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‘Nonsense': Norway PM lashes out at NATO spending goals

RT | June 29, 2015

The prime minister of Norway, Erna Solberg has described NATO’s defense spending plans as “nonsense.” The alliance wants members to spend two percent of their GDP on defense, but Oslo, one of the world’s richest countries, says it won’t meet the target.

“If I am allowed to speak, I think the percentage goal is nonsense,” she said in an interview with the Norwegian Armed Forces’ Forum Magazine, as cited by the Local. “The aim of the NATO countries must be the greatest possible defense capability, not a percentage goal in itself,” she added.

Solberg added that while meeting the two percent target may be easier for countries enjoying strong economic growth, it would be harder for those within the alliance whose economies are shrinking.

Norway’s Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said in April that for Oslo to spend 2 percent of its GDP on defense would be “very challenging” in the short term. The Scandinavian country has already said it will increase its spending this year, but this will only bring it to around 1.6 percent and short of the target that was set at the NATO summit in Cardiff, the United Kingdom, last year.

NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, who was also Solberg’s predecessor as Norway’s PM, said that the country could easily meet the target.

“If there is a political will, there is economic space. But it must be given priority,” he said in a visit to Norway in June. “Compared with other major initiatives we have implemented in Norway, reaching two percent is quite possible.”

Aside from the United States, traditional NATO allies have found meeting the target a taxing affair. Germany allocates 1.2 percent of its GDP, the Netherlands 1.3 percent and Spain less than 1 percent. France is the only Western European country that is boosting defense spending. However, some Eastern European nations are increasing their military expenses citing what they call Russian aggression. Lithuania, for instance, wants to allocate twice as much on defense as it did last year.

READ MORE: NATO defense spending a ‘red line’ – US Air Force Secretary

June 29, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Media Coverage of Europe’s Migrant Crisis Ignores Root Cause: NATO

Danielle Ryan | Russia Insider | June 23, 2015

The scale of the migrant crisis Europe is facing today cannot be understated. It is truly unprecedented. What is habitually understated, however — and in fact almost completely ignored by mainstream media — are the real roots of the crisis.

The debate around migration into the EU is happening nearly entirely without reference to the causes of the recent influx of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East. The elephant in the room is NATO and nobody really wants to talk about it.

Hundreds of articles, laden down with numbers and proposals and predictions fail to make any direct link between cause and effect. News anchors sit seemingly baffled, mouths agape, at the apocalyptic-like pictures they are seeing land on their desks, and yet few are willing to draw the appropriate conclusions. But it is such a basic and logical connection that it’s hard to believe it is not being made very loudly and very persistently.

Maybe it’s just that these journalists are so conditioned to framing U.S. and NATO policy in a positive light that the links don’t even really occur to them. Or maybe they’re simply embarrassed and trying to shift focus from their long-recorded support for various military interventions in these countries.

Either way, the result is that the story is framed in such a way that it makes the timing of the crisis sound almost random. We’re witnessing a conversation about how to ‘deal’ with boats full of Libyans making their way across the Mediterranean — as if Libya was a country that had just self-imploded yesterday, and for no discernible reason.

A fierce debate is raging over ‘what to do’ about these migrants — and in a way that’s understandable because that is the more immediate problem — but the debate we really need to be having is about the policies, NATO’s policies, which were the catalyst.

Even if Europe unites in formulating a ‘solution’ to the problem, it will be nothing more than a band-aid fix because it will only deal with symptom. After all, what’s the point in covering your open wound with a band-aid when the guy who cut you is still wielding a knife in the same room? It doesn’t take a genius to work out how that story ends.

Whenever the cause is grudgingly mentioned by the media, it is mentioned briefly and abstractly where the author or anchor might refer to “conflict” or make mention of how violence has “reignited” in these countries in recent years and months.

The editors at the New York Times in particular, are big fans of loading all the blame squarely onto Europe’s shoulders. Here a Times piece argues that the migrant crisis “puts Europe’s policy missteps into focus”. Another piece, from the editorial board, lectures Europe on how to handle the situation.

In April, NATO head Jens Stoltenberg called for a “comprehensive response” to the crisis and promised that NATO would help to stabilize the situation. The alliance’s role in “stabilizing” Afghanistan was part of its broader approach to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, he said.

That is rich coming from the head of a ‘security’ and ‘defensive’ alliance which for years has pursued a policy of offensive destabilization in the very regions which people are fleeing from in their hundreds of thousands. But Stoltenberg’s comments and NATO’s actions are easily decoded by the employment of some basic common sense.

The NATO modus operandi is clear. The pattern, repeated over and over, involves the complete destabilization of a region, to be swiftly followed up with another NATO-led ‘solution’ to the problem. When you couple that with the use of spokespeople who are unashamed to feign ignorance and lie blatantly (Jen Psaki, Marie Harf etc.), and a compliant media that will regurgitate the line without question, this is what you get.

The 2011 NATO intervention in Libya was authorized by the United Nations on “humanitarian” grounds and resulted in the deaths of between 50,000 and 100,000 people and the displacement of 2 million. Very humanitarian.

Similarly, after the U.S.-led campaign to destabilize Syria in an effort to topple Bashar al-Assad, facilitating (and even supporting) the rise of ISIS in the region, a staggering 10 million have been displaced (according to Amnesty International) and European countries are left to help pick up the pieces. Germany, for example, has pledged to resettle 30,000 Syrian refugees. Sweden, a non-NATO nation, has taken in similar numbers.

It should be made clear however, that the numbers European countries have taken or pledged to take pale in comparison to the numbers being hosted in other Middle Eastern countries. Lebanon, for example, is hosting 1.1 million Syrian refugees. Jordan is hosting more than 600,000. Iraq hosts nearly a quarter of a million. Turkey hosts 1.6 million.

There is one country that’s getting off scot-free in all of this — at least on the Syrian front. That country is the United States. The U.S. has taken in less than 900 Syrian refugees after four years of war. American officials have cited “national security” in their explanations for not yet taking more, although they have said they would like to see the number increase.

Maybe this has something to do with it?

Debate not allowed

There is a second media crime flying under the radar here and it is this: In European countries where the massive influx of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa have caused serious societal divisions, where migrants have failed to assimilate (for a variety of reasons, including both government policies and often radical religious beliefs), Western media will allow no one to talk about it honestly — and woe betide the person who tries.

Take Sweden, where the disease of political correctness is at an even more advanced stage than it is in the rest of Europe. There, any attempt to debate the coherence of a ‘doors wide open’ immigration policy is branded as “racist”. A further irony in the Swedish context, is that the country is facing a housing crisis and has nowhere to put most of the people they are pledging to resettle. There’s some real forward-thinking, common sense policy for you.

This is a dangerous combination for Europe: An unsustainable influx of migrants, foreign policy which ensures its continuation, a docile media, and an epidemic of political correctness which has infected the entire continent.

Media 101 on the migrant crisis: Talk a lot about migrants, don’t mention why they fled and then call anyone who has a problem with it a “racist” — success! Oh, and you get an added bonus if you can somehow link it all to ‘Russian aggression’, Vladimir Putin and NATO as a ‘defensive’ alliance.

Some European countries are taking a more hardline approach and are getting slammed for it. Hungary, for example, is looking at building a barrier wall along its border with Serbia, similar to barriers along the Greek-Turkish and Bulgarian-Turkish borders. Again, this has sparked accusations of xenophobia and racism from media and political quarters.

But that’s part of the game, isn’t it? If NATO’s war supporters can focus the debate around the idea that anyone who wants to address or critically assess immigration policy is “racist” then we won’t have to talk about why the migrants are here in the first place or why they are facing such dire circumstances at home.

Russia Today’s Oksana Boyko tried recently, to broach this topic with Peter Sutherland, the UN’s special representative on international migration and development, but she got nowhere. She argued that the debate around migration into the EU can’t really be had without addressing the essence and heart of the problem, but found that NATO policy is apparently a topic not up for discussion.

Debating Europe’s migrant crisis without acknowledging the context in which it has been created it useless. It would be like asking Americans to debate police brutality without talking about race. The two are inescapably interlinked and any ‘solutions’ that come from an incomplete debate will ultimately fail.

For now though, it seems Europe will continue to debate this humanitarian crisis in terms of ‘what to do’ without addressing the ‘how to stop’ and we’ll keep running around in a vicious circle.

An easier solution, of course, would be for NATO to put an end to its campaign of destabilization in the Middle East and North Africa, but that would require the acceptance and acknowledgement of some very hard truths.

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

US, NATO powers intensify preparations for nuclear war

By Thomas Gaist | WSWS | June 26, 2015

The NATO military alliance is preparing to implement a more aggressive nuclear weapons strategy in response to alleged “Russian aggression,” according to NATO sources cited by the Guardian Wednesday evening.

Proposed changes include provisions for greater involvement of nuclear forces in ongoing NATO military exercises along Russia’s borders and new guidelines for nuclear escalation against Russia, according to the NATO officials.

The alliance’s nuclear doctrine has been the subject of quiet, informal discussions “on the sidelines” of the ongoing NATO summit. The new policies will be formally articulated and confirmed at an upcoming conference of the alliance’s Nuclear Planning Group, which was rescheduled for an earlier date this week as word got around about the secretive planning.

“There is very real concern about the way in which Russia publicly bandies around nuclear stuff. So there are quite a lot of deliberations in the alliance about nuclear weapons,” an unnamed NATO diplomat told the Guardian.

The claim that discussion about a revision of nuclear weapons policy is in response to Russian aggression turns reality on its head. In the aftermath of the US and NATO-backed coup in Ukraine last year, the major imperialist powers have engaged in a relentless militarization of Eastern Europe, including the establishment of a rapid reaction force of 40,000 troops.

This week, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the US would permanently deploy tanks, military vehicles and other equipment to countries bordering Russia. There are also ongoing discussions about directly arming Ukraine, beyond the extensive assistance the right-wing government already receives.

NATO is now planning to respond to any attempt by Russia to maintain or counter US imperialism’s aggressive moves in Eastern Europe with even more massive military response, including nuclear weapons.

An indication of the thinking of NATO strategists was provided by a report in the Financial Times. In the event of a conflict involving one of the Baltic countries, “Russia might… accuse the alliance of escalating the conflict and threaten to use intermediate range nuclear weapons.” The Times quotes Elbridge Colby, of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS): “NATO does not need a total nuclear rethink. But it needs to be realistic about how it would respond and willing to show Putin that he would not get away with it.”

This scenario builds on allegations from the US that Russia has violated the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), allegations that the Russian government has denied. US officials have stated that the Pentagon is preparing to launch preemptive attacks against missiles or other targets in Russia, including with nuclear weapons, in response to Moscow’s alleged violation of the treaty.

The announcement of major revisions to NATO’s nuclear strategy came just days after the publication of an extensive report, “Project Atom: Defining US Nuclear Strategy and Posture for 2025-2050,” by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The main portions of the report were authored by a career US government strategist and senior CSIS analyst, Clark Murdock, a man who previously worked in high-level strategy jobs at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Defense (DOD), the US Air Force and the National War College. The report included contributions from a large team of researchers and experts, including panels from the CNAS and the National Institution for Public Policy (NIPP).

The thrust of the CSIS analysis is that the US must make its nuclear arsenal easier to use in a war with Russia, China or some other power. The military must adopt “a US nuclear strategy designed for twenty-first century realities,” based on new generations of tactical warheads and delivery systems.

More advanced tactical nuclear weapons will enable Washington to threaten and launch small nuclear wars, without being “self-deterred” by concerns that its actions would lead to a nuclear holocaust, the CSIS report argues.

“The United States needs to develop and deploy more employable nuclear weapons,” the CSIS wrote, including “low collateral damage, enhanced radiation, earth penetration, electromagnetic pulse, and others as technology advances.”

Such advances, the report argues, are the only way to counter the erosion of American technological superiority by the growth of the Chinese and Russian nuclear arsenals, together with the addition of as many as nine new governments to the “nuclear club.”

Under the “Measured Response” theory advocated by the CSIS and Murdock, these types of highly mobile nuclear strike forces could engage in “controlled nuclear operations,” firing “low yield, accurate, special effects” nukes against enemy targets without leading to a full-scale nuclear war.

By “forward deploying a robust set of discriminate nuclear response options,” the US could launch tactical nuclear strikes “at all rungs of the nuclear escalation ladder,” Murdock wrote.

Such “small-scale” nuclear conflicts would inevitably claim tens, if not hundreds of millions of lives, even assuming they did not escalate into a global nuclear war.

The continental US, according to this theory, would be protected from the consequences of regional-scale nuclear warfare by the deterrent effect of Washington’s huge arsenal of high-yield strategic weapons. Any “controlled” nuclear conflicts started by the US government, moreover, would not involve nuclear operations targeting or launched from North America.

“The US homeland would not be engaged in the US response to a nuclear attack on a regional ally,” the CSIS wrote.

In barely veiled language, CSIS is suggesting that the US should utilize allied and client governments as staging areas and arenas for “controlled” atomic warfare.

As the product of collaboration between an extensive network of ruling-class policy theorists, such proposals are extremely ominous and represent a grave warning to the international working class.

There have been other calls for a significant expansion of US nuclear weapons capacity. In comments to the Atlantic Council earlier this week, US Congressman Mac Thornberry, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, called for a “national conversation about building new nuclear weapons.”

“That’s something we haven’t been able to even have a conversation about for a while, but I think we’re going to have to,” Thornberry declared.

Late last year, the Obama administration announced plans for a $1 trillion, three-decades-long upgrade of nuclear weapons capability.

In the writings of the CSIS and the other discussions within the state apparatus, there is a degree of insanity. The strategists of American imperialism are coldly calculating the best tactics for waging and winning nuclear war. Yet this insanity flows from the logic of American imperialism and the drive by the financial aristocracy to control—ever more directly through the use of military force—the entire world.

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ukraine Masses Troops on Border With Transnistria

Sputnik – 28.06.2015

Ukraine continues to mass troops and heavy weapons on the border with Transnistria on the pretext that the self-proclaimed republic may launch a military campaign against Ukraine, Russian media reported on Saturday.

“It looks like the Kiev authorities want to picture themselves as encircled by enemies, ready to attack,” a representative of the Transnistrian KGB told Russia’s Zvezda TV channel.

“That we may have a war here tomorrow is hard to say, but we are not ruling out a Ukrainian provocation either… They could use for this purpose one of their many small private armies which refuse to take any orders from Kiev,” the official added.

On June 22, the deputy foreign minister of the Transnistrian Republic, Vitaly Ignatyev, said that Ukraine was moving its troops towards the borders of the self-proclaimed republic, sandwiched between Ukraine and Moldova.

“The situation here is very bad… Economic production is going down, foreign trade is shrinking, the security situation is equally alarming with our Moldovan partners holding military drills with NATO and the Ukrainian pressure mounting every day,” Ignatyev said.

He also mentioned the curbs Kiev has imposed on the transit of Transnistrian nationals and citizens of Russia, almost 200,000 of whom currently live in Transnistria.

“They haven’t been able to travel to Russia via Ukraine for more than a year now. They have to move across Moldova, but Chisinau is creating problems too, along with economic sanctions,” Ignatyev added.

The newly appointed governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region Mikheil Saakashvili earlier announced plans to reinforce Ukraine’s border with Transnistria.

“We have two major tasks — to reinforce the border and curb corruption. Drug and weapons trafficking across this border means nothing good,” Saakashvili told a news conference in Odessa.

He also blamed the Transnistrian authorities for destabilizing the situation in Ukraine.

June 28, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

NYT’s Orwellian View of Ukraine

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 22, 2015

In George Orwell’s 1984, the leaders of Oceania presented “Two Minutes Hate” in which the image of an enemy was put on display and loyal Oceanianians expressed their rage, all the better to prepare them for the country’s endless wars and their own surrender of freedom. And, now, in America, you have The New York Times.

Surely the Times is a bit more subtle than the powers-that-be in Orwell’s Oceania, but the point is the same. The “paper of record” decides who our rotating foreign enemy is and depicts its leader as a demon corrupting whatever he touches. The rest of us aren’t supposed to think for ourselves. We’re just supposed to hate.

As the Times has degenerated from a relatively decent newspaper into a fount of neocon propaganda, its editors also have descended into the practice of simply inventing a narrative of events that serves an ideological purpose, its own version of “Two Minutes Hate.” Like the leaders of Orwell’s Oceania, the Times has become increasingly heavy-handed in its propaganda.

Excluding alternate explanations of events, even if supported by solid evidence, the Times arrogantly creates its own reality and tells us who to hate.

In assessing the Times’s downward spiral into this unethical journalism, one could look back on its false reporting regarding Iraq, Iran, Syria or other Middle East hotspots. But now the Times is putting the lives of ourselves, our children and our grandchildren at risk with its reckless reporting on the Ukraine crisis – by setting up an unnecessary confrontation between nuclear-armed powers, the United States and Russia.

At the center of the Times’ propaganda on Ukraine has been its uncritical – indeed its anti-journalistic – embrace of the Ukrainians coup-makers in late 2013 and early 2014 as they collaborated with neo-Nazi militias to violently overthrow elected President Viktor Yanukovych and hurl Ukraine into a bloody civil war.

Rather than display journalistic professionalism, the Times’ propagandists ignored the evidence of a coup – including an intercepted phone call in which U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussed how to “mid-wife” the regime change and handpick the new leaders.

The Times even ignored a national security expert, Statfor founder George Friedman, when he termed the ouster of Ukraine’s elected president “the most blatant coup in history.” The Times just waved a magic wand and pronounced that there was no coup – and anyone who thought so must reside inside “the Russian propaganda bubble.”[See Consortiumnews.com’sNYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine.”]

Perhaps even more egregiously, the Times has pretended that there were no neo-Nazi militias spearheading the Feb. 22, 2014 coup and then leading the bloody “anti-terrorist operation” against ethnic Russians in the south and east who resisted the coup. The Times explained all this bloodshed as simply “Russian aggression.”

It didn’t even matter when the U.S. House of Representatives – of all groups – unanimously acknowledged the neo-Nazi problem when it prohibited U.S. collaboration in military training of Ukrainian Nazis. The Times simply expunged the vote from its “official history” of the crisis. [See Consortiumnews.com’sUS House Admits Nazi Role in Ukraine.”]

Orwell’s Putin

Yet, for an Orwellian “Two Minute Hate” to work properly, you need to have a villain whose face you can put on display. And, in the case of Ukraine – at least after Yanukovych was driven from the scene – that villain has been Russian President Vladimir Putin, who embodies all evil in the intense hatred sold to the American public.

So, when Putin presents a narrative of the Ukraine crisis, which notes the history of the U.S.-driven expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders and the evidence of the U.S.-directed Ukrainian coup, the Times editors must dismiss it all as “mythology,” as they did in Monday’s editorial regarding Putin’s remarks to an international economic conference in St. Petersburg.

“President Vladimir Putin of Russia is not veering from the mythology he created to explain away the crisis over Ukraine,” the Times’ editors wrote. “It is one that wholly blames the West for provoking a new Cold War and insists that international sanctions have not grievously wounded his country’s flagging economy.”

Without acknowledging any Western guilt in the coup that overthrew the elected Ukrainian government in 2014, the Times’ editors simply reveled in the harm that the Obama administration and the European Union have inflicted on Russia’s economy for its support of the previously elected government and its continued backers in eastern and southern Ukraine.

For nearly a year and a half, the New York Times and other major U.S. news organizations have simply refused to acknowledge the reality of what happened in Ukraine. In the Western fantasy, the elected Yanukovych government simply disappeared and was replaced by a U.S.-backed regime that then treated any resistance to its rule as “terrorism.” The new regime even dispatched neo-Nazi militias to kill ethnic Russians and other Ukrainians who resisted and thus were deemed “terrorists.”

The upside-down narrative of what happened in Ukraine has become the conventional wisdom in Official Washington and has been imposed on America’s European allies as well. According to The New York Times’ Orwellian storyline, anyone who notes the reality of a U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine is engaging in “fantasy” and must be some kind of Putin pawn.

To the Times’ editors, all the justice is on their side, even as Ukraine’s new regime has deployed neo-Nazi militias to kill eastern Ukrainians who resisted the anti-Yanukovych coup. To the Times’ editors, the only possible reason to object to Ukraine’s new order is that the Russians must be bribing European dissidents to resist the U.S. version of events. The Times wrote:

The Europeans are indeed divided over the extent to which Russia, with its huge oil and gas resources, should be isolated, but Mr. Putin’s aggression so far has ensured their unity when it counts. In addition to extending existing sanctions, the allies have prepared a new round of sanctions that could be imposed if Russian-backed separatists seized more territory in Ukraine. …

Although Mr. Putin insisted on Friday that Russia had found the ‘inner strength’ to weather sanctions and a drop in oil prices, investment has slowed, capital has fled the country and the economy has been sliding into recession. Even the business forum was not all that it seemed: The heads of many Western companies stayed away for a second year.

An Orwellian World

In the up-is-down world that has become the New York Times’ editorial page, the Western coup-making on Russia’s border with the implicit threat of U.S. and NATO nuclear weapons within easy range of Moscow is transformed into a case of Russian aggression. The Times’ editors wrote: “One of the most alarming aspects of the crisis has been Mr. Putin’s willingness to brandish nuclear weapons.”

Though it would appear objectively that the United States was engaged in serious mischief-making on Russia’s border, the Times editors flip it around to make Russian military maneuvers – inside Russia – a sign of aggression against the West.

Given Mr. Putin’s aggressive behavior, including pouring troops and weapons into Kaliningrad, a Russian city located between NATO members Lithuania and Poland, the allies have begun taking their own military steps. In recent months, NATO approved a rapid-reaction force in case an ally needs to be defended. It also pre-positioned some weapons in front-line countries, is rotating troops there and is conducting many more exercises. There are also plans to store battle tanks and other heavy weapons in several Baltic and Eastern European countries.

If he is not careful, Mr. Putin may end up facing exactly what he has railed against — a NATO more firmly parked on Russia’s borders — not because the alliance wanted to go in that direction, but because Russian behavior left it little choice. That is neither in Russia’s interest, nor the West’s.

There is something truly 1984-ish about reading that kind of propagandistic writing in The New York Times and other Western publications. But it has become the pattern, not the exception.

The Words of the ‘Demon’

Though the Times and the rest of the Western media insist on demonizing Putin, we still should hear the Russian president’s version of events, as simply a matter of journalistic fairness. Here is how Putin explained the situation to American TV talk show host Charlie Rose on June 19:

Why did we arrive at the crisis in Ukraine? I am convinced that after the so-called bipolar system ceased to exist, after the Soviet Union was gone from the political map of the world, some of our partners in the West, including and primarily the United States, of course, were in a state of euphoria of sorts. Instead of developing good neighborly relations and partnerships, they began to develop the new geopolitical space that they thought was unoccupied. This, for instance, is what caused the North Atlantic bloc, NATO, to go east, along with many other developments.

I have been thinking a lot about why this is happening and eventually came to the conclusion that some of our partners [Putin’s way of describing Americans] seem to have gotten the illusion that the world order that was created after World War II, with such a global center as the Soviet Union, does not exist anymore, that a vacuum of sorts has developed that needs to be filled quickly.

I think such an approach is a mistake. This is how we got Iraq, and we know that even today there are people in the United States who think that mistakes were made in Iraq. Many admit that there were mistakes in Iraq, and nevertheless they repeat it all in Libya. Now they got to Ukraine. We did not bring about the crisis in Ukraine. There was no need to support, as I have said many times, the anti-state, anti-constitutional takeover that eventually led to a sharp resistance on the territory of Ukraine, to a civil war in fact.

Where do we go from here?” Putin asked. “Today we primarily need to comply with all the agreements reached in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. … At the same time, I would like to draw your attention and the attention of all our partners to the fact that we cannot do it unilaterally. We keep hearing the same thing, repeated like a mantra – that Russia should influence the southeast of Ukraine. We are. However, it is impossible to resolve the problem through our influence on the southeast alone.

There has to be influence on the current official authorities in Kiev, which is something we cannot do. This is a road our Western partners have to take – those in Europe and America. Let us work together. … We believe that to resolve the situation we need to implement the Minsk agreements, as I said. The elements of a political settlement are key here. There are several. […]

The first one is constitutional reform, and the Minsk agreements say clearly: to provide autonomy or, as they say decentralization of power, let it be decentralization. This is quite clear, our European partners, France and Germany have spelled it out and we are quite satisfied with it, just as the representatives of Donbass [eastern Ukraine where ethnic Russians who had supported Yanukovych have declared independence] are. This is one component.

The second thing that has to be done – the law passed earlier on the special status of these territories – Luhansk and Donetsk, the unrecognized republics, should be enacted. It was passed, but still not acted upon. This requires a resolution of the Supreme Rada – the Ukrainian Parliament – which is also covered in the Minsk agreements. Our friends in Kiev have formally complied with this decision, but simultaneously with the passing by the Rada of the resolution to enact the law they amended the law itself … which practically renders the action null and void. This is a mere manipulation, and they have to move from manipulations to real action.

The third thing is a law on amnesty. It is impossible to have a political dialogue with people who are threatened with criminal persecution. And finally, they need to pass a law on municipal elections on these territories and to have the elections themselves. All this is spelled out in the Minsk agreements, this is something I would like to draw your attention to, and all this should be done with the agreement of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Unfortunately, we still see no direct dialogue, only some signs of it, but too much time has passed after the Minsk agreements were signed. I repeat, it is important now to have a direct dialogue between Luhansk, Donetsk and Kiev – this is missing.

Also missing is any objective and professional explanation of this crisis in the mainstream American press. Instead, The New York Times and other major U.S. news organizations have continued with their pattern of 1984-ish propaganda.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

June 23, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

NATO plans 40,000-strong rapid response force in E. Europe

RT | June 22, 2015

NATO’s rapid response Spearhead Force in Europe might reach 40,000 troops, a tenfold growth from the initial 4,000-strong force deployed last year, the military alliance’s chief said. Most of these troops will be stationed near Russian borders.

“NATO defense ministers … [will] make a decision to further increase the strength and capacity of the 13,000-strong NATO Response Force (NRF) to 30,000 or 40,000 troops,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday.

The decision is to be officially announced during NATO’s defense ministers meeting on June 24-25 in Brussels.

The troops will be under the command of 6 HQs to be stationed in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. The Spearhead Force will include Special Forces and rapid response teams, enforced with marine and air components.

A new rapid reaction force ready to be deployed within 48 hours was initially intended to consist of 4,000 troops.

The Spearhead Force has already held its first military drills codenamed Noble Jump in Poland. The war games became “the biggest reinforcement” of defense since Cold War times, said Stoltenberg, adding that the alliance is facing challenges from “the behavior of a more assertive” Russia.

Last week, Stoltenberg criticized Russia for announced plans to add to its nuclear arsenal 40 newly made intercontinental ballistic missiles in 2015.

“This nuclear saber-rattling of Russia is unjustified. It’s destabilizing and it’s dangerous. This is something which we are addressing, and it’s also one of the reasons we are now increasing the readiness and preparedness of our forces,” Stoltenberg said during a news briefing in Brussels last Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made the announcement about further development of the strategic nuclear armed forces in response to a report that the US is seriously considering deployment of heavy weapons to new NATO member states on permanent basis.

The chill in Russia-US relations already resemble the worst years of the Cold War, yet experts warn that further escalation of the Ukrainian crisis could lead to an open standoff between Moscow and Washington.

If Washington opts to send armaments to Kiev authorities, as some Republicans congressmen want, Moscow would react immediately, experts quoted in US media believe.

Washington should pursue a diplomatic solution for its conflict with Russia, former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul told The New York Times.

“The US-Russia conflict is not going to be resolved in weeks or months,” McFaul said. “This challenge will take years, even decades.”

Read more

NATO conducting biggest beef up of defenses since Cold War – alliance chief

Moscow will respond to NATO approaching Russian borders ‘accordingly’ – Putin

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ukraine and the Apocalyptic Risk of Propagandized Ignorance

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | June 15, 2015

I’m not sure if there’s been a better written book published yet this year than Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard and How the West Was Checkmated, but I’m confident there’s not been a more important one. With some 17,000 nuclear bombs in the world, the United States and Russia have about 16,000 of them. The United States is aggressively flirting with World War III, the people of the United States have not the foggiest notion of how or why, and authors Natylie Baldwin and Kermit Heartsong explain it all quite clearly. Go ahead and tell me there’s nothing you’re now spending your time on that’s less important than this.

This book may very well be the best written one I’ve read this year. It puts all the relevant facts — those I knew and many I didn’t — together concisely and with perfect organization. It does it with an informed worldview. It leaves me nothing to complain about at all, which is almost unheard of in my book reviews. I find it refreshing to encounter writers so well-informed who also grasp the significance of their information.

Nearly half the book is used to set the context for recent events in Ukraine. It’s useful to understand the end of the cold war, the irrational hatred of Russia that pervades elite U.S. thinking, and the patterns of behavior that are replaying themselves now at higher volume. Stirring up fanatical fighters in Afghanistan and Chechnya and Georgia, and targeting Ukraine for similar use: this is a context CNN won’t provide. The partnership of the neocons (in arming and provoking violence in Libya) with the humanitarian warriors (in riding to the rescue for regime change): this is a precedent and a model that NPR won’t mention. The U.S. promise not to expand NATO, the U.S. expansion of NATO to 12 new countries right up to the border of Russia, the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and pursuit of “missile defense” — this is background that Fox News would never deem significant. U.S. support for the rule of criminal oligarchs willing to sell off Russian resources, and Russian resistance to those schemes — such accounts are almost incomprehensible if you’ve consumed too much U.S. “news,” but are explained and documented well by Baldwin and Heartsong.

This book includes excellent background on the use and abuse of Gene Sharp and the color revolutions instigated by the U.S. government. A silver lining may be found, I think, in the value of nonviolent action recognized by all involved — whether for good or ill. The same lesson can be found (for good this time) in the civilian resistance to Ukrainian troops in the spring of 2014, and the refusal of (some) troops to attack civilians.

The Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, and Ukraine II in 2013-2014 are recounted well, including detailed chronology. It’s truly remarkable how much has been publicly reported that remains buried. Western leaders met repeatedly in 2012 and 2013 to plot the fate of Ukraine. Neo-Nazis from Ukraine were sent to Poland to train for a coup. NGOs operating out of the U.S. Embassy in Kiev organized trainings for coup participants. On November 24, 2013, three days after Ukraine refused an IMF deal, including refusing to sever ties to Russia, protesters in Kiev began to clash with police. The protesters used violence, destroying buildings and monuments, and tossing Molotov cocktails, but President Obama warned the Ukrainian government not to respond with force. (Contrast that with the treatment of the Occupy movement, or the shooting on Capitol Hill of the woman who made an unacceptable U-turn in her car with her baby.)

U.S.-funded groups organized a Ukrainian opposition, funded a new TV channel, and promoted regime change. The U.S. State Department spent some $5 billion. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State who handpicked the new leaders, openly brought cookies to protesters. When those protesters violently overthrew the government in February 2014, the United States immediately declared the coup government legitimate. That new government banned major political parties, and attacked, tortured, and murdered their members. The new government included neo-Nazis and would soon include officials imported from the United States. The new government banned the Russian language — the first language of many Ukrainian citizens. Russian war memorials were destroyed. Russian-speaking populations were attacked and murdered.

Crimea, an autonomous region of Ukraine, had its own parliament, had been part of Russia from 1783 until 1954, had publicly voted for close ties to Russia in 1991, 1994, and 2008, and its parliament had voted to rejoin Russia in 2008. On March 16, 2014, 82% of Crimeans took part in a referendum, and 96% of them voted to rejoin Russia. This nonviolent, bloodless, democratic, and legal action, in no violation of a Ukrainian constitution that had been shredded by a violent coup, was immediately denounced in the West as a Russian “invasion” of Crimea.

Novorossiyans, too, sought independence and were attacked by the new Ukrainian military the day after John Brennan visited Kiev and ordered that crime. I know that the Fairfax County Police who have kept me and my friends away from John Brennan’s house in Virginia have had no clue what hell he was unleashing on helpless people thousands of miles away. But that ignorance is at least as disturbing as informed malice would be. Civilians were attacked by jets and helicopters for months in the worst killing in Europe since World War II. Russian President Putin repeatedly pressed for peace, a ceasefire, negotiations. A ceasefire finally came on September 5, 2014.

Remarkably, contrary to what we’ve all been told, Russia didn’t invade Ukraine any of the numerous times we were told that it had just done so. We’ve graduated from mythical weapons of mass destruction, through mythical threats to Libyan civilians, and false accusation of chemical weapons use in Syria, to false accusations of launching invasions that were never launched. The “evidence” of the invasion(s) was carefully left devoid of location or any verifiable detail, but has all been decidedly debunked anyway.

The downing of the MH17 airplane was blamed on Russia with no evidence. The U.S. has information on what happened but won’t release it. Russia released what it had, and the evidence, in agreement with eye-witnesses on the ground, and in agreement with an air-traffic controller at the time, is that the plane was shot down by one or more other planes. “Evidence” that Russia shot the plane down with a missile has been exposed as sloppy forgeries. The vapor trail that a missile would have left was reported by not a single witness.

Baldwin and Heartsong close with the case that U.S. actions have backfired, that in fact whether the people of the United States have any idea what is going on or not, the power brokers in Washington have shot themselves in the foot. Sanctions against Russia have made Putin as popular at home as George W. Bush was after he’d managed to exist as president while planes were flown into the World Trade Center. The same sanctions have strengthened Russia by turning it toward its own production and toward alliances with non-Western nations. Ukraine has suffered, and Europe suffers from a cut-off of Russian gas, while Russia makes deals with Turkey, Iran, and China. Evicting a Russian base from Crimea seems more hopeless now than before this madness began. Russia is leading the way as more nations abandon the U.S. dollar. Retaliatory sanctions from Russia are hurting the West. Far from isolated, Russia is working with the BRICS nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and other alliances. Far from impoverished, Russia is buying up gold while the U.S. sinks into debt and is increasingly viewed by the world as a rogue player, and resented by Europe for depriving Europe of Russian trade.

This story begins in the irrationality of collective trauma coming out of the holocaust of World War II and of blind hatred for Russia. It must end with the same irrationality. If U.S. desperation leads to war with Russia in Ukraine or elsewhere along the Russian border where NATO is engaging in various war games and exercises, there may be no more human stories ever told or heard.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

US escalates Russia tension with pledges to put F-22 fighters in Europe

US cites fictional Russian threat

Sputnik | 16.06.2015

Washington is mulling the delivery of stealthy F-22 Raptor fighter jets to Europe in the face of a “resurgent Russia”, according to US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.

The US Air Force plans to further increase the number of its rotational forces in Europe amid tensions with Russia and could deploy the F-22 fighter to Europe, US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying.

She made the statement during the Paris Airshow at Le Bourget earlier this week.

“That’s the beginning, there will be more. You’ll continue to see more and more rotational forces. The biggest threat on my mind is what’s happening with Russia and the activities of Russia. That’s a big part of why I’m here in Europe,” James said.

She added that she saw “no reason” why the fifth-generation F-22 fighter jets could not be stationed in Europe, but refused to elaborate.

The statement came shortly after the US military awarded defense contractor Lockheed Martin nearly 70 million dollars to add flying hours to the F-22 Raptor fighter jets.

Earlier, the US Air Force stepped up its number of air patrols in the Baltics as Britain received B-2 stealth bombers and B-52 bombers from the US.

On Monday, it was reported that the Pentagon is poised to send heavy military equipment to Eastern Europe and the Baltic nations, as part of its effort to strengthen US forces there. The move was harshly condemned by Russia, which said that this possible decision would undermine the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

The Anglo-American Insanity

By Finian Cunningham – Strategic Culture Foundation – June 15, 2015

In a sane world, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond should be forced to quit his post in disgrace as the country’s top diplomat, following reckless remarks that Britain may henceforth site American nuclear weapons to counter the “threat from Russia.” So here we have an alarming escalation of international tensions and militarism by both Washington and London – and all on the back of unproven, prejudicial words from the close Anglo-American allies, who are clearly working in tandem.

Hammond’s overt reversal to Cold War mentality comes as Washington is also reportedly considering the deployment of “first-strike” nuclear missiles in various European Union countries. The Americans are claiming that move is “in response” to Russia violating the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Moscow is accused of testing land-based cruise missiles banned under the INF. Russia has flatly denied this American claim, which – as is becoming the norm in other contentious matters – has not been supported with any evidence from Washington.

This slanderous attitude toward Russia is doubly contemptible, because not only is it calumnious, the deception also serves as a political and moral cover that allows the Anglo-American rulers to take outrageous steps toward jeopardising international peace, with the unprecedented deployment of nuclear weapons.

On the issue of Britain siting American nuclear weapons, Hammond told the rightwing Daily Telegraph :

I think it is right to be concerned about the way the Russians are developing what they call asymmetric warfare doctrine… We have got to send a clear signal to Russia that we will not allow them to transgress our red lines. We would look at the case [of installing American nuclear weapons on British soil]. We work extremely closely with the Americans. That would be a decision that we would make together if that proposition was on the table. We would look at all the pros and the cons and come to a conclusion.

For self-serving good measure, the British foreign minister linked the nuclear issue with alleged Russian aggression in east Ukraine, adding:

There have been some worrying signs of stepping up levels of activity both by Russian forces and by Russian-controlled separatist forces.

Hammond tried to sound ambivalent about the deployment of US nuclear weapons from British territory – in addition to Britain’s own nuclear arsenal – but the mere fact that his government is weighing the possibility is in itself a reckless, inflammatory move. If Britain were to do so, it reverses the prohibition on such American forces that followed the end of the Cold War more than 20 years ago.

Ironically, while Hammond was this week leading the Westminster parliament’s push for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, it may be noted that the British public is not given a say on whether their country once again becomes part of the United States’ nuclear strike force.

But perhaps the real sacking offence for Hammond is that he is dangerously militarising foreign policy based on absolutely no reasonable evidence; indeed, based on outright disinformation. Just like his American allies in Washington, the Conservative Party minister is making all sorts of hysterical claims against Russia, ranging from posing a threat to Europe, to using “asymmetric war doctrine,” to invading east Ukraine and undermining the Minsk ceasefire. (A ceasefire that Moscow worked hard to broker with Germany and France back in February, in the significant absence of both Washington and London.)

Without any credible information, the American and British governments appear to be moving incrementally toward a pre-emptive nuclear strike capability against Russia. As the Associated Press reported last week, albeit using euphemistic language:

The options go so far as one implied – but not stated explicitly – that would improve the ability of US nuclear weapons to destroy military targets on Russian territory.

The Americans, Britain or NATO have not produced a shred of verifiable evidence that Russia has violated the INF treaty, or is subverting Ukraine, or is threatening any other European country.

On the east Ukraine conflict, it is in fact reliably reported by the Minsk ceasefire monitoring group of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well by local media sources and pro-separatist officials, that the latest surge in violence is coming from the Western-backed Kiev regime. That violence includes the shelling of residential centres in Donetsk City and surrounding towns and villages, which has resulted in dozens of civilian deaths over the past week.

How the British and American governments can make out that Russia is the aggressor and is subverting the Minsk ceasefire is simply a prejudicial assertion that is based on no facts. Moreover, such a view is a distortion of the facts to the point of telling barefaced lies.

That the British foreign secretary can make such misleading and apparently misinformed comments about the Ukraine conflict and Russia in general, and then seek to overhaul Britain’s military policy to install American nuclear weapons on British territory is worthy of a ministerial sacking due to gross incompetence.

Hammond’s embrace of nuclear militarism in the midst of a tense East-West political standoff has not gone unnoticed in Britain. His bellicose remarks have caused controversy, with several anti-war campaign groups reviling the reckless reversal to Cold War mentality. Nevertheless, it is a worrying sign of the mainstream malaise that Hammond’s incompetence has not incurred even greater public condemnation.

Underlying the American and British governments’ foreign policy is just this: a Cold War ideology, which views the entire world in terms of “external threats.” Russia and China are once again foremost as the perceived and portrayed enemies.

In an interview last week with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted:

As for some countries’ concerns about Russia’s possible aggressive actions, I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO.

By deduction, this kind of reasoning categorises people like Britain’s Hammond as “insane.” The same goes for US President Barack Obama and his administration. Addressing the recent G7 summit in Germany, Obama exhorted: “We must face down Russian aggression.”

It might be asked: why do Washington and London in particular always interpret the world in terms of enemies, threats and aggression?

Part of the answer may be that these powers are themselves the biggest practitioners of illegal aggression to pursue foreign policy goals. Imperialism – the use of military force to underpin political and economic objectives – is part and parcel of how America and Britain operate in the world. Aggression and militarism are fundamental instruments of Anglo-American capitalism, as much as banking, trade and investment deals.

There is thus a very real sense of “devil’s conscience” at play in the international relations of Washington and London. They both fear retribution and revenge because of their own criminal conduct toward the rest of the world. In a word, the Anglo-American world view boils down to paranoia.

The militarisation of foreign relations is also an effective, vicarious way to exert control over nominal allies. If external threats can be sufficiently talked up, then that creates a contrived sense of “defence” among “allies” who then look to dominant leaders for “protection.” Such mind games are typical of the way Washington and London have promoted NATO as the protector of “European allies” from “Russian aggression.”

The same mind game is at play over Washington’s interference in Asia-Pacific, where the Americans are trying to cast China as the “evil aggressor” toward smaller nations, who then turn to Washington for “protection” – and large amounts of money to buy American weapons, courtesy of the Fed’s dollar-printing press.

On the matter of alleged Russian aggression, Putin, in the interview cited above, went on to aptly comment:

I think some countries are simply taking advantage of people’s fears with regard to Russia… Let’s suppose that the United States would like to maintain its leadership in the Atlantic [EU] community. It needs an external threat, an external enemy to ensure this leadership. Iran is clearly not enough – this threat is not very scary or big enough. Who can be frightening? And then suddenly this crisis unfolds in Ukraine. Russia is forced to respond. Perhaps, it was engineered on purpose, I don’t know. But it was not our doing.

Speaking to the editor of Corriere della Sera, Putin added:

Let me tell you something – there is no need to fear Russia. The world has changed so drastically that people with some common sense cannot even imagine such a large-scale military conflict today. We have other things to think about, I assure you.

That is why politicians like British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond are compelled to vilify Russia and conjure up nightmares of invasions, large-scale military conflicts, and nuclear weapons. Without scaremongering, there cannot be warmongering; and without warmongering Anglo-American capitalism cannot exert the hegemonic relations that it requires in order to operate.

This Anglo-American world view remains regressively stuck in a bygone era of managing international relations through violence and aggression and even, if needs be, through instigating all-out war.

Such people as Britain’s Philip Hammond, his Prime Minister David Cameron and on the American side, Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, John Kerry, do not of course deserve to be in a position of government, if we lived in a sane world.

But that’s the kind of politician that the Anglo-American capitalist system selects, because they promote the essentials of the system through their draconian mentality of aggression and war. The diabolical shame is that these insane people are capable of bringing cataclysm upon millions of innocent human beings.

Kicking out such politicians would be a start to averting war. Better still would be kicking out the entire insane system that anyway only ever enriches a small minority at the painful expense of the majority. That “expense” includes enduring the perennial risk of war and, dare we say, annihilation.

© Strategic Culture Foundation

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

East Must Provide Alternative to, Not Replace Western Hegemony

By Ulson Gunnar – New Eastern Outlook – 14.06.2015

Recent news has shown China quickly gaining ground against a West which has for centuries maintained hegemony over Asia Pacific. Beyond Asia, China has been steadily expanding its influence throughout Africa and the Middle East. Together with Russia, Iran and other nations of the “East,” they are constructing what is commonly referred to as a “multi-polar” world order.

This multi-polar world order stands in contrast to the unipolar order the West has sought to impose for decades after the end of the World Wars and is a continuation of Western imperialism carried out by the British and other European empires during the decline of the Ottoman Empire.

But is what the East doing truly building an alternative to the West’s brand of hegemonic imperialism? Or is it simply more of the same under a different label? Moreover, is the West’s behavior coaxing other nations to unify under a singular, consolidated banner, only to be rolled under the West’s vision of an international order ruled from Washington, Wall Street, London and Brussels?

These are questions that must be asked and explored particularly by the people who gravitate toward the East the most. They understand the threat of Western hegemony and the very real damage it has and still is inflicting upon humanity. From the devastation of Iraq and Afghanistan, to the wars raging in Yemen, Syria and Libya, Western designs have taken unstable tinderboxes around the globe and turned them into raging infernos.

Naturally, people look for a force to counter such inhumane violence, bloodshed and shameless exploitation and manipulation. They see that counter in Russia, China and those in their spheres of influence. And while in the past these nations have indeed served as counterweights to the forces of fascism or imperialism, one must always be careful not to simply back one hegemon over another.

For Moscow, Beijing and across the other BRICS nations, they must understand that the support and success they enjoy is specifically because they offer what many believe is an alternative to, not a replacement for Western hegemony. The world sees BRICS as a viable alternative specifically because they are not setting up military bases in foreign lands, intervening militarily thousands of miles from their borders and working with nations instead of coercing them. As soon as they cease to uphold these principles, they will cease to serve as a relevant alternative to the West.

China in particular has been long criticized by the West for doing business with any nation regardless of their so-called human rights record. The West however, makes these criticisms because it disrupts their ability to exploit human rights as a pretense to meddle diplomatically, militarily and economically in any targeted country. Meanwhile, the West gladly has conducted long-term business with the most egregious human rights offenders on Earth, the Saudi regime chief among them.

China has repeatedly, sometimes even painfully reasserted the primacy of national sovereignty in ruling over all international relations. It must not only continue to reassert this message diplomatically, but also pragmatically throughout its foreign policy. Not only is it a matter of self-interest, preventing foreign interests from dictating to Beijing what it should do within its own borders, but it helps set a solid precedent in establishing a new multi-polar global order.

Supranational Institutions Old and New

Russia, China and the rest of BRICS are themselves creating a variety of supranational institutions and military alliances to compete against those of the West, particularly the IMF, World Bank, NATO, and even the UN itself. However, while doing this, they must ensure the preservation, even the encouragement of national sovereignty as the primary organizing principle among these new institutions. And not just on paper, but especially in practice, whether it suits BRICS at the moment or not.

This is because whether those special interests behind BRICS and standing in apparent opposition to the West realize it or not, the very reason they have been given an opportunity by the global public is specifically because they are perceived as being different from the West and the Western way of using their global wealth and influence. And whether it serves their interests immediately or fully, they must fulfill these expectations or suffer the same backlash the West is now facing, both at home and abroad.

The world is changing economically, technologically and culturally. These shifts have not boded well for the concept of “globalization” or even supranational institutions. To seek to create doppelgangers of existing and failing Western supranational and international institutions seems folly at best.

Understanding this, and balancing competition with the West’s existing and still potent institutions, against the changing dynamics of the coming future is essential for the survival and eventual success of BRICS and the multi-polar world they claim to want to create.

A world where technology now empowers one individual to do what once required many people and tremendous resources, constitutes a shift in the balance of power between local communities, nations and global alliances and power brokers. Even if the people have yet to realize this, they will soon. The future of BRICS depends on a collective understanding that fighting this coming shift will lead BRICS to the same cliff the West is currently dangling over.

For the people themselves, they must understand that they have always been in the driver’s seat, even if insidious hands have reached past them to take the wheel for the majority of this trip. Realizing that the people, not special interests have the ability to steer the world toward a path we would all like to see it on is our greatest bet. We need not obsessively support one bloc over another, subscribing almost religiously to political parties, personalities and brands, but should instead agree on a set of principles and only back those as long as they uphold those principles.

By attaching ourselves to political parties, personalities and brands, we stand only to be inevitably disappointed. On the other hand, principles are inextinguishable, indomitable and everlasting. In the ongoing game of geopolitics, if ever we want to finally break the continuous turning of the wheel of history, we must stop following those whose hands are turning that wheel, and follow the principles that always and forever lead forward.

When Russia, China and the rest of BRICS stand up for national sovereignty, non-interventionism and non-military expansionism, we should applaud them not because they are simply BRICS, but because of the principles they are upholding. When they fail to do so, we must also, and as equally as vocal, condemn them.

June 14, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia slams US, NATO allies for violating NPT

Press TV – June 12, 2015

Russia has censured the United States and its NATO allies for “violating” the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by conducting nuclear planning and missions.

“The so-called joint nuclear missions practiced by the United States and their NATO allies are a serious violation of the said treaty,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Thursday.

The statement also called for the return of all US nuclear weapons to the country, a ban on nuclear warheads abroad and the dismantling of the technology that facilitates the use of nuclear weapons as well as abstaining from nuclear exercises.

Back in April, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Washington is breaching the NPT by deploying its nuclear weapons in Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

Also in March, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich urged the US, as a NATO member, to withdraw its nuclear weapons from Europe, highlighting that their deployment on the continent violates the NPT.

“We have repeatedly drawn NATO’s attention to the fact that such practices directly run counter to the spirit and the letter of NPT,” he said on March 24.

The remarks came days after the US State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, claimed that “the deployment of US nuclear weapons on the territories of our NATO allies is consistent with the NPT.”

Under the article 1 of NPT, no country is allowed to transfer its nuclear weapons to other parties while article 2 of the treaty prohibits those countries lacking nuclear know-how from having access to nuclear weapons, Lukashevich stated, adding that the US deployment of nuclear arms in Europe infringes upon the terms of the agreement.

Washington-Moscow relations have become markedly tense in recent months. The US and NATO accuse the Kremlin of supporting pro-Russia forces in east Ukraine. Russia categorically denies the allegation, saying NATO’s presence near the Russian borders is responsible for the flare-up in the restive region.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reviving the Cold War

By JACK BALKWILL | CounterPunch | June 11, 2015

The National Security State is risking our lives in an attempt to promote a new arms race and revive the old Cold War.

At the center of this they are pushing an ABM system initially labeled “Star Wars” by its opponents, since having been known by a great many euphemisms since, starting with “The Strategic Defense Initiative,” and lately “missile defense.”

The ABM program will not die, for once “defense” contractors develop a new profit source, it dispenses cash forever in the best government money can buy.

Strategic weapons experts say if the Russians built such an ABM system on our borders we would attack it and blow it up, because it would interfere with our nuclear deterrent. In other words, it would be feared as a component of a first-strike nuclear attack.

But that doesn’t stop the USA from building one on Russia’s borders and supplementing it with ship-borne components in the seas around Russia, even knowing the Russians and Chinese have declared they will manufacture more nuclear weapons in response. This throws arms control out the window, exactly as planned by the “Nuclear Mafia,” a term coined by former Commander in Chief of Pacific Forces, Admiral Noel Gaylor, to describe defense contractors.

THE NEW COLD WAR

Our National Security State is pushing for a new arms race which could result in global investors and global corporations bringing in as much as trillions of dollars over time. Astronomer and anti-nuclear activist Carl Sagan (and friend, I edited some of his anti-nuke work) once estimated that the old Cold War cost over $10 trillion, enough money, at the time, to buy everything in the USA except for the land.

The Nuclear Mafia see the current “War on Terror” as extensively manpower-based, and the cost of maintaining a large troop force is competing with their funding for strategic weapons systems. They don’t want expensive-to-maintain troops, they want strategic submarines, manned bombers and ICBMs that provide stunning profit.

So the National Security State folks in the Executive Branch and Congress, on behalf of their Nuclear Mafia sponsors, are worrying the Russians by enlisting former Warsaw Pact nations and former Soviet Republics into NATO, right on their borders. At the end of the old Cold War, Secretary of State James Baker promised the Russians we wouldn’t do this.

This week, in Pravda, Vyacheslav Tetekin, who sits on the Russian Duma Committee on Defense, said “Our own sworn friends have been moving their red lines closer and closer to Moscow. They may eventually say that Russia can not have its troops stationed somewhere near Moscow, as it would threaten Europe’s security.”

He continued, “In a nutshell, they have been progressively moving towards Russia’s borders. At first, they made Eastern European countries NATO members. Afterwards, they moved into the territory of the former Soviet Union and approached key industrial and military centers. They are unacceptably close – I am talking about the Baltic region. Today, they say that any response from the Russian side would be considered as Russia’s aggression against the West.”

Coupled with this NATO encroachment, the USA is initiating the new Star Wars system on Russia’s borders, an obvious attempt to trigger a new arms race, since there is no practical reason for doing this. One feeble excuse given was that the ABM system is to defend against Iranian missiles, but Iran has no ICBM nor nuclear warhead, so this was just propaganda with which to fool the American public.

These belligerent acts have caused the Russians to begin building weapons systems with which to defend themselves, exactly as planned. The Nuclear Mafia are using this as an excuse to build weapons systems in further response, even though we could stop it all by agreeing not to build any of this, because the Russians had largely disarmed after the end of the Cold War, and really don’t want to spend money on another ridiculous arms race. Our government is selling us out, and endangering people everywhere by this corrupt act.

And the corruption is as deep as it goes. Our tax dollars are going toward TV commercials for the defense contractors, and commercials in newspapers and online with no reasonable explanation, since there is only one buyer, the US government, already besieged by Nuclear Mafia lobbyists. Our tax dollars are also going for millions of dollars in Nuclear Mafia campaign contributions with which to bribe the Congressional and presidential candidates. The Nuclear Mafia say the money comes from a different pot, which is ridiculous when one looks into what the money buys– public opinion and government leaders to push programs which are not only unnecessary, but dangerous to global security.

Back during the Cold War I interviewed retired Admiral Gene LaRocque, when the USA had 30,000 nuclear warheads, and asked him if we had enough for our defense. He gave me a confused look, replying “How can you defend someone with a nuclear weapon?” These strategic nuclear forces have nothing to do with defense.

The idea that the Russians are a threat to global peace is itself ridiculous coming from a nation with 800 overseas military bases. Russia has one, in Tartus, Syria.

“Russia is not building up its offensive military capabilities overseas and is only responding to security threats caused by US and NATO military expansion on its borders, “President Vladimir Putin told Italian outlet Il Corriere della Sera this week. Putin added, “I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can one imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO.

The reason for the ongoing belligerence against Russia and China is to trigger a new cold war with a lucrative arms race, like the fifty-year cold war that brought in billions in profit for the Nuclear Mafia who all but run the country today and are willing to risk global, thermonuclear war for the profits that a new arms race would bring them.

June 11, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

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