Europe AMD plan is set to go forward.
“The deal with Tehran doesn’t include missiles, therefore the threat remains,” John A. Heffern, US Deputy Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, told the Polish Rzeczpospolita newspaper in July.
The Polish government has repeatedly requested that NATO establish military bases in the country, claiming that it is necessary to counter what it calls “a Russian threat.”
Since Crimea’s reunion with Russia in March 2014 and the start of the military conflict in eastern Ukraine last spring, NATO forces have significantly stepped up their military exercises along the Russian border, and frequently carried out drills in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe.
2015 Proves to Be Record-Breaking Year for the Military’s Secret Military
You can find them in dusty, sunbaked badlands, moist tropical forests, and the salty spray of third-world littorals. Standing in judgement, buffeted by the rotor wash of a helicopter or sweltering beneath the relentless desert sun, they instruct, yell, and cajole as skinnier men playact under their watchful eyes. In many places, more than their particular brand of camouflage, better boots, and designer gear sets them apart. Their days are scented by stale sweat and gunpowder; their nights are spent in rustic locales or third-world bars.
These men — and they are mostly men — belong to an exclusive military fraternity that traces its heritage back to the birth of the nation. Typically, they’ve spent the better part of a decade as more conventional soldiers, sailors, marines, or airmen before making the cut. They’ve probably been deployed overseas four to 10 times. The officers are generally approaching their mid-thirties; the enlisted men, their late twenties. They’ve had more schooling than most in the military. They’re likely to be married with a couple of kids. And day after day, they carry out shadowy missions over much of the planet: sometimes covert raids, more often hush-hush training exercises from Chad to Uganda, Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, Albania to Romania, Bangladesh to Sri Lanka, Belize to Uruguay. They belong to the Special Operations forces (SOF), America’s most elite troops — Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, among others — and odds are, if you throw a dart at a world map or stop a spinning globe with your index finger and don’t hit water, they’ve been there sometime in 2015.
The Wide World of Special Ops
This year, U.S. Special Operations forces have already deployed to 135 nations, according to Ken McGraw, a spokesman for Special Operations Command (SOCOM). That’s roughly 70% of the countries on the planet. Every day, in fact, America’s most elite troops are carrying out missions in 80 to 90 nations, practicing night raids or sometimes conducting them for real, engaging in sniper training or sometimes actually gunning down enemies from afar. As part of a global engagement strategy of endless hush-hush operations conducted on every continent but Antarctica, they have now eclipsed the number and range of special ops missions undertaken at the height of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the waning days of the Bush administration, Special Operations forces (SOF) were reportedly deployed in only about 60 nations around the world. By 2010, according to the Washington Post, that number had swelled to 75. Three years later, it had jumped to 134 nations, “slipping” to 133 last year, before reaching a new record of 135 this summer. This 80% increase over the last five years is indicative of SOCOM’s exponential expansion which first shifted into high gear following the 9/11 attacks.
Special Operations Command’s funding, for example, has more than tripled from about $3 billion in 2001 to nearly $10 billion in 2014 “constant dollars,” according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). And this doesn’t include funding from the various service branches, which SOCOM estimates at around another $8 billion annually, or other undisclosed sums that the GAO was unable to track. The average number of Special Operations forces deployed overseas has nearly tripled during these same years, while SOCOM more than doubled its personnel from about 33,000 in 2001 to nearly 70,000 now.
Each day, according to SOCOM commander General Joseph Votel, approximately 11,000 special operators are deployed or stationed outside the United States with many more on standby, ready to respond in the event of an overseas crisis. “I think a lot of our resources are focused in Iraq and in the Middle East, in Syria for right now. That’s really where our head has been,” Votel told the Aspen Security Forum in July. Still, he insisted his troops were not “doing anything on the ground in Syria” — even if they had carried out a night raid there a couple of months before and it was later revealed that they are involved in a covert campaign of drone strikes in that country.
“I think we are increasing our focus on Eastern Europe at this time,” he added. “At the same time we continue to provide some level of support on South America for Colombia and the other interests that we have down there. And then of course we’re engaged out in the Pacific with a lot of our partners, reassuring them and working those relationships and maintaining our presence out there.”
In reality, the average percentage of Special Operations forces deployed to the Greater Middle East has decreased in recent years. Back in 2006, 85% of special operators were deployed in support of Central Command or CENTCOM, the geographic combatant command (GCC) that oversees operations in the region. By last year, that number had dropped to 69%, according to GAO figures. Over that same span, Northern Command — devoted to homeland defense — held steady at 1%, European Command (EUCOM) doubled its percentage, from 3% to 6%, Pacific Command (PACOM) increased from 7% to 10%, and Southern Command, which overseas Central and South America as well as the Caribbean, inched up from 3% to 4%. The largest increase, however, was in a region conspicuously absent from Votel’s rundown of special ops deployments. In 2006, just 1% of the special operators deployed abroad were sent to Africa Command’s area of operations. Last year, it was 10%.
Globetrotting is SOCOM’s stock in trade and, not coincidentally, it’s divided into a collection of planet-girding “sub-unified commands”: the self-explanatory SOCAFRICA; SOCEUR, the European contingent; SOCCENT, the sub-unified command of CENTCOM; SOCKOR, which is devoted strictly to Korea; SOCPAC, which covers the rest of the Asia-Pacific region; SOCSOUTH, which conducts missions in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean; SOCNORTH, which is devoted to “homeland defense”; and the ever-itinerant Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC, a clandestine sub-command (formerly headed by Votel) made up of personnel from each service branch, including SEALs, Air Force special tactics airmen, and the Army’s Delta Force that specializes in tracking and killing suspected terrorists.
The elite of the elite in the special ops community, JSOC takes on covert, clandestine, and low-visibility operations in the hottest of hot spots. Some covert ops that have come to light in recent years include a host of Delta Force missions: among them, an operation in May in which members of the elite force killed an Islamic State commander known as Abu Sayyaf during a night raid in Syria; the 2014 release of long-time Taliban prisoner Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl; the capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspect in 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya; and the 2013 abduction of Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaeda militant, off a street in that same country. Similarly, Navy SEALs have, among other operations, carried out successful hostage rescue missions in Afghanistan and Somalia in 2012; a disastrous one in Yemen in 2014; a 2013 kidnap raid in Somalia that went awry; and — that same year — a failed evacuation mission in South Sudan in which three SEALs were wounded when their aircraft was hit by small arms fire.
SOCOM’s SOF Alphabet Soup
Most deployments have, however, been training missions designed to tutor proxies and forge stronger ties with allies. “Special Operations forces provide individual-level training, unit-level training, and formal classroom training,” explains SOCOM’s Ken McGraw. “Individual training can be in subjects like basic rifle marksmanship, land navigation, airborne operations, and first aid. They provide unit-level training in subjects like small unit tactics, counterterrorism operations and maritime operations. SOF can also provide formal classroom training in subjects like the military decision-making process or staff planning.”
From 2012 to 2014, for instance, Special Operations forces carried out 500 Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) missions in as many as 67 countries each year. JCETs are officially devoted to training U.S. forces, but they nonetheless serve as a key facet of SOCOM’s global engagement strategy. The missions “foster key military partnerships with foreign militaries, enhance partner-nations’ capability to provide for their own defense, and build interoperability between U.S. SOF and partner-nation forces,” according to SOCOM’s McGraw.
And JCETs are just a fraction of the story. SOCOM carries out many other multinational overseas training operations. According to data from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), for example, Special Operations forces conducted 75 training exercises in 30 countries in 2014. The numbers were projected to jump to 98 exercises in 34 countries by the end of this year.
“SOCOM places a premium on international partnerships and building their capacity. Today, SOCOM has persistent partnerships with about 60 countries through our Special Operations Forces Liaison Elements and Joint Planning and Advisory Teams,” said SOCOM’s Votel at a conference earlier this year, drawing attention to two of the many types of shadowy Special Ops entities that operate overseas. These SOFLEs and JPATs belong to a mind-bending alphabet soup of special ops entities operating around the globe, a jumble of opaque acronyms and stilted abbreviations masking a secret world of clandestine efforts often conducted in the shadows in impoverished lands ruled by problematic regimes. The proliferation of this bewildering SOCOM shorthand — SOJTFs and CJSOTFs, SOCCEs and SOLEs — mirrors the relentless expansion of the command, with its signature brand of military speak or milspeak proving as indecipherable to most Americans as its missions are secret from them.
Around the world, you can find Special Operations Joint Task Forces (SOJTFs), Combined Joint Special Operations Task Forces (CJSOTFs), and Joint Special Operations Task Forces (JSOTFs), Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs), as well as Special Operations Command and Control Elements (SOCCEs) and Special Operations Liaison Elements (SOLEs). And that list doesn’t even include Special Operations Command Forward (SOC FWD) elements — small teams which, according to the military, “shape and coordinate special operations forces security cooperation and engagement in support of theater special operations command, geographic combatant command, and country team goals and objectives.”
Special Operations Command will not divulge the locations or even a simple count of its SOC FWDs for “security reasons.” When asked how releasing only the number could imperil security, SOCOM’s Ken McGraw was typically opaque. “The information is classified,” he responded. “I am not the classification authority for that information so I do not know the specifics of why the information is classified.” Open source data suggests, however, that they are clustered in favored black ops stomping grounds, including SOC FWD Pakistan, SOC FWD Yemen, and SOC FWD Lebanon, as well as SOC FWD East Africa, SOC FWD Central Africa, and SOC FWD West Africa.
What’s clear is that SOCOM prefers to operate in the shadows while its personnel and missions expand globally to little notice or attention. “The key thing that SOCOM brings to the table is that we are — we think of ourselves — as a global force. We support the geographic combatant commanders, but we are not bound by the artificial boundaries that normally define the regional areas in which they operate. So what we try to do is we try to operate across those boundaries,” SOCOM’s Votel told the Aspen Security Forum.
In one particular blurring of boundaries, Special Operations liaison officers (SOLOs) are embedded in at least 14 key U.S. embassies to assist in advising the special forces of various allied nations. Already operating in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, France, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Poland, Peru, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, the SOLO program is poised, according to Votel, to expand to 40 countries by 2019. The command, and especially JSOC, has also forged close ties with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency, among other outfits, through the use of liaison officers and Special Operations Support Teams (SOSTs).
“In today’s environment, our effectiveness is directly tied to our ability to operate with domestic and international partners. We, as a joint force, must continue to institutionalize interoperability, integration, and interdependence between conventional forces and special operations forces through doctrine, training, and operational deployments,” Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee this spring. “From working with indigenous forces and local governments to improve local security, to high-risk counterterrorism operations — SOF are in vital roles performing essential tasks.”
SOCOM will not name the 135 countries in which America’s most elite forces were deployed this year, let alone disclose the nature of those operations. Most were, undoubtedly, training efforts. Documents obtained from the Pentagon via the Freedom of Information Act outlining Joint Combined Exchange Training in 2013 offer an indication of what Special Operations forces do on a daily basis and also what skills are deemed necessary for their real-world missions: combat marksmanship, patrolling, weapons training, small unit tactics, special operations in urban terrain, close quarters combat, advanced marksmanship, sniper employment, long-range shooting, deliberate attack, and heavy weapons employment, in addition to combat casualty care, human rights awareness, land navigation, and mission planning, among others.
From Joint Special Operations Task Force-Juniper Shield, which operates in Africa’s Trans-Sahara region, and Special Operations Command and Control Element-Horn of Africa, to Army Special Operations Forces Liaison Element-Korea and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula, the global growth of SOF missions has been breathtaking. SEALs or Green Berets, Delta Force operators or Air Commandos, they are constantly taking on what Votel likes to call the “nation’s most complex, demanding, and high-risk challenges.”
These forces carry out operations almost entirely unknown to the American taxpayers who fund them, operations conducted far from the scrutiny of the media or meaningful outside oversight of any kind. Everyday, in around 80 or more countries that Special Operations Command will not name, they undertake missions the command refuses to talk about. They exist in a secret world of obtuse acronyms and shadowy efforts, of mystery missions kept secret from the American public, not to mention most of the citizens of the 135 nations where they’ve been deployed this year.
This summer, when Votel commented that more special ops troops are deployed to more locations and are conducting more operations than at the height of the Afghan and Iraq wars, he drew attention to two conflicts in which those forces played major roles that have not turned out well for the United States. Consider that symbolic of what the bulking up of his command has meant in these years.
“Ultimately, the best indicator of our success will be the success of the [geographic combatant commands],” says the special ops chief, but with U.S. setbacks in Africa Command’s area of operations from Mali and Nigeria to Burkina Faso and Cameroon; in Central Command’s bailiwick from Iraq and Afghanistan to Yemen and Syria; in the PACOM region vis-à-vis China; and perhaps even in the EUCOM area of operations due to Russia, it’s far from clear what successes can be attributed to the ever-expanding secret operations of America’s secret military. The special ops commander seems resigned to the very real limitations of what his secretive but much-ballyhooed, highly-trained, well-funded, heavily-armed operators can do.
“We can buy space, we can buy time,” says Votel, stressing that SOCOM can “play a very, very key role” in countering “violent extremism,” but only up to a point — and that point seems to fall strikingly short of anything resembling victory or even significant foreign policy success. “Ultimately, you know, problems like we see in Iraq and Syria,” he says, “aren’t going to be resolved by us.”
Nick Turse is the author of Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa.
The stakes are high, but with enough pressure from below, David Cameron’s plan to bomb Syria can be defeated.
WE HAVE the biggest opportunity since the start of the Iraq war to make a real change in foreign policy. The aggressive, interventionist policy that has done so much damage is now at the heart of a great contest in British society.
Jeremy Corbyn is facing a massive onslaught from all sections of the establishment. No one can envy him this experience, and the prime question is how we defend him from these attacks and build support for the policies that got him elected as Labour party leader with such a huge majority.
When the right wing is this hysterical, the establishment this panicked, and the media this vitriolic, you know there is just a chance something good might be in reach.
In the next few weeks and months there are going to be a series of stand-offs around foreign policy issues, including almost certainly a vote in parliament on bombing Syria, the outcome of the Iraq war inquiry report, and of course the madness of renewing Trident.
Few mainstream commentators have the wherewithal to understand Corbyn’s victory. They first speculated about left-wing entryism, then they focussed on his ‘style’, now they’ve decided to ignore the scale of his mandate.
Of course Jeremy is different, he wears jumpers and shockingly he tends to say what he thinks. But whatever the media would like to think, his success is not about the way he does what he does, it is about the issues he has brought to the forefront of British politics.
The real nightmare for the establishment is that millions of people agree with him about austerity, about war, and about the shocking state of official politics.
What alarms the mainstream is the energy and enthusiasm generated by his campaign to become leader of the Labour party, much of it due to the protest movements that he has supported so tirelessly over decades, including crucially the anti-war movement.
A return to protest
But if the Corbyn surge was powered partly at least by the movements, we have to make sure that what he has achieved in turn reinvigorates protest.
We know that Corbyn can’t do it alone. And we know too that there are a lot of people around him who — to put it politely — don’t agree with him. Within days of his leadership victory, there were very public briefings against him by a serving UK army general, two of his cabinet ‘colleagues’, including the shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, and Sadiq Khan, Labour’s newly selected candidate for London mayor.
Quite simply, Jeremy Corbyn is going to need all the help he can get.
It is clear also, that despite the disasters of the last fourteen years, the British political establishment is desperate to maintain its role as chief cheerleader for US military interventionism. And having scented rebellion against Corbyn among Labour MPs, they have a new confidence about winning a vote to bomb Syria, and at the same time damaging the party’s anti-war leader.
A plan of action: stopping the bombing of Syria
The main task must be to extend the enthusiasm and energy generated by his campaigning over the past months into every local community, workplace and college.
The more people are actively engaged in the campaign to stop the drive to war in Syria, and in the anti-austerity movement, the more we will be defending Jeremy Corbyn under such relentless attack.
How can we do this?
For the anti-war movement, we need to get onto the streets in every area and onto campuses with leaflets, petitions, posters, badges, etc, drawing people into an ever-widening network of activists for peace.
We need to re-invigorate local anti-war groups and start new groups where none exist. While organising locally, the untimate focus will be on parliament and the need to break the consensus that always takes Britain into disastrous wars on the coat tails of the United States.
In 2013, mass pressure on MPs, coupled with the memory of Tony Blair’s catastrophic war on Iraq, delivered an unprecedented defeat for the government, as David Cameron tried to bounce parliament into supporting the bombing of Syria’s Assad regime.
Now Cameron hope that by switching the target to ISIS, he can reverse that defeat and take the UK into yet another pointless war that will serve no purpose, other than to create more death and chaos, and drive more refugees to flee the war zone.
We need to implement immediately a comprehensive lobbying of MPs:
- Use the online lobby tool to contact MPs
- Send letters to MPs’ constituency offices
- Get letters in local newspapers
- Organise group visits to MPs’ regular surgeries to deliver petitions collected locally
There needs to be a particular focus on MPs who have vowed publicly to defy Jeremy Corbyn, so they understand the scale of the opposition to waging war in Syria.
War and the refugee crisis
The links between the refugee crisis and the wars our government so enthusiastically backs need to be underlined continually in our campaigning.
It is scandalous that David Cameron thinks promising to take twenty thousand refugees over five years is an adequate response to the migration or 60 million people fleeing war, conflict and poverty.
It is also outrageous that he wants to respond to people fleeing war-torn countries by intensifying the bombing of Syria — one of the main causes of the crisis.
The most effective thing that the West could do to end this misery is to de-escalate, stop arming regional dictators and aggressors and encourage a negotiated settlement in Syria. We need to develop and promote these arguments everywhere.
Isis is clearly a horrible organisation whose presence makes our arguments harder. We have to tackle the debate head on by having the most high profile possible public meetings and forums we can in each area.
A plan of action: the anti-austerity movement
Stop the War has always contrasted the vast government expenditure on the military and weapons of mass destruction, and the draconian austerity cuts to public and welfare services. Billions are spent on the UK war machine at the same time that brutal cuts in benefits are driving some desperate victims to suicide.
The protests at the Conservative Party conference from 3 October will help shape the political landscape over the next months. Tens of thousands will be protesting there, not just on the opening day – 4 October – but for the whole week. The anti-war message needs to be heard loud and clear by the movement, by the media and by the politicians.
Time is tight — the flashpoints are imminent, and we need to act now.
Within a few days of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader over 120 new members joined Stop the War Coalition, an indication that the movements that underpinned his victory are recognised as central to defending him.
The stakes are high. With enough pressure from below, David Cameron’s government’s plan to bomb Syria can be defeated for a second time, which would be a long term humiliation for the warmongers.
We also need a big campaign and protest over the scandalous delay in publishing the Iraq war inquiry report, blocked it appears by those — like Tony Blair and Jack Straw — likely to be criticised by Chilcot. With Jeremy Corbyn declaring that Tony Blair should be held to account for alleged war crimes, there is a real prospect that Blair could be driven out of public life once and for all.
Next year parliament will vote on the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons system, at a projected cost of over £100billion. The Campaign for Nuclear disarmament is already mounting a concerted campaign to get MPs to vote against. A huge protest movement before parliament votes will intensify that pressure.
The moment a vote on bombing Syria is announced, Stop the War will call a protest, but the success, the scale, and the impact of that protest depends on what we all do in the next few weeks. Its up to us.
On Wednesday, September 23, 2015, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño pledged to end the country’s internal conflict by March 26, 2016.
Ever since La Violencia—Colombia’s infamous civil war lasting from 1948 to 1958—the polarization of the country’s political parties and ideological factions has led to an escalation of a deep-seated violence throughout Colombia. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) was initially formed as an armed peasant movement in 1964 that demanded comprehensive land and social reforms. Since then, the government and right-wing paramilitaries have waged a violent conflict against the FARC in rural Colombia that has resulted in a total of 220,000 deaths and over 5.7 million displacements.[i]
Negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government have been ongoing since 2012, but Wednesday marked President Santos’ first appearance at the peace talks, and the beginning of a more visible role as a major force for concluding the peace accord. The two sides have agreed to create special tribunals to try former FARC combatants as well as government troops and rightist paramilitaries. Those found guilty of human rights violations will be required to pay reparations to their victims and will face a maximum sentence of eight years under special conditions, if they voluntarily opt to cooperate with the judicial process.[ii] Combatants who do not cooperate and are convicted could face much longer sentences. Those who sign the peace deal, accept responsibility, face charges and pay reparations will be safe from extradition if they are wanted by the United States on drug trafficking charges.[iii]
Pressured into the peace talks by the Colombian public, Bogotá has spent billions of dollars on efforts to combat the FARC (the 2015 budget for armed forces and police is $12.2 billion),[iv] while the United States has contributed over $9 billion for military operations since the birth of Plan Colombia in 2000.[v] Meanwhile, the FARC have suffered from sharply diminishing membership numbers (16,000 in 2001 to 7,000 in 2013) over the past decade and a half.[vi]
However, this momentous agreement comes with historical antecedents. The FARC recently demanded an inclusion of right-wing paramilitary groups in the current peace talks.[vii] These were agreed to by President Santos on Wednesday.[viii] Previous administrations have attempted to implement comprehensive demobilization and reinsertion programs with guerrilla groups but have failed due to the exclusion of paramilitary forces. In Colombia’s last peace agreement, the Betancur administration (1982-1986) legalized guerrilla members that accepted the amnesty as political actors in 1985, and the FARC subsequently demobilized and established the Patriotic Union (Unión Patriótica, UP), their political party. However, over 3,000 UP members paid dearly for this tactical mistake; having put down their weapons and rejoined civic life, they were later assassinated by paramilitary elements.[ix]
This changed with the election of President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), who refused to negotiate with the FARC and instead opted for supporting talks with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, AUC), the largest paramilitary group in the country,[x] which has subsequently splintered off into several small criminal gangs.[xi] Since the demobilization of the AUC under Uribe, however, Colombian diplomats had not engaged in peace talks with the FARC until 2012.
COHA is cautiously optimistic about the shift in character of the Colombian government that has allowed for the promise of peace. However, insufficient funding, an inadequate monitoring of demobilized combatants, and a lack of consultation with host communities in the past have impeded Colombia from successfully maintaining peace. Although it has yet to be seen whether these agreements will prove to be successful in the long-term, President Santos’s government and the FARC are to be lauded for having taken a crucial step toward sustainable peace in Colombia.
[i] “World Report 2015: Colombia.” Human Rights Watch. 2015. Web.
[ii] Acosta, Nelson, and Daniel Trotta. “Colombia, FARC Rebels Vow to End 50-year War within Six Months.” Reuters. September 23, 2015. Web.
[iii] Lander, Rose. “Colombia Govt, FARC Agree to Maximum Prison Sentences for War Crimes.” Colombia Reports. September 23, 2015. Web.
[iv] Muñoz, Sara Schaefer. “Colombia Unlikely to Cut Defense Budget If FARC Deal Is Reached, Officials Say.” The Wall Street Journal. January 20, 2015. Web.
[v] Arsenault, Chris. “Did Colombia’s War on Drugs Succeed?” Al Jazeera. May 22, 2014. Web.
[vi] Renwick, Danielle, and Stephanie Hanson. “FARC, ELN: Colombia’s Left-Wing Guerrillas.” Council on Foreign Relations. December 1, 2014. Web.
[vii] Alsema, Adriaan. “The FARC’s Biggest Fear: Colombia’s Paramilitary Groups.” Colombia Reports. July 10, 2015. Web.
[viii] Acosta, Nelson, and Daniel Trotta. “Colombia, FARC Rebels Vow to End 50-year War within Six Months.” Reuters. September 23, 2015. Web.
[ix] Laplante, Lisa J, and Kimberly Theidon. “Transitional Justice in Times of Conflict: Colombia’s Ley De Justicia Y Paz.” Michigan Journal of International Law 28, no. 49 (2006): 59-61.
[x] Ibid: 61-62.
[xi] McDermott, Jeremy. “The BACRIM and Their Position in Colombia’s Underworld.” InSight Crime. May 2, 2014. Web.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may enjoy a sense of triumph in having succeeded to push through the country’s new military law. Both chambers of Tokyo’s parliament have now cleared the legislation expanding Japan’s military power, despite widespread public opposition and even scuffles among lawmakers.
For Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the historic amendment to the constitution allowing for overseas military deployment, thus overturning the country’s 70-year-old pacifist commitments, no doubt, in their view, marks the emergence of a “strong” Japan, asserting its “independence” in the modern world.
Ardent nationalists among Abe’s party have been earnestly seeking to rewrite the country’s constitution, going back several years in their efforts. They argue that Japan must have greater freedom to use its military forces if the country is to claim equal standing among modern powers. The postwar constitution forbidding any overseas’ deployment of Japanese troops was seen by the nationalists as a demeaning constraint on Japan’s modern-day esteem.
The nationalistic LDP perceives the pacifist constitution as an insult to the country’s independence, and a humiliating fetter imposed by the victors of WWII. The constitution was largely written by the US occupying-army administration following the defeat of Imperial Japan in August 1945.
The bitter irony is, however, that the expansion of military power sought by Abe and his government is not a mark of independence, as they claim. Rather, in truth, it is a sign of Japan’s deepening subservience to the US. The new legislation is heavily conditioned by US strategic interests, albeit in a modern context where Japanese military is perceived now by Washington as bestowing an advantage.
The Abe administration claims that the new military options afforded by the amended constitution will allow Japan to better protect its people and its national interests.
The paradox is that the new military laws and posture pushed through the Japanese parliament by Abe will lead to more insecurity for Japan, and will increase the danger of future conflict.
This is because Japan’s adapted military legislation is framed by the geopolitical perspective of Washington. The deployment of Japanese troops and other military assets is said to be mandated “in defense of foreign allies.” That means Washington.
In effect, Japan is placing its military forces as hostage to Washington’s capricious geopolitics. That is hardly a hallmark of “independence” as Abe and his supporters so fervently claim.
The Japanese government supposes that the new military power is to be strictly enforced with three criteria.
First, it will only be used if Japan or an ally (most probably the US) is attacked or threatened. Second, the military option can only be used if diplomacy has been exhausted. And third, any military force used will be only at a minimum level.
Japan’s expanded military power has to be interpreted in the context of gross historical revisionism under Abe’s LDP. The Japanese leader and his ruling circle have repeatedly sought to absolve Japan from its horrendous war legacy.
The denial of Japanese aggression against China, costing up to 30 million Chinese lives, or the denial of “sex slavery” of Chinese and Korean women under Japanese colonial rule, are disturbing indicators that the present leaders in Tokyo have rekindled a militaristic mind-set.
Therefore, in the context of malleable criteria for deployment of military force and under the sway of an increasing US belligerence in the Asia-Pacific region, the Japanese security laws are cause for deep concern.
Abe’s repeated regurgitation of provocative US allegations against China, from cyber theft to territorial expansionism, only further emphasizes the cause for concern.
China’s often-stated policy is one of friendly regional dialogues to resolve disputes. Disputes should primarily be resolved by Asian neighbors, acting autonomously, independently and free from outside interference.
Japan’s newfound militarism is regrettable and does not bode well for regionally resolved peaceful relations, because Tokyo’s agenda is beset by atavistic nationalist sentiments, and more worryingly, because it is subordinate to Washington’s hegemonic geopolitics.
The people of Japan are right, and they deserve much credit, to be indignant over Abe’s pursuit of expanded military power. His claims of patriotism and to be serving to defend Japan’s interests are in fact the inverse.
Abe is actually serving the US interests and in so doing he is militating against the real interests of the Japanese people.
The author is a freelance journalist writing on international affairs based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. firstname.lastname@example.org
To achieve victory in the Middle East, the US needs to establish and protect rebel enclaves in Syria, and launch another “surge” in Iraq, former CIA director and retired US Army general David Petraeus told a Senate panel.
This was the first public appearance for the retired general and former spymaster, following his April sentencing for revealing classified information to his mistress.
Describing Syria as a “geopolitical Chernobyl… spewing instability” all over the Middle East, Petraeus urged the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) to endorse a policy that would “stop the Syrian air force from flying” and establish safe areas where civilians and anti-government rebels could be protected by US airpower and advisers. Meanwhile, all the elements of the surge were once again required in Iraq, but this time around the Iraqis would have to provide the ground troops, he said.
Petraeus echoed the official position of the State Department that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was to blame for the rise of Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL), blaming the government’s “barrel bombs” rather than IS for most of the civilian deaths in Syria. The general pushed for the creation of US-backed protected areas where civilians and militia opposed to the government could shelter under the coalition air umbrella. Eventually, he said, US advisers could be deployed there as boots on the ground.
“This is a very complicated military activity, but it is doable,” Petraeus told lawmakers.
Petraeus resigned as director of the CIA in November 2012, following the revelations that he had shared classified information with his biographer – and lover – Paula Broadwell. As part of a plea bargain with the government, he was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $100,000 fine.
The ex-general began his testimony with an apology, calling what he did a “serious mistake” and a “violation of the trust placed in me.” The panel, chaired by Arizona Republican John McCain, repeatedly thanked Petraeus for his military service and commended him on the apology.
Without bringing up the Broadwell scandal at all, McCain praised Petraeus as a “distinguished” leader and argued his 2007 testimony was critical to securing Senate support for the ‘surge’ strategy that “defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq, brought security to the Iraqi people, and created the possibility for meaningful political reconciliation.”
Both Republicans and Democrats on the panel were eager to hear Petraeus’s prescriptions for salvaging the US war effort against Islamic State. A yearlong air campaign by the 60-nation coalition, at the cost of $4 billion, has not dislodged the self-proclaimed Caliphate, while the handful of US-trained Syrian fighters were ambushed and scattered by Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Petraeus argued that the “train and equip” program was impossible to abandon, since the US strategy in the region absolutely depended on having a Sunni Arab fighting force. Asked whether there was anyone inside Syria actually available to train, he said that many moderate rebels “drifted” to Islamist groups like Al-Nusra, because they had resources and were fighting against the Assad government. Peeling off these low-ranking members could work, he said, just as it did in Iraq.
Arguing that working with the government in Damascus would damage US credibility among the Sunnis, Petraeus called for lawmakers to resist the Russian effort to “force” the US into an alliance with president Bashar al-Assad. If Russia really wanted to fight ISIS, it could have joined the US-led coalition and asked to be integrated into the air war, Petraeus said.
Russian president Vladimir Putin recently proposed a coordinated international effort against IS, but rebuffed speculation that Russian forces would engage in combat operations in Syria.
“We are providing Syria with quite strong support in terms of equipment, training of military servicemen and weapons,” Putin said. “We are considering various options, but so far what you are talking about is not on the agenda.”
Petraeus did caution against the rush to overthrow Assad, noting that Syria “could actually get worse” if there was no plan for the aftermath.
During Petraeus’s testimony before the SASC, it was reported that retired Marine General John Allen, head of the anti-IS coalition, would be stepping down in November. Sources within the Obama administration told Bloomberg that Allen made the decision out of concern for his wife’s poor health.
Ukraine and NATO “are more than partners,” Ukraine’s president said after a number of agreements were signed with the alliance during a visit by NATO’s Secretary General. Moscow criticized the move, saying NATO’s advance on Russia’s border is unwelcome.
“De jure, we are not a NATO member, but de facto we are more than partners. Ukraine is an eastern outpost of Euro-Atlantic civilization,” Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko wrote on his official Twitter account.
On Tuesday, Poroshenko announced that Ukraine and NATO had signed a joint declaration on strengthening defense and technical cooperation, as well as a roadmap for a partnership between Ukraine and NATO on strategic communications. The program is aimed at supporting Kiev in counteracting “Russian propaganda” and informing the society on what’s happening in Ukraine, Interfax reported.
The North-Atlantic alliance is also ready to discuss how it can boost Kiev’s military, particularly by potentially providing aid in restoring its naval forces, RIA Novosti reported, citing NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The NATO official also said that the Alliance is providing advisors to Ukraine’s defense ministry and army general staff, according to TASS.
Having chosen its “path in to the EU and NATO,” Ukraine is ready to reform its military and law enforcement forces, the Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Aleksandr Turchinov, said after his meeting with NATO’s Secretary General. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Pavel Klimkin, announced that he and Stoltenberg had signed a bilateral document on the creation of a NATO diplomatic mission in Ukraine. NATO’s two existing offices in Ukraine have been united, and their functions and powers extended.
Partnership with NATO will also provide Kiev with the opportunity to get essential weapons, Poroshenko said on Tuesday.
“We are now exchanging information. We are partners, and it gives us an opportunity to receive protective weapons – not offensive, but defensive weapons, such as drones and electronic equipment,” the Ukrainian leader said at a joint briefing with Stoltenberg.
The Kremlin has warned that NATO’s further advance towards Russia’s borders will entail counter measures.
“We must not forget that NATO is an organization that has been created during the time of confrontation and for confrontation, that’s why it cannot change its nature,” the Russian president’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters in Moscow, as cited by Sputnik.
“That is why any advancement by such an organization toward our borders will force us to take adequate counter-measures to safeguard own security, our national security,” Peskov said.
He added that Moscow regrets Kiev’s plans to pursue NATO membership.
When addressing Stoltenberg on Tuesday, Poroshenko claimed that more than 60 percent of Ukrainians support the plans to join NATO, while two years ago only 16 percent supported the move. A day earlier, at another joint meeting, the Ukrainian leader stated that his country was not ready to become a NATO member, nor was the Alliance ready to accept it. Ukraine would need to change in order to achieve its goal of NATO membership, Poroshenko noted, while promising more reforms.
Petro Poroshenko signed a decree changing Ukraine’s non-aligned status last year, saying that his country would make the decision on whether to join NATO in the next five or six years. He promised to put the question up for a national referendum. NATO’s previous secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the process of reaching the criteria required to become an alliance member could take Ukraine a long time. Countries with outstanding territorial disputes cannot become NATO members. However, Ukraine claims rights to Crimea, which became a part of Russia following a referendum on the peninsula in 2014.
GOP Candidates Show How It’s Done
The media are anointing former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina as the winner of last Wednesday’s second Republican presidential-aspirant debate. They are saying that she was the best prepared and most convincing speaker, and, indeed, maybe she was. But what is being largely ignored is the actual content of the so-called debate, which was supposed to be focused on foreign policy. Presuming that all the potential candidates had been assiduously primed on the major issues by their advisers, what might have been informed opinion was instead pathetically ignorant and, more than that, dangerous.
Note for example what Fiorina had to say about her policy towards Russia: “Having met Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t talk to him at all. We’ve talked way too much to him. What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland. I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic States. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany. Vladimir Putin would get the message.”
Yes, Carly would make sure that Putin would get the message that any possible cooperation with the United States would be a non-starter, even in places and situations where there might be common interests. Carly as president promises to take steps that directly threaten Russia on its own doorstep and would lead to a return to the Cold War. And possibly worse than that. Per Fiorina, it would also mean a new budget busting arms race to show how strong we are.
And Fiorina was not winging it alone. Senator Marco Rubio had a fantasy vision that saw him personally flying around the world directly confronting the bad guys. He pledged that “It [Air Force One] would also fly to China, not just to meet with our enemies, not just to meet with those adversaries of ours that are there, but also to meet with those that aspire to freedom and liberty within China. I would even invite them to my inauguration. We would also fly into Moscow and into Russia. And not just meet with the leaders of Russia, but also meet with those who aspire to freedom and liberty in Russia.”
How Rubio would obtain use of the presidential plane before his inauguration and arrange the logistics of flying into capitals of countries that he has labeled enemies to meet with dissidents was not quite clear. And the whole concept of cultivating opposition groups has a vaguely Democratic White House smell to it, a heavy dose of democracy promotion that leads to responsibility to protect, regime change and nation building. I thought Republicans had gone off the boil on that kind of stuff, but Rubio just might be getting bad advice from his posse of neocon advisers which includes Robert Kagan, Eric Edelman and Elliott Abrams.
But the evening’s biggest brouhaha concerned someone who was not even on the stage, GOP gadfly Ann Coulter, who responded to references to Israel by tweeting to her 600,000 fans “How many (expletive) Jews do these people think there are in the United States?” Coulter may have had a point in that American Jews are a small minority of the population who vote heavily Democratic in any event, but she would have been much more accurate if she had stated “Jew” rather than “Jews” as the comments by the potential candidates were really aimed at Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate of Law Vegas, who can literally pay for the entire GOP presidential campaign if he chooses to do so. For Adelson and his Democratic counterpart Haim Saban America’s presidential election is all about Israel.
Coulter understands that talking nice about Israel appeals to evangelical Christians, who many believe to be a sine qua non for any prospective GOP candidate who actually hopes to get nominated. But piqued by the Coulter outburst and out of curiosity I downloaded a transcript of the debate and went through it for any mention of Israel or Jews or even Benjamin Netanyahu. Contrary to Coulter’s assertion, Israel was only mentioned eleven times in the three hour debate and was not cited by Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Scott Walker or Donald Trump. Jews were not discussed at all and Netanyahu only named once, by Fiorina.
But the infrequency of the commentary on Israel should not be interpreted as a suggestion that the discussion of politics as related to the Middle East was any less Israel-centric or even somehow restrained or rational. Indeed, the potential candidates demonstrated an inability to connect with reality and scrupulously avoided basing U.S. policies overseas on actual interests and available resources.
This is Carly Fiorina’s plan for the Middle East and for pressuring reluctant allies in her own words: “You have not heard a plan about Iran from any politician up here, here is my plan. On day one in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend to Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel. The second, to the supreme leader, to tell him that unless and until he opens every military and every nuclear facility to real anytime, anywhere inspections by our people, not his, we, the United States of America, will make it as difficult as possible and move money around the global financial system. We can do that, we don’t need anyone’s cooperation to do it. And every ally and every adversary we have in this world will know that the United States in America is back in the leadership business, which is how we must stand with our allies.”
Fiorina does not seem to be aware that by giving her “good friend” Benjamin Netanyahu the ability to draw the United States into a war that he chooses to start she is outsourcing our sovereignty. But perhaps that doesn’t bother her just as she doesn’t seem concerned that baiting Iran will pit the U.S. against the entire world, to include nearly all of America’s allies.
Jeb Bush also focused on the centrality of Israel to contain Iran as part of his foreign policy vision, stating that “the first thing that we need to do is to establish our commitment to Israel which has been altered by this administration. And, make sure that they have the most sophisticated weapons to send a signal to Iran that we have Israel’s back. If we do that, it’s going to create a healthier deterrent effect than anything else I can think of.”
