Aletho News


The Ukraine crisis, sponsored by US hegemony and war profiteers

New US “lethal aid” for Ukraine, courtesy of US taxpayers and their weapons industry beneficiaries. (U.S. Embassy in Ukraine)
By Aaron Maté | January 26, 2022

The US-Russia standoff over Ukraine has sparked bellicose threats and fears of Europe’s biggest ground war in decades. There are ample reasons to question the prospects of a Russian invasion, and US allies including FranceGermany’s now-ousted navy chief, and even Kiev itself appear to share the skepticism.

Another potential scenario is that Russia draws on the Cuban Missile Crisis and positions offensive weapons within the borders of Latin American allies. Whatever the outcome, the crisis has underscored the perils of a second Cold War between the world’s top nuclear powers.

If the path forward is unpredictable, what got us here is easy to trace. The row over Ukraine is the outgrowth of an aggressive US posture toward Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago, driven by hegemonic policymakers and war profiteers in Washington. Understanding that background is key to resolving the current impasse, if the Biden administration can bring itself to alter a dangerous course.

US principles vs. power constraints

Russia’s central demands – binding guarantees to halt the eastward expansion of NATO, particularly in Ukraine, and to prevent offensive weapons from being stationed near its borders – have been publicly dismissed by the U.S government as non-starters.

In rejecting Russian concerns, the Biden administration claims that it is upholding “governing principles of international peace and security.” These principles, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken says, “reject the right of one country to change the borders of another by force; to dictate to another the policies it pursues or the choices it makes, including with whom to associate; or to exert a sphere of influence that would subjugate sovereign neighbors to its will.”

The US government’s real-world commitment to these principles is non-existent. For decades, the US has provided critical diplomatic and military cover for Israel’s de-facto annexations, which have expanded its borders to three different strips of occupied territory (the West Bank, Gaza, and Syria’s Golan Heights). The US is by far the world leader in dictating policies to other countries, be it who their leaders should behow little to pay minimum-wage workers; or how to share energy supplies.

The Biden administration continues to subjugate sovereign countries to its will, whether it’s “neighbors” like blockade-targeted Cubacoup-targeted Venezuelasanctions-targeted Nicaragua; or far-away countries like US military-occupied and sanctions-targeted Syria. Biden just recently embraced the longstanding Monroe Doctrine of a US sphere of influence by declaring Latin America to be the United States’ “front yard.”

When not making sanctimonious public pronouncements, US officials are quietly able to acknowledge the real principles that guide their actions. According to the Washington Post, one US official specializing in Russia “believes the Russians are still interested in a real dialogue.” Russia’s real aim, this official says, is “to see whether Washington is willing to discuss any sort of commitment that constrains U.S. power.”

The official added: “The Russians are waiting to see what we’re going to offer, and they’re going to take it back and decide is this serious. Is this something we [the Russians] can sell as a major victory for security, or is it just, from their point of view, another attempt to fob us off and not give us anything?”

If their public statements and actions are any guide, the Biden administration is so far opting for the latter.

Rather than focus on diplomacy, the United States’ reliable British client has been trotted out, Iraq WMD dossier-style (or Steele dossier-style, or Syria dirty war-style), to lodge the explosive allegation that Russia is plotting to install a new leader in Ukraine via a coup. While declaring that the obedient Brits were “Muscular” for shouldering the war-mongering allegation, the New York Times quietly acknowledged that they also “provided no evidence to back up” their claims.

After warning of a “false flag” operation by Russia in Ukraine, the US pulled off a stunt of its own by recalling its embassy personnel out of stated concern for their safety. Unlike the dutiful British, other US allies failed to get the memo, including the EU, which declined to follow suit and even took a pointed swipe at attempts to “dramatize” the situation.

When US officials and allied media voices permit themselves to drop “Wag the Dog” theatrics and entertain the possibility of constraining US power, the Ukraine crisis no longer appears so dangerously intractable.

In the New York Timesveteran national security correspondent David E. Sanger allows that it is “possible” that Putin’s “bottom line in this conflict is straightforward”: obtain a pledge to “stop Ukraine from joining NATO” as well as one that the US and NATO “will never place offensive weapons that threaten Russia’s security in Ukrainian territory.”

On these issues, “there is trading space,” Sanger concedes. Given that “Ukraine is so corrupt, and its grasp of democracy is so tenuous… no one expects it to be accepted for NATO membership in the next decade or two.” Accordingly, Russia could be offered “some kind of assurance that, for a decade, or maybe a quarter-century, NATO membership for Kyiv was off the table.”

In Sanger’s view, the real and “complex” issue is not Ukraine’s NATO status, but “how the United States and NATO operate” there – specifically, by flooding the country with weapons. Since 2014, Sanger writes, the US and NATO allies have provided “Ukraine with what the West calls defensive arms, including the capability to take out Russian tanks and aircraft”, a “flow that has sped up in recent weeks.” Russia – for reasons apparently foreign to Sanger – believes that these “weapons are more offensive than defensive” and “that Washington’s real goal is to put nuclear weapons in Ukraine.” An agreement to address these concerns, an unidentified US official concedes, would be “‘the easiest part of this,’ as long as Russia is willing to pull back its intermediate-range weapons as well.”

Unmentioned by Sanger is that Russia has repeatedly signaled such a willingness, including just last month: Russia’s proposed draft treaty with NATO — issued with the stated aim of resolving the Ukraine standoff — proposes that all sides “not deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles” in any area that allows them “to reach the territory of the other Parties.” Also unmentioned is that such deployments were previously banned under the INF Treaty, the Cold War-era pact that the Trump administration abandoned in August 2019, to the resounding silence of Democratic lawmakers and allied media outlets more invested in pretending that Trump was a Russian puppet than in addressing his actual Russia policies.

In a bid to preserve some of the INF Treaty’s safeguards, Putin immediately offered a moratorium on the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe – a proposal swiftly rejected by both Trump and NATO. (Trump’s response was again duly ignored by Russiagate-crazed media outlets and politicians, for the obvious narrative inconvenience.)

Much like its refusal so far to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal – another critical security pact torn up by Trump — the Biden administration has thus placed itself in a dangerous geopolitical standoff rather than embrace diplomacy around proposals that US officials either deem as reality anyway (Ukraine not joining NATO) or that they were once party to (the Trump-sabotaged INF treaty).

NATO expansion, from the Cold War to a Ukraine coup

If the Biden administration is now willing to accept “real dialogue” over an outcome that “constrains US power” on the Ukraine-Russia border, it will have to eschew guiding US principles since the end of the Cold War.

