Category Archives: Military

In apparent signal to US: Russia’s Putin endorses strategy of using nukes against conventional strike

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US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (L) takes part in a video conference call with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, on June 2, 2020. (Photo via Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has endorsed a strategy document outlining the country’s nuclear deterrent policy, amid rising tensions with the United States over a nuclear arms control accord.

The document allows Moscow to use nuclear weapons in response to a conventional strike targeting the country’s critical government and military infrastructure, Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Tuesday.

The new document appears to send a warning signal to the United States by including a non-nuclear attack as a possible trigger for Russian nuclear retaliation.

It also reflects Moscow’s concerns over the development of prospective US weapons, including space-based ones, labeling the creation and deployment of anti-missile and strike weapons in space as one of the main military threats to Russia.

The document offers detailed descriptions of situations that could trigger the use of nuclear arms, including attacks that “threaten the very existence” of Russia.

The document states that Russia could use its nuclear arsenal if it gets “reliable information” about the launch of ballistic missiles targeting its territory or its allies.

The United States has unilaterally pulled out of one nuclear arms treaty with Russia — the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty — and is flirting with the idea of not renewing another.

President Putin has previously warned that yet another arms race would be inevitable if Washington did not renew the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

The New START accord is the last major nuclear arms control treaty between Moscow and Washington that puts a limit on the development and deployment of strategic nuclear warheads of the two countries. It can be extended for another five years, beyond its expiry date in February 2021, by mutual agreement.

Under the New START, signed in April 2010, the US and Russia agreed to halve the number of their strategic nuclear missiles and restrict the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550.

Russia has also repeatedly voiced concern about the installment of US Patriot missiles and the deployment of American ground troops in the Baltic countries, as well as NATO drills near the country’s borders.

The buildup of conventional forces near Russia’s borders and the deployment of missile defense assets are among the threats identified in the new document.


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US Pirates of the Caribbean

“American global power right now is seen as a farce. It has been devastated by a virus and shown to be a lying cheat over its attempt to smear China and the World Health Organization. Its sanctioning against nations struggling with a deadly disease is barbaric terrorism; and while millions of Americans are facing poverty, the US is sending warships and warplanes to all corners of the world.”
sputniknews.com
May 21, 2020

You have to be amused at this headline: “US masses planes at Japan airbase to show foes and allies it can handle coronavirus,” reports Reuters.

So, let’s get this straight. At a time when the US is leading the world with deaths and infections from the disease, the Pentagon views flexing muscles with warplanes in the Asia Pacific is somehow a demonstration of American potency.

While the American public is crying out for more resources to cope with the pandemic, Washington sees fit to ramp up militarism not just in the Asia Pacific, but also in the Arctic region, the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean.

US warships despatched to the Caribbean are said to be on a mission to counter-narcotic trafficking. Few people will buy that pretext. The military force is deployed as a threat to Venezuela and its socialist government which the Trump administration has openly targeted for regime change.

A failed coup attempt earlier this month involving a private US mercenary outfit may or may not have had official support from the White House.

But one thing is clear: when Russia proposed a statement of support for Venezuela at the UN Security Council this week in which the failed coup was denounced as a violation of the UN charter forbidding aggression, the draft statement was “killed” by Washington’s envoy.

The implication is that Washington’s public position sees nothing wrong with aggression despite the flagrant violation of international law that it involves.

In that case, it could be expected that the US will attempt to block Iranian oil tankers en route to Venezuela. If aggression is acceptable to Washington then why not also a bit of high-seas piracy?

Five Iranian-flagged tankers are due to dock in the South American country in the coming days. They are reportedly ferrying $45 million worth of gasoline to alleviate Venezuela’s crippled economy as it struggles like many other nations to control the coronavirus pandemic.

Venezuela is a major exporter of crude oil but due to US sanctions its capacity to refine fuel has been decimated. This has caused severe shortages for Venezuelan transport which has, in turn, exacerbated the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both Venezuela and Iran have warned the US to not interfere in the sea passage of the oil tankers. Both countries have been burdened with American sanctions, but they are legally entitled to conduct bilateral trade. If US warships impede the transport, then it will be viewed by Venezuela and Iran as an act of piracy. We might add that the rest of the world will view it that way too. An act of piracy compounding acts of economic aggression under heartless US sanctions.

Given the pandemic crisis, Iran’s supply of vital fuel to Venezuela is not merely a normal trade transaction, but a courageous act of solidarity and humanitarian aid.

The Trump administration has mischievously indicated it will do something to stop the Iranian ships reaching Venezuela. What that something is open to guesswork. Will it use its warships in the Caribbean to mount a blockade?

Iran has warned it will retaliate. Perhaps by attacking American warships in the Persian Gulf, where skirmishing has already taken place.

Venezuela says it is sending naval forces to escort the Iranian tankers once they arrive in its territorial waters.

In the next coming days, a showdown awaits which could have explosive repercussions, not least because the Iranian tankers are reckoned to contain 1.5 million barrels of gasoline.

The US head of Southern Command, Admiral Craig Faller, this week played down the probability of an armed confrontation with the Iranian vessels.

He is quoted as saying: “You have to ask yourself what interest Iran has in Venezuela, where we have seen recent indications of Iranian military and state support?”

Eh, let’s guess Admiral Faller, maybe simply an act of solidarity by two nations who are under the boot of American imperialism and illegal sanctions that amount to a crime against humanity.

American global power right now is seen as a farce. It has been devastated by a virus and shown to be a lying cheat over its attempt to smear China and the World Health Organization. Its sanctioning against nations struggling with a deadly disease is barbaric terrorism; and while millions of Americans are facing poverty, the US is sending warships and warplanes to all corners of the world.Washington won’t dare do piracy in the Caribbean at this juncture. Because it can’t afford another fiasco. Its global image is already in tatters.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Do You Consent To The New Cold War?

medium.com

Caitlin Johnstone

May 23, 2020

The world’s worst Putin puppet is escalating tensions with Russia even further, with the Trump administration looking at withdrawal from more nuclear treaties in the near future.

In addition to planning on withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty and knocking back Moscow’s attempts to renew the soon-to-expire New START Treaty, Trump is also contemplating breaking the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban treaty by conducting the first US nuclear test explosion since 1992, reportedly as an attempt to bring China to the table for joining New START.

Moon of Alabama has already published a solid breakdown of all this, outlining the absence of evidence for the Trump administration’s justifications of its treaty withdrawals and explaining why China has nothing whatsoever to gain by signing on to a trilateral New START Treaty. I have nothing to add to this, other than to ask a simple question.

The question I want to ask is, do you consent to this?

Do you consent to steadily mounting cold war escalations against not one but two nuclear-armed nations?

Do you consent to having a bunch of unseen military personnel rolling the dice every day on the gamble that we won’t wipe ourselves off the face of this earth in the confusion and chaos of rising hostilities due to miscommunication or technical malfunction, as nearly happened many times during the last cold war?

Do you consent to a slow-motion third world war where an oligarch-led alliance of powerful nations works tirelessly to absorb new nations into its imperial blob by any means necessary?

Do you consent to a world where weapons of armageddon are brandished about by imbeciles with inadequacy issues?

Do you consent to a world ruled by people who are so sociopathic that they are willing to inflict endless mass military slaughter and risk a nuclear holocaust just to have more control over the world population?

Do you consent to a world where we risk literally everything because a few overeducated, under-mothered think-tankers were able to market an idea called “unipolarity” at key points of interest after the fall of the Soviet Union?

Do you consent to a world where powerful governments team up like a bunch of bitchy mean girls against weaker nations that aren’t in their clique?

Do you consent to governments spending lives, resources, and treasure on bloodbaths around the globe and treating terrestrial life itself like some trivial plaything instead of ensuring the thriving of their own populations?

Does this seem like health to you?

Does this seem like sanity to you?

Is any of this something you want? Something you consent to?

Of course not. These questions are all redundant. Nobody with a healthy mind and a clear picture of what’s going on would consent to this madness, no matter what nation they live in.

This whole insane model was rolled out without your consent. You were never asked if you consented because the answer would have been no.

Nobody gives their conscious and informed consent to this. The new cold war is as consensual as sex after a Rohypnol-spiked drink, and the illusion of consent is just as nefariously and artificially manufactured. People are roofied into sedation by mass media propaganda and endless diversion from reality, and then power has its way with us.

If people were actually given informed consent about what is done in their name, none of this would be happening. Weapons of war would have been destroyed long ago and we’d all be working together in healthy collaboration with each other and with our ecosystem to ensure a healthy, happy world for our children and our grandchildren.

There is no reason we cannot have such a world. We are the many, they are the few. They manufacture our consent because they absolutely require that consent. A population which will not be propagandized is a population which cannot be ruled.

All we have to do is inform each other about what’s really going on. Then informed consent can exist. And be withdrawn.

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US, China Have Unsafe Encounters in South China Sea

Pentagon blames Chinese behavior, but US ships keep confronting them

God damned Americans, what are you doing in Chinese waters, on the other side of the world? Go home and fix your deteriorating country ye eejits!

news.antiwar.com
May 21, 2020
SOUTH CHINA SEA (Jul. 05, 2010) - A service member assign… | Flickr
Go home Yankees, go fix your country!

Mounting US tensions with China are mostly playing out diplomatically. The South China Sea is the one area where military confrontation is a risk. Pentagon officials have suggested there were nine such incidents in recent months.

The incidents are common. A US warship or two approaches Chinese claimed territory in the South China Sea, and China responds. The US gets mad at China’s response, saying it is “unsafe” to react to their provocations.

The US doesn’t like the way China reacts, but they won’t just not engage in such provocations. If anything, the Pentagon has a growing number of missions in the South China Sea challenging China and provoking a response.

The Pentagon tends to overstate what was “unsafe” labeling any reaction to their operations as such. A military confrontation, however, cannot be ruled out, and the more encounters happen, the higher that risk becomes.

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com. 

Trump Claims to Have Venezuela ‘Surrounded’ as Iranian Tankers Approach

Dear American government, you are scum, you are bloody scum for preventing a nation from eating and living just because they don’t want your corrupt system of thinking. Scum.

Venezuela’s armed forces will escort the vessels upon reaching territorial waters.

US President Donald Trump issued new threats against Venezuela on Wednesday.

“We’ve got it [Venezuela] surrounded, it’s surrounded at a level that nobody even knows but they know. We are watching to see what happens,” he warned during a conference call with Hispanic leaders.

The president’s remarks come amid escalating tensions over Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela.

Five Iranian tankers are en route to the South American country carrying at least US $45.5 million in gasoline and other products. According to maritime tracking data, the closest vessel, Fortune, is currently three days from port.

Washington is mulling unilateral sanctions aimed at halting the shipments, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Last month, Trump ordered the mobilization of US naval assets to the Caribbean in an “anti-drug” operation targeting Venezuela described as one of the largest military deployments in the region since the 1989 invasion of Panama. The US leader had previously threatened Venezuela with a naval blockade.

Caracas and Tehran have rejected US threats against the tankers, which are estimated to contain enough fuel to supply Venezuela for around 50 days.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez revealed that naval and air assets would escort the Iranian vessels upon entering Venezuela’s territorial waters.

Venezuela is currently suffering widespread gasoline shortages, with domestic production hamstrung by US sanctions prohibiting the import of vital diluents and spare parts needed to reactivate the country’s refining capacity.

Since 2017, the Trump administration has targeted Venezuela with crushing economic sanctions, including an oil embargo blocking fuel exports to the Caribbean country as well as a blanket ban on dealings with Venezuelan state entities.

In recent months, the US Treasury Department has imposed secondary sanctions on two affiliates of Russian energy giant Rosneft, which had been carrying up to 60 percent of Venezuela’s crude output in addition to supplying diesel and gasoline.

Following the departure of Rosneft, Tehran has stepped in to provide fuel as well as technical assistance in repairing Venezuela’s largest refinery, which has been offline since last year’s nationwide blackouts. The Trump administration has likewise threatened Iran over its technical air corridor to Venezuela, calling on other countries to suspend Iranian overflight rights.

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Featured image: Venezuelan ships and airplanes will escort the Iranian tankers once they enter Venezuelan waters. (Military Watch Magazine)

What on Earth Is the US Doing by Bombing Somalia?

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Terror,usa,war,america,bombs - free image from needpix.com

The Trump administration has quietly ramped up a vicious bombing – and covert raiding – campaign in Somalia amid a global coronavirus pandemic. Neither the White House nor the Pentagon has provided any explanation for the deadly escalation of a war that Congress hasn’t declared and the media rarely reports. At stake are many thousands of lives.

The public statistics show a considerable increase in airstrikes from Obama’s presidency. From 2009 to 2016, the U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced 36 airstrikes in Somalia. Under Trump, it conducted at least 63 bombing raids just last year, with another 39 such attacks in the first four months of 2020. The ostensible US target has usually been the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab, but often the real – or at least consequent – victims are long-embattled Somali civilians.

As for the most direct victims, it’s become clear that notoriously image-conscious AFRICOM public affairs officers have long undercounted and underreported the number of civilians killed in their expanding aerial bombardments. According to Airwars, a UK-based airstrike monitoring group, civilian fatalities – while low relative to other bombing campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria – may exceed official Pentagon estimates by as much as 6,800 percent. Only these deaths don’t tell the half of it. Tens of thousands of Somalis have fled areas that the US regularly bombs, filtering into already overcrowded refugee camps outside of the capital of Mogadishu.

There are approximately 2.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia who barely survive and are often reliant on humanitarian aid. So vulnerable are the refugees in the pandemic-petri-dish camps, that one mother of seven described feeling “like we are waiting for death to come.” Her fears may prove justified. Recently, coronavirus cases have risen rapidly in Somalia – a country with no public health system to speak of – and due to severely limited testing availability, experts believe the actual tally is much higher than reported. No matter how AFRICOM spins it, their escalatory war will only exacerbate the country’s slow-boiling crisis.

A Sordid Backstory

While comprehensive analysis of the sordid history of US military operations in Somalia would fill multiple volumes, it’s worth recalling the basic contours of Washington’s record. During the Cold War, the US pressured the United Nations to hand over the ethnically Somali Ogaden region to Ethiopia, then proceeded to arm and back this sworn enemy of Mogadishu. That is until Marxist Ethiopian military officers took power in a 1974 putsch, at which point America turned on a dime, and changed sides. Washington then backed Somalia in the ensuing war over Ogaden. Over the next decade and a half, the US propped up the abusive and corrupt Somali dictator Mohammed Siad Barre.

Nevertheless, after the Berlin Wall came down and Barre, a notorious human rights-violator, had outlived his Cold War usefulness, Congress cut off military and – more importantly – economic aid. Barre was soon toppled in a coup, and clan-based militias carved up the remnants of the Somali state. Civil war raged, and hundreds of thousands of civilians starved to death in the ensuing famine. Thanks to the blockbuster 2001 Hollywood film “Blackhawk Down,” what came next is the one bit of Somali history most Americans know. In 1992, US troops filtered into Somalia to support what began as a United Nations humanitarian response. No doubt, they eventually did some good.

In the chaos, the UN and especially the took sides in the civil war. Then after American special operators killed numerous civilians in the hunt for one particular warlord, thousands of angry Somalis turned on a group of army rangers and Delta Force commandos during another botched raid. In the day-long battle that inspired the film, 18 US soldiers and – far less reported – some 500 Somali men, women, and children were killed. With no stomach for the bad press of body bags being brought home, President Bill Clinton pulled the troops out within months.

For several years, Washington reverted to largely ignoring the ongoing Somali tragedy. That is until the 2001 terror attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., placed the region – and anything vaguely Islamist – into the Pentagon’s crosshairs. There hadn’t been much of an al-Qaeda presence in Somalia at the time, so the US basically “invented” one. In 2006, after an imperfect but popular Islamic Courts movement brought some stability to the capitol, Washington encouraged, backed, and even took part in an Ethiopian invasion.

This too backfired. The more hardline al-Shabab was empowered, largely catalyzed, and grew in popularity through its resistance to the illegal Ethiopian occupation and to the corrupt UN and U.S.-backed interim governments that followed. What AFRICOM’s director of operations called the “disease” of al-Shabab is now used as a vague justification of the latest escalation in US airstrikes.

AFRICOM Inertia

How many Americans know that some 500800 US troops are based in Somalia at any given time? Fewer still likely have the faintest idea that three Americans were killed in neighboring Kenya just a few months back, when al-Shabab nearly overran an airbase that housed some US troops.

Apathy and ignorance are troubling enough, but as has been the case for nearly all recent interventions in the Greater Middle East, Washington’s aggressive Somalia policy has proven counterproductive. The more intense and overt the US military strikes and presence, the more empowered al-Shabab becomes since the group is as much nationalist resistant movement as terror group. While this admittedly abhorrent crew kills and oppresses Somali civilians as much as or more than American bombs or U.S.-backed government security forces, Washington’s self-sabotage is real. As a Brown University Costs of War Project report concludes: “Al-Shabaab is fueled, in part, by the US war against it.” Though affiliated with al-Qaeda, al-Shabab’s recruits, expertise, and grievances are mainly local. Most funding comes from piracy and other criminal enterprises.

The United Nations with tacit support from even America’s NATO allies has called for a global ceasefire during the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump team has only escalated military actions in various hotspots – particularly Somalia. This won’t play well with allies, adversaries, or neutral nations alike. If anything, it will drive the latter into the arms of Russia or China. In the face of such strategic inertia, one can’t help but wish the US military would heed its own doctrine.

It might start with number four on its list of the eight “paradoxes” of counterinsurgency: “Doing Nothing is Sometimes the Best Action.”

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Danny Sjursen is a retired US Army officer and contributing editor at Antiwar.com His work has appeared in the NY Times, LA Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, Popular Resistance, and Tom Dispatch, among other publications. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. His forthcoming book, Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War is now available for pre-order. Sjursen was recently selected as a 2019-20 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Fellow. Follow him on Twitter @SkepticalVet. Visit his professional website for contact info, to schedule speeches or media appearances, and access to his past work.

Copyright 2020 Danny Sjursen

COVID-19: China Updates its ‘Art of Hybrid War’

President Xi Jinping made it clear earlier this week that a “Covid-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available,” won’t be subjected to Big Pharma logic, but “will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.” The Global South is paying attention.

An inevitable corollary is that the all-out offensive to cripple Huawei will be counterpunched in kind, targeting Apple, Qualcom, Cisco and Boeing, even including  “investigations or suspensions of their right to do business in China.” 

A toxic racism-meets-anti-communism matrix is responsible for the predominant anti-Chinese sentiment across the U.S., encompassing at least 66 percent of the whole population. Trump instinctively seized it – and repackaged it as his re-election campaign theme, fully approved by Steve Bannon.

Source

consortiumnews.com

Chinese General Qiao Liang argues, “If we have to dance with the wolves, we should not dance to the rhythm of the United States,” reports Pepe Escobar.      

A Chinese anti-U.S. propaganda poster from the Korean War era. (Facebook)

  

In 1999, Qiao Liang, then a senior air force colonel in the People’s Liberation Army, and Wang Xiangsui, another senior colonel, caused a tremendous uproar with the publication of “Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America.”

“Unrestricted Warfare” was essentially the PLA’s manual for asymmetric warfare: an updating of Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.” At the time of original publication, with China still a long way from having its current geopolitical and geo-economic clout, the book was conceived as laying out a defensive approach, far from the sensationalist “destroy America” added to the title for U.S. publication in 2004.

Now the book is available in a new edition and Qiao Liang, as a retired general and director of the Council for Research on National Security, has resurfaced in a quite revealing interview originally published in the current edition of the Hong Kong-based magazine Zijing (Bauhinia).

General Qiao is not a Politburo member entitled to dictate official policy. But some analysts I talked with agree that the key points he makes in a personal capacity are quite revealing of PLA thinking. Let’s review some of the highlights.

Dancing with Wolves

The bulk of his argument concentrates on the shortcomings of U.S. manufacturing: “How can the US today want to wage war against the biggest manufacturing power in the world while its own industry is hollowed out?”

An example, referring to Covid-19, is the capacity to produce ventilators: “Out of over 1,400 pieces necessary for a ventilator, over 1,100 must be produced in China, including final assembly. That’s the US problem today. They have state of the art technology, but not the methods and production capacity. So they have to rely on Chinese production.”

General Qiao dismisses the possibility that Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and other Asian nations may replace China’s cheap workforce: “Think about which of these countries has more skilled workers than China. What quantity of medium and high-level human resources was produced in China in these past 30 years? Which country is educating over 100 million students at secondary and university levels? The energy of all these people is still far from being liberated for China’s economic development.”

He acknowledges U.S. military power even in times of epidemic and economic difficulties is always capable of “interfering directly or indirectly in the Taiwan straits question” and finding an excuse to “block and sanction China and exclude it from the West.” He adds that, “as a producing country, we still cannot satisfy our manufacturing industry with our own resources and rely on our own markets to consume our products.”

In consequence, he argues, it’s a “good thing” for China to engage in the cause of reunification, “but it’s always a bad thing if it’s done at the wrong time. We can only act at the right time. We cannot allow our generation to commit the sin of interrupting the process of the Chinese nation’s renaissance.”

General Qiao counsels, “Don’t think that only territorial sovereignty is linked to the fundamental interests of a nation. Other kinds of sovereignty – economic, financial, defense, food, resources, biological and cultural sovereignty – are all linked to the interests and survival of nations and are components of national sovereignty.”

To arrest movement toward Taiwan’s independence, “apart from war, other options must be taken into consideration. We can think about the means to act in the immense gray zone between war and peace, and we can even think about more particular means, like launching military operations that will not lead to war, but may involve a moderate use of force.”

In a graphic formulation, General Qiao thinks that, “if we have to dance with the wolves, we should not dance to the rhythm of the U.S. We should have our own rhythm, and even try to break their rhythm, to minimize its influence. If American power is brandishing its stick, it’s because it has fallen into a trap.”

In a nutshell, for General Qiao, “China first of all must show proof of strategic determination to solve the Taiwan question, and then strategic patience. Of course, the premise is that we should develop and maintain our strategic force to solve the Taiwan question by force at any moment.”

Gloves Are Off

Now compare General Qiao’s analysis with the by-now-obvious geopolitical and geo-economic fact that Beijing will respond tit for tat to any hybrid war tactics deployed by the United States government. The gloves are definitely off.

The gold standard expression has come in a no-holds barred Global Times editorial: “We must be clear that coping with US suppression will be the key focus of China’s national strategy. We should enhance cooperation with most countries. The US is expected to contain China’s international front lines, and we must knock out this US plot and make China-US rivalry a process of US self-isolation.”

An inevitable corollary is that the all-out offensive to cripple Huawei will be counterpunched in kind, targeting Apple, Qualcom, Cisco and Boeing, even including  “investigations or suspensions of their right to do business in China.” 

So, for all practical purposes, Beijing has now publicly unveiled its strategy to counteract U.S. President Donald Trump’s “We could cut off the whole relationship” kind of assertions.

A toxic racism-meets-anti-communism matrix is responsible for the predominant anti-Chinese sentiment across the U.S., encompassing at least 66 percent of the whole population. Trump instinctively seized it – and repackaged it as his re-election campaign theme, fully approved by Steve Bannon.

The strategic objective is to go after China across the full spectrum. The tactical objective is to forge an anti-China front across the West: another instance of encirclement, hybrid war-style, focused on economic war.

This will imply a concerted offensive, trying to enforce embargoes and trying to block regional markets to Chinese companies. Lawfare will be the norm. Even freezing Chinese assets in the U.S. is not a far-fetched proposition anymore.

Every possible Silk Road branch-out – on the energy front, ports, the Health Silk Road, digital interconnection – will be strategically targeted. Those who were dreaming that Covid-19 could be the ideal pretext for a new Yalta – uniting Trump, Xi and Putin – may rest in peace.

“Containment” will go into overdrive. A neat example is Admiral Philip Davidson – head of the Indo-Pacific Command – asking for $20 billion for a “robust military cordon” from California to Japan and down the Pacific Rim, complete with “highly survivable, precision-strike networks” along the Pacific Rim and “forward-based, rotational joint forces” to counteract the “renewed threat we face from great power competition.”

Davidson argues that, “without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China and Russia will be emboldened to take action in the region to supplant U.S. interests.”

Watch People’s Congress

Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where full sessions of the National People’s Congress are held. (AcidBomber, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

From the point of view of large swathes of the Global South, the current, extremely dangerous incandescence, or New Cold War, is mostly interpreted as the progressive ending of the Western coalition’s hegemony over the whole planet.

Still, scores of nations are being asked, bluntly, by the hegemon to position themselves once again in a “you’re with us or against us” global war on terror imperative.

At the annual session of the National People’s Congress, starting this Friday, we will see how China will be dealing with its top priority: to reorganize domestically after the pandemic.

For the first time in 35 years, Beijing will be forced to relinquish its economic growth targets. This also means that the objective of doubling GDP and per capita income by 2020 compared with 2010 will also be postponed.

What we should expect is absolute emphasis on domestic spending – and social stability – over a struggle to become a global leader, even if that’s not totally overlooked.

After all, President Xi Jinping made it clear earlier this week that a “Covid-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available,” won’t be subjected to Big Pharma logic, but “will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.” The Global South is paying attention.

Internally, Beijing will boost support for state-owned enterprises that are strong in innovation and risk-taking. China always defies predictions by Western “experts.” For instance, exports rose 3.5 percent in April, when the experts were forecasting a decline of 15.7 percent. The trade surplus was $45.3 billion, when experts were forecasting only $6.3 billion.

Beijing seems to identify clearly the extending gap between a West, especially the U.S., that’s plunging into de facto New Great Depression territory with a China that’s about to rekindle economic growth. The center of gravity of global economic power keeps moving, inexorably, toward Asia.

Pepe Escobar, a veteran Brazilian journalist, is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times. His latest book is 2030.” Follow him on Facebook.

This article is from The Asia Times.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Pandemic Exposes US as Only Bioweapons Superpower

journal-neo.org

Author: Gordon Duff

15.05.2020

“…Based on the gullibility of the American people, which shows no limits whatsoever, the sinister forces that have led the US military, cloaked in a bloody flag, into gangsterism and worse, embracing pseudo-religious cults, fomenting torture and terrorism on a grand scale, have found their ultimate weapon.

The proof is there for any to see, the pandemic is a weapon.”

 

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The pandemic of 2020 has exposed a gangrenous limb, the stench of which has only been hidden through and equally exposes gangrenous strangling of truth.

The US military currently runs biological laboratories, some funded through USAID, some tied to universities and other groups, across the US and around the world.

These laboratories are funded in the billions of dollars and are overtly tasked with developing vaccines to protect Americans, military and civilian as well, from potential bioweapon attacks.

Much of this research involves creating “chimera” viruses, mostly corona-based bat viruses, that manifest themselves as devastating airborne plagues that destroy lung tissue.

The US has partnered around the world, China, the Republic of Georgia, across Africa, capturing bats and weaponizing the diseases found, using gene splicing.

Then vaccines are developed, ostensibly, as a protection against other nations who are doing the same so that the United States is never the victim of a pandemic that may well infect a million and kill a hundred thousand or more.

But there is a problem.

The research on the creation of the viruses is published. Their effects, including and especially the difficulty in creating vaccines to treat them, is carefully outlined as in research done at Harvard or the University of North Carolina.

But there is a problem.

There is never published research on the cures and preventions, the treatments, the vaccines that these studies, that these billion-dollar studies come up with.

One once considered the withholding of such data as an issue of national security, that the US wanted to maintain an advantage if an adversary, though there are no proven adversaries involved in such research despite allegations, were to unleash a coronavirus attack on the US.

But there is a problem.

You see, the US, as early as November 2019, has come under attack, of a sort anyway, from such a virus, be it somewhat “natural” or contrived by an adversary real or imagined.

The ensuing pandemic, which has crippled the United States, should well have triggered the deployment of biological research capabilities achieved through $10 billion in research into bat borne coronaviruses which, we were told, included treatment protocols and vaccines.

But there is a problem.

Now we find, lo and behold, that after $10 billion in research in how to make viruses identical to that which now threatens the US (and so many other nations as well), in fact no treatments or protocols were developed at all, no vaccines, no anti-virals, nor any plans or preparations made to protect either the US or its military forces.

In fact, nothing whatsoever was accomplished other than creating bioweapons supposedly intended for development of protective capabilities.

One could construe, were one of a questioning nature, that America’s vast program of bioweapons research has always been one of weaponization only and has in no way whatsoever taken into account the security of the United States and the protection of its people.

Then we look further for confirmation of this hypothesis, a devastating one which seems, thus far, to put the US under scrutiny as a rogue nation involved in illegal research in direct violation of international conventions that the US is still party to.

A basic proof would be to look at the papers published, primarily since 2002, and look for patterns, names involved, areas of research, funding origins, basic analytical intelligence work.

Veterans Today tasked a team with doing this, led by medical professionals including a director of the World Health Organization.

Their findings took little effort as no effort to conceal a glaring truth was made, either out of hubris or, more likely, confidence that interest in a painful truth could be easily deflected.

One would assume, out of rationality, that if a pandemic struck the US, those scientists who were the world’s experts on the varying bat related corona viruses, scientists tied to the US facility at Fort Detrick, Maryland or at major universities, scientists whose published work has been financed by the Pentagon and USAID, would have been immediately called upon to combat what is termed COVID 19.

The list of scientists (names withheld), constituting the most qualified epidemiologists and virologists experienced in the highly specific area of the Wuhan Horseshoe Bat Virus and its many analogs, is readily available to the public or investigative journalists.

Yet, when one peruses their publications, their obvious expertise as it applies to the current pandemic, one is shocked to find that none of the experts are, in any way, involved in finding cures or treatments.

Moreover, they are not only not being called upon but they are also not coming forward as well and, worse still, no one is asking why.

Some call it the “military mind.” Born of privilege, of exceptionalism and of the utter lack of moral compass, the “grand masters” of the Pentagon and their partnership with scientist of a similar ilk, may well have brought the planet low, sickened millions and killed countless more.

Clearly definable through countless published scientific papers, all peer reviewed and published in prestigious journals, a small army of the world’s top virologists and epidemiologists have tied themselves to “military research,” mostly since 9/11.

The history of bioweapons as a mainstay of US policy originates in the 19th century with the Cherokee “Trail of Tears.” This claim was made by author Ward Churchill and has, over and over, been denied, typically by Pentagon financed researchers tasked with cleaning the very checkered history of the US military of its long list of massacres of civilians, of prisoners of war and of its torture and genocidal removals.

There is a simple truth. There is nothing the Pentagon will not do based on its ability to wave the flag, and if that doesn’t work, threaten and bury those who would expose wrongdoing.

That said, based on the gullibility of the American people, which shows no limits whatsoever, the sinister forces that have led the US military, cloaked in a bloody flag, into gangsterism and worse, embracing pseudo-religious cults, fomenting torture and terrorism on a grand scale, have found their ultimate weapon.

The proof is there for any to see, pandemic is a weapon.

Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of  Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

3 heavyweights in the ring: As US-China hostility escalates, what role will be played by the world’s other great power, Russia?

By Artyom Lukin, associate professor of international relations at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia. 
3 heavyweights in the ring: As US-China hostility escalates, what role will be played by the world’s other great power, Russia?
Don’t expect a new world order to emerge post-Covid-19. It will be the current big three who dominate, with an informal alliance between Russia and China crucial to reining in American ambitions.

When Covid-19 began to consume the world a few months ago, there were hopes that maybe the pandemic would moderate geopolitical rivalry and encourage international collaboration. What we have seen instead were a spike in US-China tension, a US-British naval flotilla entering the Barents Sea in proximity of Russia for the first time since the 1980s, clashes on the Sino-Indian border, and other developments showing that even a shared disaster is not capable to bring peace among nations, especially among major powers.

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What is a great power?

It is difficult to deny that we live in an era of intensifying great-power competition. This is now the central premise of US foreign policy and national security strategy, while other major nations have, openly or implicitly, adopted the same proposition.

But what is a great power? International relations theory is pretty straightforward on this: “A great power is a state that can contend in a war against every other state in the system and thus can independently provide for its own security vis-a-vis any other country.”

In his book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Paul Kennedy defines a great power as “a country which is willing and able to take on any other” state in the international system. And in U.S. Foreign Policy: Shield of the Republic, Walter Lippmann argued that only “the great powers can wage great wars. Only the great powers can resist a great power.”

Soft power may be important in the modern world. But it is first and foremost military might – and the willingness to use it – that makes a great power. You can be rich like Saudi Arabia, have an enviable quality of life like Canada, be technologically advanced like South Korea or have vast natural resources and a huge population like Brazil or Nigeria. But none of that will give you the status of a great power unless your country achieves military preponderance over all other nations – except, of course, your peer great powers.

Unfortunately, we still live in a world where the ability to kill, maim and destroy on a massive scale constitutes the single most important leverage of power. And it is not in a fit of absentmindedness that some nations pursue military primacy. They do it because they want to be able to impose their will upon others – an inherent urge the founder of international political theory Hans Morgenthau called ‘animus dominandi.’

The list of the contemporary great powers is pretty short: the United States of America, Russia and China. It is these three nations that are far ahead of others in their capacity to wage war. The US, admittedly, has the strongest military among the three, giving it superpower stature, but that does not annul the great-power status of Russia and China: the former is the only country in the world capable of obliterating the US with a nuclear strike, while the latter, steadily building up its nuclear forces, is approaching such a capability.

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In 2008, Russia got involved in a military conflict with Georgia, a partner of both America and NATO. In 2014, Vladimir Putin changed the borders of another Western ally, Ukraine, by reclaiming Russian-populated Crimea.

China has been less audacious so far, but its salami-slicing tactics in the South China Sea have been quite a success, with the Americans essentially powerless to prevent Beijing’s growing dominance in that strategically crucial body of water.

Don’t write Russia off as a great power

The current great-power roster of three is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Germany and Japan could theoretically seek to regain the great-power ranking they once had. However, Berlin and Tokyo, as well as London and Paris, are firmly incorporated into the structures of the US-led alliances, having exchanged full sovereignty for the comfort of an apparently safe existence under American hegemony.

India is probably the most plausible candidate to become another great power. It has both the potential and ambition to reach for the top tier of the global power hierarchy. However, it will still take a while for Delhi to make it to the premier league of world politics.

If India is the most likely candidate to enter the great power ranks in the future, isn’t Russia the most obvious one to drop out soon? It is almost a conventional wisdom that Russia is a declining nation, with poor demographics and a shrinking share of the world’s economy.

Yet reports of Russia’s impending demise as a great power may be exaggerated. Let us not forget that great powers are primarily defined by their war-fighting capabilities. Russia’s stock of formidable weapons and military-related technologies, accumulated over many decades, as well as the wealth of its war-fighting experience, will allow Moscow to continue as a first-rate geopolitical player for a long time yet.

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It also matters that Russia is the most experienced of the three contemporary great powers. The notion of a Great Power first came into being after the Napoleonic Wars, when the four victorious powers of Russia, Britain, Austria and Prussia established the Concert of Europe, later joined by France. Tsar Alexander I, along with the Austrian Foreign Minister Prince Metternich and the British Foreign Secretary Lord Castlereagh, was a founder of the great-power concert that secured relative peace and stability in Europe for almost a century.

America became a great power a century later, whereas China is only now learning the art of a modern great power. Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, are full heirs to the Russian tsars’ foreign policy that combined military muscle with adroit diplomacy, even though debacles, such as the 1853 Crimean War, did happen from time to time.

The great-power entente of Moscow and Beijing

The dynamics of the modern great-power triangle are determined by the primordial law of international politics – the balance of power – whereby lesser poles pull together to counter the strongest force. This is why Russia and China have formed a quasi-alliance in opposition to the American superpower. Their entente has much less to do with the supposed commonality of domestic political regimes in China and Russia, the so-called “axis of authoritarians.

In fact, Russia and China established their “strategic partnership” in 1996, the same year the Russian president Boris Yeltsin, who was seen as a liberal by the West, was running for re-election with the aid of American political strategists.

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And Russia’s hybrid-type political system of the present day is no more similar to the Chinese party state than it is to American liberal democracy.

Speaking of historical continuity, in the late nineteenth century Tsarist Russia formed an alliance with republican France to prevent Germany from dominating Europe. This makes it unlikely that the Sino-Russian entente will end any time soon. It will continue, and will probably become even more solid, as long as Moscow and Beijing see the US as the overweening power. Alexey Navalny, the leader of the anti-Putin opposition in Russia, bears many hallmarks of a great-power nationalist. Should he or someone like him move into the Kremlin, Russia’s foreign policy will not change that much.

The great-power mission in the twenty-first century

Unlike in the nineteenth century, it is now impossible for a few great powers to run the world. If there is to be a global concert of powers in the twenty-first century, it needs to include many more states, not only those that possess military pre-eminence but also those that play major economic and social roles. However, as Paul Kennedy observes, the primary responsibility of the great powers is “to prevent any actions that might lead to a world war. Their job is simply to hold firm the iron frame that keeps the international system secure.

Alas, as things are shaping up now, the great power triangle may not live up to this task.

War and Plagues: Military Spending During a Pandemic

War and Plagues: Military Spending During a Pandemic

CounterPunch Front Page

 

Photograph Source: U.S. Navy – Public Domain

“There have been as many plagues as wars in history, yet plagues and wars take people equally by surprise”

–Albert Camus,  “The Plague”

Camus’ novel of a lethal contagion in the North African city of Oran is filled with characters all too recognizable today: indifferent or incompetent officials, short sighted and selfish citizens, and lots of great courage. What not even Camus could imagine, however, is a society in the midst of a deadly epidemic pouring vast amounts of wealth into instruments of death.

Welcome to the world of the hypersonic weapons, devices that are not only superfluous, but which will almost certainly not work. They will, however, cost enormous amounts of money.  At a time when countries across the globe are facing economic chaos, financial deficits and unemployment at Great Depression levels, arms manufacturers are set to cash in big.

Hypersonic weapons are missiles that go five times faster than sound—3,800 mph—although some reportedly can reach speeds of Mach 20—15,000 mph. They come in two basic varieties, one powered by a high-speed scramjet, the other –launched from a plane or missile—glides to its target. The idea behind the weapons is that their speed and maneuverability will make them virtually invulnerable to anti-missile systems.

Currently there is a hypersonic arms race going on among China, Russia and the US, and, according to the Pentagon, the Americans are desperately trying to catch up with its two adversaries.

Truth is the first casualty in an arms race.

In the 1950s, it was the “bomber gap” between the Americans and the Soviets. In the 1960s, it was the “missile gap” between the two powers. Neither gap existed, but vast amounts of national treasure were, nonetheless, poured into long-range aircraft and thousands of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The enormous expenditures on those weapons, in turn, heightened tensions between the major powers and on at least three occasions came very close to touching off a nuclear war.

In the current hypersonic arms race, “hype” is the operational word. “The development of hypersonic weapons in the United States,” says physicist James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, ”has been largely motivated by technology, not by strategy. In other words, technologists have decided to try and develop hypersonic weapons because it seems like they should be useful for something, not because there is a clearly defined mission need for them to fulfill.”

They have certainly been “useful” to Lockheed Martin, the largest arms manufacturer in the world. The company has already received $3.5 billion to develop the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (Arrow) glide missile, and the scramjet- driven Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (Hacksaw) missile.

The Russians also have several hypersonic missiles, including the Avangard glide vehicle, a missile said to be capable of Mach 20. China is developing several hypersonic missiles, including the DF-ZF, supposedly capable of taking out aircraft carriers.

In theory hypersonic missiles are unstoppable. In real life, not so much.

The first problem is basic physics: speed in the atmosphere produces heat. High speed generates lots of it. ICBMs avoid this problem with a blunt nose cone that deflects the enormous heat of re-entering the atmosphere as the missile approaches its target. But it only has to endure heat for a short time because much of its flight is in frictionless low earth orbit.

Hypersonic missiles, however, stay in the atmosphere their entire flight. That is the whole idea. An ICBM follows a predictable ballistic curve, much like an inverted U and, in theory, can be intercepted. A missile traveling as fast as an ICBM but at low altitude, however, is much more difficult to spot or engage.

But that’s when physics shows up and does a Las Vegas: what happens on the drawing board stays on the drawing board.

Without a heat deflecting nose cone, high-speed missiles are built like big needles, since they need to decrease the area exposed to the atmosphere Even so, they are going to run very hot. And if they try to maneuver, that heat will increase. Since they can’t carry a large payload they will have to very accurate, but as a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists points out, that is “problematic.”

According to the Union, an object traveling Mach 5 for a period of time “slowly tears itself apart during the flight.” The heat is so great it creates a “plasma” around the craft that makes it difficult “to reference GPS or receive outside course correction commands.”

If the target is moving, as with an aircraft carrier or a mobile missile, it will be almost impossible to alter the weapon’s flight path to intercept it. And any external radar array would never survive the heat or else be so small that it would have very limited range. In short, you can’t get from here to there.

Lockheed Martin says the tests are going just fine, but then Lockheed Martin is the company that builds the F-35, a fifth generation stealth fighter that simply doesn’t work. It does, however, cost $1.5 trillion, the most expensive weapons system in US history. The company has apparently dropped the scramjet engine because it tears itself apart, hardly a surprise.

The Russians and Chinese claim success with their hypersonic weapons and have even begun deploying them. But Pierre Sprey, a Pentagon designer associated with the two very successful aircraft—the F-16 and the A-10—told defense analyst Andrew Cockburn that he is suspicious of the tests.

“I very much doubt those test birds would have reached the advertised range had they maneuvered unpredictably,” he told Cockburn. “More likely they were forced to fly a straight, predictable path. In which case hypersonics offer no advantage whatsoever over traditional ballistic missiles.”

While Russia, China and the US lead the field in the development of hypersonics, Britain, France, India and Japan have joined the race.

Why is everyone building them?

At least the Russians and the Chinese have a rationale. The Russians fear the US anti-missile system might cancel out their ICBMs, so they want a missile that can maneuver. The Chinese would like to keep US aircraft carriers away from their shores. But anti-missile systems can be easily fooled by the use of cheap decoys, and the carriers are vulnerable to much more cost effective conventional weapons. In any case hypersonic missiles can’t do what they are advertised to do.

For the Americans, hypersonics are little more than a very expensive subsidy for the arms corporations. Making and deploying weapons that don’t work is nothing new. The F-35 is a case in point, but nevertheless, there have been many systems produced over the years that were deeply flawed.

The US has spent over $200 billion on anti-missile systems and once they come off the drawing boards, none of them work very well, if at all.

Probably the one that takes the prize is the Mark-28 tactical nuke, nick named the “Davy Crockett,” and its M-388 warhead. Because the M-388 was too delicate to be used in conventional artillery, it was fired from a recoilless rife with a range of 2.5 miles. Problem: if the wind was blowing in the wrong direction the Crockett cooked its three-man crew. It was only tested once and found to be “totally inaccurate.” So, end of story? Not exactly. A total of 2,100 were produced and deployed, mostly in Europe.

While the official military budget is $738 billion, if one pulls all US defense related spending together, the actual cost for taxpayers is $1.25 trillion a year, according to William Hartung of the Center for International Policy. Half that amount would go a long way toward providing not only adequate medical support during the Covid-19 crisis, it would pay jobless Americans a salary

Given that there are more than 31 million Americans now unemployed and the possibility that numerous small businesses—restaurants in particular—will never re-open, building and deploying a new generation of weapons is a luxury the US—and other countries—cannot afford. In the very near future, countries are going to have to choose whether they make guns or vaccines.

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Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com