Category Archives: Military

How Amazon and Silicon Valley Seduced the Pentagon, by James Bandler, Anjali Tsui and Doris Burke

Big Tech’s relationship with the Pentagon and intelligence agencies is the very definition of crony socialism. From James Bandler, Anjali Tsui and Doris Burke at propublica.org:

Tech moguls like Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt have gotten unprecedented access to the Pentagon. And one whistleblower who raised flags has paid the price.

From left: Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Google’s parent company, James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. (Nate Kitch, special to ProPublica)

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up for ProPublica’s Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox as soon as they are published.

This article was co-published with Fortune.

On Aug. 8, 2017, Roma Laster, a Pentagon employee responsible for policing conflicts of interest, emailed an urgent warning to the chief of staff of then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Several department employees had arranged for Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, to be sworn into an influential Pentagon advisory board despite the fact that, in the year since he’d been nominated, Bezos had never completed a required background check to obtain a security clearance.

Mattis was about to fly to the West Coast, where he would personally swear Bezos in at Amazon’s headquarters before moving on to meetings with executives from Google and Apple. Soon phone calls and emails began bouncing around the Pentagon. Security clearances are no trivial matter to defense officials; they exist to ensure that people with access to sensitive information aren’t, say, vulnerable to blackmail and don’t have conflicts of interest. Laster also contended that it was a “noteworthy exception” for Mattis to perform the ceremony. Secretaries of defense, she wrote, don’t hold swearing-in events.

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As Naval Arms Race Heats Up, It Threatens Sea Life, by Morgan E. Hunter

Where’s all the save-the-whale types when you need them? From Morgan E. Hunter at antiwar.com:

Or, I Know Why the Humpback Doesn’t Sing

Remember The Hunt for Red October? Tom Clancy’s first novel (1985), it was also the first novel ever published by, of all things, The United States Naval Institute Press, a 19th century spin-off of the US Naval Academy previously known exclusively for naval professional reference books, such as The Naval Officer’s Guide. Heavily promoted by Reagan’s Navy Department and its Congressional lobbyists, the book became a best seller. It also introduced its readers to the latest threat the Navy was pushing to justify the massive Reagan-era military buildup, namely “ultra-quiet Soviet subs”. The eponymous Red October had “a cutting-edge silent propulsion system, known as the caterpillar drive, that makes audio detection by passive sonar extremely difficult”. Well, the Navy is at it again, this time touting silent Chinese subs instead of Soviet ones, as the rationale for a new ultra-powerful active sonar system that threatens to be deadly to marine mammals, especially whales.

On August 13th, the US Navy received permission to conduct large-scale tests of ultra-powerful low-frequency active sonar across a vast area of the Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans. This enhanced testing program, slated to continue until 2026, follows up on earlier use of SURTASS LFA. Even by the Navy’s own estimates, tens of thousands of marine mammals, from dozens of species, will be negatively affected by the incredibly-loud pulses of sound produced by the system. (There are two types of sonar: passive, which is simply listening for sounds, and active sonar, which is like echolocation and requires actively bouncing a signal off the thing you’re trying to detect.)

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When, If Ever, Can We Lay This Burden Down? by Patrick J. Buchanan

The US should quit playing global cop, not just for the sake of the globe, but for its own survival. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

Friday, President Donald Trump met in New Jersey with his national security advisers and envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is negotiating with the Taliban to bring about peace, and a U.S. withdrawal from America’s longest war.

U.S. troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, in a war that has cost 2,400 American lives.

Following the meeting, Trump tweeted, “Many on the opposite sides of this 19 year war, and us, are looking to make a deal — if possible!”

Some, however, want no deal; they are fighting for absolute power.

Saturday, a wedding in Kabul with a thousand guests was hit by a suicide bomber who, igniting his vest, massacred 63 people and wounded 200 in one of the greatest atrocities of the war. ISIS claimed responsibility.

Monday, 10 bombs exploded in restaurants and public squares in the eastern city of Jalalabad, wounding 66.

Trump is pressing Khalilzad to negotiate drawdowns of U.S. troop levels from the present 14,000, and to bring about a near-term end to U.S. involvement in a war that began after we overthrew the old Taliban regime for giving sanctuary to Osama bin Laden.

Is it too soon to ask: What have we gained from our longest war? Was all the blood and treasure invested worth it? And what does the future hold?

If the Taliban could not be defeated by an Afghan army, built up by the U.S. for a decade and backed by 100,000 U.S. troops in 2010-2011, then are the Taliban likely to give up the struggle when the U.S. is drawing down the last 14,000 troops and heading home?

The Taliban control more of the country than they have at any time since being overthrown in 2001. And time now seems to be on their side.

Why have they persevered, and prevailed in parts of the country?

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Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen, by Moon of Alabama

The Saudi war on Yemen is only over if somebody in the Saudi leadership, notably Mohammad bin Salman, has half a brain. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:

Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen. It has no defenses against new weapons the Houthis in Yemen acquired. These weapons threaten the Saudis economic lifelines. This today was the decisive attack:

Drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia’s sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a “limited fire” in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry.

The Saudi acknowledgement of the attack came hours after Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Houthis, issued a video statement claiming the rebels launched 10 bomb-laden drones targeting the field in their “biggest-ever” operation. He threatened more attacks would be coming.

New drones and missiles displayed in July 2019 by Yemen’s Houthi-allied armed forces
Today’s attack is a check mate move against the Saudis. Shaybah is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory. There are many more important economic targets within that range:

The field’s distance from rebel-held territory in Yemen demonstrates the range of the Houthis’ drones. U.N. investigators say the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 kilometers (930 miles). That puts Saudi oil fields, an under-construction Emirati nuclear power plant and Dubai’s busy international airport within their range.Unlike sophisticated drones that use satellites to allow pilots to remotely fly them, analysts believe Houthi drones are likely programmed to strike a specific latitude and longitude and cannot be controlled once out of radio range. The Houthis have used drones, which can be difficult to track by radar, to attack Saudi Patriot missile batteries, as well as enemy troops.

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Russia’s Sound Proposal for Gulf Peace, by the Strategic Culture Editorial Board

Russia’s proposal makes a lot more sense than anything Trump and Israel have proposed. From the Strategic Culture Editorial Board at strategic-culture.org:

There is an eminently reasonable and feasible way to avoid conflict in the Persian Gulf, and to secure peace. The principles of multilateralism and international law must be adhered to. It seems almost astounding that one has to appeal for such obvious basic norms.

Fortunately, Russia has presented a roadmap for implementing a security concept in the vital waterway based on the above principles.

Russia’s deputy envoy to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, outlined a possible international coalition to provide security for commercial shipping through the strategically important Persian Gulf. The narrow outlet accounts for up to 30 per cent of all globally shipped oil on a daily basis. Virtually every nation has a stake in the safe passage of tankers. Any disruption would have huge negative consequences for the world economy, impacting all nations.

The Russian proposal, which has been submitted to the UN Security Council, is currently being considered by various parties. Crucially, the security concept put forward by Moscow relies on the participation of the Gulf nations, including Iran. Rather than being led by an outside power, the Russian proposal envisages a region-led effort.

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The Anglo-American Origins of Color Revolutions & NED, by Matthew Ehret

If there’s upheaval in any country the US government doesn’t like, you can be almost positive that American and British intelligence agencies and non-governmental organizations are playing a part. From Matthew Ehret at strategic-culture.org:

A few years ago, very few people understood the concept behind color revolutions.

Had Russia and China’s leadership not decided to unite in solidarity in 2012 when they began vetoing the overthrow of Bashar al Assad in Syria- followed by their alliance around the Belt and Road Initiative, then it is doubtful that the color revolution concept would be as well-known as it has become today.

At that time, Russia and China realized that they had no choice but to go on the counter offensive, since the regime change operations and colour revolutions orchestrated by such organizations as the CIA-affiliated National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Soros Open Society Foundations were ultimately designed to target them as those rose, orange, green or yellow revolution efforts in Georgia, Ukraine, Iran or Hong Kong were always recognized as weak points on the periphery of the threatened formation of a great power alliance of sovereign Eurasian nations that would have the collective power to challenge the power of the Anglo-American elite based in London and Wall Street.

Russia’s 2015 expulsion of 12 major conduits of color revolution included Soros’ Open Society Foundation as well as the NED was a powerful calling out of the enemy with the Foreign Ministry calling them “a threat to the foundations of Russia’s Constitutional order and national security”. This resulted in such fanatical calls by George Soros for a $50 billion fund to counteract Russia’s interference in defense of Ukraine’s democracy. Apparently the $5 billion spent by the NED in Ukraine was not nearly enough (1).

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US Axis of Aggression in Gulf, by Finian Cunningham

US government-led “coalitions” often have less to them than is claimed. The latest coalition turns out to be the usual suspects in the Middle East: the US, the UK, and Israel. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:

When Washington announced a few weeks ago the formation of a maritime “international coalition” to “protect shipping” in the Persian Gulf, many observers were skeptical. Now skepticism has rightly turned to alarm, as the proposed US-led “coalition” transpires to comprise a grand total of just three nations: the US, Britain and Israel.

The term “coalition” has always been a weasel word used by Washington to give its military operations around the world a veneer of international consensus and moral authority. If the US goes ahead with deploying forces in the Persian Gulf the guise of “coalition” is threadbare. It will be seen for what it is: naked aggression.

Iran promptly warned that if the US, Britain and Israel move on their intention to deploy in the Persian Gulf, it will not hesitate to defend itself from a “clear threat”.

Britain has ordered this week another warship, HMS Kent, to the Gulf. The move, significantly, occurred as Trump’s hawkish national security advisor John Bolton was in London for two-day official meetings with PM Boris Johnson and other senior ministers. Bolton praised Britain’s decision to join the US-led Operation Sentinel mission, rather than an alternative proposed European naval mission. It’s not clear if HMS Kent is simply replacing another British warship in the Gulf, HMS Duncan, or if this is a further buildup in force. Either way, the line up of US, Britain and reportedly Israel is a foreboding potential offensive.

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