When he agreed to the reunification of Germany, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was “assured in 1990 that the [NATO] alliance would not expand,” Jack Matlock, Reagan and Bush I’s ambassador to the Soviet Union, recently noted. But upon entering office, Bill Clinton broke that pledge and began an expansion spree that has pushed NATO to Russia’s borders. In 2008 – against the reported advice of advisers including Fiona Hill – President George W. Bush backed a NATO declaration calling for Ukraine and Georgia’s eventual ascension.

The constant expansion of NATO has led to what the scholar Richard Sakwa calls a “fateful geographical paradox”: NATO, Sakwa says, now “exists to manage the risks created by its existence.”

Sakwa’s maxim undoubtedly applies to Ukraine, where the threat of Russia’s neighbor joining a hostile military alliance sparked a war in 2014 that continues today.

The standard narrative of the origins of the current Ukraine crisis, as the New York Times recently claimed, is that Ukrainians revolted in street protests that ousted “pro-Russian leader” Viktor Yanukovych, “prompting [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to order the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and instigate a separatist war in eastern Ukraine.” In reality, the US backed a coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected government and sabotaged opportunities to avoid further conflict.

The immediate background came in the fall of 2013, when the US and its allies pressured Yanukovych to sign a European Union association agreement that would have curtailed its ties to Russia. Contrary to how he is now portrayed, Yanukovych was not “pro-Russian”, to the point where he even “cajoled and bullied anyone who pushed for Ukraine to have closer ties to Russia,” Reuters reported at the time.

To sign the EU deal, Ukraine would have to accept the harsh austerity demands of the IMF, which had publicly criticized Ukraine’s “large pension and wage increases,” and “generous energy subsidies.” The agreement also contained a provision calling on Ukraine to adhere to the EU’s “military and security” policies, “which meant in effect, without mentioning the alliance, NATO,” as the late scholar Stephen F. Cohen argued.

The EU proposal, the New York Times observed in November 2013, was the centerpiece of its “most important foreign policy initiative”: an attempt to “draw in former Soviet republics and lock them on a trajectory of changes based on Western political and economic sensibilities.”

In the words of Carl Gershman, the then-head of the CIA-tied National Endowment for Democracy, “Ukraine is the biggest prize.” In Gershman’s fantasy, Ukraine’s entry into the Western orbit would redound to Russia as well. “Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents,” he wrote. “… Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

Although it would have been a boon for DC neoconservatives, accepting the EU’s insistence on “increasing the retirement age and freezing pensions and wages” would have meant political suicide for Yanukovych. Putin capitalized by offering a more generous package of $15 billion in aid and gas subsidies, a deal that contained “no immediate quid pro quo for Russia,” the New York Times noted. To lure Yanukovych, Russia even dropped a proposal, opposed by Ukraine’s Maidan protesters, that Ukraine join a Russian-led customs union.

Putin’s Ukraine offer, the Times added, was one of “several foreign policy moves that have served to re-establish Russia as a counterweight to Western dominance of world affairs.” In the eyes of the Western domineers, the prospect of a Russian “counterweight” was an intolerable act. The US responded by ramping up support for the Maidan protests in Kiev and helping to sabotage an agreement with Yanukovych to hold new elections.

Any pretense that the US was acting as an honest broker was obliterated in early February 2014 when Russia released a recording of an intercepted a phone call between then-senior Obama official Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. The US diplomats not only selected who would be Ukraine’s next Prime Minister — Arseniy Yatsenyuk – but decided to exclude their EU allies from the process. “Yats is the guy,” Nuland declared, before adding: “Fuck the EU.”

A major tipping point in the conflict came two weeks later, on February 20th, when nearly 50 Madain protesters were massacred by snipers. The Ukrainian opposition immediately accused government forces, sparking a series of events that led to Yanukovych’s flight from the country two days later. Exhaustive research by the University of Ottawa’s Ivan Katchanovski argues that the massacre was in fact “perpetrated principally by members of the Maidan opposition, specifically its far-right elements.”

Faced with the possibility of losing Russia’s most important naval base at Sevastopol to a US-backed coup regime, Putin responded by seizing the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. Russia also provided military support to Ukrainians in the country’s Donbas region hostile to the new coup government, sparking an ongoing war between the opposing sides.

In Washington, the annexation of Crimea is widely seen as an expansionist act of aggression; even, according to Hillary Clinton, akin to “what Hitler did back in the 30s.” In Crimea, Russia had the support of the majority of the population, if polls are to be believed. The same for the Russian population, across the political spectrum. “For [Russian] politicians, not vocally supporting, let alone questioning, the annexation of Crimea is practically akin to political suicide – even for liberals,” a European Union think tank observed in 2014. Even “Anti-Putin nationalists… are enthusiastic backers of Putin’s territorial grab.” (For over 200 years Crimea had been a territory of Russia, until Nikita Khrushchev assigned it to Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union.)

A negotiated solution to the Donbas war has been in place since the signing of the Minsk II accords in 2015, as Anatol Lieven of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft has repeatedly stressed. The prospect of NATO expansion appears to be the pact’s main obstacle to implementation. Minsk II calls for granting autonomy to the Donbas region in return for its demilitarization. But Ukraine has “[refused] to guarantee permanent full autonomy for the Donbas”, Lieven writes, out of fear “that permanent autonomy for the Donbas would prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and the European Union, as the region could use its constitutional position within Ukraine to block membership.”

In Lieven’s view, this could change with one critical shift: “If the United States drops the hopeless goal of NATO membership for Ukraine, it will be in a position to pressure the Ukrainian government and parliament to agree to a ‘Minsk III’ by the credible threat of a withdrawal of US aid and political support.”

War in Ukraine, profit in Washington

As a result of the US drive for yet another NATO-aligned military outpost on Russia’s borders, Ukraine has been decimated. The war in the Donbas has left nearly 14,000 dead. Ukraine’s “conflict with Russia,” Denys Kiryukhin of the Wilson Center observes, is one of the major factors that “accounts for the mass outmigration of Ukrainians since 2014.” The Donbas war has encouraged a rise in far-right militancy inside Ukraine, including the notorious neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, which has directly cooperated with the US military.

The United States’ European allies are also feeling the impact of Washington’s entanglement with Russia over Ukraine. The current standoff is threatening Russia’s energy exports, which account for about one-third of the European Union’s gas and crude oil use.

“It’s going to be an incredibly hard sell in any European country, to say that you have a 10 times higher energy bill and we feel as though our supply is not plentiful enough, because of Ukraine,” Kristine Berzina of the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, a US and NATO-funded think tank, told Axios.

The picture is much rosier for those living through the war from Washington.

“You’ve got a lot of people who see profit in this conflict… and that’s the arms industry,” retired Army colonel Douglas Macgregor, a senior Pentagon advisor under Trump, told me in a recent interview. “And the defense industrial complex sees this as an opportunity to spend a great deal of money on a whole range of armaments that they otherwise might not be able to sell.”

The arms industry has made no secret of its enthusiasm for the opportunities of NATO expansionism and the post-Maidan Ukraine market.

US arms manufacturers “stand to gain billions of dollars in sales of weapons, communication systems and other military equipment if the Senate approves NATO expansion,” the New York Times reported in March 1998. Accordingly, these arms manufacturers have made “enormous investments in lobbyists and campaign contributions to promote their cause in Washington.” At the time, the “chief vehicle” for their cause was a group called the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO. The group’s president, Bruce L. Jackson, carried out double duty: by day, the Times observed the previous year, “he is director of strategic planning for Lockheed Martin Corporation, the world’s biggest weapons maker.”

As Andrew Cockburn of Harper’s noted in 2015, Jackson’s committee was firmly bipartisan, ranging “ideologically from Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle… to Greg Craig, director of Bill Clinton’s impeachment defense and later Barack Obama’s White House counsel.” (Craig later became embroiled in a Ukraine corruption scandal, though he was acquitted on all charges.) Explaining his committee’s staying power in Washington, Jackson told Cockburn: “‘Fuck Russia’ is a proud and long tradition in U.S. foreign policy. It doesn’t go away overnight.”

Nor do the profits that result. Reporting in July 2017 that military stocks had reached “all-time highs,” CNBC noted that “NATO concerns about Russia are seen as a positive for the defense industry.”

So is the ongoing war in Ukraine, where the US has shipped $2.7 billion in weapons since 2014, along with 200,000 pounds of fresh “lethal aid” in recent weeks and more promised via new spending bills.

US government officials across the spectrum routinely laud these weapons shipments as “critically needed, congressionally approved military aid” to a “very fragile country fighting Russian aggression” (Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal, speaking on Democracy Now! in 2019).

Putting aside the guiding imperial and profit-driven motives, the main impact of pouring US military hardware into the Donbas conflict is to prolong it. Writing in Foreign Policy, two analysts with the Pentagon-tied think tank Rand Corporation, Samuel Charap and Scott Boston, argue that “The West’s Weapons Won’t Make Any Difference to Ukraine.” The “military balance between Russia and Ukraine is so lopsided in Moscow’s favor,” they write, that more new weapons from Washington “would be largely irrelevant in determining the outcome of a conflict.”

The authors also dispel another widely accepted bipartisan myth, that the US has been helping Ukraine resist “Russian aggression.” In reality, Russian-backed militants in the east “are mainly armed with small arms and light weapons, along with some artillery and Soviet-era armor.” Although Russsia has armed and trained its Donbas allies, “Ukraine has mainly not been fighting Russia’s armed forces” there. Instead, “the vast majority of rebel forces consist of locals—not soldiers of the regular Russian military.” The Russian military has “never used more than a tiny fraction of its capabilities against the Ukrainians,” with major military components, such as Russia’s air force, “[not] involved in the fighting at all.”

The authors also remind their US audience of another overlooked reality: the costs of a full-blown war in Ukraine “will be disproportionately borne by Ukrainians.” Should an insurgency develop, as the Biden administration is mulling, the conflict will reach a stage where “thousands—or, more likely, tens of thousands—of Ukrainians will have died.”

Those promoting such an outcome have made clear that they value NATO expansion and the attendant arms industry windfall over the lives of Ukrainians, Russians, and any others placed in the crossfire. The Biden administration can avoid ending many more lives if it can interrupt hegemony and war profiteering for a different set of principles.

January 27, 2022 Posted by | Militarism, Video | , , , , | 2 Comments

Moscow won’t deploy controversial 9M729 missiles in European Russia if NATO reciprocates: Putin

By Jonny Tickle | RT | October 26, 2020

Russia will delay deployment of its much-debated 9M729 missiles in the European part of its territory, as a goodwill gesture, if NATO takes reciprocal steps. Monday’s proposal comes after the US withdrew from the INF treaty.

“Given the unrelenting tension between Russia and NATO, new threats to European security are becoming evident,” Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a statement posted on the Kremlin’s website.

Signed in 1987, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) banned land-based missiles with a range of more than 500km. According to Putin, the agreement was vital for ensuring international security and strategic stability, and the US’ withdrawal was a mistake which risks provoking a missile arms race.

In October 2018, American President Donald Trump announced that his country would withdraw from the treaty, blaming supposed Russian non-compliance. In particular, Trump accused the Kremlin of creating a missile that is effective over the legal limit of 500km, named 9M729. Steven Pifer, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, once estimated that its range is 2,000 kilometers. Pifer is now the director of the Arms Control Initiative at the Brookings’ lobby group, which is funded by Gulf states, amongst other donors.

As part of his stated attempt to de-escalate, Putin also revealed that he wishes to take further steps to minimize the negative consequences of the collapse of the INF Treaty, including an agreement for mutual inspections of missile systems. The president also reiterated Russia’s previous promise not to deploy ground-based INF missiles until US-made missiles of similar classes are deployed.

On the controversial 9M729 missiles, Putin maintained they are in “full compliance” with the previously existing INF treaty, but still offered not to position them in Europe.

“The Russian Federation, nevertheless, is ready, in the spirit of goodwill, to continue not to deploy 9M729 missiles in European Russia, but do so only provided NATO countries take reciprocal steps that preclude the deployment of the weapons earlier prohibited under the INF Treaty in Europe,” the statement read.

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Russia wants to extend ‘New START’ nuclear arms control deal but not at any cost – deputy foreign minister

RT | August 18, 2020

Moscow wishes to prolong the New START Treaty but not if the US demands unreasonable concessions, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has said, adding that the Russian and American positions on the issue remain quite different.

Russia is ready to extend the treaty without any preconditions BUT Washington is still hesitating in agreeing to that, Ryabkov said following another round of nuclear arms talks with the US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea in Vienna.

The high-ranking diplomat hailed some progress in the negotiations by saying that both sides took a more constructive stance and stuck to “intensive, in-depth and business-like discussions,” according to Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov.

Yet, Moscow and Washington’s priorities in the talks appear to still “differ significantly,” Ryabkov noted. He said that the US continues to leave the door for talks open but he cannot say that its position has changed in favor of extending the accord.

“They [the US] evade an answer … to the question whether they are ready to prolong the treaty without preconditions,” Ryabkov told journalists, adding that Washington is still very much interested in making China join the talks on strategic stability. Russia, in turn, would very much like the UK and France – US allies and nuclear powers themselves – to sit down at the negotiating table as well.

Billingslea meanwhile told journalists that Washington has informed Moscow about its terms in extending the treaty that expires in February. The US said it would consider prolonging it if Russia’s “build-up” of shorter-range nuclear missiles not covered by the current agreement is addressed.

“Russia understands our position. And what remains to be seen is if there is the political will in Moscow to get this deal done. The ball is now in Russia’s court,” the US official said.The issue of short-range nuclear ballistic missiles was covered by another treaty – the INF – signed by Washington and Moscow back in the 1980s. The accord effectively banned such ground-based missiles altogether. Yet, the Trump administration unilaterally left it in 2019, citing the same alleged Russian build-up, only to later test their own ground-based cruise missile just after the agreement expired.

Moscow’s attempts to save the deal by even allowing the US military inspectors to see the missile they said violated the treaty for themselves were effectively snubbed by the US.
Also on Russia unveils evidence on missile that US claims violates INF Treaty, Washington snubs briefing

The New START Treaty, which remains the only standing pillar of international nuclear arms control after the expiration of the INF due to America’s exit, came into force in 2011. It limits the number of deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and strategic bombers, of which the US and Russia can have up to 700 each. The number of deployed warheads was capped at 1,550, while the countries pledged to maintain no more than 800 deployed and non-deployed launchers.

The fate of the crucial agreement has been in limbo for a year and a half since no talks were held on its extension despite the nearing expiration date. Hopes resurfaced back in June when Moscow and Washington agreed to hold arms control consultations in Vienna. Yet, according to Ryabkov, the dates of new consultations have not yet been set following the Tuesday meeting since both sides still want to analyze each other’s positions.

August 19, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Trump insists on a Putin visit to US

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | August 11, 2020

The US President Donald Trump’s remark on Monday that a G7 summit is no longer on the cards for the month of September leaves many questions unanswered. We do not know the circumstances in which Trump felt that he is “much more inclined to do it (G7 summit) sometime after the election”. Again, Trump was delightfully vague on giving a timeline, which is understandable since a G7 summit now hinges entirely on the outcome of the November election.

Trump didn’t explain, either, why a G7 summit hasn’t materialised in September, which would have given him some boost on the world stage — and given a much-needed fillip to his campaign. This is the second time Trump has been unable to host a G7 summit. In June, the allies, especially Germany, point blank refused — Angela Merkel regretted apparently due to preoccupations related to the pandemic.

If the postponement in September is also due to the European allies’ lukewarm attitude, it becomes a snub to Trump personally. All he’d say was “We haven’t sent out invitations. We’re talking to them.” If Trump falls by the wayside in the November election, the European allies may be even less inclined to troop to Washington before Joe Biden assumes office in January. Trump’s insistence on inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to the G7 summit, which he repeated yesterday, has not gone down well in the European capitals.

In sum, Trump’s inability to hold a G7 summit highlights Europe’s overall disenchantment with him. Trump’s foreign policy legacy during his first term is ending on a dismal note, calling attention to the damage he has inflicted on the transatlantic partnership.

Perhaps, Trump gets one more chance to redeem his foreign policy record on this template if only the US-Russia arms control talks make headway. The first formal bilateral talks between the US and Russia on space security since 2013 took place in Vienna on July 27 alongside the second round of the nuclear arms control working group meetings. The renewal of new START, which is expiring in coming February, is a low-hanging fruit.

Meanwhile, the Vienna talks also touch on the erstwhile Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), which is of utmost concern to the European countries. Russia has called for revival of discussions on extending the INF Treaty and Washington has held open the possibility that the negotiations in Vienna would include an INF Treaty extension. One way Trump could overcome the European resistance to inviting Putin to a G7 summit in the US could be by linking it to an event connected with arms control, especially the INF Treaty.

Russia sees arms control as a useful tool to manage its military competition with the US by making it less dangerous and costly. As for European countries, the INF Treaty has been historically the only operational bilateral instrument of nuclear arms control with Russia with focus on Europe’s security and stability. Moreover, the INF Treaty was the cornerstone of European security and its signing in 1987 by the US and the former Soviet Union was a harbinger of political “winds of change” in the East-West relationship.

Equally, Trump also appears to be serious in pursuing forms of cooperation with Russia that would accommodate both countries’ interests. Oil price and terrorism are two such issues; arms control could be another. On arms control, there is also a rare “bipartisan consensus” in the US as regards the renewal of the new START.

Having said that, Trump is unpredictable and the commencement of arms control talks cannot by itself persuade Moscow to lower its guard. Thus, on August 7, Russian Foreign Ministry reacted to the Pentagon announcement of July 29 regarding more US deployments to Poland. A statement in Moscow warned that “such actions escalate tensions in Europe. We have emphasised more than once that attempts to deter us by force and intimidate our country will receive a befitting and timely response.”

On July 29, at a press conference at the Pentagon, Defence Secretary Mark Esper had announced a “plan on rotating forward the lead element of the Army’s newly established V Corps headquarters to Poland, once Warsaw signs a Defense Cooperation Agreement and burden sharing deal, as previously pledged. There are or may be other opportunities as well to move additional forces into Poland and the Baltics.” Interestingly, a week later in an interview with Fox News, Esper added that the deployment to the east to (Poland and the Baltics) aimed to serve as a more effective ‘deterrent’ against Russia. He said moving troops eastward is only logical because “the border has shifted as the alliance has grown.”

On August 7, the official military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) reacted strongly by issuing a stern warning to the US that Russia will perceive any ballistic missile launched at its territory as a nuclear attack that warrants a nuclear retaliation. This is in line with the revised Russian military doctrine enunciating the new nuclear deterrent policy allowing “first use”, which envisages the use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack or an aggression involving conventional weapons that “threatens the very existence of the state.”

Moscow has ruled out Putin’s participation in a G7 summit that excludes China or has any anti-China orientation. Having said that, Trump would be betting that given the Kremlin’s keenness to make progress on arms control — extension of new START, in particular — Putin might be open to a visit to the US to formalise any agreements, once the hurly burly of the November election in America is done. Trump’s remarks yesterday hint at such a possibility when he said Putin is an “important factor”. Moscow has taken due note of it.

Trump’s calculus aims at animating the US-Russia-China triangle with a view to isolating China. Putin, on the other hand, will sequester the Russian-Chinese entente from collateral damage, if any. On August 9, Russian Foreign Ministry issued an unusual statement conveying solidarity with China “on the situation around the Tiktok social media app’s operation in the US”.

Beijing, meanwhile, is nonchalantly reiterating its position that “it is not yet the right timing” for China to join the nuclear disarmament talks in Vienna. And, Putin and  Chinese President Xi Jinping were the first world leaders to congratulate Alexander Lukashenko on his re-election as Belarusian president.

August 11, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

US uses arms control summit with Russia for China-bashing, derails talks needed to prevent new arms race

By Scott Ritter | RT | June 22, 2020

While promoting the possibility of bilateral agreements with Russia, the US was only interested in staging a cheap propaganda photo-op attacking China, making the prospects for New START look bleak.

Hope sprang eternal when, less than two weeks ago, the United States and Russia agreed to engage in much-needed arms control negotiations to be held in Vienna, Austria on June 22. Senior delegations of the two countries were led by Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Two issues pertinent to global security were anticipated to be on the agenda—stability in Europe in a post-INF world (the foundational agreement for modern arms control, signed in December 1987 and which remained in force until the US withdrew in August 2019), and the extension of the New START treaty, the last remaining arms control agreement between the US and Russia which is set to expire in February 2021.)

However, while the New START treaty is a bilateral agreement between the US and Russia, the US made it clear that any extension must take into account China’s strategic nuclear forces. It’s a condition that all but kills any chance of the New START treaty being extended, since a completely new treaty vehicle would need to be negotiated on a trilateral basis. The insistence on a trilateral framework played a major role in the decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from the INF Treaty as well, something that does not portent well for the future of New START.

Even before the June 22 arms control summit, China made it clear that it would not be participating in talks, making any discussion of the extension of the New START treaty appear dead on arrival. The US, however, insisted that the talks go forward, raising the prospects that at least some progress could be made bilaterally between it and Russia.

In the end, however, cheap propaganda trumped substantive discussions, with the US, knowing full well China was not attending, setting out Chinese flags along an empty conference table for a photo that was later tweeted out by Billingslea, accompanied by a caption that read, “Vienna talks about to start. China is a no-show. Beijing still hiding behind #GreatWallofSecrecy on its crash nuclear build-up, and so many other things. We will proceed with #Russia, notwithstanding.”

The flag incident quickly drew the ire of the Russians. Ambassador to Austria Dmitry Lyubinsky said there “could not have been any Chinese flags at Russian-American consultations on strategic stability,” posting a flag-less picture on Facebook.

Billingslea’s tweet was countered by one from prominent Chinese journalist Chen Weihua, who criticized the US predilection for withdrawing from multilateral agreements such as the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris Climate accords, before pointing out that “China has 300 nukes in contrast to 6,000 by US and Russia. So unless you agree to come down to 300 or even 500, you’re not making sense.” While not a Chinese official per se, Chen’s viewpoints are considered to closely track with official policy.

In the end, the Vienna summit was a bust, a one-day exchange of previously-held views which resolved no outstanding issues and left little hope for any breakthrough in the future. So long as the Trump administration continues to insist on Chinese presence at the negotiating table as a precondition for any new agreements, there is zero chance for progress in arms control talks with Russia, or China. This makes any extension of the New START treaty impossible, and a new nuclear arms race with Russia and China inevitable.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer. He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

June 23, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Gorbachev Blasts US for ‘Striving for Military Supremacy’ Amid INF Treaty Debacle

By Lilia Dergacheva – Sputnik – 17.12.2019

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty effectively put an end to the Cold War US-USSR tensions, becoming one of the key security pillars in the nuclear post-war world. However, with the fate of the treaty in jeopardy, the world may slide into a new arms race – something that Mikhail Gorbachev believes is grave and fatal.

Speaking to the Japanese newspaper Asahi, former and only USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev has accused the US of striving for military supremacy.

“What’s behind the United States’ decision to withdraw from the INF is their striving to free themselves of any obligations with respect to weapons and obtain absolute military supremacy”, he explained at length.The politician, who served as general secretary of the former Soviet Union and played a key role in bringing the Cold War to an end by reaching accords with the US on the reduction of nuclear weapons, considers such an aim to be dangerous and unattainable.

“That is an illusory aim, an unfulfilled hope. Hegemony by one single country is not possible in today’s world. The result would be destabilisation of the global strategic situation, a new arms race and all the randomness and unpredictability of global politics”, 88-year-old Gorbachev told the newspaper in an interview in Moscow, shortly after the US announced its intention to backtrack on the deal.

“The main thing is to act so as not to allow the world to slide towards an arms race, to a confrontation, and to hostility”, Gorbachev said.

“We have to stop working on pipe dreams, and engage with realpolitik. We don’t need an apocalypse! We need peace!” he exclaimed emotionally.”Despite everything, I believe that this is still within our capabilities”, he expressed his fervent hope, adding that otherwise, the security of every country, “including the US”, is at stake.

He reminded the interviewers about the two sides’ work on the INF Treaty, bringing up what the US and the Soviet Union agreed on during their first meeting in Geneva – that “a nuclear war is not acceptable and there will be no winners in a nuclear war”.

“We announced that we had to get rid of nuclear weapons. This is something I am still praying for”, stressed Gorbachev, having earlier expressed his concerns to Wall Street Journal reporters about the pitfalls of nukes, stressing that they may be launched by mistake or end up in terrorists’ hands.The politician lamented that out of the three major pillars of global strategic stability – the ABMT, INF, and START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) – only one is left, “but even the fate of the New START, which was signed in 2010, is becoming unclear”, Gorbachev stressed.

On Thursday, the United States successfully tested an INF-banned ground-based intermediate-range missile in California. According to the Defence Department, the missile flew more than 498 kilometres (310 miles) before it was downed just over the ocean.

The INF Treaty, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, was terminated on 2 August 2019, at the US’ initiative, with America having formally suspended its obligations under the deal six months prior. The treaty will expire in February 2021, but its extension is strongly doubted due to the US’ position on the matter.

Russia and the United States have traded barbs, accusing each other of violating the 1987 deal, which barred any ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,417 miles).

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Pentagon Test Fires 2nd INF-Banned Missile Over Pacific Ocean

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 12/14/2019

A week after Russia’s President Putin said he is ready to extend the New START nuclear arms reduction pact with the United States “without preconditions” by year’s end, in an attempt to save it after the recent collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, the Pentagon has conducted another test of a previously banned ballistic missile.

Thursday’s test-firing marks the second missile to be tested which would have fallen under the INF ban, which the Trump administration withdrew from earlier this year. The first test had taken place in August, during which time Putin said Russia will be forced to deploy banned missiles if the US does.

Video footage of this week’s test, like the one in August, was made public. The ground-launched missile reportedly few over the Pacific Ocean.

“The Department of Defense conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile at approximately 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time, today, Dec. 12, 2019, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver said.

Carver indicated the missile tested “terminated in the open ocean after more than 500 kilometers of flight. Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities.” Crucially, the INF Treaty had specifically banned land-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

The other interesting element to the timing is that it came a mere two days after a rare visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to the White House, where arms control treaties were reportedly discussed with President Trump.

Few other details of the launch were given, per the AP:

The prototype missile was configured to be armed with a non-nuclear warhead. The Pentagon declined to disclose specifics beyond saying thew missile was launched from a “static launch stand” at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and landed in the open ocean.

A statement by Defense Secretary Mark Esper has many worried the new tests and collapse of arms control treaties could trigger a new arms race with Russia.

Esper was asked at a briefing Thursday specifically about the possibility of placing US missiles in Europe, long a “worst-fear” scenario which the INF protected against. He responded:

“Once we develop intermediate-range missiles, and if my commanders require them, then we will work closely and consult closely with our allies in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere with regards to any possible deployments.”

For Moscow’s part, addressing a Russian defense meeting last week, Putin made an apparent appeal to the West, saying that he hopes to avoid a new arms race with the US and its allies, and vowed to in good faith refrain from deploying intermediate and shorter range missiles there where there are none.

“Russia is not interested in triggering an arms race or deploying missiles where there are none,” Putin said. He also invited the US and European countries to join a Russian proposed moratorium on such new deployments and weapons. So far only France has greeted the proposal positively. Indicating the offer is conditional, he warned, “No reaction from other partners followed. This forces us to take measures to resist the aforesaid threats.”

December 14, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Russia dials back peace talks with Japan

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | November 23, 2019

Russia-Japan territorial disputes surged at a meeting of foreign ministers of the two countries, Toshimitsu Motegi and Sergey Lavrov, at Nagoya, Japan, on November 22 on the sidelines of a G20 foreign ministers’ gathering.

Lavrov publicly threw cold water on the Japanese spin that Tokyo is engaged in “persistent talks” with Russia on a peace treaty bringing the two countries’ World War 2 hostility to a formal ending.

Lavrov emphatically stated that any forward movement on a peace treaty will have to be within the ambit of the Russia-Japan 1956 joint declaration, which, as he put it, “clearly states that first Russia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over all our lands, including those territories, are recognised, thus recognising the results of World War II, and then everything else will possibly be discussed.”

In plain terms, according to Lavrov, Moscow may consider discussing a peace treaty only after Tokyo unequivocally recognises Russian sovereignty over Kuril islands and territories that came under Russian control in the Far East during World War 2.

Japan’s stance, on the contrary, can never converge on that point. Wouldn’t Moscow have known it already? Of course, Lavrov has only reiterated a consistent Russian stance.

Tokyo has been baiting Moscow with the proposition that a peace treaty will open the door to large-scale investments by Japanese companies for the development of the Russian Far East (which is a national priority for the Kremlin.)

Tokyo has also been smart, projecting Russian President Vladimir Putin as a strong but pragmatic statesman who is willing to make territorial concessions to attract Japanese investments.

But it takes two to tango and up to a point Moscow acquiesced with the Japanese enthusiasm that the two countries could be settling the Kuril issue — although making territorial concessions will be a highly emotive issue for the Russian public opinion.

Moscow probably pinned hopes that a relaxed climate of relations might wean Tokyo away from the US strategic orbit — although the likelihood of Japan shaking off the US security umbrella will remain zero for the conceivable future.   

At any rate, that tango has ended and realism prevails, with the regional security climate in the Far East visibly darkening with the recent US cruise missile tests and the Pentagon’s plan to deploy new missiles in Japan following its exit from the INF Treaty (which had banned the  intermediate-range missiles previously.)

Moscow is alert to the emergent threats to its strategic assets in the Russian Far East due to the US deployment. Importantly, Tokyo appears to be open to the proposed US missile deployments, which would further cement the US-Japan military alliance.

Unsurprisingly, Moscow has linked the regional security scenario to its territorial disputes with Japan. To quote Lavrov, “The military alliance with the US, of course, represents a problem when it comes to taking Russian-Japanese relations to another level. I will remind you that when the 1956 declaration was being coordinated, the USSR said back then that everything may be implemented, and this declaration may be fully implemented only in the context of discontinued US military presence on Japan’s territory.”

Lavrov added, “Japanese colleagues have received a list of Russia’s specific security concerns which emerge because of the increasing and strengthening Japanese-US military-political alliance. So our Japanese colleagues promised to react to those concerns. We will wait for their response and continue discussions.”

Lavrov also chose the G20 FMs’ forum at Nagoya to present Russian concerns over the security climate in the Far East. He said, “As for the US behaviour in the world, including in the Asia-Pacific region, in its relations with Japan, the United States does not hesitate to publicly acknowledge that Russia and China are the main threat to it and that all its military alliances with Japan, Australia and the Republic of Korea will be built proceeding from these threats and challenges.

“But, of course, we pointed out at a meeting with the Japanese foreign minister that this ran counter to the assurances, which Japan gives us that the Japanese-US military and political alliance is not aimed against the Russian Federation.” (TASS

Meanwhile, Russia is speeding up the construction of military dormitories on the Southern Kuril Islands. A spokesman for Russia’s Eastern Military District said this week that military personnel would settle into the dormitories on Iturup and Kunashir by the end of 2018 and that more dormitories would be built and commissioned in 2019.

The Eastern Military District, which was formed in 2010 under a presidential decree, is headquartered at Khabarovsk in Siberia near the Chinese border and is one of the four operational strategic commands of the Russian Armed Forces.

The new US missile deployments in the Far East are of common concern to Russia and China. In August, Russia and China sought a meeting of the UN Security Council over “statements by US officials on their plans to develop and deploy medium-range missiles”.

Last month, Putin disclosed that Moscow is helping China build a system to warn of ballistic missile launches. Putin said “this is a very serious thing that will radically enhance China’s defence capability”. Since the cold war, only the US and Russia have had such systems, which involve an array of ground-based radars and space satellites. The systems allow for early spotting of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

China will find Lavrov’s remarks at Nogaya to be very reassuring. It is a safe bet that the Russia-Japan normalisation will be an excruciatingly slow process, which in turn works fine for China in geopolitical terms. Lavrov also had a meeting with Wang Yi, Chinese Councilor and Foreign Minister, at Nogaya.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Secret NATO Military Exercises in Germany Drill Nuclear War Scenario – Report

By Oleg Burunov – Sputnik – 19.10.2019

NATO allies are holding secret military exercises in Germany, which aim to drill a nuclear war scenario, the German newspaper Kronen Zeitung reports.

During the drills, codenamed “Steadfast Noon”, the military personnel utilise warplanes which could be equipped with nuclear weapons in the event of a war.

The Luftwaffe is represented in the drills by Tornado fighter jets from the 33rd Tactical Squadron; it is stationed at Buchel Air Base where the US-made B61 nuclear bombs are currently stored.

In case of an emergency, the B61 warheads will be installed on the Tornadoes as part of Germany’s “nuclear participation” in a NATO mission to counter an adversary, according to Kronen Zeitung.

Collapse of INF Treaty

The newspaper claims that “the danger of a nuclear war scenario is currently much higher than in the past three decades” due to the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the US and Russia this summer.

The two countries have repeatedly accused each other of violating the Cold War Era treaty, and after announcing in February 2019 that it would suspend its participation in the arms control treaty, the US formally withdrew from the accord on 2 August.

Russia says allegations that it violated the INF Treaty are unsubstantiated and accuses the US of violating the treaty by deploying defence systems in Europe with launchers capable of firing cruise missiles at ranges prohibited under the agreement.

Signed in 1987, the INF Treaty required the two countries to eliminate and permanently refrain from the development of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,417 miles).

October 19, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Three Arab-language media interview Russia’s President Putin

RT | October 13, 2019


Moscow is supporting Damascus to ensure that extremists never reach Russia’s borders

Damascus has to take responsibility for the country’s political and social problems, but these internal issues would not be resolved by allowing Syria to be overrun by extremists, Putin told RT Arabic, explaining Russia’s rationale for entering the conflict there in September 2015.

“We came to Syria to support the legitimate government… It does not mean that they do not have internal problems… It does not mean that the current leadership is not responsible for what is going on there. They are, but it does not mean that we were to allow terrorist organisations to capture Syria and to establish a terrorist pseudo-state there.”

“We still remember what happened in Russia’s North Caucasus region not that long ago,” Putin said, referring to the bloody conflicts in Chechnya and making the case for protecting Russian borders from terrorism spill-over.

“We could not allow militants to move to former Soviet republics. We do not have hard borders or a visa regime with them. We could not allow militants to infiltrate Russia from there.”

Supporting “rebels” in the Middle East and North Africa, like Washington and its Gulf and European allies has routinely done, has had disastrous effects for global security, Putin pointed out. The invasion of Iraq led to an insurgency that later created Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS), he said, and NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” in Libya created a “chaos and confusion” that is still seen today.

‘Syria must be free of foreign military presence’

Russia will be least affected if US exit from INF treaty brings back arms race, Putin says

A renewed arms race between the US and Russia would be bad for the world but Moscow won’t be dragged into excessive military spending, as it has already developed next gen weapons of “unmatched” capabilities, Vladimir Putin said.

The Russian president discussed Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty at a joint interview with RT Arabic, UAE-based Sky News Arabia and Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya broadcasters.

“I do understand the US concerns. While other countries are free to enhance their defenses, Russia and the US have tied their own hands with this treaty.”

However, Putin pointed out that “it was not worth ruining the deal,” which helped the US and Russia by precluding the fielding in Europe of ground-based missiles with a range of between 500km and 5,500km, and which remained the cornerstone of security on that continent since 1987. “I believe there were other ways out of the situation,” he added.
Also on Russia offers NATO a moratorium on missile deployment, but won’t sacrifice its own security to prove its goodwill

The New START Treaty, which came into effect in 1994 and limits the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers possessed by the two countries, is the final element that could “prevent us from falling back into a full-scale arms race,” Putin warned.

That deal expires in 2021 and, “to make sure it is extended, we need to be working on it right now,” he said.

But if an arms race couldn’t ultimately be avoided, the President assured interviewers that “Russia will be the least affected party because… we already have the next generation of weapons, and these are unprecedented, with unmatched capabilities. We have done our homework. We do not need to rush now and can calmly think of what can be done next.”

An arms race is a bad thing, and it will not be good for the world. However, we will not be dragged into exorbitant budget-spending games.

The reason for Russia obtaining those state-of-the-art weapons, despite being only sixth globally in terms of military spending – behind the US, China, Saudi Arabia, UK, France and Japan, is “focused research on priority areas,” he explained.

Read/watch the full interview here.

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

US Reprehensibly Inciting New Global Arms Race

Strategic Culture Foundation | August 23, 2019

Russia and China are right to condemn the testing this week of an INF-busting new missile by the US. Washington is brazenly jeopardizing global security under the usual cynical guise of “defense”.

Washington launched a ground-based cruise missile off the coast of California. It was reportedly a Tomahawk-type nuclear-capable warhead, but the Pentagon said it was conventionally armed. The projectile apparently succeeded in hitting its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight. The testing of such a missile would have been banned by the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty which the US officially withdrew from on August 2.

The INF, first signed in 1987, banned the testing and deployment of missiles within the range of 500-5,500 kms.

It is inconceivable that the latest weapon could not have been in the long-term works for development prior to the three-week period since the INF was abandoned. In others words, the abrogation of the treaty was long-anticipated by Washington, which belies US claims over recent months that it was crashing out of the INF due to alleged Russian violations. The US wanted out of the treaty. Now that it is freed from restriction, the prompt deployment of the cruise weapon off California seems to confirm the ulterior agenda.

Previously, Pentagon chief Mark Esper indirectly admitted this ulterior agenda when he told Senate hearings that the purpose for scrapping the INF was for the US to be able to confront China.

This week Esper said the missile testing was aimed at sending Beijing a message that the “US is capable of deterring China’s bad behavior”.

So, let’s have some honesty here. Washington just ripped up an important arms-control treaty for global security, not because of alleged Russian violations, but rather because the US wants to give itself a free hand to expand its short and medium-range arsenal to challenge China.

Indeed, Esper also remarked during a recent trip to Australia that the US intends to deploy INF-type ground-based missiles in Asia.

Admittedly, China is reckoned to have an arsenal of short and medium-range missiles. Beijing was not a party to the INF, so technically it is not in breach of its restrictions. But a crucial distinction is that such Chinese weapons do not pose a threat to the US mainland. Whereas US intentions of moving similar ballistic warheads to land bases in Asia do pose an imminent threat to China, as well as to Russia.

The US and its NATO allies claim they do not want to start a new global arms race. Washington says it is not planning to deploy INF-type warheads in Europe. However, the type of launcher used this week and which is already deployed in Romania and, it is believed, in Poland as well, could be used sometime in the near future to fire nuclear-capable missiles at Russia.

Washington is thus recklessly shifting the balance of power and undermining the global architecture for security against nuclear war.

Both Russia and China have deplored the risk of a new arms race being incited by the US.

Perhaps this kind of arms race is exactly what Washington is seeking, despite claims to the contrary. The nefarious calculation is that Russia and China will be diverted from economic development by being forced into responding in kind to new threats from the US.

After all, with its presumed license to rack up never-ending national debt, American strategic planners may feel that they can impose crippling economic costs on geopolitical rivals Russia and China.

The Chinese government said it best this week when it commented that the US “must give up its Cold War mentality”.

The endemic premise in Washington is that Russia, China and other states are mortal threats to the US. The official American view of the world is relentlessly paranoid about enemy states, which are allegedly harboring malign designs to the destroy the US.

Of course such cynical, nihilistic thinking is necessitated by the fundamental operating need of US capitalism and its addiction to the military-industrial complex. War is good, peace is bad, so goes the Orwellian American credo, albeit never outrightly stated as such. If the US were to somehow make peace with the world and enter into normal friendly international relations, then its $700-billion-plus annual spending on the military would cease to exist from lack of “justification”, and with that would follow the calamitous implosion of its militarized capitalist economy.

An arms race for the US state planners is like finding a drug-fix for a junkie. It is damnable that Washington is tearing up arms control treaties and jeopardizing global security in order to gratify its dysfunctional systematic dependence on insecurity, tension, conflict and ultimately war.

The undoing of arms controls treaties by the US, first the ABM in 2002, then the INF this year, next perhaps the New Start treaty expiring in 2021, is reprehensible. But what is more reprehensible is the underlying ideology that impels that. American citizens have to address that root ideological disease, otherwise the world will continually be in peril of war.

August 23, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Banned missile test reveals all you need to know about US foreign policy

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | RT | August 21, 2019

A recent missile test confirmed by the Pentagon is stoking fears of a newly established arms race which would include, among others, Russia and China.

On August 18, North Korea tested a previously banned ground-launch missile with a range of over 500km, sending the entire world into an enormous, frenzied panic. Oh no, it was the United States which in fact tested the missile to the sound of crickets over Western media discourse.

The missile in question was likely a Tomahawk missile (at a cost of at least $1.4 million per missile, but then again you can’t put a price on wanton death and destruction), which is typically launched from ships and submarines – as we saw in Trump’s infamous April 2017 Syria strike.

It sounds like a waste of money (to me, anyway) but there’s a reason why Tomahawks cost a fortune. According to Popular Mechanics, a modern-day Tomahawk is guided by GPS and has the capacity to store coordinates for several targets. If a primary target was destroyed by friendly strikes, it can “take a picture of the damage done and loiter nearby until planners decide to re-attack the target or send the missile to attack an alternate.”

I think this is what some commentators are referring to when they speak of US weapons systems as being more “humanitarian” than its adversarial counterparts. One day it may even wait while you finish your meal before it decides to rain down on you and your family.

Under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, weapons with a range between 500km (310 miles) and 5,500km (3,417 miles) were banned. As we know, the US ripped up the treaty in spectacular fashion and within weeks began escalating tensions right across the geopolitical chessboard. Analysts are right to fear that these events are kick-starting a new cold war and arms race.

Despite nonsensical claims that Donald Trump was elected to represent Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interests in the United States, this move is a colossal slap in the face of Russia-US relations. This is in part due to the use of the Mark 41 Vertical Launching System, as these launchers are positioned at US missile defense sites in Poland and Romania.

This positioning was already seen as a violation of the INF Treaty. In 2016, Putin issued a direct warning against the sequence of events which continues to unfold before our eyes, saying at the time:

“They say [the missile systems] are part of their defense capability, and are not offensive, that these systems are aimed at protecting them from aggression. It’s not true… the strategic ballistic missile defense is part of an offensive strategic capability, [and] functions in conjunction with an aggressive missile strike system.”

“How do we know what’s inside those launchers? All one needs to do is reprogram [the system], which is an absolutely inconspicuous task,” Putin added, claiming that essentially, a ‘defensive’ missile system can very quickly become an offensive system.

This is further compounded by the fact that the Pentagon claimed the missile was “conventionally configured” – in other words, not nuclear-equipped. But it wouldn’t take a genius to see how the US military could eventually begin firing nuclear-equipped missiles at similar length.

And don’t get me started on the hypocrisy of Washington’s actions. While repeatedly denouncing North Korea for launching missiles, the US (and it’s media arm) are seemingly quiet about the fact that the US not only is testing missiles that could pulverise North Korea, but that the US is one of the only nations in the world that actively tests missiles and deploys them for practical use in a number of theatres. North Korea – currently bombing no one – is branded as a rogue threat to global security, while the US, which, generally speaking, bombs more countries than can be counted on one hand, is allowed to exit treaties and test intermediate range missiles all with free reign.

Of course, Russia was not naïve enough to think that these events were not going to unfold. Russia had already suspected that the US would quit the INF Treaty, and the speed with which it has begun testing banned missiles seems to give Russian officials the impression that these tests were in the pipeline for some time.

It is difficult to see how all of this fits in with Trump’s view of himself as the world’s best dealmaker, and the extent to which these are all just ploys for him to create new deals. Just as Trump has used maximum pressure on Iran to try to forcibly drag Tehran to the negotiating table (presumably, to establish a new deal which includes, for example, Iran’s missile tests), there are more than enough indications that one of Trump’s aims is to draw up a new treaty which would include Beijing, as well. Beijing, of course, is not having any of this proposal.

As I wrote two weeks ago, the US likely abandoned the INF Treaty because it placed no constraints on China, examining statements such as this one from Defense Secretary Mark Esper, that “80 percent plus of their [Beijing’s] inventory is intermediate range systems, so that shouldn’t surprise them that we would want to have a like capability.”

At the time, a Sydney-based think tank released a pretty damning report concluding that China’s “growing arsenal of accurate long-range missiles poses a major threat to almost all American, allied and partner bases, airstrips, ports and military installations in the Western Pacific.”

As if the US required further support for the idea that it needs to boost its missile capabilities, the report further stated that: “As these facilities could be rendered useless by precision strikes in the opening hours of a conflict, the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] missile threat challenges America’s ability to freely operate its forces from forward locations throughout the region.”

I imagine some of you are by now growing tired of listening to me blaming most geopolitical problems on the United States, but in all honesty, it simply becomes too easy after a while. North Korea is a perfect example. According to Trump himself, Kim Jong-un has said he will stop missile-testing if the US stops its joint military drills with South Korea. This is something many of us have said countless times, but no one will listen.

So, in most cases, you have the US instigating the problem, the US continuing the problem, and most importantly, the US reneging on its word multiple times and exiting agreements left and right, and the rest of the world is left to its own devices to determine how best to move forward.

Recently revealed documents have quite clearly established that the US made multiple promises to the Soviet Union that NATO would expand “not one inch eastward.” NATO not only continues to expand, but so too might its intermediate range missile capabilities as happily provided by the US directly on Russia’s border.

Also on

‘One possible conclusion’: US banned-missile test apparently in works long before leaving INF

August 21, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment