Washington and Ankara are Parting Ways with One Another

by Grete Mautner

New Eastern Outlook (March 24 2019)

These days one can come across all sorts of articles trying to predict the direction US-Turkish relations take, as we witness a major shift on the geopolitical stage and both of these states play no small part in it. As it’s been noted by American analysts, unlike in previous eras, Washington and Ankara no longer share overarching threats or interests that bind them together, while their bilateral ties are riddled with distrust.

Although relations between Turkey and the United States have always been strained, they were still sustained under the pretext of a threat the USSR allegedly presented to both states. Therefore, disputes and other differences would typically be ignored. However, since the 1950s each successive US president has devoted his time to publicly recognizing Turkey as playing a pivotal role In Washington’s designs. Then in the 1990s, US officials and analysts would claim that Turkey was poised to lead the economic and democratic development of Central Asia while influencing Russia in a way favorable to the US. Moreover, back then the rapidly developing ties between Turkey and Israel resulted in Washington believing Washington, Tel-Aviv, and Ankara would become natural partners in ensuring Western dominance across the Middle-East.

Throughout the Cold War, the nature of Turkish-American security cooperation played an important role in containing the USSR, this fact resulted in mutually irritating incidents being ignored by both sides. However, today, almost three decades after the end of the Cold War, Turkey and the United States have found themselves on opposite sides of the political spectrum on many major international issues.

Over this period of time, the world has undergone drastic changes, and one would be a fool to ignore that fact. Even though some of the difficulties Washington faces in managing bilateral relations with Turkey can be attributed to Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP party, still most difficulties have politically natural causes. After all, even those Turkish politicians who are in opposition to Tayyip Erdogan still support the government of Bashar Assad, on top of being outright hostile to Kurdish nationalism and the figure of the runaway radical cleric Fethullah Gulen, who found refuge in the United States.

Moreover, Tayyip Erdogan would openly demonstrate Ankara’s negative attitude towards Washington’s desperate attempt to cling to its hegemony aspirations, as Turks support the notion of redrawing the global political landscape to make it truly multipolar. On top of that, there’s a long list of unresolved contradictions that have accumulated between Turkey and the US over the years. Specifically, Washington has taken a harsh stance on Ankara’s intention of acquiring Russia’s state-of-the-art S-400 air defense systems, while Ankara is targeting Washington’s Kurdish allies in Syria, as those represent a major threat to Turkey’s territorial integrity. In addition, Ankara makes attempts to help Iran bypass Western sanctions while becoming increasingly repressive in its domestic policies. Those steps are guided by fears that pro-Western Kurdish militant formations in Syria may eventually try to demand the formation of a separate Kurdish state, which would be a nightmarish scenario for Turkey, as it will lose a chunk of its territory in the process. However, Washington is all too willing to ignore such fears, as there’s a strengthening conviction that Ankara is happy to ignore Washington’s strategic goals of containing Russia and China in the Middle East and Central Asia.

It’s likely that the list of mutual contradictions and grievances between the two is going to multiply, making reaching a mutual understanding even harder. Due to numerous complications in its dealings with the United States, Ankara may try to seek new geopolitical avenues by seeking closer ties with Moscow and Tehran, while also trying to improve its standing with the EU.

These difficult times in American-Turkish relations leave little place for optimism in public statements made by the representatives of both states. It’s true there is no shortage of bilateral contacts, but the United States and Turkey are actively working on advancing their own agendas while ignoring the grievances of the other side. There have been reports about phone conversations between Donald Trump and Tayyip Erdogan, negotiations between representatives of the Pentagon and Turkey’s defense ministry, but still no progress in resolving the above-mentioned issues can be seen.

The main talking point for Ankara these days is the ongoing intrigue around the so-called “security zone” in northern Syria. Turkish propaganda sources have kicked off efforts to promote this topic. Following the media, official government bodies are also hard at work creating slogans out of the speeches of Tayyip Erdogan, stressing that: “It’s impossible to act in Syria without Turkey”, “The United States must create a security zone together with Turkey”, “Only Turkey should control the security zone”, et cetera. Considerable effort has been wasted on the promotion of all these points, they are being repeatedly stressed by both the representatives of the Turkish elite and local political scientists. At the same time, Turkish media sources would underline the unacceptability of anyone else deploying its forces in the “security zones”, except for Turkey. Moreover, they would also insist that: “The US cannot lose Turkey, which has been a faithful ally for seventy years”.

In the comments of Turkish officials, sometimes there are signs of real annoyance over the fact that Washington wouldn’t share with Ankara in its troop withdrawal in Syria. As can be understood, the uncertainty of the American position holds back Ankara from drawing its own plans in the region. There is a clear desire to somehow “push” Washington into some sort of action, that’s how Erdogan’s repeated statements can be interpreted, as he implies that if Washington cannot decide what to do, then Turkey will act on its own in the regions east of the Euphrates.

On the issue of purchasing Russian S-400s, Turkey refused the deal recently proposed by Washington to supply American Patriot air defence systems at the end of 2019 in exchange for burying the contract with Moscow. No matter how the US tries to sweeten the deal, Turkey is well aware of the fact that the Patriot is inferior in almost every aspect to Russia’s S-400. And there should be no surprise over this fact, as even Foreign Policy would go on about the inefficiency of American anti-aircraft systems. It’s precisely this reason that the United States has tried to adopt the Israeli Iron Dome for its own defence needs while advertising its own outdated hardware to its “faithful allies”.

On Capitol Hill, the overall attitude towards Turkey is also getting increasingly tough. Congressmen are beginning to doubt whether “Turkey is worthy of Nato membership”, as Russian-Turkish military cooperation is interpreted as a “threat” to the security of the alliance. There are plans of imposing sanctions on Ankara under CAATSA while maintaining the moratorium on the delivery of F-35 Lighting aircraft.

As a result, the current political elite in Washington lead US policy toward the idea that in the future, American decisions should be guided by the fact that Turkey is not a friend of the United States, although it is not yet an enemy. Washington will still work with Ankara when it is able to reap benefits from this cooperation, but it will be equally happy to play against it.

However, whether the US will benefit from such a position or whether it will cause even more damage to Washington or not – only time can tell.


Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.


Washington is Determined to Sucker Punch China into Submission

by Jean Perier

New Eastern Outlook (March 25 2019)

No matter what Western media source you would choose to read, you are compelled to come across the rhetorics about the persistent “Chinese aggression”, the notion that has already become the dominant narrative in the US. In fact, American Sinophobes claim that China doesn’t simply pose a military threat to the US, they argue that it represents an existential threat to the American way of life.

However, one is compelled to recognize that ever since World War Two Beijing has been adhering to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, while Washington’s track record is riddled with instances of meddling in other nations’ internal affairs.

Is it of any wonder then that the most commonly discussed topic in the mainstream media (MSM) these days is an all-out opposition that Washington is planning to mount against China. Against this background, it’s only logical that Stratfor would argue that the global competition between the US and China will become the defining feature of modern geopolitics since those developing countries are about to find themselves hard-pressed between the two. Therefore, trade wars, cyber attacks, and military races are not just here to stay, they are a form of today’s geopolitical reality, which transforms the international arena into a rather uncomfortable place to be in.

That is precisely why American intelligence agencies would look fairly concerned by the rapid pace that China managed to maintain in developing its defence capabilities, as it’s clear that in the foreseeable future Beijing will be capable to deploy cutting-edge military technologies in massive numbers due to its unparalleled production capabilities. This state, that is for some vague reason is still being described as the second economy in the world, has managed to outpace Washington in military capabilities due to its devotion to keeping all of its production at home.

It’s curious that China doesn’t try to create a larger military that the US has, instead it puts an emphasis on keeping its servicemen well-equipped and well-trained. Those are the conclusions that the Defense intelligence agency of the United States (DIA) made after analyzing an extensive amount of data. Those conclusions can be found in a report titled “China Military Power: Modernizing a Force to Fight and Win”.

In a bid to provide an answer to the question “What are Beijing’s strategic intentions?” DIA comes to a number of conclusions that can be described as both shocking and alarming for Western propagandists. In particular, this report states that as a result of “acquiring technology by any means available”, especially in the areas of naval and missile systems, China’s defense tech is not only at the cutting edge but “in some areas, it already leads the world”.

As it’s been announced in the annual posture statement delivered by the US admiral Philip Davidson, China is “eroding” the United States’ “relative competitive military advantage” in the Indo-Pacific region. This statement came as a part of the comprehensive report on Washington’s plans and intentions in the region and was presented to the Senate armed services committee in the form of written testimony.

In turn, US deputy secretary of defense Patrick Shanahan revealed that among the top priorities of the Pentagon the goal of containing China ranks first while adding that he would focus on implementing the National Defense Strategy drafted by former defense secretary Jim Mattis and approved by Donald Trump.

Is it any wonder that under those circumstances, as it’s been reported by The Washington Times, US special ops turn their focus from the so-called War on terror to China. It’s been revealed that special operations fighters will be taking a larger role in cyber-warfare, information, and “influence” – digital age propaganda – operations, sources say, as well as training allies in the new skills. It’s been added that in a major shift of mission, officials at US Special operations command are drafting new guidance to reorient its cadre of top-tier military units to fight the expanding armies and navies of what US strategists call “near-peer” powers.

Further still, it’s been revealed by the chief of staff of the US Air Force, general David Goldfine that Washington is developing a new strategy for waging war against China, the essence of which is “hidden invasion” deep into enemy territory and attacking its weak points. During his speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington, the official confined to the general public that the cost of creating a strategy could reach 135 billion dollars. As it’s been explained by German sources, this new strategy will be reminiscent of the Trojan horse tactic, when under some peaceful pretext Washington would try to locate and attack the weak points of its adversaries, instead of trying to play against its strengths.

In the fourth iteration of the National Intelligence Strategy, released by the office of the Director of National Intelligence, Beijing is described as the enemy of the United States, the fact that sparked a lot of discontent in China. In this document, China is expected to continue to modernize its military and pursue “economic and territorial predominance in the Pacific region and beyond”. However, it’s been pointed out by a former senior Nato official and the sitting president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Ivo Daalder, that Washington has lost its primacy in the world of geopolitics and there’s no easy way to reconquer it back.

With all of the above-mentioned facts taken into consideration, it’s safe to say that the hybrid war that Washington has been waging against China for quite some time will intensify in the foreseeable future. Each consecutive incident in the Asia-Pacific region is going to be even more widely discussed with both Beijing and Washington taking even harsher stances on each of them, which means that the two leading geopolitical players are going to edge towards a brink of mutual nuclear annihilation, a price that humanity just can’t pay for one’s inflated geopolitical ambitions.


Jean Perier is an independent researcher and analyst and a renowned expert on the Near and Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.


Now for Confrontation in Space

by Brian Cloughley

Strategic Culture Foundation (March 25 2019)

There was much international news in mid-March, although little of it was encouraging for those who prefer peace to war, handshakes to sabre-rattling, and cooperation to confrontation.

But there was one item of good cheer which showed that friendly cooperation between the US and Russia continues, albeit unobtrusively. It concerned the International Space Station, about which it was reported on March 15 that



A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch along with Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as planned from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan … Their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft reached a designated orbit about nine minutes after the launch, and the crew reported they were feeling fine and all systems on board were operating normally.


Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International Space Station about 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean.

The mission was successful, technically and professionally, but did not in any way diminish Washington’s anti-Russian bias or its determination to militarize space.

A forecast for the second quarter of 2019 by the analytical think-tank STRATFOR reflects the Washington Establishment’s line that “Military competition between the United States and Russia will prevail …” but does not record that the military budget of the United States is vastly more than that of Russia, or that, as headlined in the 2018 Report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, world defence expenditure “falls sharply in Russia, but rises in Central and Western Europe”. As is well-known, the US will spend 716 billion dollars on its military in 2019, but what is not publicised by the Western media is that Russia’s 2019 outlay is 45 billion dollars.

The word “competition” (“the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others”) is hardly appropriate when the figures involved are 716 compared to 45 whether these be dollars or coconuts, but the competition myth continues, supported energetically by Washington’s military-industrial complex – and especially by the generals, spurred on by the lure of lucrative post-retirement jobs with manufacturers of military systems. Stars and Stripes records that



major US defense contractors have hired hundreds of former high-level government officials in recent years, including at least fifty since Trump became president. The report lends new visibility to long-standing concerns about a revolving door between the government agencies that award massive contracts for military supplies and services and the businesses that profit from those contracts.


Which leads us to General “Fighting Joe” Dunford, who at his Senate hearing for appointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said “my assessment today, Senator, is that Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security”. In October 2018 he reiterated that “the Russian challenge is not isolated to the plains of Europe. It is a global one” requiring the armed forces of the United States “to be able to project power to an area … and then once we’re there we’ve got to be able to freely manoeuvre across all domains … sea, air, land, space, and cyberspace”.

Naturally he didn’t mention that at the very time he uttered his confrontational challenges there was close cooperation in air, land, and space between the US and Russia whose astronauts were “able to freely manoeuvre” in harmony, adding to world knowledge and engendering trust by jointly conducting research projects in the International Space Station.

This is in accord with the United Nations “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space”, otherwise known as the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which, among other things “establishes basic principles related to the peaceful use of outer space. This includes that the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries …”

It is the wish of the world – or most of the world – that space should be forever free of weapons. The Treaty lays down that



States Parties to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner.


But although the United States signed and ratified the Space Treaty in 1967, it strongly objected to later attempts to refine it. In February 2008 The New York Times reported that



The Russian foreign minister, Sergey V Lavrov, presented a Russian-Chinese draft treaty banning weapons in space to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, an idea that was quickly rejected by the United States.


It is difficult to imagine why there could be any objection to a treaty aimed at “prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space”, but the White House responded that it opposes any treaty that seeks “to prohibit or limit access to or use of space”. Indeed the White House said that such a treaty would be impossible to enforce because “any object orbiting or transiting through space can be a weapon if that object is intentionally placed onto a collision course with another space object. This makes treaty verification impossible.” The US continues to be resistant to any treaty forbidding deployment of weapons in space.

It was therefore unsurprising when Trump put forward his plan for militarising space in March last year, and in August tweeted “Space Force All the Way!” Then he declared on February 19 that “we’re investing in new space capabilities to project military power and safeguard our nation’s interests, especially when it comes to safety and defense” and signed a directive ordering the Pentagon to create a Space Force as the sixth branch of the military.

The result of his brainwave is that the US is going to “project military power” in space, which is directly contrary to “the basic principles related to the peaceful use of outer space” noted in the Outer Space Treaty.

The US refuses to move onwards from the original treaty, and on March 20 Newsweek summed up Washington’s policy by noting that “the United States has blamed Russia and China for militarizing space while refusing to sign their joint proposal against placing weapons there”.

On February 19, while preparations were in full swing for launch of the joint Russia-US mission to the International Space Station three weeks later, the White House announced that “President Donald J Trump’s Space Policy Directive-4 is a bold, strategic step toward guaranteeing American space dominance” by “establishing the United States Space Force which among other tasks will “organize, train and equip our space warfighters with next-generation capabilities”.

In the words of the US Administration, “space is now a warfighting domain just like the air, land, and sea” so it’s goodbye to a future of harmonious exploration and scientific research in the regions beyond our globe. It had been hoped that the Treaty would go far to assist in “maintaining international peace and security and promoting international co-operation and understanding” but Washington has no intention of agreeing to any international law that would prohibit extra-terrestrial weaponisation, and Trump’s Space Directive has now set the seal on Washington’s preparedness to confront in space as well as by land and sea and in the air. Stand by for Space War.


Republishing is welcomed with reference to Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal http://www.strategic-culture.org.


Empire of Chaos in Hybrid War Overdrive

The Trump administration’s foreign policy may be easily deconstructed as a crossover between The Sopranos and late-night comedy.

by Pepe Escobar in Bangkok

Special to Consortium News (March 24 2019)

Is this the Age of Anxiety? The Age of Stupidity? The Age of Hybrid War? Or all of the above?

As right populism learns to use algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI) and media convergence, the Empire of Chaos, in parallel, is unleashing all-out hybrid and semiotic war.

Dick Cheney’s Global War on Terror (GWOT) is back, metastasized as a hybrid mongrel.

But GWOT would not be GWOT without a Wild West scarecrow. Enter Hamza bin Laden, son of Osama. On the same day the State Department announced a $1 million bounty on his head, the so-called “UN Security Council IS and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee” declared Hamza the next al-Qaeda leader.

Since January 2017, Hamza has been a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the State Department – on par with his deceased Dad, back in the early 2000s. The Beltway intel community “believes” Hamza resides “in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region”.

Remember these are the same people who “believed” former Taliban leader Mullah Omar resided in Quetta, Baluchistan, when in fact he was safely ensconced only a few miles away from a massive US military base in Zabul, Afghanistan.

Considering that Jabhat al-Nusra, or al-Qaeda in Syria, for all practical purposes, was defined as no more than “moderate rebels” by the Beltway intel community, it’s safe to infer that new scarecrow Hamza is also a “moderate”. And yet he’s more dangerous than vanished fake Caliph Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi. Talk about a masterful example of culture jamming.

Show Me the Big Picture

A hefty case can be made that the Empire of Chaos currently has no allies; it’s essentially surrounded by an assortment of vassals, puppets, and comprador fifth columnist elites professing varied degrees of – sometimes reluctant – obedience.

The Trump administration’s foreign policy may be easily deconstructed as a crossover between The Sopranos (1999~2007) and late-night comedy – as in the whole episode of designating State Department/CIA regime change, lab experiment Random Dude as President of Venezuela. Legendary cultural critic Walter Benjamin would have called it “the aestheticization of politics”, (turning politics into art), as he did about the Nazis, but this time it’s the Looney Tunes version.

To add to the conceptual confusion, despite countless “an offer you can’t refuse” antics unleashed by psychopaths of the John Bolton and Mike Pompeo variety, there’s this startling nugget. Former Iranian diplomat Amir Moussavi has revealed that Trump himself demanded to visit Tehran, and was duly rebuffed. “Two European states, two Arab countries, and one Southeast Asian state” were mediating a series of messages relayed by Trump and his son-in-law Jared “of Arabia” Kushner, according to Moussavi.

Is there a method to this madness? An attempt at a Grand Narrative would go something like this: ISIS/Daesh may have been sidelined – for now; they are not useful anymore, so the US must fight the larger “evil”: Tehran. GWOT has been revived, and though Hamza bin Laden has been designated the new Caliph, GWOT has shifted to Iran.

When we mix this with the recent India-Pakistan scuffle, a wider message emerges. There was absolutely no interest by Prime Minister Imran Kahn, the Pakistani Army, and the Pakistani intelligence, ISI, to launch an attack on India in Kashmir. Pakistan was about to run out of money and about to be bolstered by the US, via Saudi Arabia with $20 billion and an IMF loan.

At the same time, there were two almost simultaneous terrorist attacks launched from Pakistan – against Iran and against India in mid-February. There’s no smoking gun yet, but these attacks may have been manipulated by a foreign intelligence agency. The Cui Bono riddle is which state would profit immensely from a war between Pakistan and Iran and/or a war between Pakistan and India.

The bottom line: hiding in the shadow of plausible deniability – according to which what we understand as reality is nothing but pure perception – the Empire of Chaos will resort to the chaos of no-holds-barred hybrid war to avoid “losing” the Eurasian heartland.

Show Me How Many Hybrid Plans You Got

What applies to the heartland of course also applies to the backyard.

The case of Venezuela shows that the “all options on the table” scenario has been de facto aborted by Russia, outlined in an astonishing briefing by Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, and then subsequently detailed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Lavrov. (Wikimedia Commons)

Meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at a crucial RIC (part of BRICS) summit in China, Lavrov said,



Russia keeps a close eye on brazen US attempts to create an artificial pretext for a military intervention in Venezuela … The actual implementation of these threats is pulling in military equipment and training [US] Special Forces.


Lavrov explained how Washington was engaged in acquiring mortars and portable air defense systems “in an East European country, and mov(ing) them closer to Venezuela by an airline of a regime that is … rather absolutely obedient to Washington in the post-Soviet space”.

The US attempt at regime change in Venezuela has been so far unsuccessful in several ways. Plan A – a classic color revolution – has miserably failed, in part because of a lack of decent local intelligence. Plan B was a soft version of humanitarian imperialism, with a resuscitation of the nefarious, Libya-tested responsibility to protect (R2P); it also failed, especially when the American tale that the Venezuelan government burnt humanitarian aid trucks at the border with Colombia was a lie, exposed by The New York Times, no less.

Plan C was a classic Hybrid War technique: a cyber attack, replete with a revival of Nitro Zeus, which shut down eighty percent of Venezuela’s electricity.

That plan had already been exposed by WikiLeaks, via a 2010 memo by a US-funded, Belgrade-based color revolution scam that helped train self-proclaimed “President” Random Dude, when he was just known as Juan Guaido. The leaked memo said that attacking the Venezuelan power grid would be a “watershed event” that “would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate.

But even that was not enough.

That leaves Plan D – which is essentially to try to starve the Venezuelan population to death via viciously lethal additional sanctions. Sanctioned Syria and sanctioned Iran didn’t collapse. Even boasting myriad comprador elites aggregated in the Lima group, exceptionalists may have to come to grips with the fact that deploying the Monroe doctrine essentially to contain China’s influence in the young 21st century is no “cakewalk.”

Plan E – for extreme – would be US military action, which Bolton won’t take off the table.

Show Me the Way to the Next War Game

So where do all these myriad weaponizations of chaos theory leave us? Nowhere, if they don’t follow the money. Local comprador elites must be lavishly rewarded, otherwise you’re stuck in hybrid swamp territory. That was the case in Brazil – and that’s why the most sophisticated hybrid war case history so far has been a success.

In 2013, Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks revealed how the NSA was spying on Brazilian energy giant Petrobras and the Dilma Rousseff government beginning in 2010. Afterward, a complex, rolling judicial-business-political-financial-media coup ended up reaching its two main objectives; in 2016, with the impeachment of Rousseff, and in 2018, with Lula thrown in jail.

Now comes arguably the juiciest piece of the puzzle. Petrobras was supposed to pay $853 million to the US Department of Justice for not going to trial for crimes it was being accused of in America. But then a dodgy deal was struck according to which the fine will be transferred to a Brazilian fund as long as Petrobras commits to relay confidential information about its businesses to the United States government.

Mattis: Wrote on hybrid war in 2005.

Hybrid war against BRICS member Brazil worked like a charm, but trying it against nuclear superpower Russia is a completely different ball game. US analysts, in another case of culture jamming, even accuse Russia itself of deploying hybrid war – a concept actually invented in the US within a counter-terrorism context; applied during the occupation of Iraq and later metastasized across the color revolution spectrum; and featuring, among others, in an article co-authored by former Pentagon head James “Mad Dog” Mattis in 2005 when he was a mere lieutenant general.

At a recent conference about Russia’s military strategy, Chief of General Staff General Valery Gerasimov stressed that the Russian armed forces must increase both their “classic” and “asymmetrical” potential. In the US this is interpreted as subversion/propaganda hybrid war techniques as applied in Ukraine and in the largely debunked Russia-gate. Instead, Russian strategists refer to these techniques as “complex approach” and “new generation war”.

Santa Monica’s RAND Corporation still sticks to good ol’ hot war scenarios. They have been holding “Red on Blue” war games simulations since 1952 – modeling how the proverbial “existential threats” could use asymmetric strategies. The latest Red on Blue was not exactly swell. RAND analyst David Ochmanek famously said that with Blue representing the current US military potential and Red representing Russia-China in a conventional war, “Blue gets its ass handed to it”.

None of this will convince Empire of Chaos functionary General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who recently told a Senate Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon will continue to refuse a “no first use” nuclear strategy. Aspiring Dr Strangeloves actually believe the US can start a nuclear war and get away with it.

Talk about the Age of Hybrid Stupidity going out with a bang.


Pepe Escobar, a veteran Brazilian journalist, is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times. His latest book is 2030 (2015). Follow him on Facebook.


Boeing Values Profits Over Lives – by Design

by Sonali Kolhatkar

https://www.truthdig.com (March 22 2019)

An Ethiopian woman grieves March 14 at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crash that occurred four days earlier. (Mulugeta Ayene / AP)

The fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft on March 10 shows us in stark terms just how deadly unfettered capitalism is. Boeing has pushed the legal limits of how far a corporation can manipulate a system to maximize its profits, even if it means risking lives.

Just a few months ago, another fatal airline crash of the same type of Boeing aircraft, operated by Lion Air, resulted in 189 lives lost. The New York Times reported that what the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air flights had in common was that both doomed planes lacked safety features linked to why the pilots were unable to recover from erratic dips after takeoff. Those safety features, rather than being built into the standard models, cost extra. Imagine being told that your car’s seat belts were an optional feature that costs more and then finding out in a deadly crash just how important those belts are.

One expert explained that the optional features are “critical, and cost almost nothing for the airlines to install”, and that “Boeing charges for them because it can. But they’re vital for safety.” Perhaps the airlines purchasing the Max 8 aircraft from Boeing didn’t realize the safety features would make the difference between life and mass death. Perhaps, like Boeing, they were trying to cut costs and maximize profits – no matter the consequences.

The other aspect of this tragic story is how Boeing has essentially been regulating itself. In a March 13 New York Times op-ed, James E Hall, who served as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board from 1994 to 2001, blasted the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2005 decision to turn over regulation of passenger aircraft to aircraft manufacturers. “Rather than naming and supervising its own ‘designated airworthiness representatives’ the agency decided to allow Boeing and other manufacturers who qualified under the revised procedures to select their own employees to certify the safety of their aircraft”, Hall wrote. He explained that the FAA’s rationale was that “It would save the aviation industry about $25 billion from 2006 to 2015”. Hall noted, “This is a worrying move toward industry self-certification”.

The deadly crashes and revelations about self-regulation come while Boeing has infiltrated the top echelons of government, with acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan having spent more than thirty years at the corporation. According to The Los Angeles Times, Shanahan worked “as general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems and of Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, which made the Apache, Chinook, and Osprey military aircraft”. In other words, he oversaw those parts of the company that had the greatest ties to government contracts for military hardware.

Now, just months into the job, Shanahan is facing accusations of improperly promoting his former employer to its biggest customer. According to a complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to the Office of Inspector General, “Shanahan appears to have violated ethics rules by promoting Boeing in the scope of his official duties at the Department of Defense (DoD) and disparaging the company’s competitors to his subordinates”.

The company has long been a player in Washington politics, heavily lobbying lawmakers for lucrative government contracts to buy expensive military hardware. Last year Boeing spent more than $15 million on its lobbying efforts and, according to The Hill, has “31 in-house lobbyists and sixteen lobbying firms on retainer”. It has spent millions on political campaigns for lawmakers from both parties, ensuring bipartisan allegiance.

To summarize, Boeing has managed to take inordinate advantage of a system that is already rigged to benefit corporations. Boeing has a lengthy and impressive rap sheet, which has seemingly not gotten in the way of the government’s preferential treatment toward it. But the recent airline crashes have finally made apparent how the company’s drive for profits places the worth of human life somewhere below the size of its corporate dividends.

This drive is baked into our current form of capitalism. The only instances in which corporations respect human life are when they are forced to do so by strong government regulations and legislation. Fines are not enough; many corporations have simply accounted for them as the cost of doing business and as an overhead that ought to be minimized.

If you apply Boeing’s logic to nearly any other major industry in the US today, the same pattern emerges. Our modern health care system is one where pharmaceutical corporations place profit over human lives and insurance companies refuse to cover services that can save lives because it is not profitable. Gun manufacturers continue to sell automatic rifles of the kind used in deadly mass shootings because they are more profitable than non-automatic weapons. And our energy sector is one where fossil fuel companies have placed lucrative oil and gas extraction over the future of the human species despite decades of foreknowledge of climate change. Even Donald Trump appears to have gamed the presidency to market his personal brand and raise the value of his businesses – at the expense of our democracy. The thirst for ever-higher profits is a deadly zero-sum game we are all destined to lose.

From Boeing’s perspective, it makes sense why the company’s top executives have done all they can to maximize profits, even at the expense of hundreds of lives. But from our perspective – that of living, breathing human beings – how does it make sense for us to tolerate such a system? The lives lost to the supremacy of profits are simply folded into the cost of doing business. We are all just variables on the corporate spreadsheet where profits must reign supreme.

Is it any wonder then, that Americans are drawn toward democratic socialism these days? Unfettered capitalism demonstrates its true colors to us every single day. And once in a while, the blood-soaked profits flash right before our eyes when 157 lives are lost in an instant, showing us in the starkest terms how little we have allowed our lives to be worth.

In the world Boeing occupies, our lives are expendable. It is time that Boeing and other corporations began operating on our terms and in our world.


Sonali Kolhatkar is a columnist for Truthdig. She also is the founder, host, and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali”, a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV (Dish Network, DirecTV, …

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.


US Allies Defy Trump Administration’s Plea …

… to ban Huawei from 5G networks

* Germany’s 5G spectrum auction began on Tuesday and the government has not excluded Huawei from providing networking equipment to the country’s carriers.

* Other countries including Thailand and the UK have also not banned Huawei.

* AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson claimed that Huawei is making it tough for European carriers to change equipment providers because the Chinese firm is an important part of existing 4G networks.

by Arjun Kharpal | @ArjunKharpal

https://www.cnbc.com (March 21 2019)

An attendee uses a mobile phone while standing in front of the Huawei Technologies Co booth at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai in Shanghai, China, on Thursday, June 28 2018. The exhibition runs through June 29. Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Europe and the US are clashing over Huawei’s role in the future of 5G.

While Donald Trump’s administration has tried to pressure allied countries, including those in Europe, to ban the Chinese firm from being included in the rollout of the next generation of mobile networking technologies, nations including the UK and Germany aren’t listening.

Germany’s 5G spectrum auction began on Tuesday – a process in which carriers bid for certain radio frequencies in order to provide the new version of high-speed mobile internet.

The US alleges that Huawei’s networking equipment could be used for espionage by the Chinese government. Huawei has repeatedly denied that it poses any risk and said it would never allow Beijing to get its hands on customer data. Experts are skeptical, however, about Huawei’s assurances because Chinese national security laws appear to compel companies operating in the country to comply with all government requests for such info.

What’s at stake is control over what experts describe as one of the most important technologies in recent times. 5G is not just about making mobile internet faster: It will underpin other technology from driverless cars to so-called smart cities. The US wants to be a leading player – and so does China.

Despite Washington’s protests, Germany is not excluding Huawei from becoming part of its national 5G infrastructure. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this month that the country will define its own security standards.

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But it’s not just Germany that is defying the US. Italy’s government has said that it won’t ban Huawei from its telecommunications industry, saying there is no proof of any security threat.

And in the United Kingdom, intelligence officials said that any risks posed by Huawei can be mitigated, according to an FT report in February. Even individual carriers have expressed their concern over excluding Huawei from the 5G rollout. UK-headquartered carrier Vodafone said banning Huawei could cost it millions of pounds and slow the rollout of 5G.

Experts say that while the American rollout of 5G would not be affected by a Huawei ban, Europe could suffer. Nikhil Batra, senior telecommunications research manager at IDC said European carriers’ businesses have struggled compared to those in the US, so they want the cheapest possible deal for 5G equipment – something that Huawei can provide.

“When you look at the industry as small as network equipment providers, excluding Huawei will have a big impact on the industry. If I am going from three major vendors to two major vendors, competition decreases, prices will increase as a result. A lot of countries, including specific telcos, are looking at Huawei as a better-cost option”, Batra told CNBC on Thursday.

The two other major players for Europe are Nokia and Ericsson.

“Traditionally, Huawei has been playing a lot on the cost in terms of being competitive versus the other two major players”, Batra added.

European countries, Batra said, have not seen hard evidence regarding the allegations made by the US and that is one reason why they are not following America’s lead. Critically, the US argument is that Huawei’s technology could allow for spying – not specifically that the company has already performed intelligence gathering for Beijing.

And it’s not just European countries butting heads with the US. Thailand, a US ally in Asia, launched a 5G test bed with Huawei in February. India, meanwhile, is looking for a way to exclude Huawei from some parts of its 5G infrastructure, but it is not seeking an entire ban, according to a report by the Nikkei Asian Review earlier this month.

But the US is not budging on its stance against Huawei and the country’s networks are backing it.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson claimed on Wednesday that Huawei is making it tough for European carriers to drop Huawei as their supplier because the company is an important part of their existing 4G networks.

“If you have deployed Huawei as your 4G network, Huawei is not allowing interoperability to 5G – meaning if you are 4G, you are stuck with Huawei for 5G”, Stephenson said.

The AT&T chief said the US government should better-explain its issue with Huawei. The biggest risk is not that the Chinese government might listen to conversations or mine data, it’s that 5G will be such a critical infrastructure and governments should be cautious about who the vendors are, he said.

“If that much of infrastructure will be attached to this kind of technology, do we want to be cautious about who is the underlying company behind that technology? We damn well better be”, Stephenson said.

Huawei declined to comment on Stephenson’s remarks when contacted by CNBC.


Ukrainian Security Boss Admits Ukraine Shot Down MH-17,

Planned Ethnic Genocide in Donbass

by Joaquin Flores

https://www.fort-russ.com/ (March 26 2019)

MOSCOW – Top ranking SBU (Ukrainian Security Service) agent in charge of the ATO operation since 2014 Vasily Prozorov has just made some stunning statements to international media and has recently escaped to Russia. Moreover, without exaggeration, this is a major blow to the foreign policy positions of Kiev. It is also a very weighty argument for those forces in Europe who want to quickly move the peace process in Ukraine from its present stalemate.

In speaking to journalists, Prozorov’s presentation can be summarized with these points:

* Kiev from the very beginning did not plan to resolve the conflict in the south-east of Ukraine by peaceful means

* Kiev initially planned a large number of victims among the population of Donbass, then they wanted to declare them accomplices of terrorists

* In the area of ​​the ATO there are Ukrainian secret prisons (as he called them concentration camps)

* The neo-nazi Azov unit also had its secret prisons. This is not Russian propaganda, people were actually killed there.

* Specialists from the USA and the UK prepared a division of the SBU (Department No. 5) who went to train in the US and abroad to organize terrorist attacks and sabotage in Donbass

* The Ukrainian side was involved in the Boeing crash of the MH17 flight

The Ukrainian side was involved in the MH17 flight disaster over Donbass, a former officer of the Ukrainian security service SBU, Vasily Prozorov, told a news conference on Monday.

“It is my personal opinion and it relies on certain information. The Ukrainian side is an accomplice to the Malaysian MH17 flight disaster”, he said.

“The amazingly prompt reaction of the Ukrainian leadership was the first thing that made me feel suspicious. My unequivocal opinion was President Pyotr Poroshenko and his press-service had prior knowledge of the affair. Secondly, hostilities had been underway for several months by then, but the airspace over the area was not closed”, Prozorov said.

In particular, he emphasized the invariable response to all of his attempts to find out the circumstances of the disaster, for instance, a conversation with General Staff officers. The usual reply was: “Don’t poke your nose into this business, if you don’t wish to have problems”.



Some information has leaked out in the end, though. On the basis of my own analysis I can speculate who was an accomplice in the crime and who was involved in concealing evidence. In my opinion, there were two men involved – the current deputy chief of the Ukrainian presidential staff Valery Kondratyuk and chief of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s intelligence directorate, Vasily Burba.


A passenger liner Boeing-777 of the Malaysia Airlines (Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur) disappeared from the radar screens over the east of Ukraine’s Donetsk Region on July 17 2014. Its crash killed all 298 passengers and crew on board – citizens of ten countries. Although hostilities had been underway on the ground for quite some time by then Kiev failed to close the Donbass airspace to international passenger flights. Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Ukraine created a Joint Investigation Team. On May 24 last year it published an interim report to claim that the missile launcher which had fired the missile that downed the plane might have been brought from Russia’s 53rd air defense missile brigade.

More: http://tass.com/world/1050324