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Warmongering and Necromancy

The US State Department Dissent on Syria

by Binoy Kampmark

Dissident Voice (June 22 2016)

 

To get 51 signatures on a dissent channel message is remarkable and suggests a very broad consensus at the working level responsible for implementing policy decisions, that the current [Syria] policy is failing and is destined to keep failing.

– Robert Ford, Detroit News (June 18 2016)

 

The entire messiness of the Syrian conflict should be an object lesson repudiating all alleged moral measures that come before it. Capitals across the Middle East, Eurasia, Europe and the United States have dirtied themselves in the endeavour, claiming to be protecting civilians when they have been merely fronting for various sides in the fight.

The great prize in US and more broadly speaking Western designs on Syria, is the removal of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Assad is the convenient figure of moral outrage, skint on the issue of following international laws, but determined to hold firm before groups he regards, with very good reason, as terrorist malefactors. He knows he can rely on Moscow to beef up his efforts and bankroll the less savoury tasks of combating his enemies.

For years now, the notion of Assad being a target on the US bombing list has been very much at the fore. Then came the thundering effect of Islamic State forces and the continued role of al-Qaida elements fighting under various designations. In this scrambled mix could be added Free Syria Army forces, though that title remains a fluid, nonsensical one.

On Friday, the Obama administration was attempting to do some tidying up in the aftermath of a leaked internal memorandum cable critical of its position on Syria. In the past, this has usually involved castigating the leaker, or whistleblower, and banging the person up for a few decades. On this occasion, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal got the spoils, and no one is set for the chop.

The note, signed by 51 American diplomats and conveyed via the dissent channel, revealed how easily the non-military wing of government can become militarised. (They may have always been so.) It advocates limited airstrikes on Assad’s forces to compel observance of the February 2016 Terms for a Cessation of Hostilities.

In general terms, the officials in question believed “that the foundations are not currently in place for an enduring ceasefire and consequential negotiations”. US goals in the region would not be advanced “if we do not include the use of military force as an option to enforce the Cessation of Hostilities (“CoH”) and compel the Syrian regime to abide by its terms as well as to negotiate a political solution in good faith”.

The US State Department has not always covered itself in glory in its approach to war. When one is an arm of the imperial project, it is difficult to maintain the face of legality with that of brute force.

The dissenting memorandum is another one in this genealogical line of moral confusion, claiming that “strategic interests and moral convictions” should be asserted in targeting Assad.

The authors go so far as to claim that “the moral rationale for taking steps to end deaths and suffering in Syria, after five years of brutal war, is evident and unquestionable”. Such bible-bashing clarity neatly excludes the consequences of implementing such a moral program, one of which will be providing a helping hand to Islamist opponents.

Over Syria, policy makers have been frustrated, notably since President Barack Obama’s retreat on the issue of launching airstrikes on Assad’s forces in 2013 over the use of chemical weapons. That 51 diplomats saw fit to avail themselves of the dissent channel suggested more than a mild case of disagreement; it suggests a prevalent orthodoxy.

While the diplomats do not see merit in an invasion force, they wish for a “more military assertive US role in Syria, based on the judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hardnosed US-led diplomatic process”.

This is where the necromancy comes in. By using such strikes to press Assad, a miracle will take place, precipitating an end to civilian deaths and human rights violations and pushing disparate parties to the negotiating table. Since the days of the Vietnam War, we know what bombing parties to the diplomatic table looks like.

All the while, the focus of this strategy is meant to bolster the “moderate rebel groups’ role in defeating Da’esh, and help bring an end to the broader instability the conflict generates”. Such clarity, such cock-eyed confidence, given that a moderate, as Henry Kissinger suggested in discussing Iran’s politicians in 1987, is one who has run out of ammunition.

The note shows a continued anxiety within the US diplomatic corps that other powers continue to hold more chips than Washington. This may have its roots in some Freudian-genital complex, the inadequacy of how best to project influence and power. There is Russia, stealing one initiative after the next, attacking all groups fighting Assad. There is Assad, with his promise this month that he would take back “every inch” of Syria from forces aligned against him.

The position from the White House is one of lame duck stasis. “The president has always been clear that he doesn’t see a military solution to the crisis in Syria and that remains the case”, explained White House spokeswoman, Jen Friedman. But with Hillary Clinton in the wings, there is every bit a chance that the diplomats may get their chicken hawk way.

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Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: bkampmark@gmail.com. Read other articles by Binoy: http://dissidentvoice.org/author/binoykampmark/.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/06/warmongering-and-necromancy/

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Do We Really Want War With Russia?

by Eric Margolis

EricMargolis.com (June 25 2016)

War with Russia appears increasingly likely as the US and its Nato satraps continue their military provocations of Moscow.

As dangers mount, our foolish politicians should all be forced to read, and then re-read, Professor Christopher Clark’s magisterial book, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (2013). What is past increasingly appears prologue.

Professor Clark carefully details how small cabals of anti-German senior officials in France, Britain and Russia engineered World War One, a dire conflict that was unnecessary, idiotic, and illogical. Germany and Austria-Hungary of course share some the blame, but to a much lesser degree than the bellicose French, Serbs, Russians and British.

We are seeing the same process at work today. The war party in Washington, backed by the military-industrial complex, the tame media, and the neocons, are agitating hard for war.

US and Nato combat forces are being sent to Russia’s western borders in Ukraine, the Baltic and Black Sea. Nato is arming, financing ($40 billion so far) and supplying Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Prominent Americans are calling for the US to attack Russian forces in Syria. US warships are off Russia’s coasts in the Black Sea, Baltic and Pacific. Nato air forces are probing Russia’s western air borders.

Some of this is great power shadow boxing, trying to cow insubordinate Russia into accepting Washington’s orders. But much appears to be the work of the hard right and neocons in the US and Europe in spite of the desire of most Americans and Europeans to avoid armed conflict with Russia.

Hence the daily barrage of anti-Russian, anti-Putin invective in the US media and the European media controlled by the US. Germany’s lapdog media behaves as if the US postwar occupation is still in force – and perhaps it is. Germany has not had a truly independent foreign policy since the war.

In an amazing break with Berlin’s normally obsequious behavior, German’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, just demanded that Washington and Nato stop their ‘sabre-rattling’ against Russia. He speaks for many Germans and other Europeans who are deeply alarmed by the alliance’s provocations of Russia.

In fact, many Europeans want to see the end of Nato-imposed sanctions against Russia that were ordered by the US. No one in Europe cares about Russia’s re-occupation of Crimea. The sanctions have been a big backfire, seriously hurting EU exports to Russia at a time of marked economic weakness. Nor are any Europeans ready to fight a war, or worse, even court nuclear war, for such dark-side-of-the-moon places as eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk or Mariupol.

America’s numb-brained Republican members of Congress, who could not find Crimea on a map if their lives depended on it, may be counted on to beat the war drums to please their big donors and hard right religious donors.

The only Republican to buck this trend is Donald Trump who, for all his other foolish positions, has the clear sense to see no benefit for the US in antagonizing Russia and seeking war in Europe or the Mideast.

What the US and its sidekick Nato has done so far is to antagonize Russia and affirm its deeply held fears that the west is always an implacable enemy. But it seems very unlikely that the tough Vlad Putin and his battle-hardened nation is going to be cowed into submission by a few thousand US and Nato troops, a few frigates and some flyovers. Ever since Frederick the Great, wise European leaders have learned not to fight with Russia.

Not so President Obama’s strategic Walkures, Samantha Power, Susan Rice and, until recently, Hillary Clinton. They proved the most bungling military-strategic leadership since Madame de Pompadour was briefly given command of France’s armies by King Louis XV and proved an epic disaster.

One shudders watching Hillary Clinton aspire to be a commander-in-chief.

It’s also inevitable that land, sea and air provocations against Russia will eventually result in accidental clashes and a stern Russian response. All one needs is a Sarajevo II terror incident to spark a big shooting war between nuclear powers.

Copyright Eric S Margolis 2016

http://ericmargolis.com/2016/06/do-we-really-want-war-with-russia/

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Europeans Contest US Anti-Russian Hype

Besides the Brexit rejection of US-style neoliberal economics, some European voices are protesting, finally, the US-led, anti-Russian propaganda campaign that has justified an expensive new Cold War.

by Joe Lauria

Consortium News (June 27 2016)

A significant crack has been unexpectedly opened in the wall of Europe’s disciplined obedience to the United States. I’m not only referring to the possible long-term consequences for US-European relations in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, but the unlikely blow against Washington’s information war on Moscow delivered by Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who a week ago shockingly accused the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of “war-mongering” against Russia.

Since the Bush administration’s twisting of events in the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, which the EU blamed on Georgia, Western populations have been subjected to the steady message that Russia is a “threat” to the West and is guilty of “aggression”. This reached a peak with the false narrative of events in Ukraine, in which blatant evidence of the West’s complicity in a violent coups d’etat was omitted from corporate media accounts, while Russia’s assistance to eastern Ukrainians resisting the coup has been framed as a Russian “invasion”.

The disinformation campaign has reached the depths of popular culture, including the EuroVision song contest and sports doping scandals, to ensure widespread popular support for US hostile intentions against Russia.

The Russian “aggression” narrative, based largely on lies of omission, has prepared the way for the US to install a missile-shield in Romania with offensive capabilities and to stage significant Nato war games with 31,000 troops on Russia’s borders. For the first time in 75 years, German troops retraced the steps of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.

US Designs on Russia

The US is eyeing a post-Putin Russia in which a Wall Street-friendly leader like Boris Yeltsin can be restored to reopen the country to Western exploitation. But Vladimir Putin is no Yeltsin and has proven a tough nut for the US to crack. Washington’s modus operandi is to continually provoke and blame an opponent until it stands up for itself, as Putin’s Russia has done, then accuse it of “aggression” and attack in “self-defense”.

In this way, Washington builds popular support for its own version of events and resistance to the other side of the story. Unfortunately it is not a new trick in the US playbook.

 

 

The statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.

– Mark Twain

 

 

So suddenly, after many years of an air-tight, anti-Russia campaign believed unquestioningly by hundreds of millions of Westerners, comes Steinmeier last week blurting out the most significant truth about Russia uttered by a Western official perhaps in decades.

“What we shouldn’t do now is inflame the situation further through saber-rattling and warmongering”, Steinmeier stunningly told Bild am Sontag newspaper. “Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken”.

Instead Steinmeier called for dialogue with Moscow. “We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation”, he said, saying it would be “fatal to search only for military solutions and a policy of deterrence”.

In keeping with the US propaganda strategy, the US corporate media virtually ignored the remarks, which should have been front-page news. The New York Times did not report Steinmeier’s statement, but two days later ran a Reuter’s story only online leading with the US military’s rejection of his remarks.

Nato General: Russia is No Threat

Just a day after Steinmeier was quoted in Bild, General Petr Pavel, chairman of Nato’s military committee, dropped another bombshell. Pavel told a Brussels press conference flat out that Russia was not at a threat to the West.

“It is not the aim of Nato to create a military barrier against broad-scale Russian aggression, because such aggression is not on the agenda and no intelligence assessment suggests such a thing”, he said.

What? What happened to Russian “aggression” and the Russian “threat?” What is the meaning then of the fear of Russia pounded every day into the heads of Western citizens? Is it all a lie? Two extraordinary on-the-record admissions by two men, Steinmeier, the foreign minister of Europe’s most powerful nation, and an active Nato general in charge of the military committee, both revealing that what Western officials repeat every day is indeed a lie, a lie that may be acknowledged in private but would never before be mentioned in public.

Two years ago I was in a background briefing with a senior European ambassador at his country’s UN mission in New York and could hardly believe my ears when he said talk about Russia’s threat to Eastern Europe was “all hype” designed to give Nato “a reason to exist”. Yet this same ambassador in public Security Council meetings would viciously attack Russia.

But the hype is about more than just saving Nato. The fear campaign feeds the American and European military industries and most importantly puts pressure on the Russian government, which the US wants overthrown.

Were these remarks made out of the exasperation of knowing all along that the Russian threat is hype? Were they made out of genuine concern that things could get out of hand under reckless and delusional leaders in Washington leading to a hot war with Russia?

Neither man has been disciplined for speaking out. Does this signal a change in official German thinking? Will German businessmen who deal with Russia and have opposed sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine, which were forced on Germany by the US, be listened to?

Were Steinmeier’s remarks a one-off act of rebellion, or is Germany indeed considering defying Washington on sanctions and regime change in Moscow? Is the German government finally going to act in Germany’s own interests? Such a move would spark a European defiance of the United States not seen since the days when Charles de Gaulle pulled France out of Nato in 1966 to preserve French independence.

The last time European governments broke with Washington on a major issue was the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. Then France and Germany joined Russia on the UN Security Council in blocking the war’s authorization (although Britain supported it). But France and Germany then voted for a resolution several months later that essentially condoned the invasion.

It’s Up to the European Public

One has to ask whether a conditioned German public is ready to see through the lies about Russia. Last November, I flew from Saint Petersburg to Berlin and discussed this very question with a number of well-educated Germans.

I had visited Russia for the first time since 1995, twenty years before to the month. Those were the days of the Yeltsin-Jeffery Sachs Russia, of the unbridled neoliberal capitalism of the Wall Street-oligarch alliance that plundered the country leaving millions of Russians destitute. Outside train stations I saw homeless encampments replete with campfires. Policemen were stopping motorists for bribes. I ran from two men intent on robbing me until I lost them in a Metro station. That’s the Russia the neocons in Washington and the knaves and buccaneers on Wall Street want to see again.

The Russia I saw in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, twenty years later, was orderly and prosperous, as modern as any European city. It is a testament to Russia’s resistance to American attempts to restore its political and financial control. Russia is a capitalist country. But on its own terms. It is fully aware of American machinations to undermine it.

In Berlin I met several Germans, educated, liberal and completely aware, unlike most Americans, of how the United Sates has abused its post-World War Two power. And yet when I asked them all why there are still US military bases in Germany seventy years after the war and 25 years after the Cold War ended, and who the Americans were protecting them from, the universal answer was: Russia.

History shows European fears of Russia to be completely overblown. Germany and other Western powers have invaded Russia three times in the last two centuries: France in 1812, US, Britain and France in the 1918 Russian Civil War, and Germany again in 1941. Except for Imperial Russia’s incursion into East Prussia after war was declared on it in 1914, the reverse has never been true.

In his memoirs Harry Truman admitted that false fear of Russia was the “tragedy and shame of our time” during the Cold War that he had much to do with in part to revive the US post-war economy with military spending. George Kennan, the State Department official who advised a non-military containment of the Soviet Union, conceded as early as 1947 that Soviet moves in Eastern Europe were defensive and constituted no threat. In the 1990s, Kennan also decried Nato’s expansion towards Russia’s borders.

With its vast natural resources, Russia has been the big prize for the West for centuries, and is still today in neocon-driven Washington. But Germany, especially, has benefited from trade with Russia and has no need to join the US imperial project.

The British voters’ decision, days after Steinmeier’s extraordinary remark, could herald significant change in Europe, which may be approaching an historical junction in its relationship with the United States. Growing anti-EU sentiment has spread across the continent, including calls for similar referenda in several countries.

British voters evidently saw through the hype about the Russian “threat”, as a majority did not buy British Prime Minister David Cameron’s scare tactic ahead of the vote that Brexit would make it harder to “combat Russian aggression”.

Britain has been called Washington’s Trojan horse in the EU. The thinking is that without Britain, the EU would be freer to chart its own course. But as Alexander Mercouris explained here, Obama bypasses London to call Merkel directly with his demands. Still, removing Britain’s voice from the EU, though more crucially not from Nato, opens space for more independent voices in Europe to emerge.

“I worry that we will have less clout on our own”, former British Ambassador to the United States Peter Westmacott told The New York Times. “In the future, we won’t have as much influence on Europe’s response to Putin’s transgressions, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, or the EU’s foreign and security policy … And we will be less able to ensure it is US-friendly”.

But that could be a good thing. If German leaders conclude the United States is pushing Europe into a disastrous war with Russia, could we see a Charles de Gaulle moment in Berlin? Merkel doesn’t seem to have it in her. Three days after Steinmeier’s remarks, she told a news conference she favored increased German spending for Nato to counter Russian “threats”.

Instead it will require a revolt by an awakened citizenry against the EU and elected European governments that refuse to stand up to Washington, mostly because it benefits their own class interests, to the detriment of the majority.

The Future of the EU

European social democracy had been probably the best social and political system ever devised on earth, maybe the best that is humanly possible. Europe could have been a model for the world as a neutral power committed to social justice. As late as 1988, Jacques Delors, then president of the European Commission, promised the British Trades Union Congress that the EU would be a “social market”.

Instead the EU allowed itself to be sold out to unelected and unaccountable neoliberal technocrats now in charge in Brussels. European voters, perhaps not fully understanding the consequences, elected neoliberal national governments slavishly taking Washington’s foreign policy orders. But Brexit shows those voters are getting educated. Unity is a great ideal but EU leaders have refused to accept that it has to benefit all Europeans.

The EU’s Lisbon Treaty is the only constitution in the world that has neoliberal policies written into it. If it won’t reform – and the arrogance of the EU’s leaders tells us it won’t – it will be up to the people of Europe to diminish or dismantle the EU through additional referenda. That would give liberated European nations the chance to elect anti-neoliberal national governments, accountable to the voters, which can also chart foreign policies independent of Washington.

The danger is that the right-wing sentiment that has driven a large part of the anti-Establishment movements in Europe (and the US) may elect governments that grow even closer to Washington and impose even harsher neoliberal policies.

That is a risk that may need to be taken in the hope that the anti-Establishment left and right can coalesce around shared interests to put an end to the elitist European project.

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Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the UN since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached atjoelauria@gmail.com and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.

https://consortiumnews.com/2016/06/27/europeans-contest-us-anti-russian-hype/

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The Pentagon Plans for War on Many Fronts

Since both Russia and China possess nuclear weapons, a future war could be on a scale never before experienced.

by Rachelle Marshall

Foreign Policy in Focus (June 23 2016)

It is often said that nations typically defend themselves by preparing for the last war. That is what the Pentagon seemed to be doing a few weeks ago in the California desert near Twentynine Palms. The exercise called for one group of Marines to fire live ammunition in order to back up another group of Marines that was attempting to retake a city built to resemble the Iraqi towns of Falluja or Ramadi. When the general in charge was asked what language the participants were speaking, he said “Arabic”.

US military commanders are at the same time training troops for war with Russia or China, or in the worst case scenario, both. The Pentagon says it is preparing for “hybrid wars” that will involve armies, guerrillas, and cyber threats. A large navy will be necessary as well. According to Admiral John M Richardson, “When you look at this return of great power competition, one of the things that we have to pay more attention to, think harder about, is not only power projection, which is what we’ve been doing, but also sea control”.

What the Pentagon doesn’t say directly is that it is ready to use nuclear weapons. Unlike America’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, the next confrontation may be with what military officials call “a higher end threat”, presumably Russia and/or China. Since both possess nuclear weapons, a future war could be on a scale never before experienced.

The Pentagon is said to regard as possible triggers the unpredictable Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, and China’s assertion of sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea that are claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Taiwan. If a conflict breaks out between China and any one of those countries, America is likely to become involved.

An equally likely cause of armed confrontation, however, is Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Ukraine. Although both were once integral parts of the Soviet Union, the West viewed their takeover by Russia as unjustified aggression.

Unfortunately the days are over when Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, and Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko agreed to respect each nation’s sphere of influence. The US accepted Soviet dominance over eastern Europe, and the Soviets stayed out of the Western hemisphere.

That arrangement dissolved during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, when the Soviet economy failed, and the system itself collapsed. The US filled the resulting power vacuum by extending Nato’s reach into eastern Europe, so that today countries once in the Soviet Union’s orbit are home to American and Allied troops. Nato has plans to station four more battalions in the Baltic states and Poland, on the edge of Russia’s border. The Pentagon has already placed anti-missile weapons in several of those countries.

Not surprisingly, these actions draw protests from the Russians, who cite the 1997 Nato-Russia Founding Act under which Nato members agreed not to place troops and weapons on Russia’s borders. Nato defends its actions by saying the numbers of Nato troops and weapons in eastern Europe are too small to be in violation of the agreement.

Nato also claims the anti-missile weapons are defensive, although their major purpose is to protect the nation that deploys them from retaliation while it carries out an offensive. Children taking part in snowball fights used to hold garbage can lids in front of them while they bombarded the other side with snowballs. The lids were only technically defensive.

The risk of stationing Nato forces so close to Russia is that some accidental provocation could trigger an armed conflict. The fact that Donald Trump, who seems driven by the impulse of the moment, may be the next president means that no eventuality can be ruled out. Meanwhile, adding to the tensions are the sanctions imposed on Russia by the US and the European Union as punishment for Russia’s annexation of Crimea and backing of anti-government rebels in Ukraine.

The EU recently extended for another year the sanctions limiting Russian access to capital markets, banning Russia’s arms trade, and preventing Russia from acquiring oil industry technology. Cruise ships from Europe will not stop at Crimean ports. Russia retaliated by banning food imports from Europe, an action that mainly hurts Italy and Greece, two agricultural exporters that can least afford the loss of a major market.

Putin used a Russian economic forum in mid-June to appeal to European investors who have shown interest in expanding their businesses to Russia. “Russia doesn’t need a new Cold War”, he told them. Unfortunately that message has not reached the White House or the Pentagon, both of which are moving to revive an arms competition with Russia.

This time the risk of a confrontation will be even more deadly. An op-ed column in the New York Times on June 18 by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Ellen Tauscher, President Obama’s former arms-control chief, warned that the Air Force was developing a new cruise missile that would carry a nuclear warhead and have the ability to penetrate the most advanced air-defense system.

Called the Long-Range Standoff Weapon, “it will provide the President with uniquely flexible options in an extreme crisis”, according to the Pentagon. The $30 billion project mainly gives the president the option to launch a nuclear device with immense destructive power. Sooner or later the Russians can be expected to develop a similar weapon. When that day comes, a nuclear arms race between the US and Russia will once again become a reality.

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Rachelle Marshall is a former editor and writer and a member of Mill Valley Seniors for Peace, a Jewish Voice for Peace, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

http://fpif.org/pentagon-plans-war-many-fronts/

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What Japanese Media doesn’t want you to say!

Japan is Part of the Neo-Colonialist Clique

by Andre Vltchek

Dissident Voice (June 27 2016)

Write that ‘Japan is part of the neo-colonialist clique’, and you will never again be invited to participate in any public debate conducted by Japanese mass media outlets.

And that is exactly what I wrote several months ago, after being approached by an important publication based in Okinawa.

When my documentary film about the US bases on Okinawan territory was broadcast by the South American television network TeleSUR in both Spanish and English, there seemed to be at least some appetite to bring my opinions on the subject to the Japanese public. At one point I was asked to write a 1,200 word essay, placing Japan in the world context, whilst also addressing the grievances of Okinawa.

I did exactly that. And even as I was writing, I knew that the piece would never get used here, because Japanese publications and television stations (in the past I worked for several major media outlets here) are thoroughly servile to Western interests.  They are cowardly and toothless. But I wrote anyway for Okinawan people and to see exactly how my essay would be “killed”.

A reply arrived several months later. There were three major ‘issues’ that the editor was concerned about. Firstly, the people of Okinawa would surely not like to be considered “victims, on par with North Koreans”. Second, “was I really sure that the Japanese car manufacturers have been corrupting the Indonesian government, paying it not to build public transportation networks, so that cities could be literally flooded with cars and scooters”. Lastly, my piece was a few words over the acceptable length.

Being well versed in Japanese culture, I knew exactly what I was expected to do.

I did exactly the opposite. I insulted the editor, withdrew the piece, and submitted it to NEO. And here it is, below:

 

*****

 

If someone would bother watching the nine-hours long masterpiece of Masaki Kobayashi “The Human Condition”, he or she would have no illusions left about the Japanese position in the world.

China, Korea and other Asian nations were occupied and plundered, people massacred, tortured, experimented on, and raped.

The only thing “in defense” of Japan that could be said is that, unlike its Western allies, it experienced colonialist amok for a relatively short time, compared to the centuries and millennia-long barbarism and horror with which Europe has been brutalizing the entire Planet.

Japan was always impressed by Germany. It was inspired by Western medicine, arts and technology. Japan’s “elites” have also been deeply influenced by German perceptions of superiority and exceptionalism.

While Germany was committing its first holocausts, those in its colonies of Southwest Africa, Japan was closely watching. In what is now Namibia, the German army exterminated close to ninety percent of the Herero tribes’ people, as well as other minorities. German doctors openly experimented on the local people. Many were decapitated and their heads shipped to the University of Freiburg and to several Berlin hospitals, to prove that African people were inferior. The same doctors later taught Dr Mengele and other butchers who were conducting experiments on Jews, Roma and other “inferior races” during World War Two.

Japan, impressed by Germans more and more, was making its own plans for Asia. Some time later it began performing medical experiments on the Chinese people.

It goes without saying, although it is hardly ever pronounced in the West or in Japan itself, that Japanese imperialist slaughters in Asia were directly influenced and inspired by Western colonialism and racism.

Japan is a good student. It loves everything that comes from abroad; or more precisely, from the West. In many ways, it became almost identical to its master. So much so that during the Apartheid era in South Africa and its colonies, the Japanese people were “elevated” to the status of “honorary whites”. They were the only non-white people who were allowed to attend functions exclusively reserved for the white minority. They were welcomed to live in housing reserved for the rulers. They were finally “accepted”.

Japan fought the war alongside its fascist allies.  It committed crimes against humanity and after it lost, it immediately succumbed to the victors who were, like Germans, mainly white and of European descent.

Instead of Germans and Italians, it now looked up to the Brits, French, Australians, but above all North Americans.

Japan’s fascist industrial complex and the governance system were almost fully preserved by the victorious powers. The worst war criminals were allowed to once again manage the system. The Tokyo Trials were just a farce.

Whatever Japan does, it does well and with legendary precision. Its collaboration with the West during the Korean War was complete, and the grateful colonizers rewarded it. Unlike most of the other colonies, plundered and humiliated, Japan was elevated, allowed to become rich.

Ecstatic, the country began building its capitalist industrial might. There was absolutely no doubt where it had been standing. It joined Western imperialism, first as a junior partner, and later as an equal member of the club; it has been doing all it can to be more Western and more capitalist than its handlers, and ideologically, more dogmatic and fundamentalist.

Japan used to frustrate the progressive Indonesian, President Ahmed Sukarno, and the most influential Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir bin Mohamad (who held the post between 1981 and 2003) who often begged Japan to “return to Asia”.

Japan did not want to return anywhere. It has been cozy with what it perceived as its membership of the “elite club”. Just as it learned from the Europeans, it put its self-interests well above morality, solidarity and humanism.

Political pirouettes, Machiavellian manipulation of information related to its past and present, became almost identical to the information control and propaganda practiced in the West.

Economic terrorism suddenly had no boundaries. Just to illustrate, the Japanese car industry is directly corrupting the governments of Indonesia, demanding that no public transportation is built in the fourth most populous nation on Earth. As a result, hundreds of millions of people are being paralyzed by traffic jams, and dying from pollution-related illnesses. The infrastructure on Java Island has almost totally collapsed. But as long as people there are forced to buy Japanese cars and scooters, Japan does not even blink.

Japan has also turned itself into an “indoctrination post” for the young and ambitious students from all corners of Asia. Countless Japanese universities have been offering “scholarships”, effectively brainwashing and “neutralizing” talented men and women from poor and potentially rebellious nations. Most of them are taught “communications”, “education” and “development”; or basically, how to say nothing and how not to rebel about anything. They are being patiently instructed on how not to stand up against the Empire and savage capitalism, or more precisely, how to behave exactly how Japan does. “Join the elites, enjoy a good life and keep philosophy and morals out of this!”

Japan is hosting some of the deadliest military bases on earth – those on Okinawa Island.

During my filming there, for the South American television network TeleSUR, I saw, first hand, Japanese imperialism at work: the great Okinawan culture had been restrained, social benefits provided in exchange for obedience, and all ethical and internationalist messages related to the bases were muted.

But Okinawans know, and many are horrified by what is going on, but unable to change anything.

This is where World War Three may start! This is where the West is provoking both China (actually an old historical ally of Okinawa) and North Korea (now Okinawa’s fellow victim) from.

Years ago, I was told by a Chinese diplomat: “If the West attacks us, we will not, most likely, retaliate against Washington or London. We will retaliate against Japan, because its territory is where the attack would come from”. Most likely but paradoxically, the retaliation would be against the islands of Okinawa that is actually “hosting” the bases.

Many Okinawans understand the danger and, of course, they are totally against the war. But Tokyo ignores their demands to close down the bases. The current administration is becoming increasingly bellicose, anti-Chinese, anti-DPRK and embarrassingly pro-Western.

The Prime Minister likes to pose as a Japanese patriot. But Shinzo Abe is actually a collaborator, not a patriot. And it is not because he is a “right-winger” (Mishima, no matter how controversial his legacy is, was also a right-winger, but without any doubt a true Japanese patriot). He does not serve the interests of Japan, but those of the West, of the Empire that defeated, bombed to the ground, and occupied Japan some seventy years ago; the Empire responsible for tens of millions of lost lives, all over Asia.

The recent changes in the law allowing the deployment of Japanese troops from the “Self Defense Force” abroad, is nothing new. Japan has already been paying for several wars, producing military technology for the Empire, provoking its neighbors; it has been doing it for many years and decades.

Just as during World War Two, Japan is now once again a greatly trusted and respected member of the Fascist alliance. It is arming itself to the teeth, and it is even considering changing its peaceful constitution. The players have changed, but the essence remains the same. It just feels like Japan is harboring strong and spontaneous dispositions to always be part of Western imperialist pacts.

Of course, all is done in the name of self-defense, and with some lofty slogans like “freedom”, “democracy” and “peace” being tossed around. Impulses behind the deeds are much more sinister: racism towards all fellow Asian nations, aggressive ‘exceptionalism’ (learned and adopted from Europe and North America), as well as submissive servitude towards the West. That is the world in which we are living. To paraphrase the great Indian thinker Arundhati Roy – “now black is called white and war is called peace”. Or at least in the West and in Japan they are!

_____

First published at http://journal-neo.org/.

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker, and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest book is Exposing Lies of the Empire (2015). He also wrote, with Noam Chomsky, On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare (2014). Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through http://andrevltchek.weebly.com/ or https://twitter.com/AndreVltchek. Read other articles by Andre at http://dissidentvoice.org/author/andrevltchek/.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/06/what-japanese-media-doesnt-want-you-to-say/

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Do We Really Want a War With Russia?

Do We Really Want a War With Russia?

by Murray Dobbin

CounterPunch (June 24 2016)

No area of public policy is so shrouded in secrecy, obfuscation and outright deception than foreign policy. Most of the time it doesn’t seem to matter much to the majority of voters who have more pressing things to worry about. But when Canadians read a headline that says “Russia mobilizing for war” one would hope they would take notice. A more absurd declaration is hard to imagine but there it was – coming out of the offices of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS). It was just the latest alarmist rhetoric in a steady stream of anti-Russian propaganda that coincided with the largest military build-up (a recent Nato military exercise called Anaconda) on Russia’s borders since the German invasion of World War Two.

As with almost every aspect of foreign policy, context is everything and this particular gem only begins to make sense if you go back to a February 1990 meeting between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and the US Secretary of State, James Baker. That meeting saw a deal concluded (regrettably only with a handshake) whereby Gorbachev agreed to dismantle the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact (the Nato equivalent),  in exchange for Baker’s promise that Nato would not expand “one inch to the east”.

Nato has steadily expanded since that time, absorbing many former Soviet republics  – including Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Romania.  It is scarcely surprising that Russia would perceive this expansion as a gross violation of trust in the West and a potential military threat given that the only reason for Nato’s existence was as a bulwark against Soviet communism. By that mandate, Nato should have been disbanded in 1990.

The one important country remaining on Nato’s wish list is the Ukraine which shares a 1400 mile border with Russia. It is here that Russia drew the line. When the US-sponsored coup (aided by explicitly neo-Nazi collaborators) deposed the pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich in 2014, the Nato writing was on the wall for Vladimir Putin. The “illegal” seizure of the Crimea and the militarization of eastern Ukraine followed.

Given events since then it is likely that this was exactly what the US wanted: it needs a Russian “threat” to justify the continued existence of Nato. The US, which totally dominates Nato, has used the annexation of Crimea to promote the notion of Russian “aggression” towards its former Warsaw pact allies. Yet despite the rhetoric there is no evidence to suggest that Russia is suddenly going to invade Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia or Poland and then bear the huge burden of occupying them.

Nonetheless, Eastern European Nato members have dutifully jumped on the Russian “aggression” bandwagon. Poland is key in this dangerous charade, with its president Andrzej Duda recently visiting Ottawa and asking Prime Minister Trudeau for military support. According to the CBC,  Duda said “… it is ‘beyond any doubt’ that Russia has an ‘expansionist, imperial policy’. and he would like to see Canada increase its military personnel and equipment in Poland”.

It’s not just compliant eastern European governments that are promoting this madness. American think tank Rand Corporation helpfully suggests “… the Baltic states  –  Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania  –  could conceivably be overrun within sixty hours unless the West was willing to station several, heavily armoured brigades in the tiny nations”. Well, yes, and the US could overrun Southern Ontario in twenty-four hours. But will they? Jane’s Defence Weekly, a supposedly objective journal on global military developments recently featured the headline: “Canadian frigate encountered ‘heavy Russian presence’ in Black Sea”. Really? Russians in the Black Sea! The Black Sea has essentially been a Russian lake for centuries and that status is even enshrined in a 1936 treaty limiting the presence foreign naval ships.

A quick reality check on which country – the US  or Russia – is expansionist and imperialist seems appropriate. It is the US that has military bases in over eighty countries –  and military personnel in eighty more. The US accounts for 95 percent of all foreign bases in the world and has a quarter of a million troops stationed outside the US. Russia has eight foreign bases, all in former soviet republics with which it shares borders. And it is the US which is establishing an anti-ballistic missile system in Romania, severely destabilizing the nuclear strategic balance that has prevented a nuclear holocaust for over sixty years. The US is also moderninizing is nuclear weapons to make their use more likely. The B61-12 is a mini-bomb and according to author John Pilger, “General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, ‘Going smaller [makes using this nuclear weapon] more thinkable’ “.

That’s the context for recent developments. Earlier this month in Poland Nato launched its largest “exercise” since the end of the cold war. Dubbed “Operation Anaconda” it lasted ten days and involved over 30,000 troops (including 200 Canadians), 3,000 vehicles, 105 aircraft and twelve ships. There was nothing ambiguous about the purpose of this massive military demonstration. The President of Poland declared : “The goal of the exercise is clear. We are preparing for an attack”.  Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said nothing to contradict him.

Now the US and Nato are suddenly seeking full Canadian membership in the madness. Nato (read the US) is requesting that we join the US, Britain and Germany and commit up to 1,000 troops to a new, 4,000 troop contingent that would be permanently stationed in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. Though the number is small this permanent Nato presence in countries bordering Russia is arguably even more provocative than the recent military exercise.

Prime Minister Trudeau faces an exceptionally difficult choice between now and the Nato summit on July 8~9. But if he makes the courageous one, and sides with those calling for more dialogue and diplomacy (which is, after all, Trudeau’s stated objective with Russia) he will in the long run be on the side of the angels. Stoking Russian nationalism at a time when many Western and Eastern European countries are witnessing the rise of right-wing nationalist sentiment themselves, is a recipe for disaster.

Trudeau does seem to have one ally, but an unusual one – German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Calling for more “dialogue and cooperation” with Russia Steinmeier stated: “What we shouldn’t do now is inflame the situation further through sabre-rattling and warmongering”.

Let’s all hope Trudeau takes his advice.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/24/do-we-really-want-a-war-with-russia/

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How The Pentagon is Preparing …

… for a Tank War with Russia

by Patriuck Tucker via DefenseOne.com {1}

Zero Hedge (June 26 2016)

Reactive armor and cross-domain fire capabilities are just some of the items on the Army’s must-have list.

When Lieutenant General H R  McMaster briefs, it’s like General Patton giving a TED talk – a domineering physical presence with bristling intellectual intensity.

These days, the charismatic director of the Army’s Capabilities Integration Center is knee-deep in a project called The Russia New Generation Warfare {2} study, an analysis of how Russia is re-inventing land warfare in the mud of Eastern Ukraine. Speaking recently at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, McMaster said that the two-year-old conflict had revealed that the Russians have superior artillery firepower, better combat vehicles, and have learned sophisticated use of unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”) for tactical effect. Should US forces find themselves in a  land war with Russia, he said, they would be in for a rude, cold awakening.

“We spend a long time talking about winning long-range missile duels”, said McMaster. But long-range missiles only get you through the front door. The question then becomes what will you do when you get there.

“Look at the enemy countermeasures”, he said, noting Russia’s use of nominally semi-professional forces who are capable of “dispersion, concealment, intermingling with civilian populations … the ability to disrupt our network strike capability, precision navigation and timing capabilities”. All of that means “you’re probably going to have a close fight … Increasingly, close combat overmatch is an area we’ve neglected, because we’ve taken it for granted”.

So how do you restore overmatch? The recipe that’s emerging from the battlefield of Ukraine, says McMaster, is more artillery and better artillery, a mix of old and new.

Cross-Domain Fires

“We’re out-ranged by a lot of these systems and they employ improved conventional munitions, which we are going away from. There will be a forty to sixty percent reduction in lethality in the systems that we have”, he said. “Remember that we already have fewer artillery systems. Now those fewer artillery systems will be less effective relative to the enemy. So we need to do something on that now.”

To remedy that, McMaster is looking into a new area called “cross domain fires”, which would outfit ground units to hit a much wider array of targets. “When an Army fires unit arrives somewhere, it should be able to do surface-to-air, surface-to-surface, and shore-to-ship capabilities. We are developing that now and there are some really promising capabilities”, he said.

While the full report has not been made public, “a lot of this is available open source” said McMaster, “in the work that Phil Karber has done, for example”.

Karber, the president of the Potomac Foundation {3}, went on a fact-finding mission to Ukraine last year, and returned with the conclusion that the United States had long overemphasized precision artillery on the battlefield at the expense of mass fires. Since the 1980s, he said last October, at an Association for the United States Army event, the US has given up its qualitative edge, mostly by getting rid of cluster munitions. {4}

Munitions have advanced incredibly since then. One of the most terrifying weapons that the Russians are using on the battlefield are thermobaric warheads, weapons that are composed almost entirely of fuel and burn longer and with more intensity than other types of munitions.

“In a three-minute period … a Russian fire strike wiped out two mechanized battalions [with] a combination of top-attack munitions and thermobaric warheads”, said Karber. “If you have not experienced or seen the effects of thermobaric warheads, start taking a hard look. They might soon be coming to a theater near you.”

Karber also noted that Russian forces made heavy and integrated use of electronic warfare (“EW”). It’s used to identify fire sources and command posts and to shut down voice and data communications. In the northern section, he said, “every single tactical radio [the Ukrainian forces] had was taken out by heavy Russian sector-wide EW”. Other EW efforts had taken down Ukrainian quadcopters. Another system was being used to mess with the electrical fuses on Ukrainian artillery shells, “so when they hit, they’re duds”, he said.

Karber also said the pro-Russian troops in Donbas were using an overlapping mobile radar as well as a new man-portable air defense that’s “integrated into their network and can’t be spoofed by {infrared] decoys” or flares.

Combat Vehicles and Defenses

The problems aren’t just with rockets and shells, McMaster said. Even American combat vehicles have lost their edge.

“The Bradley [Fighting Vehicle] is great”, he said, but “what we see now is that our enemies have caught up to us. They’ve invested in combat vehicles. They’ve invested in advanced protective systems and active protective systems. We’ve got to get back ahead on combat vehicle development.”

If the war in Eastern Ukraine were a real-world test, the Russian T-90 tank passed with flying colors. The tank had seen action in Dagestan {5} and Syria, but has been particularly decisive in Ukraine. The Ukrainians, Karber said, “have not been able to record one single kill on a T-90. They have the new French optics on them. The Russians actually designed them to take advantage of low light, foggy, winter conditions.”

What makes the T-90 so tough? For starters, explosive reactive armor. When you fire a missile at the tank, its skin of metal plates and explosives reacts. The explosive charge clamps the plates together so the rocket can’t pierce the hull.

But that’s only if the missile gets close enough. The latest thing in vehicle defense is active protection systems, or APS, which automatically spot incoming shells and target them with electronic jammers or just shoot them down. “It might use electronics to ‘confuse’ an incoming round, or it might use mass (outgoing bullets, rockets) to destroy the incoming round before it gets too close”, Army director for basic research Jeff Singleton told Defense One in an email.

The T-90’s active protective system is the Shtora-1 countermeasures suite. “I’ve interviewed Ukrainian tank gunners”, said Karber. “They’ll say ‘I had my [anti-tank weapon] right on it, it got right up to it and then they had this miraculous shield. An invisible shield. Suddenly, my anti-tank missile just went up to the sky.'”

The Pentagon is well behind some other militaries on this research. Israeli forces declared its Trophy APS operational in 2009, integrated it onto tanks since 2010, and has been using it to protect Israeli tank soldiers {6} from Hamas rockets ever since.

Singleton said the United States is looking to give its Abrams tank the Trophy, which uses buckshot-like guns to down incoming fire without harming nearby troops.

The Army is also experimenting with the Israeli-made Iron Curtain APS for the Stryker, which works similarly, and one for the Bradley that has yet to be named. Raytheon has a system called the Quick Kill that uses a scanned array radar and a small missile to shoot down incoming projectiles.

Anti-Drone Defenses

One of the defining features {7} of the war in Eastern Ukraine is the use of drones by both sides, not to target high-value terrorists but to direct fire in the same way forces used the first combat aircraft in World War One.

The past has a funny way of re-inventing itself, says McMaster.

“I never had to look up in my whole career and say, ‘Is it friendly or enemy?’ because of the US Air Force. We have to do that now”, said McMaster. “Our Air Force gave us an unprecedented period of air supremacy … that changed the dynamics of ground combat. Now, you can’t bank on that.”

Pro-Russian forces use as many as sixteen types of UAVs for targeting.

Russian forces are known to have “a 90-kilometer [Multiple Launch Rocket System {8}] round, that goes out, parachute comes up, a UAV pops out, wings unfold, and they fly it around, it can strike a mobile target” said Karber, who said he wasn’t sure it had yet been used in Ukraine.

Karber’s track record for accuracy is less than perfect, as writer Jeffrey Lewis has pointed out {9} in Foreign Policy. At various points, he has inflated estimates of China’s nuclear arsenal from some 300 weapons (based on declassified estimates) to 3,000 squirreled away in mysterious tunnels, a claim that many were able to quickly debunk. In 2014, he helped pass photos to Senator James Inhofe of the Senate Armed Services Committee that purported to be recent images of Russian forces inside Ukraine. It turned out they were AP photographs from 2008.

“In the haste of running for the airport and trying to respond to a last-minute request with short time fuse”, Karber said by way of explanation, “I made the mistake of believing we were talking about the same photos … and it never occurred to me that the three photos of Russian armor were part of that package or being considered”.

No Foolproof Technological Solution

All of these technologies could shape the future battlefield, but none of them are silver bullets, nor do they, in McMaster’s view, offset the importance of human beings in gaining territory, holding territory, and changing facts on the ground to align with mission objectives.

As the current debate about the authorization for the use of force in Iraq shows, the commitment of large numbers of US ground troops to conflict has become a political nonstarter for both parties. In lieu of a political willingness to put troops in the fight, multi-sectarian, multi-ethnic forces will take the lead, just as they are doing now in Iraq and Syria.

“What’s necessary is political accommodation, is what needs to happen, if we don’t conduct operations and plan campaigns in a way that gets to the political accommodation”, he said. “The most important activity will be to broker political ceasefires and understandings”

Sometimes that happens at the end of a tank gun …

Links:

{1} http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/05/how-pentagon-preparing-tank-war-russia/128460/?oref=DefenseOneTCO

{2} http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/04/moscow-pentagon-us-secret-study-213811?o=1

{3} http://www.thepotomacfoundation.org/

{4} http://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/fascam.htm

{5} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Dagestan

{6} http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/idf-armor-defense-system-foils-attack-on-tank-for-first-time-1.346526

{7} http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2015/03/ukraine-tomorrows-drone-war-alive-today/107085/?oref=search_Drone%20war%20of%20tomorrow

{8} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiple_Launch_Rocket_System

{9} http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/19/say-it-aint-so-phil-ukraine-russia-open-source-analysis/

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-26/how-pentagon-preparing-tank-war-russia

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