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US Taxpayers On the Hook for Nearly $1 Billion in Saudi Arabia’s Recent Missile Defense Purchase

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | March 8, 2019

WASHINGTON — On Monday, in an all-but-unreported news item, the Pentagon announced that it would be paying $946 million to Lockheed Martin toward the installation of a missile defense system that was purchased — not by the United States government — but by Saudi Arabia. In other words, the Pentagon is paying nearly $1 billion to subsidize a purchase made by a foreign power.

In its announcement, the Pentagon referred to the payment as an “undefinitized contract action” that would be used, in part, to prepare Saudi Arabia’s current missile defense system for the installation of the $15 billion Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system manufactured by Lockheed.

The Pentagon said the payment was intended to prevent major delays in the delivery and production of the THAAD system, suggesting it was likely a hedge against past Saudi interest in the THAAD’s main (and cheaper) competitor, the Russian-made S-400. However, the payment is also authorized for use by Lockheed to pay for materials, tools and engineering development.

The Saudi THAAD purchase was a major component of the “$110 billion” weapons deal much touted by the Trump administration in 2017. However, many of the key purchases within that massive deal were never finalized, an embarrassment for what the administration had advertised as a major foreign policy success that would create jobs in the United States, even though many Lockheed products are actually manufactured abroad.

A better deal for a better product down the block

One likely explanation for the Pentagon’s willingness to pay such a significant amount to subsidize the Saudi THAAD system is the fact that the Saudi government had intended to purchase the cheaper and more effective Russian-made S-400 instead of the THAAD. Indeed, as MintPress News reported last year, the Saudis let the deadline for the THAAD deal pass on September 30 of last year without signing, and instead expressed interest in the S-400. The Saudis also refused U.S. government requests to disavow its interest in the Russian-made system.

Just two days after the THAAD deadline passed, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared. His disappearance and alleged murder caused international outrage, surprising many observers, as even the most outrage-prone U.S. politicians generally turn a blind eye to Saudi human-rights violations. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who became one of the most vocal critics of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) after Khashoggi’s disappearance, is also heavily funded by Lockheed Martin, which is the largest contributor to his 2020 re-election campaign.

The furor over Khashoggi’s death — which appears to have been, in part, influenced by Saudi lack of interest in the THAAD system — eventually pressured the Saudi government enough to sign letters of offer and acceptance for their purchase of 44 THAAD launchers, missiles and related equipment in November.

However, in order to entice the Saudis to “buy American,” more than political pressure appears to have been needed and it is likely that U.S. officials offered to “sweeten the deal.” Given this context, the Pentagon’s $946 million payout to prevent installation delays appears to be one of these concessions, as the U.S. government continues to scramble to keep its allies from buying the THAAD’s top competitor, the Russian S-400. Unfortunately for them, it’s the U.S. taxpayers who are footing the bill.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism

March 8, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

By Erik D’AMATO | Ron Paul Institute | January 18, 2019

If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury. With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between over-hyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation. But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable… To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would be directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Does US Withdrawal from another Nuclear Treaty Really Benefit Russia?

By Tony Cartalucci – New Eastern Outlook – 30.10.2018

No. Obviously Russia does not benefit from the scrapping of yet another treaty designed to prevent a nuclear exchange amid a war with the United States.

Yet, as an attempt to frame blatant US provocations as somehow “Russia’s fault,” a narrative has begun circulating – claiming that not only does the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty somehow benefit Russia – it was via Russia’s “puppet” – US President Donald Trump – that saw the treaty scrapped.

Spreading this scurrilous narrative are political provocateurs like former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul who has re-branded himself recently as a prominent anti-Trump voice – feeding into and feeding off of America’s false left-right political paradigm.

In one post on social media, McFaul would claim:

Why can’t Trump leverage his close personal relationship with Putin to get Russia to abide by the INF Treaty?

In other posts, he would recommend followers to read commentary published by US corporate-financier funded think tank – the Brookings Institution – on how the US withdrawal “helps Russia and hurts US.”

The commentary – penned by former US ambassador to Ukraine, Steven Pifer – admitted that no evidence has been made public of supposed “Russian violations.” It also admits that America’s European allies – those who would be in range of Russian intermediate range missiles if deployed – have not raised a “stink” with the Kremlin, publicly or privately.

But Pifer claims that the US has no missiles to match those supposedly being developed by Russia, and even if it did, the US would have no where to place them – claiming that NATO, Japan, and South Korea would not allow the US to place such systems on their shores. This, he and McFaul suggest, is why the US’ withdrawal from the treaty “benefits” Russia by granting it a monopoly over intermediate range missiles.

Washington’s Other Withdrawals Prove Otherwise 

Yet the US has already withdrawn from treaties and twisted the arms of allies to allow newly developed missile systems to be deployed on their shores.

In the aftermath of Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from another Cold War-era agreement – the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty scrapped by US President George Bush Jr. in 2002 – the US developed and deployed the Lockheed Martin ashore Aegis ballistic missile defense system in Europe along with the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile defense systems to South Korea – also manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

It is clear the unilateral treaty withdrawals under Bush and Trump, as well as the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems to Europe and East Asia under the Obama administration, represent a continuity of agenda regardless of who occupies the White House.

Coupled with these treaty withdrawals and the subsequent deployment of US missile systems to ring Russia and China – there has been a constant build-up of US troops directly on the borders of both nations.

While those claiming Russia has violated the INF Treaty – and has been doing so for “8 years” as claimed in a 2017 op-ed by US Senator Tom Cotton published in the Washington Post, it should be noted that 8 years previously, it would be revealed that in addition to the US placing Patriot missile systems along Russia’s borders, plans for wider military deployments in the Baltic states were also in the works.

The Guardian’s 2010 article titled, “WikiLeaks cables reveal secret Nato plans to defend Baltics from Russia,” would admit:

According to a secret cable from the US mission to Nato in Brussels, US admiral James Stavridis, the alliance’s top commander in Europe, proposed drawing up defence plans for the former Soviet Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

Of course, those “defense plans” manifested themselves in the deployment of US forces to the Baltics, meaning US troops were now stationed on Russia’s borders.

It is clear that a pattern is emerging of the US withdrawing from treaties, deploying missiles, then citing Russia’s rational reaction to hostile forces building up on its borders, in order to withdraw from additional treaties and deploy further military forces along Russia’s peripheries and on Russia’s borders.

Who Really Benefits? Follow the Money  

After McFaul’s various claims of the INF Treaty scrapping by the US benefiting Russia, he himself would obliquely admit to who the real beneficiaries were.

In a more recent social media post, McFaul would claim:

If Putin deploys large numbers of new intermediate missiles in Europe, what missile and launcher would the US seek to deploy in Europe in response? & where would we base them? I worry that we wont/cant respond.

Whatever this “missile and launcher” is, whoever builds it will reap hundreds of billions of dollars to develop and deploy it. Each Lockheed Martin ashore Aegis system cost over a billion dollars. Lockheed Martin’s annual revenue rivals Russia’s entire annual military budget. It is clear who benefits most from the US scrapping the INF Treaty – at least in terms of dollars and cents.

As for McFaul’s doubts over Washington’s ability to station weapons in Europe – as proven by the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty – the US is more than capable of developing and successfully deploying controversial and unwanted missile systems to both Europe and East Asia.

The US Department of Defense was already developing plans for an intermediate missile system to do just that – before the US even withdrew from the INF Treaty.
As early as February 2018. Defense One would report in its article titled, “Pentagon Confirms It’s Developing Nuclear Cruise Missile to Counter a Similar Russian One,” that:

The U.S. military is developing a ground-launched, intermediate-range cruise missile to counter a similar Russian weapon whose deployment violates an arms-control treaty between Moscow and Washington, U.S. officials said Friday.

The officials acknowledged that the still-under-development American missile would, if deployed, also violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The article also cited Greg Weaver, the Joint Staff’s deputy director of strategic capabilities, who would claim that the development of such a missile would not violate the INF Treaty unless it was deployed.

With the US’ withdrawal from the INF Treaty, the missile can be openly developed and deployed – meaning even more demand for whichever US arms manufacturer(s) clinches the contract.
Thus McFaul answers for all those in doubt as to who the real beneficiaries are of the INF Treaty’s scrapping – the arms manufacturers that will reap hundreds of billions of dollars in the development and deployment of these new missile systems, operating alongside other multi-billion dollar missile systems already developed and deployed in the wake of the US’ walking away from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Also benefiting are those who seek to encircle and contain Russia, but lack any rational pretext to justify doing so.

McFaul and others like him craft narratives predicated on the assumption that their audiences are profoundly ignorant and will remain prohibitively ill-informed. Hand-in-hand with the Western media – the public is kept in a state of ignorance and adversity – where overt provocations aimed at Moscow and the US taxpayers’ pockets can be easily passed off as “Putin and his puppet” tricking the US into encircling and containing Russia – just as McFaul himself called for in a lengthy 2018 editorial he wrote for Foreign Affairs.

By framing Russia as the mastermind behind the US’ own provocations, McFaul and the special interests he represents get to move their openly stated agenda of encircling and containing Russia several more steps forward – proving just who the real threat to global peace and stability is.

October 30, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Angered By Saudi Plan to Purchase Russian S-400, Trump Admin Exploiting Khashoggi Disappearance to Force Saudis to “Buy American”

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | October 15, 2018

ISTANBUL — The disappearance and alleged murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi continues to strain relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. On Saturday, President Donald Trump warned the Saudis of “severe punishment” if the Saudi government was found to have been responsible for the journalist’s alleged murder.

The Saudi government has vocally denied any involvement even though Khashoggi disappeared within the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and responded to Trump’s threats by vowing an even “stronger” response if the Gulf monarchy is ultimately targeted by the United States. The exchange of threats caused Saudi stocks to sustain their biggest one-day loss since 2016 when trading opened and has brought the upcoming three-day Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Saudi Arabia much unwanted negative publicity.

However, there is considerable evidence pointing to the fact that the U.S.’ response to the Khashoggi affair is likely to be determined, not by any Saudi government responsibility for Khashoggi’s fate, but instead whether or not the Saudis choose to follow through with their promise to purchase the $15 billion U.S.-made THAAD missile system or its cheaper, Russia-made equivalent, the S-400. According to reports, the Saudis failed to meet the deadline for their planned THAAD purchase and had hinted in late September that they were planning to buy the S-400 from Russia instead.

While the U.S.’ response to the alleged murder of the Saudi journalist is being cast as a U.S. government effort to defend press freedom and finally hold the Saudi government to account for its long litany of human-rights abuses, there is every indication that the U.S. is not in fact seeking to punish the Saudis for their alleged role in Khashoggi’s apparent murder but instead to punish them for reneging on this $15 billion deal to U.S. weapons giant Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the THAAD system.

Khashoggi’s disappearance merely provided a convenient pretext for the U.S. to pressure the Saudis over abandoning the weapons deal by allowing the U.S. to frame its retaliation as a “human rights” issue. As a result, it seems likely that, if the Saudis move forward with the latter, the U.S. and the Trump administration  the Saudi government guilty of involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance while, if they move forward with the former, the media frenzy and controversy surrounding the Saudi national will likely fizzle out and, with it, Trump’s threats of “severe punishment.”

Ultimately, the response of the U.S. political class to the Khashoggi affair is just the latest example of a U.S. government policy being motivated by the military-industrial complex but masquerading as a policy motivated by concern for “human rights.”

Why the sudden concern over the Saudi government’s atrocious human rights record?

As the Khashoggi saga has drawn on since the Saudi journalist disappeared earlier this month, some observers have noted that the corporate media and the U.S. government’s sudden preoccupation with Saudi Arabia’s human-rights record, particularly in regards to journalists. Indeed, just last Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced that 15 Saudi journalists and bloggers had been arrested over the past year and noted that “in most cases, their arrests have never been officially confirmed and no official has ever said where they are being held or what they are charged with.”

In addition, Saudi Arabia has helped kill tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians in the war it is leading against that country, with most of those civilian casualties resulting from the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign that routinely targets civilians. The Saudi-led coalition’s blockade of food and medicine into Yemen has also brought the country to the brink of famine, with nearly 18 million now at risk of starving to death — including over 5 million children, while thousands more are dying from preventable diseases in the country.

While murdering a journalist by “hit squad” in a diplomatic compound on foreign soil — as is alleged to have Khashoggi’s fate — would certainly set a dangerous precedent, Saudi Arabia leading the genocide against the Yemeni people is arguably a much worse precedent.  However, little concern over the Saudis’ role in this atrocity in Yemen has been raised by those pushing for action to be taken against Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s “inhumane” fate. So, why the sudden concern?

Despite it being a well-known fact that the Saudi government routinely imprisons journalists and activists and is leading a genocidal war against its southern neighbor, the Trump administration has now adopted a harsh tone towards the Saudis, with concerns over Khashoggi’s disappearance serving as the “official” excuse.

Indeed, Trump told CBS’ 60 Minutes during an interview broadcast on Sunday that “there’s something really terrible and disgusting about that if that were the case [that Saudi Arabia had been involved in Khashoggi’s murder], so we’re going to have to see. We’re going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment.”

Other powerful figures in the U.S. political establishment have called for dramatic action to be taken against the Saudi government, particularly the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). For instance, John Brennan, former CIA Director under Obama and current cable news pundit, lobbied in a recent Washington Post op-ed to dethrone MBS for his alleged role in Khashoggi’s fate.

Brennan also notably called upon the U.S. to impose “immediate sanctions on all Saudis involved; a freeze on U.S. military sales to Saudi Arabia; suspension of all routine intelligence cooperation with Saudi security services; and a U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the murder.”

Another prominent figure in Washington pushing for action to be taken against the Saudis over Khashoggi’s disappearance is Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham recently stated that there would be “hell to pay” if the Saudi government was found to be responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder. Notably, the top contributor to Graham’s 2020 re-election campaign is U.S. weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

Given that human-rights concerns among the U.S. power establishment have only emerged after the disappearance of this one journalist and such concerns regarding the Saudis other grave human-rights abuses continue to go unvoiced by these same individuals, something else is likely driving Washington’s sudden concern over alleged Saudi state-sanctioned murder.

So what has protected the Saudi government from U.S. retribution over its repeated human-rights abuses in the past? Though Saudi Arabia’s vast oil wealth is an obvious answer, a recently leaked State Department memo revealed that U.S. weapon sales to the Gulf Kingdom were the main and only factor in the Trump administration ’s continued support for the Saudi-led coalition’s disastrous war in Yemen. Those lucrative weapon sales, according to the memo, led Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “rubber stamp” the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign in Yemen despite the fact that the coalition has continued to bomb civilian buses, homes and infrastructure in recent months.

If the Saudis were to back away from a major, lucrative deal with U.S. weapon manufacturers, such an act would likely result in retribution from Washington, given that weapons sales to the Gulf Kingdom are currently the driving factor behind Washington’s “concern” with the Saudi government’s poor human-rights record.

This is exactly what happened and it took place just two days before Khashoggi disappeared inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The Saudis back out of a US deal and eye the rival’s wares

Last year, President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and praised its crown prince for finalizing a massive weapons deal with the United States at a value of over $110 billion. However, it emerged soon after that this “deal” was not contract-based but instead involved many “letters of interest or intent.” Over a year later, the Washington Post recently noted that many of the planned weapons deals have yet to be finalized.

One of those agreements was the planned $15 billion purchase of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD), which is manufactured by U.S. weapons giant Lockheed Martin. The deadline for the Saudis to finalize that deal passed on September 30, just two days before Khashoggi’s disappearance on October 2. However, a Saudi official told the Post that the Saudi government is still “highly interested” in the deal but “like any military purchase, there are negotiations happening which we hope will conclude in the quickest means possible.”

Yet, not only has Saudi Arabia apparently backed out of the $15 billion deal to buy Lockheed’s THAAD, it is also actively considering buying the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system instead and has also refused U.S. government requests to disavow its interest in the Russian-made system.

Indeed, on September 21, Saudi ambassador to Russia Raid bin Khalid Krimli stated:

Our cooperation with Russia continues and grows. And during King Salman’s historic visit [to Russia] we have signed 14 agreements that began to be implemented. There were four agreements in the military field; three of them began to be implemented. As for the fourth … there is discussion of the technical issues. Because the system itself is modern and complex.”

The fourth deal to which he alludes appears to be the S-400. The Saudi ambassador also stated the he hoped “nobody will impose any sanctions on us” for making the purchases with Russia — further suggesting that the system he was discussing was the S-400, given that the U.S. sanctioned China for purchasing the system soon before the Saudi ambassador’s comments.

Interestingly, soon after the Saudis’ failure to stick to the planned deal with Lockheed, Trump began to publicly criticize the Saudis for “not paying” their fair share. Speaking at a campaign rally in Mississippi on October 3 – one day after Khashoggi’s disappearance in Istanbul and three days after Saudi Arabia “missed” the Lockheed Martin deadline, Trump stated:

“I love the king [of Saudi Arabia], King Salman, but I said: ‘King, we’re protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military, you have to pay.”‘

More recently, this past Saturday, Trump told reporters that he did not want to risk the bottom line of the U.S.’ top weapons manufacturers in determining the Saudis’ “punishment:”

I tell you what I don’t want to do. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these companies. I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that [emphasis added]. And you know there are other ways of punishing, to use a word that’s a pretty harsh word, but it’s true.”

However, if the Saudis do follow through with the purchase of the S-400, Lockheed Martin will lose $15 billion as a result. It will also endanger some of other potential contracts contained within the $110 billion weapons contract that Trump has often publicly promoted. With Trump not wanting to “lose an order like that,” some analysts like Scott Creighton of the Nomadic Everyman blog have asserted that the Khashoggi scandal is being used as a “shakedown” aimed at pressuring the Saudis into “buying American” and to force them to disavow a future purchase of the Russian-made S-400.

Would the U.S. use such tactics against a close ally like the Saudis over their potential purchase of the Russian-made S-400? It would certainly fit with the U.S.’ recent efforts to threaten countries around the world with sanctions for purchasing that very missile defense system. For instance, in June, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell threatened Turkey with sanctions if Turkey purchased the S-400. Those threats were followed by the September decision made by the Trump administration to sanction China for its purchase of the S-400 system.

Notably, it was right after China was sanctioned for purchasing the S-400 that the Saudi ambassador to Russia told Russian media that “I hope nobody will impose any sanctions on us” for purchasing the S-400.

However, U.S. sanctions against the Saudis may now be in the works after all, with Khashoggi’s disappearance as the pretext. Indeed, as previously mentioned, former CIA director John Brennan, among other powerful figures in Washington, is calling for sanctions against the Saudi government and Trump himself stated on Saturday that “severe punishment” could soon be in the Saudis’ future.

Yet another piece of this puzzle that cannot be ignored is the fact that Khashoggi himself has ties to the CIA, as well as to Lockheed Martin through his uncle Adnan Khashoggi, one of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful weapons dealers.

Khashoggi’s deep connections to CIA, Saudi Intelligence suggest his “disappearance” may be something more

Following his disappearance, Khashoggi has been praised by establishment and non-establishment figures alike, from Jake Tapper to Chris Hedges, for being a “dissident” and a “courageous journalist.” However, prior to his scandalous disappearance and alleged murder, Khashoggi did not receive such accolades and was a very controversial figure.

As Federico Pieraccini recently wrote at Strategic Culture :

[Khashoggi is a] representative of the shadowy world of collaboration that sometimes exists between journalism and the intelligence agencies, in this case involving the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and the United States. It has been virtually confirmed by official circles within the Al Saud family that Khashoggi was an agent in the employ of Riyadh and the CIA during the Soviet presence in Afghanistan.”

Indeed, Khashoggi doubled as a journalist and an asset for the Saudi and U.S. intelligence services and was also an early recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was also the protégé of Turki Faisal Al-Saud, the head of Saudi intelligence for 24 years, who also served as the Saudi ambassador to Washington and to the United Kingdom. Khashoggi was “media advisor” to Faisal Al-Saud during his two ambassadorships. Notably, Khashoggi became a regime “critic” only after internal power struggles broke out between former Saudi King Abdullah and Turki Faisal al-Saud.

Supporters of King Abdullah accused Khashoggi at the time of having recruited and paid several journalists on behalf of the CIA while he was editor of the leading English-language magazine in Saudi Arabia, Arab News, a post he held from 1999 to 2003.

More recently, Khashoggi strongly supported the Muslim Brotherhood during the “Arab Spring” and backed the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton regime-change efforts that spread throughout the Middle East, including the regime-change effort targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

However, under King Salman, the Muslim Brotherhood’s presence in Saudi Arabia came under threat and was suppressed. This led Khashoggi to leave and seek refuge in Turkey.

Perhaps most significantly, prior to his disappearance, Khashoggi was “working quietly with intellectuals, reformists and Islamists to launch a group called Democracy for the Arab World Now.” As Moon of Alabama notes, these projects that Khashoggi was involved in prior to his disappearance “reek of preparations for a CIA-controlled color revolution in Saudi Arabia.”

Not only does Khashoggi share ties to the CIA and the Saudi intelligence services (services that often collaborate), but his family is well-connected to global power structures, including Lockheed Martin.

Indeed, as previously mentioned, Khashoggi’s uncle is none other than Adnan Khashoggi, the notorious Saudi arms dealer who was an important player in the Iran-contra affair and was once Saudi Arabia’s richest man. Adnan Khashoggi was deeply connected to Lockheed Martin, as demonstrated by the fact that, between 1970 and 1975, he received $106 million in commissions from the U.S. weapons giant with his commission rate on Lockheed sales eventually rising to 15 percent. According to Lockheed’s former Vice President for International Marketing, Max Helzel, Adnan Khashoggi “became for all practical purposes a marketing arm of Lockheed. Adnan would provide not only an entry but strategy, constant advice and analysis.”

Adnan Khashoggi also had close ties to the Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan White Houses, with the latter likely explaining why he was acquitted for his role in the Iran-contra scandal. Also notable is the fact that Adnan Khashoggi sold his famed yacht to none other than Donald Trump for $30 million. Trump later called Adnan Khashoggi “a great broker and a lousy businessman.”

Given Jamal Khashoggi’s past and present connections to the CIA and his family’s connections to Lockheed Martin and powerful players in the U.S. political establishment, the possibility emerges that Khashoggi’s disappearance may have in fact been a set-up in order to place pressure on the Saudi government following its decision to renege on its plan to purchase Lockheed’s THAAD system. This theory is also somewhat supported by the fact that the U.S. intelligence community had known in advance of an alleged Saudi plot to capture Khashoggi but ignored its duty (via ICD 191) to warn Khashoggi of the apparent threat against him. Furthermore, the claims that Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul have — so far — been entirely based on claims from U.S. and Turkish intelligence and no evidence to support the now prevailing narrative of murder has been made public.

If a “set-up” were the case, Khashoggi’s CIA links and his apparent efforts at pushing a CIA-controlled “color revolution” in Saudi Arabia suggest that his disappearance could also have been intended for use as a pretext, not necessarily to punish the Saudis over the S-400, but to remove MBS from his position as crown prince and replace him with former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was ousted by MBS last year and also holds close ties to the CIA. Such a possibility cannot be ignored.

However, the Trump administration’s willingness to cooperate with the faux outrage regarding Khashoggi is much more likely to be motivated by the weapons-deal drama given the administration’s close ties to MBS.

Of course, it is equally likely that this was not a set-up given that MBS is undeniably authoritarian and relentlessly pursues his critics and perhaps thought that his close relationship with Trump would allow him to act with impunity in targeting Khashoggi. However, MBS’ pursuits of his critics in the past were more readily accepted by the West — like the so-called “corruption crackdown” last December. Either way, the Saudi government’s role in the alleged murder of Khashoggi is being capitalized on by the CIA and other elements of the U.S. political scene and military-industrial complex for its own purposes, as these groups normally turn a blind eye to Saudi government atrocities.

Tracking the political typhoon

Though the U.S. tactic to strong-arm Saudi Arabia seems clear, it is a situation that could dangerously escalate as both MBS and Trump have proven over the course of their short tenure that they are stubborn and unpredictable.

Furthermore, the timing of this situation is also troubling. In early November, the Trump administration’s efforts to punish countries importing Iranian crude oil will take effect and Trump is set to lean heavily on the Saudis to prevent a dramatic oil price increase due to the supply shock the removal of Iranian oil from the market will cause. Notably, the Saudis are working closely with Russia to keep oil prices from spiking.

Is the U.S. willing to risk the dramatic jump in oil prices, which themselves could have major domestic economic consequences, in order to keep the Saudis from buying the S-400? It’s hard to say but the coming battle of wills between Trump and MBS could well have truly global consequences.

Acknowledgment: The author of this article would like to thank Scott Creighton of the Nomadic Everyman blog for his assistance in researching aspects of this investigation.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

October 15, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The US Military-Industrial Complex’s Worst Nightmare: The S-300 May Destroy and Expose the F-35

By Federico Pieraccini | American Herald Tribune | September 30, 2018

The tragic episode that caused the death of 15 Russian air force personnel has had immediate repercussions on the situation in Syria and the Middle East. On September 24, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed allies and opponents that the delivery of the S-300 air-defense systems to the Syrian Arab Republic had been approved by President Vladimir Putin. The delivery had been delayed and then suspended as a result of Israeli pressure back in 2013.

In one sense, the delivery of S-300 batteries to Syria is cause for concern more for Washington than for Tel Aviv. Israel has several F-35 and has claimed to have used them in Syria to strike alleged Iranian weapons transfers to Hezbollah. With the S-300 systems deployed in an updated version and incorporated into the Russian command, control and communications (C3) system, there is a serious risk (for Washington) that Israel, now incapable of changing the course of events in Syria, could attempt a desperate maneuver.

It is no secret that Greece purchased S-300s from Russia years ago, and that NATO and Israel have trained numerous times against the Russian air-defense system. Senior IDF officials have often insisted that they are capable taking out the S-300s, having apparently discovered their weaknesses.

Tel Aviv’s warning that it will attack and destroy the S-300 battery should not be taken as an idle threat. It is enough to look at the recent downing of Russia’s Il-20 surveillance aircraft to understand how reckless a desperate Israel is prepared to be. Moreover, more than one IDF commander has over the years reiterated that a Syrian S-300 would be considered a legitimate target if threatening Israeli aircraft.

At this point, it is necessary to add some additional information and clarify some points. Greece’s S-300s are old, out of maintenance, and have not had their electronics updated. Such modern and complex systems as the S-300s and S-400s require maintenance, upgrades, and often replacement of parts to improve hardware. All this is missing from the Greek batteries. Secondly, it is the operator who uses the system (using radar, targeting, aiming, locking and so forth) that often makes the difference in terms of overall effectiveness. Furthermore, the system is fully integrated into the Russian C3 system, something that renders useless any previous experience gleaned from wargaming the Greek S-300s. No Western country knows the real capabilities and capacity of Syrian air defense when augmented and integrated with Russian systems. This is a secret that Damascus and Moscow will continue to keep well guarded. Yet two years ago, during the operations to free Aleppo, a senior Russian military officer warned (presumably alluding to fifth-generation stealth aircraft like the F-35 and F-22) that the range and effectiveness of the Russian systems may come as a surprise.

The following are the words of Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu concerning the deployment of the S-300 to Syria and its integration with other Russian systems:

“Russia will jam satellite navigation, onboard radars and communication systems of combat aircraft, which attack targets in the Syrian territory, in the Mediterranean Sea bordering with Syria. We are convinced that the implementation of these measures will cool hotheads and prevent ill-considered actions threatening our servicemen. Otherwise, we will respond in line with the current situation. Syrian troops and military air defense units will be equipped with automatic control systems, which have been supplied to the Russian Armed Forces. This will ensure the centralized management of the Syrian air defense forces and facilities, monitoring the situation in the airspace and prompt target designation. Most importantly, it will be used to identify the Russian aircraft by the Syrian air defense forces.”

If the Israelis will follow through with their reckless attempts to eliminate the S-300 (if they can find them in the first place, given that they are mobile), they will risk their F-35s being brought down. The US military-industrial complex would suffer irreparable damage. This would also explain why Israel (and probably the US) has for more than five years put enormous pressure on Moscow not to deliver the S-300 to Syria and Iran. The US State Department’s reaction over the future purchase by Turkey and India of the S-400 confirms the anxiety that US senior officials as well as generals are experiencing over the prospect of allies opting for the Russian systems. This would allow for a comparison with weapons these allies purchased from the US, leading to the discovery of vulnerabilities and the realization of the US weapons’ relative inferiority.

Given Tel Aviv’s tendency to place its own interests above all others, it would not be surprising to find them using the possibility of attacking the S-300 with their F-35s as a weapon to blackmail Washington into getting more involved in the conflict. For the United States, there are two scenarios to avoid. The first is a direct involvement in the conflict with Russia in Syria, which is now unthinkable and impractical. The second – much more worrying for military planners – concerns the possibility of the F-35’s capabilities and secrets being compromised or even being shown not to be a match against air-defense systems nearly half a century old.

An illuminating example of how the United States operates its most advanced aircraft in the region was given in eastern Syria around Deir ez-Zor. In this part of Syria, there is no threat from any advanced air-defense systems, so the US is often free to employ its F-22 in certain circumstances. The Russian military has repeatedly shown radar evidence that unequivocally shows that when Russian Su-35s appear in the same skies as the F-22, the US Air Force simply avoids any confrontation and quickly withdraws such fifth-generation assets as the F-22. The F-35 is not even ready in its naval variant, and has yet to be deployed on a US aircraft carrier near the Middle Eastern theater or the Persian Gulf; nor is it present in any US military base in the region. The US simply does not even consider using the F-35 in Syria, nor would it risk its use against Russian air defenses. Israel is the only country that so far may have already used these aircraft in Syria; but this was before the S-300 came onto the scene.

The F-35 program has already cost hundreds of billions of dollars and will soon reach the exorbitant and surreal figure of over 1 trillion dollars. It has already been sold to dozens of countries bound by decades-long agreements. The F-35 has been developed as a multi-role fighter and is expected to be the future backbone of NATO and her allies. Its development began more than 10 years ago and, despite the countless problems that still exist, it is already airborne and combat-ready, as the Israelis insist. From the US point of view, its employment in operations is played down and otherwise concealed. The less data available to opponents, the better; though the real reason may lie in a strong fear of any revelation of potential weaknesses of the aircraft damaging future sales. At this time, the Pentagon’s marketing of the F-35 is based on the evaluations provided by Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer, and on the tests carried out by the military who commissioned it to Lockheed Martin. Obviously, both Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force have no interest in revealing any weaknesses or shortcomings, especially publicly. Corruption is a big thing in Washington, contrary to common assumptions.

The combination of Israel’s ego, its inability to change the course of events in Syria, coupled with the loss of its ability to fly throughout the Middle East with impunity due to Syria now being equipped with a superior air defense – all these factors could push Israel into acting desperately by using the F-35 to take out the S-300 battery. Washington finds itself in the unenviable position of probably having no leverage with Israel over the matter ever since losing any ability to steer events in Syria.

With the Russian air-defense systems potentially being spread out to the four corners of the world, including China, India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and who knows how many other countries waiting in the queue, Russia continues to increase its export capacity and military prestige as it demonstrates its control of most of the Syria’s skies. With the introduction of the the S-500 pending, one can imagine the sleepless nights being spent by those in the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin’s headquarters worrying about the possibility of an F-35 being taken down by an S-300 system manufactured in 1969.

September 30, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Stealth Aircraft Manufacturer to Open Preschools in Jerusalem – Reports

Sputnik – 25.05.2018

One of the biggest defense manufacturers in the United States is reportedly moving to invest in kindergarten education in Jerusalem.

Lockheed Martin is about to open several science-oriented preschools in the city of Jerusalem with the backing of the Israeli Ministry of Education, Haaretz reports.

According to the newspaper, the company that produces a wide array of ordnance and military aircraft, including the F-35 stealth fighter, is opening these preschools as part of a larger project called MadaKids.

Also, Lockheed Martin intends to fund robotics courses for first and second graders for children who graduate from these preschools.

The company’s representatives added that Lockheed Martin will only pay for the preschools’ science curriculum.

“We’re supporting them financially, but we don’t have teachers in the preschools and we’re not intervening in the programming or curriculum,” said Joshua Shani, CEO of Lockheed Martin Israel.

While Shani did admit that Lockheed Martin’s involvement in this preschool program “isn’t logical”, he argued that “the moment a commercial company wants to contribute to the community, it becomes worthwhile.”

“We could have set up a research institute on military aviation worldwide, but we went in the direction of education because that’s what fires us up,” he declared.

The Ministry of Education noted that it does not object to commercial enterprises setting up preschools as long as commercial content doesn’t get introduced into curriculum.

The commander of the Israeli Air Force Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin earlier declared that Israel became the first country in the world to carry out an attack using the US-manufactured F-35 stealth fighter.

He claimed that Israel is “flying the F-35 all over the Middle East and have already attacked twice on two different fronts.”

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Neutral and unbiased? Why ‘think tanks’ lobby for war in Syria

By Danielle Ryan | RT | April 17, 2018

When US President Donald Trump fired a barrage of Tomahawk missiles at Syrian government targets last week, it was a good day for defense contractors, at least.

In the aftermath of the strike, which Trump claimed was in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government, stocks in Tomahawk missile manufacturer Raytheon surged. Raytheon stock has climbed more than 18 percent in 2018 so far. In fact, stocks in defense companies have been climbing in general since Trump entered office promising “historic” increases in military spending.

Almost a year ago to the day, Trump delivered another bump to the defense companies after attacking Syrian government positions for the first time – also in response to an alleged chemical attack, evidence for which remains in question.

After that strike Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics also rose, gaining nearly $5 billion in market value when trading began the next day, even as the wider market slumped.

Later, when Trump appointed the famously militaristic John Bolton as his national security adviser in March, guess what happened? Shares in US energy and defense companies surged yet again. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out: war is profitable. The more missiles Trump fires, the more money these companies make.

But where do the think tanks come in?

There is a pervasive myth that Washington DC ‘think tanks’ are neutral and unbiased players in foreign policy analysis. But where do these centers for foreign policy ‘analysis’ get their money from? You guessed it: defense companies.

There are a few think tanks which dominate in American foreign policy debates. They include the Center For European Policy Analysis (CEPA), the Atlantic Council, the German Marshall Fund (GMF), the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation. All five of them receive generous donations from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Three of them also receive funding from the Boeing Company.

Corporations like Exxon Mobil, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, and Bell Helicopter are also big donors to think tanks. Bell Helicopter is a funder of CEPA, while Exxon funds Brookings, GMF and the Atlantic Council. BAE Systems donates to CEPA, while Northrop Grumman gives to the Atlantic Council. This is not to even mention the money they get directly from US government departments and NATO, which also helps explain their consistently anti-Russian analysis.

Nonetheless, these think tanks enjoy an undue air of independence. Experts who work for these defense contractor-funded institutes are quoted frequently in mainstream newspapers and invited on mainstream channels, where they are presented as independent voices. But those independent voices somehow always seem to be in favor of policies that benefit weapons manufacturers.

War profiteers are filling their coffers in return for ‘analysis’ which promotes military action and massively inflates the threat posed to America by countries like Russia, for example.

A glance at the Twitter feed of CEPA reveals almost obsession-like focus on the so-called threat from Russia. In 2016, the Lockheed and BAE Systems-funded think tank suggested in a report on information warfare that people who have “fallen victim to Kremlin propaganda” should be “deradicalized” in special programs.

The NATO-funded Atlantic Council has consistently lobbied for regime change in Syria. In the days surrounding Trump’s military actions against Syria last week, the Atlantic Council published multiple  pieces of analysis and interviews with a single theme: that Trump did not or would not go far enough with one night of strikes. Earlier, when the alleged chemical attack took place, the think tank argued that Syrian President Bashar Assad was “indulging an addiction” and called on the US to take new military action against him. For some reason, diplomacy does not seem to be high on the Atlantic Council’s agenda.

It seems the more money defense contractors throw at think tanks, the more those think tanks will argue in favor of the military policies that will make those companies the most money. It’s a vicious cycle, but one which doesn’t take much think tank-style ‘analysis’ to  figure out.

The sad thing for the think tank lobbyists, is that the money they make calling for war is nothing in comparison to the money Lockheed, Raytheon, Boeing and the rest make from it. Maybe they should ask for a raise.

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Your guide to top anti-Russia think tanks in US & who funds them

By Bryan MacDonald | RT | February 6, 2018

Countering Russia has become a lucrative industry in Washington. In recent years, the think tank business has exploded. But who funds these organizations, who works for them and what are the real agendas at play?

From the start, let’s be clear, the term ‘think tank’ essentially amounts to a more polite way of saying ‘lobby group.’ Bar a few exceptions, they exist to serve – and promote – the agendas of their funders.

However, particularly in the United States, the field has become increasingly shady and disingenuous, with lobbyists being given faux academic titles like ‘Senior Non-Resident Fellow’ and ‘Junior Adjunct Fellow’ and the like. And this smokescreen usually serves to cloud the real goals of these operations.

Think tanks actually originate from the Europe of the Dark Ages. That’s 9th-century France, to be precise. But the modern American movement is modeled on British organizations from around a millennium later, many of which, such as ‘RUSI (1831)’, still exist today. The concept was possibly brought to America by the Scottish-born Andrew Carnegie. And his ‘Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’ (1910) is still going strong.

Yet, the real boom in the ‘think tank’ industry came with the era of globalization. With a 200-percent rise in numbers since 1970. And in recent years, they’ve become more transnational, with foreign states and individuals sponsoring them in order to gain curry favor in Washington.

One country that largely hasn’t bothered playing this game is Russia. Instead, mostly in the foreign policy and defense sectors, Moscow frequently serves as Enemy Number One for many advocacy groups. Here are some prominent outfits in the think tank racket, which focus on hyping up threats from Russia.

  • The Atlantic Council

Founded: 1961

What is it? Essentially the academic wing of NATO. The Atlantic Council serves to link people useful to the organization’s agenda across Europe and North America. However, in recent years, its recruitment has increasingly focused on employees who directly attack Russia, especially on social media. Presumably, this is to give them a guaranteed income so they can continue their activities, without needing to worry about paying the bills.

What does it do? Promotes the idea of Russia being an existential threat to Europe and the US, in order to justify NATO’s reason for being.

Who are its people? The Atlantic Council’s list of lobbyists (sorry, ‘Fellows’!) reads like a telephone directory of the Russia bashing world. For instance, Dmitri Alperovitch (of Crowdstrike, which conveniently alleges how Russia hacked the Democratic National Congress) is joined by the perennially- wrong Anders Aslund, who has predicted Russia’s impending collapse on a number of occasions and has, obviously, been off the mark. Then there’s Joe Biden’s “Russia hand,” Michael Carpenter and their recent co-authored Foreign Affairs piece suggests he actually knows very little about the country). Meanwhile, Evelyn Farkas, a fanatical Russophobe who served in Barack Obama’s administration has also found a home here. Another interesting Atlantic Council lobbyist is Eliot Higgins, a “geolocation expert” who has made a career out of spinning tales from the Ukraine and Syrian wars but is, naturally, mostly disinterested in covering Iraq and Yemen, where the US and its allies are involved, but Russia has no particular stake. Lastly, we can’t forget CNN’s Michael Weiss, the self-declared “Russia analyst” who, by all accounts, has never been to Russia and can’t speak Russian.

Who pays for it? The Atlantic Council has quite an eclectic bunch of patrons to serve. NATO itself is a big backer, along with military contractors Saab, Lockheed Martin and the Raytheon Company, all of which naturally benefit from increased tensions with Moscow. The UK Foreign Office also splashes the cash and is joined by the Ukrainian World Congress and the US Department of State. Other sugar daddies include the US military (via separate contributions from the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps), Northrop Grumman and Boeing.

  • The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)

Founded: 2005

What is it? Despite the name, CEPA is based in Washington, not the ‘old continent’, but it does have an outpost in Warsaw. This club specifically focusses on Central and Eastern Europe and promoting the US Army and foreign policy establishment’s agenda there. Or, in its own words, creating a “Central and Eastern Europe with close and enduring ties to the United States.”

 

What does it do? CEPA amounts to a home for media figures who devote their careers to opposing Russia. It whips up tensions, even when they don’t really exist, presumably in order to drum up business for its sponsors, who are heavily drawn from the military industry. For example, it spent last year hyping up the ‘threat’ from Russia’s and Belarus’ joint ‘Zapad’ exercises, even running a sinister-looking countdown clock before the long-planned training commenced.

CEPA grossly overestimated the size of the event, saying it “could be the largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War” and dismissing basically all Moscow’s statements on its actual nature as “disinformation.”

Who are its people? Times of London columnist Edward Lucas has been part of CEPA for years.

The dedicated ‘Cold Warrior’ doesn’t appear to have spent much time in Russia for a long while and still seems to view the country through a prism which is very much rooted in the past. Thus, he’s more-or-less an out-of-touch dinosaur when it comes to Russia expertise. He will soon be joined by Brian Whitmore, who comes on board from RFE/RL and appears to be even more ill-informed than Lucas. His broadcasts for the US state broadcaster led to him being described as the “Lord Haw Haw of Prague,” where has been based for some years. CEPA is a pretty fluid organization and, until recently, Anne Applebaum and Peter Pomerantsev were also on its list of lobbyists. The former is a Polish-American Washington Post columnist who obsessively denigrates Russia and the latter has previously worked with the Atlantic Council’s Michael Weiss, which shows you how small and incestuous the Russia-bashing world is.

Who pays for it? While other think tanks at least try to make their funding look semi-organic, CEPA looks to have zero hang-ups about its role as a mouthpiece for defence contractors. Which is, at least, honest. FireEye, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Bell Helicopters and BAE systems pump funds in and they are joined by the US State Department and the Department of Defence. Another notable paymaster is the National Endowment for Democracy – ‘regime change’ experts who are surely interested in CEPA’s remit to also cover Belarus. The US Mission to NATO and NATO’s own Public Diplomacy Division also provide cash.

  • German Marshall Fund of the United States

Founded: 1972

What is it? Don’t be fooled by the name, the German Marshall Fund (GMF) is a very American body these days with little input from Berlin. It was founded by a donation from Willy Brandt’s Bonn-government to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. Ironically, Brandt is today best remembered as the father of ‘Ostpolitik’, which sought a rapprochement between Germany and Russia.

What does it do? After the fall of the Soviet Union, the GMF transformed into a vehicle promoting US influence in Eastern Europe, with outreaches in Warsaw, Belgrade and Bucharest. However, in the past 12 months, it’s taken a very strange turn. Following the election of US President Donald Trump (ironically a German-American), the lobby group launched the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) project. Its centerpiece is the ‘Hamilton 68 Dashboard’, which seems to classify social media users which reject the US liberal elite’s consensus as “Russian trolls.” The reaction has been highly critical, with even the secretly-funded Russian opposition website Meduza asking “how do you identify ‘pro-Russian amplifiers’ if… themes dovetail with alternative American political views?”

Who are its people? The GMF, especially through its new ASD plaything, has a high-profile bunch of lobbyists. They include Toomas Ilves, an American-raised son of Estonian emigrants who once headed the Estonian desk at erstwhile CIA cut-out Radio Free Europe and eventually became president of Estonia. Also on board is Bill Kristol, known as the ‘architect of the Iraq War’ and former CIA Director Michael Morrell. Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who recently announced he was partially abandoning his Russian scholarship and has “lost interest in maintaining my (sic) ability to speak/write Russian” is another team member.

After serving on Obama’s team, McFaul has re-invented himself as a network TV personality since 2016 with 280,000 Twitter followers, 106,000 of which are fake, according to Twitter audit.

Who pays for it? USAID are big backers, throwing in a seven-figure annual sum. This, of course, raises some questions about US taxpayers essentially funding the Hamilton 68 dashboard, which may be smearing Americans who don’t agree with their government’s policies as Russian agents. The State Department also ponies up capital, as does NATO and Latvia’s Defense Ministry. Other interesting paymasters are George Soros, Airbus and Google. While Boeing and the ubiquitous Raytheon are also involved.

  • Institute for the Study of War

Founded: 2007

What is it? This lobby group could as easily be titled ‘The Institute for the Promotion of War’. Unlike the others, it doesn’t consider Russia its primary target, instead preferring to push for more conflict in the Middle East. However, Moscow’s increased influence in that region has brought the Kremlin into its crosshairs.

What does it do? The IFTSOW agitates for more and more American aggression. It supported the Iraq ‘surge’ and has encouraged more involvement in Afghanistan. IFTSOW also focuses on Syria, Libya and Iran. Just last week, one of its lobbyists, Jennifer Cafarella,  called for the US military to take Damascus, which would bring Washington into direct conflict with Russia and Iran.

Who are its people? Kimberly Kagan is the brains behind this operation. She’s married to Frederick Kagan, who was involved in the neocon ‘Project for the New American Century’ group along with his brother, Robert Kagan. Which makes Kimberly the sister-in-law of Victoria “f**k the EU” Nuland.

Another lobbyist is Ukrainian Natalia Bugayova, who was involved in Kiev’s 2014 EuroMaidan coup. She previously worked for the Kiev Post, a resolutely anti-Russian newspaper which promotes US interests in Ukraine. However, IFTSOW’s most notorious lobbyist was Elizabeth O’Bagy, who emerged as a ‘Syria expert’ in 2013 and called for American political leaders to send heavy weaponry to Syrian insurgent groups. She claimed to have a PhD from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, but this was fictional and once the media twigged to it, she was dismissed by the IFTSOW. Two weeks later, she was rewarded for her deception by falling up to a job with fanatical Russophobe Senator John McCain. O’Bagy has also collaborated with the Atlantic Council’s Michael Weiss, which is further evidence of how tight-knit the world of US neoconservative advocacy really is.

Who pays for it? Predictably, Raytheon has opened its wallet. Meanwhile, other US military contractors like General Dynamics and DynCorp are also involved. L3, which provides services to the US Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and government intelligence agencies is another backer along with Vencore, CACI and Mantech.

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia to deploy warplanes on Kuriles

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | February 3, 2018

A one-line decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on 30th January merely assigned a dual civilian-military role to the newly operational airport on the island of Iturop in the disputed Kurile chain. But its strategic content is unmistakable – Moscow is taking a big step forward in the militarization of the Kuriles by deploying warplanes, drones and command systems at the facility. The airport has a 2.3 milometer runway and can handle giant aircraft.

The Iturop island is one of four seized by Soviet forces in the final days of World War Two and is located off the north-east coast of Hokkaido, Japan’s biggest prefecture. The dispute over the islands (known as the Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan) has prevented the signing of a formal peace treaty between Russia and Japan to mark the end of the war.

Tokyo has lost no time to express concern over the Russian military deployment to Iturop. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “We’ve conveyed through diplomatic channels that it goes against our country’s position. We’re gathering information on the Russian military’s behavior in the Northern Territories.”

Moscow’s decision can be seen in the context of the U.S.-built Aegis land-based missile defense system getting deployed in Japan. In December, Japanese government approved a record $46 billion defense budget and funds to survey potential sites for two Aegis ground interceptor batteries. A ship-based version of the Aegis system (made by Lockheed Martin) is already installed on Japanese warships. Japan is expected to deploy the Aegis Ashore system by 2023.

Moscow refused to accept the contention by Japan that the Aegis Ashore system is meant to defend against enemy missile attacks such as North Korean ballistic missiles. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on December 28,

  • The recent decision by the Japanese government to deploy US Aegis Ashore missile defence systems on its territory causes deep regret and serious concern. Whatever arguments and motives behind it, it is clear that the deployment of these systems is yet another step towards building a full-fledged Asian-Pacific regional segment of the global US missile defence system. It should be kept in mind that these systems are equipped with universal missile launchers capable of using strike weapons. In practice, it means another violation of the INF Treaty by the United States with Japan’s assistance.
  • We consider Japan’s step as going against the efforts to establish peace and stability in the region. In addition, these actions by Tokyo directly contradict the priority task of fostering trust between Russia and Japan in the military-political area and will affect the general atmosphere of bilateral relations, including talks on a peace treaty.

Last November, Russian President Vladimir Putin had publicly voiced the expectation that Japan should review its alliance with the US as a condition for a peace treaty. Medvedev’s decree on January 30 is a snub to Japan, coming ahead of a scheduled meeting between the deputy foreign ministers of the two countries to discuss cooperation on the disputed territory of Kuriles. Russia seems to have given up hope since then that Japan can be encouraged to pursue independent foreign policies.

Meanwhile, the growing tensions over North Korea, the US military build-up in the Far East and the New Cold War between the US and Russia become added compulsions for Moscow to strengthen its defence lines in the Sakhalin Oblast. By the way, Moscow is also working on plans to create a new naval base in the region for submarines.

Clearly, under these circumstances, a Russo-Japanese peace treaty becomes an even more remote prospect. The ‘charm diplomacy’ by Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is not getting anywhere; Russia is not a pushover, as he’d have thought. This has serious implications for the power dynamic in East Asia in the near term, putting Japan at a disadvantage in the Russia-China-Japan triangular diplomacy.

February 3, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

US Army awards Sikorsky to supply 17 Black Hawk helicopters to Saudi

Press TV – January 13, 2018

The US Army has awarded Sikorsky, a leading American aircraft manufacturer based in Connecticut, a contract worth nearly $200 million to supply 17 Black Hawk helicopters to Saudi Arabia.

The terms of the “firm-fixed-price” agreement between the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, and the army were announced Thursday by the Department of Defense.

Saudi Arabia is expected to receive eight UH-60Ms for the kingdom’s National Guard, while the other nine helicopters will go to the Royal special security forces.

The UH-60M Black Hawk, a medium-lift, rotary-wing helicopter, has been in use by military forces around the world since it was first introduced in 1979.

It has multi-mission capabilities and can be used in combat search-and-rescue, airborne assault, command-and-control, medical evacuation, search-and-rescue, disaster relief and fire-fighting.

Sikorsky will begin work under the $193.8 million deal to manufacture the helicopters with an estimated completion date of the end of 2022.

The deal comes as the US is under pressure to suspend its arms sales to the Saudi regime, which has been waging a deadly military aggression against Yemen since 2015.

At least 13,600 people have been killed since the start of the war.

During his first trip to Saudi Arabia last year, President Donald Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis, with options to sell up to $350 billion over a decade.

Facilitated by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, the massive package includes missiles, bombs, armored personnel carriers, combat ships, terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD) missile systems and munitions.

The announcement generated backlash in Congress, with Republican Senator Rand Paul promising to work to block at least parts of the package.

The Trump administration is looking to loosen restrictions on American arms sales to boost the country’s weapons industry.

The move seeks to ease export rules for military equipment “from fighter jets and drones to warships and artillery,” according to officials familiar with the plan.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Looming Hypersonic Arms Race: Unaddressed Problem

By Andrei AKULOV | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.10.2017

The US programs to create hypervelocity strike systems in combination with ballistic missile defense plans are elements of strategic first strike capability, said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Alexander Yemelyanov on October 12 during the Russian-Chinese briefing on the sidelines of the first committee of the UN General Assembly.

Prompt Global Strike (PGS) is a United States military effort to develop a system that can deliver a precision-guided conventional weapon airstrike anywhere in the world within one hour. Today, there is no such system in the US inventory but technological advancements have made the notion of gliders and air-breathing vehicles flying at Mach 5 or faster significantly viable. The effort includes the X-15 rocket plane, the Boeing X-51 scramjet, the Hypersonic open Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) program, the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), and the Tactical Boost Glide (TBG). In July, the US and Australia concluded secret hypersonic flight series, which involved a Mach-busting missile flying eight times the speed of sound.

According to The Drive, in May 2017, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) hired Boeing to build what will likely be a solely rocket-powered hypersonic, reusable spacecraft, known as the XS-1. The Pentagon wants to test this design as a way of rapidly putting satellites into orbit, with an eye toward other roles in the future. The US military’s goal is a space plane that can fly 10 missions in as many days while carrying a 3,000 pound load.

The military is pouring money into hypersonic research but the information is too scarce to make any conclusions about how efficient the programs are. The Trump administration requested $75 million for “hypersonic defense” in its fiscal 2018 budget as part of $7.9 billion overall funding plan for missile defenses. Capable both of maneuvering and of flying faster than 5,000 km/hr, hypersonic weapons could penetrate most missile defenses and to significantly compress the timelines for response by a nation under attack.

A landmark event took place in June. The unmanned subscale hypersonic SR-72 aircraft was reportedly spotted during flight tests in July. The follow-on step would be development of a full-scale, twin-engined SR-72. Program specifics are off limits as the development is a tightly-kept secret. There are few bits of open information that need to be pieced together to give at least the general picture of what it is.

The optionally piloted flight research vehicle (FRV) test is slated for 2018. Development of the FRV is expected to begin next year and first flights could occur as soon as 2020. The aircraft will roughly have the same proportions as its predecessor – the SR-71.

The proposed reconnaissance plane is expected to hit Mach 6 (7,400 kph) thanks to advanced new hypersonic technology. The SR-72 is to use a turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) system to use a turbine engine at low speeds and a scramjet engine at high speeds. There is a breakthrough in the air-breathing side of hypersonics is the propulsion system to make it capable of outrunning missiles. With this speed, there is no need for stealth technology. The Skunk Works team in Palmdale, California, is doubling down on our commitment to speed,” said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of aeronautics at Lockheed Martin, speaking at the SAE International Aerotech Congress and Exhibition. “Simply put, I believe the United States is on the verge of a hypersonics revolution,” he added.

Besides spy missions, the SR-72 will have strike capability. The SR-72 flight testing follows the planned timeline for the hypersonic High Speed Strike Weapon.

To counter the threat, Russia applies efforts not to lag behind in hypervelocity capability. China does the same. Other nations are launching such programs. About 20 countries, including France, Australia, Japan and India, are already involved in the effort. The technology can be shared and exported. As in the case of nuclear weapons, the problem of proliferation comes to the fore.

The US is exploring the way to counter the hypersonic threat. For instance, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 requires the Missile Defense Agency to “serve as executive agent for the Department of Defense for the development of a capability to counter hypersonic boost-glide vehicle capabilities and conventional prompt global strike capabilities that may be employed against the United States, the allies of the United States, and the deployed forces of the United States.” The problem is that air-breathing engine generates a very different signature from a rocket motor, meaning space-based surveillance assets might not be able to spot one as quickly or keep tracking it during flight, or even spot it at all for that matter. Super-fast flying cruise missiles or drones are extremely hard to counter as they are able to fly in more erratic ways well within the atmosphere, or even changing course in mid-flight.

The hypervelocity arms race is going on though very little attention is paid to the fact. The combination of hypersonic strike capability with a missile defense creates a temptation to deliver a first decapitating strike. An added danger is the potential marriage of hypersonic missiles with nuclear weapons. A weapon projectile flying at a hypersonic speed is too much for contemporary scanning surface- and airborne radars to track and process.

Once the technology is there, the race cannot be stopped but it can be controlled. The issue of hypersonic weapons control and non-proliferation is not included in the international agenda but it should be. As key players in the process, the United States, Russia, and China should launch discussions on the control of hypersonic technology capabilities. The existing arms control regime is gradually eroding, while new problems appear that should become a part of international security agenda but they are not. The overall deterioration of relations between the US and Russia, the US and China stands in the way of addressing burning arms control and non-proliferation issues. A looming hypersonic race is certainly one of them.

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Israeli Companies Accrued $1 Billion From F-35 Deals

Sputnik – 15.02.2017

Israeli defense contractors have generated more than $1 billion in revenues since 2010 for assisting with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the most expensive weapons program in history.

The Israeli Defense Ministry reported Sunday that 2016 was a banner year for F-35 partners. Contracts tied to production of the F-35 shot up 33 percent last year for a total of $258 million in new deals for Israeli companies. Since Israel inked a deal to buy 19 F-35 fighters in 2010, Israeli firms have won more than $1 billion in ‘buy-back contracts.’

“The scope of industrial cooperation between [Lockheed Martin] and Israeli industry, in just the last year, shows the immense potential inherent in this arrangement for the Israeli economy,” Col. Avi Dadon, deputy director of purchasing at the Ministry of Defense, noted.

A bulk of the new revenues stemmed from the F-35 virtual reality helmets. Elbit Systems and Rockwell Collins scored a $206 million contract for headgear production.

Like the F-35 project as a whole, the F-35 helmets have faced their share of struggles. The 4.5-pound helmets are reported to cause neck problems for pilots. What’s more, the visor has been seen to pop off the heads of pilots during take-off. Since the helmets are critical for pilots to visualize flight, mission, and target information, this essentially leaves pilots blind. In a separate incident, Tom Briggs of the US Navy described the helmets as being comparable to “looking through a dirty window” due to a green glow in the display area.

Meanwhile, Italian officials have complained recently that Lockheed Martin and the US are not following through on jet maintenance contracts. Guido Crosetto, head of Italy’s aerospace and defense industry association said Washington has not “honored promises” made when Italy joined the list of US allies to buy the F-35s.

Back in 2002, Italy was told that it would receive contracts for maintenance work worth 65 percent of the $1 billion Rome invested to buy 90 joint strike fighters, Italian media outlets reported. Italian firms currently have contracts valued less than 20 percent of its initial investment, the official added. Instead, contracts went to places like the UK, the Netherlands and Australia “because the competition favored large companies,” Crosetto said.

February 15, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment