It’s not just U.S. politicians, it seems the majority of Americans are frigging mad

Survey: Most Americans Accept Preemptive Nuclear Strike Against Iranian Civilians

As the survey notes, a clear majority of Americans “would approve of using nuclear weapons first against the civilian population of a nonnuclear-armed adversary, killing 2 million Iranian civilians, if they believed that such use would save the lives of 20,000 U.S. soldiers.”

new survey published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests Americans are willing to make a first nuclear strike against Iran and kill millions of civilians in the process.

According to the report, entitled “Revisiting Hiroshima in Iran,” although the majority of Americans initially approved of President Harry S. Truman’s decision to drop the nuclear bomb in 1945 on two civilian populations in Japan, a poll conducted in 1998 showed the number of Americans who approved of the decision had dropped since the 1970s and 1980s. This trend carried on even until the early 2000s and arguably to the present day.

However, the new survey shows that many Americans continue to support nuclear warfare when posed with a hypothetical (albeit currently nonexistent) threat. As the survey notes, a clear majority of Americans “would approve of using nuclear weapons first against the civilian population of a nonnuclear-armed adversary, killing 2 million Iranian civilians, if they believed that such use would save the lives of 20,000 U.S. soldiers.”<img src=”http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/themes/core/images/ads/ad-mp-squigl.jpg” class=”no-thickbox”/>

 

Source: MIT's What Americans Really Think About Using Nuclear Weapons And Killing<img class=”size-full wp-image-231502″ src=”http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Capture-1.jpg” alt=”Source: MIT’s What Americans Really Think About Using Nuclear Weapons And Killing” width=”588″ height=”505″ srcset=”http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Capture-1.jpg 588w, http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Capture-1-300×258.jpg 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 588px) 100vw, 588px” />

Source: MIT’s What Americans Really Think About Using Nuclear Weapons And Killing
Noncombatants

Around 60 percent of respondents polled said they would approve of the decision to kill two million Iranians.

As Bloomberg explained:

The survey casts doubt on the power of what experts call the ‘nuclear taboo,’ said Stanford University historian David Holloway, author of ‘Stalin and the Bomb.’ The idea, or hope, behind the concept is that it’s not just luck that humans haven’t dropped any nuclear weapons for 70 years — that there’s a stigma that makes the use of nuclear weapons unthinkable.”

One would have to wonder if most Americans are even aware that the Trump administration is spending billions of dollars developing its nuclear technology far beyond what America’s rivals can match. Recognizing the nuclear threat America poses to Russia and its interests, particularly by having NATO members surround Russia with its anti-missile defense system, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a warning last year that Russia was modernizing its missile systems in preparation for what’s to come.

Russia has also warned multiple times about attacking Iran and views Iran as a strategic ally. This is just one of the factors Americans should take into account when considering the use of nuclear weapons.


Related | Demand Grows To Strip Trump Of Nuclear Authority


As Bloomberg noted, there are a number of other factors that should also be examined:

That just means they haven’t thought about it,’ said Brian Toon, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Colorado. They think nuclear weapons are just big bombs that blow up lots of people, he said, without considering the way a nuclear conflict -– even a ‘small’ one involving some 10 percent of the U.S. arsenal — might poison millions of men, women and children and change the climate enough to starve hundreds of millions.”

What it ultimately shows is that Americans want to fight (and instigate) wars but no longer want to expend their own people commissioning such conflicts. Polls have also demonstrated that the majority of Americans approve of the use of drone warfare against suspected terrorists, another example of Americans approving of killing people without realistically endangering personnel.

In Libya, an American drone flown out of Sicily by an American pilot based in Nevada directly struck Muammar Gaddafi’s motorcade. Little thought is paid to the fact that the U.S. helped assassinate a foreign leader in direct contravention of international law, arguably because no American personnel were killed or even endangered (in contrast, when many Americans think of Libya, they focus on the handful of American lives lost in Benghazi).

This paradigm, identified as one of three schools of thought by the MIT study, is solely concerned with “winning wars and the desire to minimize the loss of lives of their nation’s soldiers.”

This view appeared to hold even when the scenario presented to the respondents was one in which the U.S. aggravated Iran via sanctions and Iran responded with a direct attack on a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was also provoked via U.S.-led crippling economic restrictions on Japan, and even the number of military personnel killed in the hypothetical scenario MIT presented to subjects was the same as the number of U.S. personnel who died at Pearl Harbor (though this was not mentioned to respondents).

As we all know, this particular story ended with the complete destruction of Japan’s major cities through conventional bombing, as well as the nuclear decimation of two civilian populations. Also bear in mind that America’s modern day nukes are far more dangerous than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, meaning any future nuclear strike would have an even worse impact on the civilian population.

In addition to a majority of Americans’ willingness to use nuclear weapons on civilians, the survey found “an even larger percentage of Americans would approve of a conventional bombing attack designed to kill 100,000 Iranian civilians in the effort to intimidate Iran into surrendering.”

Read the full report What Americans Really Think About Using Nuclear Weapons And Killing below:

Top photo: Frank Gaffney, founder and CEO of the Center for Security Policy, speaks during a rally organized by Tea Party Patriots in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015, to oppose the Iran nuclear agreement. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

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Voice of Sanity Missing in Korean Showdown

Posted on August 9, 2017

[ Ed. note – If you’re looking for a leader of enlightened wisdom, or even one who simply manages to display prudence and sanity on a somewhat regular basis, Donald Trump doesn’t seem to fit the bill. For all the foolhardy, misguided decisions he made in choosing his cabinet and staff, Trump’s threat to unleash “fire and fury” upon North Korea may be the stupidest move we’ve seen from him yet. In addition to Trump, Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, is threatening the “destruction” of the North Korean people, and if all that isn’t bad enough, the North Korean government is threatening to attack Guam. ]

***

Relations Between US and North Korea Deteriorate to New Low

Izvestia — translated by Inessa Sinchougova — Aug. 9, 2017

A meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation on the Korean peninsula has taken place in New York. A new cause for concern – the words of Donald Trump: they say, the US will respond to the dangers of the North Korea “by force, fury and fire,” which “the world has not yet seen.” In response, on North Korea’s Central Television, it was said: Pyongyang is ready to strike a missile at the US military base on Guam. How will this clattering with weapons end?

Angry rhetoric between the North Korea and the US has reached a new level. Now Pyongyang has announced to the States not just new missile tests, but a blow, the goal of which is quite specific.

“North Korea is developing a plan for a preemptive missile strike against US military facilities on the Pacific island of Guam, including the Andersen airbase, where strategic bombers are deployed,” Korean television reported.

The North Korean military said that they would use medium-range ballistic missiles Hwasong-12 for their purposes. Theoretically, the rocket can reach the island of Guam.

“The missile, Hwasong-12, is theoretically capable of flying to the island of Guam,” said military expert Ivan Konovalov. “It was already tested in May of this year, it flew only 700 kilometers. But it had a very steep trajectory. Experts say that the missile can “strike” at 4,500 kilometers. This missile – if it will be launched – will still be intercepted by the US missile defense THAAD, which is in South Korea. But this complex is precisely designed to intercept such missiles.”

However, even if the missile is intercepted, the consequences can be disastrous for both sides. The crisis will shift to a new level – from rhetoric to concrete actions.

Perhaps, it is precisely the continuation of a verbal skirmish, and not the development of the conflict, that is expected in Washington. Governor of Guam Edward Calvo said “I want to reassure people that there is currently no threat to our island. I remind you that there are several levels of protection that are strategically located to protect our island and our nation. An attack or threat on Guam is a threat or an attack on the United States. ”

The Secretary of State of the United States, Rex Tillerson, was quick to introduce clarity in the dialogue. His statement sounded much more gentle than the emotional statement of Trump. “The harsh statements by US President Donald Trump about North Korea do not mean that Washington will abandon attempts to settle the problem peacefully,” the US Secretary of State explained. “What the president is doing is a message to North Korea in a language that Kim Jong-un can understand, because he does not seem to understand the diplomatic language. ”

The possible development of the conflict on the Korean peninsula has already affected the Asian market. The Korean stock index, which includes more than 700 companies, fell by 0.8 percent. Outside military threat, the deterioration of the situation in the region can affect the profits of companies and reduce business activity in the region.

***

Breaking: North Korea Developing Final Plan to Hit Guam in Mid-August

By Adam Garrie – The Duran

North Korean media has announced that the leadership is finalising plans for hitting Guam with intermediate range missiles which are apparently to be launched in mid-August.

Sputnik quotes General Kim Rak Gyom who said the following to North Korean media,

“The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA (Korean People’s Army) will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan.

They will fly 3,356.7 km (2,085.8 miles) for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km away from Guam”.

Several things are curious about this statement.

First of all, by stating that the preparations for the attack to apparently take place in mid-August are being made now, North Korea seems to be validating the Russian statement that it takes a significant amount of time for North Korea to launch missiles that countries like Russia, China and the US can generally launch in a matter of seconds or at the very most, a matter of hours, depending on the kind of warhead payload attacked to the missile in question.

Secondly, by telling the United States that it plans to launch an attack in the direction of Guam, the crucial element of surprise is totally lost.

North Korea further stated that Trump’s remarks threatening to hit north Korea with “fire and fury” the likes the world “has never seen before”, amount to “A load of nonsense”.

North Korea further stated that Donald Trump is only capable of understanding force, because he is “bereft of reason”. Such statements far from being classic North Korean rhetoric soudn a great deal like commentators on CNN and op-ed pieces in the Washington Post, New York Times and Guardian.

Sputnik reports,

“Pyongyang also said that America’s “frantic moves” on the Korean Peninsula will be reined by the action the North’s military “is about to take.”

First the communist nation will develop a plan for the historic “enveloping fire at Guam,” communicate the nuclear force of the attack to Kim, then, “wait for is order.”
The DPRK has said it will “keep closely watching the speech and behavior of the US.”

Earlier today, US Secretary of State James Mattis warned the North in a statement that they should “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”

He added, “While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth.  The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.”

Either this is the ultimate test of brinkmanship on both sides, or the world’s most dangerous game of chicken. This comes as Russia, China and Philippines repeat calls for dialogue as the only safe and sensible way forward.

The Syrian Test of Trump-Putin Accord

The U.S. mainstream media remains obsessed over Russia’s alleged “meddling” in last fall’s election, but the real test of bilateral cooperation may come on the cease-fire in Syria, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

July 09, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The immediate prospect for significant improvement in U.S.-Russia relations now depends on something tangible: Will the forces that sabotaged previous ceasefire agreements in Syria succeed in doing so again, all the better to keep alive the “regime change” dreams of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists?

Or will President Trump succeed where President Obama failed by bringing the U.S. military and intelligence bureaucracies into line behind a cease-fire rather than allowing insubordination to win out?

These are truly life-or-death questions for the Syrian people and could have profound repercussions across Europe, which has been destabilized by the flood of refugees fleeing the horrific violence in the six-year proxy war that has ripped Syria apart.

But you would have little inkling of this important priority from the large page-one headlines Saturday morning in the U.S. mainstream media, which continued its long obsession with the more ephemeral question of whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would confess to the sin of “interference” in the 2016 U.S. election and promise to repent.

Thus, the headlines: “Trump, Putin talk election interference” (Washington Post) and “Trump asks Putin About Meddling During Election” (New York Times). There was also the expected harrumphing from commentators on CNN and MSNBC when Putin dared to deny that Russia had interfered.

In both the big newspapers and on cable news shows, the potential for a ceasefire in southern Syria – set to go into effect on Sunday – got decidedly second billing.

Yet, the key to Putin’s assessment of Donald Trump is whether the U.S. President is strong enough to make the mutually agreed-upon ceasefire stick. As Putin is well aware, to do so Trump will have to take on the same “deep-state” forces that cheerily scuttled similar agreements in the past. In other words, the actuarial tables for this cease-fire are not good; long life for the agreement will take something just short of a miracle.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will have to face down hardliners in both the Pentagon and CIA. Tillerson probably expects that Defense Secretary James “Mad-Dog” Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo will cooperate by ordering their troops and operatives inside Syria to restrain the U.S.-backed “moderate rebels.”

But it remains to be seen if Mattis and Pompeo can control the forces their agencies have unleashed in Syria. If recent history is any guide, it would be folly to rule out another “accidental” U.S. bombing of Syrian government troops or a well-publicized “chemical attack” or some other senseless “war crime” that social media and mainstream media will immediately blame on President Bashar al-Assad.

Bitter Experience

Last fall’s limited ceasefire in Syria, painstakingly worked out over 11 months by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and approved personally by Presidents Obama and Putin, lasted only five days (from Sept. 12-17) before it was scuttled by “coalition” air strikes on well-known, fixed Syrian army positions, which killed between 64 and 84 Syrian troops and wounded about 100 others.

In public remarks bordering on the insubordinate, senior Pentagon officials a few days before the air attack on Sept. 17, showed unusually open skepticism regarding key aspects of the Kerry-Lavrov agreement – like sharing intelligence with the Russians (an important provision of the deal approved by both Obama and Putin).

The Pentagon’s resistance and the “accidental” bombing of Syrian troops brought these uncharacteristically blunt words from Foreign Minister Lavrov on Russian TV on Sept. 26:

“My good friend John Kerry … is under fierce criticism from the U.S. military machine. Despite the fact that, as always, [they] made assurances that the U.S. Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, supported him in his contacts with Russia … apparently the military does not really listen to the Commander in Chief.”

Lavrov specifically criticized Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford for telling Congress that he opposed sharing intelligence with Russia despite the fact, as Lavrov put it, “the agreements concluded on direct orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama [who] stipulated that they would share intelligence.” Noting this resistance inside the U.S. military bureaucracy, Lavrov added, “It is difficult to work with such partners.”

Putin picked up on the theme of insubordination in an Oct. 27 speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club, in which he openly lamented:

“My personal agreements with the President of the United States have not produced results. … people in Washington are ready to do everything possible to prevent these agreements from being implemented in practice.”

On Syria, Putin decried the lack of a “common front against terrorism after such lengthy negotiations, enormous effort, and difficult compromises.”

Lavrov’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, meanwhile, even expressed sympathy for Kerry’s quixotic effort, giving him an “A” for effort.after then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter dispatched U.S. warplanes to provide an early death to the cease-fire so painstakingly worked out by Kerry and Lavrov for almost a year.

For his part, Kerry expressed regret – in words reflecting the hapless hubris befitting the chief envoy of the world’s “only indispensible” country – conceding that he had been unable to “align” all the forces in play.

With the ceasefire in tatters, Kerry publicly complained on Sept. 29, 2016: “Syria is as complicated as anything I’ve ever seen in public life, in the sense that there are probably about six wars or so going on at the same time – Kurd against Kurd, Kurd against Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sunni, Shia, everybody against ISIL, people against Assad, Nusra [Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate]. This is as mixed-up sectarian and civil war and strategic and proxies, so it’s very, very difficult to be able to align forces.”

Admitting Deep-State Pre-eminence

Only in December 2016, in an interview with Matt Viser of the Boston Globe, did Kerry admit that his efforts to deal with the Russians had been thwarted by then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter – as well as all those forces he found so difficult to align.

“Unfortunately we had divisions within our own ranks that made the implementation [of the ceasefire agreement] extremely hard to accomplish,” Kerry said. “But it … could have worked. … The fact is we had an agreement with Russia … a joint cooperative effort.

“Now we had people in our government who were bitterly opposed to doing that,” he said. “I regret that. I think that was a mistake. I think you’d have a different situation there conceivably now if we’d been able to do that.”

The Globe’s Viser described Kerry as frustrated. Indeed, it was a tough way for Kerry to end nearly 34 years in public office.

After Friday’s discussions with President Trump, Kremlin eyes will be focused on Secretary of State Tillerson, watching to see if he has better luck than Kerry did in getting Ashton Carter’s successor, James “Mad Dog” Mattis and CIA’s latest captive-director Pompeo into line behind what President Trump wants to do.

As the new U.S.-Russia agreed-upon ceasefire goes into effect on Sunday, Putin will be eager to see if this time Trump, unlike Obama, can make a ceasefire in Syria stick; or whether, like Obama, Trump will be unable to prevent it from being sabotaged by Washington’s deep-state actors.

The proof will be in the pudding and, clearly, much depends on what happens in the next few weeks. At this point, it will take a leap of faith on Putin’s part to have much confidence that the ceasefire will hold. 

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  As a CIA analyst for 27 years, he led the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and, during President Ronald Reagan’s first term, conducted the early morning briefings with the President’s Daily Brief.  He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

This article was first published by Consortium News 

See also – New study shows Clinton lost election because of growing working class opposition to war

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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TheSaker: I sure hope that I am wrong, but…

TheSaker: I sure hope that I am wrong, but…

03.07.2017

Written by TheSaker; Originally appeared at The Unz Review

The talk of the week is the upcoming meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the G20 conference this Friday.  There have been some very good articles already written on this topic, I particularly recommend Adam Garrie’s “5 obstacles Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will have to address in their meeting” for The Duran and Israel Shamir’s “What Would Putin Tell Trump?” for The Unz Review.  It is undeniable that the fact that these two men will finally meet is an event of immense significance and importance for the future not only of US-Russian relations, but even for the future or mankind.

Or is it?

I have to be honest here and say that my expectations are pretty close to zero.  Oh sure, they will smile, probably a lot, and some minor issues, such as the seizure of the Russian diplomatic residence in the USA, will be resolved.  Probably.  There might even be some kind of positive sounding sounds about “reaffirming the Minsk Agreement” or “fighting ISIS in Syria”, but compared to long list of truly vital issues which need to be urgently discussed and resolved, this will, I am afraid, be as close to nothing as it can get.  Why do I say that?

First, we should all stop kidding ourselves, Russia and the USA do not have “disagreements”.  The sad and frightening reality is that we are now closer to war than during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Not only are Russian and US servicemen now deployed in the same war zone (the Americans totally illegally), but unlike what happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis we have a US President who terminally lacks the willpower to deal with the crazies on the US side, I am talking about the Neocons, of course.  In fact, under Kennedy there were no real Neocons to tackle to begin with.  Now they are running the White House while Trump serves them coffee or watches TV in another room (I am jocking of course, but just barely).  In this context, to meet on the “sidelines” of a G20 conference is bordering on the criminally irresponsible.  What the world would need is for Trump and Putin to meet in a “Camp David” like format for at least 3-5 days with all their key advisors and officials.  Even if we assume a 100% of good will on both sides, meeting on the “sidelines” of an already big conference just won’t make it possible to get anything done.  In the very best of cases Lavrov and Tillerson could have done most of the hard work away from the public eye, but the truth is that the Russians say that so far the two sides have not even agreed upon an agenda.

Second, it is absolutely clear that the US Ziomedia and Congress will declare any, any, positive outcome from the meeting as “Trump caved in to Putin” and try to get a pound of political flesh out of Trump for it.  So for Trump any external success will mean an internal disaster.  And we already know that the man does not have what it takes to deal with such attacks.  Frankly, his only “tactic”, so to speak, to deal with the Neocons has been to try to appease them.  So short of Trump asking for political asylum in Russia and joining Snowden somewhere in Russia, I don’t see him ever taking any independent action.

Third, if we look at the people around Trump it is pretty clear that the only intelligent and rational person in the White House is Rex Tillerson.  The rest of them are lunatics, maniacs and imbeciles – the current US, what shall I call it, “actions” (can’t call it a “policy”) towards Syria clearly prove that the Executive Branch is completely out of control.  We now can clearly see that Mattis and McMaster are not these military geniuses presented to us by the Ziomedia but that, in fact, they are both phenomenally incompetent and that their views of the conflicts in Syria and even Afghanistan can only be characterized as totally lacking anything remotely resembling any kind of vision. Yet these two “geniuses” seem to be in charge.  For all his intelligence, Tillerson can’t even reign in this Nikki idiot at the United Nations.  We should stop kidding ourselves and stop pretending like there is anybody to talk to for the Russians.  At best, they are dealing with a Kindergarten.  At worst, they are dealing with an evil Kindergarten.  But either way, there is nobody to talk to on the US side, much less so somebody to begin solving the many issues which need solving.

I will admit that I did have high hopes for Trump and his apparent willingness to sit down and have an adult conversation with Russians.  I was especially inspired by Trump’s repeated rejection of the Ziomedia’s narrative about Russia and by what appeared to me as his “no nonsense” approach towards getting things done.  I wrote many articles for this blog saying that having hopes (not expectations!) for Trump was the right thing to do.  And, frankly, I think that at the time it was.  Last Fall I even wrote an entire chapter on this topic in the book “If I were King: Advice for President Trump“.   The big difference is that before his election we could only judge Trump by his words.  Now, however, we can judge him by his words and his actions and the latter show us a consistent pattern of supine subservience to the Neocons and their demands, from the betrayal of his friend and key advisor Flynn, to the recent threats to bomb Syria for, allegedly, “preparing” to use chemical munitions against civilians.

This might be his, shall we call it, “Las Vegas culture” – but Trump is all about form over substance and appearance over facts.  Just look at his frankly pathetic threats (with no less than 3 aircraft carrier strike groups!) against the DPRK or his half-assed missile strike on the Syrian airbase: it’s all a big show, nothing more.  No wonder the man likes “tweeting” – he seems to think in 140 character long “thought clusters”…

None of that would be too bad if the USA, and the West generally, had a halfway decent media and a Legislative Branch worthy of its name.  In theory, these could raise hell and demand that the President either resign or begin doing his job.  But, of course, they don’t and they won’t.  They hate Trump, of course, but they also own him.  He can make fun of them in “tweets” on his free time, but in terms of his policies he does exactly what they want.  And the very last thing they want is any kind of “detente” with Russia.  At most, they will impeach Trump just to humiliate him, but that’s about it.  They don’t even need to play their “Pence” card – Trump is what is colloquially known in US ghettos as their “punk-ass bitch”.

Ever since the ill-fated “GWOT” more or less petered out, Russia has become the indispensable bogeyman to terrify the public and justify multi-billion dollar corruption schemes.  Not only that, but a “resurgent Russia” is the cornerstone justification of the AngloZionist paranoia about a need to spend more on the war state, the police state and, of course, on corporate greed.  The powers that be are even re-heating old, Cold War era, scaring techniques:

The Defense Intelligence Agency has recently released a “Russian Military Power 2017” report. Since it is pretty well written, I actually recommend that you download and read it: it is a mix of pretty good information about the Russian Armed Forces and the garden variety nonsense about Russian hackers and their cyber-threat to US and its allies.  Just set aside the clearly politically-induced nonsense and you are left with a rather well made summary of what the Russian Armed Forces are up to these days.

I have to thank the DIA for this report: it made me feel young again, like I was in the 1980s when all the student of warfare and of the Soviet military were reading these annual “Soviet Military Power” reports with great interest.  But other than making some of us feel young, the real purpose of this document is clear and it is the very same one behind the Cold War era “Soviet Military Power” series: to justify an increase in “defense” (i.e. “aggression”) spending by showing how scary these evil Commies/Russikies were/are.

This would all be rather funny, and nostalgic in a way, if it did not show the total lack of imagination of the folks at the Pentagon.  Far from coming up with anything novel or interesting, they are bringing back into service stuff which for years had been collecting dust in the memories of now mostly retired Cold Warriors.  It is rather pathetic, really.

Over the past 30 years or so, Russia went from being the Soviet Union, to being a Somalia-like “democratic hell” during the 1990s, to becoming a completely new entity – a “New Russia” which is dramatically different from the Soviet Union of the 1980s. 

In contrast, the USA got completely stuck in its old patterns, except for this time they are “the same, but even worse”.  If the USA did not have nukes that would almost be okay (after all, the world can let “Uncle Sam” slowly lose his sclerotic brain, who cares?) but when a nuclear superpower is acting like an out-of-control rogue state, this is very, very, scary.

So back to our G20 meeting again.  The first thing which needs to be said is that Trump is weak, extremely weak: he goes in with the Ziomedia and Congress hating him and with a basically treacherous White House team clearly controlled by Pence, Kushner and the rest of the Neocon crazies.  To make things worse, Trump can offer the Russians absolutely nothing they would want or need.

Please don’t buy this sanctions canard.  The damage these sanctions could do they have already done.  The simple truth is that Russia has already survived the sanctions and come out even stronger, this is confirmed by international organizations and by the private sector. In fact, removing the sanctions right now would hurt the Russian economy far more, especially the agricultural sector, which has greatly benefited from the de-facto protectionist protection provided to the Russian economy by these sanctions.  Likewise, the Russian defense industry has successfully adapted to the total severance by the Ukronazi regime of all the defense contracts with Russia and now 100% Russian military systems and parts are being produced in Russia at a cheaper price and of a higher quality.  Besides, since Congress and UN Nikki have made it pretty darn clear that sanctions will remain in place until Russia agrees to return Crimea to the Ukraine, nothing will change until the current Ukraine finally breaks into three of four parts.

Trump could, in theory, offer the Russians to stop sabotaging the peace process in Syria and the Russians would surely welcome that.  But since the US policy of illegal air and missile strikes combined with a deployment of US forces on the ground in Syria is failing anyway, see here and here, the Russians are going to get what they want whether the US wants it or not.

As for the Ukraine, the situation there is so bad that an increasing number of specialists are saying that even the US has lost control of Banderastan and that now it’s going to be all about intra-Ukie power plays: the social, political, military, cultural and economic disaster has reach what I would call an “escape velocity” when the various processes taking place are basically chaotic, unpredictable and unmanageable.  I am personally very dubious that the Americans would have anything to offer the Russians.

How about the other way around?  What could the Russians offer Trump?

Again, I am afraid that nothing much either.

Russian foreign policies are all centered around the development of a multi-polar world and Putin is now extremely busy dealing with some seriously important matters.  So what can Putin offer Trump?  A promise not to invade Lithuania?  Trump knows that there never was any such threat to begin with.  It’s not like Putin can agree to pretend not to see the constant inflow of NATO forces and equipment into eastern Europe as the latter constitute a serious threat to the Russian national security.  Could the Russian promise that they won’t fly over the Baltic without their transponders on?  Hardly, since the first ones to switch off their transponders were the Americans.  What about a Russian promise not to intercept Secretary of Defense Mattis’ civilian transport aircraft over international waters?  But wait – that was the other way around, it’s NATO (a Polish F-16 actually) which intercepted Shoigu’s aircraft over the Baltic Sea during a long announced and official trip from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad (and who then ran away as soon as a Russian SU-27 showed the missiles it was carrying under it’s wings which by convention means “get the hell out of here or I shoot you down“), so its not the Russians, but the American who need to reign in their yapping poodle.

[Sidebar: I have never been a big admirer of Polish politicians, but now Poland is reaching truly historical lows in terms of cowardice, dishonor and plain stupidity; from their “war on statues“, to their idiotic accusation that the Russian ATC deliverately crashed an official Polish aircraft ( resulting form their categorical inability to accept that their own politicians gave a stupid order to their pilots) to Prime Minister Kazinsky’s war on “cyclists and vegetarians“, to the resurrection of the extremely dangerous “Three Seas” plan – Poland is constantly up to the no good and self-deafeningly stupid.  But then, what are we to expect from a country which considers a character like Pilsudksi as a national hero?  Sadly, Poland is repeating its worst historical mistake: the one of constantly trying to trigger a conflict between the West and Russia (apparently, history has taught them nothing).  So now, the tiny Polish poodle is barking at the Russian Bear convinced that Uncle Sam and the West will protect him if the bear comes down charging.  Truly, human stupidity is limitless].

I think I can guess what the Americans want: a partition of Syria, if not de jure then de factoI don’t think that this will work.  For one thing, the Americans are (yet again) overlooking the fact that the main actor in Syria is not Russia but Iran and Iran has no reason whatsoever to agree to any such partition.  Neither do the Russians, of course.  The only ones truly interested in a partition of Syria are,who else, the Israelis and since they are now back in charge of the White House, they are the ones pushing for this “solution”.  But that is something Turkey and Iran cannot accept as this would not only create a “Wahabistan” in eastern Syria, but also some kind of Kurdistan in the north – hardly a recipe for peace.  And, finally, let’s not forget the Syrians themselves.  They perfectly understand that any partition of their homeland would leave them squeezed between Israel in the southwest and some kind of crazy Daesh pretend-caliphate in the northeast – why would they ever accept such a rotten and, not to mention, unsustainable deal?

For the Americans, of course, it’s the other way around: since they could not get the black flag of Daesh to fly over Damascus they see the partition of Syria as the only acceptable outcome.  They will therefore oppose any peace process, especially one crafted by Russia, Iran and Turkey, with every ugly trick in their bag.

So, will the upcoming meeting yield nothing, nothing at all?

It will yield the fact that the two leaders spoke to each other, face to face.  That is not unimportant.  I also have some hopes for some type of ‘deconfliction’ agreements between Russia and the US/NATO (switch they bloody transponders on again!).  If we can get resumption of some kind of talks between NATO and Russia it would also be a good thing, even if nothing much concrete is achieved by this.  I suspect that Trump would love the ditch the Ukraine, but he can’t do that on political reasons.  If the Russians can con the Americans to endorse, even just verbally, the Astana talks on Syria that would be good because it would make it marginally harder for the Pentagon and/or the CIA to engage in false flag chemical attacks or any other such nonsense.  Am I missing something?  Yeah, probably some kind of  “cultural exchanges” (that’s when diplomats are truly desperate and have nothing else to offer) or a common plan to protect polar bears (thank God for small things all the same!).

The Russians will probably try to get Trump into agreeing to some kind of new UN Resolution on Syria, but since we all know that the USA disregards UN resolutions anyway, it won’t be much of a victory, even if it will feel good for a while.

I hope I am wrong, really wrong, totally wrong even.  I will be watching the (hopefully joint) press conference of Trump and Putin on Friday with a tiny leftover and paradoxical spark of hope that maybe, just maybe, Trump has something good left inside him.  But I won’t be holding my breath.  They say that hope dies last.  Maybe.  I will find out on Friday.

FP: White House Officials Push For Widening War in Syria

Local Editor

A pair of top White House officials is pushing to broaden the war in Syria according to two sources familiar with the debate inside the Donald Trump administration.

FP: White House Officials Push For Widening War in Syria

Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, and Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East advisor, want the United States to start going on the offensive in southern Syria, where, in recent weeks, the US military has taken a handful of attacks.The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The Pentagon has publicly asserted it has no intention to fight Syrian Arab Army forces and their allies, unless provoked.Meanwhile, Trump’s address in Saudi Arabia in early May made clear the United States was going to take sides in the Middle East’s sectarian struggle, choosing to back some Arab parties in an attempt to isolate Syria’s ally, Iran.In this respect, the Gulf monarchies and the Zionist entity have all welcomed Trump’s vows to push back against Iran.Some administration officials have argued for expanding support for the Saudi-led coalition bombing Yemen.

Like Syria, however, a larger US role in Yemen’s war carries an array of risks, and experts say treating Yemen as a proxy war with Iran could backfire badly.

While officials argue in Washington over strategy and vie for influence in the administration, events on the ground in Syria are moving quickly, raising the potential of a conflict.

Relatively, US military officers made clear that they will not hesitate to carry out additional attacks in case American special operations forces are ‘endangered.’”If our folks are on the ground and they’re threatened, we will use air power, whether it’s against regime forces or pro-regime forces,” one officer said.

Source: Foreign Policy, 

Edited by website team

17-06-2017 | 13:08
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Washington’s War Crimes in Syria

By Bill Van Auken

June 16, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The United States government is guilty of war crimes. This is the stark conclusion reached by the independent international commission of inquiry established by the United Nations in 2011 to investigate human rights violations stemming from the protracted US-backed war for regime change in Syria.

The Pentagon’s relentless bombing campaign in and around the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the so-called “capital” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has inflicted a “staggering loss of civilian life,” while forcing over 160,000 civilians to flee their homes, Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the UN’s commission of inquiry, said on Wednesday.

US warplanes have dropped tens of thousands of munitions on Raqqa and the surrounding area, killing and maiming thousands of Syrian men, women and children. US Marines units, which have steadily swelled the ground forces illegally deployed on Syrian soil, have unleashed further lethal firepower, firing 155mm howitzers into crowded urban neighborhoods and flying Apache attack helicopters to provide close air support to the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces. This proxy force of Washington is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia and “advised” by US Special Operations troops.

The bloody siege of Raqqa is unfolding even as the Pentagon is carrying out a similar slaughter, begun last October, in Mosul, an Iraqi city 232 miles to the east that once boasted a population of over 2 million. Most of Mosul has been pulverized by US bombs, rockets and shells. Thousands have been killed and wounded, while many remain still buried under the rubble.

The scope of the war crimes being carried out by the Pentagon comes more sharply into focus with the verified reports that US artillery units are firing white phosphorus shells into both Raqqa and Mosul. These incendiary chemical weapons, banned under international law for use in populated areas, ignite human flesh on contact, burning it to the bone, while those who breathe the gases released by the shells suffocate and burn from the inside out. The horrific wounds caused by these weapons reopen when exposed to air. White phosphorus is used to strike terror among those under attack.

Another murderous weapon being employed against the populations of Raqqa and Mosul is the MGM-140B rocket. Fired from a mobile rocket launcher, the weapon detonates in midair, scattering some 274 anti-personnel grenades, each of which is capable of killing anyone within a 15-meter radius.

Last month, US Defense Secretary James Mattis told the media that the Pentagon was adopting “annihilation tactics” in its anti-ISIS campaign, adding, “Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation.” Mattis, a recently retired Marine general whom the military nicknamed “Mad Dog,” knows whereof he speaks. In 2004, he led the two murderous sieges of Fallujah that claimed the lives of thousands of Iraqis, and, as in the latest US atrocities, made use of white phosphorus shells against a civilian population.

The US military interventions in Iraq and Syria are not aimed at “annihilating” ISIS, itself the product of the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq, followed by Washington’s utilization of Islamist fighters as proxy ground forces in the regime-change wars in both Libya and Syria. While Raqqa has been surrounded by US-backed forces from the north, east and west, an escape route for ISIS fighters has been opened up to the southeast in order to funnel them into the province of Deir al-Zour, so they can fight the Syrian army there. Similarly, large numbers of ISIS fighters were allowed to flee Mosul, crossing the border into Syria for the same purpose.

Washington’s strategic objectives in Iraq and Syria are not those of “fighting terrorism,” but rather consolidating US hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East and preparing for war against the principal obstacles to this objective, Iran and Russia. For US imperialism, undisputed control over both the Persian Gulf and Central Asia would provide the means to cut off energy supplies to its global rival, China.

These predatory aims are the source of war crimes, and not only in Iraq and Syria. In Yemen, Washington is backing a near-genocidal war led by the Saudi monarchy with the objective of weakening Iran’s influence in the Persian Gulf. During his visit to Riyadh last month, President Donald Trump announced a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom, which will, in the first instance, replenish the bombs and missiles it is raining on the population of the most impoverished nation in the Arab world.

This arms package follows similar deals signed by the Obama administration, which also supplied the Saudis with logistical and intelligence aid for the Yemen war, including mid-air refueling for its warplanes and US naval backing for a blockade that is starving the population and denying it medical supplies. In addition to killing 12,000 people outright, the US-Saudi war has left at least 7 million Yemenis on the brink of famine, while cholera is threatening to kill thousands more. Save the Children reports that, on average, one Yemeni child is contracting the disease every 35 seconds.

Meanwhile, Washington is preparing to once again escalate the protracted slaughter in Afghanistan. US officials reported Tuesday that Trump has authorized Mattis to set troop levels in the country, which the US has occupied since 2001. Thousands more soldiers are expected to be deployed, with the aim of carrying out the “annihilation tactics” favored by the defense secretary. A taste of what is to come was seen Monday when US troops whose convoy hit a roadside bomb opened fire indiscriminately on civilians, killing a brick kiln laborer and his two sons, ages eight and 10.

As these atrocities play out across an ever-expanding global battlefield, what is striking is the absence of any organized opposition to US war crimes. The continuous wars are not even a subject of debate in Congress and are supported by both Democrats and Republicans. The media, a faithful propaganda arm of the Pentagon and the CIA, has shown a complete disinterest in US war crimes, paying attention only when allegations are made against Russia or the Syrian government.

Moreover, while masses of working people in the US and around the world are opposed to war, the pseudo-left groups that got their start in the middle class antiwar protests of the 1960s and 1970s have abandoned even verbal opposition to US military aggression. Reflecting the interests of privileged middle-class layers, groups like the International Socialist Organization in the US, the Left Party in Germany and the New Anti-capitalist Party in France have articulated the politics of this new constituency for imperialism, justifying neo-colonial interventions in the name of “human rights” and portraying CIA regime-change operations as in Libya and Syria as “revolutions.”

The emergence of a genuine antiwar movement is today a matter of life and death, as the war crimes being carried out by Washington across the globe threaten to coalesce into a global conflict involving the major nuclear powers. Such a movement can be built only in the fight to mobilize the working class independently on the basis of a socialist program to put an end to capitalism, the source of war.

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Syria – The End Of The War Is Now In Sight

By Moon Of Alabama

A look at recent developments in Syria. [Updated below June 14 1:00am EDT]


Source: Al Watan Onlinebigger

June 14, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  The most important change over the last days was the Syrian government forces move (red areas and arrows) in the south-east towards the Iraqi border. The original plan was to retrieve al-Tanf further south-west to secure the border crossing of the Damascus-Baghdad highway there. But al-Tanf was occupied by U.S., British and Norwegian invaders and some of their proxy forces (blue). Their airplanes attacked Syrian army convoys when they approached. The U.S. plan was to move from al-Tanf north towards the Euphrates river and to thereby capture and control the whole south-east of Syria. But Syria and its allies made an unexpected move and prevented that plan. The invaders are now cut off from the Euphrates by a Syrian west-to-east line that ends at the Iraqi border. On the Iraqi side elements of the Popular Military Unites under the command of the Iraqi government are moving to meet the Syrian forces at the border.

The U.S. invaders are now sitting in the mid of a piece of rather useless desert around al-Tanf where their only option is to die of boredom or to move back to Jordan from where they came. The Russian military has made it very clear that it would intervene forcefully should the U.S. attack the Syrian line and move further north. The U.S. and its allies have no mandate to be in Syria in the first place. There is no justification or legal ground for them to attack any Syrian units. Their only option now is to retreat.

The U.S. move into al-Tanf was covered by an attack of U.S. proxy forces in the south-west of Syria. A large group of “rebels”, which include al-Qaeda elements and is supplied from Jordan, moved to take the city of Deraa from Syrian government control. It was hoped that this attack would divert Syrian forces from their move east. But despite the use of suicide bombers the attack on Deraa failed to overwhelm the strong defenses of the Syrian forces. It did not provide the necessary diversion. The Syrian position in Deraa was reinforced by units from Damascus which are now attacking the U.S. proxy gangs. Significant progress was made today in the southern suburbs of Deraa and the Syrian army attack will likely continue the move until it has reached the Jordanian border.

The U.S. plans in south Syria, in the west as well as in the east, have failed for now. Unless the Trump administration is willing to invest significant more forces and to openly and against all laws wage war on the Syria government and its allies the situation there is contained. The Syrian forces will over time recapture all the (blue colored) land in the south that is currently held by the various U.S. proxies and other terrorist groups.

In the north-west the Takfiri “rebel” groups are concentrated around Idleb and further north. These groups are sponsored by Saudi, Qatari and Turkish money. The recent spat between Qatar and other Gulf states has throw the Idleb situation into further chaos. Saudi sponsored groups are now fighting Qatari and Turkish sponsored groups. These conflicts come on top of other animosities between al-Qaeda aligned forces and those of Ahrar al-Sham. The Syrian government forces keep the province surrounded and Turkey in the north has kept its border mostly closed. The Takfiri “rebels” in Idleb will cook in their own juices until they are well done and completely exhausted. Eventually government forces will move in and destroy whatever is left of them.

In the center of the map the Syrian army (red) arrows are pointing towards the central desert areas held by ISIS forces which are retreating towards the east (black arrows). Moving simultaneously from the north, west and south the Syrian government forces make fast progress with several kilometers of ground retaken each day. During the last month 4,000 square kilometers and over 100 settlements and towns have been recovered. Within a few weeks they will have recovered all the (brown) ISIS held areas up to the Euphrates river line and the Syrian-Iraqi border.

Russian military bridging equipment recently started to arrive in Syria. It will be needed to cross the Euphrates and to recover the areas north of it.

Meanwhile U.S. supported Kurdish forces (yellow arrows) are attacking the ISIS held city of Raqqa. The Russian military command claims (video) that the Kurds and the U.S. made a deal with ISIS to let its fighters leave Raqqa towards the south and east. The fast progress the Kurds are making in taking the city supports that claim. There seems to be barely any Islamic State resistance left.

All ISIS forces left in Syria, those coming from Raqqa as well as those from the desert areas, are moving east along the Euphrates towards the city of Deir Ezzor. There as many as 100,000+ government aligned civilians and a Syrian army garrison have long been surrounded by ISIS forces. The besieged people are supplied by air drops. The Syrian military garrison has long held off the attacking ISIS forces. But with thousands of new Islamic State forces coming towards the city the government troops are in real danger of getting overwhelmed. Reinforcements must be flown into the city to keep ISIS off and to prevent a very large massacre. A much better alternative is a relief line on the ground. But the Syrian army race towards the city had been delayed by the U.S. shenanigans in the south. A new large ground move of government forces towards Deir Ezzor is in preparation. One can only hope that they arrive in time.

Qatari, Saudi and Turkish proxy forces, directed by the CIA, have waged a six year long war against Syria and its people. With Qatar and Turkey now in opposition to the Saudis and their U.S. allies, the gang that attacked Syria is falling apart. The Islamic State is shrinking fast and nearly defeated. The U.S. attempt to gain ground in the south has been stopped. Unless the U.S. changes tact and starts a large scale attack on Syria with its own army forces the war on Syria is over. Many areas still need to be recovered by Syrian forces. Terrorist attacks within the country will continue for several years. The wounds will take decades to heal. Negotiations will have to be held over areas in the north now under Turkish or U.S. (proxy) control. Further settlements will have to be reached. But the large scale strategic war against Syria has for now ended.

No one has won anything. The Kurds, which for while looked like the sole winner of the war, have just thrown away their gains.

The U.S. supported Kurdish forces of the YPG made the lunatic error of openly asking for support from Saudi Arabia. The anarcho-marxists of the YPG, always proudly showing off their feminism, are suddenly bowing down in front of the medieval Wahhabi nutters. They thus ruined their appearance of being a progressive leftist force. This move will reinforce Turkish and Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian animosity and hostility against them. All political advances they made during the war by staying mostly neutral between “rebels” and the Syrian government is now in jeopardy. The move is crazy. The Kurdish held area is completely surrounded by more or less hostile forces. U.S. or Saudi support for the land-locked and encircled Kurdish enclave is not sustainable over any longer time-frame. The Kurds have thus again demonstrated that they are their own worst enemies in their striving for a (semi-)sovereign Kurdish state. They will be thrown back into their original areas and again be folded up into the Syrian state.

[UPDATE:]

Secretary of Defense Mattis was questioned in Congress yesterday about the situation in Syria. There is no transcript yet but here are some tweets from a Stars & Stripes journalist who attended:

Tara Copp‏ @TaraCopp – 3:11 PM – 13 Jun 2017

#SecDef Mattis says “pro regime” forces that have moved into S. Syria near #AnTanf base are actually #Russian 1/2
#SecDef Mattis: “I did not anticipate that the #Russians would move there (near At Tanf.) … it was not a surprise to our intel people.”

The U.S. had claimed that the Syrian government aligned forces moving towards al-Tanf were “Iran backed” or “Iran led”. Now the Secretary of Defense says that was a lie. They were Russians allied with the Syrian government. The Russians certainly do not take their orders from some Iranian generals. It is no wonder than that the Russian command issued strong warnings against any attacks on these forces.

Mattis also exposes that he is incapable of strategic thinking. He really believed that Russian would not move to al-Tanf to cover for their Syrian comrades? It has been clear your months now that the Russians are all-in in Syria. They will not let the Syrian government fall to make nice with Mattis or Trump or anyone else. The strategic issue for them is clear and has been for a while. They will fight. They said so. It was utterly stupid to believe anything else.

Al-Tanf is a tactical issue but the U.S. military elevates it to a strategic one. This is clearly not justified. We have to ask again what the possible gains for the U.S. are from defending that place in the empty desert. There is none to be had but defending it out of “principle” could evidently start a much bigger war.

[T]he Tanf garrison is now surrounded by hostile forces. The U.S. forces in the area would have to fight through regime positions to get to al Bukamal, further risking escalation.

What now? Is the United States prepared to protect these forces in perpetuity? Will the U.S. provide air cover for forces that clash directly with regime allied assets outside of the 55-kilometer zone? Did the previous three strikes prompt a counter-escalatory act that undermined U.S. interests? Sadly, the answer to the last question is yes.

Strategy should drive tactics when it comes to handling Iranian-backed elements in Syria, not the other way around.

The United States has the capability to defend a garrison in the Syrian desert. However, the reasons for doing so are devoid of any purpose, making a simple cost benefit analysis all but impossible.

That insight has obviously not yet reached the Defense Department and the U.S. command on the ground. The local U.S. commander moved a U.S. HIMARS long-range artillery system from Jordan to al-Tanf. HIMARS has a range of 300 kilometers. It makes no difference from a tactical perspective if its fires from Jordan or from al-Tanf in Syria some 12 kilometers east of the border line. It is a symbolic move to “show flag” in al-Tanf but it exposes the system to a legitimate attack by Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces.

As Secretary of State Tillerson rightly said: The U.S. has no legal authority to attack Syrian, Iranian or Russian forces. None at all. It is invading Syria with no legitimate reason. Syria, in contrast, has the legal authority to throw the U.S. troops out.

To move the HIMARS to al-Tanf is utterly stupid grandstanding. It is high time for Washington to shut such nonsense down.

This article was first published by Moon Of Alabama

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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