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The War in Afghanistan is Killing More People Than Ever

By Edward Hunt | Lobe Log | June 20, 2018

Seventeen years into the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history, violence has never been worse. In 2017, more than 20,000 Afghans died, a new record.

The dead include an estimated 10,000 Afghan security forces, 10,000 Taliban forces, and 3,438 civilians. Although there is no reliable data on Afghan casualties available to the public, reports published by the Costs of War Project at Brown University indicate that the annual death toll for the Afghan population has never been higher than it was in 2017.

For civilians, the last four years of the war have been the deadliest, with more than 3,400 civilians killed each year from 2014-2017, according to data from the United Nations and the Costs of War Project.

“We are concerned that we will see greater harm this year unless necessary steps are taken by all parties to prevent civilian casualties,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Afghanistan.

The record violence comes as the Trump administration has intensified the war against the Taliban. Although President Trump repeatedly indicated before he was president that he opposed the war and wanted to end it, he has instructed U.S. military forces to take more aggressive action.

“In Afghanistan, I’ve lifted restrictions and expanded authorities for commanders in the field,” Trump acknowledged last year. The new approach, according to Brigadier General Lance Bunch, means that “the gloves are off.” U.S. military forces are now looking for “any opportunity to target the enemies of Afghanistan wherever we find them in the theater.”

With the new authorities, the U.S.-led coalition has been waging a more aggressive war. In 2017, U.S. forces tripled the number of airstrikes against enemy forces. They also helped Afghan security forces intensify offensive operations against the Taliban.

“In the last year, we’ve seen offensive operations, kind of unprecedented over the last few years, by the Afghan security forces,” U.S. General John Nicholson, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, has commented.

Administration officials acknowledge that they expected the Taliban to respond to the increase in military pressure with more violence. “And so we anticipated this,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis has said. In March, State Department official Alice Wells remarked that “it will not come as a surprise if we see more terrorist tactics addressed at urban audiences.”

The increase in violence has been devastating for the Afghan people. According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, which tracks civilian casualties, more than 3,400 Afghan civilians have died and more than 6,800 Afghan civilians have been injured in each of the past four years of the war.

Afghan officials quietly acknowledge that about 10,000 Afghan security forces died last year, a significant increase from previous years. Fearing that the publication of the numbers could undermine morale and hinder ongoing recruitment efforts in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has begun censoring the records.

Although U.S. and Afghan officials estimate that about 10,000 Taliban forces were killed in 2017, Gen. Nicholson has said that “enemy casualty rates have been much higher.” Either way, last year’s combined death toll for Afghan combatants is about 20,000 people.

Despite the record death toll, the Trump administration remains committed to its strategy. “Progress and violence coexist in Afghanistan,” Secretary Mattis recently commented.

The U.S. military’s primary objective is to bring at least 80 percent of the Afghan population under the control of the Afghan government. According to a classified study, the Afghan government might prevail in the war if it achieves this goal. “The focus of our military operations is on increasing and expanding population control by the government of Afghanistan,” General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told Congress earlier this year.

The Trump administration’s approach is failing. Not only are record numbers of Afghans dying, but the Afghan government has been losing control of the population. In its latest report to Congress, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction confirmed that the Afghan government’s control has dropped from 69 percent in August 2016 to 65 percent in January 2018.

Last year, the U.S. intelligence community largely predicted the failures. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “the political and security situation in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through 2018 even with a modest increase in military assistance by the United States and its partners.”

Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said that the war has reached a new low. “After 17 years in Afghanistan the situation is worse than it’s ever been,” Hagel commented earlier this year.

Perhaps the best hope for Afghanistan now lies with a growing Afghan peace movement, which has been calling for an immediate ceasefire and talks to end the war. Not only has it succeeded in getting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to announce a temporary ceasefire, but the Taliban announced its own ceasefire, leading to a few days of peace and celebrations throughout the country.

“I think President Ghani is responding to and indeed reflecting the desire of a wide cross-section of Afghans… in desiring to see a reduction in violence and a way forward to an end to the conflict,” a senior State Department official said.

The Afghan government plans to maintain the ceasefire for the immediate future, despite the recent decision by Taliban officials to resume fighting.

Edward Hunt writes about war and empire. He has a PhD in American Studies from the College of William & Mary.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Analyst Suggests US Can No Longer Use UNHRC to Justify Global Military Ops

Sputnik – 22.06.2018

The United States can no longer use the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to justify its military interventions around the globe, now that it has withdrawn from the world body, US Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Executive Director Daniel McAdams told Sputnik on Thursday.

“Human rights as an issue is often a cover for foreign interventionism. The US used ‘human rights’ as an excuse to destroy Libya and to launch a seven year proxy war in Syria,” McAdams said. “In fact, it was the UN Human Rights Council that first put the wheels of the US-led attack in Libya in motion.”

McAdams recounted how in the days leading up to NATO’s intervention in Libya, non-governmental organizations petitioned the UN Human Rights Council to demand action in response to alleged atrocities being committed by then-Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. As a result, the issue was then taken up by the Security Council, which adopted Resolution 1973, a measure that paved the way for NATO’s airstrikes in Libya. Several of the NGOs’ allegations — which formed the basis for NATO’s intervention — later turned out to be false.

“The human rights abuses that Libyans have suffered since their ‘liberation’ far outweigh any they suffered under the rule of Gaddafi,” McAdams said.

On Tuesday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the United States decided to suspend its membership in the UNHRC. Haley denounced the organization as hypocritical, saying it was biased against Israel and protected countries that abused human rights, such as Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China and Venezuela.

“The UN Human Rights Council, like most of the UN, has long ago strayed away from its original purpose,” McAdams said. “When you have notorious human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia — and the US among others — playing a prominent role in determining human rights abuses in other countries, the whole exercise becomes a farce.”

McAdams went on to say that the US withdrawal from the UNHRC would “hopefully reduce” its importance and restrain its ability to be used as a forum to promote conflict.

“The UN’s adopting the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) doctrine in 2006 has been an unmitigated disaster. The UN was founded as a body of sovereign states seeking to work together as such to eliminate war,” he said. “The destruction of national sovereignty caused by the R2P doctrine means that countries with aggressive foreign policies can use the UN as a fig leaf as a cover. The result is more war, not less. And that is what we are already seeing.”

The US decision to quit the council comes a month after the UNHRC decided to form an independent mechanism to investigate the Israeli Defense Forces’ killings of more than 100 Palestinian protesters along the border with the Gaza Strip since March. Palestinians in Gaza have been staging protests along the border to demand the right to return to their homes now inside Israel. The UNHRC has said that the killings could be considered war crimes and need to be investigated.

According to UNHRC President Vojislav Suc, the UN General Assembly will now decide on a candidate to replace the United States on the Council, which consists of 47 members elected directly by the General Assembly.

Prior to its withdrawal, the United States’ mandate in the UNHRC was expected to last till the end of 2019. It was the country’s second three-year term, after which the US did not have the right to be re-elected.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | 5 Comments

An Elite Coalition Emerges Against a Trump-Kim Agreement

By Gareth Porter | Consortium News | June 21, 2018

An implicit coalition of corporate media, Democratic partisans and others loyal to the national security state are actively hostile to any agreement that would endanger the continuation of the 70-year-old Cold War between the United States and North Korea.

The hostility toward Donald Trump on the part of both corporate media (except for Fox News) and the Democratic Party establishment is obviously a factor in the negative response to the summit. Trump’s dysfunctional persona, extremist domestic strategy and attacks on the press had already created a hyper-adversarial political atmosphere that surrounds everything Trump says or does.

But media coverage of the Singapore summit shows that something much bigger and more sinister is now in play: a consensus among foreign policy and national security elites and their media allies that Trump’s pursuit of an agreement with Kim on denuclearization threatens to undo seventy years of U.S. military dominance in Northeast Asia.

Those elites are determined to resist the political-diplomatic thrust of the Trump administration in negotiating with Kim and have already begun to sound the alarm about the danger Trump poses to the U.S. power position. Not surprisingly Democrats in Congress are already aligning themselves with the national security elite on the issue.

The real concern of the opposition to Trump’s diplomacy, therefore, is no longer that he cannot succeed in getting an agreement with Kim on denuclearization but that he will succeed.

The elite media-security framing of the Trump-Kim summit in the initial week was to cast it as having failed to obtain anything concrete from Kim Jong-un, while giving up immensely valuable concessions to Kim. Almost without exception the line from journalists, pundits and national security elite alike compared the joint statement to the texts of previous agreements with North Korea and found that it was completely lacking in detail.

Ignoring Kim’s Concessions

Thus The Washington Post quoted a tweet by Richard Haas, chairman of the über-establishment Council on Foreign Relations, that the summit “changed nothing” but “makes it harder to keep sanctions in place, further reducing pressure on North Korea to reduce (much less give up) its nuclear weapons and missiles.”

The New York Times cited the criticism of former CIA official Bruce Klingner, now at the Heritage Foundation, that the joint statement failed to commit North Korea to do as much as promised in agreements negotiated in 1994 and 2005. And CNN reported that the Joint Declaration “did not appear to make any significant progress” in committing the North Koreans to complete denuclearization, citing the use of the word “reaffirmed” in the document, which it opined “highlighted the lack of fresh commitments.”

Those criticisms of the joint statement conveniently ignored the fact that Kim had already made the most significant concession he could have made in advance of detailed negotiations between the two states when he committed North Korea to ending the testing of both nuclear weapons and long-range missiles in April following meetings with then CIA Director Mike Pompeo earlier in the month. That commitment by Kim meant that North Korea was entering negotiations with the United States before it had achieved a credible threat to hit the United States with an ICBM armed with a nuclear weapon.

The fact that no mention of Kim’s centrally important concession can be found in any of the reports or commentaries on the summit underlines the scarcely hidden agenda at play. Mentioning that fact would have pointed to understandings that Pompeo had already reached with Kim and his envoy to Washington before the summit and were not reflected in the brief text. Pompeo actually confirmed this in remarks made in Detroit on June 18, which only Bloomberg news reported.

Furthermore, the trashing of the summit also employed the politically motivated trick of deliberately ignoring the vast difference between a joint statement of the first ever meeting between the two heads of state and past agreements on denuclearization reached after weeks or months of intensive negotiations.

What really alarmed and even outraged the media and their elite national security allies, however, was that Trump not only announced that he would suspend U.S.-South Korean joint exercises or “war games” as long as the North Koreans were negotiating in good faith on denuclearization, but even called the exercises “very provocative.”

One journalist and commentator after another, including CNN and the Times’ Nicholas Kristof, denounced that description as “adopting” his adversary’s “rhetoric” about the exercises. In a podcast with former National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor, former NSC official Kelley Magsamen, now at the Democratic Party’s Center for American Progress, rather than acknowledging that a vital principle of diplomacy is to put oneself in the position of one’s opponent, charged that Trump had “internalized the language of our adversaries.”

The media and critics deploring Trump’s willingness to suspend the joint U.S.-South Korean war games have portrayed it as a betrayal of the security alliance with South Korea. But that claim merely dismisses the desires of South Korean President Moon and betrays ignorance of the history of U.S.-South Korean war games.

Been Called ‘Provocative’ Before

When Trump called the drills “provocative,” he was merely expressing the same view that some U.S. officials adopted as long ago as the mid-1980s. These officials also called the exercises “provocative,” according to a State Department official interviewed by historian Leon Sigal for his authoritative account of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.

Donald Gregg, the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea from 1989 to 1993, observed in an interview with Sigal that the North Koreans mobilized their forces at great expense every time the drills, called “Team Spirit,” were held in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was an Army general and chief of U.S. military intelligence in Korea in the early 1990s, later confirmed to Sigal that the North Koreans would “go nuts” during the annual Team Spirit exercises. Part of the reason for that extreme North Korean anxiety about the drills was that the United States routinely flew nuclear capable B-52s over South Korea as part of the exercises – a practice resumed in recent years after a long hiatus and no doubt reviving the trauma of the U.S. devastation of North Korea from 1950-53.

Ambassador Gregg had supported the idea of suspending the annual Team Spirit exercise in 1992 as part of a proposed effort to get North Korea to change its mind about wanting nuclear weapons. Furthermore the South Korean government itself formally announced in January 1992 that the Team Spirit exercises were being suspended in light of “progress” on North-South nuclear issues. Furthermore, the Clinton administration cancelled Team Spirit drills each year from 1994 to 1996 in an effort to demonstrate the U.S. seriousness in pursuing an agreement with North Korea for an end to its production of plutonium for nuclear weapons.

The provocative character of the joint U.S.-South Korean military drills became even more pronounced after North Korea began testing nuclear weapons and then intercontinental ballistic missiles. In 2015, the U.S. and South Korea adopted a new war plan codenamed OPLAN 5015, which calls for surgical strikes on North Korea’s nuclear and missiles sites and command-and-control facilities, as well as “decapitation” raids targeting senior North Korean leaders, according to the South Korean Yonhap News Agency.

Although the U.S. Command in South Korea has always insisted that all joint exercises are defensive in nature, press reports said that the war plan, which could only be based on a first strike strategy, would be the basis of the publicly announced Ulchi Freedom Guardian war games scheduled for August 2017.

What the national security elite and their media allies are really upset about is the real possibility that Trump will succeed in negotiating a denuclearization deal with North Korea that includes a formal end to the Korean War. That could complicate the Pentagon’s continuing strengthening of the U.S. military posture vis a vis China.

Fareed Zakaria, CNN’s establishment foreign policy pundit, recalled the Pentagon’s aim during the Clinton administration to maintain at least 100,000 U.S. troops in Northeast Asia, and worried that, if the U.S. military alliance with South Korea is deemphasized, the U.S. would “fall below that threshold.”

Ian Bremmer, the CBS News national security pundit, explained that Trump’s willingness to suspend military exercises means that “the United States is probably going to be a much more marginal player at the end of the day in this region.”

Magsamen suggested a similar concern about Trump weakening the alliance with South Korea in an interview with Vietor, commenting that “a lot of us… see the North Korean challenge in a broader context vis a vis our adversaries, like China and Russia.”

These are early indications of a showdown between Trump and the elite alliance arrayed against him. Senate Democrats can be expected to push back against any agreement that portends possible withdrawal from South Korea, as indicated by the bill proposed by Senators Chris Murphy and Tammy Duckworth to forbid troops withdrawal without Pentagon approval.

If his opponents are dissatisfied with the agreement Trump negotiates, the Senate probably wouldn’t ratify a treaty to end the Korean War that Pyongyang would certainly demand. The most promising diplomatic development in East Asia in seven decades could thus be nullified by the shared interests of the loose coalition in preserving a status quo of tension and possible war.


Gareth Porter is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Korean Voices Missing From Major Papers’ Opinions on Singapore Summit

WaPo: Americans Have Figured It Out: North Korea Won!

The Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin (6/17/18) epitomized the zero-sum takes of US pundits.
By Adam Johnson | FAIR | June 21, 2018

In major-paper opinion coverage of the Singapore summit, the people with the most to lose and gain from the summit, the people whose nation was actually being discussed—Koreans—were almost uniformly ignored.

Three major US papers—the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal—had only one Korean-authored op-ed out of 41 opinion pieces on the subject of the Korean peace talks.

The Post had 23 total opinion pieces, the Times had 16 and the Journal four. The only op-ed by a Korean was a pro-summit piece on June 12 by Moon Chung-in, an aide to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Of the 41 editorials or op-eds only four (9 percent), were broadly positive about the Trump/Kim summit, 29 (70 percent) were negative and eight (21 percent) were mixed or ambiguous. The full list, current as of June 19, is here.

As FAIR noted in May (5/7/18), there’s a huge chasm between how recent peace efforts are being received in ostensible US ally South Korea and how they’re being covered in US media. As we noted at the time, polling shows 88 percent of South Koreans in favor of these efforts, while the person spearheading them, President Moon, holds an 86 percent approval rating. But the bulk of US coverage ranged from snide dismissal to outright opposition (FAIR.org, 6/14/18).

Similarly, a poll taken after the Singapore summit found that 66 percent of South Koreans were pleased with the results, and only 11 percent opposed them. This contrasts sharply with the reaction in US newspapers, which has been overwhelmingly negative in tone, and dominated by NatSec-centered horse race takes over who “won.”

The New York Times published one pro-summit piece, by Victor Cha (6/12/18), and it was a very qualified and conflicted. The Washington Post was mostly negative and skeptical, with three exceptions: predictable partisan cheerleading from reliable Trump apologist Marc Thiessen (6/15/17); a measured “wait and see” take from Michael O’Hanlon, a fellow at the Brookings Institution (6/13/18); and the aforementioned piece by President Moon’s aide. The Wall Street Journal’s commentary was uniformly negative.

The US media’s reaction to the summit is almost a mirror image of that of the South Korean public: 70 percent of major US papers’ opinion columns disapproved of the summit, whereas 66 percent of South Koreans approved. Eleven percent of South Koreans disapproved,  whereas only 9 percent of professional opinion-havers at the Times, Post and Journal thought the summit was a good thing.

This raises an important question: Why? What do US pundits know that those with something actually at stake—Koreans—don’t know?

NYT: The Trump Doctrine Is Winning and the World Is Losing

Trump showed “reckless disregard for the security concerns of America’s allies,” argued Kori Schake of the International Institute for Strategic Studies–funded by Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin (New York Times, 6/15/18)

One factor is that our media system turns to professional “experts” at a small handful of establishment think tanks, and these are often funded by monied interests with a vested interest in particular kinds of policy (Extra!, 7/13). On international questions, this often means the arms industry, who are major funders of think tanks like the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). These think tanks produced predictably hawkish putdowns of the summit, such as CSIS’s Sue Mi Terry, who told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, in a rare moment of candor:

A peace treaty is not OK. That should come at the end of the process, because a peace treaty, while it sounds great and could be historic, also undermines the justification of our troops staying South Korea.

The “justification” for troops also happens to be the justification for the weapons systems they come with, namely those of CSIS’s major donors Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Boeing (FAIR.org, 5/8/17).

Another part of the problem is partisanship. US pundits overwhelmingly view the Kim/Trump summit as a Trump-led or US-directed event, rather than an essential but limited part of a broader peace effort being undertaken by the Koreas themselves. … Full article

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

New UK Army Chief Lists Russia Among ‘Imminent’ Threats to Country

Sputnik – 21.06.2018

General Mark Carleton-Smith has given his inauguration speech, becoming the new army chief shortly after replacing General Sir Nick Carter, who has moved on to become chief of the defense staff.

The new British chief of the general staff, General Mark Carleton-Smith, has stated that the UK faces imminent threats from multiple states that he described as “rogue,” including Russia, during a speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He also noticed that Russia is currently in “revisionist mode” and that it possesses a “growing arsenal of long-range precision capabilities.”

“The misplaced perception that there is no imminent or existential threat to the UK, and that even if there was, it could only arise with long notice, is wrong,” he said.

He also warned against cutting army’s funding, noting that if the country falls behind, the UK might lose its “unquantifiable advantage” over its adversaries.

Information earlier surfaced regarding an alleged conversation between the UK prime minister and the UK defense secretary, where Theresa May had suggested that the army needs to enhance its cyber warfare capabilities in order to deter modern threats coming from other states, including Russia. She also reportedly questioned whether the UK had lost its “top tier” status as a military power.

Relations between the UK and Russia have been trapped in a downward spiral following the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England. The UK declared that the substance used in the attack is similar to the Novichok-class of nerve agents developed by the Soviet Union and accused Russia of organizing the attack, expelling 23 of its diplomats as a punitive measure. Both Skripals later regained consciousness, despite their alleged poisoning with a nerve agent. Moscow has rejected the UK’s accusations, also expelling British diplomats, as well as closing the British Council in Saint-Petersburg.

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

UK Worried NATO to be Hurt if Trump Meets Putin Before Bloc’s Summit – Reports

Sputnik – 21.06.2018

US President Donald Trump may sit down for talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during his trip to Europe next month.

The British government fears that the two presidents could meet before NATO’s upcoming summit in Brussels and Trump’s official visit to London.

“It’s unclear if this meeting is after or before the NATO and UK visit. Obviously after would be better for us,” the Times quoted a Whitehall source as saying.

“It adds another dynamic to an already colorful week,” the official added.

According to the newspaper, London is alarmed that the possible talks between the US and Russian presidents could have an impact on Trump’s commitment to NATO’s “shared goals” and the outcome of his July 13 visit to Britain.

The Times also quoted a Western diplomatic source as saying that if Trump and Putin meet before the July 11 NATO summit in Brussels, this would be viewed as a highly negative development.

On Friday, Donald Trump told reporters that it was possible that he would meet Vladimir Putin this summer.

Trump, who had two meetings with Putin during last year’s G20 summit in Germany, has shown keen interest in restoring Russia’s place in the international community.

At the G7 summit in Quebec earlier this month, he proposed that Russia should be re-admitted to the Group of Eight countries.

June 21, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

The Persistent Myth of U.S. Precision Bombing

By Nicolas J S Davies | Consortium News | June 20, 2018

Opinion polls in the United States and the United Kingdom have found that a majority of the public in both countries has a remarkably consistent belief that only about 10,000 Iraqis were killed as a result of the U.S.-British invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Estimates of civilian deaths in Iraq actually range from 150,000 to 1.2 million. Part of the reason for the seriously misguided public perception may come from a serious belief in guided weapons, according to what the government tells people about “precision” bombing.  But one must ask how so many people can be killed if these weapons are so “precise,” for instance in one of “the most precise air campaigns in military history,” as a Pentagon spokesman characterized the total destruction last year of Raqqa in Syria.

The dreadful paradox of “precision weapons” is that the more the media and the public are wrongly persuaded of the near-magical qualities of these weapons, the easier it is for U.S. military and civilian leaders to justify using them to destroy entire villages, towns and cities in country after country: Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul in Iraq; Sangin and Musa Qala in Afghanistan; Sirte in Libya; Kobane and Raqqa in Syria.

An Imprecise History

The skillful use of disinformation about “precision” bombing has been essential to the development of aerial bombardment as a strategic weapon. In a World War II propaganda pamphlet titled the “Ultimate Weapon of Victory”, the U.S. government hailed the B-17 bomber as “… the mightiest bomber ever built… equipped with the incredibly accurate Norden bomb sight, which hits a 25-foot circle from 20,000 feet.“

However, according to the website WW2Weapons, “With less than 50 per-cent cloud coverage an average B-17 Fortress Group could be expected to place 32.4% of its bombs within 1000 feet of the aiming point when aiming visually.” That could rise to 60 percent if flying at the dangerously low altitude of 11,000 feet in daylight.

The U.K.’s 1941 Butt Report found that only five percent of British bombers were dropping their bombs within five miles of their targets, and that 49 percent of their bombs were falling in “open country.”

In the “Dehousing Paper,” the U.K. government’s chief scientific adviser argued that mass aerial bombardment of German cities to “dehouse” and break the morale of the civilian population would be more effective than “precision” bombing aimed at military targets. British leaders agreed, and adopted this new approach: “area” or “carpet” bombing, with the explicit strategic purpose of “dehousing” Germany’s civilian population.

The U.S. soon adopted the same strategy against both Germany and Japan, and a U.S. airman quoted in the post-war U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey lampooned efforts at “precision” bombing as a “major assault on German agriculture.”

The destruction of North Korea by U.S.-led bombing and shelling in the Korean War was so total that U.S. military leaders estimated that they’d killed 20 percent of its population.

In the American bombing of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the U.S. dropped more bombs than all sides combined in the Second World War, with full scale use of horrific napalm and cluster bombs.  The whole world recoiled from this mass slaughter, and even the U.S. was chastened into scaling back its military ambitions for at least a decade.

The American War in Vietnam saw the introduction of the “laser-guided smart bomb,” but the Vietnamese soon learned that the smoke from a small fire or a burning tire was enough to confuse its guidance system.  “They’d go up, down, sideways, all over the place,” a GI told Douglas Valentine, the author of The Phoenix Program. “And people would smile and say, ‘There goes another smart bomb!’  So smart a gook with a match and an old tire can fuck it up.”

Kicking the Vietnam Syndrome

President Bush Senior hailed the First Gulf War as the moment that America “kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.” Deceptive information about “precision” bombing played a critical role in revitalizing U.S. militarism after defeat in Vietnam.

The U.S. and its allies ruthlessly carpet-bombed Iraq, reducing it from what a UN report later called “a rather highly urbanized and mechanized society” to “a pre-industrial age nation.” But the Western media enthusiastically swallowed Pentagon briefings and broadcast round-the-clock bomb-sight footage of a handful of successful “precision” strikes as if they were representative of the entire campaign. Later reports revealed that only seven percent of the 88,500 tons of bombs and missiles devastating Iraq were “precision” weapons.

The U.S. turned the bombing of Iraq into a marketing exercise for the U.S. war industry, dispatching pilots and planes straight from Kuwait to the Paris Air Show. The next three years saw record U.S. weapons exports, offsetting small reductions in U.S. arms procurement after the end of the Cold War.

The myth of “precision” bombing that helped Bush and the Pentagon “kick the Vietnam syndrome” was so successful that it has become a template for the Pentagon’s management of news in subsequent U.S. bombing campaigns since. It also gave us the disturbing euphemism “collateral damage” to indicate civilians killed by errant bombs.

‘Shock and Awe’

As the U.S. and U.K. launched their “Shock and Awe” attack on Iraq in 2003, Rob Hewson, the editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weaponsestimated that about 20-25 percent of the U.S. and U.K.’s “precision” weapons were missing their targets in Iraq, noting that this was a significant improvement over the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, when 30-40 percent were off-target. “There’s a significant gap between 100 percent and reality,” Hewson said. “And the more you drop, the greater your chances of a catastrophic failure.”

Since World War II, the U.S. Air Force has loosened its definition of “accuracy” from 25 feet to 10 meters, but that is still less than the blast radius of even its smallest 500 lb. bombs. So the impression that these weapons can be used to surgically “zap” a single house or small building in an urban area without inflicting casualties and deaths throughout the surrounding area is certainly contrived.

“Precision” weapons comprised about two thirds of the 29,200 weapons aimed at the armed forces, people and infrastructure of Iraq in 2003. But the combination of 10,000 “dumb” bombs and 4,000 to 5,000 “smart” bombs and missiles missing their targets meant that about half of “Shock and Awe’s” weapons were as indiscriminate as the carpet bombing of previous wars. Saudi Arabia and Turkey asked the U.S. to stop firing cruise missiles through their territory after some went so far off-target that they struck their territory. Three also hit Iran.

“In a war that’s being fought for the benefit of the Iraqi people, you can’t afford to kill any of them,” a puzzled Hewson said. “But you can’t drop bombs and not kill people. There’s a real dichotomy in all of this.”

‘Precision’ Bombing Today

Since Barack Obama started the bombing of Iraq and Syria in 2014 more than 107,000 bombs and missiles have been launched. U.S. officials claim only a few hundred civilians have been killed. The British government persists in the utterly fantastic claim that none of its 3,700 bombs have killed any civilians at all.

Former Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd from Mosul, told Patrick Cockburn of the Britain’s Independent newspaper that he’d seen Kurdish military intelligence reports that U.S. airstrikes and U.S., French and Iraqi artillery had killed at least 40,000 civilians in his hometown, with many more bodies still buried in the rubble. Almost a year later, this remains the only remotely realistic official estimate of the civilian death toll in Mosul. But no other mainstream Western media have followed up on it.

The consequences of U.S. air wars are hidden in plain sight, in endless photos and videos. The Pentagon and the corporate media may suppress the evidence, but the mass death and destruction of American aerial bombardment are only too real to the millions of people who have lived through it.


Nicolas J.S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

June 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Here’s Why Pro-Migrant Protesters Changed US Policy While Anti-War Protesters Didn’t End America’s Recent Wars

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | June 20, 2018

Donald Trump has just signed an executive order reversing the Clinton era policy of separating children from their illegal migrant parents at the southern border of the United States. While this policy has been in operation since the 1990s, it was only in the last month that it caught the attention of American media and the political class.

Ultimately, the issue is one for the leaders of the US to decide and under immense media and political pressure, the US President has taken the matter into his own hands and changed a policy based entirely on a public pressure campaign rather than his own apparent line of thinking which favours an increasingly tough border policy.

What this proves is that on issues effecting the well being of humans who happen not to be US citizens, public pressure campaigns can in fact get policies changed, especially in an election year. When one thinks that George W. Bush illegally invaded Iraq just over a year before facing re-election while Tony Blair did the same only two short years before facing the UK electorate, it beggars belief that anti-war campaigns have been so ineffective at reversing policies that slaughter millions, destroy entire regions and all the while unleashing the most barbaric forms of terrorism in places where there once was little or none.

Irrespective of one’s views of America’s border policy, even those who believe it to be inhumane must admit that it did not result in the deaths, terrorism and destruction of the US led wars on Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and the hybrid war against Syria.

While millions of people marched against the Iraq war throughout the world in 2003, far more than have gone on demonstrations against the controversial child separation policy of the US border authorities, it nevertheless had no effect on US policy in the Middle East. In fact, the amount of wars and number of troops committed across the Middle East by the US and its partners only increased since 2003.

Why then did the anti-war marches fail while the pro-migrant movement accomplished its goal? The reason is simple. While masses of protesters can control the streets and non-corporate air waves, the corporate media in the United States that is willing to take a side on issues like migration is unwilling, unable or not wanting to go up against the pro-war factions of Washington. The same is true even for most so-called independent minded politicians in the US, almost all of whom lose their independent streak when it comes to war, with retired Congressman Dr. Ron Paul, his son Senator Rand Paul and Senator Bernie Sanders being exceptions in the wilderness.

While corporate media is losing viewership at a rapid pace among the wider public and the young in particular, among the policy making class, there is still a tendency to literally view the world through a bubble and refuse to look at non-corporate or non-western originated media for any other purpose than to mock, sneer and at times, attempt to censor.

It is because of this, that the kind of invisible connection between the narrative of mainstream media pundits and politicians can lead to meaningful policy change while this is not the case when it comes to anti-war issues that the mainstream media in the US tends to either ignore or berate (before ignoring).

In this sense, the political-media complex has worked to insure that the issues that are important to the boardrooms of CNN and MSNBC are those which are important to the politicians who can then pressure a reluctant President to change a policy he previously appeared to support.

It is only when politicians begin to take non-corporate western media sources at face value rather than look for conspiracies (aka Russian meddling) which do not exist, that the growing number of people opposed to war might be able to affect policy change. Until then, the anti-war voices of millions will be ignored, while the loud but comparatively quieter thousands of voices raised against America’s border policies will be heeded.

The solution for anti-war protesters is to not give up but to shame the part-time humanitarians who cried at the thought of strangers in a strange land being separated from their families, yet who say nothing when families living in their ancestral homes are separated from one another by the force of a bomb – never to be reunited. If you think that America’s long standing border policy was inhumane but do not feel similar things towards the families America’s military slaughters in their own home – then you do not have a heart after all… but you probably have a high definition television.

June 20, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Real and Fake Threats to U.S. Vital Interests

By Philip Giraldi | American Herald tribune | June 18, 2018

There has been considerable chatter inside the Washington Beltway about the meaning of President Donald Trump’s recent forays into international trade at the G-7 meeting in Canada and his nuclear disarmament tete-a-tete with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. Depending on where one sits on the ideological spectrum G-7 is being viewed either as a calculated and largely ignorant insult to America’s closest allies or as a long overdue accounting for trade and defense imbalances that have severely damaged the U.S. economy. The most vitriolic analysis came from Republicans like Senator John McCain who accused Trump of betraying America’s allies while also aiding its enemies. McCain was referring in part to the president’s eminently reasonable suggestions that Moscow be allowed to rejoin the G-7 and that it would be beneficial to get together personally with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The meeting with Jong-un likewise is being described as a giveaway to North Korea with nothing in exchange but White House spin or as a brilliant maneuver to break a diplomatic logjam that has prevailed for more than twenty years. Those who are particularly concerned over the issue of a possible nuclear exchange taking place are pleased that the two sides are talking, even if, as The Hill observes, it will now be up to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “put meat on the bones” by initiating a series of confidence building steps that will lead to a program for finally ending the Korean War and denuclearizing the region.

In his analysis of what to expect from Singapore, former Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren quotes another FSO Asia hand William Johnson, who describes how diplomacy is a process which “… is often a series of failures, and in the best case, the failures become incrementally less bad, until the least spectacular failure is declared to be success. Diplomacy is a game where the goalposts are supposed to move, and often, to move erratically. Trump needs a plan, with specific goals, each laid out neatly in a set of talking points, not because he will attain those goals, but because he needs to figure out how short of them he can afford to fall or how far beyond them he can push his interlocutor.”

One would hope that in both the case of G-7 and Singapore wiser heads in the Administration will prevail and convince the White House to remain on target about protecting genuine American interests using diplomacy and whatever other tools are at hand.

Above all, a careful assessment of what the actual threats against the United States might be ten or twenty years down the road should be considered to frame appropriate responses. Was the presidential onslaught at G-7 justified in terms of protecting the national interest relating to unfair trade practices? Is a transnational defense strategy beneficial to the United States if it is required to bear most of the burden financially? And finally, what are the real military and political threats that confront the Washington?

The trade issue is perhaps the most complicated to deal with as most countries run surpluses with some trading partners and deficits with others, something called competitive advantage. The Donald Trump claim that that Canada runs a $100 billion surplus with the U.S. is incorrect. In reality, the U.S. has a small surplus in trading with Canada, last year amounting to $2.8 billion. So, is Canada a major source of trade imbalance? The answer would have to be “no,” even though it is demonstrably protectionist regarding food products. But there are other regions that have a large trade advantage vis-à-vis the U.S. The European Union runs a $100 billion surplus and China $375.

Europe aside, does China’s trade advantage have security implications? Yes, it does as China is the world’s most populous nation with the world’s largest economy. Economic power eventually translates into military power and if Beijing is closing its market to American products arbitrarily while selling its own goods in a relative open U.S. marketplace it becomes a vital national interest to correct that. And there are clear indications that Beijing deliberately distorts the marketplace by maintaining an undervalued Yuan and creating hurdles that foreign companies must negotiate to do business in China. China also owns 19% of Washington’s Treasury note issued debt, totaling $1.18 trillion, which it could unload at any time causing an economic crash in the U.S. The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has described the U.S. national debt as the most-grave long-term security challenge facing the country.

Defense policy and military threats from competitors constitute together a single issue as one drives the other. It is ironic that the United States, which is relatively unthreatened by enemies, continues to believe that it must intervene overseas to be safe. The current conflicts with Iran as well as in Syria and in Afghanistan are not vital interests for the United States, instead being driven largely by feckless allies, defense contractors and a sensationalist media. Even North Korea, which is a serious issue, is hardly a major threat to Americans.

The alleged threat from Russia, demonized by both the political left and right, is largely a fiction created to sell newspapers and give aspiring politicians something to talk about. Even if Russia wanted to re-occupy Eastern Europe it does not have the resources to do so. Its army is relatively small and designed for defense, its economy is the same size as Spain’s. It is nuclear armed to be sure, but, unless one is suicidal, nuclear weapons are ultimately defensive rather than offensive, to serve as a deterrent guaranteeing national survival when attacked but hardly usable otherwise.

So realistically Trump should be looking at the over the horizon economic and political problems deriving from Chinese power if he wants to address a real vital national interest. And he should do what he can to keep talking to G-7 about trade imbalances while also doing whatever is possible to hasten the demise of NATO, which has outlived its usefulness both from a fiscal and security point of view. And by all means, he should keep talking to Kim Jong-un and arrange sooner rather than later to meet with Vladimir Putin.

June 18, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Which Door Has Opened? Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump, and the Singapore Summit

By Maximilian C. Forte | Zero Anthropology | June 17, 2018

Both leaders arrived in Singapore, with significant excitement greeting them. Trump, arriving from a bitter G7 meeting, after which he attacked Justin Trudeau personally, flew into Singapore on Sunday, June 10, as did Kim Jong-un, who took serious precautions in his travel arrangements. By this point Trump had already significantly lowered expectations, saying that it would just be a meeting where the two leaders got to start a dialogue: “at least we’ll have met each other, we’ll have seen each other; hopefully, we’ll have liked each other. We’ll start that process….But I think it will take a little bit of time”. The lowered expectations might have been well advised. The usual appeal to authority that is the now customary wail of panic-striken, discredited elites, was evidenced by the scorn heaped on the work of Dennis Rodman, for not being a “professional”—when his work was fundamental to laying the groundwork for the peace talks. Others, with a longer and more considered view of history, pointed out that, “The history of U.S. foreign policy is littered with unsuccessful presidential summits, even when they have been preceded by months of careful preparation and infused by a coherent strategy and clear objectives set by a well-informed and experienced president”.

An Historic Encounter

Just the fact of meeting and talking was significant enough: already there was evidence that the campaign of “maximum pressure” was over and not likely to come back. Sanctions on North Korea were already being loosened, tested, and plans made for a future after the talks. In the meantime, clearly in a deep, quiet panic over the summit, Fox News saturated its coverage with talking heads offering Trump advice from a distance, hoping to pressure him—including advising flatly undiplomatic and plainly rude tactics such as not shaking Kim Jong-un’s hand, or preventing photographs of the two leaders together.

The Summit, televised live around the planet, wrapped up in the the afternoon on Tuesday, June 12 (Singapore time), with the final event being an extended press conference by Donald Trump, and the release of the text of the agreement jointly signed by Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. Also released was the video, “A Story of Opportunity,” prepared by the US side and shown in person to Kim Jong-un, which offered the progressivist American vision of the future.

(See Trump’s 12 tweets on the summit here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.)

Reactions to the Summit

Initial lists of outcomes did not seem to be particularly compelling in terms of the Summit offering either side any real change. Yet North Korean state media reported that the Summit had been a great success. Trump went quickly from lauding the move toward eventual denuclearization, into a full blown cheer for what he said had now been achieved: “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea” and “The World has taken a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe!”. Trump seemed ready to conclude a process that, at best, would take years and many more significant concessions. Trump also vowed to stop US war games on the Korean peninsula, admitting that they are “very provocative” (a small concession to reality). Not among the naysayers was the UN Secretary General, who immediately issued a statement of support on behalf of the UN. Regional experts called the Summit a “beginning,” and thus noted an absence of details on denuclearization. But there was also confusion, thanks to vice-president Mike Pence, about whether the US was stopping war games, or not.

Early reactions, including one from a former CIA expert, was that “denuclearization,” the way the US envisaged, is not what the Summit agreement affirmed. Others held that at the very least the Summit was a real turning point, that averted war and began a peace process; also set to rest was the trope that Kim and Trump are “madmen”.

One interesting assessment was that the summit had been a significant success for North Korea:

“The joint declaration specifies no timeline for denuclearization nor it does have steps to verify disarmament. It also refers to denuclearization on the entire Korean Peninsula—Pyongyang’s preferred phrasing—and does not include the words ‘verifiable’ and ‘irreversible’ despite months of U.S. statements. Trump also agreed to something North Korea has sought for years: the suspension of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises”.

In some key respects, Trump’s concessions matched what had long been the position of Russia and China (both of which were keen to formally rejoin negotiations on Korea): that the US freeze war games in return for North Korea suspending testing nuclear weapons. The double-freeze approach finally won. In addition, one outcome of the Summit was that China was now pressing for sanctions to be eased, almost immediately, with Trump acknowledging—without criticism on his part—that China had already eroded sanctions enforcement over the last few months. Kim and Trump also promised to personally visit each other’s capitals in the near future.

Another assessment saw the Summit as a victory for all of Korea, and the signed document as simply an aspirational declaration and not an agreement on denuclearization as such:

“The North Korean side played its cards exceptionally well. It built its capabilities under enormous pressure and used it to elevate the country to a real player on the international stage. The ‘maximum pressure’ sanction campaign against it is now defused. China, Russia and South Korea will again trade with North Korea. In pressing for an early summit Trump defused a conflict that otherwise might have ruined his presidency. The losers, for now, are the hawks in Japan, South Korea and Washington who tried their best to prevent this to happen. The winners are the people of Korea, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. Special prizes go to President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and to Dennis Rodman who did their best to make this happen”.

Others offered well-informed analysis by individuals who were intimately involved in negotiations with North Korea and who argue that North Korea is not intending to “get away” with keeping its nuclear weapons, but that the North instead has real reasons for wanting to denuclearize. The argument here is that North Korea developed nuclear weapons to entice the US to the negotiating table, in order to end the Korean War, remove all sanctions, offer diplomatic recognition, and ending the US military threat to North Korea. In addition, a rapprochement with the US would allow North Korea to diversify its foreign relations, not remaining exclusively dependent on China, when North Korea has traditionally preferred independence. Another view is that the Summit simply resulted in a momentary stabilization. Yet, as Pepe Escobar noted, “by reaffirming the Panmunjom Declaration, the US President has committed to bringing its military back from South Korea and thus a complete denuclearization of the South as well as the North”. The accusation by liberal media was that, somehow, Trump managed to get nothing at all from the summit with Kim Jong-un—though even within this line of attack, there were some thoughtful pieces that at least addressed the facts of the summit in detail, with some showing how one could still take a Democratic, anti-Trump line and yet concede the significant value of the Summit.

US Domestic Politics and Trump’s Foreign Policy

In terms of domestic politics, it became evident that for any country to deal with the US—whether friend or foe—it would enter into a dangerously unreliable relationship: the pattern has now been set where one party’s international agreements are automatically decried, and then rescinded, by the opposing party. While many Republicans praised Trump on North Korea, they viscerally rejected Obama’s similar advances with Cuba and Iran. Likewise, while all for peace with Iran and good relations with Cuba, Democrats reacted as belligerently imperialist war hawks on North Korea, with liberals validating neconservatives and war-mongers. For both parties then, imperialism remains a tool to be used in domestic competition, and it is thus continually reproduced and validated.

Within just 12 hours of the close of the Summit, mainstream media in the US began to move the event off the front pages of their sites (most notably Reuters, where one had to dig to find any report on the event). This fact alone suggested that the anti-Trump opposition itself saw the event as a success, or there would be little to begrudge Trump. However, the opposition was much more serious than that. While only four months earlier much of the media celebrated the role played by Kim Jong-un’s sister at the Winter Olympics in South Korea, and how she diplomatically bested Mike Pence—now the media gave vent to denunciations of North Korea’s “brutality” and “human rights atrocities”. This was an opportunistic use of “human rights,” instrumentalizing allegations of human suffering to score political points at home. This was also domestically-driven virtue signalling at the expense of North Korea—when historically the number one killer of North Koreans has been the US itself, having destroyed every city in the North during the Korean War, while killing at least one out of every nine persons. Current sanctions have also exacted a toll on ordinary North Koreans—so much for the “human rights” lobby. The position was also bizarre for excluding the danger of nuclear war from the scope of “human rights”. If “human rights” do not include the right not to suffer a catastrophic nuclear apocalypse, then surely the concept is of little weight and even less merit, and should probably not be a significant concern. Opposition to Trump was also expressed in terms of resentment of parity shown to North Korea at the Summit, as if anything short of the public humiliation of North Korea on the world stage was somehow a sign of American “weakness,” of “unilateral concessions,” and of course, of Trump’s personal failure. Anything that might show North Korea in a more dignified light than the usual barbarian, torture state, was depicted as mere propaganda.

Similar reasoning could be found in articles such as one in The New Yorker, which reacted with alarm at rumours of Trump wanting a summit with Vladmir Putin. First, why the resort to rumours? Trump has always been very public and very explicit about his desire to meet Putin for a full one-on-one dialogue. There is no mystery about it, and any attempt to make it sound mysterious is an attempt to make it appear sinister. Second, the underlying tone of the article is that Trump is “unbound,” manifesting the continued disregard for the legitimate election of Donald Trump to office, such that he should not be allowed to command—like a president would do. Third, The New Yorker’s Susan B. Glasser is clearly projecting her faction’s anti-Russian hysteria onto Europe—forgetting that it was the US which pressured Europe into anti-Russian sanctions that hurt European economies, and which few European nations want to continue.

One charitable way to look at this situation would follow these lines: “Washington is a liberal town and the media rush to defend the status quo when it’s threatened by an interloper. When outsiders intervene, their influence declines”. Another approach would be a critique of how accusations that Trump is in “bonding sessions” with “brutal dictators,” are the liberal-left’s way of extending, translating, and reinforcing its inherent racism, by maximizing such racist attitudes on the world stage while pretending to challenge racism in discrete social pockets at home.

Rubbing Their Faces In It

On the other hand, Trump really succeeded in taking neoconservatives, professionals in the corporate-funded and government-backed human rights industry, the liberal imperialist media, and vigorously rubbing their faces with his foreign policy. Though many in the corporate media had—just in February—produced articles laced with praise for Kim Yo-jong (the sister of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un) because she had diplomatically upended Mike Pence—now that Trump’s relations with North Korea turned in a positive direction, the media reversed polarity and switched to denunciations of the “brutality” of the North Korean “dictator,” in terms as shrill as they were opportunistic. To add more context to this, Trump declared that it was not North Korea that was the enemy of the US, instead: “Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News”. Remember that within the media some wanted Trump to avoid even shaking hands with Kim Jong-un, at the Summit itself of all places and times—when he did, some called it “disconcerting”. In their faces, Trump rubbed the following admiration for Kim Jong-un: “he is the strong head….He speaks, and his people sit up at attention”. Trump praised Kim Jong-un in no uncertain terms: “He’s smart, loves his people, he loves his country” and that, “really, he’s got a great personality”. On his own relationship with Kim Jong-un, Trump affirmed: “I think we have a very good relationship. We understand each other” and “I think he trusts me and I trust him”. From the start of the Summit, Trump said he and Kim, “got along very well”. In response to charges that Kim Jong-un is a “human rights violator,” Trump’s responses included: “Look, he’s doing what he’s seen done….He’s a tough guy,” adding in another interview, “he has to be a rough guy or he has to be a rough person,” and in another, “he’s a strong guy”. Kim Jong-un, charged by an interviewer with doing some “really bad things,” got this response from Trump: “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things”. On Kim’s stance regarding his fellow citizens, Trump stated: “I think you have somebody that has a great feeling for them”. Trump added: “He’s a funny guy, he’s very smart, he’s a great negotiator. He loves his people, not that I’m surprised by that, but he loves his people”. In return, the North Korean people love Kim: “His country does love him—his people, you see…the fervor, they have a great fervor”. About saluting a North Korean general at the summit, Trump stated simply: “I met a general. He saluted me. I saluted him back. I guess they’re using that as another sound bite. I think I’m being respectful to the general”. To top it all off, Trump added to his statement about ceasing war games with South Korea, saying he would like to also withdraw all US troops from South Korea: “I would love to get the military out as soon as we can because it costs a lot of money and a lot of money for us. I would like to get them home. I would like to”. Then Trump cheerfully assessed the outcome of his own efforts: “I did a great job this weekend”.

June 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

US Media, Democrats, Bolton Form Unholy Alliance to Fight Trump-Kim Nuclear Deal

Sputnik -June 18, 2018

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump’s own National Security Adviser John Bolton, the Democratic Party and the US mainstream media were all trying to derail the US president’s new agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, analysts told Sputnik.

On June 12, Trump and Kim met on the Singaporean island of Sentosa and signed a document showing their commitment to establish new bilateral relations and build a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. Trump also agreed to halt US-South Korea military exercises near the Korean peninsula, while Kim reiterated his country’s commitment to denuclearization.

The Democratic Party in the United States and the media establishment that supported them were cooperating closely to try and discredit Trump’s peace initiative in Korea, University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle said.

“As the ancient Chinese proverb says, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, a very positive and encouraging step,” Boyle said. “Regretfully, it [the Singapore agreement] has pretty much been trashed by the Democrats and the mainstream US media who are in cahoots with them.”

The Democrats’ hostility to the new dialogue with Pyongyang flowed directly from their strategy in trying to discredit Trump over the past two years, Boyle pointed out.

“The Democratic strategy has been to bash Trump from the right. That goes back two years now to the conventions that nominated Trump and Hillary Clinton as their parties’ candidates,” he said.

The spectacle of the US media ganging up against the president when he was trying to resolve a potentially dangerous conflict was a depressing one, Boyle commented.

“All these newspapers condemning President Trump, it’s just unimaginably sad,” he said.

The media and the Democrats were misrepresenting Trump’s talks with Kim by falsely alleging that the US president had caved in by agreeing to talk to him when in fact Trump was just fulfilling the obligations placed upon him by the United Nations Charter which the US has signed, Boyle explained.

“Trump did not give Kim Jong-un an unnecessary concession. All he did was fulfill the commitment required of him or any US leader to hold such negotiations that is in the United Nations Charter,” he said.

Under Article 23 of the UN Charter there is a requirement for President Trump to have negotiations with North Korea which he did, Boyle recalled.

“Article 33 clearly requires ‘negotiations’ to maintain international peace and security,” he added.

Far from failing to make any progress, Trump had succeeded in getting Kim’s assent to giving the new negotiating process a promising beginning, Boyle observed.

“Trump did get a commitment on complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula so that’s a good start. It incorporates the Panmunjom Declaration between Chairman Kim and President Moon. It’s a good start. I’m moderately encouraged,” he said.

Trump Rejected Bolton’s Parallel Between Libya, North Korea Talks

Boyle warned that the talks faced another major threat because National Security Adviser John Bolton was likely to try and undermine them.

“Bolton is a hard-line neoconservative (neocon) who publicly bragged about having sabotaged the process [of negotiations] with North Korea. He tried to sabotage these negotiations by going public and saying we are going to go the Libya route,” he said.

Last month, Bolton commented that the US denuclearization talks with North Korea would follow the pattern of previous talks to eliminate weapons of mass destruction in Libya. However, several years after Libya agreed to scrap such programs, its ruler Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in a West-backed rebellion and murdered.

Trump contradicted Bolton and said that model of negotiations with Libya would not apply to North Korea.

Boyle said Bolton was highly intelligent and knew what he was doing when he made such remarks or and when he had encouraged Vice President Mike Pence to make similar ones.

“Bolton is a smart guy. He is a very cunning operator in the bureaucracy. I’m afraid Bolton will try to sabotage the negotiations. He has brought his own hardline people on to the National Security Council. I’m afraid that he will do what he can behind the scenes to sabotage this thing,” he said.

Boyle said he believed Trump needed to fire Bolton and select a new national security adviser who was committed to trying to make the negotiations with North Korea succeed.

“If Trump were smart I think he would fire Bolton and bring in a realpolitik-er,” he said.

Even if the talks with North Korea went well, they would take many months and several years, Boyle cautioned.

“This is going to be a long process. The administration people have conceded to the New York Times that it will take at least two years… However, following the summit, there is momentum,” Boyle concluded.

Military Establishment Tries to Hold on to US Bases in Asia-Pacific

Retired US Army Colonel and historian Doug Macgregor agreed that the Washington establishment opposed Trump’s efforts to achieve a lasting peace agreement with North Korea.

“The swamp [the establishment] will now fight the inevitable withdrawal of US ground troops from Korea because it will lead to the removal of the Marines from Okinawa as well,” Macgregor said.

Trump had made the mistake of surrounding himself with super-hawk figures like Bolton when he needed other kinds of officials who would support his peace plans, Macgregor cautioned.

“President Trump’s current defense [national security] team won’t help him! To achieve his aims the President will need to make new appointments,” he said.

However, the US public felt no commitment to running risks of full-scale war on the Korean peninsula and would support an agreement that could end the US military presence there, Macgregor advised.

“The mood and attitude of the political class in Washington is reminiscent of London’s attitude toward leaving India after World War II,” Macgregor said.

Like the British people then, the American people support the departure, Macgregor added.

June 18, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Seoul Proposes Pyongyang to Move DPRK Artillery Away From Border – Reports

Sputnik – 17.06.2018

Seoul has proposed Pyongyang to move North Korean long-range artillery away from the border between the two states in order to reduce tensions between them, South Korean media reported Sunday.

The Yonhap news agency reported citing government sources that on Thursday the two states held talks between high-ranking military officials within the framework of the agreements reached on April 27 between the leaders of the two Koreas.

According to the media outlet, during the meeting the South Korean side made a number of proposals including the relocation of the North Korean artillery to the positions located up to 40 kilometers (some 25 miles) from the line dividing the two Korean states.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula has been significantly improving within the last several months with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in having held their first meeting on April 27.

During the meeting, the sides signed the Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula. The document committed the two countries to a nuclear-free peninsula and talks to bring a formal end to the Korean War.

June 17, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | | 2 Comments