Archive | January 13th, 2018

The US Is Meddling in Mexico’s Election by Accusing Russia of Doing So

US National Security Advisor McMaster claimed that Russia is meddling in the upcoming Mexican elections.

This explosive news was shared by Reuters, which in turn was reporting on a mid-December video of a speech that McMasters gave to the Jamestown Foundation and which was just posted on a Mexican journalist’s Twitter account over the weekend. In it, one of the US’ most influential security figures says in relation to the unsubstantiated claims of Russian interference in foreign elections that “you’ve seen, actually, initial signs of it in the Mexican presidential campaign already”, but to Reuters’ credit they added that he didn’t elaborate on this afterwards and even cited an expert who remarked that “so far, it’s just speculation”.

That said, Reuters attempted to propel the paranoia forward by remarking that the leftist populist-nationalist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly known by his abbreviated initials as AMLO, is “seen by some analysts as the Kremlin’s favorite, given the positive coverage he has received from government-funded media outlets like Sputnik and Russia Today”, thus relying on the conspiracy theory that everything on Russia’s publicly funded international media outlets is apparently aired on direct orders of the Kremlin, which isn’t true at all. Nor, for that matter, is the inference in the report that Russia is backing AMLO because of its desire to sow problems between the US and Mexico.

There’s credence to the forecast that AMLO’s potential victory would complicate US-Mexican relations because of the contradictory visions of their two leaders in that case, but this, as well as Russian international media’s detailed coverage of the leftist populist-nationalist candidate, don’t in and of themselves “prove” anything about Moscow’s alleged meddling in the upcoming elections. Rather, McMaster’s hysterical claim seems to be part of a preemptive infowar designed to discredit AMLO’s potential victory just like the Clintons tried to do with Trump’s over the same issue of alleged “Russian interference”, thereby suggesting that the US’ permanent military, intelligence, and diplomatic bureaucracies (or “deep state”) assess his odds of winning to be much higher than is publicly being reported.

That would explain why one of the top decision makers in the Trump Administration is already rolling out the weaponized narrative that Russia is supposedly backing AMLO, since they also want to add ammunition to the right-wing’s arsenal of personalized attacks in order to scare the electorate away from voting for him. Thus, it’s actually the US that’s openly interfering in the Mexican elections, just as it always has to one extent or another, and not Russia, with McMaster’s clumsily blatant hypocrisy emphasizing just how high Washington believes the geostrategic stakes to its security to be if “the wrong guy” gets into power and how desperate the US is to stop that from happening.

The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Jan 12, 2018:

Audio Player

 

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Trump “Shitholes,” and White Supremacy

NOVANEWS
Trump “Shitholes,” and White Supremacy: Building Resistance on 8th Anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake. My Family and I Survived.

With his analogy between Black people and feces, Trump has once again shown the world his commitment to wickedness, vulgarity, and racism.

 

Eight years ago today, my family and I survived the earthquake in Haiti. I had been laid off from my teaching job that year in the wake of the great recession and so I had joined my wife, with our one-year-old son, on her work trip to Haiti where she was conducting trainings on HIV.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, our hotel became a makeshift clinic. One of the hotel guests, an emergency medical technician, quickly assembled a triage and treatment area in the circular driveway. Over the course of the evening and into the night, we mobilized our meager resources to attend to hundreds of badly injured Haitians. My wife and I were deputized as orderlies in his makeshift emergency room, although we had no medical training. We stripped the sheets off hotel beds for bandages, we broke chairs to use for splints, and we transformed the poolside deck chairs into hospital beds.

In the ensuing days I worked on children who died in my arms and saw hundreds of dead bodies that lined the streets of Port-Au-Prince. Estimates of the death toll from the quake reach into the hundreds of thousands with as many injured. I witnessed this death on a mass scale. But I also witnessed the beauty and resilience of a people who had lost everything, but still found something to give to help save others.

Neighbors carried neighbors who were missing limbs on top of doors for miles to get medical aid. People took shallow sips from plastic bottles so the water would nourish life for more people. Hundreds gathered in newly forged communities to sing songs, collectively raising the spirit of hope.

To these people President Donald Trump has a message: You are a “shithole.”

According to the Washington Post, Trump referred to Haiti, Africa and El Salvador during an immigration meeting with lawmakers on Thursday, saying,

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

There can be no doubt that Haiti has many severe challenges, and there can also be no doubt that the cesspool of U.S. power, and other dominant nations, are at the root of them. This urge to dominate Haiti dates back to it’s very founding in a mass slave revolt. In fact, the U.S. refused to recognize Haiti as a nation, from it’s independence in 1804 until1862, because of the worry that Black republic, run by former slaves, would send the wrong message to its own slave population. Then from 1915-1934, the US enforced a violent and bloody military occupation on Haiti. As historian Mary Renda wrote,

“By official US estimates, more than 3,000 Haitians were killed during this period; a more thorough accounting reveals that the death toll may have reached 11,500.”

Since the 2010 earthquake, the U.S. and the international community’s record on Haiti reveals the same impulse to dominate rather than aid. As Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) Director Mark Weisbrotsaid, in a January 2014 report,

“The lasting legacy of the earthquake is the international community’s profound failure to set aside its own interests and respond to the most pressing needs of the Haitian people.”

Not much has changed since then, as CEPR’s 2018 report reveals that foreign aid to Haiti is still primarily being used to enrich U.S. corporations: Overall, just $48.6 million has gone directly to Haitian organizations or firms ― just over 2 percent. Comparatively, more than $1.2 billion has gone to firms located in DC, Maryland, or Virginia ― more than 56 percent…The difference is even starker when looking just at contracts: 65 percent went to Beltway firms, compared to 1.9 percent for Haitian firms.

Even more unforgivably, UN troops introduced cholera to post earthquake Haiti by dumping the waste from their portable toilets into a river tributary near their base in Haiti. Instead of Haiti bringing a hot mess to other countries, as Trump would have you believe, it was literally a shithole from the world’s most powerful governments that was dumped on Haiti—and it has resulted in a cholera epidemic that has killed over 10,000 people and sickened another one million.

This is why Trump’s decision to end the Temporary Protected Status for the Haitian refuges in the U.S. who fled after the earthquake isn’t only mean—it will actually be a death sentence for many.

With his analogy between Black people and feces, Trump has once again shown the world his commitment to wickedness, vulgarity, and racism. The people of Haiti are resilient and beautiful.  It is trump who is a living obscenity.  To drive home his disgusting anti-blackness, Trump commented at the same meeting on immigration that he wasn’t against more immigrants coming to the U.S. but that,

“We should have people from places like Norway.”

Right, white people.

My family was in Haiti for five days after the earthquake before we were evacuated back home to Seattle. Recovering from the experience emotionally and mentally has been very challenging. I still experience stressful situations with much more intensity and the time around the anniversary always raises my anxiety. Yet this anniversary will be a particularly difficult to mark for me, and all survivors of the earthquake, because of trumps impossibly putrid statements.

A white supremacist is in the White House. We need nothing less than a new Haitian revolution that connects with the movement for Black lives in the U.S. and brings down structures of racism across the African diaspora.

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Swiss Newspaper Reveals: Secret Military Cooperation Between Saudi Zio-Wahhabi and I$raHell

NOVANEWS

 

The Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung revealed the fact that there exists a “secret alliance” between Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime and the Jewish Nazi regime, intended “to restrain Iran’s expansion in the region, despite the absence of any official relations between the two countries.”

“For the time being, Riyadh rejects any official normalization of relationships with Israel as long as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not resolved and normalization has not been publically declared by Arab countries and thus there will be no exchange of ambassadors,” said Pierre Heumann, the newspaper’s correspondent in the Nazi state in his report.

“There is an intensive secret cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel in order to achieve the main goal of curbing Iran’s expansion project and undermining its regional ambitions,” said the reporter. He added that “there exists indeed military cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Tel Aviv.”

The reporter quoted unidentified sources from Riyadh as saying

“the Kingdom is currently considering the possibility to purchase Israeli weapons and it has shown an interest in purchasing defence systems for the tanks and the iron dome, which Israel claims has proven to be effective in countering rocket attacks from Gaza Strip.”

According to the newspaper,

“Riyadh seeks to intercept missiles coming from Yemen. Observers from Tel Aviv and Riyadh are confirming that cooperation between the security services of Israel and Saudi Arabia is very advanced, although Saudi Arabia has been officially denying any sort of cooperation with Israel,” as the newspaper put it.

According to the newspaper

“the Saudi elite has abandoned its fears of overt contact with representatives of Israel long time ago.”

CIA Director Mike Pompeo announced in early December last year that ”Saudi Arabia is working directly with Israel and other Sunni countries in the field of fighting terrorism”.

Earlier, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a radio interview that

“there were several contacts with Saudi Arabia, but they were kept secret at the request of Riyadh.”

The newspaper stressed that a number of Saudi prominent figures met up with Nazi officials in public. In October, the two former Intelligence chiefs in the Nazi state and Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family met to exchange views about the US policy in the region. The newspaper noted that former Saudi Intelligence chief Zio-Wahhabi Prince Turki al-Faisal held talks with former “Mossad” chief Efraim Halevy. Al-Faisal was even ready to participate with his Nazi counterpart at a symposium at the Jewish Community Centre in New York.

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Close Camp Bondsteel: America’s Military Base in Kosovo and Metohija

NOVANEWS
 

Rising tensions in the global relations and hot beds of old and new crisis call for unity and efforts of all peace forces for closing foreign military bases, particularly U.S. and NATO foreign military bases, around the globe. The peace forces are obligated to send clear message that U.S. and NATO foreign military bases represent the tools of hegemonism, aggression, occupation, and that as such must be closed.

Peace and inclusive development, elimination of hunger and misery require redistribution of spending for maintenance of military bases in favor of development needs, education and heath services. After the end of the Cold War the whole humanity expected stability, peace and justice in the world of equal states and nations. Such expectations, however, turned to be futile beliefs.

In the last two decades, instead of closing U.S. and NATO military bases in Europe, the continent has been surrounded by whole chain new U.S. military bases in Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Baltic states. As a consequence there are today more U.S. military bases in Europe than at the peak of the Cold War. Peace and security have become more fragile and quality of life jeopardized.

This dangerous development was triggered in 1999 by NATO-US led aggression against Serbia (FR Yugoslavia). At the end of the aggression US established military base in the occupied part of the Serbian territory Kosovo and   called Bondsteel, which is one of the most expensive and the largest USA military bases, established after the Vietnam War. It was not only illegal, but also a brutal act of disrespect of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and other basic principles of international law. Now, there is a plan to expand the base Bondsteel transforming it into a permanent location of American troops and a hub of U.S. military presence in South East Europe for geostrategic purposes and confrontations.

We demand that the Bondsteel military base be closed as well as all other U.S. military bases in Europe and in the World. Preparations for furthering confrontation and new wars are a senseless waste of money, energy and development opportunities.

The Belgrade forum as an integral part of the world peace movement, stands firmly by the initiative to close all military bases in the world and redirect resources to rising development needs and people yearnings for better life.

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Congo: A Neocolonial Project Managed by the UN Security Council

NOVANEWS
An Interview with Economist Jean-Claude Maswana

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the heart of Black Africa. Millions of Congolese have been murdered, massacred, enslaved, robbed of their resources, and driven from their homes since the Berlin Conference gave the “Congo Free State” to Belgium’s King Leopold II as his personal property in 1885.

Patrice Lumumba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s independence hero and first Prime Minister, famously wrote to his wife Pauline from captivity in 1960, shortly before his assassination:

“We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and the free and liberated peoples in every corner of the globe will ever remain at the side of the millions of Congolese who will not abandon the struggle until the day when there will be no more colonizers and no more of their mercenaries in our country.”

I spoke to Jean-Claude Maswana about the latest waves of aggression under current Congolese President Joseph Kabila. Maswana is a Congolese native and economics professor at Tsukuba University, Japan.

Kabila in 2002, with Thabo MbekiGeorge W. Bush, and Paul Kagame. (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

Ann Garrison: Professor Maswana, the Congolese never seem to get a break. On the 7th of December, Tanzanian peacekeepers who were actually trying to keep the peace in Congo’s Béni Territory were attacked. Fifteen were killed, more than 50 wounded. Then, on Christmas Eve, the Ugandan Army started shelling Béni Territory from across the border and Ugandan attack aircraft crossed into Congolese air space and started dropping bombs. On New Year’s Eve, the Congolese army attacked a peaceful protest march led by the Catholic Church. Is anyone on the side of the Congolese now?

Jean-Claude Maswana: The answer is no. The Congolese people have never had anyone on their side. Time to time, there have been some international organizations or NGOs pretending to be on the Congolese people’s side but their support never lasts long. In the last 20 years, since Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo, there have been no international institutions consistently on the Congolese people’s side. Again, my answer is a clear “no.”

AG: Not even the Catholic Church? Isn’t it the second most powerful institution in Congo, where more than half the population are Catholic?

JCM: Not even the Catholic Church even though it is Congo’s second most powerful institution and its most powerful non-state institution. In December 2016 when the Catholic Church played a key role in the so-called December 31st agreement between Kabila and the opposition, I didn’t feel the Catholic Church was on the side of the people. If they were, they wouldn’t have facilitated an agreement that was clearly against the country’s constitution and the people’s interests.

AG: OK, let’s step back and explain that. Kabila’s term was to have expired in December 2016, but he didn’t organize an election and he didn’t step down. Civil unrest broke out, and eventually this agreement mediated by the church was signed. What did the agreement say?

JCM: The agreement said that Kabila could stay in power so long as he organized the elections in December 2017. But back in December 2016 it was obvious that allowing Kabila to stay beyond his constitutional term limits was a huge mistake. There was abundant evidence that he would never hold those elections in December 2017. Those of us who opposed the agreement thought that was obvious, but the Catholic Church didn’t agree.

AG: But then the Catholic Church did lead this peaceful protest march on New Year’s Eve, in Kinshasa and other cities right?

JCM: That could be seen as siding with the Congolese people. Nevertheless, to be honest, I don’t personally think the Church was really siding with the people as it should have then. I don’t want to be seen as too critical of the Church as they have made some efforts, and some of them were beaten by soldiers on the front lines of the New Year’s Eve march, but the objective of that march was unclear. The Church should have taken a clear stance and refused to accept anything but Kabila’s departure from power. No more compromise should have been made after he once again failed to organize elections. The objective of the march was to pressure Kabila to implement the December 31, 2016 agreement, but he had already failed to do that.

AG: The Congolese army, the president’s republican guard, and the military police are heavily armed against the unarmed population, so what could the Catholic Church have done but organize a nonviolent march?

JCM: A peaceful march doesn’t change the situation on the ground. It doesn’t change the balance of political or military power. The Catholic Church could bring about such a change if it stopped recognizing Kabila’s illegal and unconstitutional presidency as legitimate. This would change the political balance of power and hopefully lead the way to the negotiated creation of a transitional government until free and fair elections could be organized in a reasonable time frame.

Unfortunately, the Church isn’t even close to refusing to recognize Kabila’s legitimacy. So it’s leaving the political balance of power untouched and Kabila is happy with this outcome.

AG: That’s very interesting because you’re saying that another kind of nonviolent protest is possible.

JCM: Yes, there are other forms of nonviolent protests that are not being implemented by the opposition or the Church.

AG: OK, at this point, it looks like the European Union, the US, all the NATO powers, and China are happy with the chaos and the mayhem. They’re not disturbed enough to do anything about it. Russia doesn’t seem to be very involved. And the UN Security Council has never been willing to acknowledge Rwanda or Uganda’s presence in the Congo, which is a violation of national sovereignty that the UN Charter would oblige them to stop if they did. So it’s really up to the Congolese people, right? There are no other significant players on the global chessboard who are willing to intervene on their behalf.

JCM: Yes, that’s an accurate description of the situation as I see it. The Congolese people are alone in their struggle against Kabila. Russia, China, and all the other powerful international players support Kabila because they have ongoing deals. There is an unspoken consensus of the powerful players for leaving the situation on the ground as it is. That’s the sad fact.

AG: So everyone’s getting the resources that they want, and the Congolese people continue to be murdered and massacred without any real intervention on their behalf. MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping operation, just seems to manage the conflict at a cost of more than $1 billion annually, most of which is paid by the West. On December 7, well-armed troops wearing Congolese uniforms actually attacked Tanzanian peacekeepers who were taking their mission seriously—trying to protect the population and stop the aggressors in Béni Territory—in a clear warning that real peacekeepers would not be tolerated.

JCM: Exactly. My reading is that the very same interests behind the murder of two UN experts earlier this year were behind the attacks on the Tanzanian peacekeepers. These attacks on UN experts and peacekeepers and Kabila’s unconstitutional grip on power are both part of the same movie by the same “producer.” The UN Security Council issues toothless, knee-jerk calls for justice and democracy in response to these crimes but nothing is done. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley went to see Kabila and told him he’s obliged to organize elections in December 2018—same time next year.

AG: Since you’ve told me several times now that there are no great powers willing to intervene on behalf of the Congolese, I looked back at the moment in Congo’s history when King Leopold’s enforcers were committing unspeakable atrocities to extract rubber and whatever other resources from the “Congo Free State,” which the Berlin Conference had given to him as his personal property in 1885. There was so much international outrage that Belgium finally took over, creating the Belgian Congo. That was no triumph over colonialism, but there was so much outrage about King Leopold’s brutality that the international community of the time finally reacted. Is anything like that conceivable now?

JCM: I don’t think so because the context is very different. Leopold II was more powerful than those who gave him the ownership of the “Congo Free State.”Unlike King Leopold the owner, Kabila has been given an assignment.International interests have decided to outsource Congolese resource extraction to him, and he is in turn allowed to grab his own share of the nation’s wealth. Kabila acts as the head of the local affiliate in a much larger multinational enterprise. So far as its executives are concerned, he and MONUSCO are both doing a great job, fulfilling their de facto mandate. Never mind what they say out loud in the UN Security Council, on UN Web TV, or through UN News. This multinational enterprise has been at Kabila’s side ever since he took power ten days after the assassination of his less compliant, adoptive father, Congolese President Laurent Désiré Kabila, in January 2017.

AG: So, basically, Leopold II really did own and control the Congo Free State as an individual, as a king, but Kabila’s just an apparatchik.

JCM: Yes, exactly.

AG: OK, so any real outrage would have to go beyond the apparatchik to the multinational enterprise, and that’s unlikely.

JCM: Yes, exactly.

AG: Early on you explained that the only real agency on behalf of the Congolese people is in the hands of the Congolese people, who would themselves have to stop recognizing Kabila as the rightful president. Is there anything that those of us in other parts of the world who are horrified by what continues to go on there can do to support them, even if we’re far from the centers of power?

JCM: Yes. First, just continue to do what you’ve been doing: spreading information and raising awareness among US citizens. The end goal could be to make the DRC tragedy an issue at some electoral level. Next, join and support the networks of those fighting the killing machine in DRC. Also, bring some international and different perspectives to the conflict to help us, the DRC people, expand our understanding of the tragedy. Most of the time, the most vulnerable and victimized in the DRC tragedy have a limited or incorrect understanding of who is really behind it, especially of who is behind it from outside the DRC.

AG: The information question reminded me of something. Just before the peaceful march on New Year’s Eve, Kabila had the Internet and SMS messaging switched off. Has that been restored?

JCM: Yes, the SMS and Internet are back, but even so, the control is in place. The monitoring system is in place; they have the technology, provided by some companies that I’m not going to name here. They have the technology in place and they’re monitoring everything and, from time to time, randomly checking people’s smart phones or other devices, or forcing people to open up their Facebook or Whatsapp accounts, for example.

AG: High tech surveillance in a nation where less than 10% of the population have electricity at home but as many as 23% may own cell phones.

JCM: Yes.

AG: To be continued?

JCM: Indeed.

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Trump’s Despicable Statement: Is There Such a Thing as a “Shithole Country”?

The question should be rephrased to whether there’s such a thing as a “shithole” period, and yes, there is, but the stereotypical “Third World” socio-economic and physical conditions that the word often embodies are also widely present in parts of the US.

Another day, another Trump controversy, and this time it’s the Mainstream  Media going bonkers because of the President supposedly referring to some countries as “shitholes” and questioning why the government has allowed so many of their people to immigrate to America. Knowing Trump’s personality and speaking style, it’s believable that he did in fact say this, though what’s less believable is the insincere virtue signaling that’s sprung up all over social media ever since.

Defining A “Shithole”

Some people are predictably slamming Trump as a “racist”, “fascist”, and “white supremacist”, outraged that he would dare use such language when referring to the “Third World” conditions of Haiti and most of Africa and convinced that he was actually exploiting that as an excuse in order to have the “plausibly deniable pretext” for implying that their majority dark-colored populations are “shit”. He wasn’t, but that’s not going to stop agenda-driven individuals and organizations from pretending that that’s what he meant.

What Trump really had in mind was the stereotypically (key word) underdeveloped economic and physical infrastructure in those places, as well as the unstated “backwardness” of their people that he thinks contributes to never-ending violence there. Using the first pair of criteria, the same “shithole” label is also very relevant in objectively describing parts of the US and the broader West as a whole, especially neglected inner-city areas with large minority populations.

The problem is that the idea of “backwardness” is relative, and for as much as Trump and some Americans might think that African-Americans, Haitians, and Africans fit that description, they and others might feel just as strongly that the US in general is a “backwards” place as well, though for totally different reasons. “Shitholes”, whether inside the US or elsewhere, are devastated communities whose problems aren’t easily attributable to one source and are commonly the result of many factors, some of which aren’t the fault of those who were born there into those deplorable conditions.

“Backwardness” Is In The Eye Of The Labeler

“Backwardness”, however, is an entirely subjective comparison made at the individual level and used to generalize other people as well as societies, regions, countries, continents, and even civilizations. Just as some Americans might feel that a different category of their compatriots are “backwards”, so too might non-Americans feel the same about Americans, and whether or not this is “racist” is up to each person to determine on their own. Take for example the US’ well-known racial tensions – some “whites” might think that the “gangasta rap” prevalent in “black” culture is a “backwards” display of social “values”; likewise, some “blacks” might think that flying the Confederate flag is “backwards” behavior stemming from the Civil War period when slavery was still legal.

There are of course uncontestably racist examples that can be mentioned in this vein, but such hatred deserves no place in a respectable analysis and therefore shouldn’t be the subject of any discussion.

As for the larger conception of “backwardness”, some Americans firmly believe that Islam is the epitome of this idea, but some of these very same Muslims think that it’s Americans themselves who live a “backwards” lifestyle due to many examples of their cultural behavior being contradictory to the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings. Americans might retort that the “tribal conditions” of Libya, “Syraq”, Yemen, and Afghanistan play a major role in perpetuating violence there (forgetting their own country’s role in this), but these people could just as easily point to the US’ “identity politics” being responsible for why no one has yet to stop the mostly black-on-black gangland killings in Chicago or other big American cities.

Ghetto graffiti

Moving From “Shithole” To “Shithole”

Accepting that the objective (economic and physical infrastructure) and subjective (“backwardness”) conditions of a “shithole” can be found anywhere in the world, including in the American heartland itself and especially its inner cities & the “Rust Belt”, it’s time to ponder why people move from “shithole” to “shithole”. This phenomenon is interestingly observable not just in relation to people from foreign “shitholes” immigrating to the US, but also in terms of Americans leaving for other “shitholes” inside their own country.

Foreign “Shitholes”:

Haitians and Africans, to use the examples that Trump was originally referring to, depart from their “shitholes” for America because they expect that their intended destination has higher living standards in the economic, physical, and/or social senses. It’s true that the average (keyword) all-around conditions in the US are oftentimes better than in most other places due to its more effectively functioning civil society, which includes its courts and police, though serious abuses still occur in these spheres. Most attractive of all and capable of getting many immigrants to overlook these very real problems is the country’s currency, the dollar.

The possibility of a “petroyuan” poses a latent threat to the dollar’s worldwide dominance, but for now at least the dollar is still king, and that’s why people from “shitholes” all across the world want to work in America. To put it bluntly, they’d rather be paid in dollars than whatever their national currency may be, and that explains why these migrants oftentimes support their families back home through remittances prior to abusing the immigration system to bring them to the US through legalized “chain migration” schemes. It doesn’t matter if their physical and working conditions are worse in America than back home in some cases, what’s seemingly most important to them is that they’re paid in dollars.

American “Shitholes”:

The same cynicism is what drives some Americans to move from one “shithole” to the next in search of what they naively believe could be a “better life” that would allow them to finally live the “American Dream”. People from the “Rust Belt” can’t easily move to the California coast without already having a job lined up because it’s too prohibitively expensive for them to do so, which is why they sometimes spend all of their meager savings and even borrow money from their families to make what they hope would be a life-changing trip for the “better”. Unfortunately, due to their limited means, they oftentimes find themselves trading one “shithole” for another because of their economic inability to climb out of the social gutter that they usually have to inhabit in order to barely make ends meet there.

“Chain migration” is the exception once again because having a family member or close friend in the destination state could help the internal migrant cut down on costs by splitting living expenses with their hosts, thus helping the whole household. Each person could then more quickly save up money and begin planning for their next step in life as they attempt to “climb the ladder of success”, provided of course that they’re willing to sacrifice on their social conditions for the time being in order to make it possible. This could entail living in very cramped conditions inside what are popularly described as “ghettos” (colloquially known as “the hood” in the US), which are usually characterized by the proliferation of drugs, violence, and naturally, the seemingly never-ending consequent cycle of poverty.

Dollar Delirium:

The common thread explaining why many people (whether foreigners or Americans) move around from “shithole” to “shithole” within the US is because they’re infected with “dollar delirium”, or the fallacy that a higher gross income automatically translates to a “better life”. For people coming from the “shitholes” of inner-city Cleveland or the rural villages of the Congo, simply earning more money is assumed to be the secret to “succeeding” in life, overlooking the fact that their desired destination also has higher living expenses that may in some cases leave them with a proportionately lower disposable income than if they just stayed home. This might not bother them so long as their basic needs are taken care of and they still have some money left over to spend on entertainment or save for later, but others might come to regret it if their social expectations aren’t adequately met.

The Social Solution To All “Shitholes”

Silk Roads:

Not everybody moves because they want to “get rich” or make a “quick buck”, since buying the newest iPhone isn’t as important to some people as having a stable and respectable livelihood for themselves and their families. “Shitholes” don’t typically provide this, or at least not in a way that satisfies most people, which is why they decide to move elsewhere in search of a “better life”. It would be wrong to imagine that immigrants, whether foreigners to the US or Americans within it, are all “greedy”, and the “safest assumption” is that they’re motivated by social push-and-pull factors more so than economic ones.

That said, an obvious solution to migration presents itself in the form of encouraging socio-economic development in migrant-originating areas, which is exactly what China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) global vision of New Silk Road connectivity and Trump’s infrastructure plan– both of which are conceptually compatible with one another – aspire to do. A comprehensive strategy involving local, state/provincial, and national governments alongside state-owned and private businesses is the only conceivable way forward, but it’ll still take a while to yield results even if the most masterful plan was flawlessly executed, which is in any case unlikely.

Belief System Compromises:

Because this solution will take a long time to implement, if ever, the next best thing is to discuss the details of the infrastructural and metastructural social reasons behind migration. Social infrastructure can be described as schools, healthcare, and welfare benefits, for example, while social metastructure is culture and its related intangibles. Most socially motivated migrants are willing to compromise on social metastructure in order to reap the benefits of its infrastructural counterpart, meaning that they’ll “grin and bear it” if they dislike their new cultural conditions so long as they receive their expected access to certain “hard benefits” such as what they believe to be a better education system and state subsidies.

Considering this, it makes sense why people who hate America’s cultural-political system still migrate there because they’re tacitly compromising on their (sometimes publicly proclaimed) beliefs in exchange for receiving expected economic and social infrastructure “rewards”, and the same goes for Americans migrating to other states or countries. To reference the example mentioned earlier in this analysis, some Muslims think that American culture is “backwards”, but they’re willing to deal with it if the pay and social infrastructural conditions are right.

As for Americans, an “enlightened” liberal might escape from California’s dysfunctional society to seek refuge in the rural “backwaters” of a “red state’s” much more stable one despite their new destination restricting abortion and therefore being “ideologically incompatible” with one of their core beliefs. Another domestic example could be a conservative from “Middle America” moving to the liberal dystopia of New York City in the hopes of finding a better job. As for external manifestations of this “social compromise” in action, elderly Americans who look down upon what they may believe to be the “backwards” people of Latin America might “suck it up” and retire in that region simply because it’s more affordable.

Sacrificing For The Next Generation:

The last “solution” to the world’s “shitholes” is the passive one that’s been employed since time immemorial, and that’s migrants sacrificing their living standards by knowingly accepting that they’ll likely spend the rest of their lives in suboptimal social conditions in order to give their descendants that are born there a “better chance” at “climbing the ladder’ and “succeeding” in ways that their parents weren’t ever able to. This is the quintessential story of most American immigrants throughout history and especially from the late-19th century until the present day, and it also describes why many civilizationally dissimilar migrants are willing to put up with Europe’s different social metastructural standards in spite of this contradicting the strict requirements of their religion.

Another relevancy of this principle is when Americans migrate from their rural “shitholes” to urban ones, or from one “hood” to another in different cities, hoping that their children can seize the socio-economic opportunities there that their parents either weren’t able to or which didn’t exist in their hometowns.

Sacrificing for the next generation doesn’t “solve” the problem of “shitholes” – it ignores them – though sometimes there are “activists” who try to change things for the better in their own “shitholes” or the ones that they just moved into, but their freedom of action is severely constrained by the laws of their host society. Muslim migrants wanting to impose sharia in their new European neighborhoods or build mosques there are increasingly finding it more difficult to do so, but they still have it comparatively better than a Syrian Christian refugee that somehow ends up in a Gulf Kingdom and wants to hold public church services or build their own house of worship there.

In America, social and workplace activism is the most common form of struggle for people who have been born and raised in “shitholes” or internally migrated to them, and while they have a greater chance of succeeding with their cause inside the US than “shithole”-inhabiting people elsewhere in the world, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult by the year for them to do so.

A homeless in New York City

The Myth Of “Equality”

Theoretically and in terms of “international law”, all countries and cultures are “equal” to one another as seen from the eyes of the UN and its related UNESCO body, though in reality many people have their own personal preferences and accordingly believe that some countries and cultures are “better” than others. Someone indoctrinated with “American Exceptionalism” might truly think that the US is the “best” place on earth by all measures, while some Muslims might think that their own societies are the “best” to live in for cultural-religious reasons. Each of these two might have nothing but disdain for the other, but that’s their personal right, in fact, whether one agrees with it or not. It’s up to each individual to judge on their own whether this or any of its manifestations constitute “racism”, though it must be noted that there are indeed some undeniable examples of racism that should always be condemned.

That said, screaming “racism”, “fascism”, and “supremacism” just because someone has an individual opinion – no matter how disrespectful and offensive, though given that it doesn’t objectively conform to any of those three aforementioned terrible terms – is hypocritical because one can be certain that the person casting the stones also has their own “hierarchical” views on something or another, even if they’re more “politely” expressed. The Haitians and Africans that Trump so derogatorily described as coming from “shitholes” might think that some parts of their home region are “better” than others, just as they apparently think the US is the “best” because they’ll willing to leave their homelands to migrate there. The same can be said for Americans who favor one place of living within their own country over another, for whatever given reason, whether it’s the “shithole” that they moved to or their new place of living after escaping from a “shithole”.

Mixed Motivations For Migration

It’s crucial to understand that those who migrate from one “shithole” to another don’t always believe that everything in their place of residence is the “best”, but might be willing to “compromise” on certain aspects of it either due to “dollar delirium” or because they intend to sacrifice for the next generation. For example, it’s entirely natural for immigrants to retain their native culture and values inside their homes while trying to publicly assimilate and integrate into their host societies at large, such as some Arabs do when migrating to the West or some Westerners do when moving outside of their civilizational sphere (or even within it, with Poles being a perfect example). The complexity of the millennia-long phenomenon of migration means that there’s no simple explanation for why people decide to move away from their place of birth, with each instance being unique and usually motivated by multiple factors.

Concluding Thoughts

At the end of the day, using the word “shithole” to describe somewhere is a crass way of making objective points about economic & physical infrastructure and socially subjective ones about “backwardness”, but nevertheless is the right of every individual to use according to their taste so long as they’re not promoting actual racism or any of its related toxic ideologies such as fascism or supremacism. It’s not just Trump and “whites” in America who use this term, but other people across the world employ it or whatever the local analogue is in their language when making similar types of comparisons, and even in the absence of actual words, internal value judgements about other countries and cultures are still being formulated. It’s natural for people to have their own personal hierarchy of national-cultural preferences no matter how “politically incorrect” it may be to openly admit in some societies, meaning that the concept of the “shithole” is here to stay whether one likes it or not.

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Disgruntled Soldiers Stage Another Mutiny in Ivory Coast

NOVANEWS

Angry troops burn down military base in Bouake amid recriminations over command structures

 

In the second largest Ivorian city of Bouake, soldiers have defied orders and torched a military base in response to unresolved grievances.

This is yet an additional explosion of discontent among soldiers who have staged several rebellions since the French-backed government of President Alassane Ouattara was installed in power nearly six years ago.

The center of the unrest has been in Bouake where soldiers have complained over their treatment by superior units. Bouake has been a flashpoint for unrest within the military which is responsible for the national security of the West African state.

During 2017 there were various outbreaks in the army over the failure of the Ouattara government to pay bonuses owed from the merger of various conventional and rebel units which were empowered after the crises of 2010-11. The disturbances were settled on more than one occasion by promising to make good on the money supposedly owed to the soldiers.

In the aftermath of these mutinies, the government has rolled out a plan to downsize the military. Nonetheless, is not clear whether there is any viable plan for the reintegration of the soldiers into civilian life.

During December of 2017 the Ivorian government released 1000 soldiers and granted them $25,782 each as severance pay. There could be up to 4,000 troops retired in phases over the next four years.

The number of military personnel is said to be somewhere around 25,000 troops. Ouattara views this as being unwieldy and is seeking what they perceived to be more manageable force levels.

Eyewitness reports of the events in Bouake indicate that the fierce clashes originated over the presence of an elite unit known as the Coordination Center for Operational Decisions (CCDO). This elite division of the security forces encompasses soldiers, para-military gendarmes and regular police officers. The mutinous soldiers were demanding that the CCDO personnel leave the city.

Bouake resident Georges Kouame said of the situation on January 10 that he was:

“hearing intense shooting from machine guns. There are also explosions from heavy weapons.” (defenceweb.co.za)

The mutineers told Reuters press agency they believed the CCDO divisions were sent to the city to conduct surveillance on their activities. Tensions over these differences had been building up for several days. The shooting and arson attacks have resulted in one known death.

One soldier involved in the rebellion, who spoke on the condition of anonymity on January 10, emphasized:

“At the moment we are surrounding the CCDO camp and there is an exchange of gunfire. They must leave the city or we will force them to leave.”

Later one soldier involved in the mutiny said:

“We entered the CCDO camp around midnight and took all of their arms and amunitions.”

Another soldier stressed that:

“We burned the CCDO camp and destroyed everything inside. Even their service vehicles were burned. Their troops fled the camp but we are looking for them.” (Premium Times of Nigeria, Jan. 10)

Other sources reported that high level military officers had deployed 200 loyalist troops to Bouake in order to stabilize the situation. Nonetheless, it will remain to be seen whether there will be an amicable resolution to the conflict in the short term.

A Model for Neo-Colonial Governance in Alliance with Imperialism

Cocoa beans in a cacao pod showing the outer rind, the seeds, and inner pulp. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cocoa. The country is also an emerging oil state where a workers’ strike took place during early 2016 in response to lay-offs within the petroleum industry.

Although the country has been the recipient of loans and other forms of assistance from international finance capital, obviously this reported prosperity has not been equitably dispersed among the majority of the people. The rank and file soldiers are a stark representation of the character of the social system inside the country.

There was an announcement recently by the Ministry of Tourism indicating that the government would invest some $5.5 billion in the industry. These funds will supposedly be used to carry out infrastructural improvements such as building and rehabilitating tourist sites, roads and hotels.

Nonetheless, for workers in these sectors of the economy where the rate of exploitation is typically high and the beneficiaries are generally a small group of “investors” who are either foreign business people or those who represent their interests on a local level. The neo-colonial dominated regime of Ouattara claims that such expenditures are aimed at some form of “diversification” of the economy.

However, the masses of workers, farmers and youth in most cases remain subservient to the multi-national corporate interests that reigns supreme in the service of European travelers and their economies. Land sales in exchange for foreign currencies is said to be a key component of this upgrade of infrastructure.

Inflation rates in Ivory Coast are reported to be in excess of 1 percent. Nevertheless, the means by which the rise in prices is calculated may not be representative of the actual impact of foreign direct investment on the majority of people who reside within a particular African state.

The Outstanding Issues on the Persecution of Former Leaders

French military intervention with the backing of the United States in April 2011 was critical in the ascendancy of the current regime. President Laurent Gbagbo, youth leader Charles Ble Goude and First Lady Simone were arrested by soldiers from Paris who were wholeheartedly supported by imperialist interests.

Ivorian supporters of Laurent Gbagbo and the PFI (Source: author)

At present Gbagbo is being held in The Netherlands by the controversial and ominous International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes although there is no potential for the previous head-of-state to receive a fair trial. His wife Simone, is imprisoned inside Ivory Coast for supposed violations against the people of the country. However, it is impossible for the First Lady to receive actual due process based upon the bias of the existing regime which is being propped-up by France.

It is incontrovertible that the U.S. and France favored the forces allied with Ouattara and strongly worked against the Ivorian Popular Front (PFI). The Gbagbo political leadership defied both Paris and Washington seeking to establish a neo-colonial framework for the future of not only Ivory Coast notwithstanding the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU).

Ivorian leaders on trial in the Netherlands (Source: author)

The ICC has been challenged ideologically and politically in Africa over the last several years. Nevertheless, the ongoing character of African relations with the western industrialized states places the AU member-states in a disadvantageous situation internationally mandated through custom, practice and pseudo legal rationales such as the Rome Statute. These nations are still dependent upon imperialism for global trade, loans from western-based financial institutions and coercive joint military operations along with Pentagon-NATO basing within the region.

Only one African state has been capable of breaking ties with the ICC, that government being that of President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi. Both South Africa and Gambia have been thwarted in their attempts to exit from under the putative authority of the hegemonic imperialist notions of “legal jurisdiction.”

In Gambia the government of President Yahya Jammeh was overthrown one year ago by neighboring Senegal, a key partner with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The Gambian head-of-state was forced to leave the country of his birth.

The South African High Court required that a parliamentary process was required in order for President Jacob Zuma to exit the Rome Statute. The African National Congress (ANC) administration is still being pursued by so-called non-governmental organizations (NGO) whose legal premise is that an AU Summit being held in South Africa somehow must be subservient to the whims and caprices of the ICC.

Africa must withdraw from any and all “international” imperialist-coordinated entities which violate its sovereignty, national independence, foreign policy and political interests. Until Ivory Coast is placed under the direction of the people themselves, these periodic rebellions and false notion of economic vibrancy will continue to stifle the actual liberation of the majority of workers, youth and farmers in the country.

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Leaked Draft of Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review

NOVANEWS

Group Warns Implementation Of Trump’s Plan Makes Nuclear War More Likely

Last night, The Huffington Post released a pre-decisional draft of the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review. The document outlined a strategy that includes the development of new, so-called “low-yield” nuclear weapons — expanding the number of scenarios in which the first use of nuclear weapons would be considered, including in response to non-nuclear attack.

In reaction to the leaked document, Derek Johnson, executive director of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:

“This leaked draft of the NPR is a radical document and terrifying in almost every respect. Trump’s plan to develop so-called ‘low-yield’ nuclear weapons and loosen restrictions on their use is a dramatic departure from long-standing U.S. policy that makes nuclear war more likely. The world is about to get a whole lot more dangerous.

“These policies align closely with Trump’s aggressive nuclear rhetoric and break sharply from decades of bipartisan efforts to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons worldwide, beginning with Ronald Reagan’s maxim that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.’

“Trump’s plan, which calls for the rapid development and production of new, more usable types of nuclear weapons, will increase, not decrease the risk of miscalculation and nuclear conflict. Expanding America’s bloated nuclear force will balloon the already bankrupting cost of replacing Cold War weapons systems, and accelerate a global nuclear arms competition that further erodes the norm against their use. There are no upsides.

“Let’s be clear: The options being developed for the first use of nuclear weapons are grounded in stunning naivete. Once we cross the nuclear threshold, all bets are off. If a nuclear weapon is used, nobody on the receiving end is going to stop to measure the mushroom cloud before retaliating. This plan paves a road to disaster.

“The top national security priority of the United States should be to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used. Trump’s plan fails on that score in almost every respect. Worse, it contains the seeds of self-fulfilling prophecy: by actively planning for conflicts in which our nuclear weapons are used first, we bring ourselves closer to that point of no return.

“This plan would be troubling under any Administration, but given this President’s consistent and unabashed displays of ignorance, bad judgment and dehumanizing world views, we should all be on red alert. In light of this plan, every effort should be directed to support legislation that reins in executive power to use these weapons, including the ‘Restricting the First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act’ and the No-First-Use bill currently before Congress.

“If there were ever a time to rally the American public and tie Trump’s hands, it’s now.”

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Trump’s Iran Statement: A View From Europe

NOVANEWS

Featured image: The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (Source: LobeLog)

It is with some reluctance that I write about President Donald Trump’s latest statement on Iran, because the statement is so full of half-truths, untruths, and logical fallacies that it is bad for one’s blood pressure to have to dwell on it for any length of time.

I will try to limit damage to my constitution by focussing on just a few of the statement’s most disturbing features.

The statement reveals a shocking attitude towards the European allies of the United States. For months these allies have been telling the Trump administration that the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a satisfactory and useful nuclear non-proliferation instrument, and that they attach the highest importance to preserving it.

President Trump’s statement does not just ignore what his European allies have been saying. It threatens these allies with the very outcome they want to avoid—the demise of the JCPOA—if they decline or fail to bend to the President’s will:

Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal. This is a last chance. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately.

This is an extraordinary way to treat long-standing allies. It amounts to putting a metaphorical gun to their heads. If the criminal underworld is paying attention, it will surely elect President Trump gangster-of-the-month. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was right: the time has come for Europe to wean itself from the United States.

Equally shocking, but less surprising because, alas, we have grown accustomed to this tendency, is a disregard for the sovereign rights of states and for the legally binding international treaties and UN resolutions that limit those rights.

Iran has a sovereign right to possess the means to enrich uranium. Currently that right is limited in two ways. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) binds Iran to using enrichment technology solely for peaceful purposes and in conformity with a nuclear safeguards agreement. UN Security Council resolution 2231 endorses tight limits on Iran’s enrichment capacity, and production of enriched uranium, until the start of 2031.

Iran also has a sovereign right to develop and possess missiles for the purpose of delivering conventional (non-nuclear) warheads. There are no international treaty restrictions on this right. UNSC resolution 2231 “calls upon” Iran not to develop missiles that would be capable of delivering nuclear pay-loads but does not legally bind Iran in this respect. (So, contrary to President Trump’s claim, Iran’s missile tests and related activities are not “illicit” or violations of any UN resolution.)

It follows that President Trump has no right to dictate limits or restrictions over and beyond those just described. Instead, if he and his advisers believe that the sunset clauses of the JCPOA (certain restrictions on Iran’s enrichment right lapse between 2026 and 2031) and Iranian missiles threaten international peace and security, they must convene the UN Security Council and submit for the Council’s consideration a resolution that would give legally binding effect to the restrictions and prohibitions they consider necessary.

That is how the Trump administration ought to proceed. The probability of it doing so is close to zero, however. Even this administration is capable of perceiving that the Council would decline to adopt any such resolution.

Why? In 2018 there is no evidence that an expansion of Iran’s enrichment capacity after 2030 (if it takes place) will threaten international peace and security—or that Iranian possession of short- and medium-range missiles poses any more of a threat than their possession by Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan, India, South Korea, and Brazil, to name but a few. Only after the International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded a root-and-branch investigation into the totality of Iran’s nuclear program, and produced findings, can the Council reasonably form a view on whether some kind of successor to the JCPOA (and/or missile restrictions) is needed to head off a threat to peace and security.

A third feature of the statement is the damage that it will do to the international standing of the United States.

Many states will be worried about the statement’s implications for the law-based international order to which they are attached. The last thing they want is a world in which the president of the United States feels entitled to form a posse and go after whomever he chooses.

They will also be worried that this statement suggests that President Trump is a man possessed by demons. One of those demons is his hatred of President Barack Obama. Trump’s desire to destroy one of Obama’s achievements is obvious from the statement.

Less obvious is President Trump’s faith in what he hears from those he has chosen to befriend. Anyone looking for a summary of the anti-Iranian propaganda churned out in recent years by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and associated Washington think-tanks need look no further than this statement. To the rest of the world this suggests that it is idle to look to the current White House for balanced, objective, rational analyses of international situations. That is disquieting.

The hope now must be that Europe, Russia, and China, with the backing of most of the world, can persuade Iran to scorn the US provocation that now seems inevitable: US withdrawal from the JCPOA and the re-introduction of US nuclear-related sanctions.

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Draft of Trump’s Nuclear Review. He Wants a Lot More Nukes

NOVANEWS

His first Nuclear Posture Review: more nukes, more posturing.

In his first year in office, President Barack Obama gave a landmark address in Prague in which he famously affirmed “clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The commitment to total nuclear disarmament was a major departure from the George W. Bushadministration — the first time, in fact, that the United States had declared a nuclear-free world a major policy goal.

Now, eight years later, it’s the Trump administration’s turn to lay out its nuclear weapons policy. And according to a pre-decisional draft of the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) obtained by HuffPost, Trump’s Department of Defense has gone a decidedly different route: new nukes, for no good reason.

The final version of the NPR is scheduled to be released in February. You can read the draft in full at the bottom of this article. A Defense Department spokesperson declined to comment on the draft, saying that the agency “will not discuss pre-decisional drafts of the document.”

In October, NBC reported that President Trump had told a gathering of high-ranking national security leaders that “he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.” While the report doesn’t nearly go that far, it does call for the development of new, so-called low-yield nuclear weapons — warheads with a lower explosive force.

The logic of those pushing for the development of smaller nukes is that our current nuclear weapons are too big and too deadly to ever use; we are effectively self-deterred, and the world knows it. To make sure other countries believe that we’d actually use nuclear force, the thinking goes, we need more low-yield nukes.

But official language around nuclear weapons is slippery and euphemistic. “Low yield” suggests a softer sort of weaponry, diet nukes, until you realize that the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were technically “low-yield” weapons.

Trump’s NPR draft euphemizes the euphemism, referring to low-yield weapons as “supplements” that will “enhance deterrence.” The document claims that Russia is threatening to use these smaller nuclear weapons; the U.S. needs to match and deter the Russians in kind.

2018 Nuclear Posture Review Draft

What goes unmentioned is that we already have over 1,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal with low-yield options, to say nothing of the fact that the more nuclear weapons you introduce into the world, the more likely it is that they’ll one day be used.

“Making the case that we need more low-yield options is making the case that this president needs more nuclear capabilities at his disposal,” said Alexandra Bell, a former senior adviser at the State Department and current senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, “regardless of the fact that we have 4,000 nuclear weapons in our active stockpile, which is more than enough to destroy the world many times over. So I don’t think it makes a convincing case that we somehow lack capabilities. And, in fact, I don’t think you can make the case that this president needs any more capabilities.”

The draft itself doesn’t do all that much to convince anyone of the necessity of these low-yield weapons. One tactic it uses right up front is fear. Look no further than Page 6:

2018 Nuclear Posture Review Draft

This is a slightly darker picture than reality would support, according to Laura Holgate, a special assistant to Obama for weapons of mass destruction terrorism and threat reduction and a former U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

“The notion that there are uncertainties is actually not new,” Holgate told HuffPost. “That’s always going to be true about the international environment. And there were references to uncertainties in the 2010 report, as well. But this dark perspective and this uncertain view underpin the decisions to walk back some of the decisions or postures presented in the 2010 report.”

And this new low-yield weapon initiative is one of those reversals. The 2010 NPR essentially removed one tactical low-yield weapon from our arsenal. The Trump administration wants to bring more low-yield weapons back in. And when this latest NPR draft does attempt to defend the decision, it immediately contradicts itself.

2018 Nuclear Posture Review Draft

“If you’re saying that having low-yield nuclear weapons does not lower the threshold for use, then you’re essentially saying there’s no difference between using a low-yield and a high-yield weapon,” said Bell. “You’re saying that we would use a high-yield weapon if we have to — or one of the low-yield weapons we already have in our stockpile. If you’re saying adamantly in here that this won’t change our current posture choices, it basically negates your reason to have this capability in the first place.”

What’s more, the report never really explains how any of these new capabilities would alter our security environment.

“By their own argument, they’re concerned that somehow the other side thinks that our current stockpile is getting in the way of our willingness to use nuclear weapons,” explained Anthony Wier, a former deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs who now works on nuclear weapons policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobbying organization. “Outside of the drafters of this posture review, I can hardly think of any Americans who would have woken up this morning worrying that Donald Trump was not willing enough to use nuclear weapons.”

And yet the document argues that somehow our adversaries do think that, and so we need additional options to close this imagined credibility gap. What’s missing is any evidence to support the idea that Russia or any other country believes this to be true.

One possible reason for this omission is that no such evidence exists. Back in June, Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, wrote that

 “anyone can come up with a scenario that requires a new weapon. What’s missing from the debate is why the existing and planned capabilities are not sufficient. The United States already has flexible nuclear forces, advanced conventional capabilities, tailored war plans and low-yield warheads in its arsenal.”

What the posture review makes clear, however, is that the Trump administration wants to produce a considerable number of new nukes. This would represent a break from precedents established even by Republican administrations. The George W. Bush administration cut our nuclear stockpile by more than half, down to roughly 5,000 warheads. The George H.W. Bush administration cut our stockpile by nearly 9,500 warheads.

“Basically everything about this document screams that we’re probably only going up,” Wier said. “There’s no reduction listed anywhere that I could find.

“That’s the bottom line, right? Building a lot more nuclear weapons and spending a lot more money to build it. At times it feels like they want to buy a can opener with a screwdriver attachment, but they also want to pay for a screwdriver with a can opener attachment. There’s a lot of redundancies and duplications, and they need all these extra things to keep you safe. At times, it really does feel like a lot of solutions in search of problems.”

There are other significant departures from the 2010 NPR. The role of diplomacy in nuclear relations is mostly ignored. The report does pay lip service to NATO, and there are nods here and there toward the importance of diplomatic relations.

2018 Nuclear Posture Review Draft

But Bell wasn’t buying it.

“If the circumstances that we now find ourselves [in] are as dire as they paint them,” she said, “it doesn’t make sense to me that you wouldn’t have put all of the relevant officials needed to do good nuclear policy diplomacy into place immediately. We’re still waiting for a lot of the leaders who should be doing these roles, particularly [in] the State Department. So the critical nature of our current threat environment they describe doesn’t really match their staffing plans.”

It’s not just the State Department staffing that’s been neglected. The National Nuclear Security Administration, the very agency responsible for modernizing our nuclear arsenal, is still missing a number of appointees.

Even more strikingly, the document appears not to contain a single reference to Article VI of the U.N. Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which obliges the United States, as one of the signatories, to move in the direction of nuclear disarmament. Other countries that have committed to the weapons ban treaty might be less likely to cooperate with the United States on nuclear matters, Holgate said.

The document does mention disarmament briefly in the introduction.

2018 Nuclear Posture Review Draft

“What’s interesting about that is that it fudges it a little bit,” Holgate said. “Not as badly as it could have, but it uses a lot of vague weasel words like ‘committed,’ ‘efforts,’ ‘support’ and ‘ultimate.’ And then, it mushes bio and chem in with nuclear. So this is not a clear commitment.”

The report is also noticeably vague when it comes to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, a global ban on nuclear explosive testing. While the 2010 report reaffirms nearly a dozen times the United States’ dedication to maintaining its stockpile without nuclear testing, this latest NPR draft says the country will not resume nuclear testing “unless necessary.”

2018 Nuclear Posture Review Draft

The document does at least reaffirm U.S. support for NATO.

2018 Nuclear Posture Review Draft

But what the report states and what the president tweets are two very different things.

“Obviously it’s very good to see in here that the NATO alliance is the most important defensive alliance in history,” noted Bell. “But saying it in this posture review and waiting until the next time the president says NATO countries aren’t paying him enough money — you’re sort of waiting for the shoe to drop. At the end of the day, our elected leader changes his mind often and without a lot of explanation for the change. So that very much does endanger some of the ideas put forth in this document.”

The document is at pains to assure its audience that Trump isn’t going to start firing off nukes on a whim.

2018 Nuclear Posture Review Draft

And based on reported fears about Trump’s erraticism, the world’s leaders could definitely use some reassuring. Just last August, CNN reported that Trump’s “wildly variant public interpretations of violent, anti-Semitic rallies by neo-Nazis and white supremacists” had “caused European leaders to shake their heads in bewilderment.” And South Korea is, if not more fearful, then at least equally as terrified of Trump mouthing off as it is of Kim Jong Un sitting overhead. But, of course, none of that has stopped Trump so far.

“This is clearly not Trump’s policy,” said Jon Wolfsthal, director of the Nuclear Crisis Group and former senior director at the National Security Council for Arms Control and Nonproliferation.

It is, Wolfsthal said, a representation of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’ policy and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s policy and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford’s policy.

“And that will reassure people who hope and pray that the axis of adults is somehow going to constrain President Trump’s impulses.”

See the the full Nuclear Posture Review here.

Posted in USAComments Off on Draft of Trump’s Nuclear Review. He Wants a Lot More Nukes


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