Washington is Leading the U.S. and its Vassal States to Total Destruction

By Paul Craig Roberts

“The problem is that the world has listened to Americans for far too bloody long.”  — Dr. Julian Osborne, from the 2000 film version of Nevil Shute’s 1957 book, On the Beach

May 06, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – A reader asked why neoconservatives push toward nuclear war when there can be no winners. If all die, what is the point?

The answer is that the neoconservatives believe that the US can win at minimum and perhaps zero damage.

Their insane plan is as follows: Washington will ring Russia and China with anti-ballistic missile bases in order to provide a shield against a retaliatory strike from Russia and China. Moreover, these US anti-ABM bases also can deploy nuclear attack missiles unknown to Russia and China, thus reducing the warning time to five minutes, leaving Washington’s victims little or no time in which to make a decision.

The neoconservatives think that Washington’s first strike will so badly damage the Russian and Chinese retaliatory capabilities that both governments will surrender rather than launch a response. The Russian and Chinese leaderships would conclude that their diminished forces leave little chance that many of their ICBMs will be able to get past Washington’s ABM shield, leaving the US largely intact. A feeble retaliation by Russia and China would simply invite a second wave US nuclear attack that would obliterate Russian and Chinese cities, killing millions and leaving both countries in ruins.

In short, the American warmongers are betting that the Russian and Chinese leaderships would submit rather than risk total destruction.

There is no question that neoconservatives are sufficiently evil to launch a preemptive nuclear attack, but possibly the plan aims to put Russia and China into a situation in which their leaders conclude that the deck is stacked against them and, therefore, they must accept Washington’s hegemony.

To feel secure in its hegemony, Washington would have to order Russia and China to disarm.

This plan is full of risks. Miscalculations are a feature of war. It is reckless and irresponsible to risk the life of the planet for nothing more than Washington’s hegemony.

The neoconservative plan puts Europe, the UK, Japan, S. Korea, and Australia at high risk were Russia and China to retaliate. Washington’s ABM shield cannot protect Europe from Russia’s nuclear cruise missiles or from the Russian Air Force, so Europe would cease to exist. China’s response would hit Japan, S. Korea, and Australia.

The Russian hope and that of all sane people is that Washington’s vassals will understand that it is they that are at risk, a risk from which they have nothing to gain and everything to lose, repudiate their vassalage to Washington and remove the US bases. It must be clear to European politicians that they are being dragged into conflict with Russia. This week the NATO commander told the US Congress that he needed funding for a larger military presence in Europe in order to counter “a resurgent Russia.” https://www.rt.com/news/387063-nato-counter-resurgent-russia/

Let us examine what is meant by “a resurgent Russia.” It means a Russia that is strong and confident enough to defend its interests and those of its allies. In other words, Russia was able to block Obama’s planned invasion of Syria and bombing of Iran and to enable the Syrian armed forces to defeat the ISIS force sent by Obama and Hillary to overthrow Assad.

Russia is “resurgent” because Russia is able to block US unilateral actions against some other countries.

This capability flies in the face of the neoconservative Wolfowitz doctrine, which says that the principal goal of US foreign policy is to prevent the rise of any country that can serve as a check on Washington’s unilateral action.

While the neocons were absorbed in their “cakewalk” wars that have now lasted 16 years, Russia and China emerged as checks on the unilateralism that Washington had enjoyed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. What Washington is trying to do is to recapture its ability to act worldwide without any constraint from any other country. This requires Russia and China to stand down.

Are Russia and China going to stand down? It is possible, but I would not bet the life of the planet on it. Both governments have a moral conscience that is totally missing in Washington. Neither government is intimidated by the Western propaganda. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said yesterday that we hear endless hysterical charges against Russia, but the charges are always vacant of any evidence.https://sputniknews.com/politics/201705041053274379-lavrov-russia-us-relations/

Conceivably, Russia and China could sacrifice their sovereignty for the sake of life on earth. But this same moral conscience will propel them to oppose the evil that is Washington in order not to succumb to evil themselves. Therefore, I think that the evil that rules in Washington is leading the United States and its vassal states to total destruction.

Having convinced the Russian and Chinese leaderships that Washington intends to nuke their countries in a surprise attack (see, for example, http://www.fort-russ.com/2017/04/us-forces-preparing-sudden-nuclear.html ), the question is how do Russia and China respond? Do they sit there and await an attack, or do they preempt Washington’s attack with an attack of their own?

What would you do? Would you preserve your life by submitting to evil, or would you destroy the evil?

Writing truthfully results in my name being put on lists (financed by who?) as a “Russian dupe/agent.” Actually, I am an agent of all people who disapprove of Washington’s willingness to use nuclear war in order to establish Washington’s hegemony over the world, but let us understand what it means to be a “Russian agent.”

It means to respect international law, which Washington does not. It means to respect life, which Washington does not. It means to respect the national interests of other countries, which Washington does not. It means to respond to provocations with diplomacy and requests for cooperation, which Washington does not. But Russia does. Clearly, a “Russian agent” is a moral person who wants to preserve life and the national identity and dignity of other peoples.

It is Washington that wants to snuff out human morality and become the master of the planet. As I have previously written, Washington without any question is Sauron. The only important question is whether there is sufficient good left in the world to resist and overcome Washington’s evil.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

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

See also

500K People Sign Petition Barring Trump’s Nuclear Weapons Use: According to the bill, the President will be prohibited from using the Armed Forces to conduct a “first-use nuclear strike” until a congressional declaration of war expressly authorized such a strike.

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Interview: North Korea teaches that ‘a small, blocked country may resist’ US domination

Source

A Brazilian who has recently been in Pyongyang points out that the DPRK poses no threat to the world, only fighting for its sovereignty in the face of the American “urges for domination”

Eduardo Vasco, Pravda.Ru

In recent weeks tensions on the Korean peninsula have reached a frightening level, where analysts and news reports havepredicted nuclear war at any moment.

Meanwhile, after the military parade on April 15, as part of the celebrations for the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the founder of the country, North Korea tested new intercontinental missiles, even under threat of a US attack. The test, instead of leading to American intervention, has prompted President Donald Trump to withdraw from his warmonger speech against Pyongyang.

North Koreans, however, remain on the alert in the same way they have been for more than 60 years, since the US has been keeping troops stationed in South Korea and Japan since the end of World War II.

Gabriel Gonçalves Martinez was on April 15 in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea. He was invited by the North Korean government, representing the Communist Reconstruction Union (URC) and the Center for Juche Idea Studies – Brazil.

What did you think of the commemorations of the 105th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth on April 15?

The celebrations were impressive. On the 15th we had the opportunity to watch the military parade held in Pyongyang. At the time, we were able to see with our own eyes the power of the Korean People’s Army. After the military parade, in the streets it was possible to see the people in a festive mood. In all corners of the city there were cultural and artistic groups performing presentations, young pioneers singing. In short, a situation totally different from what was being presented by the media in the West.

What is the mood between the authorities and the North Korean people in the midst of this renewed escalation of tension with the United States?

The North Koreans harbor no illusions about US imperialism. They know that much of Trump’s aggressive rhetoric is also linked to his attempt to gain some legitimacy among the sectors that really govern the United States, namely the industrial-military complex. Anyway, the official policy of the DPRK is to develop what they call “prosperous socialist power” and the possession of nuclear weapons is not something that is open for negotiation. The possession of nuclear weapons by the DPRK is already a fact, whether or not the United States likes it.

Do North Koreans hate the US and are they really aggressive and dangerous, as the media say?

North Koreans hate American imperialism. They had a traumatizing experience during the 50’s that was the Korean War. They suffered in their own skin the destruction promoted by the United States, so they have every reason in the world to be angry with the United States. Now, this does not mean that this hatred of US imperialism translates into an automatic hatred of the American people. The media in the capitalist countries demonize the DPRK, but it is clear that the country poses no threat to the world. They pose a threat to the imperialists and their longing for domination, for they teach that even a small, blocked country can resist.

From what you saw in the military parade, has the DPRK the ability to face the US should there be a war? It seems that Donald Trump has stepped back and toned down the threats …

Yes, they have full capacity to face the US. The United States needs to take into consideration that the DPRK is not Libya or Iraq. It is a country that has nuclear arsenal and a powerful army. A war with the DPRK would not be so simple.

What is the importance of Kim Il Sung, the 105th anniversary celebration, for North Korean history?

Kim Il Sung was the main figure in the Korean people’s liberation struggle against Japanese imperialism and the main organizer of the communist movement in Korea. As a young man he founded several important communist organizations, such as the Union to Defeat Imperialism, the Communist Youth Union, the Anti-Imperialist Youth Union; In the aftermath of the anti-Japanese war, he founded the Communist Party of North Korea, which later gave rise to the Korean Labor Party. He was also the main founder of the Korean People’s Army, which is the Army of the Labor Party. Kim Il Sung was at the forefront of the socialist construction process in the DPRK until the end of his life in 1994.

To finish. This was not the first time you were in the DPRK. What did you see in your visits to the country? Did you see differences from what is broadcast by the media? Has anything changed since your previous visit?

This was my fourth time in the DPRK.

The first was in 2011 to attend the celebrations of the 99th anniversary of President Kim Il Sung. The reality of the country is totally different from what is shown by the mainstream media. Contrary to what many may think, the DPRK is not a bankrupt country, miserable, about to collapse. Pyongyang, for example, can easily be considered one of the most beautiful cities in Asia, full of parks, museums, monuments, etc. Since when I first visited the country, one can see in Pyongyang a rapid economic development. In recent years the government is inaugurating various infrastructure works, new buildings with popular housing, avenues. Recently Mirae Avenue was built, which is a street with huge buildings, where the apartments are dedicated to the scientists who made outstanding contributions to the socialist construction process in Korea. In this residential avenue you can find several restaurants, shops, popular markets, cinema, bars, etc. A few days ago Ryomyong Avenue opened, also with gigantic buildings and modern apartments. Also on Ryomyong Avenue you can find all the infrastructure we see on Mirae Avenue, with the difference that this new avenue is even more modern. In Pyongyang, in all corners of the city, it is possible to see new works being built, buildings being renovated. This demonstrates a certain economic development.

 


North Korean missiles rattled Japan and South Korea

An American Century of Carnage

Global Research, March 31, 2017
TomDispatch.com 28 March 2017

[This essay is adapted from “Measuring Violence,” the first chapter of John Dower’s new book, The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War Two.]

On February 17, 1941, almost 10 months before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Life magazine carried a lengthy essay by its publisher, Henry Luce, entitled “The American Century.” The son of Presbyterian missionaries, born in China in 1898 and raised there until the age of 15, Luce essentially transposed the certainty of religious dogma into the certainty of a nationalistic mission couched in the name of internationalism.

Luce acknowledged that the United States could not police the whole world or attempt to impose democratic institutions on all of mankind. Nonetheless, “the world of the 20th Century,” he wrote,

“if it is to come to life in any nobility of health and vigor, must be to a significant degree an American Century.” The essay called on all Americans “to accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most powerful and vital nation in the world and in consequence to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such measures as we see fit.”

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the United States wholeheartedly onto the international stage Luce believed it was destined to dominate, and the ringing title of his cri de coeur became a staple of patriotic Cold War and post-Cold War rhetoric. Central to this appeal was the affirmation of a virtuous calling. Luce’s essay singled out almost every professed ideal that would become a staple of wartime and Cold War propaganda: freedom, democracy, equality of opportunity, self-reliance and independence, cooperation, justice, charity — all coupled with a vision of economic abundance inspired by “our magnificent industrial products, our technical skills.” In present-day patriotic incantations, this is referred to as “American exceptionalism.”

The other, harder side of America’s manifest destiny was, of course, muscularity. Power. Possessing absolute and never-ending superiority in developing and deploying the world’s most advanced and destructive arsenal of war. Luce did not dwell on this dimension of “internationalism” in his famous essay, but once the world war had been entered and won, he became its fervent apostle — an outspoken advocate of “liberating” China from its new communist rulers, taking over from the beleaguered French colonial military in Vietnam, turning both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts from “limited wars” into opportunities for a wider virtuous war against and in China, and pursuing the rollback of the Iron Curtain with “tactical atomic weapons.” As Luce’s incisive biographer Alan Brinkley documents, at one point Luce even mulled the possibility of “plastering Russia with 500 (or 1,000) A bombs” — a terrifying scenario, but one that the keepers of the U.S. nuclear arsenal actually mapped out in expansive and appalling detail in the 1950s and 1960s, before Luce’s death in 1967.

The “American Century” catchphrase is hyperbole, the slogan never more than a myth, a fantasy, a delusion. Military victory in any traditional sense was largely a chimera after World War II. The so-called Pax Americana itself was riddled with conflict and oppression and egregious betrayals of the professed catechism of American values. At the same time, postwar U.S. hegemony obviously never extended to more than a portion of the globe. Much that took place in the world, including disorder and mayhem, was beyond America’s control.

Yet, not unreasonably, Luce’s catchphrase persists. The twenty-first-century world may be chaotic, with violence erupting from innumerable sources and causes, but the United States does remain the planet’s “sole superpower.” The myth of exceptionalism still holds most Americans in its thrall. U.S. hegemony, however frayed at the edges, continues to be taken for granted in ruling circles, and not only in Washington. And Pentagon planners still emphatically define their mission as “full-spectrum dominance” globally.

Washington’s commitment to modernizing its nuclear arsenal rather than focusing on achieving the thoroughgoing abolition of nuclear weapons has proven unshakable. So has the country’s almost religious devotion to leading the way in developing and deploying ever more “smart” and sophisticated conventional weapons of mass destruction.

Welcome to Henry Luce’s — and America’s — violent century, even if thus far it’s lasted only 75 years. The question is just what to make of it these days.

Counting the Dead

We live in times of bewildering violence. In 2013, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a Senate committee that the world is “more dangerous than it has ever been.” Statisticians, however, tell a different story: that war and lethal conflict have declined steadily, significantly, even precipitously since World War II.

Much mainstream scholarship now endorses the declinists. In his influential 2011 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker adopted the labels “the Long Peace” for the four-plus decades of the Cold War (1945-1991), and “the New Peace” for the post-Cold War years to the present. In that book, as well as in post-publication articles, postings, and interviews, he has taken the doomsayers to task. The statistics suggest, he declares, that “today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’s existence.”

Clearly, the number and deadliness of global conflicts have indeed declined since World War II. This so-called postwar peace was, and still is, however, saturated in blood and wracked with suffering.

It is reasonable to argue that total war-related fatalities during the Cold War decades were lower than in the six years of World War II (1939–1945) and certainly far less than the toll for the twentieth century’s two world wars combined. It is also undeniable that overall death tolls have declined further since then. The five most devastating intrastate or interstate conflicts of the postwar decades — in China, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and between Iran and Iraq — took place during the Cold War. So did a majority of the most deadly politicides, or political mass killings, and genocides: in the Soviet Union, China (again), Yugoslavia, North Korea, North Vietnam, Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan/Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, and Cambodia, among other countries. The end of the Cold War certainly did not signal the end of such atrocities (as witness Rwanda, the Congo, and the implosion of Syria). As with major wars, however, the trajectory has been downward.

Unsurprisingly, the declinist argument celebrates the Cold War as less violent than the global conflicts that preceded it, and the decades that followed as statistically less violent than the Cold War. But what motivates the sanitizing of these years, now amounting to three-quarters of a century, with the label “peace”? The answer lies largely in a fixation on major powers. The great Cold War antagonists, the United States and the Soviet Union, bristling with their nuclear arsenals, never came to blows. Indeed, wars between major powers or developed states have become (in Pinker’s words) “all but obsolete.” There has been no World War III, nor is there likely to be.

Such upbeat quantification invites complacent forms of self-congratulation. (How comparatively virtuous we mortals have become!) In the United States, where we-won-the-Cold-War sentiment still runs strong, the relative decline in global violence after 1945 is commonly attributed to the wisdom, virtue, and firepower of U.S. “peacekeeping.” In hawkish circles, nuclear deterrence — the Cold War’s MAD (mutually assured destruction) doctrine that was described early on as a “delicate balance of terror” — is still canonized as an enlightened policy that prevented catastrophic global conflict.

What Doesn’t Get Counted

Branding the long postwar era as an epoch of relative peace is disingenuous, and not just because it deflects attention from the significant death and agony that actually did occur and still does. It also obscures the degree to which the United States bears responsibility for contributing to, rather than impeding, militarization and mayhem after 1945. Ceaseless U.S.-led transformations of the instruments of mass destruction — and the provocative global impact of this technological obsession — are by and large ignored.

Continuities in American-style “warfighting” (a popular Pentagon word) such as heavy reliance on airpower and other forms of brute force are downplayed. So is U.S. support for repressive foreign regimes, as well as the destabilizing impact of many of the nation’s overt and covert overseas interventions. The more subtle and insidious dimension of postwar U.S. militarization — namely, the violence done to civil society by funneling resources into a gargantuan, intrusive, and ever-expanding national security state — goes largely unaddressed in arguments fixated on numerical declines in violence since World War II.

Beyond this, trying to quantify war, conflict, and devastation poses daunting methodological challenges. Data advanced in support of the decline-of-violence argument is dense and often compelling, and derives from a range of respectable sources. Still, it must be kept in mind that the precise quantification of death and violence is almost always impossible. When a source offers fairly exact estimates of something like “war-related excess deaths,” you usually are dealing with investigators deficient in humility and imagination.

Take, for example, World War II, about which countless tens of thousands of studies have been written. Estimates of total “war-related” deaths from that global conflict range from roughly 50 million to more than 80 million. One explanation for such variation is the sheer chaos of armed violence. Another is what the counters choose to count and how they count it. Battle deaths of uniformed combatants are easiest to determine, especially on the winning side. Military bureaucrats can be relied upon to keep careful records of their own killed-in-action — but not, of course, of the enemy they kill. War-related civilian fatalities are even more difficult to assess, although — as in World War II — they commonly are far greater than deaths in combat.

Does the data source go beyond so-called battle-related collateral damage to include deaths caused by war-related famine and disease? Does it take into account deaths that may have occurred long after the conflict itself was over (as from radiation poisoning after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or from the U.S. use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War)? The difficulty of assessing the toll of civil, tribal, ethnic, and religious conflicts with any exactitude is obvious.

Concentrating on fatalities and their averred downward trajectory also draws attention away from broader humanitarian catastrophes. In mid-2015, for instance, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that the number of individuals “forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations” had surpassed 60 million and was the highest level recorded since World War II and its immediate aftermath. Roughly two-thirds of these men, women, and children were displaced inside their own countries. The remainder were refugees, and over half of these refugees were children.

Here, then, is a trend line intimately connected to global violence that is not heading downward. In 1996, the U.N.’s estimate was that there were 37.3 million forcibly displaced individuals on the planet. Twenty years later, as 2015 ended, this had risen to 65.3 million — a 75% increase over the last two post-Cold War decades that the declinist literature refers to as the “new peace.”

Other disasters inflicted on civilians are less visible than uprooted populations. Harsh conflict-related economic sanctions, which often cripple hygiene and health-care systems and may precipitate a sharp spike in infant mortality, usually do not find a place in itemizations of military violence. U.S.-led U.N. sanctions imposed against Iraq for 13 years beginning in 1990 in conjunction with the first Gulf War are a stark example of this. An account published in the New York Times Magazine in July 2003 accepted the fact that “at least several hundred thousand children who could reasonably have been expected to live died before their fifth birthday.” And after all-out wars, who counts the maimed, or the orphans and widows, or those the Japanese in the wake of World War II referred to as the “elderly orphaned” — parents bereft of their children?

Figures and tables, moreover, can only hint at the psychological and social violence suffered by combatants and noncombatants alike. It has been suggested, for instance, that one in six people in areas afflicted by war may suffer from mental disorder (as opposed to one in ten in normal times). Even where American military personnel are concerned, trauma did not become a serious focus of concern until 1980, seven years after the U.S. retreat from Vietnam, when post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was officially recognized as a mental-health issue.

In 2008, a massive sampling study of 1.64 million U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq between October 2001 and October 2007 estimated “that approximately 300,000 individuals currently suffer from PTSD or major depression and that 320,000 individuals experienced a probable TBI [traumatic brain injury] during deployment.” As these wars dragged on, the numbers naturally increased. To extend the ramifications of such data to wider circles of family and community — or, indeed, to populations traumatized by violence worldwide — defies statistical enumeration.

Terror Counts and Terror Fears

Largely unmeasurable, too, is violence in a different register: the damage that war, conflict, militarization, and plain existential fear inflict upon civil society and democratic practice. This is true everywhere but has been especially conspicuous in the United States since Washington launched its “global war on terror” in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Here, numbers are perversely provocative, for the lives claimed in twenty-first-century terrorist incidents can be interpreted as confirming the decline-in-violence argument. From 2000 through 2014, according to the widely cited Global Terrorism Index, “more than 61,000 incidents of terrorism claiming over 140,000 lives have been recorded.” Including September 11th, countries in the West experienced less than 5% of these incidents and 3% of the deaths. The Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, another minutely documented tabulation based on combing global media reports in many languages, puts the number of suicide bombings from 2000 through 2015 at 4,787 attacks in more than 40 countries, resulting in 47,274 deaths.

These atrocities are incontestably horrendous and alarming. Grim as they are, however, the numbers themselves are comparatively low when set against earlier conflicts. For specialists in World War II, the “140,000 lives” estimate carries an almost eerie resonance, since this is the rough figure usually accepted for the death toll from a single act of terror bombing, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The tally is also low compared to contemporary deaths from other causes. Globally, for example, more than 400,000 people are murdered annually. In the United States, the danger of being killed by falling objects or lightning is at least as great as the threat from Islamist militants.

This leaves us with a perplexing question: If the overall incidence of violence, including twenty-first-century terrorism, is relatively low compared to earlier global threats and conflicts, why has the United States responded by becoming an increasingly militarized, secretive, unaccountable, and intrusive “national security state”? Is it really possible that a patchwork of non-state adversaries that do not possess massive firepower or follow traditional rules of engagement has, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared in 2013, made the world more threatening than ever?

For those who do not believe this to be the case, possible explanations for the accelerating militarization of the United States come from many directions. Paranoia may be part of the American DNA — or, indeed, hardwired into the human species. Or perhaps the anticommunist hysteria of the Cold War simply metastasized into a post-9/11 pathological fear of terrorism. Machiavellian fear-mongering certainly enters the picture, led by conservative and neoconservative civilian and military officials of the national security state, along with opportunistic politicians and war profiteers of the usual sort. Cultural critics predictably point an accusing finger as well at the mass media’s addiction to sensationalism and catastrophe, now intensified by the proliferation of digital social media.

To all this must be added the peculiar psychological burden of being a “superpower” and, from the 1990s on, the planet’s “sole superpower” — a situation in which “credibility” is measured mainly in terms of massive cutting-edge military might. It might be argued that this mindset helped “contain Communism” during the Cold War and provides a sense of security to U.S. allies. What it has not done is ensure victory in actual war, although not for want of trying. With some exceptions (Grenada, Panama, the brief 1991 Gulf War, and the Balkans), the U.S. military has not tasted victory since World War II — Korea, Vietnam, and recent and current conflicts in the Greater Middle East being boldface examples of this failure. This, however, has had no impact on the hubris attached to superpower status. Brute force remains the ultimate measure of credibility.

The traditional American way of war has tended to emphasize the “three Ds” (defeat, destroy, devastate). Since 1996, the Pentagon’s proclaimed mission is to maintain “full-spectrum dominance” in every domain (land, sea, air, space, and information) and, in practice, in every accessible part of the world. The Air Force Global Strike Command, activated in 2009 and responsible for managing two-thirds of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, typically publicizes its readiness for “Global Strike… Any Target, Any Time.”

In 2015, the Department of Defense acknowledged maintaining 4,855 physical “sites” — meaning bases ranging in size from huge contained communities to tiny installations — of which 587 were located overseas in 42 foreign countries. An unofficial investigation that includes small and sometimes impermanent facilities puts the number at around 800 in 80 countries. Over the course of 2015, to cite yet another example of the overwhelming nature of America’s global presence, elite U.S. special operations forces were deployed to around 150 countries, and Washington provided assistance in arming and training security forces in an even larger number of nations.

America’s overseas bases reflect, in part, an enduring inheritance from World War II and the Korean War. The majority of these sites are located in Germany (181), Japan (122), and South Korea (83) and were retained after their original mission of containing communism disappeared with the end of the Cold War. Deployment of elite special operations forces is also a Cold War legacy (exemplified most famously by the Army’s “Green Berets” in Vietnam) that expanded after the demise of the Soviet Union. Dispatching covert missions to three-quarters of the world’s nations, however, is largely a product of the war on terror.

Many of these present-day undertakings require maintaining overseas “lily pad” facilities that are small, temporary, and unpublicized. And many, moreover, are integrated with covert CIA “black operations.” Combating terror involves practicing terror — including, since 2002, an expanding campaign of targeted assassinations by unmanned drones. For the moment, this latest mode of killing remains dominated by the CIA and the U.S. military (with the United Kingdom and Israel following some distance behind).

Counting Nukes

The “delicate balance of terror” that characterized nuclear strategy during the Cold War has not disappeared. Rather, it has been reconfigured. The U.S. and Soviet arsenals that reached a peak of insanity in the 1980s have been reduced by about two-thirds — a praiseworthy accomplishment but one that still leaves the world with around 15,400 nuclear weapons as of January 2016, 93% of them in U.S. and Russian hands. Close to two thousand of the latter on each side are still actively deployed on missiles or at bases with operational forces.

This downsizing, in other words, has not removed the wherewithal to destroy the Earth as we know it many times over. Such destruction could come about indirectly as well as directly, with even a relatively “modest” nuclear exchange between, say, India and Pakistan triggering a cataclysmic climate shift — a “nuclear winter” — that could result in massive global starvation and death. Nor does the fact that seven additional nations now possess nuclear weapons (and more than 40 others are deemed “nuclear weapons capable”) mean that “deterrence” has been enhanced. The future use of nuclear weapons, whether by deliberate decision or by accident, remains an ominous possibility. That threat is intensified by the possibility that nonstate terrorists may somehow obtain and use nuclear devices.

What is striking at this moment in history is that paranoia couched as strategic realism continues to guide U.S. nuclear policy and, following America’s lead, that of the other nuclear powers. As announced by the Obama administration in 2014, the potential for nuclear violence is to be “modernized.” In concrete terms, this translates as a 30-year project that will cost the United States an estimated $1 trillion (not including the usual future cost overruns for producing such weapons), perfect a new arsenal of “smart” and smaller nuclear weapons, and extensively refurbish the existing delivery “triad” of long-range manned bombers, nuclear-armed submarines, and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads.

Nuclear modernization, of course, is but a small portion of the full spectrum of American might — a military machine so massive that it inspired President Obama to speak with unusual emphasis in his State of the Union address in January 2016.

“The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth,” he declared. “Period. Period. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.”

Official budgetary expenditures and projections provide a snapshot of this enormous military machine, but here again numbers can be misleading. Thus, the “base budget” for defense announced in early 2016 for fiscal year 2017 amounts to roughly $600 billion, but this falls far short of what the actual outlay will be. When all other discretionary military- and defense-related costs are taken into account — nuclear maintenance and modernization, the “war budget” that pays for so-called overseas contingency operations like military engagements in the Greater Middle East, “black budgets” that fund intelligence operations by agencies including the CIA and the National Security Agency, appropriations for secret high-tech military activities, “veterans affairs” costs (including disability payments), military aid to other countries, huge interest costs on the military-related part of the national debt, and so on — the actual total annual expenditure is close to $1 trillion.

Such stratospheric numbers defy easy comprehension, but one does not need training in statistics to bring them closer to home. Simple arithmetic suffices. The projected bill for just the 30-year nuclear modernization agenda comes to over $90 million a day, or almost $4 million an hour. The $1 trillion price tag for maintaining the nation’s status as “the most powerful nation on Earth” for a single year amounts to roughly $2.74 billion a day, over $114 million an hour.

Creating a capacity for violence greater than the world has ever seen is costly — and remunerative.
So an era of a “new peace”? Think again. We’re only three quarters of the way through America’s violent century and there’s more to come.

John W. Dower is professor emeritus of history at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He is the author of the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning War Without Mercy and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Embracing Defeat. His new book, The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War Two (Dispatch Books), has just been published. This essay is adapted from chapter one of that densely annotated book. (Sources for the information above appear in the footnotes in that book.)

Here’s how the Trump presidency will play out

January 19, 2017

by Pepe Escobar

ThHere’s how the Trump presidency will play oute Trump era starts now – with geopolitics and geoeconomics set for a series of imminent, unpredictable cliffhangers.

I have argued that Trump’s foreign policy guru Henry Kissinger’s strategy to deal with the formidable Eurasia integration trio – Russia, China and Iran – is a remixed Divide and Rule; seduce Russia away from its strategic partnership with China, while keep harassing the weakest link, Iran.

In fact that’s how it’s already playing out – as in the outbursts of selected members of Trump’s cabinet during their US Senate hearings. Factions of US Think Tankland, referring to Nixon’s China policy, which was designed by Kissinger, are also excited with the possibilities of containment regarding at least one of those powers “potentially arrayed against America”.

Kissinger and Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski are the two foremost, self-described Western dalangs – puppet masters – in the geopolitical arena. In opposition to Kissinger, Obama’s foreign policy mentor Brzezinski, true to his Russophobia, proposes a Divide and Rule centered on seducing China.

Yet an influential New York business source, very close to the real, discreet Masters of the Universe, who correctly predicted Trump’s victory weeks before the fact, after examining my argument offered not only a scathing appraisal of those cherished dalangs; he volunteered to detail how the new normal was laid out by the Masters directly to Trump. Let’s call him “X”.

The non-stop China watch

“X” starts by doing something US deep state-connected regulars, who revere their idols, never dare to, at least in public; “It is important not to attribute too much importance to either Kissinger or Brzezinski as they are merely fronts for those who make the decisions and it is their job to cloak the decisions with a patina of intellectuality. Their input means relatively nothing. I use their names on occasion as I cannot use the names of those who actually make the decisions.”

That’s the cue for “X” to detail the new normal; “Trump was elected with the support of the Masters to tilt towards Russia. The Masters have their tools in the media and Congress maintaining a vilification campaign against Russia, and have their puppet Brzezinski also come out against Russia, stating ‘America’s global influence depends on cooperation with China’. The purpose is to threaten Russia to cooperate and place these chips on the negotiating table for Trump. In a traditional good cop-bad cop approach, Donald is portrayed as the good cop wanting good relations with Russia, and Congress, media, Brzezinski are the bad cops. This is to aid Trump in the negotiations with Russia as Putin sees the ‘precarious’ position of his friend and should be willing to make major concessions as the line goes.”

And that brings us to how Taiwan – and Japan – got into the mix;

“Donald shows the Russian tilt by talking to the Taiwanese, demonstrating that the shift is serious. But it was decided to throw Japan into the mix as a predator against US industry, with an attack on Toyota, thoroughly deserved. That moderated the position as the Masters became afraid that the perception of our building up Japan against China would be too much of a provocation.”

So expect China – as “not too much importance” Kissinger prescribed – to be under non-stop scrutiny;

“The Masters have decided to reindustrialize the United States and want to take jobs back from China. This is advisable from the Chinese viewpoint; for why should they sell their work to the US for a dollar that has no intrinsic value and get really nothing back for the work. China should have a car in every Chinese worker’s garage and they will become a larger producer of cars than the EU, US and Japan combined, and their own nation will keep their wealth in their own country.”

And why China over Russia? “Russia in this sense being a natural resource country with a gigantic military industrial complex (the latter being the only reason she is secretly respected) is exempt from any tough trade talk as they hardly export anything but natural resources and military equipment. The Masters want jobs back from Mexico and Asia including Japan, Taiwan, etc., and you see this in Trump’s attack on Japan. The main underlying reason is that the US has lost control of the seas and cannot secure its military components during a major war. This is all that matters now and this is the giant story behind the scenes.”

In only a few words “X” details the reversal of an economic cycle;

“The Masters made money out of transfer of industry to Asia (Bain Capital specialized in this), and Wall Street made money from the lower interest rates on the recycled dollars from the trade deficits. But now, the issue is strategic; and they will make money on the return of industries scaling down their investments in Asia and returning them to the United States as we rebuild production here.”

“X” remains quite fond of Henry Ford’s business strategy; and that is the cue for him to address the crucial theme: national defense. According to “X”,

“Ford doubled the wages he paid and made more money than any other manufacturer. The reason was that a living wage where the mother can have many children on her husband’s wage was psychologically good for productivity in his car plants, and that his workers could then afford his cars. He thus recognized that in a society there must be a just distribution of wealth that his admirer Steve Jobs could not. Henry’s mass productivity was the wonder of the world and that was what won World War Two for the United States. Amazon does not contribute anything to national defense, being merely an internet marketing service based on computer programs, nor Google which merely organizes data better. None of this builds a better missile or submarine except in a marginal way.”

It’s the Pentagon, stupid

So yes; this all has to do with reorganizing the US military. “X” made a point to refer to a CNAS report I quoted in my initial column; “It is very important for what is visible between the lines. And that is we are in deep trouble being technologically behind Russia by generations in weapons, which is a follow-up on the Brzezinski quote that we are no longer a global power.”

This is a thorough, wide-ranging analysis of how Russia has managed to organize the best armed forces in the world. And that does not even take into account the S-500 missile defense system, which is now being rolled out and arguably seals the entirety of Russian airspace. And the next generation – S-600? – will be even more powerful.

“X” does venture into deep state taboo territory, as in how Russia, over the past decade, has managed to leap far ahead of the US, “eclipsing it as the strongest military power”. But the game may be far from over – wishful thinking or otherwise;

“We hope Secretary of Defense James Mattis will understand this and that the Deputy Secretary of Defense has advanced technological skills, organizational ability and the foresight to understand that the weapons of World War Three are offensive and defensive missiles, and submarines, and not air power, tanks and aircraft carriers.”

A realist, “X” admits that the warmongering neocon/neoliberalcon status quo – represented by most US deep state factions – will never abandon the default posture of unremitting hostility towards Russia. But he prefers to focus on change; “Let Tillerson reorganize the State Department along Exxon efficiencies. He may be worth something in that.  He and Mattis may be gutless but if you tell the truth to the Senate you may not be confirmed. So what they say means nothing. But notice this about Libya. The CIA had a goal of driving China out of Africa and so does AFRICOM. That was one of the secrets to our Libyan intervention.”

Not that it worked; NATO/AFRICOM turned Libya into a wasteland run by militias, and still China was not driven away from the rest of Africa.

“X” also admits,

“Syria and Iran are red lines for Russia. So is the eastern Ukraine from the Dnieper.” He is fully aware Moscow will not allow any regime change gambit on Tehran. And he’s also aware that “China’s investments in Iranian oil and gas imply that China also will not permit Washington’s overthrow of the Iranian government.”

The going really gets tough when it comes to NATO;

“X” is convinced Russia “will invade Romania and Poland if those missiles are not taken out of Romania and the missile commitment to Poland rescinded. The issue is not the worthless defensive missiles of the United States but the substitutability of offensive nuclear missiles in these silos. Russia will not tolerate this risk.  These are not subject to negotiation.”

In contrast to the “perpetual threat” perpetual propaganda by the US War Party, Moscow focuses on actual facts on the ground since the 1990s; the break up of historic Slavic ally Serbia; Warsaw Pact nations and even former USSR republics annexed by NATO, not to mention attempts to also include Georgia and Ukraine; US deployment of color revolutions; the “Assad must go “ fiasco, as in regime change forced on Syria even including the weaponizing of Salafi-jihadis; economic sanctions, an oil price war and raids on the ruble; and non-stop NATO harassment.

“X”, fully aware of the facts, adds,

“Russia has always wanted peace. But they are not going to play a game with the Masters of the Universe that has Trump as the good guy and the Congress, CIA, etc. as the bad guy as a negotiating ploy. That is how they see it. They do not regard this circus as real.”

The circus may be just an illusion. Or wayang – Balinese puppet theatre – as I suggested.

“X” advances a crisp interpretation of the shadow play ahead from Moscow’s point of view, allowing “several months to see if Putin can work out a detente with Trump that essentially creates an autonomous eastern Ukraine, a peace treaty in Syria with Assad in place, and a withdrawal of NATO forces back to their line of defense under Ronald Reagan.”

Who will prevail; the Masters, or the deep state? Brace for impact.

The Stuxnet Connection to Fukushima

Posted on January 2, 2017

 

[ Ed. note – Normally Dane Wigington of Geoengineering Watch doesn’t have a lot to say about Israel. But in this, the most recent installment of his weekly radio show, Wigington gets into a lengthy discussion not only about the UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements but also the likely connection between Stuxnet and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The Stuxnet computer worm is believed to have been developed by the US and Israel. While its first use likely took place in 2009, in an operation targeting Iranian nuclear facilities, the story didn’t come to light until the following year. One of the earliest articles on it was this piece published in ZDNet on September 14, 2010. I am including, among the articles posted below, a piece by a Japanese writer reporting that Stuxnet had been found on 63 personal computers in Japan. That piece was published originally on October 5, 2010. The Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred just over five months later.

Stuxnet was presumably developed specifically to target Iranian nuclear plants, but it seems to have gotten loose, spread around the world, ending up, finally, causing a calamity at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. The Iranians dodged the bullet for the most part, while the Japanese got hit with a tragedy they are still dealing with today.

In the radio show, Wigington points out the all-too-obvious hypocrisy, namely the Obama administration’s angry denunciations of unproven allegations of Russian hacking of the US presidential election–while the very same administration is guilty of having launched a cyber attack on Iranian nuclear facilities–an act of war essentially. I am reproducing below the three articles Wigington cites in his discussion on Stuxnet, plus the additional one I found on the discovery of the Stuxnet worm in Japan five months before the nuclear disaster. ]

***

Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyber Attacks Against Iran

NY Times, June 1, 2012

WASHINGTON — From his first months in office, President Obama secretly ordered increasingly sophisticated attacks on the computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities, significantly expanding America’s first sustained use of cyberweapons, according to participants in the program.

Mr. Obama decided to accelerate the attacks — begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games — even after an element of the program accidentally became public in the summer of 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and sent it around the world on the Internet. Computer security experts who began studying the worm, which had been developed by the United States and Israel, gave it a name: Stuxnet.

At a tense meeting in the White House Situation Room within days of the worm’s “escape,” Mr. Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time, Leon E. Panetta, considered whether America’s most ambitious attempt to slow the progress of Iran’s nuclear efforts had been fatally compromised.

“Should we shut this thing down?” Mr. Obama asked, according to members of the president’s national security team who were in the room.

Told it was unclear how much the Iranians knew about the code, and offered evidence that it was still causing havoc, Mr. Obama decided that the cyberattacks should proceed. In the following weeks, the Natanz plant was hit by a newer version of the computer worm, and then another after that. The last of that series of attacks, a few weeks after Stuxnet was detected around the world, temporarily took out nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran had spinning at the time to purify uranium.

This account of the American and Israeli effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program is based on interviews over the past 18 months with current and former American, European and Israeli officials involved in the program, as well as a range of outside experts. None would allow their names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.

These officials gave differing assessments of how successful the sabotage program was in slowing Iran’s progress toward developing the ability to build nuclear weapons. Internal Obama administration estimates say the effort was set back by 18 months to two years, but some experts inside and outside the government are more skeptical, noting that Iran’s enrichment levels have steadily recovered, giving the country enough fuel today for five or more weapons, with additional enrichment.

Whether Iran is still trying to design and build a weapon is in dispute. The most recent United States intelligence estimate concludes that Iran suspended major parts of its weaponization effort after 2003, though there is evidence that some remnants of it continue.

Iran initially denied that its enrichment facilities had been hit by Stuxnet, then said it had found the worm and contained it. Last year, the nation announced that it had begun its own military cyberunit, and Brig. Gen. Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s Passive Defense Organization, said that the Iranian military was prepared “to fight our enemies” in “cyberspace and Internet warfare.” But there has been scant evidence that it has begun to strike back.

The United States government only recently acknowledged developing cyberweapons, and it has never admitted using them. There have been reports of one-time attacks against personal computers used by members of Al Qaeda, and of contemplated attacks against the computers that run air defense systems, including during the NATO-led air attack on Libya last year. But Olympic Games was of an entirely different type and sophistication.

It appears to be the first time the United States has repeatedly used cyberweapons to cripple another country’s infrastructure, achieving, with computer code, what until then could be accomplished only by bombing a country or sending in agents to plant explosives. The code itself is 50 times as big as the typical computer worm, Carey Nachenberg, a vice president of Symantec, one of the many groups that have dissected the code, said at a symposium at Stanford University in April. Those forensic investigations into the inner workings of the code, while picking apart how it worked, came to no conclusions about who was responsible.

A similar process is now under way to figure out the origins of another cyberweapon called Flame that was recently discovered to have attacked the computers of Iranian officials, sweeping up information from those machines. But the computer code appears to be at least five years old, and American officials say that it was not part of Olympic Games. They have declined to say whether the United States was responsible for the Flame attack.

Mr. Obama, according to participants in the many Situation Room meetings on Olympic Games, was acutely aware that with every attack he was pushing the United States into new territory, much as his predecessors had with the first use of atomic weapons in the 1940s, of intercontinental missiles in the 1950s and of drones in the past decade. He repeatedly expressed concerns that any American acknowledgment that it was using cyberweapons — even under the most careful and limited circumstances — could enable other countries, terrorists or hackers to justify their own attacks.

“We discussed the irony, more than once,” one of his aides said. Another said that the administration was resistant to developing a “grand theory for a weapon whose possibilities they were still discovering.” Yet Mr. Obama concluded that when it came to stopping Iran, the United States had no other choice.

If Olympic Games failed, he told aides, there would be no time for sanctions and diplomacy with Iran to work. Israel could carry out a conventional military attack, prompting a conflict that could spread throughout the region.

A Bush Initiative

The impetus for Olympic Games dates from 2006, when President George W. Bush saw few good options in dealing with Iran. At the time, America’s European allies were divided about the cost that imposing sanctions on Iran would have on their own economies. Having falsely accused Saddam Hussein of reconstituting his nuclear program in Iraq, Mr. Bush had little credibility in publicly discussing another nation’s nuclear ambitions. The Iranians seemed to sense his vulnerability, and, frustrated by negotiations, they resumed enriching uranium at an underground site at Natanz, one whose existence had been exposed just three years before.

Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, took reporters on a tour of the plant and described grand ambitions to install upward of 50,000 centrifuges. For a country with only one nuclear power reactor — whose fuel comes from Russia — to say that it needed fuel for its civilian nuclear program seemed dubious to Bush administration officials. They feared that the fuel could be used in another way besides providing power: to create a stockpile that could later be enriched to bomb-grade material if the Iranians made a political decision to do so.

Hawks in the Bush administration like Vice President Dick Cheney urged Mr. Bush to consider a military strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities before they could produce fuel suitable for a weapon. Several times, the administration reviewed military options and concluded that they would only further inflame a region already at war, and would have uncertain results.

For years the C.I.A. had introduced faulty parts and designs into Iran’s systems — even tinkering with imported power supplies so that they would blow up — but the sabotage had had relatively little effect. General James E. Cartwright, who had established a small cyberoperation inside the United States Strategic Command, which is responsible for many of America’s nuclear forces, joined intelligence officials in presenting a radical new idea to Mr. Bush and his national security team. It involved a far more sophisticated cyberweapon than the United States had designed before.

The goal was to gain access to the Natanz plant’s industrial computer controls. That required leaping the electronic moat that cut the Natanz plant off from the Internet — called the air gap, because it physically separates the facility from the outside world. The computer code would invade the specialized computers that command the centrifuges.

The first stage in the effort was to develop a bit of computer code called a beacon that could be inserted into the computers, which were made by the German company Siemens and an Iranian manufacturer, to map their operations. The idea was to draw the equivalent of an electrical blueprint of the Natanz plant, to understand how the computers control the giant silvery centrifuges that spin at tremendous speeds. The connections were complex, and unless every circuit was understood, efforts to seize control of the centrifuges could fail.

Eventually the beacon would have to “phone home” — literally send a message back to the headquarters of the National Security Agency that would describe the structure and daily rhythms of the enrichment plant. Expectations for the plan were low; one participant said the goal was simply to “throw a little sand in the gears” and buy some time. Mr. Bush was skeptical, but lacking other options, he authorized the effort.

Breakthrough, Aided by Israel

It took months for the beacons to do their work and report home, complete with maps of the electronic directories of the controllers and what amounted to blueprints of how they were connected to the centrifuges deep underground.

Then the N.S.A. and a secret Israeli unit respected by American intelligence officials for its cyberskills set to work developing the enormously complex computer worm that would become the attacker from within.

The unusually tight collaboration with Israel was driven by two imperatives. Israel’s Unit 8200, a part of its military, had technical expertise that rivaled the N.S.A.’s, and the Israelis had deep intelligence about operations at Natanz that would be vital to making the cyberattack a success. But American officials had another interest, to dissuade the Israelis from carrying out their own pre-emptive strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities. To do that, the Israelis would have to be convinced that the new line of attack was working. The only way to convince them, several officials said in interviews, was to have them deeply involved in every aspect of the program.

Soon the two countries had developed a complex worm that the Americans called “the bug.” But the bug needed to be tested. So, under enormous secrecy, the United States began building replicas of Iran’s P-1 centrifuges, an aging, unreliable design that Iran purchased from Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani nuclear chief who had begun selling fuel-making technology on the black market. Fortunately for the United States, it already owned some P-1s, thanks to the Libyan dictator, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

When Colonel Qaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons program in 2003, he turned over the centrifuges he had bought from the Pakistani nuclear ring, and they were placed in storage at a weapons laboratory in Tennessee. The military and intelligence officials overseeing Olympic Games borrowed some for what they termed “destructive testing,” essentially building a virtual replica of Natanz, but spreading the test over several of the Energy Department’s national laboratories to keep even the most trusted nuclear workers from figuring out what was afoot.

Those first small-scale tests were surprisingly successful: the bug invaded the computers, lurking for days or weeks, before sending instructions to speed them up or slow them down so suddenly that their delicate parts, spinning at supersonic speeds, self-destructed. After several false starts, it worked. One day, toward the end of Mr. Bush’s term, the rubble of a centrifuge was spread out on the conference table in the Situation Room, proof of the potential power of a cyberweapon. The worm was declared ready to test against the real target: Iran’s underground enrichment plant.

“Previous cyberattacks had effects limited to other computers,” Michael V. Hayden, the former chief of the C.I.A., said, declining to describe what he knew of these attacks when he was in office. “This is the first attack of a major nature in which a cyberattack was used to effect physical destruction,” rather than just slow another computer, or hack into it to steal data.

“Somebody crossed the Rubicon,” he said.

Getting the worm into Natanz, however, was no easy trick. The United States and Israel would have to rely on engineers, maintenance workers and others — both spies and unwitting accomplices — with physical access to the plant. “That was our holy grail,” one of the architects of the plan said. “It turns out there is always an idiot around who doesn’t think much about the thumb drive in their hand.”

In fact, thumb drives turned out to be critical in spreading the first variants of the computer worm; later, more sophisticated methods were developed to deliver the malicious code.

The first attacks were small, and when the centrifuges began spinning out of control in 2008, the Iranians were mystified about the cause, according to intercepts that the United States later picked up. “The thinking was that the Iranians would blame bad parts, or bad engineering, or just incompetence,” one of the architects of the early attack said.

The Iranians were confused partly because no two attacks were exactly alike. Moreover, the code would lurk inside the plant for weeks, recording normal operations; when it attacked, it sent signals to the Natanz control room indicating that everything downstairs was operating normally. “This may have been the most brilliant part of the code,” one American official said.

Later, word circulated through the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, that the Iranians had grown so distrustful of their own instruments that they had assigned people to sit in the plant and radio back what they saw.

“The intent was that the failures should make them feel they were stupid, which is what happened,” the participant in the attacks said. When a few centrifuges failed, the Iranians would close down whole “stands” that linked 164 machines, looking for signs of sabotage in all of them. “They overreacted,” one official said. “We soon discovered they fired people.”

Imagery recovered by nuclear inspectors from cameras at Natanz — which the nuclear agency uses to keep track of what happens between visits — showed the results. There was some evidence of wreckage, but it was clear that the Iranians had also carted away centrifuges that had previously appeared to be working well.

But by the time Mr. Bush left office, no wholesale destruction had been accomplished. Meeting with Mr. Obama in the White House days before his inauguration, Mr. Bush urged him to preserve two classified programs, Olympic Games and the drone program in Pakistan. Mr. Obama took Mr. Bush’s advice.

The Stuxnet Surprise

Mr. Obama came to office with an interest in cyberissues, but he had discussed them during the campaign mostly in terms of threats to personal privacy and the risks to infrastructure like the electrical grid and the air traffic control system. He commissioned a major study on how to improve America’s defenses and announced it with great fanfare in the East Room.

What he did not say then was that he was also learning the arts of cyberwar. The architects of Olympic Games would meet him in the Situation Room, often with what they called the “horse blanket,” a giant foldout schematic diagram of Iran’s nuclear production facilities. Mr. Obama authorized the attacks to continue, and every few weeks — certainly after a major attack — he would get updates and authorize the next step. Sometimes it was a strike riskier and bolder than what had been tried previously.

“From his first days in office, he was deep into every step in slowing the Iranian program — the diplomacy, the sanctions, every major decision,” a senior administration official said. “And it’s safe to say that whatever other activity might have been under way was no exception to that rule.”

But the good luck did not last. In the summer of 2010, shortly after a new variant of the worm had been sent into Natanz, it became clear that the worm, which was never supposed to leave the Natanz machines, had broken free, like a zoo animal that found the keys to the cage. It fell to Mr. Panetta and two other crucial players in Olympic Games — General Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Michael J. Morell, the deputy director of the C.I.A. — to break the news to Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden.

An error in the code, they said, had led it to spread to an engineer’s computer when it was hooked up to the centrifuges. When the engineer left Natanz and connected the computer to the Internet, the American- and Israeli-made bug failed to recognize that its environment had changed. It began replicating itself all around the world. Suddenly, the code was exposed, though its intent would not be clear, at least to ordinary computer users.

“We think there was a modification done by the Israelis,” one of the briefers told the president, “and we don’t know if we were part of that activity.”

Mr. Obama, according to officials in the room, asked a series of questions, fearful that the code could do damage outside the plant. The answers came back in hedged terms. Mr. Biden fumed. “It’s got to be the Israelis,” he said. “They went too far.”

In fact, both the Israelis and the Americans had been aiming for a particular part of the centrifuge plant, a critical area whose loss, they had concluded, would set the Iranians back considerably. It is unclear who introduced the programming error.

The question facing Mr. Obama was whether the rest of Olympic Games was in jeopardy, now that a variant of the bug was replicating itself “in the wild,” where computer security experts can dissect it and figure out its purpose.

“I don’t think we have enough information,” Mr. Obama told the group that day, according to the officials. But in the meantime, he ordered that the cyberattacks continue. They were his best hope of disrupting the Iranian nuclear program unless economic sanctions began to bite harder and reduced Iran’s oil revenues.

Within a week, another version of the bug brought down just under 1,000 centrifuges. Olympic Games was still on.

A Weapon’s Uncertain Future

American cyberattacks are not limited to Iran, but the focus of attention, as one administration official put it, “has been overwhelmingly on one country.” There is no reason to believe that will remain the case for long. Some officials question why the same techniques have not been used more aggressively against North Korea. Others see chances to disrupt Chinese military plans, forces in Syria on the way to suppress the uprising there, and Qaeda operations around the world. “We’ve considered a lot more attacks than we have gone ahead with,” one former intelligence official said.

Mr. Obama has repeatedly told his aides that there are risks to using — and particularly to overusing — the weapon. In fact, no country’s infrastructure is more dependent on computer systems, and thus more vulnerable to attack, than that of the United States. It is only a matter of time, most experts believe, before it becomes the target of the same kind of weapon that the Americans have used, secretly, against Iran.


Where Fukushima Meets Stuxnet: The Growing Threat of Cyber War

Foreign Policy, March 17, 2011

The Japanese nuclear crisis, though still unfolding, may, in a way, already be yesterday’s news. For a peek at tomorrow’s, review the testimony of General Keith Alexander, head of U.S. Cyber Command. Testifying before Congress this week and seeking support to pump up his agency budget, the general argued that all future conflicts would involve cyber warfare tactics and that the U.S. was ill-equipped to defend itself against them.

Alexander said, “We are finding that we do not have the capacity to do everything we need to accomplish. To put it bluntly, we are very thin, and a crisis would quickly stress our cyber forces. … This is not a hypothetical danger.”

The way to look at this story is to link in your mind the Stuxnet revelations about the reportedly U.S. and Israeli-led cyber attacks on the Iranian nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz and the calamities at the Fukushima power facilities over the past week. While seemingly unconnected, the stories together speak to the before and after of what cyber conflict may look like. Enemies will be able to target one another’s critical infrastructure as was done by the U.S. and Israeli team (likely working with British and German assistance) targeting the Iranian program and burrowing into their operating systems, they will seek to produce malfunctions that bring economies to their knees, put societies in the dark, or undercut national defenses.

Those infrastructures might well be nuclear power systems and the results could be akin to what we are seeing in Japan. (Although one power company executive yesterday joked to me that many plants in the U.S. would be safe because the technology they use is so old that software hardly plays any role in it at all. This hints at a bit of a blessing and a curse in the fractured U.S. power system: it’s decentralized which makes it hard to target overall but security is left to many power companies that lack the sophistication or resources to anticipate, prepare for or manage the growing threats.)

Importantly, not only does the apparent success of the Stuxnet worm demonstrate that such approaches are now in play but it may just be the tip of the iceberg. I remember over a decade ago speaking to one of the top U.S. cyber defenders who noted that even during the late 90s banks were losing millions and millions every year to cyber theft — only they didn’t want to report it because they felt it would spook customers. (Yes.) Recently, we have seen significant market glitches worldwide that could easily have been caused by interventions rather than just malfunctions. A couple years back I participated in a scenario at Davos in which just such a manipulation of market data was simulated and the conclusion was it wouldn’t take much to undermine confidence in the markets and perhaps even force traders to move to paper trading or other venues until it was restored. It wouldn’t even have to be a real cyber intrusion — just the perception that one might have happened.

What makes the nuclear threat so unsettling to many is that it is invisible. It shares this with the cyber threat. But the cyber attacks have other dimensions that suggest that General Alexander is not just trying to beef up his agency’s bank accounts with his description of how future warfare will always involve a cyber component. Not only are they invisible but it is hard to detect who has launched them, so hard, in fact, that one can imagine future tense international relationships in which opposing sides were constantly, quietly, engaging in an undeclared but damaging “non-war,” something cooler than a Cold War because it is stripped of rhetoric and cloaked in deniability, but which might be much more damaging. While there is still ongoing debate about the exact definition of cyber warfare there is a growing consensus that the threats posed by both state-sponsored and non-state actors to power grids, telecom systems, water supplies, transport systems and computer networks are reaching critical levels.

This is the deeply unsettling situation effectively framed by General Alexander in his testimony and rather than having been obscured by this week’s news it should only have been amplified by it.


Fukushima: US-Israeli Stuxnet Sabotages Thermometers and Water Treatment

TNI, March 4, 2014

With every new report and article coming from the establishment and alternative media about Fukushima, Japan, the gap between their fake reality and the real truth keeps growing further and has by now become so wide that it seems to be very unlikely that the establishment and alternative media will ever pick up the real facts in their reporting about the nuclear power station in Fukushima.

Ever since the 7.0 earthquake hit Japan on March 11, 2011, the cover-up of the actual causes – the eco-terror, the nuclear attacks and the sabotage – has been tightly scripted and expanded by the media, the USGS, the NRC, the Israeli Magna BSP [1, 2], the United Nations, the EU and even the WWF and Greenpeace.

Obviously it can be expected that also the problems in the aftermath of the proven eco-terror, the nuclear attacks and the sabotage will be shrouded in lies and deception. Sadly, we don’t expect any other behavior.

Practically all the ongoing reports about the leaking of water, about pumps and valves that are malfunctioning or were “forgotten” to be switched properly and about the failing thermometers at the Fukushima power station are missing the same crucial piece of information.

It has already been confirmed since at least 2010 and in multiple ways that Stuxnet (malware/virus), created by the U.S. and Israel, infected and continues to sabotage the Fukushima nuclear power station by attacking the Siemens SCADA control systems.

The same Stuxnet is also responsible for sabotaging the thermometers in the nuclear reactors that continue to fail, like it is the case in unit 2, falsely blamed on workers who “cripple” the instruments. Thermometers like in Fukushima are operated through/linked to the SCADA control systems which are still infected with Stuxnet, this means that also the thermometers are exposed to the Stuxnet infection.

The decontamination system for contaminated water at Fukushima was co-developed by AREVA and Veolia Water in “a record-two months“ after the eco-terror and the nuclear attacks occurred. According to Veolia Water data their “state-of-the-art online control of wastewater systems” work with and supplement SCADA control systems:

“The operation and reporting of STAR Control® are based on Internet technology and a graphic user interface is accessed by network browser on LAN, ADSL or similar networks.”

This is surely the reason why Magna BSP’s internet connection with the reactors at Fukushima is so important to those who have created this mess by committing eco-terror and engaging in war crimes. In this way full control can be kept remotely which is necessary when Japan is to be held hostage firmly, as they slowly lose credibility in the international community for a disaster they didn’t even create.

So whenever you encounter a new Fukushima article or report be sure to check if that source has already reported about the real facts, including the eco-terror, the nuclear attacks and the sabotage. If they haven’t done so then it’s very unlikely that their future reporting will be trustworthy since they omit key facts on purpose and leave you in fear with fake radiation charts to stare at.


[ Ed. note – The following is a re-post of an article originally published on October 5, 2010, five months before the Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred, reporting the discovery of Stuxnet on computers in Japan. The re-post of this article was published in 2014 ]

October 5, 2010: Cybervirus Found in Japan/Stuxnet Designed to Attack Off-Line Servers Via USB Memory Sticks

Fukushima 3/11 Truth, January 21, 2014

Yomiuri Shimbun

Stuxnet, a computer virus designed to attack servers isolated from the Internet, such as at power plants, has been confirmed on 63 personal computers in Japan since July, according to major security firm Symantec Corp.

The virus does not cause any damage online, but once it enters an industrial system, it can send a certain program out of control.

Symantec says the virus reaches the servers via USB memory sticks, and warns against the careless use of such devices.

Systems at power plants, gas stations and water facilities are not connected to the Internet to protect them from cyber-attacks.

A Symantec engineer who has analyzed the virus said it was made using advanced technology, and it is highly likely a well-funded organization, not an individual, produced it. The virus has spread throughout the globe via the Internet.

After Stuxnet finds its way onto an ordinary computer via the Internet, it hides there, waiting for a USB memory stick to be connected to the computer, when it transfers itself to the memory stick. When the USB device is then connected to a computer linked to an isolated server, it can enter the system and take control of it.

As computers that harbor Stuxnet do not operate strangely, the virus can be transferred to a memory stick inadvertently.

According to the security company, the virus is designed to target a German-made program often used in systems managing water, gas and oil pipelines. The program is used at public utilities around the world, including in Japan.

The virus could cause such systems to act erratically, and it could take months to restore them to normal.

The 63 infected computers found in Japan were likely infected sometime after June.

According to the company, about 60 percent of the computers that have been infected with the virus were discovered in Iran. Since September, about 30,000 computers there have been found to be infected with the virus. The country’s Industry and Mines Ministry has called the virus an electronic act of war.

Some computers at the Iranian Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is scheduled to begin operation in October, have been infected with the virus.

A supervisor at the plant said the virus has not damaged the facility’s main computer system and would not affect its planned opening.

In Japan, no public utilities have been affected by the virus. Nevertheless, the Cabinet Office’s National Information Security Center has urged electric power companies to exercise extreme care when using USB devices, and to scan any programs that may have been tampered with.

Source: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T101004003493.htm

Archived: https://web.archive.org/web/20101008111929/http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T101004003493.htm

 

Video: Crisis at the US Federal Reserve, End of the Washington Consensus?

Global Research, November 20, 2016
Federal-Reserve-Economy

In the multipolar world of the 21st century, the locus of economic attention is shifting toward Eurasia.

And as journalist and author Nomi Prins notes, in this changing economic landscape, the dominance of the Federal Reserve and the Washington consensus is coming into question for the first time since the end of the Second World War.

This is the GRTV Feature Interview with your host, James Corbett, and our special guest, Nomi Prins.

The End of the West As We Know It

The End of the West As We Know It

MATTHEW JAMISON | 10.11.2016 | OPINION

The End of the West As We Know It

The shock, unbelievable, astonishing election of Donald J. Trump is not only a massive turning point in the history of the United States. It is also the end of an era for the post-WWII American led Global Order and it marks the beginning of the twilight of American global leadership. The repercussions of this presidential election will be felt for years to come and will have profound effects on global politics. Mr. Trump’s «America First» policy and isolationism will lead America to abdicate and eventually lose its role as the World’s Police Man and pre-eminent Superpower status.

President elect Trump has openly questioned and disparaged the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. There are going to be big tensions and fissures within NATO regarding the arrival of Donald Trump and Trumpism in American foreign policy. Mr. Trump will bring to a head the massive imbalance in NATO funding arrangements. To be fair to Mr. Trump does have a point with regards to the funding of NATO. The United States shoulders well over 50% of the funding of NATO while other European members have been able to shelter under the American/NATO defence umbrella without paying their fair share. This has been glossed over and tolerated by various American administrations both Republican and Democrat. Now however, if Trump sticks to his previous pronouncements on NATO it could mean a big shake up of NATO or perhaps even the Alliance breaking apart.

The Donald stated at an election rally back in the summer that he would like to: «keep NATO, but I want them (the other European member states) to pay. I don’t want to be taken advantage of». Most starkly, the United States spends 3 percent of gross domestic product on its armed forces while the rest of NATO averages 1.4 percent of GDP even after agreeing formally to a 2 percent target. And the consequences are natural—for example, at the peak of the Afghanistan war the U.S. provided 100,000 troops to the mission while the rest of NATO managed only about 35,000. Trump has capitalised on this imbalance to further propose his America First agenda. Trump is apparently willing to disband NATO as well as key Asian alliances, and to withdraw from the Middle East as well — a «Trexit».

For President elect Trump, everything, including military alliances, is seen through the prism of zero sum business transactions. Commenting further Trump has questioned one of the most sacrosanct principles of NATO, Article 5, that an attack on one member state is an attack on all members: «people aren’t paying their fair share and then the stupid people, they say, ‘but we have a treaty’». Striking a deeply isolationist and quasi-xenophobic tone Mr. Trump lambasted the idea of having to defend far away countries who were not paying their fair dues: «We’re protecting countries that most of the people in this room have never even heard of and we end up in world war three…give me a break».

The divisions in NATO will now most likely be brought to the fore and could, if not managed carefully, lead to the unravelling of the Atlantic Alliance. It is not just America’s European and North Atlantic alliances, which could fracture during the four years ahead of President Trump. He has previously singled out not just European nations like Germany but also other US allies like Japan and Saudi Arabia, threatening them that if elected America could «walk» if they do not pay the full cost of American soldiers stationed in those countries for their protection. Former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt reacted after the Trump NATO comments by stating: «I never thought a serious candidate for US President could be a serious threat against the security of the West. But that’s where we are».

German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her statement congratulating Donald Trump on his election contained a veiled warning. Frau Merkel: «Germany & America are connected by values: democracy, freedom, respect for the law and the dignity of human beings independently of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views. On the basis of these values, I am offering the future President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, close co-operation».

France’s President Francois Hollande was even more pointed in his «congratulation» statement declaring that Trump’s victory: «opens a period of uncertainty». Speaking from the Elysee Palace President Hollande said that there was now a greater need for a united Europe, able to wield influence on the international stage and promote its values and interests whenever they are challenged.

The EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini alluded to a similar theme in her tweet on the election result talking about the need to rediscover «the strength of Europe». Indeed, the election of Donald Trump as President could provide a catalyst for a dramatic rallying around by the Europeans to a separate and unified European defence organization. Trump’s election could have the consequence of speeding up and providing the rapid rationale needed to kick into high gear the push towards a new European Army, outlined by Jean-Claude Junker in the summer, in contrast to NATO.

At risk is a core principle of America’s post-World War II strategy—that trying to stay out of others’ business did not work and, in fact, helped lead to the world wars. Trump rejects this and would prefer that the United States interfered less in other countries affairs. Trump in particular seems to reject the core elements of America’s strengths in the world market and international security system and appears indifferent to or hostile even towards the post-WWII trans-Atlantic American commitment to European defence which could ease the ascension of a European Defence Community on par with NATO and eventual replace NATO as the main defence pillar for European security giving the EU a global military identity and capability.

If Hillary Clinton had been elected President of the USA then moves towards a common European defence posture might have taken longer and may have been more restrained or perhaps even involve NATO to some extent. NATO would have remained the cornerstone of the United States defence and security apparatus and policy making in Europe and under a Clinton administration with attempts made to strengthen NATO relevance, identity and cohesion with initiatives designed to reinvigorate the alliance.

One silver lining to a Trump Presidency, which ironically could hasten a divergence between America and Europe and cause deep alarm and division within NATO, is the possibility of détente between Russia and America under the respective leaderships of President Trump and President Putin. President Trump will in all likelihood attempt to foster a new and closer relationship between Washington DC and Moscow, particularly with regards to combating ISIS in the Middle East and stabilising Syria.

The EU and NATO, particularly the Eastern European countries will probably resist this push for enhanced cooperation and closer relations between America and Russia but it is clear that a Trump administration will place much greater emphasis on taking into account Russian interests rather than seeking confrontation and conflict and will not take great consideration over Western or Eastern European concerns. So, the election of Donald Trump as American President could represent a seismic geopolitical realignment and the end of The West as we have known The West since the end of WWII. NATO may fracture or become obsolete while the United States could move closer to Russia while the European Union moves away from America.

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