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Russian roulette: as croupier at this particular casino table, I invite you to place your bets

By Gilbert Doctorow | January 14, 2022

The Russia-US-NATO-OSCE meetings this week have come and gone.  The Russian verdict was succinctly delivered by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Ryabkov, who explained even before the OSCE session was over that the talks have come to “a dead end” and it was unlikely the Russians will participate in any follow-on talks.

This opens the question to what comes next.

Official Washington feels certain that what comes next is a Russian invasion of Ukraine, which could come in the next few weeks and thereby fall within the timetable for such an operation suggested by State Department officials when they met with NATO allies ahead of Biden’s December 7 virtual summit with Putin. The logic put out then was that January-February would be very suitable for a land invasion given that the frozen ground would well support tank movements.  One might add to that argument on timing, one further argument that was not adduced:  in midwinter it is questionable how long the Russians would want to keep 100,000 soldiers camped in field conditions near the border; such stasis in these severe conditions is not conducive to maintaining morale.

In what I would call a rare show of failing confidence in the predictive powers of the Biden Administration, U.S. media admit to uncertainty over Russia’s next moves. However, they cleverly present this by pointing to the uncertainty of the analysts and commentators on the Russian side.

A featured article in The New York Times a couple of days ago by their Moscow correspondent Anton Troianovsky says it all in the title: Putin’s Next Move on Ukraine Is a Mystery. Just the Way He Likes It”

Indeed, all the best known Russian experts appear to be stymied, none more so than the ubiquitous Fyodor Lukyanov, host of the weekly television show “International Overview” and long time research director of the Valdai Discussion Club, where his peers in the front ranks of American international affairs specialists have gotten to know him.  Lukyanov has in recent days humbly admitted he hasn’t a clue to what comes next.  Another leading figure in the Russian foreign affairs think tank community, Andrei Kortunov, director of the Russian International Affairs Council, has shown in recent interviews that he is no better informed about what is going on in the Kremlin and what comes next.

Western experts are also shown by our media to be clueless. Today’s Financial Times article “Russia writes off security talks…” ends with a quote from Andrew Weiss of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace: “Nobody knows Putin’s next move. And we’ll all find out at the same time.”

By definition, ‘experts’ cannot declare they know nothing and be taken seriously. This reminds me of the saying of my boss for five years at ITT Europe in the 1980s, Georges Tsygalnitzky. Each time we sat down to prepare the annual Business Plan he told us that if we calculated the sales forecasts badly, we could be up to 100% off, but if we failed to deliver a Plan we would be “infinitely wrong.” The same rules apply to government defense planning.

No right-thinking person likes the idea of a major war coming to the middle of Europe, as the Ukrainians consider themselves to be.  The United States has still more reason to worry about a looming war between Russia and Ukraine, because the outcome of total rout for the Kiev military forces equates to a bloody nose for Washington: its acknowledged 2.5 billion dollar investment in arming and training the Ukrainian military will have been in vain, and the loss would rival the catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan in terms of American global prestige. The Biden administration would enter the midterm electoral period reeling from its losses in international relations.

Without wishing the Biden administration ill, I believe their scenario of a Russian invasion is wrong-headed and unimaginative. It fails to come to terms with the Russians’ imperatives on altering the security architecture in Europe as drivers of their current policies, not settling scores with Ukraine, or bringing them back to a common homeland, as Blinken & Company repeat ad nauseam.

So what comes next?  In successive articles on this website, I have set out several scenarios, or algorithms. My most recent prognosis in yesterday’s piece was that Putin’s Plan B would likely be purely “military-technical” in the sense of roll-out of medium range nuclear capable missiles in Kaliningrad and Belarus, to place all of Europe under threat of attack with ultra-short warning times, such as Moscow finds unacceptable coming from U.S.-NATO encirclement of its territory.

At the same time, Moscow might announce the stationing off of the American East and West Coasts of its submarines and frigates carrying hypersonic missiles and the Poseidon deep sea nuclear capable drone, all to the same purpose, namely putting a pistol to the head of the U.S. leadership. And now there is even talk of Russia building military installations in Venezuela, likely to host Russian strategic bombers capable of swift attack on the Continental United States without having to fly half the world. And a Cuban delegation is reportedly in Moscow, no doubt talking about posssible installation of missiles there. This is all very reminiscent of the goings-on in 1962.

One reader of this essay has written in, saying that news of Russian submarines posted off the coast of New York and Los Angeles could sink the S&P. Yes, indeed, and this financial damage is an aspect of policy that the Russians have taken into account. The sensitivity of Wall Street to bad news was mentioned specifically by Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov earlier in the week in Q&A. The American middle classes may be indifferent to foreign affairs generally but they are very attentive and politically active when the value of their 401k pension fund is hit. It is not for nothing that wealth fund managers in the City of London, board members of leading U.S. banks and insurance companies are readers of my essays as reposted on my LinkedIn account.

I imagine that Russia’s Plan B could begin implementation in the next couple of weeks and would be given three or four weeks to take effect on Western public consciousness.  If the United States and NATO still resisted coming to terms over changes to the Alliance that satisfy Russian demands, then I envision a Plan C which would indeed be kinetic warfare, but quite different from the invasion that figures in U.S. public statements and approaches to its allies.

Without putting a single soldier on the ground in Ukraine or contemplating direct overthrow of its regime and occupation, Russia could by “military-technical means,” such as missile and air attacks destroy the Ukraine’s command and control structure as well as “neutralize” the most radical nationalist militias and other hostile units now threatening Donbas. The destruction of Ukraine’s military infrastructure would by itself put an end to Washington’s plans for extensive war games there later in the year.  We may assume that Russian forces will remain massed at the border till such operations are completed.

The clean-up of Ukraine, ending its potential to threaten Russian national security, would be a very strong signal to all of Europe to back off in practice even if no formal treaties are signed with Russia at present.

In an exchange with a close colleague in Washington this morning, we agreed a bet on whether my prediction holds. And in this casino of international politics, I invite readers to place their own bets on what comes next.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022

January 15, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

NATO Expansion: Blinken and Stoltenberg lie intentionally and the media let them

By Jan Oberg | The Transnational | January 13, 2022

To deceive, telling half-truths, or a complete lie is nothing new in politics, particularly security in politics. But until some 20-30 years ago, I would – perhaps naively – see it as an exception. Tragically – and perhaps to many readers’ surprise – it is now the rule. At least in U.S. and NATO circles, and that is particularly regrettably since The West professes to be a democratic system with specific values and even a moral leader to The Rest.

Lying systematically about facts – historical facts – and other countries and cultures should be incompatible with The West’s perception of itself. But, today, it isn’t.

Lies are widespread in so-called security politics when some militarist project doesn’t make any (common) sense to intelligent people, when the real motives have to be covered up and war is being prepared or when the sociological cancer called the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex, MIMAC, and the elites it consists of, try to squeeze out even larger military expenditures from their taxpayers.

You lie to manufacture an enemy that can justify what you will do and enrich yourself. With 40+ years of experience in security politics in general and NATO/US policies in particular, I know too much – sorry for the arrogance – and have become too cynical to believe that what goes on goes on for the sake of self-defence, security or peace.

Some quick examples of gross empirically-revealed lying to the word – all the liars still at large:

• In the 1990s, Yugoslav President Milosevic was Europe’s new Hitler (Bill Clinton) and planned a genocide on the Albanians in Kosovo.

• Saddam Hussein’s soldiers threw babies out of their incubators in Kuwait City.

• Afghanistan had to be destroyed because of 9/11.

• Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

• The US-led Global War On Terror – GWOT – has been about reducing terrorism.

• The US/NATO orchestrated regime-change attempt in Syria from 2011 to 2016 was exclusively about Dictator al-Assad’s sudden sadist “killing of his own.”

• Gaddafi was just about to murder all who lived in Benghazi.

• The conflict around Ukraine was started by Putin’s “aggression” on Crimea, nothing preceded it.

• Iran has always plotted and lied to acquire nuclear weapons.

• There are only bad things to say about Russia and China and…

You may continue on your own.

A recent lie is particularly nasty because it is not about some limited event or pretext. It is a cynical attempt to rewrite contemporary history to justify (even further) NATO expansion and intimidate Russia.

The lie is this:

• The West’s leaders never promised Mikhail Gorbachev and his foreign minister Edvard Shevardnadze not to expand NATO eastward. They also did not state that they would take serious Soviet/Russian security interests around its borders. And that, therefore, each of the former Warsaw Pact countries has a right to join NATO if they decide to freely.

It is this lie I am going to deal with below, and you can hear these lies presented by Antony Blinken and Jens Stoltenberg – in slightly different versions – with crystal clarity in the following two videos.

Before I start, let me say that it has never been my style to focus on or attack individuals. I’ve always been more interested in structures and processes and in how they shape people. But there comes a time when leaders must be held accountable because they choose to lie repeatedly, although they do have the choice not to.

And because lies have often been war crimes in the making.

Antony Blinken

First, US Secretary-of-State, Antony Blinken on January 7, 2022 – scroll the video below to 38:30 where he begins to speak and distorts the Ukraine conflict history and then, at 43:00-45:00, continues to say that Russia is driving the false narrative that the West had given assurances to Russia/Gorbachev about not expanding NATO back in 1989-90. It wouldn’t and couldn’t, he says. And all the claims Russia makes are false and shall not permit “us” to be diverted from the main thing: Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.

Right after (45:40) comes another lie – Russia also invaded Georgia. Anyone who has studied the U.S. Congressional Research Service’s analysis of 2009, “Russia-Georgia Conflict in 2008: Context and Implications for U.S. Interests“, knows that this issue was vastly more complex and that it was Georgia – led by hotheaded U.S. friend Mikheil Saakashvili whose political life ever since has resembled a tragicomic farce – that had occupied the larger part of South Ossetia before Russia intervened massively. The responsibility for the war and violence can not seriously be placed on the Russian side alone.

And he continues his self-righteous accusations. Blinken’s list is long, and he reads his accusation list with a submachinegun speed, sometimes so stumbling and unclear that one must wonder whether he is uncomfortable because he is subconsciously aware that he lies, deceives and omits to make his psycho-political projections of the U.S.’s own dark sides sound intelligent, logical and truthful.

This U.S. Secretary of State can’t be bothered by facts or nuances. Neither could his predecessor, Mike Pompeo, who was proud to say that at the CIA, he directed “We Lied, We Cheated, We Stole. We had entire training courses…“. Mr Blinken continues reading his obsessive, hateful listing of all the sins of Russia. As if the US/NATO did not exist and, therefore, there was no conflict which normally takes a least two parties. In his comprehensive conflict illiteracy, this conflict has only one party: Russia.

The intellectual level is deplorable. NATO allies and mainstream media have no public opinion or critical views on any of it. One must assume that they agree and can make no better analyses themselves.

Now, take a look – at least at the sequences, I’ve mentioned above. Then, I show you how Mr Blinken is lying deliberately under the video.

If this link doens’t functionanymore, please use this. You may also see it on C-Span and YouTube here.

Now, how can Mr Blinken flatly deny that assurances were given to Gorbachev?

The only source I have been able to find is an article by Steven Pifer from 2014, which argues that Gorbachev himself denies that NATO expansion was ever discussed, “Did NATO Promise Not to Enlarge? Gorbachev Says “No” which refers to an interview with Gorbachev in Russia Beyond.

But this is a piece of citation fraud.

Steven Pifer quotes from it but stops right before the well-known statement in the interview article by then U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, that “NATO will not move one inch further east.” He also omits these words by Gorbachev himself:

“The decision for the U.S. and its allies to expand NATO into the east was decisively made in 1993. I called this a big mistake from the very beginning. It was definitely a violation of the spirit of the statements and assurances made to us in 1990. With regards to Germany, they were legally enshrined and are being observed.”

Can this really be interpreted to mean that Gorbachev says that no assurances were ever given?

We get a key to why Blinken uses a fake analysis: Because it fits his posturing as a paragon of truth and because Mr Pifer is a senior fellow at Brookings but also a former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and adviser to one of the most hawkish think-tanks, Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.

A slight twist, omission or interpretative casuistry isn’t that important, is it? Well, if you are not yet convinced that Mr Blinken lies deliberately, I ask you to now go to the authoritative National Security Archive at George Washington University. It’s an incredible source of facts, and we should thank it for making the truth available through comprehensive documentation on so many security-related issues.

TFF has reproduced two essential pieces from that archive of irrefutable documentation that Gorbachev indeed was given such assurances – “cascades” of them! as is stated in the article – by all the most influential Western leaders at the end of 1989 and into 1990:

“NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev heard” – and

“NATO Expansion: The Budapest Blow Up 1994”

Read them, and you’ll be shocked.

You’ll find that they have lots of notes and, in sum, no less than 48 original historical documents. For instance, here is just one of the 48 informing us about then NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner’s view and statement:

“Woerner had given a well-regarded speech in Brussels in May 1990 in which he argued: “The principal task of the next decade will be to build a new European security structure, to include the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact nations. The Soviet Union will have an important role to play in the construction of such a system. If you consider the current predicament of the Soviet Union, which has practically no allies left, then you can understand its justified wish not to be forced out of Europe.

Now in mid-1991, Woerner responds to the Russians by stating that he personally and the NATO Council are both against expansion – “13 out of 16 NATO members share this point of view” – and that he will speak against Poland’s and Romania’s membership in NATO to those countries’ leaders as he has already done with leaders of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Woerner emphasizes that “We should not allow […] the isolation of the USSR from the European community.”

This is just one of the “cascades” of statements and assurances given to the Russians at the time. Over 30 years ago, 13 out of 16 members were against NATO expansion because they respected Russia’s crisis and legitimate security interests! Today – 2022 – NATO has 30 members.

Is the U.S. Secretary of State, his advisors and speechwriters unaware of the next-door National Security Archives and what is in them concerning one of contemporary history’s most important events: the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact? Are we really to believe that they have no clue about the conditions and dialogues at the end of the first Cold War? If so, they ought to resign or be fired for their unbelievable incompetence.

If not so – if they know the content of these historical documents – Mr Blinken, his advisors and speechwriters know that they lie.

Their words, therefore, should never be trusted. Neither should the media that avoid highlighting these lies and thereby become complicit. The task of a supposedly free press is to reveal the power abuse of democratically elected people who deliberately fill their constituencies with lies.

Simple as that.

Jens Stoltenberg

In this press conference video from January 7, 2022, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg states some of the same rhetoric, distortions, simplifications and lies. Not to mention platitudes accompanied by an almost funny body language of bombastic gestures to compensate for his weak content, mantras and repetitions.

Listen at around 19:00 minutes how he maintains that NATO enlargement has been “extremely important for stability and peace and freedom and democracy in Europe” where it can indeed be argued that that enlargement is the main reason that Europe is now in a situation which can reasonably be called the 2nd Cold War.

Why else has NATO not created the desired and stipulated peace and stability since it was created in 1949? So, no, Mr Stoltenberg, you cannot continue – like your masters in Washington – to argue that the present war risks are caused by Russia and Russia alone? If that’s what they order you to say, you have the option to choose decency and resign.

The NATO Secretary-General repeats that each state has a sovereign right to decide its own course and choose its own security arrangements. And that NATO has not dragged in anybody, and they have all just decided democratically to become a member.

That is simply not true.

NATO as an alliance has enormous resources to influence opinions in potential member states. Contrary to his open door talk, NATO’s Charter speaks only about inviting new members, not about holding a door open for anyone who might want to join.

It should be well-known by now – but isn’t – that in the late 1990s, Vladimir Putin asked to join NATO – but it didn’t happen, did it, Mr Stoltenberg? And why not? Because Putin – Russia – wanted to be invited as an equal partner and not sit and wait till Montenegro had become a member, to put it bluntly. NATO decided to close the door at Putin’s request.

This – fantastic – story is told by a former NATO Secretary-General, George Robertson; there is no reason to assume that is not credible or just a rumour. Or, for that matter, that Putin was not serious.

And what an exciting thought: Russia in NATO! Who would Mr Stoltenberg and Mr Blinken – and all the rest of the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex, MIMAC, then have to put all the blame on? How then legitimate NATO’s permanent armament and 12% higher military expenditures than Russia’s?

Mr Stoltenberg must know that he lies when saying NATO has an open door. It doesn’t for Russia. It doesn’t even have open ears for Russia’s security concerns (which each and every NATO member, the U.S. in particular, would consider reasonable if a Russian military alliance incrementally crept close to their borders).

And he must know that he lies when he acts as though he does not know that Russia has been against that very NATO enlargement that he fakes has been so positive for all of Europe during no less than 30 years.

Funnily, Stoltenberg first emphasises (around 19:30) that all new NATO members have freely decided to join. Then he boasts about all NATO does to train, help, support candidates and how important Ukraine is as a NATO partner while not a member. As he says, candidates need to carry through reforms to meet NATO standards. And NATO gives them “practical and political support” so they can – later – meet NATO standards and become members.

What an extraordinary altruism NATO radiates! Are we really to believe that NATO certainly drags in no one, as he maintains?

NATO set up an office in Kyiv, Ukraine, already in 1994, and here you can see how – incrementally – Ukraine has been dragged in, seduced, and promised a great Euro-Atlantic future in one document after the other.

And here you’ll see how Olga Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, standing at NATO’s H.Q. with Stoltenberg, consistently talks about NATO as Ukraine’s “allies,” expect all kinds of guarantees and – in Foreign Policy of course – argues that Ukraine Needs a Clear Path to NATO Membership in the face of Russian aggression.

And now, the integration process has probably gone so far that neither NATO nor Ukraine would be able to see any other alternative but full membership at some point. Being fiancées, why not marry through a formal membership – as has been said about Sweden?

In its Russia-humiliating policies, NATO has not even seen it coming: That with all the promises, structures and processes accumulating and creating expectations, the alliance would, at some point, run into serious conflict with Russia. If so, the entire alliance suffers from conflict illiteracy and a tremendous lack of foresight.

An that is why you have to construct Russia as a huge militarily aggressive state with an unsympathetic leader – one “we” can freely demonise and don’t even have to listen to.

Now, listen then to this Stoltenberg statement about the – real – importance of NATO’s help (20:45): “…It also makes the societies of Ukraine and Georgia stronger. So resilient, well-functioning societies are also less vulnerable from interference from Russia.”

Just a welcoming open NATO door to countries that decide freely and democratically that they want to knock on it?

It’s time for a reality check in NATO Realpolitik’s – outdated – world. If you do not manifestly want to provoke and increase war risks, you would do it completely differently every day since 1989.

The NATO expansion basis is obvious: Get as many as possible into NATO, demonise Russia and Putin and make it impossible for Russia to have any influence in Europe and on its future.

How strange, indeed, that Russia perceives the Alliance’s expansion right up to its borders as a deliberate military threat and a politically motivated undermining of its status and power!

How surprising that it thinks its security interests in its near-abroad should be respected, just because it has been invaded historically from the West and contained all along its borders since the Second World War in which, by the way, it lost some 24 million people!

It is tragic beyond words that the West has not a single politician today like Willy Brandt, Egon Bahr, Olof Palme or any of the real statesmen who gave Gorbachev cascades of assurance because they possessed two essentially important qualities: intellectual competence and empathy, a wish and ability to try to live themselves into the situation of “the other” and thereby think in terms of common security at lower military levels.

They were mature personalities basing their policies on analysis and consultations. They knew that you can only achieve security with and not against “the other”.

Instead, NATO has only anti-intellectual, self-centred and -aggrandising militarists running the self-defeating “know-everything-listen-to-nobody” show foolproven by history to lead to war.

And it is tragic beyond words that the peoples of Europe do not debate these issues and that all alternatives to militarism have been deprived of all their resources while NATO militarism costs trillions of dollars what are desperately needed in all other sectors of Western society.

In summary, the US/NATO world threw away the most significant and precious opportunity to create peace in Europe after 1945, when it decided to take advantage of Russia’s weakness. As suggested by Gorbachev and many security and peace intellectuals at the time, the members of the old blocs could have joined forces and created an entirely new all-European security and peace architecture.

We are now facing the tragic consequences of the arrogant winner-takes-it-all policy manifested by the US Clinton administration’s decision to ignore all the assurances and begin expanding NATO eastward in 1994, helped by submissive European allies that had neither the intellectual capacity nor political will to manifest their own interests.

That is why they have to lie to us today.

Notes

1. Over the years, TFF has published numerous analyses that can serve as supplements to this article. Several of them contain predictions and early warnings about the situation we are now facing:

TFF PressInfo # 390 – Ten articles on the new Cold War and a reflection (2016)

NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev heard and how he was cheated (2017)Various on Ukraine

Jan Oberg’s blog: Maktspelet vid Rysslands gränser – Power games at the borders of Russia (2021) Containing also a series of highly relevant links

2. When you see the two videos above, note that all questions from the media are very understanding of the two speakers’ statements. Like – how will NATO ensure that it can react swiftly if Russia should invade Ukraine, etc. Press conferences have become carefully planned stage events with written statements being read allow and carefully selected pro-military media – critical questions a prior cancelled by organisers and reinforced by self-censorship. Where did we see that before? In the Soviet Union, but just done more clumsily.

3. The Guardian, January 12, 2022
Russia’s belief in Nato ‘betrayal’ – and why it matters today
A new book on this problem.

January 15, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

Did NATO leaders lie to Russia?

By Tarik Cyril Amar | RT | January 15, 2022

With Russia challenging Western unilateralism in a way not seen since the end of the Soviet Union, two major issues keep coming to the fore. Both, it seems, are centered on America’s flagship military bloc, NATO.

First, there is Moscow’s claim that there was a Western promise not to expand NATO beyond its Cold War area. Second, there is a Western claim that NATO cannot, let alone will not, put an end to admitting new member states.

This is no mere rhetoric; these are crucial points. Russia’s insistence on a thorough review and comprehensive, bindingly codified reset of post-Cold War security relations with the West hinges on its claim that prior Western assurances were broken. Talk and informal promises, the Kremlin says, are not enough anymore because they have turned out to be unreliable. On the other side of the quarrel, the West is rejecting a Russian key demand – to stop NATO expansion – by entrenching itself behind its claim that NATO simply must keep the door open to new members.

Both claims can be verified. Let’s take a look at the facts. Moscow is right in its assertion that the West has broken its promises.

Such pledges were made twice to Russia, as a matter of fact. In 1990, during the negotiations over the unification of West and East Germany, and then, again, in 1993, when NATO was extending its Partnership for Peace policy eastward. In both cases, the assurances were given by US secretaries of state, James Baker and Warren Christopher, respectively. And in both cases, they took it upon themselves to speak, in effect, for NATO as a whole.

Despite clear evidence, there are still Western publicists and even active politicians who deny or relativize these facts, such as, for instance, Cold War Re-Enactor and former American ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. Let’s address their objections.

Regarding the 1993 promises, the case is extremely simple. As Angela Stent – a widely recognized American foreign policy expert and practitioner with no bias in Russia’s favor – has summarized it in 2019, two “US ambassadors… later admitted that Washington reneged on its promises” – of 1993, that is – “by subsequently offering membership to Central Europe.” Then-Russian president Boris “Yeltsin was correct in believing that explicit promises made… about NATO not enlarging for the foreseeable future were broken when the Clinton administration decided to offer membership,” – and not merely partnership, as Christopher had assured Yeltsin – “to Central Europe.”

The 1990 case is a little more complicated, but not much. There, too, the evidence for an explicit promise is clear. Here is the foremost American expert, Joshua Shifrinson – like Stent beyond any suspicion of favoring Russia – on the issue, writing in 2016:

“In early February 1990, U.S. leaders made the Soviets an offer… Secretary of State James Baker suggested that in exchange for cooperation on Germany, [the] U.S. could make ‘iron-clad guarantees’ that NATO would not expand ‘one inch eastward.’… Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to begin reunification talks. No formal deal was struck, but from all the evidence, the quid pro quo was clear: Gorbachev acceded to Germany’s western alignment and the U.S. would limit NATO’s expansion.”

To be clear, Shifrinson, a careful scholar, has also explained that American negotiators and leaders started going back on this promise very quickly. But that makes zero difference to two facts: First, the promise was made, and timing suggests strongly that it mattered to Russia’s acquiescence to German unification on entirely Western terms. In other words: Moscow kept its part of the deal, the West did not. Second, even while rapidly backpedaling internally, American politicians continued to give Russia the – false – impression that its security interests would be considered. Put differently, the initial – and consequential – promise was not only broken; the deception was followed up with even more deception.

Those representatives of the West still in denial of what happened in 1990, such as Mark Kramer, for instance, also often quote former Soviet president Gorbachev: He has stated, after all, that the infamous “not-one-inch” promise referred strictly to East Germany only. Hence, the West’s defenders argue, it wasn’t about NATO beyond East Germany at all.

Frankly, though popular, that is an extraordinarily silly argument: First, Gorbachev has an understandable interest in not being held responsible for the security-policy fiasco of letting NATO expand as it liked. Secondly, even if the 1990 negotiations were strictly about East Germany, please remember their real context: The Soviet Union was still there and so was the Warsaw Pact. Thus, two things are obvious – as long as we all argue in good faith: First, in specific terms, the 1990 promise could only be about East Germany. And, second, it of course clearly implied that anything east of East Germany would be, if anything, even more – not less – off-limits to NATO.

Another line of Western defense can only be described as fundamentally dishonest: NATO itself – and apparently the current American secretary of state Antony Blinken as well – now quite suddenly remember that “NATO Allies take decisions by consensus and these are recorded. There is no record of any such decision taken by NATO. Personal assurances from individual leaders cannot replace Alliance consensus and do not constitute formal NATO agreement.”

That sounds great! If only James Baker and Christopher Warren had known about it when making their promises about NATO to Gorbachev and then Yeltsin!

Seriously? Two US secretaries of state address Moscow as if they had the right to speak for and shape NATO. Moscow, very plausibly – given the way NATO really works – assumes that they can. And when these promises are then broken, that is Russia’s problem? News flash: If you really follow that twisted logic, you would have justified the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as “fraternal help” as well. Because formally that’s what it “was.”

What about the West’s contention that NATO must maintain an “open door” policy, or, put differently, cannot possibly agree with Russia to stop expanding? That claim, unlike Moscow’s about NATO promises, is incorrect. Here’s why:

NATO argues that its inability to ever close its doors is based on the NATO treaty, its constitution, as it were. Here is NATO’s argument in the original:

“NATO’s ‘Open Door Policy’ is based on Article 10 of the Alliance’s founding document, the North Atlantic Treaty,” which “states that NATO membership is open to any ‘European state in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area’.” And that “any decision on enlargement must be made ‘by unanimous agreement.’… Over the past 72 years, 30 countries have chosen freely, and in accordance with their domestic democratic processes, to join NATO. This is their sovereign choice.”

If all of the above were correct, it would still be a stretch to believe that such things can never be changed – as if they were a natural force akin to gravity – but, at least, we could understand why it is a challenge to make such changes.

Yet, in reality, in this case there is no reason to accept NATO’s surprisingly far-fetched and inconsistent interpretation of its own founding document. Because what Article 10 actually says is that the door is open to every European state that can “contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area” and that the admission of any such state to the bloc can only happen by the “unanimous consent” of all current NATO members.

None of this, actually, contradicts the possibility of NATO one day stating that for the future (unlimited or with precise dates) no further states can possibly help “contribute” to its security and therefore no further states can be admitted. NATO would be entirely within its rights doing so; and Article 10 would be perfectly fine.

Regarding NATO’s statement that it is every European state’s sovereign right to “join,” it does not withstand elementary scrutiny: If that were so, then both the “unanimous consent” of all current members and the distinction between applying and joining would be meaningless. That is an obviously absurd position. In reality, states have a right to apply, not to join – by NATO’s own rules, which someone at NATO seems to very badly misunderstand.

Put differently: NATO’s “Open Door Policy” is exactly that: a policy. It is not a natural law or even something that NATO is obliged to do by its own founding document (which would still not bind anyone else, actually). A policy, however, is, of course, open to revision. NATO’s claims that it “cannot” stop admitting is, therefore, strictly nonsensical. In reality, it chooses not to want to stop admitting, unfortunately.

In sum, Russia is right: The West promised not to enlarge NATO, and these promises were broken. NATO is wrong: It can, actually, shut the door; it just doesn’t feel like it.

These things are, actually, not hard to grasp. Hence, what is perhaps most worrying about the currently dominant Western narratives on these issues is not even that they are incorrect but that, apparently, parts of the Western elites, intellectual and political, really believe their own nonsense. But let’s hope they are deliberately distorting the truth. Because otherwise they have started buying into their own propaganda. And if that is the case, it is very hard to see how negotiations will ever succeed.

Tarik Cyril Amar is an historian from Germany at Koç University in Istanbul working on Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe, the history of World War II, the cultural Cold War, and the politics of memory. 

January 15, 2022 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Where Are the Realists?

US foreign policy endangers Americans without delivering any benefits

BY PHILIP GIRALDI • UNZ REVIEW • JANUARY 11, 2022

Sometimes it seems that when it comes to international relations Russian president Vladimir Putin might be the only head of state who is capable of any rational proposals. His recent negotiating positions conveyed initially by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Rybakov to step back from the brink of war between his country and the United States over Ukraine are largely eminently sensible and would defuse the possibility that Eastern Europe might become a future Sarajevo incident that would ignite a nuclear war. Per Putin, “We need long-term legally binding guarantees even if we know they cannot be trusted, as the US frequently withdraws from treaties that become uninteresting to them. But…something [more is needed], not just verbal assurances.”

Putin and President Biden discussed the Russian proposals and other issues in a phone conversation on December 30th, in which Biden called for diplomacy, and both he and Putin reportedly took steps to defuse the possible confrontation. In the phone call the two presidents agreed to initiate bilateral negotiations described as “strategic stability dialogue” relating to “mutual security guarantees” which have now begun on Sunday, January 9th, in Geneva. That will be followed by an exploratory meeting of the NATO-Russia Council on Wednesday and another meeting with the Organization for Security and Cooperation on Thursday.

Pat Buchanan, who is somewhat skeptical about Russian overreach, has summed up the Putin position, which he refers to as an ultimatum, as “Get off our front porch. Get out of our front yard. And stay out of our backyard.” Putin has demanded that NATO cease expansion into Eastern Europe, which threatens only Russia, while also scaling back planned missile emplacements in those former Warsaw Pact states that are already members of the alliance. He also has called on the US to reduce harassing incursions by warships and strategic bombers along the Russian border and to cease efforts to insert military bases in the five ‘Stans along the Russian federation’s southern border. In other words, Russia believes that it should not have hostile military forces gathering along its borders, that it should have some kind of legally guaranteed and internationally endorsed strategic security zone such as the United States enjoys behind two oceans with friendly governments to north and south.

Buchanan concludes that there is much room for negotiating a serious agreement that will satisfy both sides, observing that the US now has through NATO untenable security arrangements with 28 European countries. He notes how “The day cannot be far off when the US is going to have to review and discard Cold War commitments that date to the 1940s and 1950s, and require us to fight a nuclear power such as Russia for countries that have nothing to do with our vital interests or our national security.”

Secretary of State Tony Blinken has been openly skeptical about the Russian proposals, arguing that Moscow is a threat to Europe, though the extent that the Biden administration will play hard ball over the details is difficult to assess. Blinken and NATO have already declared that they will continue their expansion into Eastern Europe and the White House is reportedly preparing harsh new sanctions against Russia if the talks are not successful. To be sure, Administration pushback may be a debating technique to moderate or even eliminate some of the demands, or there may actually be hard liners from the Center for New American Security who have the administration’s ear who want to confront Russia. Either way, both Blinken and Biden have warned the Russians “not to make a serious mistake over Ukraine,” also stating that there would be “massive” economic consequences if there were any attack by Russian troops. After a meeting with Germany’s new Foreign Minister, Blinken asserted last week that there would be no progress in diplomatic approaches to the problem as long as there is a Russian “gun pointed at Ukraine’s head.” In reality, of course, Moscow is 5,000 miles away from Washington and the truly dangerous pointed gun has been in the hands of NATO and the US right on Russia’s doorstep.

To be sure, fighting Russia is popular in some circles, largely a result of incessant negative media coverage about Putin and his government. Opinion polls suggest that half of all Americans favor sending troops to defend the Ukrainians. The Republicans, notably Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, appear to be particularly enthusiastic regarding going to war over Ukraine as well as with China over Taiwan and openly advocate both admitting Ukraine into NATO as well as sending troops and weapons as well as providing intelligence to assist Kiev. They argue that it is necessary to defend American democracy and also to maintain the US’s “credibility,” the last refuge of a scoundrel nation, as Daniel Larison observes , since Washington frequently “goes back on its word.” And then there are the crazies like Ohio Congressman Mike Turner who says that US troops must be sent to Ukraine to defend American democracy. Or Republican Senator from Mississippi Roger Wicker who favors a possible unilateral nuclear first-strike to “rain destruction on Russian military capability,” leading to a global conflict that wouldn’t be so bad as it would only kill 10 to 20 million Americans.

Russia has a right to be worried as something is brewing in Kazakhstan right now that just might be a replay of the US-supported NGO-instigated successful overthrow of the Ukrainian government in 2014. The Collective Security Treaty Organization members Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia, have sent soldiers responding to the Kazakh government’s request for help. Unfortunately, US foreign policy is not only about Russia. The Taiwan issue continues to fester with a similar resonance to the Ukraine crisis. China, a rising power, increasingly wants to assert itself in its neighborhood while the US is trying to alternatively confront and contain it while also propping up relationships that evolved after the Korean War and during the Cold War. The status quo is unsustainable, but US moves to “protect” Taiwan are themselves destabilizing as they make the Chinese suspicious of American intentions and will likely lead to unnecessary armed conflict.

