Category Archives: Military

Cold War 2.0: The tensions continue to rise

As the Obama administration draws to a close, global tensions largely dormant since the end of the Cold War near three decades ago are smoldering again, and with renewed intensity.

It.s an ominous turn, given that both apparent presidential candidates are among the most bellicose since the Cold War ended.

We begin today’s account of the latest development with RT:

Russia will take adequate measures to counter NATO’s increasingly “aggressive rhetoric,” President Vladimir Putin told MPs at the closing session of the State Duma. He called to create an international security system open to all countries.

It’s necessary to create a collective security system void of “bloc-like thinking” and open to all countries, Putin said on Wednesday in Russia’s parliament.

“Russia is ready to discuss this extremely important issue,” he said, adding that such proposals have been so far left unanswered by Western countries.

“But again, as it was at the beginning of WWII, we don’t see any positive response,” he continued. “On the contrary, NATO ups its aggressive rhetoric and aggressive actions near our borders.”

“In this environment, we must pay special attention to strengthening our country’s defense capabilities,” he concluded.

Russia plans to public positions of America’s secret spay satellites

From RT again, another provocative move:

Russia’s own data on near-Earth objects – including military satellites not covered by the open catalog of the North-American warning system NORAD – could soon be made publicly available as a comprehensive database, Russian media report.

Russia is planning to set up a free database on thousands of near-Earth objects, including those not publicly listed in open catalogs of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Izvestia newspaper reported on Tuesday.

NORAD doesn’t only track Santa at Christmas – its database also provides details on thousands of satellites launched, destroyed or still functioning. While the catalog does not disclose data on America’s own military or dual-use satellites (or those of allies – Japan, France, Germany and Israel among them), as Izvestia says, it does feature Russia’s defense satellites.

At a Vienna meeting of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in mid-June, Russia proposed to create a similar UN-run database “collecting, systemizing, sharing and analyzing information on objects and events in outer space.” Such an international database would be available to any country that has capabilities in the areas of human spaceflight, launches or satellites.

And the U.S. sends spy planes to the China Seas

Another move certain to up the ante in the hot zone where provocations by the U.S., China, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam could easily tturn into armed conflict.

From the Diplomat:

Amid rising tensions in the South China Sea, the United States Navy dispatched four U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack aircraft and about 120 military personnel to Clark Air Base, an air force base located on Luzon Island in the Philippines, according to a U.S. Seventh Fleet press release.

The four aircraft and 120 personnel arrived on June 15 for training with Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) FA-50 aircraft pilots and to support U.S. and Philippine naval operations in the South China Sea, as the statement makes clear with a veiled reference to so-called freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the disputed waters.

“In addition to bilateral training missions, Growler aircraft will support routine operations that enhance regional maritime domain awareness and assure access to the air and maritime domains in accordance with international law,” the press release reads.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Julian Assange begins his fifth year of asylum

Today, 19 June 2016, marks the start of the fifth year of the political asylum of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who remains within the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, sheltered from extradition that would likely see his removal to the U.S. and trial on espionage charges for publishing diplomatic cables and other documents furnished by the now-imprisoned Chelsea Manning.

To commemorate the date and raise a renewed call for his freedom, notable figures in journalism, governance, human rights, law, environmentalism, academia, art, film, and even fashion raised their voices in events around the world.

For a full list of participants, see thje #freeassagenow website, but meanwhile, from The Press Project, here are a few videos recorded for the event:

We begin with a familiar face:

Noam Chomsky in support of Julian Assange

Next, a Slovenian philosopher:

Slavoj Žižek in support of Julian Assange

And a Chinese artist:

Ai Wei Wei in support of Julian Assange

Followed by a world renowned composer and musician:

Brian Eno in support of Julian Assange

And Italy’s most esteemed investigator reporter, a journalist who lives with round-the-clock police protection because of his brilliant exposes of organized crime:

Roberto Saviani in support of Julian Assange

Finally, the British fashion designer and human rights activist who brought the punk style into the mainstream:

Vivienne Westwood in support of Julian Assange

Quote of the day: Obama’s nuclear madness

While Barack Obama holds the Nobel Peace Prize, he’s one of the most bellicose presidents in recent history

As the New York Times reported last month, “the current administration has reduced the nuclear stockpile less than any other post-Cold War presidency,” a trend confirmed by this graphic analysis from the Federation of American Scientists:

BLOG Nukes

But it doesn’t stop there. Barack Obama has also launched a drive to replace the entire American nuclear arsenal, a process that could cost American taxpayers an astounding one trillion dollars.

But to what end?

That brings us to the QOTD from Andrew Cockburn, writing for TomDispatch:

[I]n the Cold War as today, the idea of “nuclear war-fighting” could not survive scrutiny in a real-world context. Despite this self-evident truth, the U.S. military has long been the pioneer in devising rationales for fighting such a war via ever more “modernized” weapons systems. Thus, when first introduced in the early 1960s, the Navy’s invulnerable Polaris-submarine-launched intercontinental missiles — entirely sufficient in themselves as a deterrent force against any potential nuclear enemy — were seen within the military as an attack on Air Force operations and budgets. The Air Force responded by conceiving and successfully selling the need for a full-scale, land-based missile force as well, one that could more precisely target enemy missiles in what was termed a “counterforce” strategy.

The drive to develop and build such systems on the irrational pretense that nuclear war fighting is a practical proposition persists today.  One component of the current “modernization” plan is the proposed development of a new “dial-a-yield” version of the venerable B-61 nuclear bomb. Supposedly capable of delivering explosions of varying strength according to demand, this device will, at least theoretically, be guidable to its target with high degrees of accuracy and will also be able to burrow deep into the earth to destroy buried bunkers. The estimated bill — $11 billion — is a welcome boost for the fortunes of the Sandia and Los Alamos weapons laboratories that are developing it.

The ultimate cost of this new nuclear arsenal in its entirety is essentially un-knowable. The only official estimate we have so far came from the Congressional Budget Office, which last year projected a total of $350 billion. That figure, however, takes the “modernization” program only to 2024 — before, that is, most of the new systems move from development to actual production and the real bills for all of this start thudding onto taxpayers’ doormats. This year, for instance, the Navy is spending a billion and a half dollars in research and development funds on its new missile submarine, known only as the SSBN(X). Between 2025 and 2035, however, annual costs for that program are projected to run at $10 billion a year. Similar escalations are in store for the other items on the military’s impressive nuclear shopping list.

Chart of the day: Military remains the most-trusted

BLOG Military

From Gallup, which reports:

While Americans’ faith in many U.S. institutions has fallen from the levels of previous decades, the public’s confidence in the military has remained consistently high. The average confidence level across all 14 institutions tested in 2004 was 43%, compared with 32% this year. In contrast, the 73% confidence rating that Americans give the military today is essentially unchanged from the 75% rating they gave it 12 years ago.

The military reached its highest level of confidence — 85% — in March 1991, just after the first Persian Gulf War. This rating remains the highest Gallup has yet recorded for any institution. There was another sharp uptick in Americans’ confidence in the military after the 9/11 attacks. Confidence has fluctuated some in the years since 2001, but has generally remained high, dropping below 70% only once. From 1975 through early 2001, confidence in the military averaged 63%. Since 9/11, it has averaged 75%.

The last time when Americans’ confidence in the military was not No. 1 on Gallup’s confidence in institutions list was in 1997, when “small business” eclipsed it. Since 1998, however, the military has been No. 1 each year. Confidence in the military is currently five points higher than the second-ranking institution, small business (68%), and 17 points higher than the police (56%). Small business and the police are the only other two institutions with majority confidence in this year’s survey.

Cold War 2.0: The tensions continue to rise

Back in 1989 when the Cold War ended with the breakup and the Soviet Union and its satellite alliance, newspapers and politicians were hailing the end of the Cold War, that nuclear-armed ongoing confrontation that had kept the world poised on the brink of an apocalypse for four decades.

Fast forward 27 years and we seem to be right back where we started, with provocations occurring on a daily basis between the U.S. and its allies and the Cold War foes Russia and China.

Escalation on the Russian frontier

We begin with the first of two stories from the World Socialist Web Site:

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is sending 4,000 additional troops to Eastern Europe in the name of reassuring Poland and the Baltic states, the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed on Monday. “We will agree to deploy by rotation four robust multi-national battalions in the Baltic states and Poland,” Stoltenberg told NATO officials.

The US, Germany and Britain will each contribute 1,000 soldiers, with Canada expected to confirm its own contingent of 1,000. The deployments are among the most provocative actions taken by the NATO high command in the course of its anti-Russian buildup, now well into its second year. With ever greater recklessness, the US and European ruling elites are sowing the seeds of war across the width and breadth of the Eurasian landmass.

The announcement of new troop deployments comes in the midst of Operation Anaconda 2016, involving more than 30,000 NATO forces in the biggest war drill held in Poland since the end of the Second World War. Some 12,500 of the 30,000 soldiers are American.

In Eastern Europe, under the guise of “rotational deployments,” NATO has established a permanent military force. Put forth for public consumption as a response to Russian “meddling” in Ukraine and alleged provocations by Russia’s military along the frontiers of NATO’s eastern member states, the real purpose of NATO’s spearhead force is to prepare for a ground invasion across Russia’s western border.

And a second story on the NATO/Russian frontier from the World Socialist Web Site:

Germany needs new tanks! This was the demand of Jörg Vollmer, inspector of the German Army, on June 9 in Berlin. Referring to the supposed “changed threat situation” in the east, the lieutenant general concluded that the German military needs 31 “Iguana” bridge-laying armoured vehicles next year as well as additional materials costing several billion euros. All troops would also have to be equipped with new radios.

The army must be capable of building stable bridges and laying anti-tank mines, Vollmer said. “A brigade that is fully equipped with combat tanks and armoured personnel carriers but has no Iguanas to carry them over water is clearly handicapped.” According to the general, the army must “again provide everything we once sized down for good reasons.”

Seventy-five years after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the German military is again arming itself against Russia. Vollmer confirmed that the military will participate in the permanent deployment of NATO combat troops in Eastern Europe. At the NATO summit to be held in Warsaw at the beginning of July, Germany will propose taking leadership of one of the four planned “robust, multi-national NATO battalions” in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. To this end, the military wants to send an additional 600 soldiers to Lithuania.

The German military is already playing a leading role in NATO deployments in Eastern Europe, which are an increasingly direct preparation for a war against Russia.

After the jump, rising tensions in the China Seas. . . Continue reading

An Abby Martin twofer: Monsanto and Hillary

Two videos featuring Abby Martin, the artist and activist who launched her video career on Berkeley Community Cable, then moved on to RT and now teleSUR English, where she hosts the weekly half-hour series The Empire Files.

In the latest she tackles Monsanto.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Monsanto, America’s Monster

Program notes:

Few corporations in the world are as loathed—and as sinister—as Monsanto. But the threat it poses to people and planet could be reaching new heights, as the World Health Organization has recently upgraded Monsanto’s main product as carcinogenic to humans.

With protests against the agrochemical giant held in over 40 countries in May, learn why the global movement against Monsanto is of critical importance to our future.

In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin issues a scathing expose on the corporate polluter, chronicling it’s rise to power, the collusion of its crimes by the US government, and highlighting the serious danger it puts us in today.

For our second video, a sometimes intense discussion between Martin and Real News Network founder Paul Jay.

Given that both are Bernie backers, the question is how to vote in November, given Hillary Clinton’s all-but-inevitable assumption of the nomination.

Will it be, in Noam Chomsky’s words of “hold your nose and vote for Hillary,” or will it be a third way, quixotic or not.

From The Real News Network:

Abby Martin and Paul Jay – Should Sanders Run for a Third Party?

Program note:

Martin and Jay discuss voting for the lesser evil

Quote of the day: Hillary, warfare queen

From author and political analyst Pepe Escobar, writing for CounterPunch:

Every sentient being remotely familiar with Hillary Clinton’s record knows by now that, if elected, she will preside over a Warfare State – which, incidentally, is bound to further bankrupt Washington. Spending on the defense/security/surveillance complex will balloon way beyond the current $850 billion a year. We’re not talking about landing under sniper fire in Bosnia here; this is the exceptionalist meat of the matter.

Hillary Clinton’s record shows that she fully supported Bubba’s military adventures in the Balkans, Dubya’s disastrous wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and Obama’s Afghan surge. But her masterpiece as Secretary of State was of course the destruction of Libya – followed by her enthusiastic support for weaponizing “moderate rebels”, a.k.a hardcore jihadis, in Syria.

R2P (“responsibility to protect”) would have remained no more than a hollow smart power-related concept without the Three Harpies (Hillary, Samantha Power and Susan Rice) lobbying non-stop for its implementation in Libya. Libya was the battling ground supposed to gloriously elevate the Clinton Doctrine to the apex of foreign policy smartness.

R2P – as in humanitarian imperialism deployed towards regime change – should have been duly paraded throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. But alas, even with We Came, We Saw, He Died the descent of Libya into a militia hell scotched all those elaborate plans. It was – and remains – more of a case of I came, I Saw and I Got Tangled Up in Benghazi.