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A warrior prince rises in Arabia as the monarch of all he surveys

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | June 22, 2017

The royal decree of June 21 by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman appointing his son Mohammed bin Salman as the Crown Prince and next in line to the throne is a watershed event in Middle East politics. Such a development has been expected for some time, but when it actually happened, it still looks momentous and somewhat awesome.

For a start, 31-year old MbS, whom many tend to deride as the “warrior prince”, has earned a reputation for being rash in the use of force. The extremely brutal war in Yemen is his signature foreign-policy project. Saudi Arabia, famous for its caution and its glacial pace of decision-making, has changed remarkably since MbS trooped in alongside King Salman to the centre stage of the Saudi regime in January 2015.

Considering King Salman’s age and health condition, MbS is being positioned in advance so that there will be no succession struggle. MbS has been steadily tightening his grip on the key instruments of power through the past 2-year period – national security apparatus and intelligence, armed forces and oil industry – in a grim power struggle with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who has now lost the game and is retiring from the arena.

With the vast powers of patronage vested in MbS as the Crown Prince, make no mistake, the winner takes it all. In short, the Persian Gulf’s – nay, Middle East’s – power house is about to get a new ruler who is only 31 and he may lead Saudi Arabia for decades.

The timing of the shift in the power fulcrum cannot but be noted. It is exactly one month since US President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia. Trump’s visit revived the Saudi-American alliance, which was adrift during the second term of President Barack Obama. MbS has emerged as the Trump administration’s number one interlocutor in the Saudi regime, superseding Nayef who used to be the favorite of the Obama administration.

MbS has forged links at personal level with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. In a rare gesture, the Prince invited Kushner and wife Ivanka Trump to his residence for a private meal during father-in-law Trump’s visit to Riyadh. So, Saudi-US relations from now onward will be a cozy, exclusive, secretive family affair imbued with a “win-win” spirit – as it used to be in the halcyon days when the Bush family was holding power in the US.

Trump’s visit to Riyadh signalled that Saudi Arabia has regained its stature as the US’ number one partner in the Muslim Middle East. Trump has publicly endorsed the Saudi stance in their standoff with Qatar, which, incidentally, is widely attributed to MbS.

MbS is widely regarded as the mastermind of the tough policy policy to isolate Qatar to make it submissive and has personally identified with the virulently anti-Iran thrust in the Saudi regional strategies. Therefore, MbS’ ascendancy impacts Middle East politics along the following fault lines:

·         The war in Yemen;

·         The standoff with Qatar;

·         The Saudi-Iranian tensions;

·         The nascent Saudi-Israeli regional axis;

·         Situation in Syria and Gaza and/or Lebanon; and,

·         The crackdown in Bahrain.

It remains to be seen whether the unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) can be preserved. MbS enjoys personal rapport with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. But other GCC states — Kuwait, Oman and Qatar — will have a profound sense of unease about the “warrior prince” and this may lead to some major realignments in the Persian Gulf.

On the one hand, MbS may advance a normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. If that happens, Israel breaks out of isolation and the Arab-Israeli conflict can never be the same again. Again, it is conceivable that MbS may throw the Palestinians under the bus. On the other hand, Iran too may finally succeed in breaching the GCC cordon that Saudi Arabia had erected, which in turn, may somewhat blur the sectarian divide in the Muslim Middle East and bring about a convergence of interests with Qatar and Turkey as regards perceived Saudi hegemony.

MbS is a man in  a hurry. He has radical ideas to transform Saudi society and its economy under the rubric of Vision 2030. He has brought in western-educated technocrats into the governmental apparatus, replacing the Old Guard. How the conservative religious establishment views these winds of change remains the big ‘unknown unknown’ — especially MbS’ management style such as his openness to out-of-the-box thinking, his uniquely public profile in a deeply conservative country, his risk-taking character and his willingness to break conventions.

There is indeed a lot of pent-up disaffection within Saudi Arabia, which makes the period of reform and transition very tricky. The example of Shah’s Iran readily comes to mind. In the ultimate analysis, therefore, the big question is Who is the real MbS?

Clearly, his conduct so far cannot be the yardstick to fathom his personality, since it was primarily a swift, decisive action plan to elbow out the incumbent Crown Prince and take his job. Now that MbS’ actual hold over the levers of power is going to be unchallenged, his priorities can also change. Indeed, there are intriguing sides to his personality – his personal role in forging Saudi Arabia’s working relationships with Moscow, his determination to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil, his appeal to the Saudi youth as the harbinger of “change” and so on. The bottom line is that social and political stability in the country is vital for the success of Vision 2030, in which MbS has staked his prestige, envisaging wide-ranging structural reforms, geo-economic restructuring and the infusion of massive investments.

King Salman’s recent visit to China underscored that MbS understands the potential linkage between his Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Of course, China is highly receptive to the idea, too. Deals worth $65 billion were signed in Beijing during King Salman’s visit. Similarly, MbS has been a frequent visitor to the Kremlin and enjoys some degree of personal rapport with President Vladimir Putin. The OPEC decision on cut in oil production has been a joint enterprise in which Putin had a “hands-on” role. Rosneft has signalled interest in acquiring shares in Aramco when its “privatisation” begins next year, and at the recent meet of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the two countries agreed to set up a joint energy investment fund.

MbS, who is Saudi Defence Minister, has also intensified his country’s military cooperation with Russia and China. A notable project will be the Chinese drone factory to be set up in Saudi Arabia. Again, Russia is in talks currently for the sale of T-80 battle tanks to Saudi Arabia, among other weaponry.

Suffice to say, MbS is quite aware of the seamless possibilities that the multipolar world setting offers. It is useful to remember that MbS is a unique Saudi prince who never attended a western university. He is far from a greenhorn in the world of politics either, having begun as fulltime advisor to the council of ministers in 2007.

Indeed, his trademark is his assertiveness in foreign policies that stands in sharp contrast with the traditional Saudi style, and, which, therefore, looks aggressive. But then, it needs to be factored in that the war in Yemen and the strident anti-Iran outlook are immensely popular in the domestic opinion in terms of the surge of Saudi nationalism. The big question, therefore, will be how he deploys the surge of nationalism — amongst the youth, in particular — in his hugely ambitious plan to reform and modernise the country. Traditionally, Saudi rulers used to derive legitimacy from the approval of the Wahhabist religious establishment. (Read an Al Jazeera write-up on MbS’s profile here.)

June 22, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Staircase History and the Subprime Morality of the Nanking Massacre

The Great Nanjing Massacre, by Zi Jian Li, 1992
By Colin Liddell | Occidental Observer | June 2, 2017

The French have a term for it, L’esprit de l’escalier, or “staircase wit.” It means bright and witty sayings thought of too late as one is exiting a party. But history has its own “staircase” element as well, namely events that receive historical attention much later than they should if, as we are supposed to believe, they were so important to begin with.

A perfect example of this is the “Nanking Massacre” of 1937, now a much-contested historical event in the Sino-Japanese War (1937—45). The Chinese claim that the Japanese went on a brutal rampage resulting in 300,000 deaths. The Japanese claim they were responding to irregular troops in civilian clothing using guerrilla tactics, with a much lower death toll.

Even though this is now presented as a pivotal historical event and something that we are all supposed to know, the surprising thing is that, like the Jewish Holocaust from the same era (which began to be used to advance Jewish ethnic interests after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and really only gained traction in the 1970s [here, p. 42ff]), it got off to a rather late start, becoming suddenly very, very important decades after it actually happened.

Not only had Clio the Muse of History descended the staircase before anything of importance had been written about this supposedly groundbreaking event, but she had climbed into her carriage, arrived home, and kicked off her shoes as well. If Nanking was so important surely it should have been broached at the first practical opportunity, say in the immediate post-war period. Of course it wasn’t, not by the Chinese nor by anyone else. As it was, the event had to wait until the publication of Iris Chang’s best seller The Rape of Nanking in 1997 to really get its historical marching boots on — a full 60 years after the event! Some staircase!

James Dao, writing in the New York Times in 1998, called attention to the sudden spurt of interest:

As recently as five years ago, the 1937 Rape of Nanking, in which up to 300,000 Chinese were massacred in six weeks by Japanese troops, was barely a footnote in American popular culture. Since then the event has inspired two novels, a documentary film, a book of photographs, several Internet Web sites and a dozen academic conferences. Another documentary on the Rape of Nanking for the History Channel and one on the Sino-Japanese War for public television are also in production.

As remarkable as this sudden interest was, it was perhaps even more remarkable that Chang’s book became the vehicle for this, as it had serious flaws as a work of history, the main ones being its lack of credible causation for what was supposed to be a particularly violent incident by Japanese troops. Essentially Chang ascribed it to the inherently violent nature of the Japanese, something I have yet to notice in decades spent living here. More importantly for a book that was presented as a serious academic work, she did zero research in Japan, laying her work open to the charge of being extremely one-sided.

Despite this, the book was lionized, with the author getting the full “instant celebrity” treatment of newspaper profiles, talk show appearances, honorary degrees, and invitations to the Clinton White House. No doubt, the racy title in conjunction with a young Chinese female author — she was 29 at the time — played some part in stimulating interest.

This saga reveals once again that history is never just about what happened in such-and-such a place at such-and-such at time. It’s much more about what certain groups choose to focus on and why. Personally, I’m not overly interested in the minutiae of the Nanking Massacre. Trainspotterly hairsplitting about numbers of victims or whether the victims were blameworthy can get boring extremely fast. People died, how many, how, and why, take your pick. What is more interesting is why “Nanking 1937” suddenly jumped to life as “history” in the late 1990s.

To answer this, you first need to understand why it wasn’t considered historically important much nearer to the time in which it happened, in the same way that, say, Dunkirk, Stalingrad, or Hiroshima were.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, Nanking 1937 wasn’t particularly unique or special. Secondly, it was an event that had no effect on the actual outcome of events at the time. Ironically, the only unique thing about it was how particularly ineffectual it was on outcomes. This is because the whole point of the Japanese advance on the city of Nanking was to force Chang Kai-Chek’s Nationalist government to come to terms, something that the fall of the city signally failed to do.

Beaten at Nanking, the Nationalists just moved their capital to Hankow, and when that city also fell, they moved it again. Like Napoleon in 1812, the Japanese seemed to naively think that they just had to show up at the opposition’s capital to win, possibly because that is exactly what would have forced them to surrender if the boot had been on the other foot.

Also, terrible as it was, the Nanking Massacre was just one of many incidents of a similar nature. I believe this makes it what is sometimes called, a “mere detail” of history. The Sino-Japanese War lasted 8 years and covered most of the heavily populated parts of China. It was so vast and violent, with millions dying, that there are many other examples of horrific butchery/ tragic violence besides Nanking to develop historical narratives with.

Indeed, just a few months before Nanking, the Chinese themselves committed an act demonstrably much worse than the Nanking Massacre — even if we accept the highest estimate of 300,000 deaths — when they deliberately destroyed the Huayuankou Dyke on the south bank of the Yangtze River in a ruthless attempt to halt the Japanese advance. This act of demolition unleashed flood waters across a wide area of Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu provinces. In order to avoid Japanese counter-measures, the civilian population was not warned, so the flooding resulted in a massive death toll from drowning, estimated at 800,000, with many millions more displaced and made homeless.

In the context of the wider war, we can say that Nanking 1937 was not unique and not decisive, and furthermore that it was dwarfed by the Chinese government’s atrocities against its own people. From this, you can see there was no immediate reason for Nanking to become a significant part of history. Why then was it subsequently presented as such?

The most obvious answer to this is that it proved useful to the Chinese government and to a lesser extent Western elites. Internally Nanking serves as a useful unifying device for the Chinese state, giving the Chinese people an external hate figure — Japan — while also reminding them that they need a strong centralized government to avoid similar outrages. Externally the Chinese use it as a stick to beat Japan with, and keep them on the defensive regarding their historical pride and identity. This serves to weaken their Asian rival, although, overusing the tactic can backfire. It could be argued that this is one factor that has pushed Japan in a more assertively nationalist direction in recent years.

But why did the Chinese wait so long before resorting to this tactic? Iris Chang’s book put it down to the economic weakness and isolation of Communist China, which sought economic benefits from trading with Japan. By the 1960s “Red China” was opposed not just by the West but also by the Soviet Union, with which it had fallen out. It was only with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the success of Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms that the country felt strong enough to use this stick to beat Japan. Interestingly, by that time, those same economic reforms were creating big inequalities within China that challenged social cohesion. China’s version of Japan bashing arrived at an opportune moment.

But what about Western elites? The benefit of the Nanking Massacre for these people is less obvious, especially as it is occasionally used to undermine Japan, a key Western ally. But maybe this is exactly what is wanted, namely a Japan that is regarded as somehow historically flawed and morally tainted, because this is a Japan that can operate less on its own terms and has an obvious need for a geopolitical intermediary. As Dutch journalist Ian Buruma, writing in the Guardian in 2010 said:

Most Japanese were happy to be pacifists and concentrate on making money. Japanese governments could devote their energy to building up the country’s industrial wealth, while the US took care of security, and by extension much of Japan’s foreign policy. It was an arrangement that suited everyone: the Japanese became rich, the Americans had a compliant anti-communist vassal state, and other Asians, even Communist China, preferred Pax Americana to a revival of Japanese military clout.

But, there could well be less obvious reasons, connected to the strangely moralizing purpose to which history is put these days. Victim narratives are an important part of the “power eco-system” in Western societies, where they are typically used to “de-privilege” the core populations of Western states through White guilt. This is done for a variety of reasons: (1) to facilitate the importation of cheap labor, (2) to create “diversity” as an end in itself, and (3) to justifying the “affirmative action” necessary to maintain social cohesion in societies characterized by very substantial racial differences and divisions. In the case of the Holocaust, Jewish activists have used it as a rationalization for Israel and its policies, to silence critics of immigration and multiculturalism, to portray the relatively wealthy and successful Jewish community as victims, and pad the coffers of Jewish organizations (here, p. lvi ff).

Western elites get benefits from victim narratives that feature Jews, Blacks, and other non-Whites as “victims” of Whites. But, what about a narrative presenting the Chinese as victims of the Japanese? Aside from the geopolitical benefits outlined above, there are two possible additional benefits. The first one emphasizes the Japanese side of the equation and the other the Chinese side.

The first possible benefit is that narratives of Japanese guilt play into the wider narrative of White guilt. Japan has often been viewed as “honorary White” nation in the past, and was described by President Theodore Roosevelt as “the only nation in Asia that understands the principles and methods of Western civilization.”

The second possible benefit is that persuading the Chinese to participate in a victim narrative helps to strengthen the institution of victimology itself. In the decades leading up to Chang’s book, victim narratives in general had already been overextended and overused to the extent that they were in danger of losing their value. The obvious analogy here is with currency notes or government bonds, which quickly depreciate if too many are issued.

By 1997, when Chang’s book came out, the global guilt industry had enjoyed its first big spurt and needed a fresh infusion of energy. Getting China to buy into its own victim narrative, not only served specific Chinese and Western elite goals, but it also helped to keep the global guilt market afloat. As with America’s overproduction of fiat currency in the Chimerica years, here too China picked up the slack.

June 3, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 1 Comment

South Korea’s new leader orders probe into ‘unauthorized’ US deployment

Press TV – May 30, 2017

South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in has ordered an investigation into the “unauthorized” deployment of four additional THAAD missile launchers by the United States to the country’s soil.

Presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan said Moon was “shocked” to hear that the four additional launchers of the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system were installed without being reported to the new government or to the public.

“President Moon was briefed on such facts by National Security Office (NSO) chief Chung Eui-yong and said it was very shocking,” the spokesman told a news briefing on Tuesday.

The system was initially deployed to South Korea in March with just two of its maximum load of six launchers with the declared aim of countering North Korean threats.

The South Korean official further said the president had “ordered his senior secretary for civil affairs and the NSO chief to find the truth behind the unauthorized entry of the four rocket launchers.”

The deployment of THAAD, which came amid tensions with North Korea, was met with strong opposition from people in South Korea, including the residents of Seongju County, where the missile system is installed.

The installation was agreed by the government of Moon’s predecessor Park ­Geun-hye, who was impeached and ousted over a corruption scandal.

During his election campaign prior to the May 9 election, Moon had urged a parliamentary review of the controversial deployment, which has angered Pyongyang.

Russia and China have also expressed deep concern over the controversial deployment of the American missile system on the Korean Peninsula.

Chinese officials argue that the US system would interfere with their radars and could pose a threat to Chinese security.

Moscow has also warned that the deployment would only fuel tensions in the region.

May 30, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tiananmen “Massacre”?

The Unrelenting Monopoly Media Agenda

By Wei Ling Chua | Dissident Voice | May 17, 2017

When we search the internet for ‘Tiananmen Square Massacre’, there are hundreds of thousands of hyperlinks to books, news, articles, and videos that describe the event as a “Massacre”; and even the reputable Encyclopaedia Britannica also cites the Western media as sources to describe the 1989 incident as a “Massacre”.

This is despite the fact that, in 1998, Washington Post journalist Jay Mathews reported in the Columbia Journalism Review that “no one died at Tiananmen Square” and that “it is hard to find a journalist who has not contributed to the misimpression”.

In 2004, the Christian Science Monitor revealed that Human Rights Watch decided not to publish their 52-page eye-witness report that confirmed the Chinese side of the story. In 2009, BBC journalist James Miles admitted that he had “conveyed the wrong impression.” CBS journalist Richard Roth also stated in 2009:

“we saw no bodies, injured people, ambulances or medical personnel – in short, nothing to even suggest, let alone prove, that a ‘massacre’ had recently occurred in that place,” however, Roth continues: “after a debrief[ing] on-air by Dan Rather (London office), I made an effort to avoid using the word ‘massacre’”, and acknowledged that he did not “make a point trying to contradict a colleague on the air.”

Are you aware of the circumstances under which these journalists suddenly decided to admit their years of contribution to the “misimpression”? Are you aware that they then tried to change the story from a Tiananmen Massacre” to a “Beijing Massacre” with the odd exception, such as Graham Earnshaw – a Reuters journalist in whose personal memoirs there was not a single word suggesting that he had witnessed any killing by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) inside or outside Tiananmen Square? As a matter of fact, after witnessing how the PLA took control of Tiananmen Square without injuring anyone, Earnshaw left the Square and walked to one of the alleys where he witnessed how a PLA commander dispersed a crowd. This is a direct quote from Earnshaw’s memoirs:

A PLA commander shouts at the crowd to disperse and warns that his troops will fire if people didn’t go. Still, people hold their ground. The troops lift their rifles and fire above the heads of the crowd.

In fact, there is ample silent evidence in the images produced by the Western media that tells the story of a highly restrained Chinese government facing a protest of a similar nature to ones in the West at that particular stage of economic development. My book, Tiananmen Square “Massacre”? The Power of Words v Silent Evidence (2014; see review) compares dozens of images (silent evidence) from the Western media to their corresponding captions to explain how the power of language can easily overpower the silent evidence that tells the opposite story.

The Western media also lied about the protesters’ desire for a Western-style democracy. The Financial Times journalist James Kynge wrote in 2009 that:

People say journalism is merely a first, rough draft of history. But the problem here is that this draft appears to have been canonised, passing largely unedited into popular conscience. I do question, however, the Western media’s basic assertion that the demonstrations had been “pro-democracy”. Even now, a raft of editorials commemorating the event’s 20th anniversary repeats the mantra that the students were “demanding democracy”.

Former Australian China Desk officer Gregory Clark wrote in the Japan Times (2008) complaining about how none of the media from the USA, the UK, and Australia, including “the New York Times, the usually impartial Guardian and Independent, and the Sydney Morning Herald, are interested in publishing rebuttals.”

The irony is that, after decades of portraying the protesters as unarmed and peaceful, the Guardian decided in 2009 to publish for the first time images of violence against the Chinese military outside Tiananmen Square but using the word “violence” in an ambiguous manner.

Here is an example of how BBC manufactured the perception of a “massacre” without showing their viewers a single clip of a dead person.

BBC 2014 search Tiananmen.jpg

In fact, there is further evidence from the work of historians, the WikiLeaks release of U.S. embassy cables, and the National Security Archive’s declassified history, all pointing to the accuracy of the Chinese official story. Unfortunately, to this day, the event is still described by many as a “massacre”.

Given the massive evidence of U.S. false flags and western media stenography of such events — e.g., the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana, the phantom missiles in the Tonkin Gulf, the phantom WMDs in Iraq, and the crude manipulation of gas attacks in Syria to frame the Syrian government — what credibility do western governments and the western monopoly media have? Given that this writer has presented western media recantations and reporting that is contrary to the prevalent monopoly media narrative on what occurred in Tiananmen Square, one must consider what is revealed by the fact that the China-demonizing narrative persists in the West.

Wei Ling Chua is an accredited INS and ANFS Freelance Journalist. He is also the author of Tiananmen Square ‘Massacre’? and Democracy: What the west can learn from China. He can be reached at: wchua62@gmail.com. Twitter: OcastJournalist. Visit Wei Ling’s website.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

China Becomes First Country to Lift ‘Combustible Ice’ From Ocean Floor

Sputnik – 18.05.2017

China has managed to successfully mine combustible ice in the South China Sea after nearly two decades of research and exploration.

The trial mining site is situated in the Shenhu area of the South China Sea. It is a major breakthrough that may lead to a global energy revolution, according to China’s Minister of Land and Resources Jiang Daming.

In a statement published on China’s government website it said that the natural gas hydrate is the best replacement for oil and natural gas.

Combustible ice usually exists in seabeds or tundra areas, which have the strong pressure and low temperature necessary to keep it stable. It can be ignited like solid ethanol, which is why it is called “combustible ice.”

China first discovered combustible ice, a kind of natural gas hydrate that can be lit on fire and burned as fuel, in the South China Sea back in 2007.

CCTV channel, reported that samples of combustible ice were lifted from a depth of 1,266 meters in the South China Sea region, 285 kilometers from Hong Kong.

Since May 10, the Chinese oil industry has produced 120,000 cubic meters of combustible ice which contains 99.5% of methane.

Experts believe that the extraction shows China has mastered combustible ice mining technology.

“Many countries along the Maritime Silk Road have a demand for combustible ice mining,” Qiu Haijun, director of the trial mining commanding headquarters said, Shanghai Daily reported.

“With the advanced technology we could help resolve the energy resource problem and boost economic development and exchanges between countries,” Qiu said.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Russia backs China’s call to stop N. Korea nuke tests in exchange for halt in US-S. Korea drills

RT | April 29, 2017

Russia has supported a Chinese initiative in the UNSC intended to stabilize the situation on the Korean peninsula. It calls on the North to refrain from missile and nuclear testing, while the US and South Korea should halt military drills in the area.

“Members of the [UN] Security Council have unanimously called upon DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to stop missile and nuclear tests and to fulfill UNSC resolutions,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday following a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) session held in New York earlier on Friday.

The UNSC called for a political and diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, the ministry added.

“In this context, the Russian Federation supported a Chinese proposal for a ‘double suspension’ (Pyongyang is to stop missile and nuclear tests and the US and South Korean militaries are to halt drills near North Korea) as a starting point for political negotiations.”

However, the council was not able to agree on a common solution, the ministry added.

The UNSC session was joined by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, who urged Washington and Seoul to reconsider their decision to station a THAAD anti-missile system on the Korean Peninsula, warning that it will serve as a “destabilizing factor” in the region.

Gatilov said the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) had been deployed “in line with the vicious logic of creating a global missile shield,” while warning that it is also undermining the security and deterrent capacities of adjacent states, such as China, thus threatening “the existing military balance in the region.”

“It is not only we who perceived this step very negatively. We are once again urging both the United States and the Republic of Korea to reconsider its expediency, and other regional states not to yield to the temptation of joining such destabilizing efforts,” the deputy foreign minister said.

Ahead of the UNSC session, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters that a peaceful solution to the Korean crisis is the “only right choice.”

“Peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and negotiations represents the only right choice that is practical and viable,” Wang said.

READ MORE: ‘Destabilizing factor’: Russia urges US, S. Korea to reconsider THAAD anti-missiles deployment

April 29, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

The Rise of the Generals

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • April 28, 2017

Has President Donald Trump outsourced foreign policy to the generals?

So it would seem. Candidate Trump held out his hand to Vladimir Putin. He rejected further U.S. intervention in Syria other than to smash ISIS.

He spoke of getting out and staying out of the misbegotten Middle East wars into which Presidents Bush II and Obama had plunged the country.

President Trump’s seeming renunciation of an anti-interventionist foreign policy is the great surprise of the first 100 days, and the most ominous. For any new war could vitiate the Trump mandate and consume his presidency.

Trump no longer calls NATO “obsolete,” but moves U.S. troops toward Russia in the Baltic and eastern Balkans. Rex Tillerson, holder of Russia’s Order of Friendship, now warns that the U.S. will not lift sanctions on Russia until she gets out of Ukraine.

If Tillerson is not bluffing, that would rule out any rapprochement in the Trump presidency. For neither Putin, nor any successor, could surrender Crimea and survive.

What happened to the Trump of 2016?

When did Kiev’s claim to Crimea become more crucial to us than a cooperative relationship with a nuclear-armed Russia? In 1991, Bush I and Secretary of State James Baker thought the very idea of Ukraine’s independence was the product of a “suicidal nationalism.”

Where do we think this demonization of Putin and ostracism of Russia is going to lead?

To get Xi Jinping to help with our Pyongyang problem, Trump has dropped all talk of befriending Taiwan, backed off Tillerson’s warning to Beijing to vacate its fortified reefs in the South China Sea, and held out promises of major concessions to Beijing in future trade deals.

“I like (Xi Jinping) and I believe he likes me a lot,” Trump said this week. One recalls FDR admonishing Churchill, “I think I can personally handle Stalin better than … your Foreign Office … Stalin hates the guts of all your people. He thinks he likes me better.”

FDR did not live to see what a fool Stalin had made of him.

Among the achievements celebrated in Trump’s first 100 days are the 59 cruise missiles launched at the Syrian airfield from which the gas attack on civilians allegedly came, and the dropping of the 22,000-pound MOAB bomb in Afghanistan.

But what did these bombings accomplish?

The War Party seems again ascendant. John McCain and Lindsey Graham are happy campers. In Afghanistan, the U.S. commander is calling for thousands more U.S. troops to assist the 8,500 still there, to stabilize an Afghan regime and army that is steadily losing ground to the Taliban.

Iran is back on the front burner. While Tillerson concedes that Tehran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, Trump says it is violating “the spirit of the agreement.”

How so? Says Tillerson, Iran is “destabilizing” the region, and threatening U.S. interests in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

But Iran is an ally of Syria and was invited in to help the U.N.-recognized government put down an insurrection that contains elements of al-Qaida and ISIS. It is we, the Turks, Saudis and Gulf Arabs who have been backing the rebels seeking to overthrow the regime.

In Yemen, Houthi rebels overthrew and expelled a Saudi satrap. The bombing, blockading and intervention with troops is being done by Saudi and Sunni Arabs, assisted by the U.S. Navy and Air Force.

It is we and the Saudis who are talking of closing the Yemeni port of Hodeida, which could bring on widespread starvation.

It was not Iran, but the U.S. that invaded Iraq, overthrew the Baghdad regime and occupied the country. It was not Iran that overthrew Col. Gadhafi and created the current disaster in Libya.

Monday, the USS Mahan fired a flare to warn off an Iranian patrol boat, 1,000 meters away. Supposedly, this was a provocation. But Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif had a point when he tweeted:

“Breaking: Our Navy operates in — yes, correct — the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico. Question is what US Navy doing 7,500 miles from home.”

Who is behind the seeming conversion of Trump to hawk?

The generals, Bibi Netanyahu and the neocons, Congressional hawks with Cold War mindsets, the Saudi royal family and the Gulf Arabs — they are winning the battle for the president’s mind.

And their agenda for America?

We are to recognize that our true enemy in the Mideast is not al-Qaida or ISIS, but Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, Assad’s Syria and his patron, Putin. And until Hezbollah is eviscerated, Assad is gone, and Iran is smashed the way we did Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen, the flowering of Middle East democracy that we all seek cannot truly begin.

But before President Trump proceeds along the path laid out for him by his generals, brave and patriotic men that they are, he should discover if any of them opposed any of the idiotic wars of the last 15 years, beginning with that greatest of strategic blunders — George Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

Copyright 2017 Creators.com.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

South Korean Protesters Think THAAD System Aimed at Russia, China, Not DPRK

Sputnik – 27.04.2017

South Korean women protesting the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is aimed not to defend them against North Korea, but as a threat to Russia and China, analysts told Sputnik.

Namhee Lee, a UCLA Associate Professor of Modern Korean History, said, “many South Koreans think that the deployment of THAAD is actually to deter China and not North Korea.”

Namhee Lee was a signatory of the Women Cross DMZ group’s letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday calling on him to defuse military tensions and start negotiating for peace to prevent war from erupting on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea’s missiles are short-range SCUDs with a range of 500 km (300 miles), medium-range Rodong 1s with a range of 1,300km (780 miles) whereas THAAD is most effect for long range and high altitude missiles, the professor said.

“THAAD is not effective against the SCUD missile. THAAD is effective against the Rodong 1, but this missile is not developed to aim against South Korea, rather it is aimed against Okinawa,” she said.

As to the question why the US military was deploying THAAD in South Korea, Lee said, “Because it is aimed against China and Russia; to collect information, which is why China and Russia are upset about the deployment of THAAD.”

Namhee Lee noted the X-bend radar that is integrated with a THAAD system is able to detect missiles at a range of 1,000-5,000 km (600 miles to 3,000 miles).

“Many of China’s missiles can be detected by THAAD’s X-bend radar,” she stated.

Deploying THAAD’s radars also posed health hazards for the people of South Korea, the historian explained.

“Many are also afraid for the health and safety of people living nearby, especially from exposure to radiation from the systems’ powerful radar emissions. Especially Seongju residents who feel that the decision to deploy THAAD was made without their input and without independent health assessments,” she also remarked.

Radar emissions coming from THAAD will cause a great deal of harm to people living close by.

“Those who live within the radius of 100 meters would face the danger of losing lives, and those living within the radius of 3.6 km (six miles) would experience dizziness and vomiting,” she noted.

The protest is the last resort for the Koreans to show that they are opposed to the government’s decision to deploy the THAAD system, she observed. … Full article

April 27, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shift in Trump Policy on North Korea

By Stephen Lendman | April 27, 2017

Following heavy-handed threats, saber-rattling, and Wednesday’s administration meeting with all Senate members, a joint statement by Defense Secretary Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Coates and Secretary of State Tillerson announced a shift in US policy toward North Korea.

On the one hand, it called Pyongyang’s “pursuit of nuclear weapons… an urgent national security and top foreign policy priority.”

On the other, it said Trump “aims to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our Allies and regional partners.”

Instead of a military option, the Trump administration now seeks dialogue and diplomacy to achieve “peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

At the same time, it may designate the DPRK as a state sponsor of terrorism, maintaining hostility towards its government over responsible outreach.

On Wednesday, Pyongyang’s Permanent Mission to the UN said “(t)he DPRK, as a peace-loving socialist state, highly values the sustaining of the peace most of all, but it neither fears a war nor wants to avoid it,” adding:

“The DPRK has access to a powerful nuclear deterrent to protect itself from the US nuclear threat… The DPRK will react to a total war with an all-out war, a nuclear war with nuclear strikes of its own style and surely win a victory in the death-defying struggle against the US imperialists.”

“It is an unshakable will of the DPRK to go to the end if the US wants to remain unchanged in its confrontational stance.”

Separately on Wednesday, US Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry Harris told House Armed Services Committee members that North Korea remains the most “immediate threat” to US regional security, adding it’s trying to develop a “preemptive nuclear strike capability” against US cities.

Fact: Throughout its history, the DPRK never attacked another nation. It threatens none now. If attacked, it’ll surely respond with all the military force it believes necessary.

China, Russia and Pyongyang consider US deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile systems in South Korea highly provocative.

In January, Moscow and Beijing announced unspecified measures to counter them, warning of escalating tensions and instigating an arms race.

Harris said the THAAD system will be operational “in the coming days.” China again expressed “grave concern,” saying THAAD breaks the region’s strategic balance, along with heightening tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Urging cancellation of the deployment, Beijing warned it’ll take all necessary measures “to safeguard its own interests.”

Despite the threat of imminent war abating, regional tensions remain. Trump’s rage for warmaking endangers all independent nations.

On Wednesday after midnight, the Pentagon launched an unarmed Minuteman 3 ICBM from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Col. John Moss said “(t)onight’s launch was an important demonstration of our nation’s nuclear deterrent capability.”

America’s only enemies are ones it invents – no others. America’s homeland hasn’t been attacked by a foreign power since the War of 1812 with Britain.

Hawaii didn’t become a US state until March 1959. During WW II, Japan occupied the remote, sparsely inhabited islands of Attu and Kiska in the Aleutians off Alaska from June 1942 until summer 1943.

America’s homeland faces no threats except in response to US aggression on a nation able to retaliate in kind. Otherwise, none exist.

Stephen Lendman can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.

April 27, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

US missile shield aims to cover sudden nuclear strike against Russia – General Staff

RT | April 27, 2017

The United States is pursuing global strategic domination through developing anti-ballistic missile systems capable of a sudden disarming strike against Russia and China, according to the deputy head of operations of the Russian General Staff.

There is an obvious link between Washington’s prompt global strike initiative, which seeks capability to engage “any targets anywhere in the world within one hour of the decision,” and the deployment of missile launch systems in Europe and aboard naval vessels across the globe, Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

“The presence of US missile defense bases in Europe, missile defense vessels in seas and oceans close to Russia creates a powerful covert strike component for conducting a sudden nuclear missile strike against the Russian Federation,” Poznikhir explained.

While the US keeps claiming that its missile defenses are seeking to mitigate threats from rogue states, the results of computer simulations confirm that the Pentagon’s installations are directed against Russia and China, according to Poznikhir.

American missile attack warning systems, he said, cover all possible trajectories of Russian ballistic missiles flying toward the United States, and are only expected to get more advanced as new low-orbit satellites complement the existing radar systems.

“Applying sudden disarming strikes targeting Russian or Chinese strategic nuclear forces significantly increases the efficiency of the US missile defense system,” Poznikhir added.

American ABM systems are not only creating an “illusion” of safety from a retaliatory strike but can themselves be used to launch a sneak nuclear attack on Russia.

In a blatant breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the standard land-based launching systems can be covertly rearmed with Tomahawk cruise missiles instead of interceptors – and the Pentagon’s denial of this fact, according to Poznikhir, is “at the very least unconvincing.”

Moreover, Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, signed in 1972 with the Soviet Union, allowed it to develop more advanced weapons that can now not only pose a threat to targets on the ground but in space as well.

“In February 2008, the Pentagon demonstrated the possibility of engaging spacecraft with its ABM capabilities,” Poznikhir said. “An American satellite at an altitude of about 250 km was destroyed by a Standard-3 missile, an earlier modification, launched from a US Navy destroyer.”

“Given the global nature of the ABM ships’ deployment, the space operations of any state, including the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, are under threat.”

Russia has repeatedly voiced its concerns over the risk American ABM systems pose to the global balance of power and thus peace and stability, but has consistently been sidelined.

“Within the framework of cooperation, we also proposed jointly to develop a missile defense architecture for Europe, which could guarantee security against the impacts of nonstrategic ballistic missiles,” said Poznikhir.

“However, all Russian initiatives were rejected.”

“In this regard, Russia is compelled to take measures aimed at maintaining the balance of strategic arms and minimizing the possible damage to national security as a result of the United States’ ABM systems expansion.”

“This will not make the world a safer place,” he warned, urging Washington to engage in a constructive dialogue instead of dully repeating that the systems are not aimed at undermining Russia’s or China’s national security.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

After Syria and ‘mother of all bombs’, Trump fakes again

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 19, 2017

A quarter of the way through TV programmes in the weekend on two leading Malayalam channels, it dawned on me that some woolly-headed local “strategic thinker” must have been spreading a yarn that World War III is in the offing because US President Donald Trump has abandoned his campaign pledges and has embraced the classic US imperialistic policies – and that the missile attack in Syria, the use of the ‘mother of all bombs’ in Afghanistan and the war clouds over North Korea were all symptomatic of the Armageddon.

Of course, I tried to reason by detailing empirical evidence that much of what is happening is due largely to the confusion prevailing in Washington under a president who is hopelessly besieged, and that things are in reality far from what meets the eye.

So, today, I laughed uncontrollably when the American press reports started appearing that, after all, Trump’s show of force in the Far East was a contrived playact. The formidable American armada, the Carl Vinson carrier strike force, apparently never really headed for North Korea! It was a charade!

I had suspected all along that some back-room deal between the US and China was going on and that the pantomime was complex and, perhaps, beyond belief. The first cloud of suspicion arose when the Chinese commentaries began hinting vaguely that if both Pyongyang and Washington showed restraint, it was not coincidental but there would have been a mutual awareness that neither side would push the envelope. Of course, Chinese commentators will never acknowledge whether Beijing acted as a guarantor of sorts to Pyongyang that Trump has no intentions to attack North Korea or decapitate the Kim Jong-un regime.

The Chinese and I are on the same page here, perhaps, being votaries of dialectical materialism. I too believe that the US economy is hardly in a position to start an imperial war anywhere on the planet, and that Trump knows this better than anyone in America. Which only, after all, explains his consistent campaign pledge that much as he’d build up the US military as by far the most powerful war machine that man ever knew and would restore American prestige and influence worldwide, he will not be an interventionist and will use American power most sparingly, only if US interests are threatened – and, most important, that the core of his foreign-policy doctrine is “America First”, as distinct from his predecessor Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton’s.

Now, let me reproduce the extracts from a Chinese commentary that appeared today in the Communist Party daily Global Times :

  • Most observers say that the Korean Peninsula is approaching the most volatile point, but the possibility of a war remains slim. There are signs that the US President Donald Trump would resort to a tougher Pyongyang policy than his predecessor… However, it will not act rashly… Trump will not forget the promise he made during the presidential campaign. Though he vigorously believes American foreign policy comes from its military might, to “make America great again” can in no way rely entirely on military prowess. In the near future, the Trump administration will attach more importance to the economy, employment and immigration than to diplomacy… The new administration has made it clear that instead of seeking a regime change, it will put “maximum pressure” upon Pyongyang and calls for engagement with the North Korea regime, if and when it changes its behavior.
  • US national interests and domestic politics, especially American citizens’ political appeal, have determined that Trump must give top priority to domestic affairs… It demonstrates the pragmatic and flexible side of the new government. If the US truly implements the new policy, the global community will see the world’s most powerful country spending more time and energy in dealing with domestic affairs. The future circumstances surrounding Pyongyang will likely enter a new phase.

Now, does it mean China will lower its guard? No way. Make no mistake, China won’t take chances with the unstable political environment in which Trump operates. Thus, explicit warnings have also been held out to the US that any attack on North Korea will inevitably trigger Chinese military intervention. This is what an editorial in Global Times warned on Tuesday:

  • Chinese people will not allow their government to remain passive when the armies of the US and South Korea start a war and try to take down the Pyongyang regime. The Chinese will not let something like that happen, especially on the same land where the Chinese Volunteer Army once fought in the early 1950s. It is a land covered with the blood of Chinese soldiers who bravely fought in the early 1950s. Furthermore, if Pyongyang were to be taken by the allied armies of the US and South Korea, it would dramatically change the geopolitical situation in the Korean Peninsula.

Interestingly, government-owned China Daily reported today that President Xi Jinping in his capacity as the chairman of the Central Military Commission has stressed to the PLA commanders the imperative of being “combat ready”. (China Daily )

So, what lies ahead? My prognosis: Beijing is actively promoting direct talks between the US and North Korea without any pre-conditions, which can be expected in a near future. Would Trump get around to realising his wish to have a McDonald cheeseburger with Kim some day, as he once said? Welcome to the Trump era in world politics.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

This is What Can Prompt China Not to Defend N Korea in the Event of War

Sputnik – April 14, 2017

Recently, there have been a growing number of suggestions by Chinese diplomatic and military commentators that Beijing is not obliged to defend Pyongyang in the event of a military attack, an article in the South China Morning Post read.

The assumption comes as senior officials in the United States have warned of a strike against North Korea.

In particular, Washington has positioned two destroyers in the region that can deploy Tomahawk missiles, according to what intelligence officials told NBC News, along with heavy bombers stationed in Guam that could provide support should such a strike take place.

“North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of,” US President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday.

Chinese media outlets and even some official websites have recently published articles saying that in the current situation there are fewer options to find the peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.

For example, on March 22, website China Military, sponsored by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), published an article commenting on a ground test by Pyongyang of a new type of high-thrust rocket engine.

“We believe that warfare is just a matter of time if DPRK continues its nuclear and missile program. […] Under no condition will the international community accept DPRK’s legal possession of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. As Pyongyang continues with its nuclear programs, international sanctions will get tighter, and it will eventually be isolated from the rest of the world for a long time,” the article read.

It is not in Pyongyang’s interests to go against international community’s stance on nuclear weapons. In a situation when the US, Russia and China share views of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions Pyongyang has almost no room for maneuvering. On the other hand, Pyongyang’s decision to give up its nuclear ambitions would satisfy the interests of the North Korean political elite, without posing a threat to the country’s existence.

This assumption was made before President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met in Florida, which proves that Beijing toughened rhetoric towards Pyongyang not under the influence by Washington.

In formal terms, China is North Korea’s only military ally, according to the 1961 Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty. At the same time, many Chinese experts say that de-facto those obligations do not exist anymore. The reason is that Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions have formed an epicenter of tensions near China’s border.

“Despite China’s support for North Korea during the 1950-1953 Korean War, in the current environment, Beijing will prioritize national security over ideology,” Andrei Karneyev, deputy director of the Institute of Asian and African Countries at Moscow State University, told Sputnik China.

According to the expert, this change of heart is not related to any pressure from Washington, but is dictated by security needs. However, the question remains: what would China do in the event of a military confrontation against North Korea?

Shanghai-based military analyst Ni Lexiong told the South China Morning Post that Beijing would need to provide military assistance to its neighbor if US troops invaded, but Pyongyang’s violation of the UN non-proliferation treaty was a “strong reason” for China not to help.

According to Zhan Debin, an expert from the Shanghai University of Foreign Trade, there is little chance of a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

“The US is unlikely to attack North Korea on its own initiative. It would be possible if Pyongyang endangered the key security interests of Washington and Seoul. This would be an adequate reason for the US,” he told Sputnik China.

The expert pointed out that the US military force redeployed to the Korean Peninsula is rather a warning for Pyongyang.

He added that the probability of minor conflicts between the US and North Korea is very low because any minor conflict will turn into a large-scale confrontation.

“We can’t say that the US recklessly wants to start a war. Of course, South Korea doesn’t want war. If a conflict broke out South Korea would be hit the most,” Zhan Debin said. Commenting on China’s actions during the hypothetical confrontation, the expert noted that Beijing may not get involved if Pyongyang provoked a conflict, but at the same time China cannot turn a blind eye to instability in the region.

“Of course, Beijing will try to prevent a conflict from turning into war. China will not supply weapons and provide military and combat assistance,” he said.

The expert continued: “It is not correct to speculate on the matter. This makes no sense. What we should do is to have a backup plan of actions. Of course, China would act [in the event of a confrontation], but there should be a reason for actions. On the whole, China’s goal is to maintain peace and stability in the region.”

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