And let’s not ignore America’s continued devastation by sanctions and bombs of civilian populations in Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Yemen to punish the governments of those countries. And, of course there, is always Israel, good old loyal ally and greatly loved by all politicians and the media, Israel, the Jewish state. Biden continues to waffle on reentry into the Iran nuclear non-proliferation agreement, which is good for the US, under pressure from Israel and its domestic “Amen chorus.” Just last month, speaking at a Zionist Organization of America Gala, former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo intoned that “There is no more important task of the Secretary of State than standing for Israel and there is no more important ally to the United States than Israel.” Add to that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s unforgettable bleat about her love for Israel, “I have said to people when they ask me if this Capitol crumbled to the ground, the one thing that would remain is our commitment to our aid… and I don’t even call it aid…our cooperation with Israel. That’s fundamental to who we are.”

You might ask how any American leader could so blatantly state that US interests are subordinate to those of a foreign country, but there we are. And it is tragic that our president is willing to sacrifice American military lives in support of interests that are completely fraudulent. The truth is that we have a government that in bipartisan fashion does everything ass backwards while the American people struggle to pay the bills and watch their quality of life and even their security go downhill. Again citing Vladimir Putin’s wisdom on the subject, one might observe that as early as 2007 at the Munich Security Conference, the Russian president said that the “lawless behavior” of the United States in insisting on global dominance and leadership did not respect the vital interests of other nations and undermined both the desire for and the mechanisms established to encourage peaceful relations. He got that right. That is the crux of the matter. There is neither credibility nor humanity to American foreign policy, and everyone knows that the United States and allies like Israel are basically rogue nations that obey no rules and respect no one else’s rights. This has been somewhat true since the Second World War but it has become routine practice in nearly all of America’s international relations since 9/11 and the real losers are the American people, who have to shoulder the burden of an increasingly feckless and hopelessly corrupt political class.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

January 12, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Five Theories on the Origin of Omicron, the Variant That Might End the Pandemic

By Josh Mitteldorf, Ph.D. | The Defender | January 10, 2022

The genome of Omicron has taken the community of public health scientists by surprise.

Not only are there a large number of mutations, but some of these mutations have not been observed in the many previous genome analyses, thousands of which are being conducted in labs around the world.

Among scientists, there are five competing explanations for this situation.

  1. Maybe the virus has been mutating toward Omicron for a long while, but it has happened “under the radar” in a region of the world where there are few scientific labs that might have reported its genome in intermediate states. In other words, it appeared someplace where genomic testing was unavailable and intermediate strains remained undetected.
  2. A single immune-compromised patient might have harbored the virus for an extended period of “long COVID,” during which the virus mutated while replicating within that individual.
  3. The virus might have jumped to a mouse host and spread from mouse to mouse, in an environment where different mutations would be favored. The heavily mutated virus must then have jumped back to humans.
  4. The virus leaked from, or was released from, a laboratory in Durban, South Africa, where experimenters were genetically manipulating the virus.
  5. Vaccinated populations have put intense selection pressure on the virus to evade the vaccine by mutating its spike protein, which is the only part of the virus to which vaccinated individuals have immunity.

As with everything COVID, we’ve seen significant censorship around the origins of Omicron, both in the mainstream press and the medical journals.

Three of the above theories were discussed out in the open. But No. 4 was relegated to the fringes because scientists are still gunshy about discussing engineered bioweapons, and No. 5 has similarly been sidelined because it is politically incorrect to say anything bad about vaccines.

The irony here is that evolution in vaccinated populations may have led to the emergence of a version of COVID that everyone can live with.

Let’s take a closer look at each theory.

Theory #1: Omicron was hiding out in darkest Africa

Christian Drosten, a virologist at Charité University Hospital in Berlin, proposed Omicron evolved its prodigious ability to spread rapidly while hiding out in regions of Botswana and Southwest Africa.

“I assume this evolved not in South Africa, where a lot of sequencing is going on, but somewhere else in southern Africa during the winter wave,” Drosten said.

This region of the world has few virology laboratories that would have reported intermediate versions of the virus.

In both Botswana and South Africa, just under half the population has been vaccinated, according to Reuters. This might explain the many mutations in the spike protein and Omicron’s ability to infect the vaccinated.

Theory #2: Omicron gestated in the slow cooker of a single patient with long COVID

According to a Dec. 1, 2021 article in Science, Omicron clearly did not develop out of one of the earlier variants of concern, such as Alpha or Delta.

Instead, it appears to have evolved “in parallel — and in the dark.”

Emma Hodcroft, a virologist at the University of Bern, told Science :

“Omicron is so different from the millions of SARS-CoV-2 genomes that have been shared publicly that pinpointing its closest relative is difficult. It likely diverged early from other strains. I would say it goes back to mid-2020.”

That raises the question of where Omicron’s predecessors lurked for more than a year.

Andrew Rambaut of the University of Edinburgh told Science he can’t see how the virus could have stayed hidden in a group of people for so long.

“I’m not sure there’s really anywhere in the world that is isolated enough for this sort of virus to transmit for that length of time without it emerging in various places,” Rambaut said.

Rambaut and others propose the virus most likely developed in a chronically infected COVID-19 patient, likely someone whose immune response was impaired by another illness or a drug.

According to Science, when Alpha was first discovered in late 2020, that variant also appeared to have acquired numerous mutations all at once, leading researchers to postulate a chronic infection.

That theory is bolstered by sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 samples from some chronically infected patients.

Theory #3: Omicron jumped to a mouse, then back to humans

This study from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, cites genetic evidence from the Omicron genome to support the thesis that the virus jumped to mice, then back to humans.

The frequency of different kinds of mutations (different amino acid substitutions) is different within the mouse physiology compared to the human physiology.

These authors determined the types of mutations found in Omicron are more characteristic of mouse than human physiology.

A creative idea! But perhaps that is its main weakness, because:

  • There are a huge number of mutations of every kind when the virus replicates, either in a mouse or a human. The ones that stick are the ones that are adaptive, i.e., the ones that help the virus replicate or spread more effectively to another host. The Chinese study does not address this.
  • A great many adaptations would be needed for a virus to effectively infect a mouse population. These would have to be established to accomplish the jump into the mouse population, then undone for the virus to jump back to humans. Still, there is some precedent in the known ability of SARS-CoV-2 to infect a herd of white-tailed deer.
  • Both these objections could be obviated if the virus were deliberately passaged through humanized mice in a laboratory.

Theory #4: Omicron escaped from a gain-of-function laboratory

In April 2021, a laboratory in Durban, South Africa, published this paper, describing the genetic modification of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In November 2021, the Omicron variant was first discovered in the area of Johannesburg / Pretoria, about 600 km away from Durban.

Were the two events related?

The 501Y mutation which is the subject of the Durban study is present in the Omicron variant, but many of the other mutations listed in the Durban manuscript are missing from the Omicron genome.

Many scientists are convinced, based on its genetic signature, that the original Alpha strain of COVID was engineered in a bioweapons laboratory.

Normally, the spike protein of a virus is just evolved to latch firmly onto a host cell. But in the case of the COVID virus, the spike protein does a lot of nasty things as well, including blood clots and damage to nerves and arteries.

The spike protein seems on its face to be designed for toxicity.

The early Nature Medicine article that tried to put the lab-origin theory to rest claimed only that the spike protein was not fully optimized to bind to human cells. That was the sole basis of the authors’ certainty that “SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”

However, when Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails were FOIAed, we learned Fauci himself commissioned this article, whose authors included suspects for channeling bioweapons research to China through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, of which Fauci is the director.

So now it appears the spike protein was designed as a compromise between optimal infectivity and optimal toxicity.

If Omicron was engineered for unsavory purposes, it seems to be serving more as an antidote rather than a weapon.

Omicron appears to spread so fast that it has rapidly displaced Delta in the population where it originated, yet it is causing remarkably mild illness and few if any deaths.

Theory #5: Omicron evolved to evade the vaccine

All four of the above theories have adherents and all four can be supported with logic. Any one of them may turn out to be correct.

But there is a simpler hypothesis, theory No. 5, which involves no extra assumptions, relying instead only on the principles of natural selection.

The main weakness of this hypothesis is that the number of mutations in Omicron, and the rate of evolution of those mutations, seem to be anomalously high — but perhaps that fact is being ignored because of publishing taboos.

Viruses eventually evolve toward higher transmission rates and lower fatality rates. The higher transmission rate is what allows the virus to out-compete other variants and spread through the population.

The lower fatality rate is less obvious — viruses can spread better if the host is feeling well and circulating in the population. If the host dies, the virus dies with it.

The Omicron variant seems to take an unusually large step in both directions. This is why most epidemiologists are looking for a specialized explanation for its origin.

A more mundane explanation points to the possibility that vaccinated populations put pressure on the virus to adapt. Communities with high vaccination rates have created an ideal environment for the coronavirus to mutate.

All parts of the virus are mutating all the time, but not all help the virus to be successful.

If the spike protein mutates, this can throw the vaccinated immune system off the scent because vaccination produces a highly focused immune response to the (Wuhan original) spike protein.

Dr. Geert vanden Bossche prominently predicted this would happen early in the distribution of the COVID vaccines.

The Omicron variant demonstrates that vanden Bossche got this exactly right. It includes 37 new mutations in the area of the spike protein, and Omicron has largely evaded the vaccines.

Vaccinated people are as likely or more likely to get Omicron compared to unvaccinated.

Vanden Bossche anticipated tragic consequences for all of humanity, but this does not seem to be what is happening. Rather, this cloud appears to have a silver lining.

As stated above, the spike protein is the toxic payload of the COVID virus, responsible for most of the damage the virus does to blood vessels and neurons. (It appears that the spike protein was engineered for this purpose in a gain-of-function experiment.)

As the spike protein has mutated, it has become less toxic. As a result, the Omicron variant is far milder than the original Wuhan COVID.

The Omicron mortality rate, according to UK figures, is only 1/10 as high as the Wuhan rate. (The UK has had 10,866 Omicron cases and 14 deaths for a mortality rate of 0.0013. For comparison, the two-year total of COVID deaths and cases in the UK was 148,000/11,800,000 = 0.013, almost exactly 10 times higher.)

Unknowns and what lies ahead?

We know historically that the natural immunity of a recovered patient provides the best immunity we know. People (mostly Chinese) who recovered from SARS 18 years ago seem to have full immunity to COVID, though the two viruses are substantially different.

This should mean that Omicron will sweep through the population, and many, many people will recover after a mild and abbreviated illness, with permanent immunity to all forms of COVID.

This would be the dawn of herd immunity and the end of COVID. The question is whether recovering from Omicron will provide full immunity to future variants.

We see that recovery from past variants does not provide sufficient immunity to protect against Omicron.

Is this because Omicron is an exception to the general rule about robust immunity in recovered patients?

Or is it an artifact of faulty testing, people who have been told they recovered from COVID when they really had the flu?

Or is it an artifact of vaccination after recovery, which seems to be counter-productive, narrowing some of nature’s robust, acquired immunity?

Meanwhile, press releases from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and mainstream reports are using Omicron as a booster for the fear-porn industry, citing exploding “case” statistics while ignoring the simultaneous drop in “death” statistics.

Pfizer is developing a new mRNA vaccine for Omicron, which it plans to release in March. Will the vaccine maker double down on its tragic mistake in basing the vaccine on the toxic spike protein?

Or will the new vaccine be derived from a less dangerous part of the virus?

We have reason to hope Omicron will spell the end of COVID, but only time will tell.

Josh Mitteldorf, Ph.D., has a background in theoretical physics. Since the 1990s, he is best known for his contributions to the biology of aging, including many articles and two books.

© 2022 Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.

BUY TODAY: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s New Book — ‘The Real Anthony Fauci’

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Blundering General Mark Clark

Tales of the American Empire | January 6, 2022

Mark Clark was the son of a career army officer and graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point. As World War II allowed rapid promotions, officers with political skills moved up quickly. Mark Clark was a Lieutenant Colonel in 1941 and by 1942 he had jumped four grades to Lieutenant General while serving as a staff officer who cultivated personal relationships with Generals like his old friend Dwight Eisenhower. Most historians are critical of Mark Clark’s performance in Italy and rate him as one of the worst American Generals in World War II.

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Related Tale: “The Senseless and Bloody Italian Campaign 1943-44”; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVbX0…

“The Battle of San Pietro”; John Huston; US National Archives; March 14, 2016; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OLJZ…

“Mark Clark at Salerno”; Cody Carlson; October 11, 2021; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84pG3…

“Rage Over the Rapido”; Duane Schultz; Historynet; https://www.historynet.com/rage-over-…

“Hitler’s Soft Underbelly”; David Reynolds; Timeline; February 23, 2017; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xLvx…

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | Leave a comment

UK Deployed 31 Nuclear Weapons During Malvinas War

By Richard Norton-Taylor | Declassified UK | January 3, 2022

British warships deployed to the South Atlantic after Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands [Islas Malvinas] in 1982 were armed with dozens of nuclear depth charges. Prince Andrew served on HMS Invincible, which carried 12 nuclear weapons.

The revelation is contained in a new file released to the National Archives. Marked “Top Secret Atomic,” it shows that the presence of the nuclear weapons caused panic among officials in London when they realized the damage, both physical and political, they could have caused.

The military regime in Argentina claimed the Falkland islands and invaded on April 2, 1982. The U.K. government under Margaret Thatcher dispatched a naval task force to the South Atlantic to retake the islands.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) minute, dated April 6, 1982, referred to “huge concern” that some of the “nuclear depth bombs” could be “lost or damaged and the fact become public.” The minute added: “The international repercussions of such an incident could be very damaging.”

Nuclear depth bombs are deployed from navy ships to attack submerged submarines.

The unidentified official who wrote the minute continued:

“The secretary of state [John Nott] will wish to continue the long-established practice of refusing to comment on the presence or absence of UK nuclear weapons at any given location at any particular time.”

Heated Row

The existence of the weapons provoked a heated row between the MoD and the Foreign Office. The latter asked the MoD to “unship” the weapons. The Navy refused to do so.

The MoD noted the principal arguments in favour of keeping the weapons on board. It stated:

“In the event of tension or hostilities between ourselves and the Soviet Union concurrent with Operation Corporate [the codename given to liberating the Falklands] the military capability of our warships would otherwise be severely reduced.”

One document in the file says there was no risk of an “atomic bomb type explosion.” But there was a threat of the “disposal of fissile material” if any of the weapons was damaged which could lead to up to 50 “additional deaths” from cancer.

Even if there was no pollution in the event of a damaged or sunk nuclear weapon the Argentinians might get hold of nuclear technology and “we might have had to face acute embarrassment in the non-proliferation field,” recorded a MoD official.

Keeping Secret

A plan to offload the weapons at the British base on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean was rejected by the Navy. It said this would delay the passage of the task force to the Falklands and that the operation would not be kept secret.

Instead, the weapons were transferred from the frigates and destroyers to the larger aircraft carriers, HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible, where the weapons could be better protected. Prince Andrew served as a helicopter pilot on Invincible during the war.

By the middle of May 1982, the Hermes had 18 nuclear weapons on board and Invincible 12, while the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship, Regent, had one, according to the file. The ships were within the “total exclusion zone” imposed by Britain around the Falkland Islands, the documents say.

The file does not say whether any of these were “inert” surveillance rounds used to monitor the “wear and tear on the weapons”, as academic Lawrence Freedman put it in his Official History of the Falklands Campaign, published in 2005.

Surveillance and training rounds were used to test the depth charges to see how they would perform. They were identical to live weapons except the fissile material was replaced by depleted uranium and inert substances.

But even the presence of inert rounds caused alarm in the Foreign Office. Its top official, Sir Antony Ackland, wrote to Sir Frank Cooper, his opposite number in the MoD: “I was very glad to have your confirmation that HMS Sheffield was not carrying an inert round when she was hit.”

The destroyer sank on May 10, 1982 after being attacked by an Argentinian Exocet missile six days earlier.

Nuclear Free Zone

The Foreign Office was also anxious about the presence of the nuclear weapons because of the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco. This established a nuclear free zone in Latin America and surrounding waters, including the Falklands.

Although Britain had signed and ratified the treaty’s protocols other countries, including Argentina, had not done so. According to Freedman, Margaret Thatcher insisted that no ship carrying nuclear weapons would enter the three-mile territorial waters around the Falklands which would be a “potential breach” of the Tlatelolco treaty.

The MoD admitted in 2003 that British ships in the task force carried nuclear weapons and that a weapon container had been damaged. But the number of weapons had not been revealed before this document was transferred to the National Archives in Kew, south west London.

But a number of documents from the file have been weeded by the MoD or the Cabinet Office. They include an intriguing note, dated April 11, 1982, beginning “The Chiefs of Staff believe…” What they believed we are not allowed to know.

What About Gibraltar?

Many more documents are missing from a separate file, now declassified, entitled “Gibraltar: Impact of the Falklands Crisis”.

Gibraltarians, like the Falkland Islanders, inhabited a British “Overseas Territory” and were concerned because Spain supported Argentine claims of sovereignty over the islands just as it claimed Gibraltar, the large rock and British base on the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula.

Whitehall weeders have withheld no fewer than 73 documents from the Gibraltar file. They have done so under exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act, and, specifically, sections 27(i), 40 (2), and 41.

These cover information whose disclosure might “prejudice” the interest of the U.K. abroad, “personal data” and “information provided in confidence.” Passages in other documents in the file have also been excised.

What has the British government to hide? Documents declassified previously may offer some clues. Thatcher repeatedly expressed concern about the implications of the Falklands crisis for Gibraltar.

Despite the public rhetoric, successive U.K. governments have been prepared to negotiate about sovereignty of the Falklands and sought a joint sovereignty agreement with Spain over Gibraltar in 2000 and again in 2002.

Thatcher’s government secretly offered to hand over sovereignty of the Falklands islands two years before the invasion by Argentine forces in 1982. The cabinet’s defence committee approved a plan whereby Britain would hand Argentina titular sovereignty over the islands, which would then be leased back by Britain for 99 years.

Lord Carrington resigned as foreign secretary over the Argentine invasion of the Falklands. He told the subsequent Franks Committee, which inquired into the run-up to the invasion, that British policy had been one of neglect and hoping for the best. “We did not have any cards in our hands”, he said.

Richard is a British editor, journalist and playwright, and the doyen of British national security reporting.

January 10, 2022 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Americans ‘underestimate gravity of situation,’ Russia warns after European security talks

Key security issues ‘still pending,’ Moscow’s envoy says after Geneva discussions

RT | January 10, 2022

While the US delegation came to Europe to “seriously” discuss Moscow’s security proposals, on Monday, they have not shown an understanding of how the key issues need to be resolved, Russia’s top negotiator said afterwards.

The Americans “underestimate the gravity of the situation,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters after bilateral with his US counterparts in Geneva. Russia has laid all of its cards on the table in the proposals made public last month, and those represent “demands that we cannot retreat from,” he added.

Ryabkov described the Geneva talks as useful because they discussed the matters previously considered off the table, and said he did not think the situation was hopeless. The greatest difference of views between the US and Russia was on the further expansion of Washington’s NATO military bloc.

“For us, it’s absolutely mandatory to make sure that Ukraine never ever becomes a member of NATO,” Ryabkov said, and Moscow is insisting that the institution amend its policies to reflect this reality.

“We are fed up with loose talk, half-promises, misinterpretations of what happened in different negotiations behind closed doors,” he said, referring to the State Department’s claims in recent days that NATO and the US never promised Moscow that NATO would not expand to the east.

“We do not trust the other side, so to speak,” Ryabkov said. “It’s over, enough is enough.”

Following Monday’s talks in Geneva, Ryabkov will meet with NATO representatives on Wednesday, and with the OSCE on January 13, after which Moscow will make a decision whether to continue the negotiations further.

January 10, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Last Chance Saloon: best chance to ease East-West tensions cannot be missed

By Tony Kevin | Pearls and Irritations | January 7, 2022

We are at a crunch point now in Russia-US relations. Their high-level talks starting next week will be closely observed by China, Russia’s de facto strategic ally. The coming days and weeks will determine the shape of world security for decades to come. 

On Monday, January 10, vital Russia-US talks will start in Geneva. Russia’s delegation will be headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and the US by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

These are ‘precursor’ negotiations – ‘talks about talks’, in the old strategic arms limitation treaties (SALT) terminology. Russia is driving the pace. The US is in reactive mode, trying unsuccessfully to slow things down, to trim Russia’s sails. So far they are not succeeding.

Russia’s best-case scenario for Monday is this. Successful precursor talks will be followed soon after by substantive detailed Foreign Minister level negotiations, led by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, with participation of top military brass from both sides. Russia will seek to secure detailed US-Russia agreements on mutual security guarantees in Europe.

Unusually, Russian drafts of these agreements were handed over by Russia to the US and at the same time made public on December 17. Russia will want to achieve these solemn written mutual commitments, as well-summarised by Patrick Lawrence in Consortium News on  December 28.

  • NATO will cease all efforts to expand eastward, notably into Ukraine and Georgia.
  • NATO guarantees that it will not deploy missile batteries in nations bordering Russia.
  • An end to NATO military and naval exercises in nations and seas bordering Russia.
  • The effective restoration of the treaty covering intermediate-range nuclear weapons. The US abandoned the INF pact in August 2019.
  • An ongoing East-West security dialogue.

These desired agreements would be backed up by early NATO-Russia negotiations to achieve corresponding agreements at that level. Finally, the two presidents would formally seal the deal.

Russia’s worst-case scenario: that if the US fails to negotiate towards this complete package – if the US tries in its usual way to equivocate, delay, or cherry-pick Russia’s proposed deal – Russia will terminate the talks.

Russia-US and Russia-NATO relations would then enter the deepest of deep freezes since the worst years of Cold War One. Russia would focus its economic and diplomatic resources entirely on relations with the East and South – backstopped by the Belt and Road Initiative of its reliable friend China. Russia would effectively stop trying to dialogue with US and NATO Europe and call the US bluff on enhanced sanctions.  On the now highly militarised Russia-NATO frontier, armies, navies and tactical intermediate range missile forces (sufficient to destroy most of Europe and European Russia) would confront each other. Risks of East-West war by provocation or accident would be far greater than in the years 1989-2014, before the sharp deterioration in East-West relations brought about by the illegal 2014 Ukraine coup.

These present talks instigated by Russia are thus really the Last Chance Saloon: the last opportunity maybe for decades to pursue relaxation of East-West tensions – ‘détente’, in the old nearly — forgotten word of late Cold War One. Russia has had enough of years of creeping security deterioration and has drawn its red lines. These are not in my view ‘ultimatums’ though they do demand major military pullbacks by the US and NATO not matched by Russia, because almost all Russian forces are within Russian territory. In my view these proposed written agreements would enhance European and global security if achieved.

In 2021, Russia decided that it has had enough of decades of Western duplicity and creeping aggression, as persuasively analysed by Marshall Auerback in The Scrum, December 1, 2021.

Russia has seen how under successive US presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, Trump, and now Biden, a strategically destructive pattern of US and NATO behaviour had emerged since 1999, when President Bill Clinton welshed on the solemn though unwritten 1989-91 agreements between Reagan and George H.W. Bush with Gorbachev, that NATO would not expand into Eastern Europe following the reunification of Germany.

As the West offered soothing words and prevarications, NATO expanded, first with Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary in 1999. There were further large expansions in 2004 and 2009, bringing NATO right up against Russia’s Western frontiers. Provocatively, NATO then listed Ukraine and Georgia as candidates for NATO membership. The West successfully engineered an anti-Russia ‘colour revolution’ in Ukraine in 2014 and nearly succeeded in doing so in Belarus in 2020. It continued even to try to subvert Russia itself through lavish funding of anti-government human rights NGOs. Military and naval manouevres and build-ups continued on Russia’s Western approaches.

An angry Russia saw every expansion and interference as Western betrayals and as violations of its sovereignty and strategic depth. Russia was initially too weak to do anything about it. As Putin rebuilt Russian strength and morale, Russia began to fight back: first in Georgia in 2008, then in Crimea and East Ukraine in 2014, and in Belarus since 2020.

World events have now decisively turned in Russia’s favour. The global strategic balance is shifting. China firmly has Russia’s back, as seen in recent statements by President Xi Jinping and China’s Foreign Minister. China has repelled Western regime-change pressures in Xinjiang, Hong Kong and around Taiwan. Iran has joined the Belt and Road initiative. The West was expelled from Afghanistan. Syria has somewhat stabilised.

Russia and China see now that they are stronger against their common Western adversary if they stand together.  Important non-Western powers and groupings such as India, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN are quietly adjusting their diplomacy to suit. The Quad is dead in the water, and AUKUS is a diplomatic joke.

In publishing these draft treaty texts, Russia is appealing to the world outside the Atlantic alliance to see that its cause is just, and in accordance with the five principles of peaceful coexistence proposed by China to the non-aligned world in 1954.

These five principles as articulated by Chinese foreign minister Zhou Enlai first appeared in the Sino–Indian Agreement signed in April 1954, and subsequently at the Bandung Conference of non-aligned nations, which Indonesia hosted one year later. These principles are mutual respect for sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in the internal affairs of others, equality for shared benefit, and peaceful coexistence.  These are very much the stated principles of current Russian foreign policy.

Quite suddenly, the West is on the diplomatic defensive. Its years of salami-slice aggression against Russia and China are now coming to an end.

For years since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the West used the vital consensus agreed by Reagan and Gorbachev, that nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, as cover for creeping aggression in Eastern Europe, violating and weakening Russia’s sphere of security.

Now, with the Russian initiative last week for the UN Security Council P5 to reaffirm the Reagan-Gorbachev doctrine, with which the Western nuclear powers had perforce to agree, the tables have been turned.

Putin is in effect telling the West now: we all agree that none of us can allow military conflict between us to escalate to nuclear war. But we and China are strong enough now to defeat you in non-nuclear conflicts close to our borders,  if you should be foolish enough to instigate such conflicts. These are the military facts of the matter: Russia could easily occupy Ukraine and China could easily occupy Taiwan. And you, the US and NATO, could not stop this without risking nuclear war.

Putin has no wish to invade Ukraine but he is determined to stop now the erosion of Russia’s security. The new harder and more confident tone in Russian diplomatic language is unmistakable.  A confused West has not yet worked out how to respond. Urgent talks have taken place between Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and between the US and NATO. One hopes that Biden has been preparing the ground for a prudent Western accommodation.  A wise old owl, he can smell the coffee.

Putin is now holding the strongest negotiating cards. My betting — indeed my hope — is that Russia will achieve its demanded mutual security guarantees in Europe in coming weeks.

International security – Australia’s security — will be greatly strengthened if he succeeds.

Much could still go wrong. There are troublemakers in the Western bloc whose careers depend on maintaining East-West tensions at just below the level of war. They will try hard to subvert and derail Russia’s goals.

In Australia there is almost complete public ignorance of this subject matter. Be prepared for massive disinformation in coming weeks from the US-fed think tanks like ASPI and our mainstream media, and a hysterical whipping-up of alleged threats of imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine.  This propaganda offensive is already under way.

Australia sadly no longer has the intellectual resources for an informed and balanced public discussion of these momentous developments. Ignorance and groundless fears of Russia prevail. Dissenting voices such as mine have been marginalised and almost silenced.

One might hope there is more reality-based knowledge in our national security community. But if there is, they are not telling the public. I fear that there too, ignorance and prejudice have taken hold. We are leaving the strategic thinking on Russia to our Big Brother.

I expect this article to be either mocked or ignored. But let us see how events develop in coming weeks.

Tony Kevin is a former Australian senior diplomat, having served as ambassador to Cambodia and Poland, as well as being posted to Australia’s embassy in Moscow. He is the author of six published books on public policy and international relations.

January 10, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Bi-partisan coalition urges Biden to resist calls for military action against Russia

Group wants the administration to stick to its pledge of diplomacy, stop NATO expansion, and refuse to send troops to Ukraine.

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos | Responsible Statecraft | January 8, 2022

A coalition of both conservative and progressive foreign policy organizations have delivered a letter to the White House, asking the president to pursue a broad diplomatic path with the Russians in the much-anticipated U.S.-Russia talks on Monday and in NATO meetings later next week.

The letter, which was signed by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, asks the White House to pursue the Minsk agreements which would “demilitarize the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine and guarantee meaningful political autonomy to the region while retaining Ukrainian sovereignty over the area and its borders.” QI fellow Anatol Lieven has detailed the agreement and the promise it would hold for peace in the region here.

De-escalation is key, wrote the signing organizations, which also emphasized the need to stop NATO expansion and resist calls to send U.S. troops to defend Ukraine.

We echo the call by over 100 former U.S. officials and leading scholars who stated that, in addition to addressing urgent security challenges, we must engage in a serious and sustained strategic dialogue with Russia “that addresses the deeper sources of mistrust and hostility” while deterring Russian military aggression. These dialogues must engage with President Putin’s explicit pursuit of “reliable and long-term security guarantees” that would “exclude any further NATO moves eastward and the deployment of weapons systems that threaten us in close vicinity to Russian territory.

Interestingly, reports emerged Friday that suggested that the White House was willing to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Eastern Europe and scale back military exercises in the region — for an equivalent reduction of Russian troops in the area. In an accompanying statement, the White House disputed that Washington was weighing troop cuts.

Read the full letter here.

January 8, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

US, Israel blocking elimination of chemical weapons worldwide: Iran

Iran’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Zahra Ershadi
Press TV – January 6, 2022

An Iranian envoy to the United Nations has raised concerns about the possession of chemical weapons by the United States and Israel, describing the pair as the main obstacles to the elimination of such arms across the world.

Zahra Ershadi, deputy permanent representative of Iran to the UN, made the remarks on Wednesday at the Security Council briefing on chemical weapons in Syria.

She said that the elimination of all chemical weapons worldwide was the prime objective of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and that this goal could be realized only through the treaty’s full, balanced, effective and non-discriminatory implementation, as well as its universality.

It is therefore a source of serious concern that due to non-compliance by the United States, this objective has yet to be realized, she added.

Ershadi also stressed that the Israeli regime must be compelled to join the CWC without any precondition or further delay.

Warning against the serious impact of politicization on the CWC’s credibility, the Iranian envoy called for de-politicization of the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Iran reiterates its long-standing and principled position on the need to strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances, she said.

The only absolute guarantee that chemical weapons will not be used again is the total destruction of all chemical weapons across the globe, she said, adding that all necessary measures should be taken to ensure that such weapons will not be produced and used in the future.

Citing significant efforts by Syria to carry out its obligations under the CWC, including the complete destruction of all its 27 chemical facilities as verified by the OPCW, Ershadi said the holding of monthly Security Council meetings to consider the Syrian file is unjustified.

Syria surrendered its entire chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the United Nations and the OPCW.

It believes that false-flag chemical attacks on the country’s soil have been staged by foreign-backed terrorists in a bid to pressure the government amid army advances.

Syria slams West’s disinformation campaign

Speaking at Wednesday’s Security Council briefing, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bassam Sabbagh condemned any use of chemical weapons, emphasizing that the Damascus government has never employed such prohibited arms, despite the threats posed by terrorist groups and their sponsors on its territory.

Since joining the CWC in 2013, Syria has cooperated with the United Nations to eliminate its stockpiles and production facilities, a process that was completed in record time, in mid-2014, he added.

Sabbagh also rejected the disinformation campaign launched by some Western countries, which have adopted a hostile policy against Syria and created the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team, he said that reports by the body have become part and parcel of the hostile Western campaign.

He further urged the UN not to “drag its feet” in investigating the use of chemical weapons by terror outfits and cautioned that certain Western states often jump to conclusions before the end of the probe.

January 6, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Presidential hopeful says France should leave NATO and partner with Russia

RT | January 3, 2022

The leader of a French leftist party and presidential hopeful has called for the country to pull out of the NATO alliance, revealing that he regards Russia as a partner for Paris rather than an adversary.

The leader of the leftist La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party, Jean-Luc Melenchon, shared his insights on the new Cold War and France’s place in it during a major interview with France Inter radio on Monday. Melenchon further elaborated on the points he made during the interview in a long Twitter thread.

The politician said the country should take part in efforts to “de-escalate” the international situation rather than follow Washington in the new Cold War against China and Russia. Leaving the NATO alliance altogether would therefore be beneficial for France, as it won’t be part of the “military adventurism” of the US, Melenchon believes.

“I am for leaving NATO. We need to de-escalate. If we leave NATO, we will not be dragged into the cold war logic that the Americans maintain with Russia and China,” he stated.

The politician also said he regards Russia as France’s partner rather than an adversary. It was the West that got the NATO bloc into the current standoff with Moscow, breaking its promises on eastward expansion of the alliance, Melenchon stressed.

“Russia is a partner. I do not agree with making an enemy of it. We brought 10 countries into NATO in the east, which was seen as a threat by Russia. Especially when you install anti-missile systems in Poland,” the politician said.

He also voiced opposition towards any plans to accept Ukraine into NATO. A move like this would further erode the security situation in Europe, as it would be inevitably perceived by Moscow as a new “threat” against it, he said.

The veteran politician has announced he intends to run for president in the upcoming election in April. During the last presidential election in France, Melenchon won around 20% of the vote in the first ballot. However, he did not make it to the second round.

January 4, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment