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‘Credit Card Wars’: Pentagon Grossly Underestimates Cost of Post-9/11 Wars

Sputnik – September 11, 2018

The Pentagon estimates that the cost of war since the fateful terror attacks on 9/11 rounds out to $1.5 trillion, yet experts maintain that this figure wildly underestimates the true financial burden of perpetual war.

“After 16 years, should the taxpayers of America be satisfied we are in a ‘stalemate?’ I don’t think so,” the late Sen. John McCain said in 2017.

The Pentagon’s $1.5 trillion figure purports to cover the time period from September 11, 2001, until March 31, 2018. While this may seem like a large sum of money, it’s only about twice the 2017 Pentagon budget of $700 billion. About $1.5 trillion might be a reasonable ballpark estimate for war spending in the past few years, but to suggest it as the gross cost of 17 years of bombings; costs per hour to fly military aircraft; supplies for personnel overseas; costs of lost, damaged and stolen equipment; soldier pay; and more is almost an offense to reason.

Literally 10 years ago, in 2008, Harvard’s Linda Bilmes and Columbia University’s Joseph Stiglitz found that the cost of the Iraq and Afghan conflicts alone totaled $3 trillion. And now the Pentagon would have credulous news outlets like CNBC believe that 17 years of endless wars in the Middle East and South Asia have run a tab of a mere $1.5 trillion.

The “Costs of War” study by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs estimates that from 2001 to 2017, Congress appropriated $4.35 trillion for war and war-related expenses. Moving through fiscal year 2018, that figure surged to $4.6 trillion. Both figures, as Brown’s report authors note, do not take into account future expenses for medical and disability coverage for veterans of the Global War on Terror, which the study forecasts will cost $1 trillion.

The Pentagon study tracks just three areas of spending: “war-related operational costs,” such as training, operating tempo, base support and equipment maintenance; “support for deployed troops,” including food, clothing and medical treatment for troops currently overseas; and “transportation of personnel and equipment.”

So what’s included in Brown’s study that is absent from the DoD report?

For one, Brown’s study includes spending on the Department of Homeland Security. DHS was set up under then-President George W. Bush’s administration in November 2002 as part of the Homeland Security Act. Brown’s report states that spending on DHS for “prevention and response to terrorism” adds up to about $783 billion since the inception of the department.

Further, Brown accounts for the cost of financing required to undertake Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO. Since the Pentagon borrowed incredible sums of money to pay for the war, the department had to make interest payments. “Estimated interest paid on OCO borrowing for wars [from] FY [fiscal year] 2001 to FY 2017” comes out to $534 billion, Brown’s Watson Institute reported. When interest on loans for war operations in 2018 is factored in, that $534 billion figure shoots up another $88 billion.

Another factor accounted for by the Watson Institute and excluded by DoD is how much money the base Pentagon budget grew in 2018 “due to post 9/11 wars,” which adds another $33 billion to Brown’s total figure of $5.6 trillion — or about 25 percent of annual US GDP.

In its addendum, Brown’s Watson Institute notes, “[c]umulative interest on war appropriations through FY 2013 is currently estimated to add more than $7.9 trillion to these totals by 2056.”

Thus, Brown’s estimate adds up to $13.5 trillion — nine times more than DoD’s estimate. Perhaps for this reason, Bilmes has dubbed these wars the “credit card wars.”

To conduct the “Costs of War” study, the Watson Institute gathered together an international team of 35 scholars, activists and legal experts. The study examined costs associated with US wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as post-9/11 veterans’ care and homeland security.

It’s important to note a few things about the Pentagon’s study. First, the Pentagon has a conflict of interest in auditing its own war-related spending.

Further, the Pentagon has been unable to keep track of incredible sums of money. It has never conducted a complete audit, but that is supposed to change. A year ago the Pentagon agreed to an audit to track the Pentagon’s several hundred billion dollars in yearly expenditures. But military financial managers found themselves on the hot seat after sharing the mammoth $1 billion cost it would take to check the Pentagon’s books, Government Executive reported this year.

In February, the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency was unable to tell auditors from Ernst & Young where $800 million for construction projects had gone, Sputnik reported. In January, the Project on Government Oversight reported that some $675 million had been squandered on economic development projects that were intended to help rebuild Afghanistan.

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Militarism | | 1 Comment

A New Capital? Palestinians say Abu Dis is No Substitute for East Jerusalem

By Jonathon Cook | The National | September 11, 2018

From the offputting concrete edifice that confronts a visitor to Abu Dis, the significance of this West Bank town – past and present – is not immediately obvious.

The eight metre-high grey slabs of Israel’s separation wall silently attest to a divided land and a quarter-century of a failed Middle East peace process.

The entrance to Abu Dis could not be more disconcerting, given reports that Donald Trump’s administration intends it to be the capital of a future Palestinian state, in place of Jerusalem.

The wall, and the security cameras lining the top of it, are the legacy of battles for control of Jerusalem’s borders. Sections of concrete remain charred black by fires residents set years ago in the forlorn hope of weakening the structure and bringing it down.

Before the wall was erected more than a decade ago, Abu Dis had a spectacular view across the valley to Jerusalem’s Old City and the iconic golden-topped Dome of the Rock, less than three kilometres away. It was a few minutes’ drive – or an hour’s hike – to Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the reputed location of Jesus’s crucifixion.

Now, for many of the 13,000 inhabitants, Jerusalem might as well as be on another planet. They can no longer reach its holy places, markets, schools or hospitals.

Abu Dis, say its residents, is hemmed in on all sides – by Israel’s oppressive wall; by illegal Jewish settlements encroaching relentlessly on what is left of its lands; and by a large, Israeli-run landfill site that, according to experts, is a threat to human health.

The Palestinian authorities do not even control Abu Dis. The Israeli security cameras watch over it and armoured jeeps full of Israeli soldiers make forays at will into its crowded streets.

Perhaps fittingly, given the Palestinians’ current plight, Abu Dis feels more like it is being gradually turned into one wing of a dystopian open-air prison than a capital-in-waiting.

Abu Dis repackaged

Nonetheless, the town has been thrust into the spotlight. Rumours have intensified that US President Trump’s promised peace plan – what he terms the “deal of the century” – is nearing completion. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been drafting it for more than a year.

Back in January Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, confirmed for the first time that the White House was leaning on him to accept Abu Dis as his capital.

The issue has become highly charged for Palestinians since May, when Mr Trump overturned decades of diplomatic consensus by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

That appeared to overturn a once widely shared assumption that Israel would be required to withdraw from East Jerusalem, which it occupied in 1967, and allow the Palestinians to declare it their capital.

Instead Mr Kushner and his team appear to believe they can repackage Abu Dis, just outside the city limits, as a substitute capital.

How plausible is it that the Palestinians can accept a ghettoised, anonymous community like Abu Dis for such a pivotal role in their nation-building project?

Symbolic power

Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian cabinet minister, said Mr Trump would find no takers among the Palestinian leadership.

“A Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital simply won’t work. It’s not credible,” he said. “It’s not just Jerusalem’s religious and historic significance. It also has strategic, economic and geographic importance to Palestinians.”

The people of Abu Dis appear to feel the same way, with many pointing to Jerusalem’s enormous symbolic power, as well as the potential role of international tourism in developing the Palestinian economy.

Abu Dis, however, is unlikely ever to attract visitors, even should it get a dramatic makeover.

The approach road, skirting the massive settlement of Maale Adumim, home to 40,000 Jews, is adorned with red signs warning that it is dangerous for Israelis to enter the area.

The section of wall at the entrance to Abu Dis alludes to the residents’ growing anger and frustration – not only with Israel but some of their own leaders.

Artists have spray-painted a giant image of Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian resistance leader imprisoned by Israel for the past 16 years. It shows him lifting his handcuffed hands to make a V-for-victory sign.

But noticeably, next to him is a much smaller image of Mr Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, whose face has been painted out. He has come under mounting domestic criticism for maintaining Palestinian “security cooperation” with Israel’s occupation forces.

Resentment at such cooperation is felt especially keenly in Abu Dis. Large iron gates in the wall give the Israeli army ready access in and out of the town.

An orphaned town

Under the Oslo accords signed in the mid-1990s, all of Abu Dis was placed temporarily under Israeli military control, and most of it under Israel’s civil control also. That temporary status appears to have become permanent, leaving residents at the whim of hostile Israeli authorities who deny building permits and readily issue demolition orders.

The restrictions mean Abu Dis lacks most of the infrastructure one would associate with a city, let alone a capital.

Abdulwahab Sabbah, a local community activist, said: “We are now a small island of territory controlled by the Israeli army.

“Not only have we lost our schools, the hospitals we once used, our holy places, the job opportunities that the city offered. Families have been split apart too, unable to visit their relatives in Jerusalem.

“We have been orphaned. We have lost Jerusalem, our mother.”

A short drive into Abu Dis and the shell of a huge building comes into view, a reminder that the idea of an Abu Dis upgrade is not the Trump administration’s alone.

In fact, noted Mr Khatib, Israel began rebranding Abu Dis as a second “Al Quds” – the Holy City, the Arabic name for Jerusalem – in the late 1990s, after the Oslo agreement allowed Palestinian leaders to return to Gaza and limited parts of the West Bank.

The Palestinian leadership, desperate to get a foothold closer to the densely populated neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, played along. They expected that Israel would eventually relinquish Abu Dis to full Palestinian control, allowing it to be annexed to East Jerusalem in a future peace deal.

View of al-Aqsa

In 1996 the Palestinians began work building a $4 million parliament on the side of Abu Dis closest to Jerusalem. The location was selected so that the office of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat would have a view of Al Aqsa.

Reports from that time talk of Abu Dis becoming a gateway, or “safe corridor”, for West Bank Palestinians to reach the mosque. One proposal was to build a tunnel between Abu Dis and the Old City.

However, with the outbreak of hostilities in 2000 – a Palestinian intifada – work on the parliament came to a halt. The interior was never finished, and there is now no view of Al Aqsa. The parliament too is sealed off from Jerusalem by the wall.

Since then Israel has barred the Palestinian Authority from having any role in East Jerusalem.

Khalil Erekat, a caretaker, holds the key to the unused parliament. Once visitors could inspect the building, including its glass-domed central chamber. Now, he said, only pigeons and the odd stray dog or snake ventured inside.

“No one comes any more,” he added. “The place has been forgotten.”

And that, it seems, is the way Palestinian officials would prefer it. With the Trump administration mooting the town as a substitute capital, the parliament is now an embarrassing white elephant.

Requests from The National to the Palestinian authorities to visit the building were rejected on the grounds that it was no longer structurally safe.

Eyesore ghetto

Evidence of how quickly Israel has transformed Abu Dis from a rural suburb of Jerusalem into an eyesore ghetto are evident in the homes around the parliament.

A once-palatial four-storey home next door would be more in place in war-ravaged Gaza than an impending capital. Its collapsed top floors sit precariously above the rest of the structure.

Mohammed Anati, a retired carpenter aged 64, is a tenant occupying the bottom floor with his wife and three sons.

He said the destruction was carried out by the Jerusalem municipality several years ago, apparently because the upper floors were built in violation of planning rules Israeli military authorities imposed after 1967.

Neighbours speculate that, in fact, Israel was more concerned that the top of the building provided views over the wall.

Mr Anati said that, paradoxically, the Jerusalem municipality treated this small neighbourhood next to the wall as within its jurisdiction. “We have to pay council taxes to Jerusalem even though we are cut off from the city and receive no services,” he said.

Asked whether he thought Abu Dis could be a Palestinian capital, Mr Anati scoffed. “Trump will offer us the worst deal of the century,” he said. “Jerusalem has to be the capital. There is nothing of Jerusalem here since Israel built the wall.”

Only pigeons still free

Nearby, Ghassan Abu Hillel’s two-storey home presses up against the grey slabs of concrete. He said cameras on the top of the wall monitored his and his neighbours’ activities around the clock.

His family moved to this house in 1967, when he was 14 years old, and shortly before Israel occupied Abu Dis, along with the rest of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Until the wall was constructed, he spent his time herding sheep and goats on the surrounding hills.

Now he has had to corral them into a corner of the wall. Their improvised pen is daubed with graffiti: “Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape.”

His herd of what was once more than 200 sheep is down to barely a dozen. The animals can no longer graze out on the hills, and he cannot afford the cost of feeding them.

Unlike Mr Abu Hillel and the sheep, his pigeons still enjoy their freedom. “They can fly over the wall and reach Jerusalem whenever they want,” he said.

His family owned much of the land surrounding Abu Dis before 1967, he added, but almost all of it had been taken by Israel – originally on the pretext that it was needed for military purposes.

Since then, Israel has built a series of Jewish settlements on the surrounding land, including Maale Adumim, Kfar Adumim and Kedar.

In the early 1980s it also opened a landfill site to cope with the region’s waste. In 2009 the United Nations warned that toxic fumes from waste-burning and leakage into the groundwater posed a threat to local inhabitants’ health.

A bluff from Israel

Some residents are actively finding ways to break out of the isolation imposed on Abu Dis by Israel.

Mr Sabbah is a founder of the Friendship Association, which encourages exchange programmes with European students, teachers and youth clubs. His most successful project is the twinning of Abu Dis with the London borough of Camden.

Mr Sabbah’s prominent political activities may be one reason why his home – along with the local mayor’s – was one of 10 invaded in the middle of the night on September 4.

The operation had the hallmarks of what former Israeli soldiers from the whistleblowing group Breaking the Silence have termed “establishing presence” – military training exercises designed to disrupt the lives of Palestinian communities and spread fear.

Mr Sabbah is sceptical that the Abu Dis proposal by the Trump administration has been made in good faith.

“It’s a bluff,” he said. “Israel has shown through all its actions that it does not want any Palestinian state – and that means no capital, even in Abu Dis.

“It is being offered only because Israel knows no Palestinian leader could ever accept it as a capital. And that way Israel can again blame us for being the ones to reject their version of ‘peace’.”

An oasis of normality

Amid its confinement, however, Abu Dis does have one asset – a university – that now attracts thousands of young Palestinians, though it adds to overcrowding.

The main campus of the Palestinian-run Al Quds university has been operating in Abu Dis since the 1980s.

Sitting on the crossroads between the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem and Nablus to the south, Jericho to the east, and Ramallah to the north, the Abu Dis campus has grown rapidly. It has profited from the fact that West Bank Palestinians cannot access another campus of Al Quds university in East Jerusalem.

The university is enclosed and security is tight. Inside, students enjoy spacious grounds with shaded gardens, a small oasis of normality where it is possible briefly to forget the situation outside.

Nonetheless, the university is not immune from Israeli military operations either. On September 5, soldiers shut down the campus and nearby schools, as they reportedly fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets at youths.

Omar Mahmoud, aged 23, a medical student from Nablus, raised his eyebrows at the suggestion that Abu Dis could serve as the Palestinians’ capital.

“It’s fully under Israeli control,” he said. “One side there is the wall and on the other side there are Israeli settlements. There are no services and it just gets more crowded by the year.”

He has shared an apartment with other students in Abu Dis for five years. He said: “To be honest, I can’t wait to get out of here.”

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Mention the War: Controversial British Army Recruitment Strategies Exposed

British cadets of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

 7th Army Training Command,  CC
Sputnik – September 11, 2018

An internal document setting out the marketing plan for the UK military’s controversial ‘This Is Belonging’ recruitment campaign has revealed the Ministry of Defense is seeking to enlist young people from poor, working-class backgrounds with limited opportunities.

The brief describes the campaign’s target audience as “16 —24, primarily C2DE”, the latter being a demographic classification referring to the UK’s three lowest social and economic groups.

These individuals are said to be; “open to change”; “ambitious and money-driven, but not good at money management”; “highly likely to be influenced by those around them”; have a “thirst for variety and risk”.

‘Focus locations’ for the propaganda blitz are northern cities of Bradford, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesborough, Newcastle, Sunderland and Sheffield. Other major metropoles in recruiters’ crosshairs are Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and, perhaps predictably, London.

In a section titled previous channel learnings,’ ‘out of home’ advertising is said to have previously been “anecdotally reported” as a “strong performer” in gyms, pubs, bars, sports centres and ‘powerleagues.’

In respect of TV ads, the document states the campaign’s ‘hero spots’ should ideally run before, during or after sports, dating, and reality shows, including The Voice, Celebrity Big Brother, Celebrity Bake Off and Gogglebox.

Adverts will also be shown in cinemas, but the document warns against running them prior to “combatant” films —  perhaps indicating the romantic and glamorous depiction of army life promoted by ‘This Is Belonging’ may be compromised by association with violent war films.

Child Soldiers?

The campaign provoked controversy earlier in 2018 when it was revealed ads targeting 16-year-olds via social media on and around GCSE results day were promoted via Facebook, suggesting they enroll in the army if they didn’t achieve the grades they were expecting.

Beyond the implied cynicism of targeting potentially stressed, vulnerable children, some were simply shocked to learn the UK routinely recruited under-18s for military service — the only country in Europe, and the only member of NATO and permanent UN Security Council, to do so.

Individuals can apply for the army from the age of 15 years and 7 months old — once enlisted, they can leave after the first six months of their contract if they wish — Ministry of Defense figures indicate one in three recruits who join up at 16 or 17 leave the army after a few months — but those who stay past the age of 18 are locked into military service until 22.This practice has endured despite stringent criticism from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Parliament’s own Joint Committee on Human Rights, and numerous charities and NGOs — among them Forces Watch.

“Compared with older personnel, younger recruits are significantly more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, consume alcohol at harmful levels and behave violently upon returning from deployment. Young recruits from disadvantaged backgrounds are at greatest risk — they’re more vulnerable to stress, be given jobs more exposed to traumatically stressful events on the battlefield, and lack strong social support when they leave the forces in order to manage the effects of any mental health problems they may be experiencing,” spokesperson Rihanna Louise told Sputnik.

This lack of social support may account for why UK army veterans under the age of 24 are three times more likely to take their own lives than their civilian counterparts.

Nonetheless, Forces Watch believe the targeting of vulnerable young people by UK military recruiters is no accident — and in fact suggest ‘This Is Belonging’ specifically seeks to exploit “the typically adolescent desire” to find a sense of kinship and acceptance, at an age when a tendency towards hasty and risky long-term decision-making is almost universal.

“This is also an important time for learning and gaining educational and social skills for healthy development — but while the military does provide some education for its 16-18-year-old personnel, it’s not standardized by the same requirements as mainstream education, falls short of offering satisfactory transferable qualifications — which significantly contributes to veteran unemployment — and is secondary to military training. In any event, adolescents are misled into thinking they needn’t be concerned with civilian qualifications and learning — the Army has a job for them regardless of qualifications,” Rihanna told Sputnik.

See also:

UK Military Academy Cadets Investigated for Waterboarding Claims – Reports

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

9/11 War Games

corbettreport | September 11, 2018

Little did we know at the time, 9/11 was not a normal day of blue sky aviation. On the contrary, it was one of the busiest days in the history of American aviation, a dense forest of live fly exercises, drills, simulations, fake radar injects and utter confusion. And that was before the attacks even began. This is the story of 9/11 that you didn’t watch unfold on your TV that fateful day in 2001. This is the story of the 9/11 War Games.

TRANSCRIPT AND MP3: https://www.corbettreport.com/911wargames/

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

The US’s Choice: WWIII or Saving Face in Syria

By Tom LUONGO | Strategic Culture Foundation | 11.09.2018

Sometimes when I step back from the overwhelming flow of geopolitical insanity I’m reminded of the old adage that coming close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

To which, I always add, “And nuclear war.”

I’ve been watching the build up to the operation to liberate Idlib in Syria which includes the endless neocon and Israeli moral preening warning Assad against using chemical weapons with a sense of detachment.  And I keep thinking to myself, “Do they really think we’re that stupid?”

Three times the chemical weapons canard has been used to justify further aggression against Syria and three times a full-blown U.S. invasion has been averted. First by Vladimir Putin’s deft diplomacy and General Dunford’s refusal to implement a ‘no-fly zone’ in 2013 and then during the Trump years with ineffectual air strikes on Syrian airbases.

How much of that ineffectuality of those airstrikes were designed by Defense Secretary James Mattis to avoid a wider conflagration and how much was Russian EW/missile defense is anyone’s guess.

The truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle.

That is why everyone who is worrying about the U.S.’s blustering over Syria’s Idlib campaign needs to take a big step back and think the scenario through.

Because the neoconservatives and Israel are forcing the situation to its crisis point, thinking they can manipulate the headlines and the levers of power to still eke out a victory in Syria that will allow them to continue on their quest to destroy Russia first and conquer the rest of Asia after that.

And they are willing to blackmail us with the threat of WWIII over 50,000 head-chopping mercenaries to get their cookie.

However, when you factor in the men actually in charge of the U.S. military chain of command, Trump and Mattis, and you realize the lengths to which Mattis’ field commanders have gone to avoid direct confrontation with Russian forces, you come to the conclusion that the men who will actually fight this war the neoconservative provocateurs and laptop bombardiers are clamoring for won’t actually pull the trigger.

The reasons for this are manifest.

First, the potential for the conflict to go nuclear is too high for rational men to take that chance. Mattis and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu are hard-bitten, no-nonsense men. Neither underestimates the other’s resolve to defend their men and national interests.

So, once the shooting starts expect it to get ugly quick.  Therefore it is unlikely to get to that point.

Second, there is no profit in that kind of escalation for the people who profit from war. The banks and the military weapons makers thrive in low-intensity, frozen conflicts which keep sales flowing and governments indebted to pay for them.

In an age of nuclear weapons, proxy wars fought by mercenaries with drones are far more profitable than any large-scale invasions.  I hate to say this but from a discounted cash flow perspective Lockheed-Martin wants predictability to cover their quarterly dividends to shareholders more than they want to bring about the supposed Zionist plan for Greater Israel.

Sorry to burst everyone’s conspiracy theories.

Third and most importantly, the U.S. cannot afford a non-nuclear confrontation with Russia that punctures the illusion of U.S. military superiority.  Too much of the world’s confidence in the dollar itself rests in the U.S.’s ability to project power and defend its interests militarily.

This confidence is a mixture of that military capability and the U.S.’s traditional position of a country with an excellent legal framework within which to do business. It is fashionable among geopolitical critics, myself included, to get caught up in the rhetoric and projection of a sclerotic and weakening United States, but legally it is still one of the best places on earth to do business.

But, as Martin Armstrong pointed out recently, Trump’s domestic opposition has openly declared sedition against him this week in the New York Times. Former Secretary of State, John Kerry, is doing the talk show circuit calling for a constitutional crisis over Trump allegedly being unfit for office. And George Soros is paying protesters to disrupt the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

If allowed to run its course to impeachment in the event of the Republicans losing control of the House in November, this would be a death blow to the U.S.’s reputation as a nation of laws rather than a nation of men. The U.S. dollar would not recover from such a blow to its credibility, especially in light of Trump’s nearly-unhinged use of sanctions and threats of tariffs, weaponizing the dollar indiscriminately.

And this is why Vladimir Putin openly showed his hand to the world in March. Strategically, he let everyone know that any confrontation between Russia and the U.S. would result in the U.S losing its status as the world’s pre-eminent military power.

This is why the neocons and the U.S./U.K. Deep State have been so adamant in accelerating its provocations against Russia. They have to present us with the Faustian bargain of WWIII before Russia has these weapon systems fully deployed.

It’s also why Trump and Mattis are allowing them to have their head. It feeds Trump’s “Art of the Deal” strategy for negotiations while also allowing him the opportunity to save face after Idlib is liberated regardless of whether another chemical weapons attack is staged.

I think we won’t see one here.

The way out of Syria for the U.S. with its face-saved is to thunder and bluster, threaten fire and brimstone just like Trump did with Kim Jong-un and use that to explain why Assad showed restraint and didn’t use chemical weapons this time.

I can even see Trump tweeting something about three strikes and he would be out.

Once Idlib is liberated Mattis will happily begin pulling vulnerable troops out of al-Tanf and Afghanistan. That’s why I believe he went there to the surprise of the CIA house-organ Washington Post last week.

And then the neocon and Israeli muddying of the waters will move to the Geneva talks, but we’ll cross that Rubicon when it approaches.

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

‘US incites Kurds to break promise, assault Iranian soil’

Press TV – September 11, 2018

Iran’s top military commander says the United States has been provoking terrorists based in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region over the past year to launch assaults on Iranian soil despite an earlier promise not to do so.

Speaking on Tuesday, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri referred to a missile strike by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRCG) at a gathering of terrorists in Kurdistan, saying the Iranian nation reserves the right to defend itself.

Over two decades ago, officials from Iraqi Kurdistan and the outlawed Kurdistan Democratic Party had “made a written commitment not to conduct operations in Iran, but they have been breaking that promise over the past year due to US provocations,” he said.

“This was not acceptable to us and thus we repeatedly cautioned them,” he added.

The IRGC issued a statement confirming that it had fired seven short-range surface-to-surface missiles at a gathering of terrorist commanders in Kurdistan on Saturday, dealing a heavy blow to them.

The terrorists, the statement read, had been seeking to create insecurity and carry out acts of sabotage in the Iranian provinces of West Azarbaijan, Kordestan and Kermanshah.

The Iranian general said that the Iraqi government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) should not allow the establishment of such anti-Iran bases and rather extradite the remnants of “criminal” elements to Iran or deport them.

If insecurity persists, Baqeri warned, more counter-measures would be taken against terrorist commanders in self defense.

Iranian forces reached all their goals in the missile attack, he said. “It is not coincidental that the missiles hit the meeting, and we hope that we will not need to repeat this.”

‘No appeasement policy’

Separately on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said that Iran will not follow a policy of appeasement when it comes to its security issues and the violation of its sovereignty by terrorist elements.

The missile strike has not been and will not be “Iran’s optimal choice. But terrorist activities – especially those that resulted in the martyrdom of Iranian border guards and soldiers – left the Iranian armed forces with no choice but to take a retaliatory and deterrent measure based on the credible information it had received.”

He also expressed hope that the joint border with Iraq would be among the most secure and stable frontiers in the region.

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Is Trump Going Neocon in Syria?

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • September 11, 2018

Is President Donald Trump about to intervene militarily in the Syrian civil war? For that is what he and his advisers seem to be signaling.

Last week, Trump said of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s campaign to recapture the last stronghold of the rebellion, Idlib province: “If it’s a slaughter, the world is going to get very, very angry. And the United States is going to get very angry, too.”

In a front-page story Monday, “Assad is Planning Chlorine Attack, U.S. Says,” The Wall Street Journal reports that, during a recent meeting, “President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Mr. Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib.”

Idlib contains three million civilians and refugees and 70,000 rebels, 10,000 of whom are al-Qaida.

Friday, The Washington Post reported that Trump is changing U.S. policy. America will not leaving Syria any time soon.

The 2,200 U.S. troops in Syria will remain until we see “the exit of all Iranian military and proxy forces and the establishment of a stable, non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians.”

“We are not in a hurry to go,” said James Jeffrey, the retired Foreign Service officer brought back to handle the Syria account. “The new policy is we’re no longer pulling out by the end of the year.”

President Obama had a red line against Syria’s use of poison gas, which Trump enforced with bombing runs. Now we have a new red line. Said Jeffrey, the U.S. “will not tolerate an attack. Period.”

In an editorial Friday, the Post goaded Trump, calling his response to Assad’s ruthless recapture of his country “pathetically weak.” To stand by and let the Syrian army annihilate the rebels in Idlib, said the Post, would be “another damaging abdication of U.S. leadership.”

What Trump seems to be signaling, the Post demanding, and Jeffrey suggesting, is that, rather than allow a bloody battle for the recapture of Idlib province to play out, the United States should engage Russian and Syrian forces militarily and force them to back off.

On Friday, near the U.S. garrison at Tanf in southern Syria, close to Iraq, U.S. Marines conducted a live-fire exercise. Purpose: Warn Russian forces to stay away. The Americans have declared a 35-mile zone around Tanf off-limits. The Marine exercise followed a Russian notification, and U.S. rejection, of a plan to enter the zone in pursuit of “terrorists.”

Is Trump ready to order U.S. action against Russian and Syrian forces if Assad gives his army the green light to take Idlib? For the bombing of Idlib has already begun.

What makes this more than an academic exercise is that Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at a meeting in Tehran last Friday, told President Erdogan of Turkey that the reconquest of Idlib is going forward.

Erdogan fears that the Syrian army’s recapture of Idlib would send hundreds of thousands more refugees streaming to his border.

Turkey already hosts millions of refugees from Syria’s civil war.

Yet the massing of the Syrian army near Idlib and the Russian and Syrian bombing now begun suggest that the Assad-Putin-Rouhani coalition has decided to accept the risk of a clash with the Americans in order to bring an end to the rebellion. If so, this puts the ball in America’s court.

Words and warnings aside, is Trump prepared to take us into the Syrian civil war against the forces who, absent our intervention, will have won the war? When did Congress authorize a new war?

What vital U.S. interest is imperiled in Idlib, or in ensuring that all Iranian forces and Shiite allies are removed, or that a “non-threatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the international community” is established in Damascus?

With these conditions required before our departure, we could be there for eternity.

The Syrian civil war is arguably the worst humanitarian disaster of the decade. The sooner it is ended the better. But Assad, Russia and Iran did not start this war. Nor have Syria, Russia or Iran sought a clash with U.S. forces whose mission, we were repeatedly assured, was to crush ISIS and go home.

Trump has struck Syria twice for its use of poison gas, and U.S. officials told the Journal that Assad has now approved the use of chlorine on the rebels in Idlib. Moscow, however, is charging that a false-flag operation to unleash chlorine on civilians in Idlib is being prepared to trigger and justify U.S. intervention.

Many in this Russophobic city would welcome a confrontation with Putin’s Russia, even more a U.S. war on Iran. But that is the opposite of what candidate Trump promised.

It would represent a triumph of the never-Trumpers and President Trump’s relinquishing of his foreign policy to the interventionists and neoconservatives.

Copyright 2018 Creators.com.

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 4 Comments

Fighting Starts in Syria’s Idlib: US Military Considers Military Options

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 11.09.2018

Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari declared on Sept. 7 that his government was determined to wipe out the rebels from the Idlib province. The next day, the Idlib Dawn Operation began, encircling a town 59 km. southwest of the Syrian city of Aleppo. As of Sept. 9, Russian aircraft have attacked the rebel positions in western Idlib, the mountains of the Latakia province, and the Sahl al-Ghab plain, with the goal of softening up peripheral targets and preventing a breakthrough or counterattack. Syria’s forces are ready to move.

The Russian military warned that a false-flag chemical attack staged by the rebels could occur at any time and be used as a pretext for Western missile strikes.  A massive Turkish military convoy, consisting of more than 300 vehicles, including tanks, armored vehicles, and MLRS launchers, has entered Idlib from the province of Hatay.

Syria needs Idlib — the last stronghold of the jihadists and the shortest route from Latakia to Aleppo. The M5 international highway crosses Idlib, linking Turkey and Jordan through Aleppo and Damascus. Control of the province would greatly facilitate the negotiations with the Kurds and strengthen Syria’s position at the UN-brokered Geneva talks. If the negotiation process succeeds, the only territories left to liberate would be the zone controlled by the US, such as the al-Tanf military base and the surrounding area, the northern parts of the country under Turkish control, and small chunks of land still held by ISIS [let’s not forget the Golan Heights].

Turkey opposes the idea of an Idlib offensive. It wants assurances for the groups in Idlib under its control and it doesn’t want an influx of refugees. These controversial issues can be tackled with Russia as a mediator. Turkey, Iran, and Russia did not agree on everything at the recent summit in Tehran, but the West’s hopes that they would go their separate ways, or even clash in Idlib, have been dashed.

President Erdogan has just said that he wants to meet the Russian president again after his Sept 28-29 visit to Germany. This means that the Turkish leader has ideas and proposals to discuss and Moscow can play a role in reaching a compromise, such as a more narrowly tailored counter-terrorism operation in Idlib. There is a divide, but it can be bridged.  The parties have the will to get it done.

Ankara plans to organize a Turkey-Russia-Germany-France summit. The Russian presidential aide, Yury Ushakov, has confirmed that such a meeting is in the works. Moscow has just invited the Turkish military to take part in its largest-ever military exercise, Vostok 2018, which will be held in the Far East. China and Mongolia have also been invited. Obviously, Russia and Turkey are prepared to solve their differences over Idlib peacefully through negotiations.

In any event, the province cannot remain under the terrorists’ control forever. They must either surrender or be routed. Now that the operation to free Idlib has begun, many of them will lay down their arms. They know their resistance is futile.

Actually, victories over terrorists that pave the way to a negotiated solution of the conflict should be welcomed, but the US sees these things in a different light. Washington seems to be shifting gears on Syria again, despite the statements President Trump made earlier about the plans to pull out. Now the president has reportedly agreed to new objectives that will keep US troops on the ground in Syria indefinitely in order to ensure that the Iranian forces are driven out. The US military has just sent reinforcements to al-Tanf to demonstrate its resolve to stay in that country. The Marines are holding a multi-day exercise there, using live ammunition.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said on Sept. 7 that the administration viewed any government assault on Idlib as an escalation of Syria’s warning that Washington would respond to any chemical attack by Damascus. Ambassador James Jeffrey, who served as a deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, has recently been appointed US Special Representative for Syria Engagement, and Joel Rayburn, the former senior director for Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, is now Special Envoy for Syria. The two appointments confirm the fact that the US has changed its mind and decided to remain in Syria, as both these officials had supported this policy before.

Rayburn, Joel (15 August 2014). “The coming disintegration of IraqWashington Post

America’s top military brass are studying the options for military involvement in Syria. But the real reason may not be Idlib or any other events in that country, but rather the situation creep in Iraq, where anti-Iranian and anti-government Shia protests in the south have turned violent and the prime minister may be compelled to step down. The protesters are armed and violent. They have attacked the Iranian consulate and the headquarters of Iranian-backed militias in the city.

Fighting has also been reported between Iranian forces and Kurds in Iraq’s Kurdish region. Details have been provided of mortar fire in Baghdad, where protests took place in July. Something’s cooking in Iraq. There is too little information available to obtain any deep insights into what’s going on, but the situation is unpredictable and volatile. Iraq could soon implode. The US will not leave the region, and it needs every outpost it has there. A lot depends on how events develop in Iraq.

Idlib will ultimately be liberated. The status of the US-led coalition forces in Syria will become a hot-button topic and be seen as the main stumbling block on the path to peace and reconstruction.

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

International Criminal Court unfazed by US threats of sanctions over Afghan war crimes probe

RT | September 11, 2018

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said it will “continue to do its work undeterred,” after US National Security Advisor John Bolton threatened sanctions if the tribunal investigates alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan.

The Hague-based court investigates genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes and is backed by 123 countries – but not by China and the US.

“The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The tribunal’s remarks came in response to a scathing verbal attack launched by Bolton in Washington DC on Monday during a speech to the conservative Federalist Society.

“Today, on the eve of September 11th, I want to deliver a clear and unambiguous message on behalf of the president,” Bolton began, before launching into the blistering offensive against the ICC.

“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC… We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

Bolton then issued a very clear threat: If the international court continues to pursue the probe, Washington will ban ICC judges from entering the country, prosecute them and sanction their funding. His main objection is the notion that the ICC could have higher authority than the US constitution and US sovereignty.

“In secular terms we don’t recognize any higher authority than the US constitution,” he said, adding that Trump “will not allow American citizens to be prosecuted by foreign bureaucrats, and he will not allow other nations to dictate our means of self defence.”

In November 2017, an ICC prosecutor requested approval to launch a probe into potential war crimes by the US armed forces and the CIA through the torture of detainees in Afghanistan.

However, Bolton didn’t come out swinging solely on the behalf of the US – he also attacked the ICC’s threat to Washington’s “friend and ally” Israel, as the Middle Eastern country faces an investigation into alleged war crimes against Palestinians.

Bolton said the probe into the actions of Israel, which he described as a “liberal, democratic nation,” was unacceptable, and added that any countries supporting the investigation and cooperating with the ICC would be subject to secondary sanctions.

September 11, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Target Syria

Will a new war be the October Surprise?

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • September 11, 2018

It’s official. The Syrian Army assisted by Russian air support is closing in on the last major pocket of terrorists remaining in the country in the province of Idlib near Aleppo. The United States, which has trained and armed some of the trapped gunmen and even as recently as a year ago described the province as “al-Qaeda’s largest safe haven since 9/11,” has perhaps predictably warned Syria off. The White House initially threatened a harsh reaction if the Bashar al-Assad government were to employ any chemical weapons in its final attack, setting the stage for the terrorists themselves to carry out a false flag operation blamed on Damascus that would bring with it a brutal response against the regime and its armed forces by the U.S., Britain and France.

In support of the claims relating to chemical weapons use, the Trump Administration, which is itself illegally occupying part of Syria, is as usual creating a bogus casus belli. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a news conference that “This is a tragic situation, and if they [Russia and Iran] want to continue to go the route of taking over Syria, they can do that. But they cannot do it with chemical weapons. They can’t do it assaulting their people and we’re not going to fall for it. If there are chemical weapons that are used, we know exactly who’s going to use them.” As with all Haley commentary, the appropriate response should be expressing wonderment at her ability to predict who will do something before it occurs followed by “Not quite Nikki.” She should familiarize herself with her own State Department’s travel warning on Syria which states explicitly that “tactics of ISIS, [al-Qaeda affiliate in Idlib] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and other violent extremist groups include the use of… chemical weapons.”

Setting the stage for a false flag provoked attack on a country that does not threaten the United States was bad enough, but now Washington has apparently hardened its line, indicating that any use of the Syrian Army to clear the province of rebels will “… not be tolerated. Period.” Haley again spoke out at the United Nations, saying “… an offensive against Idlib would be a reckless escalation. The regime and its backers must stop their military campaign in all its forms.” In support of its inflexible stance, the White House has been citing the presence of a large civilian population also trapped in the pocket even though there is no evidence whatsoever that anyone in Washington actually cares about Syrian civilian casualties.

And there is always Iran just waiting to get kicked around, when all else fails. Haley, always blissfully ignorant but never quiet, commented while preparing to take over the presidency of the U.N. Security Council last Friday, that Russia and Syria “want to bomb schools, hospitals, and homes” before launching into a tirade about Iran, saying that “President Trump is very adamant that we have to start making sure that Iran is falling in line with international order. If you continue to look at the spread Iran has had in supporting terrorism, if you continue to look at the ballistic missile testing that they are doing, if you continue to look at the sales of weapons we see with the Huthis in Yemen — these are all violations of security council resolution. These are all threats to the region, and these are all things that the international community needs to talk about.”

And there is the usual hypocrisy over long term objectives. President Donald Trump said in April that “it’s time” to bring American troops home from Syria -once the jihadists of Islamic State have been definitively defeated. But now that that objective is in sight, there has to be some question about who is actually determining the policies that come out of the White House, which is reported to be in more than usual disarray due to the appearance last week of the New York Times anonymous op-ed describing a “resistance” movement within the West Wing that has been deliberately undermining and sometimes ignoring the president to further Establishment/Deep State friendly policies. The op-ed, perhaps by no coincidence whatsoever, appeared one week before the release of the new book by Bob Woodward Fear: Trump in the White House, which has a similar tale to tell and came out on Amazon today.

The book and op-ed mesh nicely in describing how Donald Trump is a walking disaster who is deliberately circumvented by his staff. One section of the op-ed is particularly telling and suggestive of neocon foreign policy, describing how the White House staff has succeeded in “[calling out] countries like Russia…for meddling and [having them] punished accordingly” in spite of the president’s desire for détente. It then goes on to elaborate on Russia and Trump, describing how “… the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But the national security team knew better – such actions had to be taken to hold Moscow accountable.”

If the op-ed and Woodward book are in any way accurate, one has to ask “Whose policy? An elected president or a cabal of disgruntled staffers who might well identify as neoconservatives?” Be that as it may, the White House is desperately pushing back while at the same time searching for the traitor, which suggests to many in Washington that it will right the sinking ship prior to November elections by the time honored and approved method used by politicians worldwide, which means starting a war to rally the nation behind the government.

As North Korea is nuclear armed, the obvious targets for a new or upgraded war would be Iran and Syria. As Iran might actually fight back effectively and the Pentagon always prefers an enemy that is easy to defeat, one suspects that some kind of expansion of the current effort in Syria would be preferable. It would be desirable, one presumes, to avoid an open conflict with Russia, which would be unpredictable, but an attack on Syrian government forces that would produce a quick result which could plausibly be described as a victory would certainly be worth considering.

By all appearances, the preparation of the public for an attack on Syria is already well underway. The mainstream media has been deluged with descriptions of tyrant Bashar al-Assad, who allegedly has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people. The rhetoric coming out of the usual government sources is remarkable for its truculence, particularly when one considers that Damascus is trying to regain control over what is indisputably its own sovereign territory from groups that everyone agrees are at least in large part terrorists.

Last week, the Trump White House approved the new U.S. plan for Syria, which, unlike the old plan of withdrawal, envisions something like a permanent presence in the country. It includes a continued occupation of the country’s northeast, which is the Kurdish region; forcing Iran plus its proxies including Hezbollah to leave the country completely; and continued pressure on Damascus to bring about regime change.

Washington has also shifted its perception of who is trapped in Idlib, with newly appointed U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey arguing that “. . . they’re not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator.” Jeffrey, it should be noted, was pulled out of retirement where he was a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spin off. On his recent trip to the Middle East he stopped off in Israel nine days ago to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The change in policy, which is totally in line with Israeli demands, would suggest that Jeffrey received his instructions during the visit.

Israel is indeed upping its involvement in Syria. It has bombed the country 200 times in the past 18 months and is now threatening to extend the war by attacking Iranians in neighboring Iraq. It has also been providing arms to the terrorist groups operating inside Syria.

And Netanyahu also appears to be preparing his followers for a bit of bloodshed. In a recent ceremony, he boasted that “the weak are slaughtered” while “the strong” survive — “for good or ill.” Commentators in Israel noted that the words were very close to those used by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf in a chapter describing the historical inevitability of domination by the Aryan race. They also observed that Netanyahu, like Trump, also needs a war to free himself from his legal problems.

Taking the president, the U.N. Ambassador, the Israeli Prime Minister and the U.S. Special Representative for Syria at their words, it would appear that the Washington Establishment and its Israeli manipulators have narrowed the options for dealing with Syria and its regional supporter Iran to either war or war. Add to that the closing time window for doing something to ameliorate the Trump Administration’s panic over the impending midterm election, and it would seem that there is a certain inevitability regarding the process whereby the United States military will again be on the march in the Middle East.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Moscow Concerned by Attempts to Militarize Space Using Strike Weapons

Sputnik – 11.09.2018

Russia is concerned about the attempts to militarize outer space by deployment of strike weapons and any steps should be prevented, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Tuesday.

“We are concerned about the situation, the space becomes less secure due to increasing attempts to move to the next phase of the militarization of outer space by deploying strike weapons in space. This must be prevented by collective efforts,” Ryabkov told reporters at the first UN conference on space law and policy.

According to earlier reports citing the Missile Defense Agency’s director, Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, the Pentagon and Congress were pushing for a possible deployment of missile defense interceptors in space.

In July, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed hope that the US would abandon steps that could threaten the global security.

Earlier this year, the US House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, which stipulates the development of “persistent space-based sensor architecture” by the end of 2022.

September 11, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment