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Neocons Revive Syria ‘Regime Change’ Plan

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 11, 2014

Official Washington’s ever-influential neoconservatives and their “liberal interventionist” allies see President Barack Obama’s decision to extend U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State terrorists into Syria as a new chance to achieve the long-treasured neocon goal of “regime change” in Damascus.

On the surface, Obama’s extraordinary plan to ignore Syrian sovereignty and attack across the border has been viewed as a unilateral U.S. action to strike at the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but it could easily evolve into a renewed effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government, ironically one of ISIS’s principal goals.

ISIS began as part of the Sunni resistance to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq which had elevated Iraq’s Shiite majority to power. Then known as “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” the terrorist group stoked a sectarian war by slaughtering Shiites and bombing their mosques.

Changing its name to ISIS, the group shifted to Syria where it joined with U.S.-backed rebels seeking to overthrow Assad’s regime which was dominated by Alawites, a branch of Shiite Islam. Then, this summer, ISIS returned to Iraq where it routed Iraqi government forces in a series of battles and conducted public executions, including beheading two U.S. journalists.

In his national address Wednesday, Obama said he will order U.S. air attacks across Syria’s border without any coordination with the Syrian government, a proposition that Damascus has denounced as a violation of its sovereignty. Thus, the argument will surely soon be heard in Washington that Assad’s government must be removed as a military prerequisite so the attacks on ISIS can proceed. Otherwise, there could be a threat to U.S. aircraft from Syria’s air defenses.

That would get the neocons back on their original track of forcing “regime change” in countries seen as hostile to Israel. The first target was Iraq with Syria and Iran to follow. The goal was to deprive Israel’s close-in enemies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas, of crucial support. The neocon vision got knocked off track when Bush’s Iraq War derailed and the American people balked at the idea of extending the conflict to Syria and Iran.

But the neocons never gave up on their vision. They simply kept at it, clinging to key positions inside Official Washington and recruiting “liberal interventionists” to the “regime change” cause. The neocons remained focused on Syria and Iran with hopes of getting U.S. bombing campaigns going against both countries. [See Consortiumnews.com’sThe Dangerous Neocon-R2P Alliance.”]

The neocons’ new hope has now arrived with the public outrage over ISIS’s atrocities. Yet, while pushing to get this new war going, the neocons have downplayed their “regime change” agenda, getting Obama to agree only to extend his anti-ISIS bombing campaign from Iraq into Syria. But “regime change” in Damascus has remained a top neocon priority.

In a New York Times op-ed on Aug. 29, neocon Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham avoided the “r-c” phrase couching their words about Syria’s civil war in the vague language of resolving the conflict, but clearly meaning that Assad must go.

The hawkish pair wrote that thwarting ISIS “requires an end to the [civil] conflict in Syria, and a political transition there, because the regime of President Bashar al-Assad will never be a reliable partner against ISIS; in fact, it has abetted the rise of ISIS, just as it facilitated the terrorism of ISIS’ predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq.”

Though the McCain-Graham depiction of Assad’s relationship to ISIS and al-Qaeda is a distortion at best – in fact, Assad’s army has been the most effective force in pushing back against the Sunni terrorist groups that have come to dominate the Western-backed rebel movement – the op-ed’s underlying point is obvious: an initial step in the U.S. military operation against ISIS must be “regime change” in Damascus.

Neocon Sleight-of-Hand

The neocons are also back to their old sleight-of-hand conflating the terrorists fighting the Assad government with the Assad government. In the op-ed, McCain and Graham cite Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson supposedly calling “Syria ‘a matter of homeland security’” – when he actually said in the linked speech from last February:

“We are very focused on foreign fighters heading to Syria. Based on our work and the work of our international partners, we know individuals from the U.S., Canada and Europe are traveling to Syria to fight in the conflict. At the same time, extremists are actively trying to recruit Westerners, indoctrinate them, and see them return to their home countries with an extremist mission.”

In other words, “Syria” was not the problem cited by Johnson but rather the “foreign fighters heading to Syria” and the possibility that they might “return to their home countries with an extremist mission.” The distinction is important, but McCain and Graham want to blur the threat to confuse Americans into seeing “Syria” as the problem, not the extremists.

A similar approach was taken by Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, one of the Obama administration’s top liberal war hawks. On Sept. 4, she sought to conflate recent allegations that Assad may not have surrendered all his chemical weapons with the possibility that any remaining weapons might fall into the hands of ISIS terrorists.

“Certainly if there are chemical weapons left in Syria, there will be a risk” that they could end up in the hands of ISIS, Power said. “And we can only imagine what a group like that would do if in possession of such a weapon.”

If any of these rhetorical tactics are ringing a bell, it’s because they are reminiscent of how the neocons frightened the American people into supporting the Iraq War in 2002-03. Back then, Bush administration officials blended unsubstantiated claims about Iraq’s WMDs with the prospect of them being shared with al-Qaeda.

In both cases – Iraq then and Syria now – the existence of those dangerous chemical weapons was in serious doubt and, even if they did exist, the two governments – of Saddam Hussein then and Bashar al-Assad now – were hostile to the Sunni fundamentalists in al-Qaeda and now its spinoff, ISIS.

Yet, this effort to confuse the American public – by manipulating their lack of knowledge about the power relationships in the Middle East – might work once more, by putting “black hats” on both Assad and ISIS and blurring the fact that they are bitter enemies.

In the weeks ahead, Assad also will surely be portrayed as obstructing the U.S. attacks on ISIS. He likely will be blamed for a lack of cooperation with the airstrikes even though it was the Obama administration that refused to coordinate with Assad’s government.

ISIL or ISIS?

Among anti-neocon “realists” inside the U.S. intelligence community, the concern about how these airstrikes into Syria might lead to dangerous mission creep is so great that I’m told that some senior analysts are even suspicious of President Obama’s repeated use of the acronym “ISIL” – for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – instead of the more common “ISIS,” referring only to Iraq and Syria.

The concern is that “the Levant” suggests a larger area including all “Mediterranean lands east of Italy,” that theoretically could include everything from Turkey to Palestine and Jordan to parts of Egypt. One source said inclusion of the phrase “ISIL,” instead of “ISIS,” in any “use of force” resolution could be significant by creating a possibility of a much wider war.

In his speech to the nation on Wednesday, Obama continued to use the acronym “ISIL” but his references to U.S. military operations were limited to Iraq and Syria.

The most controversial part of Obama’s speech was his open declaration to conduct cross-border attacks into Syria in clear violation of international law. He also vowed to increase military support for rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad government.

Obama declared that “we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition” and he requested additional resources from Congress. He added: “We must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all,” a further suggestion that “regime change” is again in play.

Exactly what Obama thinks he can get from the Syrian opposition is a mystery, since he himself stated in an interview just last month that the notion that arming the supposedly “moderate” rebels would have made a difference in Syria has “always been a fantasy.”

He told the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman: “This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.”

Nevertheless, Obama has now trotted out that old “fantasy” in connection with his plan to extend the war against ISIS into Syria. Obama also knows that many of the previous Syrian “moderates” who received U.S. weapons later unveiled themselves to be Islamists who repudiated the U.S.-backed opposition and allied themselves with al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front. [See Consortiumnews.com’sSyrian Rebels Embrace Al-Qaeda.”]

What’s Up?

Given that record – and Obama’s knowledge of it – what is one to make of the deceptive formulation that he presented to the American people on Wednesday night?

One explanation could be that Obama plans a more direct – albeit secretive – U.S. role in removing Assad and putting a new regime into power in Damascus. Or Obama might be simply pandering to the neocons and liberal hawks who would have gone berserk if he had acknowledged the obvious, that the smart play is to work quietly with Assad to defeat ISIS and al-Nusra Front.

The other smart play might be for Obama to resume his behind-the-scenes cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin who helped engineer Syria’s agreement to surrender its chemical weapons arsenal last year and who could presumably broker a quiet agreement between Obama and Assad to allow the U.S. airstrikes now.

Though the U.S. neocons and “liberal interventionists” exploited the Ukraine crisis to drive a wedge between the two leaders, Obama might want to reconsider that estrangement and accept the help of Russia – as well as Iran – in achieving a goal that they all agree on: defeating ISIS and other Sunni terrorist groups. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

Yet, in Wednesday’s speech, Obama seemed to go out of his way to insult Putin by decrying “Russian aggression” in Ukraine where the U.S. government has accused Moscow of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty by crossing the border into eastern Ukraine and aiding ethnic Russian rebels. Obama claimed that Washington’s own intervention in Ukraine was “in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny.”

Yet the realities in Kiev, whose government is backed by the U.S., and in Damascus, whose government is despised by Washington, have eerie parallels. In Syria, Assad, a longtime dictator, won a recent election that was truncated by civil strife. In Ukraine, the current government was established by a February coup d’etat that overthrew an elected president and is now headed by a president elected by only a portion of the population, excluding much of the rebellious east.

Yet, in one country – Ukraine – the United States says outside intervention even by a neighbor to protect a population under military assault is illegal “aggression,” while in the other country – Syria – it is entirely okay for the United States to send its military halfway around the world, cross Syria’s borders to carry out bombing raids while also arming militants to overthrow the internationally recognized government.

Typically, neither Obama nor the U.S. mainstream press made note of the hypocrisy. But the bigger question now is will the neocons hijack Obama’s bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria to achieve one of their most beloved goals, regime change in Damascus.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Giant Gaps in Obama’s ISIS Strategy

By Shamus Cooke | CounterPunch | September 12, 2014

Obama’s ISIS speech would have provoked outrage if Bush gave it. Now, however, Democrats and Republicans are united over foreign war to such an extent that a prolonged military campaign without congressional approval barely raises an eyebrow. So one year after an attack on Syria was rejected by the American public bombs will be dropping after all.

More surprising than the bi-partisan escalation of Middle East war is the complete absence of strategy. Obama’s speech ignored the fundamental causes of ISIS’ rise, while putting forth a military strategy of pure fantasy. The only guarantee of Obama’s war strategy is the unnecessary prolonging of the Syrian conflict and the further growth of Islamic extremism. It’s as if President Obama hasn’t figured out the ABC’s of terrorism: the more you bomb, the more extremists you create. It isn’t rocket science.

The 13-year “war on terror” has fundamentally failed, creating an exponential growth in Islamic extremism, now sprawling across the very epicenter of the Middle East where its presence before was miniscule.

The president’s speech ignored how his strategy to fight the secular Syrian government — funding, training, and arming the Syrian rebels — has directly contributed to creating giant militias of Islamic extremists, filled with money and jihadists from Obama’s Gulf state allies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait. If not for the U.S.-backed rebels in Syria, the conflict would have ended long ago, and ISIS would have remained marginal.

But instead of admitting that this failed approach helped create ISIS, Obama has doubled down on his ludicrous plan to further arm and finance the “moderate” opposition in Syria. The New York Times discussed the holes in Obama’s strategy:

“… Mr. Obama is still wrestling with a series of challenges, including how to train and equip a viable ground force to fight ISIS inside Syria, how to intervene without aiding President Bashar al-Assad, and how to enlist potentially reluctant partners like Turkey and Saudi Arabia.”

None of these issues are to be resolved, only compounded. Of course President Assad will benefit if Obama attacks his enemy ISIS, in the same way that ISIS has been benefitting the last two years from the U.S.-backed proxy war against President Assad.

Further exposing these issues is the highly regarded Middle East journalist Patrick Cockburn, who predicted Obama’s foolish speech with precision:

“So far it looks as if Mr. Obama will dodge the main problem facing his campaign against Isis. He will not want to carry out a U-turn in U.S. policy by allying himself with President Assad, though the Damascus government is the main armed opposition to Isis in Syria. He will instead step up a pretense that there is a potent “moderate” armed opposition in Syria, capable of fighting both Isis and the Syrian government at once. Unfortunately, this force scarcely exists in any strength and the most important rebel movements opposed to Isis are themselves jihadis such as Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and the Islamic Front. Their violent sectarianism is not very different to that of Isis.”

Later in the article Cockburn explains that the negligible moderate force is dominated by the CIA.

Obama dared not say explicitly that his plan to fight ISIS included a plan to fight the Syrian government, but that’s exactly what he implied by continuing to arm, fund, and train a “moderate” Syrian opposition that is fighting both ISIS and Assad.

Obama’s bombing campaign against ISIS can thus rapidly transition into a regime change bombing of the Syrian Government, as happened in the U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign in Libya that began as “humanitarian intervention” and veered into regime change after the first bomb dropped.

Before he announced the expansion of the war Obama claimed legal authorization to bomb without Congressional approval. The U.S. House Judiciary Chair issued a different opinion. And Democrats, too, had a different opinion when Bush was in office.

But now many congressmen from both parties would like Obama to act without Congress, since midterm elections are nearing and no congressman wants to be on record voting for war, since Americans are fed up with it. Better to skip democracy and have the president declare war unilaterally, war weary voters be damned.

Lastly, Obama failed to mention that perpetual war is the new normal for the U.S. government, no matter which party is elected. By not addressing any of the above-mentioned issues, a serious analysis was shelved in favor of the Bush Jr. circular logic that can be used to rationalize war forever, creating new generations of Islamic extremists that will justify permanent war. There can be only one real solution: remove the U.S. military from the Middle East.

Shamus Cooke can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 3 Comments

Syria Next on Hit List

By John V. Walsh | Dissident Voice | September 11, 2014

Obama took to the airwaves yesterday, oh so coincidentally, on the eve of September 11, to roll out his latest “smart war.” And it comes, oh so coincidentally, just before Congressional midterms when every member of Congress fears like the plague to be painted as a dove, just as happened in 2002 before Bush II took us to war.

Whatever role ISIS plays in this, Syria is certainly the target. It is telling that when it comes to money, Obama is asking Congress only for funding to train the Syrian “moderate rebels” in that bastion of Sunni moderation, Saudi Arabia.

The rationales that Obama is peddling make no sense. If the barbarity of beheading were the actual trigger of this latest onslaught on the Middle East, then the U.S. would not be sending our “moderate” trainees to Saudi Arabia where beheading is a well respected national past time – far more popular than allowing women to drive automobiles.

And if the barbarity that has motivated Obama were the wanton taking of American life, then we would be training Jewish “moderates” to overthrow the Apartheid State of Israel. For let us remember that the IDF bulldozed the American Rachel Corrie into the ground when she stood in the way of the destruction of Palestinian housing. And it was Israel that killed the American citizen living in Turkey, Furkan Dogan, who was on the Mavi Marmara in the Gaza Flotilla. And it was Israel that tried to blow the USS Liberty out of the water killing 34 American sailors and wounding 171.

No, it is not the beheadings nor the loss of American life that move Obama. Syria is now to be bombed. That is an act of war. In fact, arming rebels to overthrow a government is an act of war but there will be no declaration of war – just a vote to supply the funds for the mythical “moderate” rebels.

We are told that only ISIS leaders will be targeted in Syria. But Syria has not approved bombing its territory so it does not believe that story. And let us suppose that U.S. planes are overhead when Assad’s forces are attacking “moderate” rebels that the U.S. is arming and training. Is it credible that there will be no bombing of the Syrian forces?

And ISIS remains a mysterious entity, springing up out of nowhere and carrying arms that are supplied by American and Saudi agencies. In Iran, as was reported in the NYT yesterday on the front page, the great majority of “the street” believes  it is an American/Israeli/Saudi creation. It may be true that ISIS has got out of control and that Saudi Arabia now fears it, but that could also be another fiction. All we know for sure is that Syria and Iraq are to be bombed again. And also that ISIS emerged only after our invasion, bombing and continuing presence in Iraq.

Syria, of course, was on the list of targets that General Wesley Clarke revealed to us stating that there was a hit list in the Middle East and North Africa of seven countries, “starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” And miraculously the schedule has been modified only slightly perhaps because Assad has put up such fierce resistance.

And other lies are in the air. Obama tells us that there will be not “boots on the ground,” but he also admits that he has sent over a thousand additional troops to Iraq. Are they barefoot? In fact, the lies will only grow more intense and be repeated more frequently in the days to come as the war propaganda machine swings into ever higher gear.

As far as the election of 2008 goes, Obama promised peace, and Hillary war. But so far Obama has been in perfect synch with his hawkish adversary who has been especially keen to assault Syria. The election debate was a sham.

So we may expect Syria to be targeted and Iran next. But Iran is supported by Russia already under attack in its West via Ukraine. Can Russia allow Iran to be the next target? Can Iran allow Syria to fall to the U.S. Empire? It is quite clear where this is going. The dream of the U.S. Empire to dominate the Eurasian land mass is  being implemented: Damascus, Tehran, Moscow and finally Beijing unless nuclear war breaks out first. Obama and the rest of the imperial elite are flirting with Armageddon.

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

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

Autopsy shows Palestinian prisoner died after being tortured

Ma’an – 12/09/2014

raedjabariHEBRON – Palestinian detainee Raed al-Jabari, 35, died after being tortured while in Israeli prison custody, a Palestinian official said Thursday.

Issa Qaraqe, former minister of prisoner affairs, said in a news conference that the results of an autopsy showed that internal bleeding and a concussion were the cause of death.

Israeli Prisons spokeswoman Sivan Weizman told AFP Tuesday that he had hanged himself in a bathroom at Eshel prison.

She said a medical team had tried to revive him but that he was pronounced dead on arrival at Soroka hospital in the city.

Qaraqe said the autopsy did not find any signs of bruising around al-Jabari’s neck and that the main cause of death was bleeding and concussion likely to have been caused by blows to the head.

The victim also had bruising on his face and lips.

Dr. Saber al-Alul took part in the autopsy on Thursday at the Israeli forensic science institute but was prevented from revealing the autopsy results.

Another committee then conducted an autopsy on the body at the Palestinian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Dis.

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

The Personnel is Political

By Corey Robin | September 11, 2014

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees today voted 8-1 not to reinstate Steven Salaita.

Trustee James Montgomery, who last Friday publicly broached his misgivings about the university’s decision to hirefire Salaita, was the sole vote on behalf of Salaita. Though Montgomery had originally signed a statement supporting Chancellor Wise, he said, “I’m just someone who has the humility to be able to say that I think I made a mistake and I don’t mind saying it.” Here is his eloquent testimony.

Needless to say, the vote today sucks, and there is no use sugar-coating it. While it’s testament to the movement we’ve mounted that the Board was forced to publicly confront this issue, and that we managed to persuade one trustee to change his mind (from reports I’ve heard, other trustees did as well, but they are student trustees who have no voting power), our power and our principles proved in the end not to be enough to match the donors’ purse strings.

So it looks like a legal remedy will now be pursued. I’m using the passive voice because I have no idea what Salaita and his lawyers are planning, though the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing Salaita, did put out a statement after the Board vote. And the ever charming Chair of the Board of Trustees had this to say:

“I assume the attorneys will reach out and work something out or understand their position more clearly. We are not looking to be held up. We want to be fair but we don’t want to be pushovers,” board Chairman Christopher Kennedy said after the meeting. “Either they will sue or we will settle. It is hard to predict what another party will do. … Am I going to give you my playbook on a negotiating matter?”

The legal route is one path, an important path, but it’s not the only path, and more important, it’s not our path. That is, the path of all of us who have spoken out on this case.

Our path is not legal; it is political. It’s not about lawyers, it’s not about courtrooms. It’s about principles and movements, words on the web, bodies on the ground, and voices in the street. It is about power. How we deploy that power, I don’t know. That we will deploy that power, I am sure. Now is the time to think creatively and collectively.

In the meantime, I wanted to take note of a comment Chancellor Wise made in an interview to the Chronicle of Higher Education:

People are mixing up this individual personnel issue with the whole question of freedom of speech and academic freedom.

It’s a telling statement, revealing an archipelago of assumption that I’ve been tackling in all my work since my first book. In Wise’s world, freedom of speech stands on one side, employment on the other, and never the twain shall meet. It’s almost as if, to her mind, we’re making a category error when we speak of both in the same breath.

And it’s not just Wise who thinks this way. About two weeks ago on Twitter, I heard a similar remark from a young progressive journalist (I won’t link to the comment because I don’t want to draw negative attention or criticism to this person, who went on to express a willingness to rethink her position). Rights and repression are one thing, employment sanctions another. The philosopher Gerald Dworkin voiced an attenuated version of that argument, too.

Yet as I’ve argued on this and other blogs countless times, employment sanctions are in fact one of the most common methods of political repression in this country. Remember that anecdote Tocqueville reported in his journals, about how he asked a doctor in Baltimore why in a country that had so much formal religious freedom there was such a compulsion toward orthodoxy. Without hesitating, the doctor said it was all about the making and breaking of private careers.

If a minister, known for his piety, should declare that in his opinion a certain man was an unbeliever, the man’s career would almost certainly be broken. Another example: A doctor is skilful, but has no faith in the Christian religion. However, thanks to his abilities, he obtains a fine practice. No sooner is he introduced into the house than a zealous Christian, a minister or someone else, comes to see the father of the house and says: look out for this man. He will perhaps cure your children, but he will seduce your daughters, or your wife, he is an unbeliever. There, on the other hand, is Mr. So-and-So. As good a doctor as this man, he is at the same time religious. Believe me, trust the health of your family to him. Such counsel is almost always followed.

The state needn’t punish men and women for their heresies; the private sector will do it for them. That’s why during the McCarthy years so few people went to jail. Two hundred tops. Because it was in the workplace that Torquemada found his territory: some twenty to forty percent of employees, monitored, investigated, or otherwise subject to surveillance for their beliefs. The ruling elites in this country have always understood what Hamilton wrote in Federalist 79:

In the general course of human nature, a power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will.

Which brings us back to Steven Salaita. As I argued on Labor Day, it’s easy to see his case as simply one of academic freedom or the rights of tenured professors. It is that, but it’s more. It’s about the use of employment sanctions for political ends, the peculiarities and particularities of Fear, American Style, which do not apply only to Steven Salaita. They apply to all at-will employees, to that terra incognita of private governance that is the American workplace. Salaita is but the latest in a long line of victims.

While the pro-Israel forces show no compunction about using the weapons of state to enforce their orthodoxies, the sphere of employment, particularly in the academy, where one most often hears views critical of Israel, will become increasingly the scene of the censor. It already has: as I said the other day, my first battle over Israel/Palestine was to defend an adjunct in my department who had been fired for his (mistakenly construed) views on Israel/Palestine.

The issue is not simply Israel/Palestine; it’s the growing assault on fundamental rights and the increasing push toward precarity that has become the experience of workers everywhere.

If we’re going to fight this in the academy, we’re going to have to fight it the way every worker has ever had to fight: not only in courts of law, but also in the streets; not just with the help of lawyers, but also with help of each other; not simply with our smarts, but also with our feet. With unions, strikes, boycotts—the entire repertoire of collective action and militancy that gave this country whatever minimal (and ever fading) semblance of decency it has managed to achieve.

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

‘Deterrence not arms race’: Russia hints it may develop rival to US Prompt Global Strike

RT | September 11, 2014

Russia could use ballistic missiles, such as the Yars , with conventional warheads to counter CPGS.(RIA Novosti / Vadim Savitskii)

Russia could use ballistic missiles, such as the Yars , with conventional warheads to counter CPGS. (RIA Novosti / Vadim Savitskii)

A highly-placed Defense Ministry official says that Russia may be forced to match the US Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS) doctrine, which prescribes that a non-nuclear US missile must be able to hit any target on Earth within one hour.

“Russia is capable of and will have to develop a similar system,” Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said during a public discussion of the Russian rearmament program for the decade of 2016 through 2025.

“But mostly we will concentrate on countering CPGS, as our military doctrine is a defensive one.”

But the official denied that the Kremlin was setting off for another Cold War-style arms race with the West.

“This is not in these plans, and I hope will never happen,” said Borisov. “We simply want to protect our civilian population from outside threats.”

While Prompt Global Strike is often treated as a futuristic super-weapon, it is simply a system that ensures that strike areas of existing technologies cover the entirety of the planet. The concept of CPGS was first explicitly stated in official US documents during the first George W. Bush administration, and in more than a decade on, it has gone through various iterations, from ones that would see kinetic weapons fired at targets on the ground from space, to hypersonic missiles, to conventional solutions of placing short and medium range missiles around the world. There is no deadline for the program’s official completion, which is just as much subject to budget constraints as other articles of the defense budget, or consistent status updates on whether its aims may have already been achieved through existing armaments.

Despite its vague remit and gradual implementation, the program has caused considerable consternation in Moscow and Beijing. A previous US study showed that up to 30 percent of enemy nuclear launchers could be taken out with conventional weapons that would form part of the CPGS. Russian officials have said that together with the missile defense system the US is deploying around the world, this could mean that the current nuclear balance could be undermined.

This was clearly on Vladimir Putin’s mind when he spoke of creating new “assault capabilities, including maintaining a guaranteed solution to the task of nuclear deterrence” at the same Wednesday meeting.

But most experts agreed that Russia’s current abilities are already sufficient to withstand CPGS, even if it lacks the same attack capabilities.

“We already have a system of swift retaliation,” said Yuri Baluyevsky, former Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces. The retired general is helping to develop the Kremlin to develop a new military doctrine by the end of the year, in the face of geopolitical changes in Ukraine, NATO’s increased presence in Eastern Europe, and the NATO missile shield.

“Russia has missiles, such as the long-range, air-based X-101 strategic cruise missile, which is able to strike at distances of 5,000 kilometers (about 3,100 miles),” the president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Konstantin Sivkov, told RIA news agency.

“It also has high-precision ballistic missiles that could strike ground targets, providing they had normal warheads. These are the two main elements of a rapid long-range strike, That is, it can be done now. Basically, existing long-range aviation would be sufficient.”

S-400 Triumf.(RIA Novosti / Valeriy Melnikov)

Another expert suggested that Russia’s air defense systems – which cost considerably less than launches of ballistic missiles to operate – should form the backbone of the country’s response to CPGS.

“To create an adequate aerospace defense system it is important to develop interceptor systems, such as the S-500. It is capable of hitting targets not only in the air but also in near space at an altitude of 200 kilometers above the Earth, which are moving at a speed of up to 8 kilometers per second,” said Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of National Defense magazine.

The unveiling of CPGS has not only bred stiff resistance around the world, but also doubts at home in the US itself. A Carnegie Center study from last year said that the system held some of the same risks as a nuclear attack, and was much more likely to be used. Within the allocated 60-minute time frame, incoming conventional missiles could be mistaken for nuclear warheads, their trajectory could be misunderstood, or they could simply hit the wrong target – all situations that may unleash a rapid response, which Russia and China, at the very least, appear to be very capable of already.

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 5 Comments

China, Russia to jointly face external challenges: Xi

The BRICS Post | September 11, 2014

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, met in Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, on Thursday ahead of the 14th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The two allies discussed “pressing issues of bilateral cooperation, particularly in energy, aircraft engineering and infrastructure”, said a Kremlin statement.

It is the fourth meeting in 2014 between the two leaders.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said during Thursday’s meet that the leadership of the two nations will “jointly face external challenges”.

“I am ready to maintain further contacts with you to strengthen mutual support and expand openness between our countries, so that we could always draw from each other’s support, jointly face external challenges and achieve our grand development and revival goals,” said Xi.

Earlier last week, China put its weight solidly behind Russian President Vladimir Putin’s seven-point peace plan for Ukraine, even as the EU prepared another wave of sanctions targeting Russia’s banking and energy sectors.

The Russian President on Thursday lauded the milestone deal signed earlier this year in May, the $400-billion gas supply deal between the two countries, securing the world’s top energy user a major source of cleaner fuel.

“This was done with the direct support of the President of China. Now we have practically begun its implementation, which, I am certain, will proceed in the same business-like manner and will be efficiently carried through by both parties – Russia and the People’s Republic of China,” said Putin on Thursday in Dushanbe.

The deal opened up a new market for Moscow as it risks losing European customers over the Ukraine crisis.

Putin’s “personal friendship” with the Chinese President is a political triumph for the Russian President even as Western leaders step up attempts to isolate Putin internationally over Russia’s alleged support to pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine.

“We are making headway in other traditional areas of cooperation as well, including nuclear power, aircraft engineering, infrastructure and so forth,” Putin said on Thursday.

Xi said Beijing and Moscow have overseen new progress in the joint development of long-haul jumbo jets and heavy helicopters, as well as other major joint projects.

“Early this month you personally took part in the ceremony to launch the construction of the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, which shows how seriously you take the expansion of Chinese-Russian energy cooperation,” Xi told Putin.

“We have set up an intergovernmental Chinese-Russian commission on investment cooperation. We are actively considering cooperation in the construction of high-speed railways. We have launched cooperation in satellite navigation systems, which you personally have given great attention to,” he added.

Xi and Putin had also held talks in July in Brazil during the 6th BRICS Summit.

Xi has held talks or met with Putin for nine times since he assumed the office of China’s President in March 2013, testifying to stronger and more assertive Sino-Russian relations.

In a major highlight of an investment meet on Tuesday, Moscow and Beijing have entered into a pact to boost use of the rouble and yuan for trade transactions.

During its maiden meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the Russia-China Investment Cooperation Commission discussed 32 bilateral investment projects on Tuesday, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said.

Both Xi and Putin will now attend the 14th summit of the SCO slated for Thursday and Friday in the Tajik capital.

TBP

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment