Category Archives: Warfare

Greeks ready report on German occupation costs


With Greece reeling under demands to repay debts to German banks, Greece is preparing demands that Europe’s economic giant should make good on the costs of German looting, extortion, and other damage inflicted during World War II.

From Ekathimerini:

The findings of the intra-party committee which was set up to look into Greek claims for German war reparations are expected to be submitted to Parliament in early September, reports said on Friday. The committee wrapped up its probe on July 27.

Greece is demanding 269 billion euros – adjusted to inflation – for damages incurred during the Nazi occupation in World War II, including forced loans plus interest.

According to German magazine Der Spiegel, the 77-page report recommends that Greece employs diplomatic means to persuade Germany but doesn’t rule out legal action if that fails.

The reparations issue has been repeatedly raised by the SYRIZA-led coalition and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras timed an appeal last week – to European leaders for solidarity over the country’s debt burden – to coincide with the anniversary of the so-called London Debt Agreement in 1953, which secured West Germany a write-down of more than 50 percent of the debts it accumulated during the two world wars.

Given that much of the money extracted from Greece in recent years went to Germany, debts that have driven the nation deep into economic misery because of austerity measures imposed by the German-dominated European Central Bank and the European Commission, plus the International Monetary Fund, we think the Greeks have an excellent case.

Add in the fact that much of that debt comes from contracts to German firms, companies that extracted the wealth by criminally bribing officials of previous conservative Greek governments, there’s goof cause for debt relief, and reparations is a good first step.

Game of Zones heats up, confrontation looms


From BBC News, one of the venues for the Game of Zones in Asian waters.

From BBC News, one of the venues for the Game of Zones in Asian waters.

The Game of Zones, our term for the escalating multinational confrontations in the China Seas, are reaching the boiling point, with military encounters between China, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines occurring on a daily basis as a nuclear-armed North Korea watches from the sidelines.

The looming crisis is the result of the Asian Pivot, a strategy created by Barack Obama and his then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Five tears ago, Michael T. Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, dissected the Obama/Clinton Asian policy for The Nation:

The South China Sea has had increased prominence in Washington’s strategic calculus in recent years as China has asserted its interests there and as its importance as an economic arena has grown. Not only does the sea sit atop major oil and natural gas deposits—some being developed by US companies, including ExxonMobil—it also serves as the main route for ships traveling to and from Europe, Africa and the Middle East to China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The Chinese say the South China Sea is part of their national maritime territory and that the oil and gas belongs to them; but Washington is insisting it will fight to preserve “freedom of navigation” there, at whatever cost. Whereas Taiwan once topped the list of US security challenges in the western Pacific, Hillary Clinton said on November 10 that “ensuring freedom of navigation in the South China Sea” is now Washington’s principal challenge.

Focusing on the South China Sea achieves several White House goals. It shifts the emphasis in US security planning from ideological determinism, as embedded in the increasingly unpopular drive to impose American values on the Middle East and fight a never-ending war against Islamist jihadism, to economic realism, as expressed through protecting overseas energy assets and maritime commerce. By dominating sea lanes the United States poses an implied threat of economic warfare against China in any altercations by cutting off its access to foreign markets and raw materials. And, through its very location, the South China Sea links US strategic interests in the Pacific to its interests in the Indian Ocean and to those of the rising powers of South Asia. According to Secretary Burns, a key objective of the administration’s strategy is to unite India with Japan, Australia and other members of the emerging anti-Chinese bloc.

Chinese officials following these developments must see them as a calculated US effort to encircle China with hostile alliances. How, exactly, Beijing will respond to this onslaught remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that it will not be intimidated—resistance to foreign aggression lies at the bedrock of the national character and remains a key goal of the Chinese Communist Party, however attenuated by time. So blowback there will be.

Perhaps the White House believes that military competition will impede China’s economic growth and disguise US economic weaknesses. But this is folly: China has far greater economic clout than the United States. To enhance its position vis-à-vis China, America must first put its own house in order by reinvigorating its economy, reducing foreign debt, improving public education and eliminating unnecessary overseas military commitments.

Ultimately, what is most worrisome about the Obama administration’s strategic shift—which no doubt is dictated as much by domestic as foreign policy considerations, including the need to counter jingoistic appeals from GOP presidential candidates and to preserve high rates of military spending—is that it will trigger a similar realignment within Chinese policy circles, where military leaders are pushing for a more explicitly anti-American stance and a larger share of government funds. The most likely result, then, will be antagonistic moves on both sides, leading to greater suspicion, increased military spending, periodic naval incidents, a poisoned international atmosphere, economic disarray and, over time, a greater risk of war.

The Obama/Clinton push for a remilitarized Japan

The push for a Chinese confrontation has only grown stronger, and a key element is Japanese militarization, a full reversal of longstanding U.S. policy that began with the Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the U.S.-imposed military governor of Japan after World War II.

MacArthur’s chief accomplishment was a new national constitution, embraced by the Japanese, in which the nation was barred from creating all but a token military, one designed only for self-defense — hence the name, the Japanese Self Defense Forces.

But no more, as Roll Call’s Rachel Oswald reported in May:

In recent years, Japan, eager to show its commitment to working with the U.S. military, has moved past the strictly pacifist security posture it adopted after World War II. A little over a year ago, the United States and Japan finalized new defense cooperation guidelines allowing deeper military collaboration.

In September, Japan’s parliament, the Diet, approved legislation that would, in the words of the Abe government, “reactivate Japan’s innate right to collective self-defense,” authorizing the country’s Self-Defense Forces to come to the defense of threatened allies, namely the United States.

Abraham Denmark, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for East Asia, said “2015 was a historic year for us and for the alliance,” and the United States wants “to ensure that momentum continues.”

Japanese officials are trying to demonstrate to Washington they are working overtime to modernize their regional defense posture.

“Japan is the most determined military partner of the United States,” said Yoji Koda, a retired vice admiral of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. But Koda and others worry there is little awareness of Japan’s role in world security efforts. “Washington always complains, ‘free rider.’ But if there were no Japan, U.S. world strategy doesn’t function.”

The crisis begins to boil

The confrontation between China and the Japanese/U.S. partnership is heating up, with the latest developments especially troubling.

From BBC News:

Japan’s foreign minister has warned that ties with China are “significantly deteriorating”, after Chinese vessels repeatedly entered disputed waters in the East China Sea.

Fumio Kishida said he had called China’s ambassador to protest against the “incursions”.

On Friday, about 230 Chinese fishing boats and coast guard vessels sailed near islands claimed by both countries.

Beijing has been increasingly assertive about waters it believes are Chinese.

The Japan-controlled, uninhabited islands – known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China – are the source of a long-running dispute.

The Japanese coast guard said on Monday that about 13 Chinese coast guard ships, some of them armed, had been seen near the islands, higher than the usual number.

“The situation surrounding the Japan-China relationship is significantly deteriorating,” Mr Kishida told Cheng Yonghua, Beijing’s envoy to Tokyo, according to a statement on the foreign ministry website.

“We cannot accept that [China] is taking actions that unilaterally raise tensions.”

Much more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Both Clinton and Trump will give us more war


From The Real News Network, an interview with Larry Wilkerson, a retired army officer who served as chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell and now teaches national security courses at the College of William & Mary and George Washington University.

It’s yet more confirmation that both major party presidential candidates are likely to bring us yet more, which in turn will produce the rise of still more terrorism, which in turn will lead to more wars. . .ad infinitum.

From The Real News Network:

Wilkerson: The Danger of a Clinton or Trump Presidency

From the transcript:

PAUL JAY: And when I said Robert Kagan and others of his ilk are supporting Hillary, the thing they find most supportive in her, the thing they want to support, is her bellicose language about Russia, and that she’s not afraid to–she made a point of this in her own speech to the DNC, to take on, confront Russia. This kind of aggressive rhetoric about Russia, how serious are the neocons about this?

LARRY WILKERSON: She was present at the creation, as it were. She was there when her husband Bill Clinton decided to abrogate, completely abrogate, the promises of H.W. Bush to [inaud.], the Soviet foreign minister, and Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet premier at the time, that if they acceded to the reunification of Germany and its retention at NATO, a monumental diplomatic achievement, perhaps the greatest at the end of the 20th century, that they would not move NATO one inch further east. That’s Jim Baker’s actual words: not one inch further east.

But what Bill Clinton did was not just move it an inch further east, he began to incorporate the former Soviet satellite states in NATO, and even hinted at Georgia, Ukraine. And George W. Bush came along and actually gave a speech in Georgia, indicating Georgia would later be a member of NATO. This is what has caused Putin, a great power leader, to do what he’s done. Not any great desire to fight the United States. Certainly no desire to fight NATO. But a desire to keep his [near abroad], as they call it, think about these northern states of Mexico, the southern provinces of Canada, indeed, vis-a-vis us, intact and not a threat to him. That’s the way he looks at it.

So this is the first lady of those eight years. I’m not confident she’s going to handle the U.S.-Russia relationship as well as it should be.

>snip<

JAY: So just quickly, finally, given two terrible choices here, what scares you more?

WILKERSON: That also frightens me about, as you pointed out, Hillary Clinton’s position on Iran. Because I see it as being almost the opposite of President Obama’s. As you pointed out, he thinks it was a diplomatic achievement of the first order, as do I. And I think historians will, too. She thinks it came about because of massive U.S. power, at the top of which is military power. And so when it starts to unravel, which the Congress is working hard to make it do, she’s going to go to the military power.

JAY: So too horrible choices on foreign policy. Who scares you more?

WILKERSON: You won’t get me to answer that question. I have to say, I don’t know where Donald Trump stands. Some of the things he said, a re-examination of NATO, more equitable burden sharing, a re-examination, indeed, of all our security alliances, has been necessary since 1991. And we haven’t done it.

So those are cogent, reasonable, well-thought-out positions, though the playbook doesn’t agree with them. But I don’t know if he really believes in them. I don’t know if he just concocted them for the moment, or whether he really thought about them and he believes them. Other things he said make sense, too. But I don’t know, as I said, if he really believes in them or he’s just opportunistically throwing them out there as bait for what he considers to be those who might vote for him.

Chart of the day II: Obama/Clinton war legacy


From the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Asylum

Headline of the day: We are not surprised. . .


From the London Daily Mail:

Trump asked a foreign policy adviser three times in ONE HOUR why U.S. doesn’t use its nuclear weapons

  • Joe Scarborough made the revelation Wednesday on Morning Joe
  • ‘Several months ago, a foreign policy expert…went to advise Donald Trump and three times he asked about the use of nuclear weapons’  
  • The adviser told him Trump at one point asked: ‘If we have them, why can’t we use them?’
  • Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said on the program that nuclear program was designed for speed, not debate
  • Four-star general says he can’t support Trump because he’s ‘erratic’ 

Headline of the day: Paging Franz Kafka


From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Official who oversees whistleblower complaints files one of his own

  • Daniel Meyer says Pentagon retaliated against him over ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ case
  • The case fuels criticism that the whistleblower system is broken
  • Meyer has since moved to key role in Obama effort to overhaul treatment of retaliation complaints

Climate change linked to inter-ethnic conflict


The current presidential campaign, coupled with the controversy over police shootings and the Black Lives Matter movement, have revealed deep inter-ethnic tensions in the U.S., so it should come as now surprise that in nations already plagued by such divisions, the existential crises wrought by climate change can be the match that ignites the powder keg.

From the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

Climate disasters like heat-waves or droughts enhance the risk of armed conflicts in countries with high ethnic diversity, scientists found. They used a novel statistical approach to analyze data from the past three decades. While each conflict is certainly the result of a complex and specific mix of factors, it turns out that the outbreak of violence in ethnically fractionalized countries is often linked to natural disasters that may fuel smoldering social tensions. This finding, to be published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences, can help in the design of security policies – even more so since future global warming from human-made greenhouse-gas emissions will increase natural disasters and therefore likely also risks of conflicts and migration.

“Devastating climate-related natural disasters have a disruptive potential that seems to play out in ethnically fractionalized societies in a particularly tragic way,” says lead author Carl Schleussner from the Berlin think-tank Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Almost one quarter of conflicts in ethnically divided countries coincide with climatic calamities, the scientists found; importantly, this is even without taking climate change into account.

“Climate disasters are not directly triggering conflict outbreak, but may enhance the risk of a conflict breaking out which is rooted in context-specific circumstances. As intuitive as this might seem, we can now show this in a scientifically sound way,” says Schleussner, who has also been a research fellow at Humboldt University, Berlin, at the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRITHESys).

Previous research often either focused on climatic variables such as temperature increase that cannot be directly translated into societal impacts, or has been limited to case studies. The new study moves beyond that by focusing directly on natural disaster-related economic damage data, collected by the international reinsurance market leader Munich Re. Using the mathematical method of event coincidence analysis, this is combined with a conflict dataset established by security research, and a common index for ethnical fractionalization. The study looks at the period 1980-2010.

“We’ve been surprised by the extent that results for ethnic fractionalized countries stick out compared to other country features such as conflict history, poverty, or inequality,” says co-author Jonathan Donges, co-head of PIK’s flagship project on co-evolutionay pathways COPAN. “We think that ethnic divides may serve as a predetermined conflict line when additional stressors like natural disasters kick in, making multi-ethnic countries particularly vulnerable to the effect of such disasters.”

“A very special co-benefit of climate stabilization: peace”

The study cannot provide a risk assessment for specific states. Since armed conflicts and natural disasters are fortunately rare events, data from single countries is necessarily limited and does not suffice for statistical analyses.

“Armed conflicts are among the biggest threats to people, killing some and forcing others to leave their home and maybe flee to far-away countries. Hence identifying ethnic divide and natural disasters as enhancing destabilization risks is potentially quite relevant,” says co-author Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Human-made climate change will clearly boost heatwaves and regional droughts. Our observations combined with what we know about increasing climate-change impacts can help security policy to focus on risk regions.” Several of the world’s most conflict-prone regions, including North and Central Africa as well as Central Asia, are both exceptionally vulnerable to human-made climate change and characterized by deep ethnic divides. “So our study adds evidence,” Schellnhuber concludes, “of a very special co-benefit of climate stabilization: peace.”

Article: Schleussner, C.-F., Donges, J.F., Donner, R.V., Schellnhuber, H.J. (2016): Armed-conflict risks enhanced by climate-related disasters in ethnically fractionalized countries [open access]. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Early Edition, EE).