Category Archives: War

Watch These Geopolitical Flashpoints Carefully, by Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith highlights the dangers ahead. From Smith at alt-market.com:

Anyone who has been involved in alternative geopolitical and economic analysis for a decent length of time understands that the establishment power structure thrives according to its ability to either exploit natural crises, or to engineer fabricated crises.

This is not that hard to comprehend, but for some reason there are a lot of people out there who simply assume that global sea-change events just happen “at random,” that the elites are stupid or oblivious, and that all outcomes are a matter of random chance rather than being directed or manipulated. I call these people “intellectual idiots,” because they believe they are applying logic to every scenario but they are sabotaged by an inherent bias which causes them to deny the potential for “conspiracy.”

To clarify, their logic folds in on itself and becomes faulty. They believe themselves objective, but they abandon objectivity when they staunchly refuse to consider the possibility of covert influence by organized special interests. When you internally dismiss the possibility of a thing, no amount of evidence will ever convince you of its reality. This is how the “smartest” people in the room can end up being the dumbest people in the room.

In the survivalist community there is a philosophy – there is no such thing as a crisis for those who are prepared. This is true for prepared individuals as much as it is true for prepared communities and prepared nations. The only way a society can fall is when it becomes willfully ignorant of potential outcomes and refuses to organize against them.

By extension, it would make sense that by being prepared for a particular crisis or outcome an individual or group could not only survive, but also profit. It is not crazy or outlandish to entertain the idea that there are groups in power (perhaps for many generations) that aggressively seek to predict or even force particular outcomes in geopolitics for their own profit. And, by profit, I do not necessarily mean material wealth. In many cases, the power of influence and psychological sway over the masses might be considered a far greater prize than money or property.

To continue reading: Watch These Geopolitical Flashpoints Carefully

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Only a Fool Would Trust Rogue State USA, by Finian Cunningham

There is a long trail of roadkill, those who trusted the US government. From Finian Cunningham at sputniknews.com:

Only a fool would trust anything that comes out of Washington.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Chinese President Xi Jinping at the weekend, vowing greater cooperation to reduce tensions boiling up on the Korean Peninsula. Only a day before, however, Tillerson was threatening that the US would use pre-emptive military strikes against China’s ally North Korea if “we believe” it presented a threat “to us”.

So what’s it to be then? Cooperation or pre-emptive war?

At the same time that Tillerson was seemingly conveying a cordial tone to Beijing, President Trump was mouthing off at home that “North Korea was behaving badly” and that China had not done enough to contain it.
Trump’s comments angered China, with the latter responding it had in fact gone to great lengths over recent years to calm tensions on the Korean Peninsula between North Korea and the American ally in the South, by continually calling for dialogue, which the US has continually rebuffed, preferring to play hardball instead.

The weekend exchange is but one brief insight into why Washington cannot be trusted. The president and his top diplomat can’t even articulate a consistent policy for even a few hours. How could one possibly take them seriously?

But Trump and Tillerson’s mixed signals are a mere trifling matter. Why the US cannot be trusted has got much more to with decades of systematic misbehavior by Washington. North Korea “behaving badly,” says Trump. Typical American arrogance and ignorance do not admit the reality of the US behaving atrociously.

The whole specter of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula was created in the first place by the United States. Its decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was motivated by the Soviet Union’s imminent entry into the Pacific War. Washington did not want to see the Soviet Union taking Japanese or Korean territory.

To continue reading: Only a Fool Would Trust Rogue State USA

The Kagans Are Back; Wars to Follow, by Robert Parry

Scientists should delve into the question of whether a proclivity to advocate for senseless, costly, and ultimately counterproductive foreign intervention is genetically or environmentally based. The Kagan family would be evidence of the former. From Robert Parry at strategic-culture.org:

The Kagan family, America’s neoconservative aristocracy, has reemerged having recovered from the letdown over not gaining its expected influence from the election of Hillary Clinton and from its loss of official power at the start of the Trump presidency.

Former Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders. (She is the wife of neocon theorist Robert Kagan.)

Back pontificating on prominent op-ed pages, the Family Kagan now is pushing for an expanded U.S. military invasion of Syria and baiting Republicans for not joining more enthusiastically in the anti-Russian witch hunt over Moscow’s alleged help in electing Donald Trump.

In a Washington Post op-ed on March 7, Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and a key architect of the Iraq War, jabbed at Republicans for serving as “Russia’s accomplices after the fact” by not investigating more aggressively.

Then, Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at the neocon American Enterprise Institute, and his wife, Kimberly Kagan, president of her own think tank, Institute for the Study of War, touted the idea of a bigger U.S. invasion of Syria in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on March 15.

Yet, as much standing as the Kagans retain in Official Washington’s world of think tanks and op-ed placements, they remain mostly outside the new Trump-era power centers looking in, although they seem to have detected a door being forced open.

Still, a year ago, their prospects looked much brighter. They could pick from a large field of neocon-oriented Republican presidential contenders or – like Robert Kagan – they could support the establishment Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, whose “liberal interventionism” matched closely with neoconservatism, differing only slightly in the rationalizations used for justifying wars and more wars.

To continue reading: The Kagans Are Back; Wars to Follow

 

Prepare, Pursue, Prevail! Onward and Upward with U.S. Central Command, by Andrew J. Bacevich

Someone could write 10,000 pages and not run out of material for a black satire on the US military the past few decades. US Central Command would get several lengthy chapters. This article features vintage military bureaucrat-speak. From Andrew Bacevich at tomdispatch.com:

By way of explaining his eight failed marriages, the American bandleader Artie Shaw once remarked, “I am an incurable optimist.” In reality, Artie was an incurable narcissist. Utterly devoid of self-awareness, he never looked back, only forward.

So, too, with the incurable optimists who manage present-day American wars. What matters is not past mistakes but future opportunities. This describes the view of General Joseph Votel, current head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). Since its creation in 1983, CENTCOM has emerged as the ne plus ultra of the Pentagon’s several regional commands, the place where the action is always hot and heavy. Votel is the latest in a long train of four-star generals to preside over that action.

The title of this essay (exclamation point included) captures in a single phrase the “strategic approach” that Votel has devised for CENTCOM. That approach, according to the command’s website, is “proactive in nature and endeavors to set in motion tangible actions in a purposeful, consistent, and continuous manner.”

This strategic approach forms but one element in General Votel’s multifaceted (if murky) “command narrative,” which he promulgated last year upon taking the helm at CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Other components include a “culture,” a “vision,” a “mission,” and “priorities.” CENTCOM’s culture emphasizes “persistent excellence,” as the command “strives to understand and help others to comprehend, with granularity and clarity, the complexities of our region.” The vision, indistinguishable from the mission except perhaps for those possessing advanced degrees in hermeneutics, seeks to provide “a more stable and prosperous region with increasingly effective governance, improved security, and trans-regional cooperation.” Toward that estimable end, CENTCOM’s priorities include forging partnerships with other nations “based upon shared values,” “actively counter[ing] the malign influence” of hostile regimes, and “degrading and defeating violent extremist organizations and their networks.”

At present, CENTCOM is busily implementing the several components of Votel’s command narrative across an “area of responsibility” (AOR) consisting of 20 nations, among them Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. As the CENTCOM website puts it, without batting a digital eyelash, that AOR “spans more than 4 million square miles and is populated by more than 550 million people from 22 ethnic groups, speaking 18 languages with hundreds of dialects and confessing multiple religions which transect national borders.”

To continue reading: Prepare, Pursue, Prevail! Onward and Upward with U.S. Central Command

War Is Not an Option for Korea, by Christine Ahn

Even best case scenarios for war on the Korean Peninsula are horrific. From Christine Ahn at antiwar.com:

“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters at a news conference in Seoul, South Korea. “All options are on the table,” Tillerson continued, including “an appropriate response” to any North Korean threat.

The United States and North Korea are like two “accelerating trains coming toward each other,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned last week. North Korea test-fired four ballistic missiles off the coast of Japan as thousands of South Korean, Japanese, and US troops, backed by warships and warplanes, are currently engaging in massive military exercises, including the deployment of the Navy SEALS that killed Osama Bin Laden.

With no communication other than military posturing, Pyongyang is left to interpret Washington’s maneuvers as preparation for a preemptive strike. Given the political vacuum in South Korea following President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, all tracks are heading towards one destination: war.

At a Council of Foreign Relations discussion on March 13, Mary Beth Long, a former assistant secretary of defense, advocated for “aggressive movement” given the failure of the Obama administration’s strategic patience, which depended heavily on sanctions to further isolate and foment the collapse of the Kim Jong Un regime.

Yet as hawks call upon President Trump to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs through the use of force, they’re undermining the very reason the US military has allegedly been stationed on the Korean peninsula for seven decades: to protect the South Korean people.

Although the fantasy of surgical strikes to topple brutal dictators has long intoxicated American military officials, they’ve been restrained by the sobering reality of such reckless action. In the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton considered a first strike on North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, the Pentagon concluded that even limited action would claim a million lives in the first 24 hours – and this was well before Pyongyang possessed nuclear weapons.

To continue reading: War Is Not an Option for Korea

US’ Main Target in Syria is Iran, ISIS Comes Second, by Melkulangara Bhadrakumar

The US foreign policy establishment may have dropped, or at least put on hold, its longstanding desire to depose Syrian leader Assad. However, that has not apparently made ridding Syria and Iraq of ISIS job one. The US emphasis has switched to ridding Syria and Iraq of Iran, which, incidentally, is fighting ISIS. From Melkulangara Bhadrakumar at strategic-culture.org:

The common thread running through the two major ‘hot spots’ in the Middle East today – the conflicts in Syria and Libya – is undoubtedly the threat to international security from the extremist groups operating in these theatres. Therefore, Syria and Libya become test cases of the efficacy of the international community – Russia and the United States in particular – working together to steer these conflicts toward a denouement that results in the elimination of the terrorist threat and the stabilization of the situation in the two countries.

There is a history of Russian-American engagement over Syria during the Barack Obama administration, which was surprisingly intense at times – and productive too occasionally, such as over the removal of chemical weapons from Syria or in the creation of the International Syria Support Group as a platform for a peace process.

In the final analysis, of course, the Russian-American engagement over Syria turned out to be sub-optimal in results, which is not surprising, given the steady erosion of mutual trust in the overall relationship as a result of the Obama administration’s containment strategies toward Russia through the last year or two of his presidency.

Plainly put, it will not be an exaggeration to say that Russia and the US are virtually in ground zero today in terms of their cooperation and coordination in meeting the terrorist challenges in Syria. The final months of the Barack Obama presidency witnessed even a calamitous decline in the US-Russia ties.

To continue reading: US’ Main Target in Syria is Iran, ISIS Comes Second

 

Start Dealing, by Robert Gore

Empires have one historical constant: they fail.

President Trump likes deals and campaigned on his deal-making prowess. Negotiation requires parties who respect each other enough to bargain in good faith. It is a lost art in US foreign policy, replaced by imperatives: we tell you what to do and you do it. This makes the US government the world’s most hated institution. Negotiation poses an existential threat to a Deep State grown powerful and wealthy imposing US dominance on the rest of the world, and increasingly, the American people. Dominance implies unipolarity; negotiation implies multipolarity.

During his campaign, Trump resonated with voters and put the Deep State on alert, voicing two criticisms of unipolarity: its cost and its failures. Trump’s criticism of NATO, particularly of costs borne primarily by the US, should be an opening salvo in a wider war against the costs of US empire. The US has over 800 bases in over 150 countries. The annual expense of maintaining those outposts is substantial, and other personnel costs, high-tech weaponry, and foreign military interventions run into the hundreds of billions. (Foreign interventions are usually kept off budget by one of Washington’s beloved accounting tricks.) Total annual spending for the military and intelligence, including veterans benefits, is close to $1 trillion.

There is significant waste and corruption. The Defense Department has never passed an audit, and trillions of dollars remain unaccounted for. Most of the intelligence agencies’ budgets are “black box”—undisclosed—but waste and corruption on a comparable scale is probably a safe assumption.

US FOREIGN POLICY: A FAT TARGET FOR SATIRE

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All that money has bought multiple failures. The US has turned the Middle East and Northern Africa into a chaotic quagmire that has led to increased terrorism and refugee flows in the millions. Trump’s campaign adroitly played on popular fears of refugees and terrorism, but he’s maintaining the policies that produce them. More US forces are being sent to Iraq and Syria, and one special forces’ operation in Yemen has resulted in the first US military death (and the deaths of at least 10 Yemeni civilians) on Trump’s watch. He has shown no inclination to stop or curtail drone strikes, covert operations, or proxy warfare.

Trump’s military policy in the Middle East has been indistinguishable from Obama’s, and a subtle diplomatic shift demonstrates that US unipolarity, rather than multipolar “deals,” will continue to be the order of the day. Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran was a throwback to presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan, who negotiated arms control agreements with hostile powers. It has achieved its primary aim—nobody claims Iran is now developing nuclear weapons—yet Trump and team continuously criticize it. Iran has taken a substantial risk with the nuclear treaty. Muammar Gaddafi explicitly renounced nuclear weapons and terminated Libya’s embryonic program, while Saddam Hussein never had them, and the US violently deposed both of them. ( And US officials wonder why North Korea “clings” to its nuclear program!) Yet, Trump officials have put Iran “on notice,” called for renewed sanctions, and rattled the invasion sabers because Iran fired missiles that were not banned in the agreement.

An objective assessment of repressive “state sponsors of terrorism” in the Middle East would conclude that Saudi Arabia is at least as culpable, if not more so, than Iran. Saudi Arabia has supported al Qaeda offshoot ISIS (which Iran is fighting) in Syria and Iraq. It is waging war against its tiny, impoverished neighbor, Yemen, on the unproven contention that the Houthi rebels they’re fighting are an Iranian proxy force. Al Queda in Yemen has been the beneficiary of this Saudi campaign. The US has been helping the Saudis, providing weapons and other military and intelligence support. After a Saudi missile, bought from the US, struck a Yemeni funeral, killing over 100 people, Obama held up an arms sale, but Trump is reconsidering and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pushing for it. Thousands of its citizens are dying of malnutrition, but relief convoys can’t get through because Saudi Arabia has bombed much of the infrastructure. Yet, nobody is putting Saudi Arabia “on notice.” Trump recently sat down with the Saudi deputy crown prince for a convivial lunch.

Yemen marks the latest in a string of American military adventures stretching back to Korea. These forays have increased the power and wealth of the US military-industrial-intelligence complex, but have not attained any concrete military objective, i.e., winning. In Washington, nothing succeeds like failure. Trump has promoted some of failure’s architects to prominent places in his administration, and he’s increasing the military’s already bloated budget, with no check on its spendthrift ways. Notwithstanding failure’s staggering costs in blood and treasure, substantial elements of the foreign policy, military, and intelligence establishment, (including Hillary Clinton), want to train their sights on Syria, Iran, North Korea, Russia and China. After sixteen years the US cannot win a war in Afghanistan, but they want to take on the world’s second and third largest military forces (and nuclear arsenals) and three of their allies.

Trump’s voters elected him to reject, not buy into, the establishment and Clinton’s absurdity. Russia and China do not have the economic or military strength to build empires. (Nobody does; empires dissipate, not increase, strength.) They recognize the multipolarity the US rejects, and are leading diplomatic, financial, and economic initiatives with nations stretching from Southeast Asia to Europe. Whatever noises Trump made about establishing better relations with Russia have fallen by the wayside in the wake of the Russian “election hacking” and undue influence allegations. His administration’s stance towards China has been nonstop bluster. Last week Tillerson told North Korea it had better shape up or else, the “else” being possible US military action (LINK). As Justin Raimondo has argued, the tense and highly militarized situation on the Korean peninsula requires negotiations between the US, the Koreas, and China; saber rattling could lead to Korean War II or worse.

Trash talk, gestures, and threats may play well to domestic crowds, but they don’t get you far in international relations. If Trump engages in skirmishes over the Deep State’s surveillance of him, but carries water for its disastrous policies, including its surveillance of the American people, then his election was a waste of time. He can recognize the evolving multipolar world and negotiate, compromise, and deal, or he can try to maintain the US’s fading dominance. If he chooses the former, he has a shot at greatness. If he chooses the latter, his presidency will fail with the US empire.

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