No Jeb, it will do the opposite. It will force Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon to defend itself. And going far beyond Bush, Mike Huckabee presented a broader nightmarish and largely fantasized view of a clash of civilizations, stating “This is really about the survival of Western civilization. This is not just a little conflict with a Middle Eastern country that we’ve just now given over $100 billion to, the equivalent in U.S. terms is $5 trillion. This threatens Israel immediately, this threatens the entire Middle East, but it threatens the United States of America. And we can’t treat a nuclear Iranian government as if it is just some government that would like to have power. This is a government for 36 years has killed Americans, they kidnapped Americans, they have maimed Americans. They have sponsored terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, and they threaten the very essence of Western civilization. At the end of my presidency I would like to believe that the world would be a safe place, and there wouldn’t be the threats. Not only to the U.S., but to Israel and our allies, because we would have the most incredible well-trained, well-equipped, well- prepared military in the history of mankind. And they would know that the commander-in-chief would never send them to a mission without all the resources necessary, but people wouldn’t bully us anymore. Because they would know that that would be an invitation to their destruction.”
Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher, presumably would “destroy” bullies just as he destroyed English grammar in his statement. One might observe that if ending international bullying were even vaguely his objective he would start with Washington, which has been abusing the rest of the world since 9/11.
Huckabee’s fellow evangelical Senator Ted Cruz also had something to say, clearly on board with reordering the world in a more muscular Christian fashion, saying “… I also want to respond to several folks up here who said we should trust this Iranian deal, see if the Iranians will comply. Anyone who is paying attention to what Khamenei says knows that they will not comply. There is a reason Khamenei refers to Israel as the little Satan, and America as the great Satan. If I’m elected president our friends and allies across the globe will know that we stand with them. The bust of Winston Churchill will be back in the Oval Office, and the American embassy in Israel will be in Jerusalem.”
Normally semi-rational John Kasich came across as the moderate in the Iran discussion by virtue of not calling for immediate bombs away, stating “Secondly, nobody’s trusting Iran. They violate the deal, we put on the sanctions, and we have the high moral ground to talk to our allies in Europe to get them to go with us. If they don’t go with us, we slap the sanctions on anyway. If they fund these radical groups that threaten Israel and all of the West, then we should rip up the deal and put the sanctions back on.”
Senator Marco Rubio piled on with another complaint, “We are eviscerating our military. And we have a president that is more respectful to the ayatollah in Iran than he is to the prime minister of Israel.” And expanding on his plan to fly around and spread good will to our friends while confounding our enemies the peripatetic presidential wannabe added that “If I’m honored with the opportunity to be president, I hope that our Air Force One will fly, first and foremost, to our allies; in Israel, in South Korea, and Japan. They know we stand with them. That America can be counted on.”
Finally, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who was clearly out of his depth even though the discussion was not exactly cerebral, iced the cake by concluding the foreign policy debate with “And I will tell you this, around the world, I will not shake hands with, I will not meet with, and I will not agree to anything with a country that says death to us and death to Israel and holds our hostages while we sign agreements with them. It will be an America that be strong and resolute, and will once again be able to stick out its chest and say, ‘we truly are the greatest nation in the world, because we live our lives that way, each and every day.’”
Christie’s rant was a fitting conclusion for the evening, underlining the essential Republican foreign policy message, which is that basically, as the esteemed George W. Bush put it, “you are either with us or against us.” We don’t have to talk to foreign leaders we don’t like and if they persist in the error of their ways we send in the cruise missiles. Only Senator Rand Paul and John Kasich indicated clearly that they would hesitate before the bombs start to drop.
GOP-think also has an underlying racist tone to it, with the presumption that those not quite Caucasian foreign people are not really like us, don’t think like us and can be shot or droned on sight when they fail to heed our advice. It’s not about Israel per se or about anything that would make sense to any disinterested observer. It is all about having a “security zone” that is global in reach and preempts the rights of anyone else. It is coupled with superpower hubris driven by an “exceptionalism”-derived unwillingness to treat people who are not Americans with any respect or consideration. Washington reflexively turns potential friends into enemies at every opportunity and perseveres in a foreign policy based on a whole basket of false premises that has been disastrous vis-à-vis any actual United States interests. Unfortunately for the American people the likely alternative to all this blatant and dangerous nonsense is Hillary.
By Eric Zuesse | Aletho News | September 22, 2015
Germany’s ZDF public television network headlines on Tuesday September 22nd, “New U.S. Atomic Weapons to Be Stationed in Germany,” and reports that the U.S. will bring into Germany 20 new nuclear bombs, each being four times the destructive power of the one that was used on Hiroshima. Hans Kristensen, the Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, says, “With the new bombs the boundaries blur between tactical and strategic nuclear weapons.”
A former Parliamentary State Secretary in Germany’s Defense Ministry, Willy Wimmer, of Chancellor Merkel’s own conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union, warns that these “new attack options against Russia” constitute “a conscious provocation of our Russian neighbors.”
German Economic News also reports on Chancellor Merkel’s decision to allow these terror-weapons against Russia: “The Bundestag decided in 2009, expressing the will of most Germans, that the US should withdraw its nuclear weapons from Germany. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel did nothing.” And now she okays the U.S. to increase America’s German-based nuclear arsenal against Russia.
Maria Zakharova, of the Russian Foreign Ministry, says: “This is an infringement of Articles 1 and 2 of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” which is the treaty that provides non-nuclear states the assurance that the existing nuclear powers will not try to use their nuclear status so as to take over the world.
German Economic News says: “The federal government had demanded the exact opposite: The Bundestag decided in March 2010 by a large majority, that the federal government should ‘press for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Germany.’ Even the coalition agreement between the CDU and FDP, the German government in 2009 had promised the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Büchel. But instead there will be these new bombs.”
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.