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Just like Color Revolutions, Cyber Conflicts can Still Get People Killed

By Martin Berger – New Eastern Outlook – 18.12.2018

As it has been clearly demonstrated by the history of mankind, whenever new weapons are invented, they would invariably give an edge to the most developed state at of the era, allowing it to pursue further expansion of its dominance on the international stage.

Immediately after the creation of nuclear weapons, they were immediately tested in the course of monstrous attacks on peaceful citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the closing phases of the Second World War. Those tested resulted in a massive euphoria among the American ruling elites that immediately decided to bomb one of their allies in this war, namely the USSR back into the stone age. However, by the time the United States accumulated a nuclear arsenal sufficient for the destruction of the USSR, Moscow managed to build its own nukes at the cost of heroic efforts of its people, which allowed Russia’s population to escape a terrible fate.

In recent decades, the broad possibilities of the Internet and various media platforms allowed Washington to take down those states that would try to pursue a policy of their own through the use of so-called “color revolutions.” This meddling resulted in the entire Middle East getting submerged in a political chaos, which created preconditions for a number of armed conflicts in the course of which hundreds of thousands of civilians lost their lives. It goes without saying, of course, that the military-industrial complex of the United States and its NATO allies received super-profits from those by increasing their arms sales.

These days, new advances in IT technologies, along with new inventions in the field of biological, chemical and space warfare are further fueling the deranged fantasies of American military strategists. Many of the hawks that are occupying high-profile positions within the US society are literally prepared to use any sort of weapons in vain hopes of securing primacy over the entire world, even if it means destroying half of the world’s population in the process.

As many analysts believe, the war of tomorrow will not be waged with bullets and bombs as it will be taking place in the entirely different dimension – on the Internet. The hackers of today are capable of taking down any control system, hydroelectric power plant, or even a nuclear reactor. Therefore, a total of 19 hackers can inflict significantly more damage than the notorious 19 terrorists that [purportedly] hijacked four civilian jets on September 11, 2001, staging the most terrifying terrorist attacks in the history of the United States.

Many countries have already begun the arms race in cyberspace, and it’s hardly a secret that the US and UK are occupying leading places in it now. Suffice it to recall that the war in Iraq actually began in 2002 with powerful cyber attacks against the Iraqi government. By exploiting latest advancements in the field of cyber weapons, the CIA and the Pentagon infiltrated the information system of government agencies in Iraq, directly addressing each of the leaders of the ruling Ba’ath party and high-profile military figures, bombarding them with faxes, emails and phone calls. The attackers urged them to stage a coup d’etat and surrender all of the state and military secrets to US, ordering troops to desert after the initial outbreak of hostilities, thus sabotaging and undermining the power of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi state.

To provide themselves with an excuse to further develop and deploy their cyber capabilities, Washington initiated a massive public hysteria over the alleged meddling of Russia into the internal affairs of the United States, Britain and other Western countries. However, no special commission created to investigate those allegations in the United States and Britain has been able to provide any credible information to back these accusations up, forcing the US government to admit that those accusations were nothing but hearsay.

At the same time, alongside all sorts of fake publications in the Western media, one can come across reports of cyber attacks being used by the United States and Britain as a tool of meddling. For example, Norway has recently released documentary evidence that the Norwegian military intelligence in cooperation with US intelligence agencies would hack Russian communications networks for obtaining military strategic information on Russia’s defenses. This information is confirmed by the report of the US National Security Agency (NSA) on cooperation with the Norwegian military intelligence.

As part of the cyber command of the US armed forces, a special “Russian group” was created, as it was reported last July by the commander of the US cyber command, Genera Paul M. Nakasone. Pentagon’s contractor COLSA has recently announced recruitment of an additional bunch of agents tasked with monitoring Russian social networks; hiring people with strong command of the Russian language.

According to the Newsweek, the FBI hacked computers in more than a hundred countries in 2015, and it turns out one of those was Russia.

It’s also curious that the Trump administration has recently reversed an Obama-era memorandum dictating how and when the US government can deploy cyberweapons against its adversaries.

Further still, NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg announced the inclusion of national cybernetic elements, which are often described as offensive task teams within the NATO chain of command in early October. He also confirmed that NATO was planing to pursue cooperation with Kiev in the field of offensive cyber operations staging. However, Ukraine is hardly the only state that is going to become a base for all sorts of so-called “white hats”. With the help of the United States, five centers of cyber operations have already been deployed across Europe – in Finland, Estonia, Poland, Germany and France.

One can often come across reports that the NSA and US cyber command can exercise near-godlike omniscience over the Internet. The so-called cyber-troopers that they employ are drawn from all four branches of the military. Many deploy overseas, but many of them also drive to work each day in the suburban sprawl between Washington, DC and Baltimore at the National Security Agency on the Army’s Fort Meade.

However, Russia is hardly the only target that will become the victim of those malicious activities, as Washington may start spreading disinformation, panic, plant frustration with the ruling elites, and stage new revolutions in most any state that will find itself in the way of American designs.

This is the world we’re living in today. To many, it resembles the calm before the storm. As countries accumulate huge destructive capabilities, Western policymakers are just waiting for a pretext to unload them.

Along with that. There is also a growing understanding that there can be no winners in modern wars, but only losers.

Just recently, Robert Hannigan who used to occupy the position of director of CHQ announced that the situation in cyberspace has become so tense that it can trigger the Third World War at any given moment. That’s why he’s convinced that we need to come to some kind of international agreement about what’s acceptable and what isn’t on the Internet, before it’s too late.

Against this backdrop, it’s obvious that Russia has made an important step at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, proposing that the international community develop a convention on combat cybercrime and develop rules of engagement in the information space. In the same aspect, the adoption by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly (the document was supported by a total of 88 states) of a Russian resolution draft on countering the use of information and communication technologies for criminal purposes deserves particular attention, since it has the potential of cooling the heads of a number of Western strategists that are keen to see the world drawn into a conflict, cyber or not.

December 18, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Underwater VIDEO Reveals HUGE Damage to ‘Torn Apart’ Norwegian Frigate

Sputnik – December 17, 2018

The inexplicable collision involving the frigate KNM Helge Ingstad returning from NATO naval drills has set the Norwegian Navy back billions of kronor, while the Maltese-flagged and Greek-owned oil tanker is expected to return to service by the end of December.

Norway’s Defence Ministry has released underwater footage showing, for the first time, the extent of the damage to its frigate KNM Helge Ingstad, which sank after colliding with an oil tanker erroneously taken for an immobile object.

The footage, uploaded to Dropbox due to temporary website failures, was taken by a marine diving unit (MDK) normally used for planting and disarming underwater mines, ammunition and bombs. Its members have been diving around the mostly sunken wreckage of the frigate for weeks, removing ammunition, weapons and other hazardous material.

Previously, the damage to the hull of the frigate was believed to be a long gash in the starboard side. The footage taken from the depth of the Hjelte Fjord, where the vessel lies half-submerged, indicated that the damage is much worse than thought. The gash was estimated at around 45 metres long and eight metres high. By contrast, the tanker only suffered minor damage and is expected to become operative again by the end of December.

The video shows cabins and rooms smashed, flooring torn up and ventilation fans hanging from what’s left of ceilings. The footage also shows what used to be the vessel’s accommodation area, sleeping quarters, machine rooms and a generator room.

“It’s really something to see one of our frigates lying under water”, Commander Bengt Berdal, the leader of MDK, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “When we see the hull torn apart in this way, you can only imagine what it was like for those on board”.

Berdal called it “sheer luck” that all 137 people on board the frigate survived the collision, with only a few sustaining minor injuries before successfully being evacuated in the early hours of 8 November.

Meanwhile, Rolf Ole Eriksen, former accident preparedness official for oil company Norske Shell and now a maritime security consultant, has penned a searing commentary in the newspaper Aftenposten. In Eriksen’s own words, “only a miracle averted a gigantic catastrophe that had potential for large loss of life, fire, explosions and extensive pollution”. The frigate was returning to its home port at Haakonsvern in Bergen after participating in NATO’s huge drill Trident Juncture around Trondheim and was carrying weapons, ammunition, missiles and helicopter oil in addition to its fuel.

Eriksen was highly critical of the preliminary report released by Norway’s accident investigation commission, venturing that the investigators were downplaying the severity of the collision between a fixture of the Norwegian Navy and fully loaded oil tanker, and clouding the responsibility. According to Eriksen, the responsibility lies with the crew on the bridge of the KNM Helge Ingstad, which the report was “under-communicating”, he claimed. The frigate was sailing at a high speed of 17-18 knots, with its crew oblivious of their own whereabouts or the appearance of the tanker, which was sailing out of the Sture terminal in Øygarden northwest of Bergen.

“With its top modern radar and navigational equipment on board, the frigate was capable of following every movement of all vessels in the area”, Eriksen wrote.

A more detailed and conclusive report may take months to be released. Meanwhile, the frigate lies mostly underwater. Around 350 people are now working every day in connection with the salvage of the frigate.

Commander Berdal calls the divers’ work “challenging” and dependent on good weather. So far, the salvaging mission has been delayed several times by storms. The vessel won’t be raised until 25 December at the earliest. The collision has cost the Norwegian Navy billions of kronor and resulted in the nation’s maritime defence being greatly reduced.

READ MORE:

Ex-Norwegian Official Slams Sunken Frigate Probe as ‘Smokescreen’ Hiding Facts

December 17, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Deception, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

US erects ‘observation posts’ on Syria-Turkey border despite Ankara’s dissent

Press TV – December 12, 2018

The US military says it has established “observation posts” in northern Syria with the purported aim of preventing clashes between Turkish forces and US-backed Kurdish militants, despite Ankara’s strong opposition to the plan.

“At the direction of Secretary (James) Mattis, the US established observation posts in the northeast Syria border region to address the security concerns of our NATO ally Turkey,” Department of Defense spokesman Rob Manning said in a press release on Tuesday.

This is while Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had, during a Friday meeting with US Special Envoy to Syria James Jeffrey in Ankara, called on Washington to lift the so-called observation posts in northern Syria, along parts of Turkey’ border.

Akar also said earlier that Turkey had expressed its concerns about US plans to set up several observation posts in Syria, a move, which according to him, could lead to a perception that Washington is “somehow protecting terrorist YPG [Kurdish People’s Protection Units] members.”

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu this month lambasted as a “big mistake” the US support for the YPG militants in Syria, a thorny issue in ties between the two allies.

Cavusoglu made the remark while meeting with Turkish citizens at the Turkish consulate in New York.

The YPG forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants supported by the US.

Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

The Pentagon’s Tuesday release further said that the US military would coordinate with Turkey its security efforts in the border region.

“We take Turkish security concerns seriously and we are committed to coordinating our efforts with Turkey to bring stability to northeastern Syria,” Manning said in the press release.

Washington infuriated Ankara by announcing a plan for the formation of a Kurdish militant force in Syria near the Turkish border.

The plan prompted Turkey to launch a cross-border military operation on January 20 inside the Arab country, code-named Operation Olive Branch, with the declared aim of eliminating the YPG militants from northern Syria, particularly the Afrin region.

Turkish troops captured Afrin in March, and threatened to take the battle to nearby Manbij. Ankara and Washington agreed a roadmap on Manbij, which would see the city cleansed of US-backed Kurdish militants.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has expressed indignation at photos showing US troops dining with Kurdish militants near the Turkish border in Syria.

Mattis said last month that Washington wanted the so-called observation posts to help minimize tensions between the Turks and US-backed SDF forces in the purported fight against the Daesh terrorist group.

The Syrian government has given a degree of authority to Kurdish regions to run their own affairs. The US, however, has used the power vacuum to establish a foothold in those regions with the help of militants.

Ankara, one of Washington’s key allies in the region, has repeatedly questioned the US deployment of heavy weapons in Syria despite the defeat of Daesh in much of the Arab country.

Syria has strongly denounced the presence of both Turkish and US troops around Manbij.

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

MSM Trying to Call Routine US Black Sea Activity ‘Strategic Manoeuvre’ – Admiral

Sputnik – 12.12.2018

In an interview with Sputnik, Retired Rear Admiral of the Turkish Navy Cem Gürdeniz has commented on CNN reports that the US is preparing to send a warship to the Black Sea. The message emphasises that the US may require Turkey to allow its military ships to pass through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea under the Montreux Convention.

According to Gürdeniz, with such messages, American media outlets are trying to portray usual, routine US activity in the Black Sea as a kind of a “strategic manoeuvre”.

“Ukraine made a series of efforts in order to win over NATO after the incident in Kerch. But the Alliance did not take any concrete steps to ensure the security of Ukraine in the event of a possible future crisis with Russia in the region. Therefore, the purpose of such statements is to try to calm the Ukrainian authorities and the public. In this regard, the American press represents the standard activity of NATO ships in the Black Sea related to exercises or port visits as a “new diplomatic and strategic manoeuvre”, he stressed.

Emphasising that the current situation in the region complies with the provisions of the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits, Gürdeniz added that NATO ships were present in the waters of the region for 120 days a year, and this corresponds to the provisions of the Montreux Convention.

“At present, a well-established framework continues to operate in this regard that fully meets the requirements of the Convention Regarding the Straits, while a number of international TV channels and leading news agencies strive to create the impression that some new requirements are being put forward that have not previously been expressed,” he noted.

All these actions are nothing more than an operation to form public opinion, the expert noted.

“Information about the possible passage of American military vessels through the Kerch Strait is in itself provocative. I do think that this is not the case here at all. This is mere speculation thrown into the media space through MSM in order to form a certain agenda and public opinion. I have seen recent Pentagon statements on this issue. There was no mention of the Kerch Strait or the Sea of Azov in them. Since 1954, no military vessel may enter the waters of the Sea of Azov, which has the status of inland waters, without the permission of Russia”, he added.

Having recalled that, according to the Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits signed in 1936, countries that do not have access to the Black Sea must request permission within 15 days from Turkey for the passage of their warships through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.

“We face a situation in which they try to present a system that has been functioning for a long time as something new. This is the same as saying that ‘ExxonMobil will conduct exploration on the No. 10 field in the Eastern Mediterranean, thus America is sending its warships.’ But at the end, America has already been present in the Mediterranean since 1946”, Gürdeniz concluded.

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

War Over Ukraine?

By Sheldon Richman | The Libertarian Institute | December 7, 2018

Today, the United States and Allies conducted an extraordinary flight under the Open Skies Treaty. The timing of this flight is intended to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations.‎

The United States is resolute in our support for the security of European nations.

–Department of Defense news release, Dec. 6, 2018

Who wants to go to war against Russia in defense of Ukraine over the Kerch Strait, which lies between the Black and Azov seas and between Russia’s Taman Peninsula and Russian-annexed Crimea?

A show of hands, please.

But careful: don’t misconstrue my question. I’m not asking who wants the “United States” to go to war. I’m asking, rather: who is personally willing to fight the Russian military over the strait? Or: who is willing to see his or her sons and daughters fight, kill, and die in that cause?

Now, again, a show of hands, please. Anyone? No one? I didn’t think so.

Who could blame you? Are Americans supposed to be eager to drop everything to go wherever the U.S. government decides they should go to kill and die in its Nineteen Eighty-Four-ish geopolitical games? And short of fighting personally, must they pay the economic price — the taxes surrendered and opportunities forgone — that is required to maintain a military establishment capable of playing those games throughout the world?

What does individual freedom amount to if Americans are subject to a regime’s orders to enlist — one way or another — in whatever crusade that may catch the polite elite’s and commentariat’s fancy? Considering that Russia, like “us,” is a nuclear power, this is not hyperbole. American and Russian rulers, should they clash, wouldn’t have to intend to go nuclear. Accidents happen. Miscalculations born of bravado, brinkmanship, or mere uncertainty could not be ruled out.

All those pundits and politicians who are egging Donald Trump on to face down Vladimir Putin in his conflict with Ukraine are playing recklessly with the lives of Americans and many others. It’s damn serious business, so they’d better stop and think about what they’re doing before it’s too late.

True, in a week or two, we noninterventionists may look as though we overreacted to the Kerch Strait “crisis.” But who knows? Why take a chance? War would be a catastrophe, maybe the biggest the world has ever seen. I’d rather overreact now than regret not having said anything later.

The U.S. government has no businesses policing relations between Ukraine and Russia. Even if that role were appropriate for some party, the U.S. government would not be the one because it hardly has clean hands in the matter. Since the 1990s after the peaceful fall of the Soviet Union, Democratic and Republican presidents have threatened Russia by moving the anti-Soviet NATO alliance — which at the latest, should have ended with the fall — right up to Russia’s border, contrary to late President George H. W. Bush’s assurances, by incorporating former Soviet allies and republics.

Were the Russians supposed to assume that those obviously aggressive moves were benign? Or were they bound to see them as a systematic encroachment, an affront to their long-standing and not unreasonable security concerns? (Russia was invaded from the west three times in the last century.) You didn’t have to be a wise man like George Kennan to see NATO expansion in the post-Soviet era as “crazy.”

And let’s not forget that major foreign-policy players in the United States favor even more expansion to include, yes, former Soviet republics Ukraine and Georgia, both of which have provoked Russia in recent years while assuming the U.S. government would back them up. If Ukraine were a member of NATO, the U.S. could be treaty-bound to defend it.

Most relevantly, the Obama administration, with John Kerry running a State Department staffed with predecessor Hillary Clinton’s appointees, supported a coup in Kiev, in which neo-Nazis had a hand, that drove a democratically elected and Russia-friendly president from office. Spooked by this threatening move, Putin annexed Crimea, which had figured in Russia’s security architecture for hundreds of years. A NATO that included Crimea would have jeopardized Russia’s long-time Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol. The annexation had the support of most of the inhabitants of Crimea. (Yes, Crimea had been part of Ukraine, but of course Ukraine had been part of the Soviet Union.)

The U.S. foreign-policy establishment likes to portray Trump as soft on Russia, but that’s a joke in light of what he has done. NATO has continued to expand under Trump, and he — unlike Barack Obama — has sent and plans to continue sending weapons to the Ukrainian government, which contains neo-Nazis and which is repressing the separatist-minded people of eastern Ukraine. (Candidate Trump’s opposition to arming Ukraine was once Exhibit A for those contending he was Putin’s lackey. Strangely, his change of heart apparently hasn’t altered that judgment.)

Now, with the Kerch Strait incident, the illiberal, martial-law-imposing president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, has done something that looks suspiciously like a provocation intended to shore up his sinking political fortunes and to keep the West agitated about the alleged Putin threat. (See Ted Galen Carpenter’s discussion “Ukraine Doesn’t Deserve America’s Blind Support.”) Poroshenko brazenly tried to send ships through the Kerch Strait without abiding by Russia’s declared procedures. As a result, ships were seized and some sailors injured. Did Poroshenko not know how Russia would react? Or did he want such a reaction?

Regardless of the merits of Poroshenko’s claims and even assuming Putin is up to no good, we must ask why this is something Americans should have to sweat over. Russia has an economy and military far smaller than America’s. It is no threat to Americans who simply want to live their lives free of government impositions. It’s also not a threat to Europe. Putin did not try to annex eastern Ukraine when he annexed Crimea. For one thing, it would be an economic burden that Russia is in no position to handle.

But Russia, like the United States, has lots of hydrogen bombs. But that means the threat to Americans comes, not from Russia, but from the U.S. government, which is in a position to start a world war with Putin. Therefore, Trump should tell the New McCarthyite warmongers to keep quiet.

The foreign policy appropriate to a free society is nonintervention. These days, that’s more obvious than ever.

December 11, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

The Nobel Peace Prize in Support of War

By Terje Maloy | OffGuardian | December 6, 2018

On December 10, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony will be held in Oslo, the capital of Norway. This analysis will try to look at how the prize fits in the bigger picture, but first, some general background is appropriate:

Norway is a member of NATO and has close ties to the United States and Great Britain. The political, economic and bureaucratic elites are firmly integrated in transatlantic networks, a nexus of economic connections, think tanks, international institutions, media and a thousand other ties that bind. They tend to identify with the liberal wing of the empire, (i.e. the Democrats, not the Republicans), but will work with any US administration. The members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee are selected by the Norwegian parliament, and the Committee is nominally independent.

Despite being considered – and where the population considers itself – a ‘peace nation’, there are few countries that have eagerly joined more wars than Norway, from the attack on Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan 2001, the occupation of Iraq, Mali, Libya 2011 and the ongoing occupation of Syria. Norway spends large sums of money supporting the joint Western effort to control the rest of the world through comprador intermediaries in non-governmental organizations.

This analysis will discuss some (overlapping) points about the Nobel Peace Prize:

  1. The prize reinforces certain grand narratives, the most important one being We are the good, and thus have the right to decide the fate of the rest of the world.
  2. It creates symbols for regime change operations. It beatifies modern day ‘good natives’ complaining about cruel treatment and pleading for the West to do something to liberate them (but are often remarkably unable to see Western abuses).
  3. It reinforces general reasons to start wars, by making specific themes very important at the same time they are being used to justify military action.
  4. It reinforces the narrative that enemy fights with illegal and cruel weapons. The focus on chemical weapons, as opposed to napalm or sanctions, is one example.
  5. It sanctifies peace treaties that are more like unilateral surrenders, advantageous to Western imperialism and capitalist interests.
  6. For a bunch of peaceful people, the prize winners are remarkably eager for war and bloody interventions.
  7. Some other points + Conclusion.

1. WE ARE THE GOOD, AND THUS HAVE THE RIGHT TO DECIDE THE FATE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD

(Photo: / White House, Samantha Appleton /Public Domain)

The Nobel Peace Prize gets its prestige and press coverage because it reinforces several big narratives. If it should deviate too much from what the powerful want, it would be ignored. Of prime importance is the notion that we are the good, and we have a monopoly on interpreting reality and to decide what is important. (‘We’ in this context being people in the West, and by extension their governments and leaders). During the Cold War, the prize had a similar function. It would be interesting to take a closer look at it, but for practical purposes this analysis will mostly be limited the last 30 years. Once you start to notice certain basic themes, they are rather obvious. To put it pointedly, the Nobel Peace Prize tries to aid regime changes to achieve the Empire’s aims where it is possible to avoid direct war, but it will aid in confirming the narrative that our troops are good guys.

This explains why Western leaders so often get the prize. The point is creating an impression that there exists a more humane possibility within our current unjust world system. When they receive it, what they have actually done is not an issue. Hence the award to people like Jimmy Carter (winner 2002); as president he instigated several bloody covert interventions in Central-America, Africa and of course the Islamist fighters in Afghanistan, but has since then opposed direct US wars; or Al Gore (winner 2007), who when he was vice president didn’t shy away from using the military as a foreign policy tool (see part 7). The prize to Barack Obama (winner 2009) can be placed here.

But the main use of the prize is to create support in Western liberal opinion for interventions that would otherwise be naked imperialistic aggression.

2. A FOCUS FOR REGIME CHANGE OPERATIONS

Where a Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to a dissident of a non-western country, the CIA or the Pentagon (see point 3) often has a task force working on cracking the exact same country.

The winners have varying degrees of internal appeal in the targeted country, but the main purpose in choosing these people is not to boost their standing internally, but to justify attempts at regime change to Western liberal public opinion. Without the focus on these martyrs, these operations would look suspiciously like old style colonial domination.

Hence the beatification of Aung San Suu Kyi (winner 1991) coincided with a concerted campaign to get control over a recalcitrant, but very strategic country. Suu Kyi is in many ways typical of the people the Committee prefers. She is a known entity, having conspicuously strong personal connections to the former colonial power – Oxford educated, married to a British citizen, her children are British citizens, etc. Signaling in which direction her political compass was oriented, she asked the world to use the old colonial name Burma instead of Myanmar. She asked for harsh measures against her own country (for its own good) fitting hand in glove with the US strategy actually used. In fact, all means would be permissible to use against this regime imprisoning a modern day saint.

The Nobel Prize to Suu Kyi played an invaluable role in creating huge support, especially on the liberal left, for the draconian economic sanctions against an otherwise fairly obscure country. And maybe many of her Western supporters actually did believe that the US and UK could fund her with large sums of money and create entire NGO-networks for her with the expressed goal of subverting a sovereign nation’s government, and her intentions to still be pure and progressive.

Myanmar is immensely rich in natural resources and is positioned between China and the Indian Ocean, and China and India. Any significant land connection between these two 21st century great powers would have to go through Myanmar to avoid the Himalayas. It is also of great Chinese interest as a transit country to the Indian Ocean. Therefore, the country was targeted with a multi-approach regime change operation.

A massive press campaign was arranged over several decades, a plethora of NGOs financed, whilst “former” CIA-agents now turned missionaries were working with the ethnic guerilla forces to create military pressure. In the usual attempt to concentrate all opposition into a joint force, extreme right wing religious fanatics became the spearhead in this campaign. The sanctions imposed on Myanmar, precluded any economic development and doomed the population to a life of crushing poverty.

One could interpret the recent calls to take the prize back from Suu Kuy as disappointed buyers not getting what they paid for.

We can go forward to 2010, when a Chinese citizen, Liu Xiaobo, won the prize. There were no surprises for what future was envisaged for China:

It took Hong Kong 100 years to become what it is. Given the size of China, certainly it would need 300 years of colonisation for it to become like what Hong Kong is today. I even doubt whether 300 years would be enough.”

The lines between creating justification for a covert regime change operation and next step, a direct war, is blurry. But when required, the Prize Committee can step in to keep the focus of world opinion on the right narrative.

3. CREATING REASONS FOR WAR: WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Malala Yoysafzai receives the Sakharov prize © Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons

In 2003, just after the blitzkrieg on Iraq and at the very height of the George Bush’s talk of continuing the offensive to a few more countries, the committee chose to give the prize to Shirin Ebadi. By beatifying an Iranian at that time, the committee very well knew that they increased the danger of war.

Ebadi is a champion of women’s rights, a recurrent theme in NATO’s efforts to justify their wars. We know that targeting women in the West with this type of messaging has been a major effort for the organization for a long time. By giving the prize to her, they in effect created support in Western (female) public opinion for a war/regime change that would kill an untold number of Iranian women and destroy the lives of the rest, a repeat on a larger scale of what happened in Iraq.

The 2018 prize went to the fight against sexual violence in war. This happens to coincide with the very image NATO wants to promote of itself – who can forget Angelina Jolie and NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg writing a joint article in 2017 titled “Why NATO Must Defend Women’s Rights,” where they point out that “NATO has the responsibility and opportunity to be a leading protector of women’s rights” and “can become the global military leader in how to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict”. How convenient that the Nobel Committee shares the same view.

A more analytic approach would point out such facts that US/NATO-interventions have made the situation for women infinitely worse in places such as Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. An intervention to topple the legal government in Syria would certainly have created the same result.

In addition, a bit broader view would point out how allegedly stopping sexual violence against women has justified many wars of aggression. The stereotypes of cruel foreigners have not advanced noticeably from depictions of swarthy Spaniards groping blonde women in the Spanish-American war, to the claim that Gaddafi was handing out Viagra to mercenaries to rape women, as Susan Rice, the US Permanent Representative at UN told the Security Council. Amnesty International, later reported it had “not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped.”

Other notorious examples of how this has been used in war propaganda include Serbian rape camps during the Yugoslav wars. Allegations of mass rape were a key element of NATO’s propaganda campaign during the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. Clare Short, Britain’s international development secretary, claimed that the rapes were “deliberately performed in front of children, fathers and brothers.” After the war was over, there were some retractions, including from the Washington Post, which reported that “Western accusations that there were Serb-run rape camps […] all proved to be false.”

Malala Yousafzai (winner 2014), the young Pakistani girl who became a symbol of the war against the Taliban, is another figure that fits this pattern. The indefinite occupation of Afghanistan is, among plenty of other vicarious reasons, justified by improving women’s rights. This overlooks the fact that no improvement can be made under a government installed with the help of foreign bayonets. The situation for Afghan women has not improved since the occupation, but then again, the claim was only meant to create support for the war in public opinion.

The importance of creating the perception of fighting for women’s rights has long been realized in military circles.

An internal CIA-document from 2010 (a few years before Malala received the prize from the Nobel Institute for her struggle against the Taliban), published by WikiLeaks, discusses how to best market the war in Afghanistan, To show how similar the Nobel Committee and the military/intelligence apparatus think, it is worth quoting the following passage:

Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission.


4. THE ENEMY FIGHTS WITH ILLEGAL AND INHUMANE WEAPONS, AND IT IS IMPERATIVE TO STOP THEM

By highlighting certain themes, in this case ‘illegal weapons’, they reinforce the narrative in Western public opinion that certain things are very urgent and real problems, when in fact they are of relatively minor significance.

Poison gas is a clear example. The OPCW won the prize in 2013. Given the general situation in the Middle East, several million dead in Iraq after the US invasion and at least 400.000 dead in the covert invasion of Syria, gas is a minor factor, and even if we take the frequent claims of ‘gas massacres’ at face value (which of course we shouldn’t), is only responsible for an infinitesimal fraction of these dead.

But to reinforce a false narrative, this focus has been invaluable. The prize creates acceptance for the narrative that gas is a uniquely important and evil weapon, where it is fully justified to do anything necessary, including attacking countries, to stop the possible use of it. At the moment of writing this, Nov 24, 2018, the US just accused Iran of hiding a chemical weapons program.

Some weapons that are killing far more people in far more gruesome ways than poison gas, like napalm, would never be put on this list. And we could compare gas to sanctions, the West’s favorite and most effective weapon of mass destruction, killing the weakest, the sick, children and old people slowly, while destroying entire peoples’ right to a decent life. No other or weapon of mass destruction has killed as many people since WW2.

5. SANCTIFYING PEACE TREATIES THAT ARE NEGOTIATED SURRENDERS TO WESTERN INTERESTS

Yasser Arafat receives the prize in 1994, together with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin CC BY-SA 3.0 File:Flickr – (GPO)

The most noticeable feature when the prize goes to creators of peace treaties, is that the treaties are more like a negotiated surrender than a just peace.

Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos (winner 2016) received the prize for victoriously having put the finishing touches to a long US-led counter-insurgency campaign against leftist guerilla forces. Now the reactionary oligarchy has a safe grip on the country, and can continue their neoliberal agenda, which isn’t that different from the old reactionary order. The death squads murdering leftist and human rights activist continue their activities with impunity.

The country had an extremely tarnished image in human rights issues and needed a quick touch-up to make it palatable. The most conspicuous thing the 2016-award is that the president got the prize just before Colombia became a global partner of NATO. The planning of the PR-requirements for this to happen smoothly must have been already well under way when the prize winner was decided. Remember the prize is directed at Western public opinion, and has little to do with an actual just peace in Colombia.

Yasser Arafat (co-winner 1993) got the prize so he would be tied to a peace plan with a chimerical two-state solution the Israeli side had no intention of honoring. The peace offer didn’t even include a stop in construction of Israeli settlements. No clearer signal of Israeli intentions could have been given. This is a continuation of the joint prize to Sadat and Begin in 1978, for the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, where Israel succeeded in making a separate peace with the biggest Arab country, and could thereafter concentrate on consolidating its grip on the West Bank.

While Nelson Mandela (co-winner 1994) undoubtedly was a worthy winner, the transition deal the ANC negotiated for South Africa only transferred formal political power, and left unjust economic power structures intact. The assets of multinational companies were guaranteed, and the neoliberal policies implied in the deal doomed the large majority of the population to continued poverty.

Michail Gorbachev (winner 1990) got the prize for a unilateral and wholesale surrender of every Soviet position, both economic and political; he didn’t even keep them as bargaining cards. Trusting Western oral promises, this naiveté is unprecedented in a leader of a great power. His bad decisions made a managed transition to a mixed system impossible and abandoned the former socialist states to Western looting and a social collapse they still haven’t recovered from. No wonder he still is so popular in the West that gave him the medal as a sign of appreciation.

Finnish Martti Ahtisaari got the prize in 2008, «for his efforts on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts». This is very true. Left out is what should be added to the sentence, to resolve international conflicts – as a total Western victory.

Ahtisaari is directly linked to the creation of the NATO-protectorate of Kosovo. By 1999, NATO had decided to splinter Yugoslavia one more time. A 78 day aerial bombing campaign had little effect, so they sent in the diplomats. It was suggested that an envoy from a ‘neutral’ country would be more efficient. Here is how Ahtisaari handled the situation, telling the Serbs what ‘we’ would do (my emphasis):

Ahtisaari opened the meeting by declaring, “We are not here to discuss or negotiate,” […]. Ahtisaari says that Milosevic asked about the possibility of modifying the plan, to which he replied, “No. This is the best that Viktor and I have managed to do. You have to agree to it in every part.” [..] As Milosevic listened to the reading of the text, he realized that the “Russians and the Europeans had put us in the hands of the British and the Americans.”

Milosevic took the papers and asked, “What will happen if I do not sign?” In answer, “Ahtisaari made a gesture on the table,” and then moved aside the flower centerpiece. Then Ahtisaari said, “Belgrade will be like this table. We will immediately begin carpet-bombing Belgrade.” Repeating the gesture of sweeping the table, Ahtisaari threatened, “This is what we will do to Belgrade.” A moment of silence passed, and then he added, “There will be half a million dead within a week.”

The Serbians signed the treaty.

6. NOT A PEACEFUL VERY BUNCH OF PEOPLE

US Marine Corps tank in Baghdad, 2003 (Photo: USMC/ Public Domain)

For recipients of a peace prize, a remarkable number of them support wars.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a war of aggression under the trumped up pretext of disarming Iraq of Weapons of mass destruction. It was a blatant breach of both international law and the United Nations Charter. What did the Nobel Prize Winners think of it?

Here we have Elie Wiesel (winner 1986): “I now know I was wrong, but better that than to have stood idly by”.

Jose Ramos-Horta (winner 1996) claimed approvingly that the only truly effective means of pressure on the Iraqi dictator [is] the threat of the use of force.

Liu Xiaobo (winner 2010) was clear, the “decision by President Bush is right!. But then again, Liu had the remarkable opinion that “the major wars that the US became involved in are all ethically defensible,” including the wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam.

Former vice president Al Gore (winner 2009) had argued aggressively in favor of war in Iraq in 1991 and 1998, Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo in 1998, and believed the 2003 Iraq war was legal based on earlier UN resolutions.

The Cold War winner Lech Walesa (1983) was an opponent of the invasion, but at least he knew where to put the blame: “It’s not the United States that is to blame for the war, but rather the EU, and in particular Germany and France. They knew the war was coming and they failed to prevent it.”

The Dalai Lama (winner 1989) was wily enough to hedge his bets, but decidedly did not condemn the war: “it’s too early to say, right or wrong”, He also supported the US/NATO military intervention in Afghanistan and the attack on Yugoslavia.

There is a similar level of support among prize winners for a direct intervention in the ‘civil’ war in Syria, a US/NATO regime change plan on the drawing board for at least 10 years before it started. The push for a no-fly zone in Syria on a Libyan model, which could then be used as a fig leaf for a full-scale assault, was immense for several years. What did the Nobel Prize winners think of this possibility?

(Keep in mind that the ‘action’ they call for, can only be either an aerial bombing or ground troops.)

Kailash Satyarthi (winner 2014) did not say anything about the fact that it was the 3 Western powers on the Security Council which started this war by spending billions of dollars arming and financing armed Islamist gangs. Stopping this support would seem to be the obvious way to stop the war, but instead we get: “The UN Security Council (UNSC) has the military power to bring this unceasing genocide to a halt.”

His co-winner Malala Yousafzai who seems to have envisaged a similar future for Syria as for Afghanistan, a Western intervention: “When I look at Syria, I see the Rwandan genocide. When I read the desperate words of Bana Alabed in Aleppo, I see Anne Frank in Amsterdam… We must act. The international community must do everything they can to end to this inhumane war”

This was echoed by former UN-leader Kofi Annan (winner 2001). Defining Aleppo as only the small part of the city occupied by Islamist gangs, he called for ‘action’. How this ‘action’ would differ from what he describes, is not clear: “The assault on Aleppo is an assault on the whole world. When hospitals, schools and homes are bombed indiscriminately, killing and maiming hundreds of innocent children, these are acts that constitute an attack on our shared, fundamental human values. Our collective cry for action must be heard, and acted upon, by all those engaged in this dreadful war.”

This wish was supported by Medecins sans Frontiers, recipient of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize. It was the first to report the alleged gas attack in Ghouta on 21. August 2013, which the Obama-administration wanted to use as a pretext for a military assault. As it admitted, the MSF’s decision to issue a press release on the incident—which had not taken place in an MSF hospital, but in its “silent partner” facilities in rebel-controlled areas—was highly political.

MSF was well aware that their announcement of chemical weapons use would be immediately seized upon by the US to claim that Syrian President Assad had crossed a red line, and to start a bombing campaign.

The organization was here true to its roots, as the civilian part in the French military/intelligence effort to support an independent state in the oil producing parts of Nigeria, in the Biafran war of independence in 1967-1970.

Amnesty International, (winner 1977) was not much better, with its call for unspecified ‘action’: “The international community’s catastrophic failure to take concrete action to protect the people of Syria has allowed parties to the conflict, most notably the Syrian government, to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, often with assistance of outside powers, particularly Russia… the international community had said ‘never again’ after the government devastated Eastern Aleppo with similar unlawful tactics. But here we are again.”

Anyway, Amnesty has a soft spot for endless NATO-interventions. In 2012, after 11 years of dismal occupation, the organization paid for advertising posters in the US applauding NATO’s actions in Afghanistan — “Keep the progress going”, purportedly doing something for women’s rights.

Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman is a Yemeni journalist and human rights activist that won the prize in 2009 wanted ‘protection’, writing: “Instead of protecting residents in Aleppo from brutalities of Russia, Iran and Bashar Al Assad’s regime, the world tended to mediate to provide safe corridors for the displacement of civilians,” adding, “these also are partners in crime.”

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos (2016) voiced support for the missile attacks on Syria in March 2018.

Such bellicosity (or just as often, coy bellicosity) is nothing new in the type of people selected as winners. Henry Kissinger (winner 1973) was the most infamous war hawk to win the prize during the Cold War, but as long as it was the right side doing the fighting, plenty of others identified with this one sided world view. We can recognize all the themes mentioned above in Michael Parenti’s description of the 1975 Peace Prize winner:

Andrei Sakharov was a darling of the U.S. press, a Soviet dissident who regularly sang praises to corporate capitalism. Sakharov lambasted the U.S. peace movement for its opposition to the Vietnam War. He accused the Soviets of being the sole culprits behind the arms race and he supported every U.S. armed intervention abroad as a defense of democracy. Hailed in the west as a «human rights advocate,» Sakharov never had an unkind word for the horrific human rights violations perpetrated by the fascist regimes of faithful U.S. client states, including Pinochet’s Chile and Suharto’s Indonesia, and he aimed snide remarks at the «peaceniks» who did. He regularly attacked those in the West who opposed U.S. repressive military interventions abroad.

7. Some other points + Conclusion

You don’t have to be an prop for US/NATO power projection to win the prize, but it helps.

The prize was originally intended to be given to the person who has done most to foster peace between nations. In a subtle twist, in many cases it has changed to banning aspects of warfare, barely ever addressing war itself. Broaching such a subject honestly would be impossible without addressing the elephant in the room, US/Western imperialism. The award has had many winners who are variants of this year’s theme, sexual violence in war (which also touches on point 3, the NATO-narrative of defense of women). The focus here is on a more civilized form of war, not abolishing war as such as a means of settling disputes.

No one (apart from some military brass) is actually pro-landmines, but the Peace prize to the Campaign Against Land Mines in 1997 coincided with the increased Western interventions in places where these weapons would be a hindrance to the success of the occupation It was not in the interest of NATO forces to have their opponents using these ‘poor man’s weapons’, creating the casualties so feared by the military in modern wars, which again might increase opposition at home to war. The coalition suffered most of their casualties from IEDs, a sort of land mine, in Iraq, while having limited use of mines themselves.

There is a certain unpredictability as to who the prize will be awarded to, making it not as obviously beholden to the immediate needs of the powerful, even though the long term trend is clear. For example, there has been no Russian winner for quite a while now, and the White Helmets have not yet got the award, maybe as they are too obviously only a PR-front.

When Jean-Paul Sartre declined the Nobel Prize in Literature, he said that the prize ‘is for Western writers or Eastern rebels’. On a similar note, we might say that the Nobel Peace Prize is for Western elites or Eastern rebels.

That the selection of winners conforms to US views does not mean that there is a direct influence, although some recommendations to the Committee probably weigh heavier than others. Rather this pattern is a sign of how well socialized the Norwegian Nobel Committee members are in the transatlantic world view, where ‘our’ requirements override any genuine wish for peace.

December 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Military defeats push Kabul into talks with Taliban as US seeks way out from Afghan stalemate

RT | December 5, 2018

Direct talks with the Taliban are crucial for the Kabul government to survive amid crushing defeats by the militants, Afghanistan experts told RT amid expectations that end of the 17-year war is looming.

Afghanistan returned to headlines this week, with a government-affiliated official making an unconventional peace gesture towards the Taliban. Ehsan Taheri, spokesman for the High Peace Council – a body that mediates peace between the government and the militants – said Kabul is ready to talk directly to the Taliban. He promised there will be no prerequisites to discuss any issue “crucial for the future of Afghanistan.”

“There’s no doubt the Afghan government relies on speeding up talks with Taliban” as the situation on the ground deteriorated over the past two years, Nikita Mendkovich, an expert with Russian International Affairs Council, told RT.

The Taliban have managed to gain upper hand in various parts of the country, and the Western-backed Afghan National Army risks being defeated in the coming years, he explained. And while Kabul’s offer of peace sounds promising at a glance, analysts say it has more to do with the survival of the current government than anything else.

The militants are able “to take matters into their own hands” without providing any security guarantee to the Afghan government, the expert noted.

That aside, Afghanistan is preparing to hold presidential elections, putting the sitting President Ashraf Ghani in a precarious position. Because he is unpopular with sizeable part of the population and regional elites, he must demonstrate “some results.”

“A peace deal or at least a long-term truce with Taliban would be a bargaining chip for Ghani to remain in power,” according to Mendkovich. However, the main reason for Kabul to accelerate the peace process is still rooted in “military defeats” sustained by the Afghan army and NATO forces.

Meanwhile, Omar Nessar, a researcher with Russia’s Institute for Oriental Studies, said he doesn’t see how a peace deal might become reality.The Taliban are demanding that NATO troops leave the country, which in turn is “unacceptable” for Western sponsors of Kabul.

The Taliban “doesn’t need peace talks right now as they continue to gain foothold in Afghanistan,” Nessar stressed. The Afghan leadership is a too week actor to talk with, but the Americans may try to ask Kabul to negotiate on their behalf in order to “save the image of the government.”

Afghan stalemate: Winning peace to lose war?

On the military front, the reality looks as murky as it was over the past years. On Tuesday, Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie who is set to take the lead of US Central Command (CENTCOM), gave oxygen to a claim there was no easy way out from the 17-year Afghan war.

“I do know that today it would be very difficult for [the Afghan security forces] to survive without our and our coalition partners’ assistance,” McKenzie said, noting that if the US forces are to leave “precipitously right now,” the Kabul government might fall.

McKenzie said that in light of a steep rise in casualties, the US must step up its efforts to help Afghan forces to recruit and train much-needed reinforcements, describing the current rate of losses as unsustainable. “They’re fighting hard, but their losses are not going to be sustainable unless we correct this problem.”

Asked to provide his take on this, Nessar said that while the US “is tired of the war” it cannot leave Afghanistan in full. A complete troop withdrawal would mean acknowledging a military defeat in the war on Taliban, he stated.

“The US cannot win war, it tries to win peace,” Mendkovich commented. Asked if the US could employ a peace deal with Taliban to get out of the war, he suggested a complete troop pullout is unlikely. US air bases and military compounds are “strategic assets” instrumental to “create threats” against neighboring China, Russia and Iran, and the Americans don’t want to lose them.

December 5, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

Russia in Full Compliance With INF Treaty, US Side Knows Well About It – Moscow

Sputnik – 04.12.2018

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to earlier statements by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg regarding the INF treaty by stating that Moscow strictly adheres to the provisions of the arms accord.

“Russia is following the provisions of the treaty and the American side knows this well,” she said.

Earlier, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated at a press conference in Brussels on December 4 that Russia should not miss its “last chance” to preserve the key arms control agreement between Moscow and Washington. Speaking at the same conference, Pompeo said that the US would suspend its adherence to the INF Treaty in 60 days unless Russia returns to full compliance with the agreement.

The US secretary of state also announced that the US would suspend its obligations under the arms treaty for 60 days until Russia “returns to full and verifiable compliance”. He also said that the US would not produce, deploy, or test any missile that violates the treaty during this period.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump accused Russia of violating the INF treaty by building prohibited missiles and vowed to abandon it in the near future. Moscow denied Washington’s accusations, saying it abides by the accord’s provisions. Russia has called the US plans to withdraw from the INF dangerous, saying that it could draw “entire regions of the world into an arms race”.

Previously, Russia has also accused the US of violating the INF treaty by deploying launchers capable of firing prohibited missiles in Europe, which is also prohibited by the INF.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 13 Comments

What Foreign Threats?

The biggest threats to America come from its “friends”

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 4, 2018

One of the local Washington television stations was doing a typical early morning honoring our soldiers schtick just before Thanksgiving. In it soldiers stationed far from home were treated to videolinks so they could talk to their families and everyone could nod happily and wish themselves a wonderful holiday. Not really listening, I became interested when I half heard that the soldier being interviewed was spending his Thanksgiving in Ukraine.

It occurred to me that the soldier just might have committed a security faux pas by revealing where he was, but I also recalled that there have been joint military maneuvers as well as some kind of training mission going on in the country, teaching the Ukrainian Army how to use the shiny new sophisticated weapons that the United States was providing it with to defend against “Russian aggression.”

Ukraine is only one part of the world where the Trump Administration has expanded the mission of democracy promotion, only in Kiev the reality is more like faux democracy promotion since Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is clearly exploiting a situation that he himself provoked. He envisions setting himself up as a victim of Moscow to aid in his attempts to establish his own power through a security relationship with Washington. That in turn will help his bid for reelection in March 2019 elections, in which his poll numbers are currently running embarrassingly low largely due to the widescale corruption in his government. Poroshenko has already done much to silence the press in his county while the developing crisis with Russia has enabled him to declare martial law in the eastern parts of the country where he is most poorly regarded. If it all works out, he hopes to win the election and subsequently, it is widely believed, he will move to expand his own executive authority.

There also has to be some consideration the encounter with the Russians on the Kerch Strait was contrived by Poroshenko with the assistance of a gaggle of American neoconservative and Israeli advisers who have been actively engaged with the Ukrainian government for the past several years. The timing was good for Poroshenko for his own domestic political reasons but it was also an opportunity for the neocon warmongers that surround Trump and proliferate inside the Beltway to scuttle any possible meeting between a vulnerable Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 gathering in Argentina.

The defection of Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, together with the assumption that a lot of anti-Trump dirt will be spilled soon, means that the American president had to be even more cautious than ever in any dealings with Moscow and all he needed was a nod of approval from National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to cancel the encounter. A heads-of-state meeting might not have solved anything but it certainly would be better than the current drift towards a new cold war. If the United States has only one vitally important relationship anywhere it is with Russia as the two countries are ready, able and apparently willing to destroy the world under the aegis of self-defense.

Given the anti-Russian hysteria prevailing in the U.S. and the ability of the neocons to switch on the media, it should come as no surprise that the Russian-Ukrainian incident immediately generated calls from the press and politicians for the White House to get tough with the Kremlin. It is important to note that the United States has no actual national interest in getting involved in a war between Russia and Ukraine if that should come about. The two Eastern European countries are neighbors and have a long history of both friendship and hostility but the only thing clear about the conflict is that it is up to them to sort things out and no amount of sanctions and jawing by concerned congressmen will change that fact.

Other Eastern European nations that similarly have problems with Russia should also be considered provocateurs as they seek to create tension to bind the United States more closely to them through the NATO alliance. The reality is that today’s Russian Federation is not the Soviet Union and it neither aspires to nor can afford hegemony over its former allies. What it has made very clear that it does want is a modus vivendi where Russia itself is not being threatened by the West.

Recent military maneuvers in Poland and Lithuania and the stationing of new missiles in Eastern Europe do indeed pose a genuine threat to Moscow as it places NATO forces on top of Russia’s border. When Russia reacts to incursions by NATO warships and planes right along its borders, it is accused of acting aggressively. One wonders how the U.S. government would respond if a Russian aircraft carrier were to take up position off the eastern seaboard and were to begin staging reconnaissance flights. Or if the Russian army were to begin military exercises with the Cubans? Does anyone today remember the Bay of Pigs?

When it comes to international conflicts context is everything. Seeing the incident between Russia and Ukraine in Manichean terms as an example of Moscow’s aggressive instincts is satisfying in some circles, but it does not in any way reflect the reality on the ground. Internal politics of the two countries combined with deliberate fabrications that are expected to generate a certain response operate together to create a largely false narrative for both international and domestic consumption. Unfortunately, narratives have consequences: in this case, the sacrifice of the possibly beneficial meeting between Trump and Putin.

The same dynamic works vis-à-vis Washington’s other enemy du jour Iran. In the case of Russia, useless “friend” Ukraine is pulling the strings while regarding Iran it is conniving Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iran has been accused of being the world’s leading sponsor of terror, of destabilizing the Middle East, and of having a secret nuclear weapon program that will be used to attack Israel and Europe. None of those assertions are true. The terrorism tag comes from the country’s relationship with Hezbollah, which is only a terrorist group insofar as it is hostile to Israel and pledged to resist any future Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Washington and Israel have pushed the terrorism label for Hezbollah, but most Europeans have begun to disregard the designation since the group has become a part of the Lebanese government.

And regarding destabilizing the Middle East, that has largely been the end result of actions undertaken by the United States, Israel and the Saudis, while the alleged Persian nuclear weapons program is a fantasy. If someone in the U.S. national security apparatus had any brains the United States would work to improve relations with Iran real soon as the Iranians would in the long run quite likely prove to be better friends than those rascals who are currently running around using that label.

And there are other friends in unlikely places. Beleaguered British Prime Minister Theresa May is wailing loudly against a Trump threat to reveal classified documents relating to Russiagate. The real problem is that the documents apparently don’t expose anything done by the Russians. Rather, they seem to appear to reveal a plot by the British intelligence and security services working in collusion with then CIA Director John Brennan to subvert the course of the 2016 election in favor of the Deep State and Establishment favorite Hillary Clinton. How did that one work out?

So how about it? Teenagers who get in trouble often have to ditch their bad friends to turn their lives around. There is still a chance for the United States if we keep our distance from the bad friends we have been nurturing all around the world, friends who have been convincing us to make poor choices. Get rid of the ties the bind to the Saudis, Israelis, Ukrainians, Poles, and yes, even the British. Deal fairly with all nations and treat everyone the same, but bear in mind that there are only two relationships that really matter – Russia and China. Make a serious effort to avoid a war by learning how to get along with those two nations and America might actually survive to celebrate a tricentennial in 2076.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Berlin should not be ‘drawn into war’ with Russia by Kiev over Kerch crisis – German ex-FM Gabriel

RT | December 2, 2018

Germany can’t afford being plunged into a war with Russia amid the Kerch Strait crisis, the country’s former Vice Chancellor alarmed, blasting Ukraine’s suggestion that Berlin deploy its warships to the troubled Azov Sea.

Former German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has spoken out about the recent Kerch Strait incident, criticizing Kiev’s attempts to raise stakes in the political row with Moscow. At any rate, Germany “should not be drawn into a war against Russia,” Gabriel told Tagesspiegel newspaper.

He also denounced Ukraine’s call to shut international ports for Russian vessels based in Crimea, calling the suggestion “a new edition of gunboat diplomacy.”

In a separate interview with N-TV broadcaster, the retired politician also accused Ukraine of trying to ignite a direct confrontation between Russia and Germany. “I think that in no case should we let ourselves be drawn into a war through Ukraine,” Gabriel stressed, adding “this is what Ukraine has tried [to do].”

Gabriel’s remarks came after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko suggested that Berlin provide military assistance to Kiev. “We need increased presence warships from Germany and allied nations in the Black Sea to send a message and deter Russia,” he told Funke media group.

Berlin, however, ruled out a possibility of its warships being sent to Crimean shores. “We do understand Ukrainian concerns,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas responded last week, adding, “but what we do not want is militarization of this conflict.”

Earlier, Poroshenko had also called NATO to deploy military vessels to the Crimean coast “in order to back Ukraine and ensure security.”

Kiev’s pleas for help had also apparently fallen on deaf ears as NATO provided a tight-lipped response, with the spokeswoman Oana Lungescu saying the bloc already has a sizeable naval presence in the Black Sea.

As the story developed, Russian President Vladimir Putin predicted the Ukrainian conflict will go on as long as “a party of war” stays in power in Kiev. Ukraine’s government is craving war to rip profits from it and to blame their own domestic failures on some “aggressors.”

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine soared after the incident in the Kerch Strait last weekend. At the time, several Ukrainian Navy ships tried to sail through the strait without seeking the proper permission, Moscow said. Responding to the border violation, Russia’s border guard have seized the vessels and detained their crews.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

December 2, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

The Nuclear Lies of NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg. Brand New “Precision Guidance” Nukes Deployed All Over Europe

By Manlio Dinucci | Global Research | November 30, 2018

“Russian missiles are a danger” – the alarm was sounded by the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, in an interview with Maurizio Caprara published in the Corriere della Sera*, three days before the “incident” in the Sea of Azov which added fuel to the already incandescent tension with Russia. “There are no new missiles in Europe. But there are Russian missiles, yes”, began Stoltenberg, ignoring two facts.

First: as from March 2020, the United States will begin to deploy in Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Holland (where B-61 nuclear bombs are already based), and probably also in other European countries, the first nuclear bomb with precision guidance in their arsenal, the B61-12. Its function is primarily anti-Russian. This new bomb is designed with penetrating capacity, enabling it to explode underground in order to destroy the central command bunkers with its first strike. How would the United States react if Russia deployed nuclear bombs in Mexico, right next to their territory? Since Italy and the other countries, violating the non-proliferation Treaty, are allowing the USA to use its bases, as well as its pilots and planes, for the deployment of nuclear weapons, Europe will be exposed to a greater risk as the first line of the growing confrontation with Russia.

Second: a new US missile system was installed in Romania in 2016, and another similar system is currently being built in Poland. The same missile system is installed on four warships which, based by the US Navy in the Spanish port of Rota, sail the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea close to Russian territory. The land-based installations, like the ships, are equipped with Lockheed Martin Mk41 vertical launchers, which – as specified by the manufacturer himself – are able to launch “missiles for all missions: either SM-3’s as defence against ballistic missiles, or long-range Tomahawks to attack land-based objective”. The latter can also be loaded with a nuclear warhead. Since it is unable to check which missiles are actually loaded into the launchers parked at the frontier with Russia, Moscow supposes that there are also nuclear attack missiles, in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which forbids the installation of intermediate- and short-range missiles on land bases.

On the contrary, Stoltenberg accuses Russia of violating the INF Treaty, and sends out a warning:

“We can not allow the Treaties to be violated without punishment”.

In 2014, the Obama administration accused Russia, without providing the slightest proof, of having tested a Cruise missile (SSC-8) from a category forbidden by the Treaty, announcing that “the United States are considering the deployment of land-based missiles in Europe”, in other words, the abandon of the INF Treaty. This plan, supported by the European allies of NATO, was confirmed by the Trump administration: in the fiscal year of 2018, Congress authorised the financing of a programme of research and development for a Cruise missile to be launched from a mobile platform.

Nuclear missiles of the Euromissile type, deployed by the USA in Europe during the 1980’s and eliminated by the INF Treaty, are capable of hitting Russia, while similar nuclear missiles deployed in Russia can hit Europe but not the USA. Stoltenberg himself, referring to the SSC-8’s that Russia had deployed on its own territory, declared that they are capable of reaching most of Europe, but not the United States. This is how the United States defends Europe.

And in this grotesque affirmation by Stoltenberg, who attributes to Russia “the highly perilous idea of limited nuclear conflict”, he warns:

“All atomic weapons are dangerous, but those which can lower the threshold for use are especially so”.

This is exactly the warning sounded by US military and scientific experts about the B61-12’s which are on the verge of being deployed in Europe:

“Low-powered, more accurate nuclear weapons increase the temptation of using them, even to using them first instead of as a retaliation”.

Why is the Corriere della Sera not going to interview them?

Source: PandoraTV

This article was originally published in Italian on Il Manifesto.

Translated by Pete Kimberley

Manlio Dinucci is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Note

*The Corriere della Sera is a historical Italian daily newspaper, founded in Milan in 1876. Published by RCS MediaGroup, it is the most important Italian daily in terms of distribution and the number of readers.

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US, Europe & NATO risk all-out war by backing unhinged Kiev regime

By Finian Cunningham | RT | November 28, 2018

With the US, EU and NATO all bolstering claims of “Russian aggression” – in face of contrary evidence – the real danger is that the Kiev regime will be emboldened to carry out more reckless provocations leading to all-out war.

It seems indisputable that the three Ukrainian Navy vessels were dispatched last Sunday in order to instigate a security response from Russian maritime border forces. In contrast to normal procedures for passage clearance through the Kerch Strait, the Ukrainian warships refused to communicate with Russian controls and acted menacingly inside Russia’s Black Sea territorial limits.

At a United Nations Security Council emergency meeting on Monday, the US, Britain and France pointedly refused to take on board Russia’s legal argument for why it felt obliged to detain the Ukrainian boats and 24 crew. The Western powers automatically sided with the version of events claimed by President Petro Poroshenko – that the Ukrainian Navy was attacked unlawfully by Russia.

The US, EU and NATO denounced Russia’s “aggression” and demanded that the Ukrainian vessels and crew be repatriated immediately, even though under Russian law there is a case for prosecution.

It is the West’s refusal to acknowledge facts that is part of the problem. Russia is continually accused of “annexing” Crimea in 2014 instead of the Western powers recognizing that the Black Sea peninsula voted in a constitutionally held referendum to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Crimea was prompted to take that historic step because the US, EU and NATO had only the month before backed an illegal coup in Kiev against the elected Ukrainian government. That coup brought to power the present Kiev regime led by Poroshenko and a parliament dominated by neo-Nazi parties.

So, the problem here is a refusal by Western supporters of the dubious Kiev regime to accept the legal, historic reality that Crimea is part of Russia’s territory. Ships passing through the Kerch Strait between Russia’s mainland and Crimea are obliged to notify Russian maritime controls of passage. Russia has since reopened the strait to civilian cargo transport following the naval skirmish at the weekend.

When the Ukrainian Navy vessels violated legal procedures and entered Russian territorial limits, their action was aggressive, not Russia’s response.

Furthermore, there are already emerging signs that the Ukrainian naval transport was orchestrated for the purpose of inciting an incident.

Some of the detained crew members have admitted carrying out orders which they knew would be seen by Russia as provocative.

It has also been reported by US government-owned Radio Free Europe that the Ukrainian secret services (SBU) have confirmed that its officers were among the crew on the boats. The vessels were also armed. If the transfer was an innocent passage, why were secret services involved?

Recall that Ukrainian secret services have previously been caught staging sabotage operations in Crimea.

Another major background factor is the increasing NATO military buildup in eastern Ukraine and the Black Sea.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin officially opened the 19km bridge linking Russia’s mainland with Crimea in May earlier this year, there were calls in US and Ukrainian media for the structure to be sabotaged. Moscow has understandably stepped up security controls around the vital infrastructure, which cost $3.7 billion and is the longest bridge in Europe.

In recent months, the US and Britain have ordered increasing military deployment to the region under the guise of “training” and “assistance” to the Kiev regime forces.

Earlier this year, in July, the NATO alliance held naval drills, Sea Breeze, along with Ukrainian forces in the Black Sea. That’s in spite of the fact that Ukraine is not a member of NATO, although it is aspiring to join the 29-member US-led bloc at some time in the future.

It was the following month, in August, that Russia began stepping up its controls and searches of vessels through the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. The latter leads to ports under the control of the Kiev regime such as Mariupol, which is adjacent to the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic. The DPR and Luhansk People’s Republic broke away following the coup in Kiev in 2014 and have been under military attack for the past four years despite the so-called Minsk peace treaties. These are more facts that the Western backers of the Kiev regime refuse to deal with.

More NATO buildup continued in September with the supply of two gunboats by the US to the Ukrainian Navy for deployment in the Sea of Azov. Pentagon-linked publication Defense One described that supply as part of efforts by Washington and Kiev to develop a “mosquito navy” in order to skirmish with Russian forces.

Only four days before the latest naval clash, Britain’s Defense Minister Gavin Williamson announced the Royal Navy was to send HMS ‘Echo’ to patrol with Ukrainian special forces to “defend freedom and democracy.” Williamson said: “As long as Ukraine faces Russian hostilities, the United Kingdom will be a steadfast partner.”

This is background to the simmering tensions in the Black Sea between Ukraine and Russia. The situation has arisen because of Western interference in Ukraine – primarily the coup in Kiev in February 2014. Yet, in all discussions about events since then, the Western powers are in denial of facts and their culpability. The recent militarization of the Black Sea by the NATO alliance is a stark provocation to Russia’s national security, but again the Western powers bury their collective heads in the sand.

Given the reckless indulgence by the US, Europe and NATO of the Kiev regime amid its ongoing violations against the populace in eastern Ukraine, its refusal to abide by the Minsk agreements, and its continual inflammatory and unhinged rhetoric against Russia, it should not be surprising if this same regime feels emboldened to provoke an armed confrontation with Moscow.

Arguably, the Kiev regime and its adulation of World War II Nazi collaborators never had any legitimacy in the first place. It continues to demonstrate its lack of legitimacy from the immense social problems in Ukraine of poverty, corruption, human rights violations, neo-Nazi paramilitaries running amok, and now martial law being imposed.

It remains to be seen if the recent naval provocation was carried out with the tacit approval of Washington and other NATO powers as a pretext for further militarization against Russia. The initial misplaced condemnations of Russia have subsided to more measured calls from US President Donald Trump and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian for “restraint” and “dialogue.”

That might suggest Kiev’s failing President Poroshenko and his security services acted alone to order the naval confrontation as a desperate throw of the dice to escalate NATO and EU support for his shaky regime against Russia.

Trump’s comments hoping that Kiev and Russia would “straighten things out” sound like Washington is not behind the provocation and has no desire for a wider conflict. Just as well, because such a development is a gateway to all-out war.

Nevertheless, such a catastrophe is always a serious risk when Western powers indulge this unhinged Kiev regime.

November 28, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment