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The Six Reasons …

… China and Russia Are Catching Up to the US Military

by WashingtonsBlog (October 28 2015)    

Why the Gap in Military Superiority is Closing

China and Russia are still behind the US militarily.  But they are both showing surprising breakthroughs that – sometime down the road in the future – could threaten US hegemony.

The Washington Times reported last month:

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Wednesday warned Russia and China are quickly closing the military technology gap with the US as inconsistent military budgets and slower innovation threaten America’s lead in the military world.

“It’s evident that nations like Russia and China have been pursuing military modernization programs to close the technology gap with the United States”, he continued. “They’re developing platforms designed to thwart our traditional advantages of power projection and freedom of movement. They’re developing and fielding new and advanced aircraft and ballistic, cruise, anti-ship and anti-air missiles that are longer-range and more accurate.”

The Secretary of Defense issued this warning before Russia stunned the US with its long-range missile and electronic communications-jamming capacities.

How could this be happening, when US military spending dwarfs that from the rest of the world?

There are six reasons …

1. Corruption and Pork.

America spends a large percentage of it’s defense spending on unnecessary military programs that:

* The generals say aren’t helpful and don’t even want

* Redundant personnel, programs and systems which don’t increase our war-fighting capacity

* Equipment which is built and then immediately mothballed before it is ever used

* Money is being thrown away on ridiculous things like a Homeland Security seminar called  “Did Jesus Die for Klingons Too?” and mansions and personal chefs for generals

Indeed – as many lottery winners and star athletes will tell you – it’s easy to piss away even huge sums of money over a couple of years’ time without discipline.

And plain old corruption is wasting huge sums and dramatically weakening our national security.

How much are we talking about?

Well, here’s some indication: $8.5 trillion dollars in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996 … has never been accounted for.

2. Fighting the Wrong Wars.

A closely-related issue is that the war-fighting assets are being squandered, spread thin and distracted by fighting wars which decrease our national security.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the most expensive in US history, costing between between $4 trillion and $6 trillion dollars.

And we spent additional boatloads of money carrying out regime change in Libya, Syria and elsewhere.

But these wars have only caused ISIS and the Taliban to flourish.

Indeed, the majority of our defense spending is – literally – making us less secure because we’re spending money to fight the wrong wars:

* We’re overthrowing the moderates who help insure stability

* We’re arming and supporting brutal dictators … which is one of the main reasons that terrorists want to attack the US

* We’ve fought a series of wars for petrochemicals, instead of security

* We expend huge sums of money on mass surveillance … but top security experts agree that mass surveillance makes us MORE vulnerable to terrorists (we’re targeting the wrong guys)

3. Never-Ending War Destroys the Economy.

We’re in the longest continuous period of war in US history.  The Afghanistan War has  been going on for fourteen years … as long as the Civil War (four years,), World War One (four years) and World War Two (six years) COMBINED.

Wars which drag on are horrible for our economy.  A weak economy – in turn – makes it more difficult to sustain a leadership role in defense in the long-run.

And Americans are sick and tired of war.  If our national security was actually threatened, it might be hard for the government to rouse our commitment and motivation.

4. More Bang for the Buck.

China has the world’s largest economy when measured by “purchasing power parity” … meaning how much Chinese can buy in their their local currency in their local economy.

Therefore, China can buy locally-produced military parts and services more cheaply than the US can.

As Bloomberg noted last year:

The lowest-paid US soldiers earn about $18,000 a year. In comparison, in 2009, an equivalent Chinese soldier was paid about a ninth as much. In other words, in 2009, you could hire about nine Chinese soldiers for the cost of one US soldier.

Even that figure doesn’t account for health care and veterans’ benefits. These are much higher in the US than in China, though precise figures are hard to obtain. This is due to higher US prices for health care, to higher prices in general, and because the US is more generous than China in terms of what it pays its soldiers. Salaries and benefits, combined, account for a significant percentage of military expenditure.

But labor costs aren’t the only thing that is cheaper in China. Notice that China’s gross domestic product at market exchange rates is only two-thirds of its GDP at purchasing power parity. This means that, as a developing country, China simply pays lower prices for a lot of things. Some military inputs –  oil, for example, or copper –  will be bought on world markets, and PPP won’t matter. For others, like complicated machinery, costs are pretty similar. But other things –  food or domestically manufactured products –  will be much cheaper for the US’s developing rivals than for the US

Those who follow global security issues have known about this issue for a long time. But somehow, this fact hasn’t penetrated the consciousness of pundits or made its way into pretty, tweet-able graphs.

5. Theft.

The US Naval Institute, Fiscal Times and others document that the Chinese have greatly accelerated their weapons development timeline by spying on the West and shamelessly copying our military inventions and designs.

If the NSA and other spying agencies had used their resources to stop foreign governments from stealing our crown jewels – instead of using them to gain petty advantages for a handful of knuckleheads – we’d be a lot better off today.

6. Geography.

Russia is almost twice the size of the US.  Russia and China together are so massive – forming such a giant swath of land-based territory, so much closer to the Middle East than America is – that it gives their militaries an advantage.

Bloomberg points out:

The US, situated in the peaceful, relatively unpopulated Western Hemisphere, is very far away from the location of any foreseeable conflict. China isn’t going to invade Colorado (sorry, “Red Dawn” fans!), but it might invade Taiwan or India. Simply getting our forces to the other side of the world would require enormous up-front expenditures.

The National Interest notes:

Defeating China in these scenarios [Taiwan and South China Sea] could nonetheless be difficult and costly for the United States’ primarily as a result of the geographic advantages that China enjoys, as well as specific systems capabilities.

A recent RAND report, “The US China Military Scorecard”, … argues that China is catching up to the US, is becoming more assertive and confident, and has geography on its side.

And Russia’s proximity to Ukraine, the Baltics and other neighboring countries gives it a huge advantage.

Postscript: Sadly, because we’ve squandered our resources, war games show that the US is no longer invincible.

Links: The original version of this article, at the URL below, contains links to further information not included here.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/10/5-reasons-china-and-russia-are-starting-to-catch-up-to-the-u-s-militarily.html

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Categories: Uncategorized

The Changing Order of the Middle East

by Bill Totten (October 31 2015)

Have you wondered what the US is accomplishing, or trying to accomplish, in the Middle East? Here is a summary of US interventions there until it invaded and began devastating Afghanistan in 2001 {1}. Since then it has destroyed Iraq and Libya and is now trying to destroy the governments of Syria and Yemen.

The article {1} mentions “Israel” eighteen times and “oil” twenty times. But these interventions haven’t given the US control or even a firm grip on Middle East oil {2}. Middle East oil is still controlled by OPEC and the US must pay whatever price OPEC decides to charge for it. On the other hand, the US gets very little of its oil from the Middle East. Most comes from South America and Africa {3}. So how can it be about oil?

All these US interventions have done is destabilize the Middle East. And that has come at great monetary expense to the US and tremendous death and injury to the people of the Middle East.

I have come to believe that the major motive for all of these US interventions always has been and still is to destabilize the Middle East on behalf of Israel. This may sound like a “conspiracy theory”, but it is not. It is well documented by Israelis themselves and by US “neocons” {4}, most of whom are Zionists. The difference between “Zionist” and “Jew” is explained at {5}.

Many of these neocons openly express their dual loyalty to the US and Israel and some are citizens of both nations {6}. See “Dual Loyalty” at {4}. Dual Citizenship also is described at {4}. Section 5 of {4} identifies notable politicians, government officials, academics and public intellectuals in the US associated with neoconservatism and Section 6 of {4} identifies their main institutions and publications. They also are known as “Israel Firsters”, those people (of whatever ethnic background) who invariably support Israel’s policies over those of the United States {7}.

The first reference I can find to this motive is The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs), an essay written by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in 1923. {8}

The most comprehensive expression of this motive is “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties” {9} written by an Israeli strategist Oded Yinon, which called for breaking up all Arab states surrounding Israel into fragmented polities along ethnic and religious lines. “Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run” … “and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon”. He cited the Iran-Iraq war as a prime example of the type of internecine conflict Israel hopes to ignite, exacerbate and capitalize on to achieve its Zionist imperium. {10}

Here are some passages from “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties” {9}:

The Arab Moslem world, therefore, is not the major strategic problem which we shall face in the Eighties, despite the fact that it carries the main threat against Israel, due to its growing military might. This world, with its ethnic minorities, its factions and internal crises, which is astonishingly self-destructive, as we can see in Lebanon, in non-Arab Iran and now also in Syria, is unable to deal successfully with its fundamental problems and does not therefore constitute a real threat against the State of Israel in the long run, but only in the short run where its immediate military power has great import. In the long run, this world will be unable to exist within its present framework in the areas around us without having to go through genuine revolutionary changes. The Moslem Arab World is built like a temporary house of cards put together by foreigners (France and Britain in the Nineteen Twenties), without the wishes and desires of the inhabitants having been taken into account. It was arbitrarily divided into nineteen states, all made of combinations of minorities and ethnic groups which are hostile to one another, so that every Arab Moslem state nowadays faces ethnic social destruction from within, and in some a civil war is already raging. Most of the Arabs, 118 million out of 170 million, live in Africa, mostly in Egypt (45 million today).

Breaking Egypt down territorially into distinct geographical regions is the political aim of Israel in the Nineteen Eighties on its Western front.

Egypt is divided and torn apart into many foci of authority. If Egypt falls apart, countries like Libya, Sudan or even the more distant states will not continue to exist in their present form and will join the downfall and dissolution of Egypt.

The Western front, which on the surface appears more problematic, is in fact less complicated than the Eastern front, in which most of the events that make the headlines have been taking place recently. Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unque areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today.

Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.

The entire Arabian peninsula is a natural candidate for dissolution due to internal and external pressures, and the matter is inevitable especially in Saudi Arabia.

Jordan constitutes an immediate strategic target in the short run but not in the long run, for it does not constitute a real threat in the long run after its dissolution, the termination of the lengthy rule of King Hussein and the transfer of power to the Palestinians in the short run … Israel’s policy, both in war and in peace, ought to be directed at the liquidation of Jordan under the present regime and the transfer of power to the Palestinian majority … it is not possible to go on living in this country in the present situation without separating the two nations, the Arabs to Jordan and the Jews to the areas west of the river … Dispersal of the population is therefore a domestic strategic aim of the highest order.

Rebalancing the country demographically, strategically and economically is the highest and most central aim today. Taking hold of the mountain watershed from Beersheba to the Upper Galilee is the national aim generated by the major strategic consideration which is settling the mountainous part of the country that is empty of Jews today.

A more recent and cogent document is “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” {11}, a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by neocon Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, the then Prime Minister of Israel. Perle was a prominent US government official at that time. It contains such recommendations as:

* Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq – an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right – as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.

* An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon …

* … establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces.

* … striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper.

* … Israel has an interest supporting diplomatically, militarily and operationally Turkey’s and Jordan’s actions against Syria, such as securing tribal alliances with Arab tribes that cross into Syrian territory and are hostile to the Syrian ruling elite.

See {12} for another look at this.

In his book, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said that the Israeli government is in fact responsible for the design of American policy in the Middle East after June 1967 {12}.

The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy (2007) is a book by John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, Professor of International Relations at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. It was a New York Times Best Seller. The book describes the lobby as a “loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to steer US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction”. The book “focuses primarily on the lobby’s influence on US foreign policy and its negative effect on American interests”. {13} The book has its origins in a paper commissioned in 2002 by The Atlantic Monthly, but it was rejected for reasons that neither The Atlantic nor the authors have publicly explained. It became available as a working paper at the Kennedy School’s website in 2006 {14}. A condensed version of the working paper was published in March 2006 by the London Review of Books under the title “The Israel Lobby”. {15}

For more on information on what the US is doing in the Middle East on behalf of Israel, see {16}, {17}, {18}, {19}, {20}, {21}, {22}

But Since September 28th, a coalition led by Russia and Iran seem to be putting an end to US attempts to destabilize and break-up the Middle East on behalf of Israel. It looks to me like the coalition led by Russia and Iran is putting an end to US and Israel domination of the Middle East in a way that will integrate the Middle East into the Eurasia led by China and Russia and will erode Western influence over, and access to, Middle East fossil fuels. On this, please see {23}~{63}.

Links:

{1} http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6308.htm

{2} http://www.npr.org/2012/04/11/150444802/where-does-america-get-oil-you-may-be-surprised

{3} http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/04/25/is-the-us-waging-israel-s-wars/

{4} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoconservatism

{5} http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-jew-and-vs-zionist/

{6} http://www.kickthemallout.com/article.php/Story-Dual_Citizenship_Loyal_To_Whom

{7} http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mj-rosenberg/why-the-term-israel-first_b_1252789.html

{8} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Wall_%28essay%29

{9} http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/articles/article0005345.html

{10} http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Oded-Yinon/283820656

{11} http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1438.htm

{12} http://www.globalresearch.ca/greater-israel-the-zionist-plan-for-the-middle-east/5324815

{13} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Israel_Lobby_and_US_Foreign_Policy#cite_note-1

{14} http://mearsheimer.uchicago.edu/pdfs/A0040.pdf

{15} http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/john-mearsheimer/the-israel-lobby

{16} http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/12/us-caught-faking-it-in-syria/

{17} http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/22/is-instability-the-goal-of-u-s-mideast-policy/

{18} http://original.antiwar.com/dan_sanchez/2015/10/05/seize-the-chaos/

{19} https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNVYu46W9I0

{20} http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/06/world/middleeast/israel-backs-limited-strike-against-syria.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

{21} https://medium.com/dan-sanchez/remaking-the-world-in-israel-s-image-b7cec683e2f3#.9m06ffhhb

{22} http://www.dansanchez.me/feed/the-neocon-hunger-for-universal-empire

{23} https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/28/read-putins-u-n-general-assembly-speech/

{24} http://www.blackagendareport.com/freedom_rider_putin_trumps_obama_at_un
http://www.globalresearch.ca/putin-trumps-obama-at-the-u-n/5478966

{25} http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/02/putins-lightning-war-in-syria/

{26} http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/01/putins-blitz-leaves-washington-rankled-and-confused/

{27} http://sjlendman.blogspot.jp/2015/09/dueling-ideologies-in-new-york-putin-v.html

{28} http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/10/putins-global-game-changer/

{29} http://www.globalresearch.ca/putin-offers-the-us-a-route-to-sanity-in-the-middle-east/5478846

{30} http://www.rt.com/op-edge/317611-isis-syria-russia-us/

{31} http://journal-neo.org/2015/10/03/putin-lives-in-the-real-world-obama-lives-in-a-fantasyland/

{32} http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/preview-of-world-war-iii-russia-is-putting-on-a-display-of-firepower-that-is-shocking-the-world

{33} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-03/russia-claims-isis-now-ropes-fighters-desert-after-60-airstrikes-72-hours

{34} http://cluborlov.blogspot.jp/2015/09/american-allies-in-syria-their-shameful.html

{35} http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/10/02/putin-calls-washington-paul-craig-roberts/

{36} http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/06/how-putin-will-win-in-syria/

{37} http://journal-neo.org/2015/10/06/lies-and-truth-obama-s-unga-speech-dissected/

{38} http://cluborlov.blogspot.jp/2015/10/the-worlds-silliest-empire.html

{39} https://www.rt.com/op-edge/317804-isis-turkey-jet-russia/

{40} http://usforeignpolicy.blogs.lalibre.be/archive/2015/10/05/the-week-in-review-putin-in-the-un-and-russian-forces-in-syr-1146672.html

{41} http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/10/john-helmer-us-strategy-in-the-middle-east-is-dying-along-with-its-authors-carter-and-brzezinski-putin-al-assad-get-to-dance-on-their-graves-david-ben-gurion-too.html

{42} https://www.lewrockwell.com/2015/10/patrick-j-buchanan/dr-putin-has-a-good-diagnosis/

{43} http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/09/putins-endgame-in-syria/

{44} http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/10/10/decisive-shift-power-balance-occurred-paul-craig-roberts/

{45} http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/12/imperial-failure-lessons-from-afghanistan-and-iraq/

{46} http://atimes.com/2015/10/say-hello-to-my-cruise-missiles-escobar/

{47} https://www.rt.com/op-edge/318753-moscow-washington-war-syria/

{48} http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.jp/2015/10/a-landscape-of-dreams.html

{49} http://fortruss.blogspot.jp/2015/10/the-cia-recipe-for-bringing-down-regime.html

{50} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-15/fog-everything-why-americas-eternally-caught-guard-middle-east

{51} http://ragingbullshit.com/2015/10/15/the-rise-of-americas-secret-government/

{52} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-15/russia-and-iran-moving-corner-mideast-oil-supply

{53} http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176054/

{54} http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/15/did-russias-intervention-derail-turkeys-plan-to-invade-syria/

{55} http://journal-neo.org/2015/10/15/putin-is-defeating-more-than-isis-in-syria/

{56} http://cluborlov.blogspot.jp/2015/10/shrinking-technosphere-part-iii.html

{57} https://www.rt.com/op-edge/318827-us-fear-putin-syria/

{58} http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/22/dr-strangelove-gen-philip-breedlove-is-naked/

{59} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-24/russia-takes-over-mid-east-moscow-gets-green-light-strikes-iraq-sets-alliance-jordan

{60} http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-21/who-really-controls-iraq-inside-irans-powerful-proxy-armies

{61} http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/21/putin-forces-obama-to-capitulate-on-syria/

{62} http://atimes.com/2015/10/war-and-peace-revisited-escobar/

{63} https://medium.com/dan-sanchez/clean-break-to-dirty-wars-d5ebc5fda9f9#.q72bbii7y

Categories: Uncategorized

Putin Makes Obama an Offer He Can’t Refuse

by Mike Whitney

CounterPunch (October 29 2015)

Why is John Kerry so eager to convene an emergency summit on Syria now when the war has been dragging on for four and a half years?

Is he worried that Russia’s air campaign is wiping out too many US-backed jihadis and sabotaging Washington’s plan to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad?

You bet, he is. No one who’s been following events in Syria for the last three weeks should have any doubt about what’s really going on.  Russia has been methodically wiping out Washington’s mercenaries on the ground while recapturing large swathes of land that had been lost to the terrorists.  That, in turn, has strengthened Assad’s position in Damascus and left the administration’s policy in tatters.  And that’s why Kerry wants another meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pronto even though the two diplomats met less than a week ago.   The Secretary of State is hoping to cobble together some kind of makeshift deal that will stop the killing and salvage what’s left of Uncle Sam’s threadbare Syrian project.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Iran had been invited to the confab which will be held in Vienna on Thursday.  The announcement is bound to be ferociously criticized on Capital Hill, but it just shows to what extent Russia is currently setting the agenda. It was Lavrov who insisted that Iran be invited, and it was Kerry who reluctantly capitulated. Moscow is now in the drivers seat.

And don’t be surprised if the summit produces some pretty shocking results too, like a dramatic 180 [degree turnabout] on Washington’s “Assad must go” demand.   As Putin has pointed out many times before, Assad’s not going anywhere. He’s going to be a part of Syria’s “transitional governing body”  when the Obama team finally agrees to the Geneva Communique which is the political track that will eventually end the fighting, restore security, and allow millions of refugees to return to their homes.

The reason the administration is going to agree to allow Assad to stay, is because if they don’t, the Russian air force is going to continue to blow US-backed mercenaries to smithereens. So, you see, Obama really has no choice in the matter. Putin has put a gun to his head and made him an offer he can’t refuse.

That doesn’t mean the war is going to be a cakewalk for Russia or its allies. It won’t be. In fact, there have already been some major setbacks, like the fact that ISIS just seized a critical section the Aleppo-Khanasser highway, cutting off  the government’s supply-lines to Aleppo. This is a serious problem, but it is not a problem that can’t be overcome nor is it a problem that will effect the outcome of the war. It’s just one of the obstacles that has to be dealt with and surpassed.  Taking a broader view, the outlook is much more encouraging for the Russian-led coalition which continues to cut off supply-lines, blow up ammo dumps and fuel depots, and rapidly eviscerate the ability of the enemy to wage war.  So, while the war is certainly not a walk in the park, there’s no doubt about who’s going to win.

And that might explain why the US decided to bomb Aleppo’s main power plant last week plunging the entire city into darkness; because Obama wants to “rubblize” everything on his way out.  Keep in mind, that the local water treatment plants require electrical power, so by blowing up the plant, Obama has condemned tens of thousands of civilians to cholera and other water-born diseases. Apparently, our hospital-nuking president isn’t bothered by such trivial matters as killing women and children. Now check this out from the Daily Star:

US-led coalition forces in Iraq and Syria carried out a large-scale attack on Syria’s Omar oil field as part of its mission to target ISIS’s ability to generate money, a coalition spokesman said Thursday.

Operations officer Major Michael Filanowski told journalists in Baghdad that airstrikes late Wednesday struck ISIS-controlled oil refineries, command and control centers and transportation nodes in the Omar oil field near the town of Deir el-Zour. Coalition spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said the attack hit 26 targets, making it one of the largest set of strikes since launching the air campaign last year.

The refinery generates between $1.7 and $5.1 million per month for ISIS.

“It was very specific targets that would result in long-term incapacitation of their ability to sell oil, to get it out of the ground and transport it”, Filanowski said.

ISIS seized a number of oil refineries and other infrastructure in Iraq and Syria as it sought to generate revenue to build a self-sufficient state.  {1}

Isn’t it amazing how – after a year of  combing the dessert looking for ISIS  targets – the USAF finally figures out where the god damn oil refineries are? No wonder the western media chose to ignore this story. One can only conclude that Obama never had any intention of cutting off ISIS’s main funding stream (oil sales). What he really wanted was for the terrorist group to flourish provided it helped Washington achieve its strategic goals. Putin even pointed this out in a recent interview. He said:

The mercenaries occupy the oil fields in Iraq and Syria. They start extracting the oil – and this oil is purchased by somebody. Where are the sanctions on the parties purchasing this oil?

Do you believe the US does not know who is buying it?

Is it not their allies that are buying the oil from ISIS?

Do you not think that US has the power to influence their allies? Or is the point that they don’t  wish to influence them? {2}

Putin was never taken in by the whole ISIS oil charade. He knew it was a farce from the get-go, ever since Financial Times published their thoroughly laughable article on the topic which claimed that ISIS had its own group of “headhunters” offering “competitive salaries” to engineers with the “requisite experience”  and encouraged “prospective employees to apply to its human resources department”.

The ISIS “human resources department”?  Have you ever read anything more ridiculous in your life?  Read the whole story {3}.

In an interview with NPR, FT fantasist Erika Solomon (who wrote the article) explained why the US could not bomb the oil fields or refineries. Here’s what she said:

What ISIS has done is managed to corner control of the extraction process, which is smart because they can’t get bombed there. It would cause a natural disaster. So they extract the oil, and then they immediately sell it to local traders – any average person who can buy a truck that they can fill with a tank of oil. {4}

Well, that sure didn’t stop Major Michael Filanowski, now did it? He seems to have blown up those ISIS refineries without batting an eye, which just proves that Solomon’s “natural disaster” fairytale is pure bunkum.

But if it was all baloney, then why did the USAF decide to hit the targets now? What changed?

Here’s a clue from an article that popped up on RT just one day before the attacks:

Russia’s airplanes cut off routes used by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) to deliver supplies to Syria from Iraq by bombing a bridge over the Euphrates River, the Russian General Staff said.

“The bridge over the Euphrates River near [the Syrian city of] Deir ez-Zor was a key point of the logistics chain [of IS]. Today Russian pilots carried out a surgical strike against the object”, the deputy chief of the General Staff of Russia, Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov, said on Thursday during a news briefing, adding that the terrorist group’s armament and ammunition delivery route had been cut off. {5}

There it is: The Russians blow up a critical bridge over the Euphrates making oil transport impossible, and  the next thing you know, BAM, the US goes into scorched earth-mode leveling everything in sight.  Coincidence?

Not  bloody likely.  The whole incident suggests the mighty CIA is rolling up its pet project in Syria and headed for the exits.  (It’s worth noting that ISIS has never been a self sustaining corporate franchise netting over a million bucks a day on oil receipts as western propaganda would have one believe. That’s all part of the public relations coverup used to conceal the fact that the Gulf allies and probably CIA black ops are funding these homicidal maniacs.)

In any event, the Russian intervention is forcing Washington to rethink its Syria policy. While Kerry is bending over backwards to end the fighting,  Obama is busy tweaking the policy in a way that appeases his critics on the right without provoking a confrontation with Moscow. It’s a real tight-wire act, but the White House public relations team thinks they can pull it off. Check this out from NBC News:

Defense Secretary Ash Carter today revealed that the US will openly begin “direct action on the ground” against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria.

In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services committee on Tuesday, Carter said “we won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL … or conducting such mission directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground. {6}

This sounds a lot worse than it is. The truth is, Obama has no stomach for the type of escalation the hawks (like Hillary Clinton and John McCain ) are demanding. There aren’t going to be any “safe zones” or “no-fly zones” or any other provocations which would risk a bloody conflagration with Moscow. What Obama is looking for is the best face-saving strategy available that will allow him to retreat without incurring the wrath of the  Washington warmongers. It’s a tall order, but Secretary of Defence Ash Carter has come up with a plan that might just do-the-trick.  This is from The Hill:

Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Tuesday described new ways the US military plans to increase pressure on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, after months of criticism that the administration is not doing enough to defeat the terrorist group.

“The changes we’re pursuing can be described by what I call the ‘three R’s’ – Raqqa, Ramadi and Raids”, Carter testified the Senate Armed Services Committee.

First, Carter said the US-led coalition against ISIS plans to support moderate Syrian forces to go after Raqqa –  the terrorist group’s stronghold and administration capital.

The secretary also said he hopes to pursue a new way of equipping the Syrian Arab Coalition, which consists of about a dozen groups.

“While the old approach was to train and equip completely new forces outside of Syria before sending them into the fight, the new approach is to work with vetted leaders of groups that are already fighting ISIL, and provide equipment and some training to them and support their operations with airpower”, he said.

He also said the coalition expects to intensify its air campaign with additional US and coalition aircraft, and to target ISIS with a higher and heavier rate of strikes.

“This will include more strikes against ISIL high-value targets as our intelligence improves, and also its oil enterprise, which is a critical pillar of ISIL’s financial infrastructure”, Carter said, using a different acronym for ISIS. {7}

See anything new here? It’s a big nothingburger, right?

They’re going to kill more “high-value targets”?

Big whoop. That’s always been the gameplan, hasn’t it?  Of course, it has.

What this shows is that Obama is just running out the clock hoping he can keep this mess on the back-burner until he’s out of office and working out the terms of his first big book deal.  The last thing he wants is to get embroiled in a spitting match with the Kremlin his final year in office.

Unfortunately, the problem Obama is going to encounter is that Putin can’t simply turn off the war machine with the flip of a switch. It took Moscow a long time to decide to intervene in Syria, just like it took a long time to marshal the forces that would be deployed, build the coalition and draft the battleplan.  The Russians don’t take war lightly, so now that they’ve put the ball into motion they’re not going to stop until the job is done and the bulk of the terrorists have been exterminated.  That means there’s not going to be a ceasefire in the immediate future. Putin needs to demonstrate that once Moscow commits its forces, it will persevere until it achieves victory. That victory could come in the form of “liberating Aleppo” and a subsequent sealing off of the Turkish-Syria border or he might have some other goal in mind. But it’s a matter of credibility as much as anything. If Putin pulls back, hesitates or shows even the slightest lack of resolve, Washington will see it as a sign of weakness and try to exploit it. So Putin has no choice but to see this thing through to the bitter end.  At the very least, he needs to prove to Washington that when Russia gets involved, Russia wins.

That’s a message Washington needs to hear.

Links:

{1} https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Oct-22/319869-us-led-forces-strike-isis-controlled-oil-field-in-syria.ashx

{2} http://russia-insider.com/en/us-link-isis-putin-simplifies-journalist/ri10715

{3} http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/b8234932-719b-11e5-ad6d-f4ed76f0900a.html#axzz3pb1VLBFr

{4} http://www.npr.org/2015/10/14/448697144/isis-makes-millions-from-the-sale-of-oil-in-war-torn-syria-and-Iraq

{5} https://www.rt.com/news/319499-russia-airplanes-bridge-euphrates/

{6} http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/sec-carter-direct-u-s-action-ground-iraq-syria-n452131

{7} http://thehill.com/policy/defense/258187-pentagon-chief-unveils-changes-to-isis-campaign

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/29/putin-makes-obama-an-offer-he-cant-refuse/

Categories: Uncategorized

War and Peace – Revisited

by Pepe Escobar

Asia Times (October 23 2015)

And of course he quoted Tolstoy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin once again had to pull all stops at the International Valdai Discussion Club’s twelfth annual meeting in Sochi to highlight the tremendous seriousness of the current geopolitical juncture.

As a compact Greatest Hits on comparative foreign policy and military strategy, this already qualifies as required reading in political science courses everywhere. Putin’s full speech, plus a crucial Q&A, is at {1}. The speech on video is at {2}.

Let’s go straight to some of the unmissable highlights.

On “moderate rebels” in Syria:

We shouldn’t play with words here and divide the terrorists into moderate and non-moderate … The difference, according to the “specialists” (Team Obama), seems to be that “moderate” bandits behead people softly … Success in fighting terrorists cannot be reached if using some of them as a battering ram to overthrow disliked regimes (because) it’s just an illusion that they can be dealt with (later), removed from power and somehow negotiated with.

On the partition of Syria:

The territorial division of Syria is unacceptable. It is not going to resolve the conflict. The conflict will acquire a permanent character. Nothing good will come out of this … Just imagine that in case of taking Damascus or Baghdad, terrorist bands might have received, practically, the status of the official government. The bridgehead for global expansion could have been created. Does anyone think about that?

On Russia’s air campaign in Syria:

I’d like to stress once again that is completely legitimate, and its only aim is to aid in establishing peace.

Putin makes a clear distinction between Washington’s target –  “Assad must go” –  and Moscow’s: to fight all brands of Salafi-jihadi terror before they come to Russia.

On the Iranian nuclear dossier:

The hypothetical nuclear threat from Iran is a myth. The US was just trying to destroy the strategic balance, not to just dominate, but be able to dictate its will to everyone – not only geopolitical opponents, but also allies.

On nuclear weapons:

We had the right to expect that work on development of US missile defense system would stop. But nothing like it happened, and it continues. This is a very dangerous scenario, harmful for all, including the United States itself.  The deterrent of nuclear weapons has started to lose its value, and some have even got the illusion that a real victory of one of the sides can be achieved in a global conflict, without irreversible consequences for the winner itself –  if there is a winner at all.

In a sound world, this would be greeted as sound realpolitik. And yet we live under the shadow of Empire of Chaos newspeak and neocon/neoliberalcon hysteria. A world where Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; Iran was making a nuclear bomb; “kill lists” are legitimate; al-Qaeda in Syria are “moderate rebels”; Russia, China and Iran are “threats” for the Pentagon worse than ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; and the Pentagon believes it can win a war against all those “threats” –  Russia, China, Iran –  with no consequences. A world where peace is war.

Those Saudi “Thinkers”

Now for the facts on the ground. It’s wishful thinking to expect Washington, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha will simply let Syria “go” after all those years of supporting, training and weaponizing a mostly Salafi-jihadi galaxy bent on regime change. At the same time Putin and the Kremlin know these actors cannot directly weaponize the “moderate rebels” anymore, because their agenda is now fully exposed in front of global public opinion.

They can’t? Oh, no, they can.

On the ground across the Sykes-Picot-in-ruins “Syraq”, what’s going on now essentially pits the “4+1” –  Russia-Iran-Syria-Iraq plus Hezbollah, including their joint intelligence center in Baghdad – against the NatoGCC {3} compound, as in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. An elaborate proxy war is a go – and all manner of red alerts come to mind.

Trouble, trouble everywhere. Let’s start with the GCC minions. The House of Saud is apoplectic with Iran’s imminent political, diplomatic and trade resurgence; not to mention that Tehran is winning on both the Iraq and Syria fronts.

In parallel, those barbarian fanatics that pass for imams in Saudi Arabia have called for a jihad against … Russia. Saudi “thinkers” (?) want Riyadh to lead a coalition against the “remnants” of the Syrian Arab Army, Hezbollah and Iranian advisers to speed up regime change in Damascus.

It’s useful to remember that the Saudis are already part of what I call the Coalition of Dodgy Opportunists (CDO), led from behind by Washington. Lost on these Saudi “thinkers” is the fact this new “coalition” would have to go head to head against the Russian Air Force.

But we haven’t been hurled to the unreachable levels of the Supremely Pathetic yet. That happens when Qatar starts to mull a “direct military intervention” in Syria. Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah told CNN, “Anything that protects the Syrian people and Syria from partition, we will not spare any effort to carry it out with our Saudi and Turkish brothers, no matter what this is”.

At this level of demented geopolitics, all that’s left is quoting another demented player, jihad-enabler Bandar Bush (he threatened Putin face to face, no less), who – correctly – depicted Qatar as “300 people and a TV station”. Leave it to GCC “thinkers” to conceptualize Saudi and Qatari F-16s bombing Iranian forces next to Russia’s air base at Latakia, a couple of Sukhois turning them to ashes and then, what, the Pentagon declares World War Three?

And for the requisite post-Monty Python sketch, let’s have the – demented – King Salman of Saudi Arabia plus the mini-emir of Qatar deliberating at a whisky/cognac/lap-dancing party how to go to war against both Russia and Iran just so al-Qaeda in Syria may engineer regime change in Damascus.

It’s always enlightening to keep in mind Tunisian writer Hamadi Redissi:

The theses of millenarian, misanthrope, bellicose, anti-Christian, anti-Semite, misogynous Islam are all found in raw in Wahhabism.

Or Algerian writer Bualem Sansal:

Papa’s Arab world will be finished once this absurd thing will be smashed, this club of arrogant and cruel fake princes, which pose as guardians of the mythic Arab race and true Islam.

Well, things are not much better in the realm of that Salafist Grand Turk in a blue suit, Sultan Erdogan.

Assuming there will be real Moscow-Washington coordination (and that’s a major “if”) to seal the Syrian-Turkish border – where a de facto no-fly zone {4} is already in effect, controlled by Russia – this will cut not only ISIS/ISIL/Daesh but also al-CIAda “moderate rebels” from their supply lines.

Three consequences are immediate:

1. No Turkish-controlled “safe haven” in northern Syria implemented by Turkmen brigades (that’s already the case).

2. No possibility of Ankara annexing Aleppo.

3. The end of all elaborate plans for that nefarious gas pipeline from Qatar through Syria all the way to Turkey to supply European customers, one of the absolute key reasons fomenting the Syrian tragedy.

Vainglorious Sultan Erdogan will never be able to live with that.

Is peace still war?

As Baghdad advances on its own fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh – to the thunderous silence {5} of embarrassed-to-oblivion Western corporate media –  Moscow keeps pressing for the voice of reason.

Bashar al-Assad’s spectacular Moscow appearance – which enraged neocons/neoliberalcons to Kingdom Come – came complete with an ultra-high level dinner with Putin, Medvedev, Lavrov and Shoygu. It does not get more graphic than that; the order of priorities is to fight the “Caliphate” goons to death, and in parallel conduct a political process. Forget about regime change.

Putin briefed both Sultan Erdogan and King Salman on the phone. Then Russia, US, Turkey and Saudi foreign ministers met in Vienna on Friday to discuss the political road map. Moscow has to convince Riyadh that Tehran also must be at the table; that’s starkly obvious, but try reasoning with those Saudi “thinkers”. Even John Kerry has been uncharacteristically reasonable, stressing all countries with an interest in Syria, including Russia and Iran, agree on the need for a unified, secular and pluralistic Syria governed with the consent of its people.

So, extrapolating from Putin’s speech, this is where war and peace stand at the moment. But as this is a mad, mad world where peace is war, it’s as if we are all left in suspension by what a bunch of deranged Wahhabis are up to next.

Links:

{1} http://valdaiclub.com/opinion/highlights/vladimir-putin-meets-with-members-of-the-valdai-discussion-club-transcript-of-the-final-plenary-sess
{2} https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-W923PAexwU

{3} http://www.gcc-sg.org/eng/

{4} https://www.rt.com/op-edge/319184-dr-strangelove-naked-escobar/

{5} http://www.moonofalabama.org/2015/10/western-media-silent-as-iraq-inflicts-huge-islamic-state-defeat-.html#comments

_____

Copyright 2015 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.

http://atimes.com/2015/10/war-and-peace-revisited-escobar/

Categories: Uncategorized

Remaking the World in Greater Israel’s Image

From American Occupations to European Detention Camps

by Dan Sanchez

https://medium.com/dan-sanchez (September 19 2015)

However they want to address the issue, most people are horrified at the refugee crisis now besetting Europe, with its scenes of chaos, conflict, and desperation. Yet in Israel, at least one high official sees in it not horror, but hope. As Rania Khalek has reported:

Dore Gold, director general of the Israeli foreign ministry, expressed optimism that the refugee influx will shift Europe to the right, making it more sympathetic to Israel’s “security” justification for its ongoing colonization of Palestine.

“Israel always faced the problem in the past that its national security perspective was completely out of sync with how Europeans were viewing the emergence of the European community and the borderless world that was emerging”, the American-born hardliner told The Jerusalem Post.

“In the European models that existed 25 or thirty years ago, it is kind of difficult to hear an Israeli argument. But now things may be beginning to change a little”, posited Gold.

“The European perspective is beginning to sound a little bit more like Israel’s perspective on security issues, compared to what it was in the past”.

This is hardly the first time a top Israeli politician reveled in the great misfortune of an “ally”, hoping it will engender tighter identification with Israel. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, The New York Times reported the following:

“Asked tonight what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister, replied, “It’s very good”. Then he edited himself: “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy”. He predicted that the attack would “strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we’ve experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive hemorrhaging of terror”.

Sharing Israel’s perspective seems to have a self-reinforcing quality. The US response to the 9/11 attacks that Netanyahu welcomed  –  fourteen years of widespread, non-stop war and intervention in the Muslim world  –  is what caused the European refugee crisis that Dore Gold welcomes today.

(Note that throughout this essay, by “Israel” I mean the government and not its Jewish subjects. Any anti-Semites reading this looking for support for their bigotry can go jump in a lake.)

Like Israel (and often through Israel), the US has long projected colonialism and militarism upon countless Muslims, whether through direct force, proxy wars, clandestine subversion, or puppet dictators.

Like Israel, the US suffered terroristic blowback as a consequence.

Like Israel, the US responded with massive, indiscriminate violence and conquest, compounding the original problem of colonialist militarism, and leading to further blowback.

European governments have participated in that violence, and now they are also partaking in the blowback as waves of war refugees wash up on their shores.

As a result, scenes are now playing out in Europe very similar to everyday life in “Greater Israel” (Israel proper plus the Occupied Territories in Palestine): crowds of unarmed Muslim men, women, and children being chased, beaten, rounded up, herded, penned, and cage-fed like animals.

It is a vicious cycle and a cycle of viciousness. The more we adopt Israel’s perspective, the more we adopt its policies. The more we adopt its policies, the more we adopt its problems. The more we adopt its problems, the more we adopt its perspective. And around we go.

Of course Israel has done far more than passively serve as a model for US policy. By leading the drive toward a war on Iraq, its neocons and Israel Lobby actively grafted Israel’s foreign policy onto America. The long propaganda campaign diverted the post-9/11 rage and hysteria into a catastrophic war on an Israeli strategic rival that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 and posed no threat to American security.

On top of those killed, the Iraq War displaced millions, many of whom fled to Syria. There they joined hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who themselves, their parents, or grandparents were driven from their homes long ago by Israel directly.

Unfortunately for them, Syria is also hated by Israel. So, Israel-firsters in Washington have since helped make Syrian regime-change official US policy. In pursuit of that policy, the government has fomented and armed a rebellion that has plummeted Syria into a devastating civil war.

Actually, it would be more apt to call it an invasion than a rebellion or civil war, as the leading “rebels” are predominantly international Sunni jihadists, like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, which is a branch of Al Qaeda.

That is how completely Israel-firsterism has hijacked the post-9/11 American rampage. In the latest stage of that rampage, the US has taken the side of Al Qaeda, the perpetrators of the very attacks that triggered the rampage in the first place, in order to overthrow yet another regional rival of Israel. This goes beyond “sympathy” to enthrallment.

As a result, displaced millions are pouring out of Syria (including many originally from Iraq and Palestine). And these comprise a huge part of the refugees pouring into Europe.

Western powers have been subverting, bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim countries non-stop since 9/11 (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, et al), just as Israel has long subverted, bombed, invaded, and occupied Palestine, Lebanon, and more.

And now in Europe, governments are caging displaced Muslims and contemplating tyrannical measures to maintain “security” and “demographic purity”, just as Israel has done to the Muslims it has displaced within its own jurisdiction since its inception.

Moreover, the ultra-nationalism and Islamophobia that has afflicted Israel especially since 2009 is now on the rise throughout the West, stoked in Europe by the refugee influx and in America by the atrocity films of ISIS: that spawn of the Iraq War.

Western governments have always been imperialist, and the Israeli government has always been a colonial appendage of the West extending into the Middle East. This was true even before its founding, when its paramilitary precursor trained under the wing of the British Empire. But now the tail is wagging the dog, and the Western imperial core is being radicalized by the demands of its militant frontier outpost.

The Washington-led West is becoming ever more like an occupying Global Israel, forever paranoid, exclusivist, imperious, and warlike. And it is turning the Muslim world from Mali to Pakistan into a occupied Global Palestine, its people forever bombed, corralled, and at times driven to desperate violence.

War is remaking the world in Greater Israel’s own ugly image. It is therefore no wonder that homicidal racist colonialists like Benjamin Netanyahu and Dore Gold feel more comfortable in the brutal new world they helped create.

Links: The original version of this article, at the URL below, contains links to further information not included here.

https://medium.com/dan-sanchez/remaking-the-world-in-israel-s-image-b7cec683e2f3#.9m06ffhhb

Categories: Uncategorized

The Greatest Threat to Humanity

by Jake Anderson

Anti Media (October 13 2015)

Stephen Hawking has been outspoken in recent years about the catastrophic dangers humanity faces in the 21st century. He said we should be cautious in attempting to contact aliens, warning that advanced extraterrestrial life may not be friendly toward us and could destroy the human race. He also stated we should be cautious in creating strong artificial intelligence. The renowned physicist joined Tesla’s Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Google executive Demis Hassabis in signing a letter that warned against a military artificial intelligence arms race.

Hawking even issued a warning to the scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) about the dangers of the Higgs Boson “God Particle”, claiming it could initiate “catastrophic vacuum decay” –  a quantum bubble that expands at the speed of light and wipes out the universe.

Recently, Hawking addressed the threat he says may be more far more dangerous to the future of human civilization than robots, aliens, or quantum particles: capitalist greed. During a Reddit AMA, he argued that the future is wrought with the peril of rampant inequality expedited by an automated machine-based global economic system.

“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed”. Hawking continued,

Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

Predictably, a dramatic response thread followed. Many commenters agreed with Hawking and denounced the globalist oligarchy that is currently consolidating wealth at an unprecedented rate. Responses ranged from calls for a “bloody revolution” to references to the recent films Elysium, Wall-E, and Zeitgeist 2: Addendum. One commenter invoked the anarcho-syndicalist political views of linguist Noam Chomsky.

The main theme of the discussion centered around the automation of labor and how that would affect the human workforce and the global economy. Hawking seems to believe that our current trajectory will make such automation a death knell for the working classes, with the bourgeoisie machine owners exerting total economic control over human civilization.

One commenter strongly disagreed with Hawking, referencing recent Journal of Economic Perspective articles and claiming “technology has never, will never, and simply cannot result in structural unemployment”.

The comment thread is a treasure trove of wide-ranging ideas that include:

~ The efficacy, or lack thereof, of voting

~ A “universal basic income”

~ Microeconomics

~ Techno-socialism, with “an open source decentralized consensus algorithm for the masses”

~ A post-scarcity society run by strong artificial intelligence

_____

This article (Stephen Hawking Warns About The Greatest Threat to Humanity) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Jake Anderson and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

http://theantimedia.org/stephen-hawking-warns-about-the-greatest-threat-to-humanity/

Categories: Uncategorized

Is the US Waging Israel’s Wars?

by Linda S Heard

CounterPunch (April 25 2006)

Many throughout the Muslim world and beyond are asking this question: What are the real reasons behind the US invasion of Iraq and its wish to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran?

For all their grandiose posturing, in truth, Iraq, Syria and Iran have never posed a direct threat to the US mainland. Put simply, they’re too far away from the neighbourhood. So why would the US be willing to expend so many human lives and so much treasury on changing the regimes of countries it doesn’t like?

Theories abound. At the top of the list is America’s quest for oil, a shrinking, non-renewable resource. But, in reality, the US gets very little of its oil from the Middle East and the Gulf. Most comes from South America and Africa.

Another theory revolves around the petrodollar monopoly, which both Iraq and Iran have sought to disband by trading their oil in Euros. There may be something in this one but it doesn’t explain why Syria is in the firing line.

The US says it wishes to export ‘democracy’ to the region but its reaction towards the Shiite government in Iraq, led by the Dawa Pasrty that has close ties with Iran, and the way that the democratically-elected new Hamas-led Palestinian government has been isolated, hardly lends credence to this. Democracy will not bring US-friendly governments, which is what the Bush administration really seeks.

A premise, which many in the Arab world believe, should also be dissected. Is the US manipulating and remoulding the area so that Israel can remain the only regional superpower in perpetuity?

This is not as fanciful as one might imagine on first glance. Read the following strangely prophetic segment from an article published in 1982 by the World Zionist Organisation’s publication Kivunim and penned by Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist with links to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Yinon’s strategy was based on this premise: In order to survive Israel must become an imperial regional power and must also ensure the break-up of all Arab countries so that the region may be carved up into small ineffectual states unequipped to stand up to Israeli military might. Here’s what he had to say on Iraq:

The dissolution of Syria and Iraq into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front. Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run, it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel.

An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and Lebanon.

In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul and Shiite areas in the South will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.

Sound familiar?

Now let’s focus on the reality, 24 years on.

The eight-year long Iran-Iraq War that ended in 1988 was responsible for over a million casualties but did not result in Yinon’s desired break-up. Iraq still stood as a strong homogenous entity.

Iraq was, however, severely weakened in 1991 as a result of the Gulf War brought about by Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Still, the country remained unified.

It took the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and the subsequent occupation to destabilize Iraq and split the country on sectarian lines. Indeed, its new constitution is drawn around a loose federation with partial autonomy for the northern Kurds and the southern Shiites, and the country is now rife with sectarian, religious and ethnic strife. Some say “civil war”.

Turning to Syria, until the March 2003 invasion of Iraq Syria under President Bashar Al-Assad enjoyed reasonably good relations with the West. We should also remember that Syria fought alongside the US-led allies during the Gulf War. Syria also voted, albeit reluctantly, for the UN resolution that oiled the invasion, and was a strong partner in the so-called ‘War on Terror’.

Then, lo and behold, Syria could do no right. Suddenly, it was accused to all kinds of ‘crimes’ from hiding Iraq’s mythical weapons of mass destruction, harbouring insurgents and terrorists, and allowing the free passage of fighters and arms into Iraq.

Heavy pressure was then put on to Damascus to end its de facto occupation of Lebanon following the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and, now the Syrian government is being investigated by the UN, accused of involvement.

Today the US is actively engaged in weakening the Al-Assad government and is supporting opposition parties. If it is successful, experts predict that Syria, like Iraq, will fall victim to sectarianism and internecine conflict.

Lebanon, which had been recovering from a long civil war and an Israeli occupation, and was on the point of finding some semblance of unity, is also in danger of being destabilized with parties lining up into pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian confederations.

Yinon described the Arab-Muslim world as a temporary house of cards put together by foreigners and arbitrarily divided into states, all made up of combinations of minorities and ethnic groups which are hostile to one another.

He then goes on to bemoan Israel’s relinquishment of the Sinai to Egypt under the Camp David Peace Treaty due to that area’s reserves of oil, gas and other natural resources.

“Regaining the Sinai Peninsula is, therefore, a political priority, which is obstructed by Camp David” he writes. “And we will have to act in order to return the situation to the status quo which existed in Sinai prior to Sadat’s visit and the mistaken peace agreement signed with him in March 1979.”

Yinon then predicts that if Egypt is divided and torn apart, some other Arab countries will cease to exist in their present forms and a Christian Coptic state would be founded in Upper Egypt. Presently there are growing problems between Egypt’s Muslims and Copts, perceived by some hard line Egyptian Muslims as being more loyal to the US than their own country. This has resulted in open clashes often with resultant deaths.

Apart from Muslim-Copt divisions, Yinon was wrong in his calculations concerning Egypt. He believed Cairo would break the peace treaty with Israel giving the Israelis the opportunity to drive their tanks straight back into the Sinai and other coveted areas. However, the Egyptian government under the ever pragmatic President Hosni Mubarak has stuck to the letter of the treaty and has become an important US ally over the years.

Yinon’s solution to the ongoing Israel-Palestine problem was to herd the Palestinians across the Jordan River and label Jordan a Palestinian state.

He rejected the land for peace principle, saying,

It is not possible to go on living in this country in the present situation without separating the two nations, the Arabs to Jordan and the Jews to the areas west of the river.

Genuine co-existence and peace will reign over the land only when the Arabs understand that without Jewish rule between the Jordan and the sea they will have neither existence nor security –  a nation of their own and security will be theirs only in Jordan.

Yinon, and others of like mind must once again be disappointed. Jordan gave up any thoughts of Pan-Arabism long before the demise of King Hussein and his son King Abdullah is now America’s staunchest Arab ally in the region. With a two-thirds Palestinian majority in his country, Abdullah has chosen self-preservation by hanging on to US coattails.

The idea of packing 4.5 million Palestinians across the Jordan is no longer being openly touted, although this option was on the table in 2002 according to an article by Professor van Creveld in Britain’s Daily Telegraph.

A then Gallup poll showed that 44 per cent of Jewish Israelis favoured the expulsion of Palestinians across the River Jordan.

Professor Creveld believed Ariel Sharon favoured this plan too. Sharon was quoted in his article as emphasizing Jordan’s Palestinian majority and referring to it as the Palestinian state. “The inference that the Palestinians should go there is clear”, wrote Creveld.

If you feel the idea that the US would put itself on the line for the sake of Israel is far-fetched, then it is worth remembering the words of the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who claimed in his book that the Israeli government was, in fact, responsible for the design of American policy in the Middle East after the 1967 ‘Six Day War’.

Yinon’s essay does not focus on Iran, but let’s look at comparatively recent statements coming out of Israel on this subject.

During a visit to Washington in November 2003 two years before the US government turned its fire on Iran –  the Israeli Minister of Defence Shaul Mofaz told US officials that “under no circumstances would Israel be able to abide by nuclear weapons in Iranian possession”.

During the same month, Meir Dagan, Director of the Mossad, told a parliamentary committee that Iran posed an “existential threat” to Israel, assuring members that Israel could deal with this threat.

Last year, the rhetoric out of Israel was ratcheted up with the Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom telling the press that “the idea that this tyranny of Iran will hold a nuclear bomb is a nightmare, not only for us but also for the whole world”.

Israel’s Prime Minister designate Ehud Olmert is continuing the tradition of hyping the Iran threat, assisted, it must be said, by fiery rhetoric coming out of Tehran’s reckless leader Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

An article in the Daily Telegraph dated February 18 headed “America would back Israel attack on Iran” clearly indicates that it is Israel leading the charge against Iran.

The article quotes George W Bush as saying,

Clearly, if I was the leader of Israel and I’d listened to some of the statements by the Iranian ayatollahs that regarded the security of my country, I’d be concerned about Iran having a nuclear weapon as well. And in that Israel is our ally, and in that we’ve made a very strong commitment to support Israel, we will support Israel if her security is threatened.

A year later and the US government is no longer portraying Iran’s purported nuclear ambitions as a threat to Israel, but a threat to the United States. In this way the case against Iran and the possible repercussions emanating from that, can be sold to the American people. Suddenly Israel’s concerns have become theirs. Interestingly, more than 55 per cent of the US public say they would back strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to a recent poll.

As the columnist Doug Ireland writes in his expose “The Real AIPAC Spy Ring Story It was all about Iran”,

Bush’s slip-of-the-tongue that revealed his real intentions was front-page news in Le Monde and other European dailies but received little attention in the States-side major media.

Justin Raimondo wrote in September last year,

This case has received relatively little publicity in relation to its importance. It isn’t just the fact that, for the first time in recent memory, Israel’s powerful lobby has been humbled. What is going on here is the exposure of Israel’s underground army in the US covert legions of propagandists and outright spies, whose job it is to not only make the case for Israel but to bend American policy to suit Israel’s needs) and in the process, penetrate closely-held US secrets.

Back to the question of whether the US is, indeed, waging wars on behalf of Israel. In short, we can’t be certain and we may never know since the Bush White House has sealed its private tapes and papers for 100 years.

There is one thing that we do know. Oded Yinon’s 1982 “Zionist Plan for the Middle East” is in large part taking shape. Is this pure coincidence? Was Yinon a gifted psychic? Perhaps! Alternatively, we in the West are victims of a long-held agenda not of our making and without doubt not in our interests.

_____

Linda S Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle Eastern affairs based in Cairo. She can be reached at sierra12th@yahoo.co.uk

A version of this article first appeared in Al Shindagah magazine, a Dubai-based periodical.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/04/25/is-the-us-waging-israel-s-wars/

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