Aletho News


Russian Embassy Slams US for Denying Access to Diplomatic Archives

Sputnik – October 24, 2017

The Embassy of the Russian Federation in the United States slammed the US officials on Monday for packing and transferring the diplomatic archives from the closed Consulate General in San Francisco without the oversight of the Russian diplomats.

“By taking these actions, the United States has once again violated the key provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the bilateral consular convention,” the Russian Embassy said in a statement on Monday.

The Embassy stressed that all consular archives and documents should not be dishonored regardless of the circumstances and irrespective of their location.

Washington has transferred the archive to the Embassy on October 23, but did not permit Russian diplomats to enter the building and pack the documents.

Moscow perceived this step as disregard to the international law and Russian diplomatic mission, which enables Moscow to take retaliatory measures, the Embassy noted.

“Washington’s disregard of the international law, our diplomatic and consular facilities and property enables the Russian government to prepare similar actions against US missions in Russia based on the principle of reciprocity,” the Embassy said on Monday.

According to the US officials, the decision to close the Russian missions came as a response to Russia deciding in July to reduce the number of US diplomatic staff in the country to 455 people, which is the same number as that of the Russian diplomatic personnel in the United States.

After Russian diplomats left the diplomatic compounds, US security agents entered the premises to conduct searches. Moscow condemned the actions as a violation of international law, including the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations.


Russian Embassy Issues Footage of US Intrusion in Diplomatic Facility (VIDEO)

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

Russia-China Tandem Changes the World

By Gilbert Doctorow | Consortium News | October 23, 2017

Much of what Western “experts” assert about Russia – especially its supposed economic and political fragility and its allegedly unsustainable partnership with China – is wrong, resulting not only from the limited knowledge of the real situation on the ground but from a prejudicial mindset that does not want to get at the facts, i.e. from wishful thinking.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (UN Photo)

Russia may not be experiencing dynamic growth, but over the past two years it has survived a crisis of circumstance in depressed oil prices and economic warfare against it by the West that would have felled less competently managed governments enjoying less robust popularity than is the case in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Moreover, as stagnant as Russia’s GNP has been, the numbers have been on a par with Western Europe’s very slow growth.

Meanwhile, Russian agriculture is booming, with the 2017 grain harvest the best in 100 years despite very adverse climatic conditions from early spring. In parallel, domestically produced farm machinery has been going from strength to strength. Other major Industrial sectors like civil aircraft production have revived with the launch of new and credible models for both domestic and export markets.

Major infrastructure projects representing phenomenal engineering feats like the bridge across the Kerch straits to Crimea are proceeding on schedule to successful termination in the full glare of regular television broadcasts. So where is this decrepit Russia that our Western commentators describe daily?

The chief reason for the many wrongheaded observations is not so hard to discover. The ongoing rampant conformism in American and Western thinking about Russia has taken control not only of our journalists and commentators but also of our academic specialists who serve up to their students and to the general public what is expected and demanded: proof of the viciousness of the “Putin regime” and celebration of the brave souls in Russia who go up against this regime, such as the blogger-turned-politician Alexander Navalny or Russia’s own Paris Hilton, the socialite-turned-political-activist Ksenia Sochak.

Although vast amounts of information are available about Russia in open sources, meaning the Russian press and commercial as well as state television, these are largely ignored. The sour grapes Russian opposition personalities who have settled in the United States are instead given the microphone to sound off about their former homeland. Meanwhile, anyone taking care to read, hear and analyze the words of Vladimir Putin becomes in these circles a “stooge.” All of this limits greatly the accuracy and usefulness of what passes for expertise about Russia.

In short, the field of Russia studies suffers, as it also did during the heyday of the Cold War, from a narrow ideological perspective and from the failure to put information about Russia in some factually anchored framework of how Russia fits in a comparative international setting.

Just what this means was brought into perspective last week by a rare moment of erudition regarding Russia when professor emeritus of the London School of Economics Dominic Lieven delivered a lecture in Sochi at the latest Valdai Club annual meeting summarizing his take on the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Lieven, arguably the greatest living historian of imperial Russia, is one of the very rare birds who brought to his Russian studies a profound knowledge of the rest of the world and in particular of the other imperial powers of the Nineteenth Century with which Russia was competing. This knowledge takes in both hard and soft power, meaning on the one hand, military and diplomatic prowess and, on the other, the intellectual processes which are used to justify imperial domination and constitute a world view if not a full-fledged ideology.

Self-blinded ‘Experts’

By contrast, today’s international relations “experts” lack the in-depth knowledge of Russia to say something serious and valuable for policy formulation. The whole field of area studies has atrophied in the United States over the past 20 years, with actual knowledge of history, languages, cultures being largely scuttled in favor of numerical skills that will provide sure employment in banks and NGOs upon graduation. The diplomas have been systematically depreciated.

The result of the foregoing is that there are very few academics who can put the emerging Russian-Chinese alliance into a comparative context. And those who do exist are systematically excluded from establishment publications and roundtable public discussions in the United States for not being sufficiently hostile to Russia.

If that were not the case, one could look at the Russian-Chinese partnership as it compares firstly with the American-Chinese partnership created by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, which is now being replaced by the emerging Russian-Chinese relationship. Kissinger was fully capable of doing this when he wrote his book On China in 2011, but Kissinger chose to ignore the Russian-Chinese partnership though its existence was perfectly clear when he was writing his text. Perhaps he did not want to face the reality of how his legacy from the 1970s had been squandered.

What we find in Kissinger’s description of his accomplishments in the 1970s is that the American-Chinese partnership was all done at arm’s length. There was no alliance properly speaking, no treaty, in keeping with China’s firm commitment not to accept entanglement in mutual obligations with other powers. The relationship was two sovereign states conferring regularly on international developments of mutual interest and pursuing policies that in practice proceeded in parallel to influence global affairs in a coherent manner.

This bare minimum of a relationship was overtaken and surpassed by Russia and China some time ago. The relationship has moved on to ever larger joint investments in major infrastructure projects having great importance to both parties, none more so than the gas pipelines that will bring very large volumes of Siberian gas to Chinese markets in a deal valued at $400 billion.

Meanwhile, in parallel, Russia has displaced Saudi Arabia as China’s biggest supplier of crude oil, and trading is now being done in yuan rather than petrodollars. There is also a good deal of joint investment in high technology civilian and military projects. And there are joint military exercises in areas ever farther from the home bases of both countries.

I think it is helpful to look at this partnership as resembling the French-German partnership that steered the creation and development of what is now the European Union. From the very beginning, Germany was the stronger partner economically with France’s economy experiencing relative stagnation. Indeed, one might well have wondered why the two countries remained in this partnership as nominal equals.

The answer was never hard to find: with its historical burden from the Nazi epoch, Germany was, and to this day remains, incapable of taking responsibility in its own name for the European Union. The French served as the smokescreen for German power. Since the 1990s, that role has largely been transferred to the E.U. central bodies in Brussels, where key decision-making positions are in fact appointed by Berlin. Yet, France remains an important junior partner in the German-driven process.

The Russian-Chinese Tandem

One may say much the same about the Russian-Chinese tandem. Russia is essential to China because of Moscow’s long experience managing global relations going back to the period of the Cold War and because of its willingness and ability today to stand up directly to the American hegemon, whereas China, with its heavy dependence on its vast exports to the U.S., cannot do so without endangering vital interests. Moreover, since the Western establishment sees China as the long-term challenge to its supremacy, it is best for Beijing to exercise its influence through another power, which today is Russia.

Of course, in light of the E.U.’s Brexit troubles and Trump’s abandonment of world leadership, it is undeniably possible that China will step out of the shadows and seek to assume direction of global governance. But that would be problematic. China faces major domestic challenges including the transition of its economy from being led by exports to relying more on domestic consumption. That will absorb the attention of its political leadership for some time.

Kissinger, who has been an adviser to Trump, whispers in Trump’s ear about the importance of separating Russia from China, but Kissinger’s limited and outdated knowledge of Russia has caused him to underestimate the powerful motives behind the Russian-Chinese relationship. America’s less gifted and informed pundits are even more clueless.

For one thing, given the sustained hostility directed at Russia from the West in general and from Washington in particular, it is inconceivable that Putin would be wooed away from Beijing by some flirtatious “come hither” gestures from the Trump administration even if that were politically possible for Trump to do. One of Putin’s outstanding features is his loyalty to his friends and his principles as well as to his nation’s interests.

As Putin revealed during his address and Q&A at the Valdai Club gathering this past week, he now bears a deep distrust of the West in light of its having taken crude advantage of Russia’s weakness in the 1990s and by its expansion of NATO to Russian borders and other threatening actions. Whatever hopes Putin once may have held for warmer relations with the West, those hopes have been dashed over the past several years.

Putting personalities aside, Russian foreign policy has a commonality that is rare to see on the world stage: actions first, diplomatic charters later. Russia’s political relations with China come on top of massive mutual investments that have taken many years to agree on and execute.

In the same way, Russia is proceeding with Japan to work towards a formal peace treaty by first putting in place massive trade and investment projects. It is entirely foreseeable that the first step to the treaty will be the start of construction in 2018 of a railway bridge in the Far East linking the Russian island of Sakhalin with the mainland. The general contractor and engineering team is also in place: Arkady Rotenberg and his SGM Group. That bridge is the prerequisite for Japan and Russia signing a $50 billion deal to build a railway bridge linking Sakhalin and Hokkaido. This bridge will draw the attention of the whole region to Russian-Japanese cooperation. It could be the foundation for a durable and not merely paper peace treaty resolving the territorial dispute over the Kurile Islands.

Lost Opportunities

In light of these realities, it is puerile to speak of detaching Russia from China with the promise of normalized relations with the West. The opportunity to do that existed in the 1990s, when President Boris Yeltsin and his “Mr. Yes” Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev did everything possible to win U.S. agreement to Russian accession to NATO immediately following accession by Poland. To no avail.

Then again early in Putin’s presidency, the Russians made a determined effort to win admission to the Western alliance. Again to no avail. Russia was excluded, and measures were taken to contain it, to place it in a small box as just another European regional power.

Finally, following the confrontation with the United States and Europe over their backing of the 2014 coup in Ukraine, followed by the Russian annexation/merger with Crimea, and Russian support for the insurgency in Ukraine’s Donbas region, Russia openly was cast as the enemy. It was compelled to mobilize all of its friendships internationally to stay afloat. No state was more helpful in this regard than China.  Such moments are not forgotten or betrayed.

The Kremlin understands full well that the West has nothing substantial to offer Russia as long as the U.S. elites insist on maintaining global hegemony at all costs. The only thing that could get the Kremlin’s attention would be consultations to revise the security architecture of Europe with a view to bringing Russia in from the cold. This was the proposal of then President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, but his initiative was met by stony silence from the West. Bringing in Russia would mean according it influence proportionate to its military weight, and that is something NATO has opposed tooth and nail to this day.

It is for this reason, the failure to seek solutions to the big issue of Russia’s place in overall security, that the re-set initiative under Barack Obama failed. It is for this reason that Henry Kissinger’s advice to Donald Trump at the start of his presidency to offer relief from sanctions in return for progress on disarmament rather than implementation of the Minsk accords regarding the Ukraine crisis also failed, with Vladimir Putin giving a firm “nyet.”

Implicit in the few American “carrots” being extended to Russia these days is its acceptance of the anti-Russian regime in Ukraine and its authority over the heavily ethnic Russian areas of the Donbas and Crimea, concessions that would be politically devastating to Putin inside Russia. Yet, that “normalization” would still leave the much milder but still nasty “human rights” sanctions that the U.S. imposed in 2012 through the Magnitsky Act, driven by what the Kremlin regards as false propaganda surrounding the criminal case and death of accountant Sergei Magnitsky.

The sting of the Magnitsky Act was to discredit Russia and prepare the way for it being designated a pariah state. It came amidst an already longstanding campaign of demonization of the Russian president in the U.S. media. In fact, to begin to find a halfway normal period of bilateral relations, you would have to go back to before George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, which Russia denounced along with Germany and France. The latter two powers got a tap on the wrist from Washington. For Russia, it was the start of a period of reckoning for its uncooperativeness with American global domination.

Demonizing Russia

As for Europe and Russia, the question is very similar. To find mention of a strategic relationship, firstly from the German Foreign Ministry, you have to go back to before 2012. And what constituted normality then? At the time, renewal of the E.U.-Russia cooperation agreement was already being held up for years, nominally over a difference of views on the provisions of E.U. law governing gas deliveries through Russian-owned pipelines. Behind this difference was the total opposition of the Baltic States and Poland to anything resembling normal relations with Russia, for which they received full encouragement from the U.S.

The rallying cry was to put a stop to Russia’s status as “monopoly supplier” to Europe as regards gas, but also oil. Of course, no monopoly ever existed, nor does it exist today, but determined geopolitical actors never let such details stand in the way of policy formulation.

This hostility also played out in the contest of wills between the E.U. and Russia over introduction of a visa-free regime for travel by their respective citizens. Here the opposition of Germany’s Angela Merkel, justified by her vicious characterization of Russia as a mafia state, doomed the visa-free regime and by the same token doomed normal relations.

All of this unfinished business has to be addressed and put right for there to be any possibility of the U.S. and the E.U. ending their hostility toward Russia and for the Kremlin to regain any trust toward the West. Even then, however, Russia would not surrender its valued relationship with China.

In my view, the de facto Russian-Chinese alliance matches the de jure US-West European alliance. The net result of both is the partition of the world into two camps. We now have, in effect, a bipolar world that broadly resembles that of the Cold War, though still in a formative stage since many countries have not signed on definitively to one side or another.

Of course, more-or-less neutral states were also a feature of the Cold War, creating what was called the group of Nonaligned Nations, led back then by India and Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia no longer exists, but India has continued its tradition of let both poles court it, trying to eke out the greatest benefit to itself.

To be sure, a great many political scientists in the U.S., in Europe and in Russia as well, insist that we already have a multipolar world, saying that power is too diffuse in the world today, especially considering the rise of non-state actors after 1991. But the reality is that very few states or non-states can project power outside their own region. Only the two big blocs can do that.

The theoreticians defending multipolarity speak of a return to the balance of power of the Nineteenth Century, invoking the Congress of Vienna as a possible model for today’s world governance.  This is an approach that Henry Kissinger laid out in 1994 in his book Diplomacy.

Within Russia, this concept has found support in some influential think tanks and is most notably associated with Sergei Karaganov, head of the Council of Foreign and Defense Policy. Nonetheless, I maintain that everyday realities of power will decide this question. And is there anything inherently wrong with this de facto bipolar world, assuming the tensions can be managed and a major war averted?

In my view, two large blocs are more likely to keep global order because the scope of activities by proxies can be reined in – as often happened during the Cold War – by big powers not wanting their various clients to disrupt a functioning world order. The tails are less likely to wag the dog.

Moreover, as regards the Russia-China strategic partnership or alliance, Western observers should take comfort and not take alarm. The rise of China is a given whatever the constellation of great powers may wish. The close embrace of Russia and China also can serve as a moderating influence on China, given Russia’s greater experience in world leadership.

For all of the above positive and negative reasons, the Russia-China relationship should be viewed with equanimity in Western capitals.

Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. His latest book, Does the United States Have a Future? was just published.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Myths About Britain’s ‘Finest Hour’

By Alexander Cockburn

There’s a myth now about the British hanging together in those dark days [of 1939-1941]. “London can take it,” Ed Murrow told America in his CBS broadcasts. Actually, morale was appalling. Most people correctly had little confidence in the competence of their government and thought Germany was going to win. In the Channel Islands, which the Nazis did take over, the people greeted them hospitably and turned in Jews with zest. The British Ministry of Information employed 10,000 people to read people’s mail surreptitiously, intercepting about 200,000 letters a week, and discovered that people were deeply pessimistic and thought Churchill was “played out.”

A secret government report spelled out the popular lack of nerve: “Portsmouth — on all sides, we hear that looting and wanton destruction had reached alarming proportions. The police seem unable to exercise control … The effect on morale is bad and there is a general feeling of desperation … their nerve had gone.”

Churchill’s famous speeches about their “finest hour” and so forth didn’t have much effect either. He delivered them in the House of Commons, and when the BBC asked him to rebroadcast them on the radio, he refused. So the BBC secretly used an actor named Norman Shelley to read them, pretending to be Churchill. Shelley’s usual role was to play Larry the Lamb on “Children’s Hour.” Most people didn’t actually know what Churchill’s voice sounded like, and those who did thought it sounded funny. Letters poured into No. 10 Downing St. asking what was wrong with the PM.

Many people tried to shut out the war as much as they could. By the end of 1940, nearly a third of the population admitted to not following news of the war. When asked what depressed them most, people put the weather first, then war news, then the air raids. Life was rotten anyway for a huge slab of the population, which was malnourished, poorly housed, barely educated and deeply discontented. When they visited the [London] East End, the king and queen were soundly booed. In the summer of 1941, a woman got five years in prison for saying “Hitler is a good man, a better man than Mr. Churchill.”

About the Author

Alexander Cockburn, author and columnist, was born in Britain in June 1941. This is from his essay, “Remembrances of War and Summer,” Los Angeles Times, May 28, 2000. It was reprinted in The Journal of Historical Review, March-April 2002 (Vol. 21, No. 2), page 34.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

US Targets Russian Nord Stream-2 Gas Project: Déjà Vu Story

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 23.10.2017

The US Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017 contains a separate section called the Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act (“CRIEEA”). CRIEEA authorizes – and at times requires – the President to impose significant new sanctions on the Russian energy, financial, and defense sectors, imperiling the completion of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. It also hits European businesses involved in the project. The legislation can impact a potentially large number of European companies doing legitimate business under EU measures with Russian entities in the railways, financial, shipping or mining sectors, among others. Now the US punitive measures could include the pipelines crossing the territory of Ukraine, as well as pipeline projects in the Caspian region and the development of the Zohr gas field off the coast of Egypt. The law negatively affected the US relationship with European allies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the world is witnessing an increasing number of examples of politics crudely interfering with economic, market relations. In his address to the final plenary session of the 14th annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club on October 19, Putin said “Some do not even conceal that they are using political pretexts to promote their strictly commercial interests. For instance, the recent package of sanctions adopted by the US Congress is openly aimed at ousting Russia from European energy markets and compelling Europe to buy more expensive US-produced LNG although the scale of its production is still too small.”

The US is striving to control the EU decision-making process. According to Washington’s logic, building a pipeline to reduce costs and raise reliability and efficiency proves that Russia is politically motivated, unlike the US with its new law adopted to pave the way for American LNG exports to Europe using coercive measures! The US staunch allies ready to cede economic profits for Washington’s friendship – Poland, the Baltic States, and, since recently, Denmark – are mobilized to hinder Nord Stream-2. Not an EU member, but a member of Energy Community, Ukraine also goes to any length to obstruct the project.

Poland tried to reverse the EU decision through courts but to no avail. In July, a court in Duesseldorf, Germany, lifted restrictions on Russian gas company Gazprom’s access to the German Opal gas pipeline, online documentation by the court showed, echoing a ruling on July 21 by the European Union General Court.

Defying the US pressure, the EU exempted OPAL gas pipeline (delivering gas from Russian Nord Stream to Europe) from the Third Energy Package after 6 years of debates. The decision opened the way for Russian plans to expand Nord Stream’s capacity and bypass both Ukraine and Poland as a gas transit route. The Western companies have immediate interests in Nord Stream 2, which is a joint venture between Gazprom (50% share) and five of the largest European energy companies: E.ON, OMV, Shell, BASF/Wintershall and Engie (each 10% share).

Actually, this is a déjà vu story. Washington has a long history of meddling into European energy policy. The Yamal and Nord Stream 2 gas projects present several striking similarities. In 1980-81, the Yamal pipeline (Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod) project was presented to be negotiated between the Soviet Union (Soyuzgazexport) and Western Europeans (Ruhrgas and Gaz de France). Back then, West Germany’s Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was willing to preserve the achievements of Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik. The USSR and West Germany concluded an agreement on the deal in November 1981.

The joint project was fiercely fought by President Ronald Reagan. He saw Yamal through a geopolitical lens and considered it one of the Soviet Union’s significant tools aimed at spreading Moscow’s influence over the Europeans, and in particularly over NATO. The US launched a coordinated diplomatic offensive aimed at convincing European allies to abandon their participation in the Yamal project. It offered to supply West Germany with energy in the form of coal, but his proposal was turned down as not viable economically.

Those were the days of great tensions between the West and the East marked by NATO’s deployment of intermediate range ground-based missiles in Italy, the UK, West Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. In 1979, the USSR launched an operation in Afghanistan.

The US insisted the Yamal project threatened NATO security just like nowadays Nord Stream-2 does amid the Russia-West divisions over Ukraine and a host of other issues. President Reagan used the geopolitical tensions as a pretext to deprive the Soviet Union of profits. With Germany refusing to bow, the US administration used the Polish crisis in 1980-1981 to impose sanctions banning sales of equipment to the USSR.

In December, 1981, President Reagan banned all the gas and oil equipment and technology exports produced in the United States to the Soviet Union. In June, 1982, the US administration announced the extension of the sanctions on all foreign companies exporting equipment involving American technologies. The US sanctions drove a wedge between the United States and its Western European allies, as the latter refused to follow the lead. The landmark deal went through to be joined by France, Austria and Italy. West German, French, Italian and British companies won multi-million contracts for pipes and various equipment orders. The America embargo was lifted in 1982. In 1984, the Yamal pipeline became operational to benefit all.

Today, the US uses Ukraine instead of Poland but the goal and the methods to achieve it remain the same.

If Germany had not had the advantage of stable gas supplies from Russia, it would not have become the locomotive driving the European economy and the EU leader defining the decision making process. Other European countries have also gained a lot. Today, the demand for Russian gas keeps on growing to make Moscow increase supplies via the pipeline going through Ukraine and Nord Stream. Europe badly needs the stable supplies, if it wants to achieve economic progress. To protect its vital interests it has to defy the United States. The history appears to repeat itself.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

US Cannot Shoot Down DPRK Missiles: Global Defense Experts

Sputnik – 24.09.2017

The US State Department stated on Friday that the country’s military defense networks will shoot down a North Korean ballistic missile if it flies over the island territory of Guam, but experts in the field have claimed that the Pentagon is flat-out wrong.

In stating that the US will destroy a Pyongyang ballistic missile carrying a nuclear warhead in mid-air, the Pentagon is not only misleading the public and its own government, it is outright lying, according to military experts with deep knowledge of missile-defense technology.

“No, we won’t,” counter military experts to claims by the Pentagon that the US may launch and intercept any missiles launched by the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The United States will have a hard time trying to shoot down DPRK nuclear missiles, a point of view shared by Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation specializing in nuclear weapons, and Kingston Reif, director of Disarmament and Threat Reduction policy at the nonpartisan Arms Control Association.

According to both experts, the United States touts its layered missile defense systems, even though almost none are capable of intercepting an ICBM.

When Pyongyang shot a missile over Japan, it flew high enough that no US system would be able to reach it, Cirincione wrote in a report for Defense One.

“The key word here is ‘over.’ Like way over,” Cirincione wrote. “Like 770 kilometers (475 miles) over Japan at the apogee of its flight path. Neither Japan nor the United States could have intercepted the missile. None of the theater ballistic missile defense weapons in existence can reach that high.”

The US missile defense consists of three layers, including the Patriot, THAAD and the Aegis systems. For the sake of simplicity, their ranges can be memorized as 12, 125 and 1350 miles, respectively (thanks to the Business Insider for a nice chart).

However, all three are designed to take down a missile at its final, terminal, stage, while it is falling from the sky toward its target. Despite that the US has reportedly poured some $320 billion into missile defense systems over the last several decades, none of the systems is capable of reaching an ICBM (or even an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM)) in its middle or post-launch stage.

Well, they will take down an ICBM in the terminal stage, right? Wrong, the experts say. While the much-advertised Aegis system, for example, has displayed stellar results in test fires against short-range and medium-range targets, these results must be taken with a heavy dose of salt, according to Reif and Cirincione.

“Only one of those tests has been against an IRBM class target similar to the North’s HS-12,” Reif told Fox News.

“THAAD, Patriot and especially Aegis, have done fairly well in tests, but these have been tests designed for success, simplified, carefully staged and using mostly short-range targets,” Cirincione stated.

According to Cirincione, currently the United States has a “50-50 chance” of hitting a missile similar to North Korea’s Hwasong-14 while the missile is in flight. And those results are only possible if the DPRK used zero countermeasures, such as decoys (some as simple as a balloon), electronic jammers and chaff.

There is also a little-discussed issue with naval-based Aegis launchers. Despite their flexibility compared to fixed ground-based systems, the ships need to be at precisely the right place at the right time to be capable to intercept a launch, experts say.

Trying to use missiles from Aegis ships “would be a highly demanding task and entail a significant amount of guesswork, as the ships would have to be in the right place at the right time to stop a test at sea,” Reif said, cited by Defense One.

There is a US system that is supposed to be the ultimate solution to the ICBM threat — well, at least sort of — called “Ground-Based Midcourse Defense,” or GMD, according to the experts. This system, which has already cost the US some $40 billion, is claimed to be able to shoot down ICBMS at their highest point, at ranges up to 3,500 miles.

According to the experts, “claimed to be able” does not equal “guaranteed to work.”

“The only system designed to defend the US homeland, known as the [GMD], has suffered from numerous technical and engineering problems, and testing in controlled conditions has not demonstrated that it can provide a reliable defense against even a small number of unsophisticated ICBMs,” Reif said.

“The success rate of the GMD systems in flight intercept tests has been dismal,” Cirincione quoted Philip Coyle, former director of operational testing for the Pentagon, as saying.

Cirincione also quotes the former head of the Missile Defense Agency, retired Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, saying that the chances of successfully hitting an ICBM with a GMD are “as good as coin toss.”

Top US officials, including President Donald Trump and his defense minister General Jim Mattis, claim that the Pentagon has the situation under control and can deal with any nuclear threat, giving US citizens a false feeling of safety. Neither the US mainland, Japan or South Korea are in any way protected by US missile defense technology from a DPRK nuclear strike.

Thomas Karako, senior fellow and director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in an interview with Fox News that “North Korea has hundreds of missiles, [and] the THAAD battery is not there to defend the entire peninsula. […] This is not about having a perfect shield and sitting there and playing catch.”

According to Karko, THAAD has been deployed in South Korea not to provide protection for the 25 million population of the country, but to “buy time for a military counterstrike.”

The top US brass, repeating words of confidence over and over again, may trick themselves into believing their own words, according to Reif.

“Misplaced overconfidence in missile defense could prompt US leaders to think that we can escalate in response to North Korean provocations without having to worry about a potential North Korean nuclear response,” Reif warned.

“This would greatly increase the risk of conflict on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 5 Comments

Report: 16 Palestinian Children Arrested, Beaten, and Confined to Cage By Israeli Soldiers

By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | October 22, 2017

“On October 13th, 2017, 16 children and 2 adults were ambushed and arrested by the Israeli soldiers from the Givati Brigade. The 18 arrested were initially detained in a cage in checkpoint 56,  cable-tied,  kicked, and hit. 2 were released, whilst the remaining 16 were transferred to an Israeli police station where they were subjected to further physical and psychological violence. All 16 were eventually released without charge, but not before threats were made to their families and the safety of their homes.”

The above is reported by Christian Peacemaker Teams, which maintains a team of international observers in the occupied West Bank…

The seizing of the children took place in the West Bank city of Hebron. The report goes on to describe arrests of minors as “a consistent reality of the occupation and tactic of the Israeli occupation forces,” and it also cites a report from a human rights organization showing that 130 children were arrested in August of 2017 alone.

One of those detained in the October 13 roundup was 12-year-old Abdullah Dwaik. That’s Abdullah in the brown sweater being led away in the photo above. You can also see him in the video below giving an account of what took place after he was taken into custody. Following the initial arrest, he and the others were transported to a military base where they were handcuffed and blindfolded.

I’m not sure exactly where Abdullah’s grandparents live–I’m not familiar with the place name–but Bab Al Zawyeh, the place he calls “home,” is a neighborhood in central Hebron.

I also do not know who the “Ofer the settler” Abdullah refers to (and who he says hit one of the boys) is, though possibly he’s the man profiled in the following video…

In any event, the Christian Peacemakers report goes on to make some additional crucial  points:

  • Children should never be blindfolded, hooded or painfully restrained;
  • Children should never be subjected to violent, threatening or coercive conduct;
  • Children must be able to consult with a lawyer prior to interrogation;
  • Children should have a parent or guardian present prior to and during their interrogation;
  • Children should not be arrested at night;
  • Children should be properly informed of their right to silence;
  • All interrogations should be audio-visually recorded;
  • No child should be transferred out of the West Bank in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Israel has violated all of these principles.

And this is the country so loved by Dickinson, Texas that its officials deny hurricane relief assistance to people based upon whether or not they support a boycott of it.

Mayor and city council members of Dickinson, Texas

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , , | 3 Comments