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Poroshenko appoints former NATO chief Rasmussen ‘non-staff adviser’

RT | May 28, 2016

A former NATO Secretary General has been chosen as a new “non-staff” adviser to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, according to a decree bearing his signature. However, the document implies that the ex-chief is yet to agree to the appointment.

“Appoint Anders Fogh Rasmussen as adviser to the President of Ukraine outside the official staff (subject to his consent),” says the decree also published on the Ukrainian president’s official website.

Rasmussen was the twelfth Secretary General of NATO in the period from August 2009 to September 2014. He was also Danish Prime Minister from 2001 to 2009. In 2014, Poroshenko awarded Rasmussen, who still was NATO Secretary General at that time, with the Order of Freedom – the highest Ukrainian award for foreign citizens – for his “significant personal contribution to the development of cooperation between Ukraine and NATO as well as for considerable support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”

Rasmussen is yet to comment and either confirm or deny his appointment. Last year, US Senator John McCain, also appointed by Kiev to a similar position, eventually turned down the proposal claiming that the US constitution prohibited him from getting on board.

The assignment of the role to Rasmussen comes soon after Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council adopted a program for the reorganization of Ukraine’s defense industry as well as military in line with NATO standards on May 20.

“We are beginning real reorganization of the defense and security sector in order to join NATO,” Poroshenko said at the time, commenting on this decision. He stressed that Ukraine had not been directly making steps for immediate accession to the Alliance but called the move “The Rubicon” that Ukrainian armed forces and the defense industry would have to “pass” to adapt to NATO standards, as reported by TASS.

The deputy head of the Russian parliament’s defense committee, Sergey Zhigarev, called Rasmussen’s appointment to the position of the presidential adviser a sign of the Ukrainian president’s mistrust of his own people.

“This is a very bad sign. It shows that he [Poroshenko] does not trust his own citizens that entrusted him with leading their country,” Zhigarev told Sputnik.

In the meantime, Rasmussen is not the first foreign citizen in Ukraine’s Presidential Administration as some foreigners even held ministerial posts in the Ukrainian government. In 2014, Poroshenko appointed Natalie Ann Jaresko, an American-born Ukrainian investment banker, as Ukraine’s Minister of Finance, while former Georgian Health Minister Alexander Kvitashvili took the post of the head of the Ukrainian Health ministry and Aivaras Abromavicius, a Lithuanian businessman, became Ukraine’s Minister of Economy and Trade. They held their posts till the new government was installed in April 2016.

Leszek Balcerowicz, Poland’s former deputy prime minister, now serves as Poroshenko’s representative in the Ukrainian government while former Slovakian Finance Minister Ivan Miklos is now the head of a group of Ukrainian prime minister’s advisers.

Meanwhile, former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, wanted for trial on corruption charges at home, was granted Ukrainian citizenship so that he could take the post of the Ukrainian Odessa region.

Saakashvili was appointed as governor of Ukraine’s Odessa Region in May of 2015, after which he brought in several members of his old Georgian team, including Ukraine’s current national police chief Khatia Dekanoidze, who was Georgia’s education minister; Deputy Interior Minister Eka Zguladze, who held a similar position in the Georgian government; Deputy General Prosecutor David Sakvarelidze, who held a similar position in the Georgian government as well, and was also Saakashvili’s lawyer; and Gizo Uglava, Ukraine’s current Head of the Anticorruption Bureau and Georgia’s former deputy general prosecutor.

May 28, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Nominally Populist Sweden Democrats Help Ratify NATO Deal

Sputnik – May 27, 2016

After Sweden Democrats reneged on earlier pledges to make a last-ditch effort to stall the decision, the Swedish parliament effortlessly railroaded through an agreement which essentially allows NATO to deploy forces in Sweden and brings the non-aligned Nordic country yet another step closer to the alliance.

The Swedish parliament ratified the so-called Host Nation Support Agreement (HNSA) after a proposal by the Left Party to put off the decision by one year, initially backed by Sweden Democrats, was voted down by 291 votes to 21.

The right-wing populist Sweden Democrats made an about-face ahead of the vote, abandoning plans team up with the Left Party, which argued that the hotly-debated deal posed a significant risk to the rights and freedoms stipulated in Sweden‘s constitution.

Despite earlier pledges by party leader Jimmie Åkesson to join efforts with the Left to stop the agreement he claimed posed “a threat to Sweden’s neutrality,” the Sweden Democrats had second thoughts in the eleventh hour and voted unanimously in favor of the controversial deal with NATO.

Remarkably, the party has been against closer NATO ties from the very beginning and officially stays true to its ideals.

Bizarrely, several Sweden Democrats party members claimed on Twitter and Facebook that they actually voted against the agreement, and that the parliament had published erroneous information on its website, news outlet Fria Tider reported.

The Left Party’s leader, Jonas Sjöstedt, condemned their usual antagonists’ U-turn.

“I am not at all surprised. The Sweden Democrats have been very wobbly on issues to do with freedom from alliances for some time now,” he said as quoted by the tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet.

Originally signed in September 2014, the HNSA allows the alliance to deploy helicopters, aircraft, ships and personnel across Swedish territory, but only at Sweden’s request. Since the agreement involved changes to Swedish regulation regarding privileges and immunities afforded NATO staff, a parliamentary ratification was necessary.

Additionally, public opinion in traditionally neutral Sweden, which boasts several centuries of non-alignment, has markedly shifted towards NATO in recent years. A survey by pollster Sifo, released in September 2015, marked the first time the majority of Swedes actually were in favor of NATO.

The HNSA may be seen as a major victory for Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, who, despite formally denouncing perspectives of joining NATO, prepared a long series of agreements that would steadily increase Sweden’s involvement with the alliance.

Yesterday, the Swedish government entrusted the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency MSB with negotiating a cooperation agreement with NATO’s Center for Strategic Communications in Riga, Latvia, in order to address the “information war” on Russia’s part, Swedish television network SVT reported. Hultqvist repeatedly urged Sweden to join the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (STRATCOM), which is charged with targeting propaganda in traditional and social media.

Despite the soothing rhetoric that such measures “would not affect non-alignment,” today Sweden has emerged as a full-fledged NATO member in all but name.

Sweden’s deliberate creeping towards NATO may set an example for its fellow neutral neighbor Finland, which has also come under immense pressure recently with respect to NATO membership.

In late April, the Finnish Foreign Ministry published an “independent” report exploring the consequences of NATO membership for Helsinki. The report’s primary conclusion was that the Nordic duo should stay together: either in both joining the alliance or declining the generous offer.

May 27, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Swedish Left and Right Unite to Sink NATO Deal

Sputnik – May 24, 2016

The left and the right generally have few topics they agree upon, especially in struggling, immigrant-immersed Sweden. Surprisingly, an “unholy” alliance between the Left Party and the far-right Sweden Democrats may sink the controversial NATO deal, on which Sweden’s government has been pinning its hopes.

In most contexts, the Left Party and the Sweden Democrats regard each other as sworn enemies, yet they have recently opened up to a temporary alliance against a “greater evil,” as both intend to uphold Sweden’s time-tested policy of non-alignment. This week, Sweden’s parliament is set to decide on the so-called Host Nation Support Agreement (HNSA), which would allow NATO forces to conduct exercises on the country’s territory and come to its aid in times of crisis.

Critics of the agreement suggest that the country is simply attempting to enter the North Atlantic Treaty through the back door. Earlier, Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist of the ruling Social Democratic Party, an ardent supporter of stronger ties with NATO, dismissed such opinions, calling them the “undergrowth of the debate.” Hultqvist is also known for brushing aside the public’s concern regarding NATO’s eventual deployment of nuclear weapons. “It is not Moscow that governs Sweden’s security policy,” Hultqvist said, as quoted by Svenska Dagbladet.

However, the NATO agreement’s critics fear that if it is voted through, it would represent the final nail in the coffin of Swedish neutrality and non-alignment. The government proposal clearly declared that Sweden would unequivocally support an EU country (the majority of which are NATO countries) in the event of an attack.

“International security must rest on international law, cooperation and a strong global regulatory framework under the UN leadership. The Left is strongly critical of how NATO struggles to take over a larger role at the expense of the United Nations. Instead of contributing troops to the EU’s and NATO’s forces, Sweden should prioritize enhancing the UN’s peacekeeping efforts,” Stig Henriksson of the Left Party wrote in an opinion piece in Göteborgs-Posten.

Another notable aspect of the NATO agreement is the weight that is placed on the regulatory framework for the construction of NATO bases in Sweden. This is equal to a green light to NATO’s military infrastructure, wherefrom military operations against Russia may be conducted.

“Future NATO forces stationed on Swedish territory would only increase the tensions and thus the risk of war in our region,” Stig Henriksson wrote.

Meanwhile, the NGO No to NATO has been gathering signatures to stop the controversial agreement and organizing rallies advocating non-alignment. A demonstration in central Stockholm on Saturday gathered thousands of campaigners, including high-profile politicians such as former Defense Minister Thage Petterson, a notable opponent of NATO.

“The fall of the Berlin Wall kindled hopes that we would no longer worry about a new war in Europe. One lesson we drew from the Cold War was that Sweden strengthened peace in Europe by staying outside of NATO. Now, tensions in Europe have increased, which is not something we dreamt about. Instead, we dreamt of peace and detente,” the former Social Democratic Defense Minister told the audience.

Petterson argued that Sweden’s continuous involvement with NATO would only increase tension in Europe, whereas the much-debated Host Country Agreement could serve as a springboard to full membership.

Of late, pressure on Sweden to join NATO has been intensifying due to a relentless campaign of the government and mainstream media, urging Swedes to embrace NATO as the only defense against “aggressive” Russia.Last week, NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg called the formally still neutral Finland and Sweden “NATO’s closest allies,” stressing the importance of the two countries’ contribution to the security of the Baltic Sea Region.

In July, Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist is set to join the NATO Summit in Warsaw. The idea was obviously to show that Sweden is delivering according to plan. Now there will be no fun trip to Poland.

Read more: Sweden and Finland Pretend to Fish for Russian Subs off Gotland

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

How the World Ends

Baiting Russia is not good policy

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • May 24, 2016

Last week I attended a foreign policy conference in Washington that featured a number of prominent academics and former government officials who have been highly critical of the way the Bush and Obama Administrations have interacted with the rest of the world. Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago was on a panel and was asked what, in his opinion, has been the most notable foreign policy success and the most significant failure in the past twenty-five years. The success was hard to identify and there was some suggestion that it might be the balancing of relationships in strategically vital Northeast Asia, which “we have not yet screwed up.” If I had been on the panel I would have suggested the Iran nuclear agreement as a plus.

As for the leading foreign policy failure there was an easy answer, “Iraq” which was on everyone in the room’s lips, but Mearsheimer urged one not to be so hasty. In reality the Iraq disaster has killed hundreds of thousands, has cost trillions of dollars and has unleashed serious problems for the Mideast region in general while allowing the rise of ISIS, but in “realistic foreign policy terms” it has not been a catastrophic event for the United States, which had hardly been seriously injured by it apart from financially and in terms of reputation.

Mearsheimer went on to say that, in his opinion, there is a far greater disaster lurking and that is the total mismanagement of the relationship with Russia ever since the downfall of communism. He cited the drive by Washington democracy promoters to push Ukraine into the western economic and political sphere as a major miscalculation as they failed to realize or did not care that what takes place in Kiev was to Moscow a vital interest. To that observation I would add the legacy of the spoliation of Russia’s natural resources carried out by Western carpetbaggers working with local grifters turned oligarchs under Boris Yeltsin, the expansion of NATO to Russia’s doorstep initiated by Bill Clinton, and the interference in Russia’s internal affairs by the U.S. government, to include the Magnitsky Act. There have also been unnecessary slights and insults delivered along the way, to include sanctions on Russian officials and refusal to attend the Sochi Olympics, to cite only two examples.

It should also be noted that much of the negative interaction between Washington and Moscow is driven by the consensus among the western media and the inside the beltway crowd that Russia is again or perhaps is still the enemy du jour. Ironically, the increasingly negative perception of Russia is rarely justified as a reaction in defense of any identifiable serious U.S. interests, not even in the fevered minds of Senator John McCain and his supporting neocon claque. But even though the consequences of U.S. hostility towards Russia can be deadly serious, the Obama Administration is already treating Georgia and Ukraine as if they were de facto members of NATO. Hillary Clinton, who has called Vladimir Putin another Adolf Hitler, has pledged to bring about their admittance into the alliance, which would not in any way make Americans more secure, quite the contrary, as Moscow would surely be forced to react.

A number of speakers observed that while Russia is no longer a superpower in a bipolar system it is nevertheless a major international player, evident most recently in its successful intervention in Syria. Moscow has both nuclear and advanced conventional arsenals that would be able to inflict severe or even fatal damage on the United States if animosity should somehow turn to armed conflict. Given that reality, if the United States has but a single foreign policy imperative it would be to maintain a solid working relationship with Russia but somehow the hubris inspired recalibration of the U.S. role in the world post the Cold War never quite figured that out, opting instead to see Washington as the “decider” anywhere and everywhere in the world, able to use the “greatest military ever seen” to do its thinking for it. This blindness eventually led to a de facto policy of regime change in the Middle East and a turn away from détente with the Russians.

The comments of John Mearsheimer and other speakers became particularly relevant when I returned home and flipped on my computer to discover two news items. First, NATO, with Washington’s blessing, has admitted Montenegro into the alliance. I must confess that I had not thought about Montenegro very much since reading how Jay Gatsby showed narrator Nick Carraway his World War I medal from that country in chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby. But perhaps in a “Lafayette We Are Here” moment to return the favor bestowed on Gatsby, the inclusion of Montenegro now means that under Article 5 of the NATO treaty the United States is obligated to go to war to defend Montenegran territorial integrity, something that few Americans would find comprehensible. Russia, which is directly threatened by the NATO alliance even though NATO claims that that is not the case, protested to no avail.

And the second article was far, far worse. It was in The New York Times, so it must be true: “The United States Justice Department has opened an investigation into state-sponsored doping by dozens of Russia’s top athletes… The United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York is scrutinizing Russian government officials, athletes, coaches, antidoping authorities and anyone who might have benefited unfairly from a doping regimen… Prosecutors are believed to be pursuing conspiracy and fraud charges.”

Yes folks, the United States government, which has long claimed jurisdiction over any and all groups and individuals worldwide who might even implausibly be linked to terrorism is now extending its writ to athletes who take performance enhancing drugs anywhere in the world. Particularly if those athletes are Russians. Having read the article with disbelief I slapped myself in the face a couple of times just to make sure that I wasn’t imagining the whole thing but after the post-concussive vertigo abated there it was still sitting there looking back at me in black and white with a banner headline and a color photo, Justice Department Opens Investigation Into Russian Doping Scandal.

Being somewhat of a skeptic, I looked at the byline, expecting to see Judith Miller of weapons of mass destruction fame, but no it was Rebecca Ruiz. Could it be a nom de plume? I thought I might be on to something so I reread the piece more slowly second time around. How does Washington justify going after the Russkies? The article noted “In their inquiry, United States prosecutors are expected to scrutinize anyone who might have facilitated unclean competition in the United States or used the United States banking system to conduct a doping program.” The article added that some Russian athletes allegedly have run in the Boston Marathon, though they did not win, place or show. If they popped an amphetamine before using their Visa card to dine at Chuck e Cheese when sojourning in Bean Town they are toast, as the expression goes. Likewise for the handful of Russian athletes who have apparently participated in international bobsled and skeleton championships in Lake Placid, N.Y.

And of course there is a Vladimir Putin angle. The Russian sports minister, who has been implicated in the scandal, was appointed by Putin in 2008, so it’s all about Russia and Putin which makes it fair game. FBI investigators and U.S. courts are now prepared to go after Russians living in Russia for alleged crimes that may or may not have occurred in the United States based on the flimsiest of grounds to establish jurisdiction. Since much of the world’s financial dealings transit through American banks in some way or another the whole world becomes vulnerable to unpleasant encounters with the U.S. criminal justice system. If the accused choose to offer no defense to the frivolous prosecutions they will be found guilty in absentia and fined billions of dollars before having their assets seized, as happened recently to the Iranians, who had nothing to do with 9/11 but are nevertheless being hounded to prove themselves innocent.

My point is that the Russians are not exactly failing to notice what is going on. No one but Victoria Nuland and the Kagans actually want a war but Moscow is being backed into a corner with more and more influential Russian voices raised against détente with a Washington that seems to be intent on humiliating Russians at every turn as part of a new project for regime change. Many Russian military leaders have quite plausibly come to believe that the continuous NATO expansion and the stationing of more army units right along the border means that the United States wants war.

Russia’s generals base their perception on what they have very clearly and unambiguously observed. When Russia acts defensively, as it did in Georgia and Ukraine, it is accused of aggressive action, is sanctioned and punished. When the Western powers probe Russian borders with their warships and surveillance aircraft they claim that it is likewise aggression when Moscow scrambles a plane to monitor the activity. Washington in its own warped view is always behaving defensively from the purest of motives and Moscow is always in the wrong. But picture for a moment a reverse scenario to include a Russian missile cruiser lounging just outside the territorial limits off Boston or New York to imagine what the U.S. reaction might be.

Washington’s misguided policy towards Russia under both Republican and Democratic presidents indeed has the potential to become the greatest international catastrophe of all time, as Professor Mearsheimer observed. U.S. provocations and the regular promotion of a false narrative that Russia is both threatening and seeking to recreate the Soviet Union together suggest to that country’s leaders that Washington is an implacable foe. The bellicose posturing inadvertently strengthens the hands of hard line nationalists in Russia while weakening those who seek a formula for accommodation with the West. To be sure, Russia is no innocent in the international one upmanship game but it has been more sinned against than sinned. And the nearly constant animosity directed against Russia by the Obama Administration should be seen as madness as the stakes in the game, a possible nuclear war, are, or should be, unthinkable.

May 24, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Obama Accused Russia of Showing No Interest in Nuke Reduction

Sputnik – May 23, 2016

US President Barack Obama tried to show Russia in a bad light when he said that Moscow is not doing enough to reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons, but Russia has many reasons for not accepting Washington’s initiative, Svobodnaya Pressa asserted.

“The US president mentioned Russia, but preferred not to name other members of the official nuclear club, including China, the United Kingdom and France,” the media outlet noted, pointing out that several other nations are believed to have nuclear weapons, including India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

Another major reason for Russia to keep its nukes intact involves Washington. The US has not ratified the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans all nuclear weapons in all environments. Moscow ratified the deal in 2000, but CTBT will only enter force when all signatories ratify it.

In addition, Moscow, according to the Svobodnaya Pressa, has to consider the funds that the US allocates for defense purposes – nearly $600 billion a year. Washington’s “gargantuan” military budget, as analyst Finian Cunningham described it, exceeds those of other big spenders, including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, Germany, Japan and India.

But this is not the whole picture – alliances and affiliations also matter.”Three of these countries [France, the UK and Germany] are NATO members, while Japan has been a longtime US ally. This means that the gap [in military spending] between the US and Russia is even wider,” the media outlet explained.

Last week, Obama told Japan’s public broadcaster NHK that “we can go further” in reducing the stockpiles of Russian and US nuclear weapons “but so far Russia has not shown its self interest in doing more.”

Russian lawmaker Vyacheslav Tetekin pointed out that the US foreign policy is “disingenuous.”

“Any disarmament initiatives launched by US hawks, who are pretending to be ‘doves of peace,’ serve merely as an instrument designed to weaken their opponents. The Pentagon is making every effort to deploy its missile defense system, upgrading its nuclear weapons. Meanwhile they are offering Moscow to stop,” he said.

Earlier this month, the US-made Aegis Ashore base became operational in Romania. The site is part of a larger initiative aimed at creating a missile shield to cover the US and Europe from Iranian ballistic missiles. Russian officials have called the system a threat to the country, as well as global security.In this context, Moscow has no other option than to keep its nukes. Defense analyst Mikhail Alexandrov noted that Russia’s “nuclear weapons guarantee the country’s national security.”

Read more: Kim Jong Un Vows to Avoid Using Nukes Unless Sovereignty Violated

May 24, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon-Linked Analysts Push Preemptive Strike on Russia, Missile Defense

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Sputnik – 24.05.2016

The Beltway military punditry floats one of its most inflammatory ideas yet, in calls for a preemptive strike against Moscow along with calls to bolster America’s missile defense system.

On Friday, a DC-based think tank issued a report calling for additional funding to advance US missile defense technology to combat what they view as a rising nuclear missile threat from Russia.

Earlier this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin scoffed at Western assertions that Russia poses the preeminent threat to the US and NATO, labeling the idea of an attack against the military alliance “the type of thing that only crazy people think, and only when they are dreaming.”

Faced with the need to keep the budget spigot open, a Cold War-inspired Beltway commentariat continues to ratchet up “protective measures” against Moscow’s “aggression,” by installing a missile defense system in Romania and constructing another similar missile defense system in Poland. NATO is now considering deploying permanent troops on the border between Poland and Russia, while undertaking a series of costly and polluting military exercises, steps from Russian lands.

The latest war-drum-beating report is provided by the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments, whose scholars Bryan Clark and Mark Gunzinger not only call for spending more money on lasers, railguns, and hypervelocity projectiles, but also posit fail-safe artificial intelligence systems capable of shooting down incoming missiles, again from Russia.

The two note that while existing missile defense systems like the Navy’s Aegis have an automatic mode, the system lacks the kind of sophistication required to counter large incoming salvos. The paper proposed a plan modeled after a pet project of deputy Defense secretary and, coincidentally, a former vice-president of the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments, Bob Work, who has led efforts to combine artificial intelligence with unmanned missile defense.

In addition to calling for widely expanding appropriations to upgrade the US missile defense system against a hypothetical Russian attack threat, the think tank analysts suggest preemptive strikes against Russia, China, or any other nation, in the event diplomatic relations deteriorate.

The two spell out their enhanced rules of engagement in text that clearly violates international law, detailing a “blinding campaign” of coordinated strikes against hostile headquarters, satellites and radar, using cyberattacks, jamming, and long-range bombing, in anticipation of an attack.

May 23, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s Five Questions on US Foreign Policy

By John V. Walsh | Consortium News | May 22, 2016

“Only Donald Trump (among the Presidential candidates) has said anything meaningful and critical of U.S. foreign policy.” No, that is not Reince Priebus, chair of the RNC, speaking up in favor of the presumptive Republican nominee. It is Stephen F. Cohen, Emeritus Professor of Russian History at Princeton and NYU, a contributing editor for The Nation, that most liberal of political journals.

Cohen tells us here that: “Trump’s questions are fundamental and urgent, but instead of engaging them, his opponents (including President Obama) and the media dismiss the issues he raises about foreign policy as ignorant and dangerous. Some even charge that his statements are like ‘Christmas in the Kremlin’ and that he is ‘the Kremlin’s Candidate’ — thereby, further shutting off the debate we so urgently need.” (Cohen’s comment about the lack of a meaningful critique of U.S. foreign policy also covers the statements of Sen. Bernie Sanders.)

Cohen first enunciated Trump’s five questions during one of his weekly discussions on relations between Russia and the West on The John Batchelor Show, on WABC-AM (also on podcasts).

On the April 6 broadcast, Cohen said: “Let me just rattle off the five questions he [Trump] has asked. [First] why must the United States lead the world everywhere on the globe and play the role of the world’s policeman, now for example, he says, in Ukraine? It’s a question. It’s worth a discussion.

“Secondly, [Trump] said, NATO was founded 67 years ago to deter the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union ended 25 years ago. What is NATO’s mission? Is it obsolete? Is it fighting terrorism?  No, to the last question, it’s not. Should we discuss NATO’s mission?

“Thirdly, [Trump] asks, why does the United States always pursue regime changes? Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and now it wants a regime change in Syria, Damascus. When the result is, to use Donald Trump’s favorite word, the result is always “disaster.” But it’s a reasonable question.

“Fourthly, why do we treat Russia and Putin as an enemy when he should be a partner?

“Fifth, Trump asks, about nuclear weapons – and this is interesting. You remember he was asked, would he rule out using nuclear weapons – an existential question. He thought for a while and then he said, ‘No, I take nothing off the table.’ And everybody said he wants to use nuclear weapons! In fact, it is the official American nuclear doctrine policy that we do not take first use off the table. We do not have a no first use of nuclear weapons doctrine. So all Trump did was state in his own way what has been official American nuclear policy for, I guess, 40 or 50 years. …

“It seems to me that these five questions, which are not being discussed by the other presidential candidates, are essential.”

Batchelor then turned the discussion to the question of NATO. Cohen replied: “When we say NATO, what are we talking about? We are not talking only about the weapons and soldiers on land and sea. We’re talking about a vast political bureaucracy with hundreds of thousands of employees and appointees, that is located in Brussels. It’s a political empire. It’s an institution. It’s almost on a par with our Department of Defense, though it gets its money from the Department of Defense, mainly, as Trump points out …

“But it has many propaganda organs. If you look at the bylines of people who write op-ed pieces in many American papers, they are listed as working for the public relations department of NATO or they formerly did so. No, I would say along with the Kremlin and Washington, NATO is probably the third largest propagator of information, in this information war, in the world.

“But look, here’s the reality. And Trump came to this late. When they were discussing expanding NATO in the 1990s in the Clinton administration, it was George Kennan, who was then the most venerable American diplomat scholar on relations with Russia, who said: Don’t do it; it will be a disaster; it will lead to a new Cold War.

“Since George spoke his words – and I knew him well when I taught at Princeton where he lived – we have taken in virtually all of the countries between Berlin and Russia. NATO now has 28 membership states. But if you sit in the Kremlin and you see NATO coming at you over 20 years, country by country like PAC-man, gobbling up countries that used to be your allies, who appears to be the aggressor?

“So – the expansion of NATO has been a catastrophe. And that has been, in some ways, apart from fighting the war in Afghanistan – from which I believe it has now withdrawn, it is now solely American (I may be wrong about that) – and in addition taking on the American project of missile defense, expanding toward Russia has been NATO’s only mission since the end of the Soviet Union.

“So people can ask themselves, if they ask calmly and apart from the information war, … do we have less security risks, less conflict, today after this expansion to Russia’s borders, bearing in mind that the Ukrainian crisis is a direct result of trying to bring Ukraine into NATO as was the Georgian war, the proxy war with Russia in 2008. Are we, as [President] Reagan would say, are we better off today? We are not! So easily at a minimum, we have to rethink what it is NATO is doing.”

So get thee to the website for the American Committee on East West Accord and listen to the weekly Batchelor-Cohen podcasts. They are an ideal antidote to the avalanche of Russia-bashing and Putin-demonizing that we must endure. While you are at it, check out the other leading members of ACEWA, a superb and badly needed organization – and make a contribution.


John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com.

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

United States wants war with Russia

By David Swanson | American Herald Tribune | May 18, 2016

After provoking Russia for decades, the United States government has apparently concluded that the Russians are all saints and decided to escalate the provocations with confidence that nothing will go wrong, or go nuclear. Either that or the U.S. government truly wants World War III.

I wouldn’t treat a diseased rat the way the United States treats Russia. The Russian government has exercised such incredible restraint that the United States has apparently decided it can get away with being even nastier, a move that is now openly described by Washington insiders as being driven by weapons profiteering:

“‘This is the “Chicken-Little, sky-is-falling” set in the Army,’ the senior Pentagon officer said. ‘These guys want us to believe the Russians are 10 feet tall. There’s a simpler explanation: The Army is looking for a purpose, and a bigger chunk of the budget. And the best way to get that is to paint the Russians as being able to land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. What a crock.'”

In fact, the United States spends well over 8 times what Russia does on militarism, not counting “Homeland Security” or Energy or State or Veterans, etc. The world still contains enough nuclear weapons to destroy human life if just a small fraction of them are used, and 93 percent of them belong to Russia and the United States.

Why aren’t the nukes gone, when Gorbachev was willing to give them up?

Because Reagan was unwilling to give up a stupid, non-functioning, and fraudulent technological defense against a threat that would not have existed if he had. That technology is back in the movie theaters and back in the news: Star Wars.

The Cold War continued. The Soviet Union broke up. Germany reunified. And the Cold War still continued at the Pentagon. The Warsaw Pact went away. NATO expanded. When Germany reunited, the United States promised Russia that NATO would never expand eastward. NATO then added the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Albania, and Croatia to its membership. Since the U.S.-facilitated coup in Ukraine, and against the desires of the Ukrainian people, NATO has been pushing for a partnership with Ukraine, as well as with Georgia.

Imagine if Russia had promised not to expand the Warsaw Pact and then added to its membership Greenland, Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Cuba, and Mexico. If Russia claimed to have done all that to protect itself from Iran, how many U.S. pundits would treat that as a serious, non-laughable claim? And if Russia made a deal with Iran under which more stringent inspections than ever endured by any nation would verify that Iran had no threatening weapons, and if Russia bragged about this deal, but if Russia went right on expanding the Warsaw Pact, would the United States take that as the harmless gesture of friendship that NATO depicts its actions as?

NATO has also been “looking for a purpose” and rushing off to wage wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Libya. The United States and some of its NATO allies are waging wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen. In a number of those places, drone wars and proxy wars have been turned into U.S. ground wars, perfectly primed for major expansion. Yet, the United States speaks of its actions as “defensive,” describes Russia as aggressive, and falsely accuses Russia of invading Ukraine, a mythical act that Hillary Clinton determined made Vladimir Putin the equivalent of “Hitler.”

Now the United States has sent ships to the Black Sea, sent tanks to Georgia, planned a huge military “exercise” in Poland, opened a “missile defense” site in Romania, which Russia calls a “direct threat” (and a violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty), and begun building another “missile defense” site in Poland. There’s a video online of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the opening of the new site in Romania, describing it as a “team effort” involving Romania, Poland, Spain, Turkey, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the UK. Stoltenberg’s stilted speech claims repeatedly that “Missile defense is for defense. It is defensive.” Stoltenberg claims the “missile defense” missiles are too close to Russia to intercept Russian missiles, which misses the point that Russia views the U.S. missiles as offensive, not “defensive.”

Even CBS News finds it impossible to take NATO’s nonsense completely seriously:

“U.S. officials say the Romanian missile shield, which cost $800 million, is intended to fend off missile threats from Iran and is not aimed at Russia. But NATO decided in January 2015 to set up command-and-control centers in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria by the end of 2016 — at least partly in response to challenges from Russia and Islamic extremists and to reassure eastern partners.”

What challenges? Essentially the 10-foot giants landing in the U.S. rear and on both flanks simultaneously — in other words: money to be made.

Read this further bit from CBS News carefully:

“President Obama and other NATO heads of state and government met in September and ordered an overhaul of the alliance’s capabilities and defense posture, called the Readiness Action Plan, or RAP, to take into account Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and purported military interference in eastern Ukraine.”

The key word there is “purported.” It’s been years now since the weekly announcements that Russia had invaded Ukraine, something it obviously never did. And of course the people of Crimea voted to join Russia after the U.S. state department facilitated a violent coup in Ukraine that installed a government significantly made up of Nazis. CBS can’t bring itself to comment on whether or not there is any evidence of the “purported military interference,” so it just calls it “purported” and hopes that not too many people know what that word means.

Russia, believe it or not, is expressing some annoyance. As Jonathan Marshall recounts: “Moscow spokesmen have warned that Romania could become a ‘smoking ruins’ if it continues to host the new anti-missile site; threatened Denmark, Norway and Poland that they too could become targets of attack; and announced development of a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to penetrate the U.S. missile shield.”

Russian planes have come near U.S. ships and planes in recent weeks, although U.S. reports have generally failed to focus on the fact that those ships and planes were quite near Russia’s borders. These near misses at starting a war between the world’s major nuclear militaries present a far greater threat than is generally imagined, because most U.S. citizens have zero interest in starting World War III and so don’t think about it, but the U.S. government and NATO want blood. NATO’s new commander says he wants to be ready to fight Russia immediately.

Donald Trump blurted out the common sense solution of abolishing NATO but quickly backed off and reversed himself, as on so many other topics. Hillary Clinton has wholeheartedly supported NATO’s expansion from the beginning, when she was First Lady. Bernie Sanders generally accepts whatever the military is doing, so as not to rock the boat, which still might leave him the best of the three on foreign policy, as he so obviously is on domestic.

But a great deal can happen in 8 months. A lot can happen before anyone new is elected. And with all eyes focused on the election, it’s more likely than ever to do so. And what could happen makes climate change seem manageable by comparison.

May 19, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

‘Pouring arms onto troubled Libyan waters makes no sense’

RT | May 17, 2016

World powers’ decisions to provide weapons to Libya’s unity government may lead to negative consequences as the arms will likely be used not only against ISIS but against all other sides, says Marko Gasic, an international affairs commentator.

World powers are ready to lift an arms embargo and to arm Libya’s internationally-recognized unity government to combat Islamic State terrorists.

The decision was announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday as members of the UN Security Council signed an official communique at talks in Vienna.

RT discussed the issue with experts.

RT: Libya is far from stable at the moment. Is this the right time to arm the country?

Diana Johnstone, political writer: There isn’t any right time. This would be comic if it wasn’t so tragic. We talk about the internationally recognized government. This is an internationally imposed government that was imposed by the supposed UN which has become really an instrument of US policy in this case. This government is called the government of national accord – but there is no national accord, this is a government of international accord that allows the US to bring in 20 countries to fight ISIS. Of course, ISIS is there because of the US bombing. So this is a perfectly circular situation: the US creates the chaos and then sends in soldiers…

RT: Is Libya ready to be armed? Or will this add more fuel to the fire?

Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of Pan-African News Wire: We have to look at who caused the crisis in Libya. It was, in fact, the Pentagon, the CIA and NATO that armed Islamist extremist organizations five years ago. NATO and the Pentagon [dropped] 10,000 bombs on the country over a period of seven months. It is they who created the crisis. This is just another method of justifying a ground intervention in Libya by saying they are willing to lift the arms embargo. The arms embargo was imposed by the Pentagon and NATO during the period of the bombing in 2011. They were the ones who prevented arms and other goods from reaching Libya.

RT: Is it a practical way to try and counter ISIS in Libya?

AA: I don’t think it is a method to bring stability to Libya. It was the US who created the conditions for the growth of ISIS in Iraq and later in Syria.  Because of the intervention of Russia, of Hezbollah, of Lebanon and assistance from the Islamic Republic of Iran many of them have now been forced to flee to Libya, where there is a political vacuum in existence. I think that the US has to be honest about its overall intentions in Libya. They have destroyed the country. They turned it into one of the major sources of human trafficking across North Africa, the Mediterranean into southern, eastern and central Europe.  They created the worst humanitarian crisis since the conclusion of World War Two with some 60 million refugees and internally displaced persons. No, I don’t think they can create a solution for the problem that they in fact are responsible for bringing into existence.

RT: How do you see this decision to arm the recognized government – decisive or destructive?

Marko Gasic, an international affairs commentator: I don’t know what there is to recognize here because what we have to recognize first of all, is that there is a degree of chaos in Libya. There are alliances which are shifting, which are in a state of flux, which you can’t predict probably more than couple of months ahead.  It makes no sense to be pouring arms onto troubled Libyan waters because all that we are going to do effectively is give one side an encouragement to attack the other side, to create more refugees and problems for Libya and the wider region.

The problem is of course that ISIS will not be the only side that will be attacked. Because when a side has weapons it of course will use these weapons against all its enemies as convenient. It is not going to have a glass ceiling between one of the enemies and the other. It will simply act in a pragmatic way to achieve its self-interests. So, there is absolutely no guarantee that these weapons would purely be used against ISIS. And they are far more likely to be used against all other sides as well with negative consequences to the stability of Libya and also for the chance of creating an inclusive solution for the peoples of Libya because with an increasing killing, an upscale of killing we are not going to have less polarization – we are going to get more.

May 18, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

As NATO Beckons, Ukraine Signs Military Cooperation Plan With Turkey

Sputnik – 16.05.2016

KIEV – Ukraine and Turkey have signed on Monday a military cooperation plan, Ukrainian General Staff said.

“Taking into account the geopolitical situation in the Black Sea region, we are continuing to develop military cooperation with Turkey as a Ukrainian strategic partner. In recent time the cooperation between Ankara and Kiev gained additional weight. Today Ukrainian and Turkish Armed Forces signed an implementation plan of military cooperation,” the General Staff said in a statement.

The General Staff says the document would determine areas of military cooperation between the states until 2020. It is also said to contain a number of steps aimed at improving operational capabilities of the Ukrainian army.

“Implementation of practical measures in the military sphere will allow, on the one hand, to strengthen the ties with our southern neighbor, and, on the other hand, to focus efforts on the final goal – Ukrainian readiness to join the NATO in 2020,” the General Staff added.

In December 2014, the Ukrainian parliament amended two laws rejecting its neutral status. Ukraine set the goal to be ready for joining NATO in 2020. In mid-December 2015, Ukraine and NATO signed a roadmap on defense-technical cooperation.

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Escalations in a New Cold War

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | May 14, 2016

If the United States ever ends up stumbling into a major conventional or nuclear war with Russia, the culprit will likely be two military boondoggles that refused to die when their primary mission ended with the demise of the Soviet Union: NATO and the U.S. anti-ballistic missile (ABM) program.

The “military-industrial complex” that reaps hundreds of billions of dollars annually from support of those programs got a major boost this week when NATO established its first major missile defense site at an air base in Romania, with plans to build a second installation in Poland by 2018.

Although NATO and Pentagon spokesmen claim the ABM network in Eastern Europe is aimed at Iran, Russia isn’t persuaded for a minute. “This is not a defense system,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. “This is part of U.S. nuclear strategic potential brought [to] . . . Eastern Europe. . . Now, as these elements of ballistic missile defense are deployed, we are forced to think how to neutralize emerging threats to the Russian Federation.”

Iran doesn’t yet have missiles capable of striking Europe, nor does it have any interest in targeting Europe. The missiles it does have are notoriously inaccurate. Their inability to hit a target reliably might not matter so much if tipped with nuclear warheads, but Iran is abiding by its stringently verified agreement to dismantle programs and capabilities that could allow it to develop nuclear weapons.

The ABM system currently deployed in Europe is admittedly far too small today to threaten Russia’s nuclear deterrent. In fact, ABM technology is still unreliable, despite America’s investment of more than $100 billion in R&D.

Nonetheless, it’s a threat Russia cannot ignore. No U.S. military strategist would sit still for long if Russia began ringing the United States with such systems. That’s why the United States and Russia limited them by treaty — until President George W. Bush terminated the pact in 2002.

President Reagan’s famous 1983 “Star Wars” ABM initiative was based on a theory developed by advisers Colin Gray and Keith Payne in a 1980 article titled “Victory is Possible”: that a combination of superior nuclear weapons, civil defense programs, and ballistic missile defenses could allow the United States to “prevail” in a prolonged nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

Such nuclear superiority, Gray argued, could back up “very large American expeditionary forces” fighting in a future conflict “around the periphery of Asia.” By limiting damage to the U.S. homeland, missile defenses would neutralize Russia’s nuclear deterrent and help the United States “succeed in the prosecution of local conflict . . . and — if need be — to expand a war.”

Gray published that latter observation in a 1984 volume edited by Ashton Carter, who as President Obama’s Secretary of Defense now champions the new missile shield in Europe. So it should come as little wonder that Moscow is going all out these days in a sometimes ugly campaign to remind the world of its nuclear potency, lest NATO take advantage of Russia’s perceived weakness.

Russian Tough Talk

Moscow spokesmen have warned that Romania could become a “smoking ruins” if it continues to host the new anti-missile site; threatened Denmark, Norway and Poland that they too could become targets of attack; and announced development of a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to penetrate the U.S. missile shield.

Secretary Carter responded this month that “Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling raises troubling questions about . . .  whether they respect the profound caution that nuclear-age leaders showed with regard to brandishing nuclear weapons” — even as he announced new details of a $3.4 billion military buildup to support NATO’s combat capabilities.

U.S. military leaders say they are drawing up even bigger funding requests to send more troops and military hardware to Eastern Europe, and to pay for new “investments in space systems, cyber weapons, and ballistic missile defense designed to check a resurgent Russia.”

Speaking in February at security conference in Munich, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called for an end to such confrontation, noting that “almost every day [NATO leaders] call Russia the main threat for NATO, Europe, the U.S. and other countries. It makes me wonder if we are in 2016 or in 1962.”

But stepped-up conflict comes as a godsend to the Pentagon and its contractors, which only a few years ago faced White House plans for major cutbacks in funding and troop strength in Europe. It allows them to maintain — and increase — military spending levels that today are greater than they were during the height of the Cold War.

U.S. and other NATO leaders justify their buildup by pointing to Russia’s allegedly aggressive behavior — “annexing” Crimea and sending “volunteers” to Eastern Ukraine. They conveniently neglect the blatant coup d’état in Kiev that triggered the Ukraine crisis by driving an elected, Russian-friendly government from power in February 2014. They also neglect the long and provocative record of NATO expansion toward Russia’s borders after the fall of the Soviet Union, contrary to the pledges of Western leaders in 1990.

That expansion was championed by the aptly named Committee to Expand NATO, a hot-bed of neoconservatives and Hillary Clinton advisers led by Bruce Jackson, then vice president for planning and strategy at Lockheed Martin, the country’s largest military contractor. In 2008, NATO vowed to bring Ukraine — the largest country on Russia’s western border — into the Western military alliance.

Cold War Warnings

George Kennan, the dean of U.S. diplomats during the Cold War, predicted in 1997 that NATO’s reckless expansion could only lead to “a new Cold War, probably ending in a hot one, and the end of the effort to achieve a workable democracy in Russia.”

Last year, former Secretary of Defense William Perry warned that we “are on the brink of a new nuclear arms race,” with all the vast expense — and dangers of a global holocaust — of its Cold War predecessor.

And just this month, President Obama’s own former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that NATO’s plans to deploy four battalions to the Baltic States could result “very quickly in another Cold War buildup here, that really makes no sense for either side.”

If “we continue to build up the eastern flank of NATO, with more battalions, more exercises, and more ships and more platforms,” he told an audience at the Atlantic Council, “the Russians will respond. I’m not sure where that takes you.”

Nobody knows where it takes us, and that’s the problem. It could take us all too easily from small provocations to a series of escalations by each side to show they mean business. And given the trip-wire effect of nuclear weapons stored on NATO’s soil, the danger of escalation to nuclear war is entirely real.

As foreign policy expert Jeffrey Taylor commented recently, “The Obama administration is setting the stage for endless confrontation, and possibly even war, with Russia, and with no public debate.”

Returning to the days of the Cold War will buy less security and more danger. As President Obama contemplates what he will say about the lessons of nuclear war in Hiroshima, he should fundamentally reconsider his own policies that threaten many more Hiroshimas.

May 15, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Escalations in a New Cold War

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | May 14, 2016

If the United States ever ends up stumbling into a major conventional or nuclear war with Russia, the culprit will likely be two military boondoggles that refused to die when their primary mission ended with the demise of the Soviet Union: NATO and the U.S. anti-ballistic missile (ABM) program.

The “military-industrial complex” that reaps hundreds of billions of dollars annually from support of those programs got a major boost this week when NATO established its first major missile defense site at an air base in Romania, with plans to build a second installation in Poland by 2018.

Although NATO and Pentagon spokesmen claim the ABM network in Eastern Europe is aimed at Iran, Russia isn’t persuaded for a minute. “This is not a defense system,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. “This is part of U.S. nuclear strategic potential brought [to] . . . Eastern Europe. . . Now, as these elements of ballistic missile defense are deployed, we are forced to think how to neutralize emerging threats to the Russian Federation.”

Iran doesn’t yet have missiles capable of striking Europe, nor does it have any interest in targeting Europe. The missiles it does have are notoriously inaccurate. Their inability to hit a target reliably might not matter so much if tipped with nuclear warheads, but Iran is abiding by its stringently verified agreement to dismantle programs and capabilities that could allow it to develop nuclear weapons.

The ABM system currently deployed in Europe is admittedly far too small today to threaten Russia’s nuclear deterrent. In fact, ABM technology is still unreliable, despite America’s investment of more than $100 billion in R&D.

Nonetheless, it’s a threat Russia cannot ignore. No U.S. military strategist would sit still for long if Russia began ringing the United States with such systems. That’s why the United States and Russia limited them by treaty — until President George W. Bush terminated the pact in 2002.

President Reagan’s famous 1983 “Star Wars” ABM initiative was based on a theory developed by advisers Colin Gray and Keith Payne in a 1980 article titled “Victory is Possible”: that a combination of superior nuclear weapons, civil defense programs, and ballistic missile defenses could allow the United States to “prevail” in a prolonged nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

Such nuclear superiority, Gray argued, could back up “very large American expeditionary forces” fighting in a future conflict “around the periphery of Asia.” By limiting damage to the U.S. homeland, missile defenses would neutralize Russia’s nuclear deterrent and help the United States “succeed in the prosecution of local conflict . . . and — if need be — to expand a war.”

Gray published that latter observation in a 1984 volume edited by Ashton Carter, who as President Obama’s Secretary of Defense now champions the new missile shield in Europe. So it should come as little wonder that Moscow is going all out these days in a sometimes ugly campaign to remind the world of its nuclear potency, lest NATO take advantage of Russia’s perceived weakness.

Russian Tough Talk

Moscow spokesmen have warned that Romania could become a “smoking ruins” if it continues to host the new anti-missile site; threatened Denmark, Norway and Poland that they too could become targets of attack; and announced development of a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to penetrate the U.S. missile shield.

Secretary Carter responded this month that “Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling raises troubling questions about . . .  whether they respect the profound caution that nuclear-age leaders showed with regard to brandishing nuclear weapons” — even as he announced new details of a $3.4 billion military buildup to support NATO’s combat capabilities.

U.S. military leaders say they are drawing up even bigger funding requests to send more troops and military hardware to Eastern Europe, and to pay for new “investments in space systems, cyber weapons, and ballistic missile defense designed to check a resurgent Russia.”

Speaking in February at security conference in Munich, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called for an end to such confrontation, noting that “almost every day [NATO leaders] call Russia the main threat for NATO, Europe, the U.S. and other countries. It makes me wonder if we are in 2016 or in 1962.”

But stepped-up conflict comes as a godsend to the Pentagon and its contractors, which only a few years ago faced White House plans for major cutbacks in funding and troop strength in Europe. It allows them to maintain — and increase — military spending levels that today are greater than they were during the height of the Cold War.

U.S. and other NATO leaders justify their buildup by pointing to Russia’s allegedly aggressive behavior — “annexing” Crimea and sending “volunteers” to Eastern Ukraine. They conveniently neglect the blatant coup d’état in Kiev that triggered the Ukraine crisis by driving an elected, Russian-friendly government from power in February 2014. They also neglect the long and provocative record of NATO expansion toward Russia’s borders after the fall of the Soviet Union, contrary to the pledges of Western leaders in 1990.

That expansion was championed by the aptly named Committee to Expand NATO, a hot-bed of neoconservatives and Hillary Clinton advisers led by Bruce Jackson, then vice president for planning and strategy at Lockheed Martin, the country’s largest military contractor. In 2008, NATO vowed to bring Ukraine — the largest country on Russia’s western border — into the Western military alliance.

Cold War Warnings

George Kennan, the dean of U.S. diplomats during the Cold War, predicted in 1997 that NATO’s reckless expansion could only lead to “a new Cold War, probably ending in a hot one, and the end of the effort to achieve a workable democracy in Russia.”

Last year, former Secretary of Defense William Perry warned that we “are on the brink of a new nuclear arms race,” with all the vast expense — and dangers of a global holocaust — of its Cold War predecessor.

And just this month, President Obama’s own former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that NATO’s plans to deploy four battalions to the Baltic States could result “very quickly in another Cold War buildup here, that really makes no sense for either side.”

If “we continue to build up the eastern flank of NATO, with more battalions, more exercises, and more ships and more platforms,” he told an audience at the Atlantic Council, “the Russians will respond. I’m not sure where that takes you.”

Nobody knows where it takes us, and that’s the problem. It could take us all too easily from small provocations to a series of escalations by each side to show they mean business. And given the trip-wire effect of nuclear weapons stored on NATO’s soil, the danger of escalation to nuclear war is entirely real.

As foreign policy expert Jeffrey Taylor commented recently, “The Obama administration is setting the stage for endless confrontation, and possibly even war, with Russia, and with no public debate.”

Returning to the days of the Cold War will buy less security and more danger. As President Obama contemplates what he will say about the lessons of nuclear war in Hiroshima, he should fundamentally reconsider his own policies that threaten many more Hiroshimas.

May 15, 2016 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

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