The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that NATO is preparing to deploy four battalions — approximately 4,000 troops — to Russia’s western border. US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work was in Brussels today to announce the Western military escalation on Russia’s border, which he claimed was in response to Russian military exercises near the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
According to Deputy Secretary of Defense Work, two of the battalions would come from the United States, with one each coming from the UK and Germany. This announcement might come as news to German lawmakers, as such a significant German military presence on Russia’s borders has not been approved by Berlin. Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel has given Washington reason to believe that Germany would join the escalation, the move is considered highly controversial in a Germany growing weary of following US foreign policy dictates. In fact, according to recent polling, only one in three Germans supports the idea of the German military defending the Baltics even if there were a Russian attack. A clear majority of Germans oppose NATO military bases on Russia’s border.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the UK government has not agreed to send the troops either, despite the claims of unnamed “Western officials.”
The US deputy secretary of defense explained in Brussels that the US must send these thousands of troops thousands of miles from the US because Russia is conducting military exercises on its own soil and the US finds that intolerable.
Said Deputy Secretary Work:
The Russians have been doing a lot of snap exercises right up against the borders, with a lot of troops. From our perspective, we could argue this is extraordinarily provocative behavior.
What is not made clear in the article but should not be lost on readers is that “right up against the borders” is still Russian territory. But “right up against the borders” on the other side — where the US military is to be deployed and to conduct exercises — is most definitely not US territory. In other words, the US is traveling thousands of miles to place its troops on Russia’s border in response to Russian troops inside its border.
Here is Washington logic: Russian military exercises inside Russia are “extraordinarily provocative” but somehow stationing thousands of US troops on the border with Russia is not at all provocative. Just like US military exercises in the Baltic sea some 50 miles from Russian soil is not at all provocative, but Russian military plane fly-overs in response to these US military exercises is “reckless and provocative.” And just like the US flying a spy plane over highly-secret Russian military facilities on the Kamchatka peninsula is not at all provocative, but when the spy plane is buzzed by another Russian fighter, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warns, “This is unprofessional. This is dangerous. This could lead somewhere.”
It’s never provocative when Washington’s interventionists do it.
Aleppo now continues to be the focus of a renewed and nasty propaganda war, with US and Western officials claiming the Syrian regime has been bombing civilian or moderate opposition targets in breach of the ceasefire. Both points – firstly that these are ‘moderate’ opposition targets, and secondly that the Syrian regime has been breaching the cease fire agreement – are refuted, meaning essentially that there’s no real way to know the truth of the matter.
More than 200 civilians, including 35 children, are reported to have been killed as violence erupted again this week, apparently leaving the ceasefire agreement in doubt.
We all know the drill by now, however. When Western officials and corporate media report that an MSF hospital has been destroyed by unknown aircraft, this is basically code for ‘We Did It – But We’re Going to Blame Assad’. We’ve seen all of this strategy before, with the Houla massacre or with the chemical attacks in 2013.
The hospital bombing in recent days, which has sparked outrage, has been blamed on the Syrian government by most Western media, including the comedy act of the US State Department. Both Russian and Syrian officials have refuted this accusation, which in fact is a sequel to the bombing of hospitals that occurred in February, which Washington blamed on Russia, but which Russia accused the US of having carried out.
Just as previous instances, most Western media has fallen into line with the US State Department, running the by-now-familiar stories of ‘Assad, the Butcher’, etc. Even The Guardian, I am disappointed to see, has followed this line, providing a one-sided story and portraying events in Aleppo purely as a regime massacre. It’s worth nothing, however, that their main source appears to be the ‘White Helmets’ (see Vanessa Beeley’s analysis of White Helmets and war propaganda here).
What isn’t highlighted, however, is that for the last several days the government-held parts of Aleppo (and the 2,000,000 inhabitants and refugees there) seem to have been under bombardment with improvised gas-canister mortars and rockets from the al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda) side.
The idea that Aleppo is filled with ‘moderate’ opposition is generally refuted. And if you’re experiencing deja vu, it’s probably because you remember that the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and co have played this game before, like when they insisted the Libyan government forces under Gaddafi were carrying out ‘massacres’ in Tripoli and Benghazi when in fact they were simply attempting to retake territories that had been seized by Al-Qaeda and other foreign-backed jihadists/mercenaries.
And just as the much-referenced Benghazi massacre was in fact a Western government/media fiction, we would do well to question the Aleppo narrative now.
According to Russian officials on April 12th, some 10,000 al-Nusra militants were surrounding Aleppo, planning to blockade the city. Russian officials have confirmed that the rebels in Aleppo are primarily al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda – and exempt from the ceasefire) and have asked the United States to prove otherwise. Far from proving otherwise, even US government officials appear to have been acknowledging in recent days that Syrian Army targets in Aleppo are primarily Al-Qaeda – and therefore exempt from the ceasefire agreement.
A week and a half ago, Col. Steve Warren, the US military spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters at the Pentagon that it was “primarily al-Nusra who holds Aleppo, and of course, al-Nusra is not part of the cessation of hostilities”. This implied fairly clearly that the Syrian government would not be breaching the ceasefire agreement if it tried to attack them.
In February, the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, had confirmed that “foreign terrorists” and not Syrians were trying to prolong the conflict, saying that “foreign jihadists have been given the green light to intensify the bombing of civilians.”
Mons. Georges Abou Khazen, reported “We have been under continuous bombardment in Aleppo with civilian deaths, injuries and destruction… and these attacks are being carried out by the so-called ‘moderate opposition groups’.” The prelate crucially pointed the finger at the front defended by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the West. Crucially, he also suggested that the escalation represented the desire to “derail the peace negotiations” by “regional forces” that he believed were trying to prevent Aleppo being liberated from terrorist control.
In all likelihood, it has been al-Nusra escalating the fighting, quite likely encouraged by their foreign backers, in the full expectation that government forces would have to retaliate – and that this retaliation could then be spun into a ‘vicious regime attack’ narrative.
This latest round of propaganda is presumably attempting to derail the peace initiative, so that the much-talked-about ‘Plan B’ can be initiated – ‘Plan B’ (which is essentially ‘Plan A, Part 2’) is basically to resume arming and backing rebel groups. Which seems to have been going on anyway – even during the ceasefire – with the US recently allegedly delivering 3,000 tons of weapons and ammunition to anti-regime fighters (including al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda), most of who aren’t Syrians anyway.
And so on it goes.
Recently, the US Department of State has submitted to Congress its annual Report on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments.
Among other things, Washington has chosen Moscow as the target for unsubstantiated insinuations and lies on the issue of Russia’s compliance with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC). It is becoming ever more obvious that regular verbal attacks against Russia are used to distract attention from the unseemly role that the US plays within the BWC context.
The reality is that it is the US who seriously damaged the BWC regime by single-handedly ruining the long-lasting multilateral talks on the supplementary BWC protocol that were about to come to an end. The microbiological activity of the member states under the developed protocol would have been subject to on-site inspections by an independent authority. Having derailed the protocol, the US now complains of having no possibility to verify compliance with the BWC.
However, it has nobody to blame but itself for this, including the fact that it has blocked any constructive attempts to step up specific work within the framework of the BWC since 2001.
Against this background, the international community witnesses the Pentagon’s dangerous microbiological activities.
The US Department of Defense has been mailing live anthrax spores all over the world for years. Far from being accidental, this occurred on 195 occasions and reached 12 different countries. As a result, not only US citizens but also populations in other countries were exposed to lethal danger. Until now, the scale of these violations has not been revealed or explained, including the real purpose of the Defense Department’s spore-producing “industrial facilities” and the reason for distributing them to US military bases overseas.
For a further example, the Defense Department has been continuously expanding worldwide its military biological infrastructure. These facilities have sprung up in many countries, and in recent years they are being created increasingly closer to Russian borders. For instance, a high-level bio-safety laboratory was built in Georgia, with Washington and Tbilisi making efforts to conceal the true content and focus of this military unit’s activities. The Pentagon is also trying to introduce similar undercover military medical-biological facilities to other CIS countries.
While accusing developing countries of a lack of progress in implementing the BWC at the national level, the US has consistently kept intact its own laws, which run counter to its international commitments. These include, in particular, reserving the right, in the 1925 Geneva Protocol, to retaliate with chemical or toxin weapons and presidential Executive Order 11850 enabling US armed forces to use “nonlethal” chemical or toxin weapons as warfare agents. Particularly flagrant is applying the 2001 Patriot Act to actually endorse the development of biological weapons with governmental assent.
In the meantime, Russia, along with a few other states, is busy trying to launch multilateral negotiations aimed at strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention as a tool of mutual security. Our US partners should constructively engage in these efforts, instead of judging others and making unsubstantiated allegations.
Dr Alexander Yakovenko is Russia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
The Russian Defense Ministry responded to the Pentagon claims that a Russian aircraft allegedly performed an “unsafe” interception of a US jet over the Baltic region, saying that all Russian aircraft frights are carried out under international rules.
“All flights of Russian aircraft are held in accordance with international regulations on the use of airspace,” ministry’s spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov told reporters.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon accused a Russian Su-27 of flying too close to another US spy plane operating in the Baltic, again a stone’s throw away from Russia’s borders. The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged the incident, but denied that unsafe maneuvers were performed.
“At the same time we want to note that the RC-135U reconnaissance plane tries to sneak up to the Russian border with the transponder turned off all the time. Therefore, air defense forces on duty have to lift our fighter to visually identify the type of aircraft and its tail number,” Konashenkov added.
On Friday, United States European Command (EUCOM) spokesperson Lt. Col. David Westover told Sputnik that Russia carried out an “unsafe and unprofessional air intercept” of a US Air Force RC-135 aircraft over the Baltic region.
While the Pentagon continues to complain of Russian “aggression,” Kremlin defense forces respond in precisely the same manner that the US does when foreign military units approach its borders.
NATO is looking at a number of strategies to boost its presence in Eastern Europe, including sending German troops to Lithuania, according to German media citing a Defense Ministry spokesman.
“There are various models under preliminary discussions and voting in NATO is underway,” the ministry’s spokesman Jens Flosdorff told the DPA news agency. “Decisions will be made this fall at the NATO summit in Warsaw.”
The remark confirmed Thursday’s reports that the country’s military was ready for a broader engagement to protect NATO’s eastern frontiers. The military alliance is to meet in the Polish capital Warsaw in July. The 28 member states are expected to agree on a roadmap to enhance combat readiness in Eastern Europe amid what NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has described as a challenging regional security situation.
Der Spiegel reports that German armed forces may send some 1,000 soldiers to take part in the NATO mission in Lithuania if the alliance’s members approve the plan.
In March, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said he hoped Germany would support the need to increase NATO’s military presence in the Baltic States. He urged NATO not to rush to get back to normal dialogue with Russia as long as Moscow does not change its “aggressive policy.” NATO suspended all military cooperation with Moscow in the aftermath of Crimea’s accession to Russia.
According to Linkevicius’ comments made for the American newspaper Politico, a true partnership between Russia and NATO can only be restored if Moscow takes steps to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and ceases to carry out military exercises and military aircraft flights in the Baltic Sea.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov singled out Lithuania as the “most aggressive, Russo-phobic country” within NATO, adding it is pushing the alliance in an “anti-Russian direction.”
“After they [the Baltic nations] became free – the way they perceive it – and independent, after they proclaimed all the decisions concerning their sovereignty, they began to strive for NATO membership,” Lavrov said in an interview published Friday in the Swedish Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
“Moscow didn’t make a single attempt to pull them back, to say nothing of using force against them […] they were admitted to NATO but failed to develop any kind of tranquility and this particularly concerns Lithuania. It now makes up the most aggressive and Russo-phobic kernel within NATO,” he said.
Anti-Russian rhetoric, however, does not sit well with citizens of NATO member-states. As a recent Pew Research Center poll revealed, majorities in such NATO states as Germany (56 percent), Italy (51 percent) and France (53 percent) oppose the idea of protecting the Baltic States from a “military threat” allegedly posed by Russia. According to the poll, some 58 percent of Germans surveyed do not deem Russia a threat to their country, with 49 percent firmly against the idea of permanent deployment of NATO forces in Poland or any of the Baltic States.
Last week, permanent envoys from Russia and NATO member states met for the first time in two years. The meeting failed to yield any significant results due to “profound and persistent disagreements” on a number of geopolitical issues.
NATO has been increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea since the Ukrainian crisis began in 2014, in response to what it considers Russia’s aggression. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed accusations related to Ukraine, at the same time stressing that increased NATO activities near Russian borders could undermine both regional and global stability.
In a speech at the University of Bucharest in Romania on Tuesday NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow discussed the main issues the Western alliance is facing.
He said the alliance is struggling with many complex risks apart from the “destabilizing actions” of Russia and “the tide of instability which has swept across the Middle East and North Africa.”
“We are also wrestling with other complex risks and threats to our cyber security, to our energy supplies, and in the case of international terrorism to the safety of the people on our streets,” he said.
Vershbow said NATO is doing everything to respond to these challenges, adding that “the alliance takes a 360 degree approach to deterring threats, to protecting its member nations and if necessary to defending them.”
“That presence will be rotational, multinational, and combat capable. It will thereby send a clear message to any potential aggressor that if they violate NATO’s territory, they will face strong response from the whole alliance; Americans, Europeans and home defense forces,” he said.
The NATO secretary general also said that the organization has “set up a series of small headquarters, including here in Romania, to support planning, training and re-enforcement.”
“We are intensifying our maritime patrols, exploring the need for increased military and exercises, providing support to partners like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova and encouraging efforts to strengthen energy security,” he said.
US sends F-22 Raptors to Romania
Vershbow’s comments came a day after the US sent two F-22 Raptor fighter jets to Romania as part of the commitment to NATO security.
The fighter jets, which travel at twice the speed of sound, touched down in Romania, close to the Black Sea and Ukraine, the Crimean Peninsula and Russia.
A US statement said the aircraft possess sophisticated sensors which would allow pilots to track, identify, shoot and destroy air-to-air threats without being detected.
The dispatch of the fighter jets, which can also attack surface targets, came two weeks after Russian fighter jets buzzed an American warship in the Baltic Sea.
The Western military alliance has been deploying troops and equipment close to Russia’s borders since it suspended all ties with Moscow in April 2014 after the Crimean Peninsula integrated into the Russian Federation following a referendum.
The United States and its European allies accuse Moscow of destabilizing Ukraine and have imposed a number of sanctions against Russian and pro-Russia figures. Moscow, however, rejects having a hand in the Ukrainian crisis.
This as Moscow has on many occasions slammed the Western military alliance’s expansion near its borders, saying such a move poses a threat to both regional and international peace.
The world has had 30 years to assess the consequences for life on Earth of the disaster at Chernobyl.
This is about the same period during which I have studied the effects of radioactive pollution on the planet. It was the radioactive rain in the mountains of North Wales, where I lived in 1986, that brought me into this strange Alice in Wonderland area of science, where people and children die, and the global authorities, advised by physicists, deny what would be obvious to a child at school.
Chernobyl was mentioned as the star that fell to earth in the Book of Revelations. You may laugh, and it may be a coincidence, but the impact of the event has certainly been of biblical proportions. It is a story about the imposition by reductionist science on humanity of a version of the truth constructed from mathematics, not the only one, but perhaps the most important, since it involves the systematic destruction of the genetic basis of life. It is a story of lies, secrecy, power, assassination and money: the vast amounts of money that would be lost if the truth came out.
Shortly after the murder in 1992 of the German Green Party leader and anti-nuclear activist Petra Kelly, the late Prof Ernest Sternglass (the first of the radiation scientist/ activists) told me that Kelly had just struck a deal with a German TV company to run a series demonstrating the true awfulness of the immediate effects of radiation. He said: if the truth came out, all the Uranium and the billions of dollars in Uranium shares would turn into sand. So something like a cover-up had to happen, and it did, continuing the process of chicanery and control of information that began with the nuclear weapons tests of the 50s and 60s. In 1959, as the genetic effects of the atmospheric tests became apparent, the control of the understanding of radiation and health was wrested from the World Health Organization (WHO) and passed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The arguments about the health effects of Chernobyl have mostly centered on cancer. I won’t write much about cancer here. The study of radiation and cancer has many complications, including that the data is often suspect, the time lag between the cancer diagnosis and the original radiation exposure can be 20 years, in which time a lot can happen, introducing ammunition (and opportunity) for those denying causation. The predictions of the global cancer yield of the Chernobyl contamination has ranged from around a million (as predicted independently by the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), Rosalie Bertell, John Gofman and me, to about 600,000 (Alexey Yablokov), to less than a few thousand (the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), whose risk model is the current basis for all legal constraints on radioactive releases in Europe.
Cancer is caused by genetic damage but takes a while to show. More easily studied is the immediate and direct genetic damage, demonstrated in birth rates of congenital diseases, birth defects, fetal abnormalities, data which is easier to locate. The effects of a sudden increase in radioactive contamination are most easily seen in sudden increases in these indicators. You don’t have to wait 20 years. Out they come after nine months or in aborted fetuses with their heart and central nervous system defects, their lack of hands and feet, their huge hydrocephalic heads, their inside-out organs, their cleft palates, cyclops eyes and the whole range of dreadful and usually fatal conditions. There is no argument, and the affair is in the hands of doctors, not physicists. The physicists of the ICRP base their risk of genetic effects on experiments with mice.
I was in Kiev in 2000 at the WHO conference on Chernobyl. On the podium, conducting the theatricals, were the top men in the IAEA (Abel Gonzalez) and the United National Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), represented by Canadian Norman Gentner. No effects can be seen—Abel Gonzalez. Internal radiation is the same as external—Norman Gentner. Happily you can watch this farce as it was videotaped by a Swiss team.
So: cut to the chase, to the fatal assault on the edifice of the current ICRP radiation risk model. In January 2016 Prof Inge Schmitz Feuerhake, Dr Sebastian Pflugbeil and I published a major review paper on the genetic effects of radiation in the prestigious Korean peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Health and Toxicology.
What the research shows is that in every corner of the ex-Soviet Union and Europe and even further afield where epidemiologists and pediatricians looked, there were large and statistically significant increases in congenital diseases at birth and in babies that were aborted.
The new article recalculates the genetic risk from radiation based upon reports from Germany, Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Egypt, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Italy, the UK, Scotland, Wales, indeed everywhere where anyone looked. There was a sudden jump in birth defects immediately following the contamination from Chernobyl and in proportion; but only up to the point where the exposure was so great the babies died in the womb or miscarried early in pregnancy. Thus, the relation between exposure level and effect was not a simple one where the birth defects increased with exposure: after a critical level of exposure they leveled off, or indeed fell. Also since contamination is still there, women are still giving birth to genetically damaged children some 30 years later. These results, published by many doctors, epidemiologists and researchers in many different journals, show that the effects occurred at levels of contamination that provided ‘doses’, that yardstick of radiation exposure invented by the ICRP, that were very low, often below the natural background dose.
It is worse: from research on the nuclear test site veterans’ grandchildren (also reviewed in the study) it is clear that these effects continue down the generations and will only disappear when an offspring dies without issue, and leaves the genome of the human race. And many will or already have done: since what causes genetic malformation in the infant, at a larger dose causes fetal death and infertility. No one can have failed to have noticed the increase in human infertility that has occurred since the radioactive contamination of the planet began in the 1950s. As ex- US Atomic Energy Commission scientists John Gofman wrote in 1981 “the nuclear industry is waging a war on humanity.”
How can it be possible that the legislative system has got it so wrong? The answer is also given in the paper. It is that the concept of ‘dose’ which may be convenient for the physicists as it is simple to compute, really does not address the situation where the substances that provide the dose are inside the body, often bound chemically to the DNA, which is the acknowledged target for all these genetic effects. It shows that the human genome (and of course that of all life) is exquisitely sensitive to radiation damage from such internal exposures, to Strontium-90, Plutonium-239, Uranium and particularly to the nano-particles containing these radioactive elements which were produced when the reactor No 4 blew apart.
The paper shows the studies of the Hiroshima bomb survivors, upon which the current unsafe radiation laws are based were faulty because the true comparison group, those not in the city at the time of the bombing, was abandoned when it began to look like there was a real effect. Was this stupidity? Was it a trick? Does someone have to go to jail?
Last month, Prof. Alexey Yablokov, Dr. Alex Rosen and I wrote to the editor of The Lancet, in a recorded delivery letter posted by the Independent WHO in Geneva, requesting space in that influential journal to draw attention to these truths and overturn the false and dangerous structures created by the physicists. Let us all hope that some good will finally come of the disaster—that the real legacy of Chernobyl will be the understanding of the true danger to health of radioactive pollution.
Note: The ECRR has focused on Chernobyl as a major data source for establishing the risk posed by radiation. It has concluded that the current ICRP model is in error by upwards of about 300-fold, for some types of internal exposures, by upwards of 1000-fold. This means that over the period of the radiation contamination, more than 60 million people have died from cancer as a result of the releases. This risk model is available on the website http://www.euradcom.org.
Christopher Busby is an expert on the health effects of ionizing radiation. He qualified in Chemical Physics at the Universities of London and Kent, and worked on the molecular physical chemistry of living cells for the Wellcome Foundation. Professor Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk based in Brussels and has edited many of its publications since its founding in 1998. He has held a number of honorary University positions, including Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Health of the University of Ulster. Busby currently lives in Riga, Latvia. See also: http://www.chrisbusbyexposed.org, http://www.greenaudit.org and http://www.llrc.org.
Two American F-22 Raptor 5G stealth fighter jets and a refueling aircraft have been deployed to an airfield in Romania as manifestation of NATO’s support to its Eastern European members against “Russian aggression.”
The US Air Force aircraft arrived at the air base on the Black Sea, less than 400km from the Russian military stronghold of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula.
“For the first time in Romania, the next-generation combat aircraft F-22 Raptor, part of the US Air Force Europe mission, arrived today at Mihail Kogalniceanu military base,” the US Embassy said on its Facebook page Monday.
A KC-135 refueling plane accompanied two F-22 Raptor fighters on their way from the UK, where Washington has deployed 12 F-22s at Lakenheath, a British air base in eastern England, Reuters reports.
After citizens of the Crimean Peninsula voted in favor of reuniting with Russia in 2014, European countries and the US introduced economic and political sanctions against Moscow. US President Barack Obama further promised in 2014 to bolster military capabilities of NATO’s eastern members. The bloc has been conducting a large number of military training near the Russia’s western borders over the last two years, though without permanently stationing large forces on the territory of alliance’s new member states.
In August 2015, US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said the F-22 deployment to Europe as part of the “European Reassurance Initiative,” would occur “very soon.”
By the end of August 2015, four F-22 Raptors assigned to the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base arrived at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany as part of Pentagon’s continued “push to deter Russia.”
The alliance’s warships are maintaining constant presence in the Black and Baltic Seas as part of intelligence and containment purposes, which has already led to a rise of tensions.
In its national security strategy for 2016, Russia proclaimed NATO’s expansion to the east a threat. Moscow also held several wide-scale military drills all across Russia, including its western borders, in the past year.
Most recently, Russian pilots on Sukhoi Su-24 bombers buzzed the destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea in mid-April, when the US destroyer was around 70km away from a Russian naval base.
With a reported price tag of $190 million, F-22 Raptor fighter jet developed by Boeing and Lockheed Martin remains the most expensive fighter jet in the world. The aircraft was introduced into service in 2005 and its production was halted in 2009 because of the price.
Altogether 187 aircraft have been constructed though initially production of 749 planes was planned.
The first military deployment of the aircraft took place in 2014 in military operation against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).
After a US warship sailing near Russian waters in the Baltic Sea prompted a close flyby response from two Russian fighter jets, one US Army general has issued a threat to Moscow, should such an incident occur again.
Last week, the USS Donald Cook reported that two Russian Su-24s conducted repeated flyovers of the vessel as it sailed through the Baltic Sea. Pentagon officials decried the maneuvers as “unsafe and unprofessional.”
“This was more aggressive than anything we’ve seen in some time,” one official told Defense News, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Russian envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko stressed that the US destroyer represented a potential security threat and added that Russia would continue to take “all necessary measures [and] precautions to compensate US attempts to use military force.”
But the US continues to paint Russia as the aggressor in the incident, and on Thursday, Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, possibly setting the tone for his anticipated tenure, escalated the rhetoric.
President Barack Obama’s nominee to become the next NATO and US European Command commander, Scaparrotti was testifying before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on Thursday when he was asked by Arizona Senator John McCain if the US should reaffirm to Russia that it would take action to protect American lives.
“Sir, I believe that should be known, yes,” Scaparotti said, according to Business Insider.
Referencing the Baltic Sea incident, Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly then asked if Russia should be warned that “next time it doesn’t end well for you.”
“We should engage them and make clear what’s acceptable. Once we make that known, we have to enforce it,” he said.
“I think they’re pushing the envelope in terms of our resolve. It’s absolutely reckless, it’s unjustified and it’s dangerous.”
If confirmed as NATO commander, Scaparotti stated his first course of action would be to review America’s rules of engagement for the region.
The nominee’s aggressive posturing seems unnecessary, given that the USS Donald Cook was operating close to Russian waters and nearly 4,000 miles from home.
Writing for The American Conservative, political commentator Pat Buchanan criticized the US for using its Navy to provoke rival nations.
“In the South China Sea, US planes overfly, and US warships sail inside, the territorial limits of islets claimed by Beijing. In South Korea, US forces conduct annual military exercises as warnings to North Korea… US warships based in Bahrain confront Iranian subs and missile boats in the Gulf,” he wrote.
“Yet in each of these regions, it is not US vital interests that are threatened, but the interests of allies who will not man up to their own defense duties, preferring to lay them off on Uncle Sam. And America is beginning to buckle under the weight of its global obligations.”
America is the world’s leading sponsor of global terrorism, using death squads to advance its imperium, raping one nation after another, responsible for millions of deaths.
Neocons influencing policy want unipolar/New World Order dominance. Paul Wolfowitz once said Washington’s “first objective is prevent(ing) the reemergence of (rival states), either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere.”
The agendas of both countries are polar opposite. Russia wants peace, stability, and multi-world polarity. America wants endless wars, turbulence and unchallenged dominance.
Both countries clash over Syria. Russia wants its sovereign independence and territorial integrity preserved.
Washington wants it transformed into another US vassal state, its resources looted, its people exploited. Endless conflict continues. Farcical peace talks collapsed.
State Department spokesman admiral John Kirby said “there is not now nor other plans to actively cooperate military with the Russian military in Syria.”
Washington supports imported death squads, ISIS and other US created terrorists, undermining Russian efforts for peace.
On Thursday, its Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova noted increasing increasing hostilities and “tensions along the line of engagement in Syria…”
“We see a desperate (US/Saudi/Turkish backed) attempt of terrorists to disrupt the political process. (T)here is no place in the political process for people who adhere to terrorism-related actions.”
Ankara especially, with “tacit consent” or active “support”… of its allies and partners… is conniving with extremists and terrorists.”
Russia presented documented evidence of its activities to Security Council members. No action was taken. Media scoundrels ignore them.
US/Saudi backed terrorists comprising most opposition members bear full responsibility for collapsed peace talks.
No responsible government would accept unacceptable pre-conditions they demanded. Ceasefire is more illusion than reality. Full-blown conflict could resume any time.
Washington blames Russia for escalated hostilities initiated by US supported terrorists – repeating the tired old canard about its forces attacking moderate rebels.
None exist. All anti-government elements are terrorists. Russia righteously continues helping Syria eliminate their scourge.
Washington calls its actions provocative, intending increased support for imported death squads, supplying them with heavy weapons, showing it wants endless war, not peace.
How far Obama will go in his remaining months remains to be seen. If Clinton or a like-minded Republican neocon replaces him, all bets are off.
The entire region and beyond may explode in conflict. Maybe Russia and/or China will be attacked. The horror of possible global war should scare everyone.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
Syrian moderate opposition has failed to withdraw from areas controlled by Al-Nusra Front terrorists, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, blaming the US for failing to exert influence on the opposition and questioned its claims of being moderate.
Washington has itself earlier raised the issue of moderate opposition forces, who are part of the ceasefire agreement in Syria, being present in Al-Nusra-controlled areas, Lavrov told reporters on Monday.
Washington officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, agreed with Moscow’s stance “that if these groups want to fulfill the conditions of the ceasefire and don’t want to look like terrorist supporters, they must do a simple thing – change their dislocation area and physically separate themselves from the terrorists,” the minister elaborated.
According to Lavrov, the US has repeatedly promised Russia to exert their influence on moderate opposition, but the minister said that “those promises are still not fulfilled.”
“If this moderate opposition doesn’t want to leave the areas occupied by Al-Nusra, maybe it is not moderate? Maybe they are just those, who cooperate with Al-Nusra despite the UN Security Council resolution?” he asked.
The FM assured that the Syrian government forces “aren’t carrying out military action against that part of the opposition, which accepted the terms of the truce.”
“The Syrian army, backed by the Russian Air-Space Forces, is fighting against the terrorists,” he stressed.
The top Russian diplomat said that “around the city of Aleppo, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has very strong positions and there’s quite a large area occupied by Al-Nusra Front.”
“Both terrorist groups are trying to improve their positions in the Aleppo area. They are, I stress once again, a legitimate target for those, fighting against terrorism in Syria,” he added.
‘Washington must bring Ankara to its senses’
Lavrov again urged the Syrian Kurds, who were very effective in fighting Islamic State, to be granted a seat at the intra-Syrian talks in currently underway in Geneva.
He stressed that the opposition delegation at the negotiations in the Swiss capital must of a “truly representative character.”
“This would require out US partners to just bring to senses their Turkish allies, who are blocking the Democratic Union Party of Syrian Kurds (PYD) from joining the talks,” the FM said.
Turkey is also among the nations, who are pushing for the military solution in Syria counter to the international peace effort, Lavrov stressed.
“Despite the denial from Washington, there are many people, who wish to think about certain ‘Plan B’, if not in the heart of the Pentagon, then certainly in the [Middle Eastern, Western Asian] region,” he explained.
“In particular, I can mention Turkey, which doesn’t leave the attempts to intervene [into Syria] by force” and topple the country’s government of President Bashar Assad, the minister added.
Those, behind the ‘Plan B,’ are “counting on the collapse of the Syrian peace talks, which would allow pumping more arms into Syria for the inappeasable opposition so that it could solve the task of removing the government militarily,” he said.
The Russia-US brokered ceasefire kicked off in Syria on February 27 and was supported by various armed opposition groups, but excluded terrorists from Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front.
Lavrov also refuted rumors of secret talks on the fate of President Assad, calling them another attempt to derail the peace process in Syria.
“The claims that there is some sort of a secret negotiation channel and that, moreover, in the framework of this secret channel someone promised to decide the fate of Assad outside the framework of the intra-Syrian talks … are not true,” he said.
“It’s an attempt to disrupt the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions, in which… it’s directly stated that only the Syrian people will determine the fate of Syria,” the FM added.
The minister also criticized the European Union for not trying to suppress what he called Turkey’s aggressive ambitions towards Syria.
He noted that Ankara repeatedly proposed various ideas of handling the Syrian crisis, such as introducing no-fly zones or security zones, which were nothing but “attempts to cover up possible Turkish aggression.”
According to Lavrov, it is “very disturbing that the EU… doesn’t suppress such ambitions by Ankara and even tries to indulge it in a certain way.”
President Obama never ceases to amaze me.
He has actually cried on stage and grabbed people’s hearts by appealing to emotions, to our yearning to be just, humane and democratic and so on. In recent mainstream media articles, he is seen playing the role of an agonized leader who weighs the delicate balance of humanity and an act of “humanitarian intervention”. Even with his credential as one of the greatest presidents (according to some), his action against Libya caused tremendous suffering to the people of Libya. He has confessed that while it was “the right thing to do”, he regrets the intervention.
That’s that. Right? He is sorry. It was a mistake. He is suffering. He is forgiven and we must move forward.
Well, actually, his act of contrition must be counted as disingenuous by any measure.
The destruction of Libya was a premeditated crime against humanity. It was orchestrated by the Western nations that were about to be squeezed out of colonial business on the African continent. Libyan leader Gaddafi planned to unite Africa and to establish it as an economically independent region cooperating with the rest of the nations of the Global South (1). The intervention was literally an armed robbery to steal the funding and destroy the plan. Tens of thousands were killed as a result of the Western intervention. Libya was literally destroyed. If you are not familiar with the magnitude of the merciless inhumanity of the Western action against Libya, look up a story about the great man-made river of Libya for instance. Or, look up stories about Libyan social programs under Gaddafi, which the US can’t even come close to. It is truly heartbreaking, and the true crime of the Western nations is hidden from the people. The administration and the colluding media have twisted the narrative in the most egregious way to hide the crime, and turned it into a courageous story of an American President with “honesty” and “integrity”. For the good people of the West, the agony of the President appears most tragic.
However, in reality, by destroying Libya, the Obama administration has achieved profound success in preventing the emergence of the United States of Africa and its central banking system, which would utilize rich African resources for the people of Africa.
Now, there is someone else who plays a major supporting role in this theater of deception: Mr. Bernie Sanders. This seasoned politician has cultivated an unprecedented skill in mobilizing popular support. The accuracy of his act is utterly superb. In order to gain political support for himself, and in turn for the Democratic Party, while preserving the imperial nature of US foreign policy, he has expressed a few calculated thoughts:
Forget about Hilary’s emails
In one of the presidential debates, he strongly characterized the issue of Hilary Clinton’s emails as a political tool to distract people from focusing on “real issues”(2). Her emails, however, include valuable facts regarding the Western war crimes, human rights abuses and other nefarious deeds, including valuable facts confirming Western motives in destroying Libya (3). Ms. Clinton is deeply involved in all of these matters and more(4)
Gaddafi was a terrible dictator
Mr. Sanders recently called Gaddafi “a terrible dictator” in one of the presidential debates. In an interview with Fox News, he remarked, “Look, everybody understands Gaddafi is a thug and murderer”(5). But more decisively, Mr. Sanders was one of 10 co-sponsors of the Senate resolution calling for the resignation of Gaddafi. The resolution also asked for UN resolutions demanding such drastic measures as establishing a no-fly zone and asset freeze against Libya (5). The demonization of the Libyan leader had been a part of the systematic campaign to justify military action for a while, leading to the actual operation in 2011. Libya’s standard of living, human rights record, varieties of social programs for the people and so on had been recognized as the best among the African nations by the UN before the Western intervention. Many of the demeaning allegations against the Libyan government and its leader were found to be false as well (6). Mr. Sanders’s disparaging remarks against Gaddafi, as well as the co-sponsorship of the Senate resolution and subsequent UN resolutions, comprise a decisive state propaganda campaign which led to the military intervention.
Regime change created a political vacuum for ISIS
Mr. Sanders is extremely skilled in colonizing ideas that closely approach the edge of the imperial boundary. He is so good at attracting people by pointing out the fence surrounding the empire only to prove, however, that the gate is tightly shut.
In one of the presidential debates, he accused Hilary Clinton of engaging in many “regime change” operations. However, this remark is skillfully rendered harmless by containing the whole argument in official imperial narratives. First, it does not involve a discussion of the deaths and destruction endured by the Libyan people. Somehow the empire is immune from international humanitarian laws and the moral imperative of humanity. Second, it does not deal with the fact that ISIS and other extremist groups are funded by the US and its allies, as proven by the governments’ own documents(7). Therefore, it leaves a solid path to continue the war on terror as business as usual. It is very likely that Mr. Sanders will follow Mr. Obama’s footsteps in fighting the war on terror, according to his praise for the President’s handling of it(8), and his own remarks(9) if he is elected as the President. Third, by refusing to talk about the real reasons for “regime change” he allows himself, as well as anyone else, including Ms. Clinton, to “regretfully” engage in “humanitarian interventions” as soon as there is a targeted nation picked by a team of foreign policy experts who have served various administrations. It is of concern that he has been uttering tough remarks against Russia, China, North Korea and so on. All these nations are surrounded by US military bases while being subjected to systematic state propaganda campaigns.
“War is a racket” (10). Every US military intervention accompanies subsequent restructuring of the society and economy according to the interests of the ruling elites. Military intervention also serves the military strategic goals and financial motives of the military industrial complex. Violence, whether it’s inflicted militarily or economically, has been a primary tool in building the hierarchical structure where a powerful few control the vast majority. People’s communities are built by cooperation of the communities and their people, as well as the efforts of bringing “power to the people”, not by exploitation and subjugation of other communities led by the powerful few with their draconian measures. I believe the essence of socialism lies in this very basic notion of democracy. Unless one is willing to work according to the genuine spirit of socialism, use of such a slogan as “political revolution” while calling himself a socialist is highly misleading and dishonest. Again, this reflects Mr. Sanders’ tendency to colonize ideas in mobilizing people only to bring them into the existing framework of the powerful few.
Here is the Catch 22: In order to truly refute the fascist and racist position taken by, for example, Donald Trump, the Bernie supporters must confront Bernie’s imperialism. How can a nation implement socialist policies in the framework of imperialism? How can that be a “political revolution”? Imperial Socialism? There used to be a country that tried something called National Socialism (11). It turned out to be a disaster.
The US already has an invisible racial and economic caste system to mask it’s own crimes domestically. It’s based on the many inhumane, unjust and undemocratic schemes inherited from slavery. It’s grown tremendously to flourish into mass incarceration, gentrification, police killings and the rest of the symptoms of institutionalized racism. The force of slaves who built the nation has been converted into the lives of today’s Blacks and poor, which are squeezed to create profits for the few by the devastating force of the social restructuring process for the profits of private corporations. Imperialism has extended this mechanism globally. As a result, unfortunately, tens of millions of lives have already perished by the US violence across the globe(12). It has turned out to be a disaster, already.
You see what I am saying here? If we do not confront such a notion as imperial socialism now, the best scenario Bernie Sanders can bring to us will be a normalization of imperialism under an imperial socialism. That is basically a feudal world order with an invisible caste system. Over 1,000 military bases across the globe are encircling Russia, China and other potential obstacles ensuring the economic power of the ruling elites. Extremists and dictators are nurtured while potential enemies are demonized. International treaties, TPP, TTIP, TISA and so on, to codify the colonial rule of transnational corporations are waiting to be implemented.
Or, let me put it this way, if I were a super rich imperialist in the US, I would be a diehard Bernie supporter. Leaders like him would be my last hope in prolonging the life of the crumbling hierarchy of money and violence. I would be willing to pay for a slight compromise if I can hang onto the status quo. He would be the one to protect my business and assets with the dignity and righteousness that I deserve. He sounds scary but check out what he’s done so far. He talks about universal healthcare but he was one of the guys who worked on Obamacare. He opposes TPP, but his objections are nationalistic and based on a good old protectionism. He went along with the crime bill for the prison industry, drug war, “urban renewal” and so on and on. And of course we have no worry about him dismantling the war industry. Actually, he might manage to start a big one or two. Did you hear that his hero is Winston Churchill? You get the idea.
The term Mr. Sanders uses, democratic socialism, is Imperial Socialism. “Democratic” refers to “democracy” which has been brought to those untamed nations with bombs.
If you agree with what I am saying here, please do not despair. You are not alone. There are countless people across the globe who oppose imperialism and its crimes. They are aiming to build a truly democratic world of sharing and mutual respect. There will be more of them. We live in the most exciting time of awakening for our species.
I would like to end this piece with a poem by Eric Draitser.
Libya: African Jewel
by ERIC DRAITSER
Snatched away –
blood and sand
alloyed to lifeless aridity:
add water. A man-made
river stolen, siphoned
assets in frozen accounts,
by the electric gaze
of a once buzzing grid,
The Greeks knew this:
tragedies have heroes
and death, covalent bond –
a binary truth
to build myths upon.
Here the wind dries tears,
breaks skin like stone
and stone like steel.
Still, man and martyr stand,
faces to an unforgiving sun.
And with hands that once
they hoist the Green Flag
We are here.
Flag of Socialist Libya (1977–2011)
Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony.