Aletho News


Real hate taught inside Toronto school, not scrawled outside

By Yves Engler · October 20, 2018

Supporters of a private Toronto school that publicly promotes racism against Palestinians, flies an Israeli flag and then complains of “anti-Semitism” when pro-Palestinian graffiti is scrawled on its walls should give their heads a shake.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center and B’nai Brith labeled messages scrawled on Leo Baeck Day School “hateful” and “anti-Semitic”, but fair-minded individuals should be more concerned with the hatred taught inside the school.

Recently someone wrote “Free Palestine” and“Long Live Palestine” on the school’s sign and flagpole. On a picture of a rally with Israeli flags at or near Leo Baeck (reports differ) someone wrote “Long Life [sic] to the Hamas.”

Saying it received a call to its “Anti-Hate Hotline”, B’nai Brith claimed the school was “defaced  with antisemitic epithets”. FSWC and CIJA also put out statements denouncing “hatred”. A number of city councillors and MPs repeated their message with Mayor John Tory writing, “there is no place for hate” in Toronto.

But none of these groups or politicians mentioned the hate taught inside the school itself.

Leo Baeck is a bastion indoctrination and activism that meets most of the criteria of anti-Palestinian racism, as defined by the UK’s Jewish Voice for Labour.

An Israeli flag flies in front of the school and its publicity says it “instills” a “love of Israel” and  “a deep and meaningful connection to … the State of Israel” among students. The school has an Israel Engagement Committee and in 2012 it received United Jewish Appeal Toronto’s inaugural Israel Engagement Community Award. That same year the Israeli Consul General in Toronto, DJ Schneiweiss, attended the launch of a new campus at Leo Baeck.

A 2012 Canadian Jewish News article titled “Leo Baeck adopts  more Israel-centric curriculum” quoted the head of the school saying “one of the reasons people choose our school is a commitment to the State of Israel.” But, principal Eric Petersie told the paper, graduates felt unprepared to respond to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement on university campuses so the school increased its Israeli teachings.

Leo Baeck was the first school to join UJA Federation Toronto’s shinshinim (emissary) program, which began in 2007. Partly funded by the Jewish Agency for Israel, the program sends young Israelis to interact with Canadian students and staff. Last year the school hosted Idan Aharon and Roni Alkalay for three days a week. According to the Canadian Jewish News, “one of the ways Leo Baeck and the Young Emissary Program ensure that students understand the realities of Israel is by re-introducing the previous year’s shinshinim to students by way of live video chat from their Israel Defence Forces barracks dressed in their military uniforms.”

The school promotes the Israeli military in other ways. Last year’s Grade 8 class organized a school-wide fundraiser to support Beit Halochem Canada/Aid to Disabled Veterans of Israel and a choir “paid tribute  to Israel’s fallen heroes.”

In another crude form of anti-Palestinianism, Leo Baeck works with the explicitly racist  Jewish National Fund, which excludes the 20-25% of non-Jewish Israelis from its vast landholdings mostly stolen from Palestinians in 1948. Some “students took  virtual walk across Israel in school thanks to JNF map and guidance”, noted a 2015 tweet.  But, the JNF map  shown to the nine and ten-year-olds encompasses the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza, effectively denying Palestinians the right to a state on even 22 percent of their historic homeland. In all likelihood, Leo Baeck works with JNF Canada’s Education Department, which has produced puzzles and board games to convince young minds of its colonialist worldview, and organizes celebrations of JNF day  at Jewish schools.

While B’nai Brith, FSWC and CIJA’s statements on the graffiti present the school as sacrosanct, apolitical, terrain, they didn’t object when a politician used it as a backdrop to express his anti-Palestinian bonafides. During a 2012 tour of Leo Baeck then Liberal Liberal party leadership contender Justin Trudeau criticized Iran, celebrated Israel and distanced himself from his brother Alexandre’s support for Palestinians.

Over the past year the Canadian Jewish News has published at least three stories about the growing attention devoted to Israel education at Jewish schools. A 2017 cover story titled “What to teach Jewish students about Israel?” detailed the growing importance given to classes on Israel at Jewish day schools. While students have long been “taught from a young age to see Israel as the land of milk and honey”, in recent years Jewish day schools have ramped up their indoctrination in reaction to “anti-Israel student groups on campuses throughout North America.”

When a school engages in partisan political activity in support of a foreign country, when it supports racism and intolerance against an oppressed people, when it indoctrinates children in these views, surely it cannot be surprised that some would be upset, and might illustrate their displeasure.

One can debate the merits of writing political graffiti on school grounds, but what news reports described was certainly not anti-Semitic.

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Belgian official: Israel steals organs of Palestinian kids

Robrecht Vanderbeeken, the cultural secretary of Belgium’s ACOD trade union
Press TV – October 21, 2018

A Belgian official’s remarks that Israel steals the organs of Palestinian children, whom it kills, have made headlines again after the news website which published them decided to stick to the story.

Robrecht Vanderbeeken, the cultural secretary of Belgium’s ACOD trade union and a philosophy of science scholar, had made the comments back in August in a column published by Belgian website De Wereld Morgen.

The population of the Gaza Strip is being “starved to death, poisoned, and children are kidnapped and murdered for their organs,” he wrote then.

The website recently received a complaint by Belgian watchdog, the Interfederal Center for Equal Opportunities, over the story.

De Wereld Morgen, however, stuck to the assertion that Israel “kidnapped” and “murdered” Palestinian children and used organs belonging to the Palestinians its forces killed.

In November 2015, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations said Israel harvested the organs of the Palestinians it killed.

In a letter to the UN secretary general, Riyad Mansour said the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces “were returned with missing corneas and other organs, further confirming past reports about organ harvesting by the occupying power.”

The New York Times also said in an August 2014 report that transplant brokers in Israel had pocketed enormous sums of money. Based on the newspaper’s analysis of major organ trafficking cases since 2000, Israelis had played a “disproportionate role” in organ trafficking.

The issue of organ theft by Israel was first brought to the fore in a report published by Sweden’s most highly-circulated daily Aftonbladet in 2009.

Back in 2000, Dr. Yehuda Hiss, the former head of Israel’s forensic institute, divulged that Israeli pathologists at the institute would harvest skin, corneas, heart valves, and bones from the bodies of Palestinians and others often without permission from relatives.

The interview was, however, released no later than 2009 by Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, who had conducted it as part of her investigation into the institute, in response to a row created between Israel and Sweden over Aftonbladet’s report.

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 8 Comments

Israeli Special Police remand Jerusalem Governor for four days

Ma’an – October 21, 2018

JERUSALEM – Israeli authorities remanded the Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, several hours after he was detained from the Beit Hanina neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, on Sunday.

According to local sources, on Saturday, several vehicles, belonging to the special unit of Israeli forces, intercepted another vehicle that was transporting the Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, in the Beit Hanina neighborhood, and detained him without providing a reason.

Sources added that Israeli forces immediately took Ghaith to an unknown location.

However, several hours after his detention, the Israeli authorities remanded Ghaith for four days.

Muhammad Mahmoud, Ghaith’s lawyer, said an Israeli court in Jerusalem referred Ghaith to the court of Ofer, near Ramallah, for allegedly “committing a violation” inside the West Bank.

The exact details of what the “violation” entails remained unknown.

Additionally, Israeli forces detained Jihad Faqeeh, 50, who is the head of the Jerusalem office in the Palestinian Intelligence force, at a military checkpoint near the Qatanna village, also in the central West Bank district of Jerusalem, as he was heading to work in Ramallah City.

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Danish Journalist Slams Bill Effectively ‘Criminalizing Attitudes Critical of NATO’

Sputnik – October 21, 2018

An influential Danish politician has proposed a bill which would allow the government to prosecute Facebook users for posting opinions suspected of being ‘hostile to NATO’ or too similar to those of Russia. Speaking to Sputnik, Lars Jorgensen, a veteran Danish sociologist, journalist and long-time NATO researcher, outlined the proposal’s perils.

Last week, Soren Pind, a Danish Left-Liberal Party politician and former minister of education and justice, pitched a bill threatening up to 12 years of prison time for Danes accused of collaborating with Russian intelligence services or making statements which conflict with the official position of authorities during election campaigns.

Silencing Critics

Speaking to Sputnik Germany about Mr. Pind’s proposal, which is now up for debate among lawmakers, Danish journalist and Homo Sociologicus contributor Lars Jorgensen said that unfortunately, the parliament probably won’t be an obstacle.

“The Danish government has the support of Western countries for [the bill’s] implementation,” Jorgensen explained. “The bill effectively allows for the criminalization of attitudes which are critical of NATO. Another important point is the one allowing the government to say that you are cooperating with foreign intelligence services. As a Danish citizen, as a critical sociologist, I must now fear being accused of collaborating with foreign intelligence services, even if this is something I do not do,” he stressed.

Jorgensen’s fears are not unsubstantiated, given the number of articles critical of the Western alliance which are available on his website and Facebook pages, which have already faced censorship. “My Facebook account was blocked for months,” the journalist complained. “Later it was deactivated. I had about 4,000 friends there, including academics from all over the world.” Facebook, Jorgensen said, never adequately responded to his concerns.”I am a researcher with a critical view of NATO,” Jorgensen said. “At present, we don’t have many critical voices regarding NATO [in Denmark]. I studied the history of the alliance in detail, and communicate with a large circle of experts and specialists.”

This research has provided him with insights “destroying” NATO’s positive image, Jorgensen said. “It shows that what we are being told about the war in Yugoslavia is an absolute lie. The same goes for Libya, and Syria. For NATO and the political and corporate forces standing behind them, it’s very important to silence critical voices like myself,” the independent journalist noted.

Unfortunately, Jorgensen complained, Pind’s controversial bill has seen little attention from the Danish press, and even less criticism. The mainstream Danish media’s attitudes are fully in line with those of NATO, the journalist said.

“All of Denmark’s newspapers are controlled by large media groups. They would never allow me to speak to them, like I am speaking to you for this interview,” Jorgenson noted. Denmark, he lamented, has a deficit of alternative media. “If you were to look at materials about Syria in the Danish mainstream media, you would find that they are even wilder and more embellished than in the US. They are complete fiction. On the other hand, if you look at the authentic reports from Syria, as I have done, and listen to ordinary people, they all ask the same question: why is the British government supporting terrorists in Syria?”

Another part of the problem lies in the weak state of left and anti-war politics in Denmark, Jorgenson said, pointing out that a tiny communist newspaper was the first to even report on Pind’s bill or the dangers it poses to free speech.

Defense Against ‘Russian Influence’?

In the bill’s official wording, it is stated that the proposal is about the criminalization of collaboration with foreign intelligence services, or providing foreign agents with an opportunity to influence public opinion. Citing Norwegian intelligence, the bill speaks of a growing likelihood of “Russian campaigns to exert influence posing a growing threat to Denmark,” with Copenhagen said to be “very likely” to become a “target of such campaigns by Russia.”

Last week, Berlingske newspaper columnist Flemming Rose attacked the bill, which targets television, radio, newspapers, and other media, as well as internet and social media-based publications, pointing to a lack of a minimum threshold on what can be legally sanctioned. Criticizing the bill’s absurdity, Rose argued that it could be stretched to the point where Danish journalists are targeted for ‘changing a burnt-out lightbulb’ if it is demonstrated that they did so following the advice of foreign intelligence.

Earlier this month, the US, the Netherlands, the UK and several other Western powers accused Russian intelligence services of carrying out cyberattacks against a host of governments and international organizations. Moscow dismissed the claims as paranoid “spy mania.” Denmark’s parliamentary committee for defense head Nasser Khader suggested that Denmark should attack organizations suspected of being affiliated to the Russian government in cyberspace.

See also:

Danish Bill Proposes 12 Years in Prison for ‘Pro-Russia’ Opinion

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 2 Comments

US forces Iraq to award $15 billion contract to GE instead of Siemens

Press TV – October 21, 2018

Germany is angry after the US government intervenes in a multi-billion-dollar deal for Siemens AG to develop power stations in Iraq and forces Baghdad to opt for General Electric (GE) instead.

The American company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iraqi government earlier this week, outlining their cooperation in the fields of oil and gas production and power generation.

A person, who has seen the paperwork, told The Financial Times that Washington plans to offer financing and insurance for US firms doing business in the Iraqi power sector.

GE’s agreement with Iraq dashed Siemens’ hopes of winning a $15 billion contract to supply 11 gigawatts of power-generation equipment to Iraq.

Until the US intervention, Siemens was considered the front-runner after its Chief Executive Joe Kaeser traveled to Iraq in September and spoke with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi about the contract.

US officials, however, warned Abadi that awarding the contract to Siemens might jeopardize relations between Baghdad and Washington.

A top adviser to the Iraqi premier then told Siemens to give up because it was causing problems for Iraq given the US pressure.

“The US government is holding a gun to our head,” the adviser was quoted as saying by another person familiar with the incident.

According to people familiar with the negotiations, the US highlighted the number of American troops killed in Iraq and claimed that Iran had spurred Baghdad to pursue the Siemens deal.

“This is part of very strong campaign of engagement in Iraqi government formation and a very targeted effort to support the Iraqi government and minimize Iranian influence,” Garrett Marquis, a US National Security Council spokesman, claimed.

The Federation of German Industries (BDI) complained on Sunday that the US pressure to quash the Siemens power deal with Iraq was unacceptable, blaming President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy for corroding business decisions.

“To implement the America First doctrine in this way in the global competition of multinational companies is not acceptable,” Joachim Lang, BDI managing director, told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

He emphasized that governments and companies should make deals based on business interests.

The US, backed by the UK, invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext that the former regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

No such weapons were ever found, but the invasion plunged Iraq into chaos and led to the rise of terrorist groups which continue to plague the country to this day.

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 5 Comments

Atlantic Council Podium Used to Force European Allies to March in Step

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.10.2018

Wess Mitchell, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, the administration’s top diplomat focused on Europe and Eurasia, has warned that Europe’s energy dependence on Russia is unacceptable for the United States. That official was addressing the Atlantic Council’s “Championing the Frontlines of Freedom, Erasing the Grey Zone” event on October 18. According to him, the competition between the great powers has returned to become “the defining geopolitical fact of our time.” Through their lack of vigilance, European and American officials have allowed the growing Russian and Chinese influence in that region to “sneak up on us.” “Western Europeans cannot continue to deepen energy dependence on the same Russia that America defends it against. Or enrich themselves from the same Iran that is building ballistic missiles that threaten Europe,” the assistant secretary emphasized. Adding, “It is not acceptable for US allies in central Europe to support projects like Turkstream 2 and maintain cozy energy deals that make the region more vulnerable to the very Russia that these states joined NATO to protect themselves against.”

Something else that was highly interesting was his mention of Belarus along with Ukraine and Georgia as allies. The assistant secretary believes that [t]he new principle is respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the allies: Ukraine, Georgia and even Belarus. Washington expects states to respect the rights of their neighbors.” This makes one wonder if the Belarusian government knows it has been granted a new status. The official also mentioned Iran, which should not be allowed to sell oil to Europe because it has refused to abandon its ballistic missile program. Washington calls “on our allies to follow our lead and strengthen their laws to better screen foreign investments in their countries for national security threats.”

So, the US laws are flawless, its allies are not viewed as equal partners because they must follow America’s lead, or, in other words, do what they are told, and it’s up to Washington, not the national governments and parliaments, to decide what investments they need and where that money should come from. The leaders of the Central and Eastern European states should find it awkward, being rebuked for having overlooked “the foundational importance of the nation-state and national sovereignty,” while allowing unfriendly China and Russia to move in. “Our allies in Central Europe must not be under any illusions that these powers are their friends,” Mr. Mitchell explained. Obviously, he is quite sure that the governments of these nations are unable to grasp who is their friend and who is not. They are as naïve as small children. It’s good that the US is right here ready to enlighten them.

This highly-placed diplomat went on to explain that the United States should be seen as the protector of sovereignty, as it “rejects Russia’s territorial aggression against its neighbor Ukraine and [rejects] China’s predatory ‘debt-mongering’ throughout Central and Eastern Europe.” 

Unlike its rivals, America does not seek dependencies, but rather independent states that should be “willing and able to share the burden of Western defense.” So, here is what independence à l’américaine is like, with its friends and allies absolutely free to comply with their protector’s instructions offering specific guidance about exactly how much they have to pay for defense, what investments to bring in, who to be friendly with, and how they should properly view the situation in their own region. Whatever happens in Central and Eastern Europe, everything has to revolve around the US.

“The United States has long had a tradition of not interfering in the details of European integration,” Mr. Mitchell assured us. Of course, telling the UK PM to sue the EU and thus expedite Brexit can certainly not be seen as interfering in European integration. Suggesting to French President Macron that he take France out of the EU is another example of noninterference. The Assistant Secretary expressed confidence that the allies could “beat back its competitors in Europe” with a little help from their American friends.

Also addressing the Atlantic Council’s October 18 conference, US Special Representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, revealed that Washington plans to stiffen the sanctions regime against Moscow “every month or two” to make it more amenable over Ukraine. The new policy suggests increasing the sanctions periodically, over time. Those remarks came after Russian President Vladimir Putin told the Valdai Club in Sochi that he hoped that a government more friendly toward Russia emerges from the Ukrainian presidential election that will be held on March 31.

Mr. Volker defied logic. On the one hand, he cited his “estimation… that the chances of their changing position now are lower then they were even a year ago.” Nevertheless, the best strategy for the West is to maintain pressure on Moscow through those economic sanctions —i.e., sticking to the very same measures that have proven to be useless, given that the “chances of their changing position now are lower.” So, the US and its allies should continue to implement a policy doomed to failure! But the ambassador states, “I think we need to keep on track. I believe that sanctions do have an impact and we see evidence of that in Russia.” What an bizarre way to convince his listeners!

“This is a shockingly big and important humanitarian catastrophe that no one talks about. We have over 10,000 people killed,” exclaimed this official who represents a nation that has just sent Ukraine, a country notorious for the corruption in its military ranks, a shipment of lethal arms so that it can kill more of its own citizens or let the weapons systems fall into the wrong hands and be used to kill other people outside of Ukraine. The “wrong hands” could use those weapons against the US military. With this kind of people you never know.

There is no penetrating insight, no reading between the lines, no wasting time on anything like analysis, and no attempts to find the logic in anything that’s said — nothing like that is required. It’s easy to understand highly-placed US State Department officials. You guys do what you are told, or else. And, just in case, don’t forget that your best friend and closest ally overseas carries a big stick to force you to march in step. These speeches are delivered from time to time to ensure that their “dear allies” remember that. The Atlantic Council’s podium fits the bill.

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

What Trump’s pullout from IMF treaty means

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | October 21, 2018

President Donald Trump’s confirmation that the US is terminating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) with Russia will be regarded as a defining moment in international security. The INF, which was signed by then US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Washington in December 1987, has been a flagship of the disarmament process leading to the elimination of around 2,700 short and medium range ballistic missiles and preventing a US-Russia nuclear standoff in Europe.

A first-rate crisis is appearing in nuclear arms limitations and reduction processes. Now, let it be clarified this is not a temper tantrum by Trump but stems from the US policy to place accent on developing new nuclear weapons and aiming at securing a strategic dominance in the global arena. It was during the Obama administration, in 2014, that the US first alleged that Russia violated the INF treaty, but despite persistent requests from Moscow to provide substantiation of the allegation or at least to discuss the discord, Washington failed to respond.

The US has vaguely pointed the finger at the index of a Russian missile research project, but Moscow has refuted it pointing out that the US can easily see on its satellite images during field tests that these charges are totally unfounded and not substantiated by either the technical characteristics of the launcher that allegedly is at variance with the INF Treaty or in-flight telemetry data.

The plain truth is that it no longer suits the US to be constrained by the INF Treaty in the emerging New Cold War conditions where it has bracketed Russia and China as “revisionist powers” whom it must counter. In fact, contrary to the INF Treaty, Washington has already deployed launchers at the US antimissile base in Romania and Poland, whose specifications enable them to launch not only interceptor missiles but also strike missiles like Tomahawks.

One urgent compulsion for the US today is that the need arises for it in the downstream of the 2017 decision by Japanese government to buy two Aegis Ashore systems, as the deployment of the system in Japan will be a violation of the INF obligations – although the deployment will be in the Asia-Pacific.

Fundamentally, the US objective is nothing other than attaining nuclear superiority, which has been an elusive dream through the Cold War era. In the present context, Russian conventional forces are not a match for the US’ capability but nuclear deterrence gives Russia the status of a great power and enables it to maintain global strategic balance. Equally, China’s growing nuclear capabilities are an added factor in the American calculus. Simply put, the jettisoning of the INF will free the hands of the US to develop new weapons systems and to make large-scale deployments along the borders of Russia and China to contain them.

Russia has military-technical capabilities to respond to the challenge posed by US walking out of IMF Treaty. The hypersonic missile that it has developed is an example. Besides, Russia can also respond by deploying intermediate- and short-range missiles at its borders. To be sure, all this will directly affect European security and it may even create, hopefully, a convergence of interests between Russia and European countries to preserve the INF treaty. But the US may circumvent such a possibility by wearing down the European opposition by moving the discussion onto the multilateral NATO format.

Most importantly, the US pullout from INF treaty may bring the roof down on the New START treaty of 2010 and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In fact, the likelihood is high that the New START treaty may not be renewed by 2021, as is required, or that the NPT can survive. All in all, what is in the cards is the frightening scenario of a seamless, uncontrollable nuclear race – and the growing likelihood of a nuclear conflict.

Without doubt, the stakes are very high for India. The impact of the US decision on INF on the Asia-Pacific security would vitally affect Indian interests, especially in the context of the US-China rivalry where Japan (with which India has striven to forge a strong relationship) also happens to be a crucial participant. The US and Japanese pressure on India will increase to be ‘on the right side of history’ – that is, by becoming part of the US-led alliance system against China. Japan and Australia are figuring as the US’ main partners in the Indo-Pacific.

On the contrary, China will deepen its military cooperation with Russia and the two countries may be edging toward an alliance. (See my blog Military cooperation is the highlight and pillar of China-Russia strategic cooperation.) Ironically, the US will be achieving what it all along wanted, namely, injecting ‘bloc mentality’ among the countries of the Indo-Pacific, which would help consolidate its long-term presence in the region. All this means that unlike in the Cold War era, Asia is inexorably turning into the principal theatre of big-power rivalries.

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

US Tears up Landmark INF Treaty

By Andrei AKULOV | Strategic Culture Foundation | 21.10.2018

President Donald Trump has announced the decision to exit from the bedrock 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), which bans all land-based missiles carrying both nuclear and conventional warheads with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, or 310 to 3,420 miles shorter- and intermediate-range missiles. It does not cover air-launched or sea-launched weapons. National Security Adviser (NSA) John R. Bolton is going to discuss the president’s decision with the Russian leadership during his upcoming visit to Moscow on Oct. 22-23.

It’s not a coincidence that the issue of alleged violations of the INF Treaty by Russia was put on the agenda of NATO defense ministers held on October 3-4 in Brussels. US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Moscow was in “blatant violation” – the view largely shared by NATO partners.  The very fact that the US briefed the allies on the issue was a sign that the decision had already been made by the administration to be formally acknowledged now. The Nuclear Posture Review, released in February, called for the development of ground-launched medium-range missiles.

At the July summit, the NATO leaders agreed in the declaration that “the most plausible assessment would be that Russia is in violation of the Treaty.”  But they did not say they approved the idea of deploying American missiles as a response. The missile in question is the 9M729 (NATO designation SSC-8) but the US has never said when and where it was tested to exceed the 500 kilometers limit allowed by the Treaty.

The alliance urged Russia to address these concerns. It should be noted that in its turn NATO has never addressed Russia’s concerns over US violations, such as the use of Mk41 launchers capable of firing intermediate range cruise missiles as well as armed drones and target missiles with a range exceeding the INF-imposed limitations. The list is long enough.

It is the second time the US tore up a major arms control treaty with Russia. The first one was the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (the ABM Treaty) President George W. Bush Jr. pulled the US out from in 2002. Neither the USSR nor the Russian Federation ever scrapped an arms control agreement. The ensuing development of ballistic missile defense systems have become a snag on the way to hinder further arms control efforts.

Washington and Moscow have repeatedly accused each other of violations but the US decision to withdraw triggers questions. Why the proposal to negotiate a new treaty with stronger verification and compliance measures is not even on the agenda? Why new ideas on how to make the document better have not been offered for consideration by the Special Verification Commission (SVC)? Has Moscow refused to consider the possibility of adding on-site verification to the Treaty’s text? Is the idea of new strengthened inspection procedures not worth consideration and should be turned a blind eye on?

Perhaps, it’s because the US does not care about violations. It wants to get rid of the treaty for other reasons.  One of them is to get the advantage by deploying such missiles near Russia’s borders to acquire a first nuclear strike capability with the strategic arsenal intact.  For instance, the US Army is working on long-range artillery rockets that can exceed the 500 km range to station them in Europe.  The weapon will serve as a means of delivering intermediate range strikes.

The other reason is not related to Russia or Europe. The US Nuclear Posture Review says “China likely already has the largest medium and intermediate-range missile force in Asia, and probably the world.” In his statement on withdrawal from the INF Treaty, President Trump said any agreement on intermediate range missiles must include China too. A military conflict between the US and China is likely.  The US needs medium range missiles to strike its mainland. And it’s not China only. As Eric Sayers, a CSIS expert, put it  “Deploying conventionally-armed ground-launched intermediate-range missiles may be key to reasserting US military superiority in East Asia.”

What will the withdrawal lead to? The INF Treaty is fundamental to European security. NATO will be divided over the issue with few nations ready to host the weapons, except Poland and the Baltic States happy to get the American military presence they have been longing for.  This could lead to another rift among the allies at a time when that relationship is at a nadir because of trade wars and the rift over the Iran deal. Many Europeans still remember the 1983 protests to prevent the deployment of America’s missiles on national territories. They know well that an intermediate ground-based missile Russia will be free to deploy without the restrictions in place is not a threat to the continental USA while the countries of Old Continent will become a target. The INF Treaty will cease to be effective in six months after the US withdrawal, which is still to be made official. Europe should not sit idle watching the US leaving the Treaty. There is still some time left to press the US into thinking twice about the consequences.

The INF Treaty is not the only one teetering on the brink. The New Start Treaty, the remaining pillar of arms control, has a slim chance to survive. The Russian TASS news agency has just reported the US is unlikely to extend it and there are no talks on another agreement to take its place.  Russia (the Soviet Union) and the US have always had an arms control treaty in effect since the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was concluded in 1963.   Ever since the first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) Treaty was signed 1972, there have been negotiated constraints on nuclear arsenals. It may all change in 2021 when the New START expires, if not extended till 2026, to trigger an unfettered arms race.   The entire system of arms control will unravel as a result of US withdrawal from the INF Treaty.

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment