If you disagree, you must die: U.S. complicity in worldwide suffering

Phil Butler
About 19 months ago I started to wonder, “What is wrong with my countrymen?” When America’s and Britain’s leadership decided to try and trash Russia’s Sochi Olympics, I figured our leadership had sunk to a new low. Since then my thinking has been proven wrong, our leaders are hired killers devoid of any sense of honor whatsoever. Evidence of their complicity in worldwide suffering floats to the top of the new media cesspool every day. The most recent case is Barack Obama’s unforgivable breech of etiquette and conscience over the downed Russian airliner over Egypt. Simple disdain cannot cover the depth of pain and suffering world leadership now conveys, but I will try.The western media is sometimes forced to let us know bits and pieces of what is really going on in the world. The gentle uproar we heard when the United States attacked a field hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan proved that the corporations that control your news do not have complete control of your mind yet. I guess knowing the story would get out via MSF’s president Dr. Liu and a hundred or more caring doctors who staff the organization prompted the Rupert Murdochs of the world to release the reins on news, if only for a moment. Why even the White House press office was forced to post a statement from Obama, which I quote below:

“President Obama spoke today by phone with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) International President Dr. Joanne Liu to apologize and express his condolences for the MSF staff and patients who were killed and injured when a U.S. military airstrike mistakenly struck an MSF field hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. During the call, President Obama expressed regret over the tragic incident and offered his thoughts and prayers on behalf of the American people to the victims, their families, and loved ones. Acknowledging the great respect he has for the important and lifesaving work that MSF does for vulnerable communities in Afghanistan and around the world, the President assured Dr. Liu of his expectation that the Department of Defense investigation currently underway would provide a transparent, thorough, and objective accounting of the facts and circumstances of the incident and pledged full cooperation with the joint investigations being conducted with NATO and the Afghan Government.”

I feel the need to punch somebody in the nose. Sorry, but this statement does not begin to address the utter savagery of this attack on defenseless human beings. Folks! Listen to me please. This hospital was not hit by some malfunctioning bomb. There was no idiot pilot in error. A US military madman was not responsible, nor was there any real mistake in identifying the target - THESE PEOPLE WERE BLOWN TO BITS THEN STRAFED! Get it, shot to pieces effectively and efficiently. I quote now Dr. Liu’s and her colleagues’ statements on the nature of the killing.

“The hospital was razed to the ground after a wave of attack from the air. We lost our ability to treat patients at a time when we were needed the most. Thirty of our patients and medical staff died. Some of them lost their limbs and were decapitated in the explosions. Others were shot by the circling gunship while fleeing the burning building. We were forced to leave patients to die on the operating table and others burning in their ICU beds.”

The good doctors who risk their lives every day in a war zone in order to save lives, their opinion is that the attack was conducted for a singular purpose – to kill and destroy. Kill and destroy…

I cannot imagine how these people must feel. I can however imagine how decent, hard working human beings can be transformed into terrorists and jihadists. It is simple for any southern boy from America like me to grasp the utter transformation such carnage and brutality as this provokes. Where I come from we hate Yankees for a century over simply burning some planter plantations and bending railroad tracks around trees. When “Johnny” did not come marching home to Atlanta or Charleston, a simmering disgust formed in the pit of our stomachs every time somebody said they were from Ohio or New York. Yes, rebels in my own country know all about bitter memories, or at least we did once. What if a child of ours gets machine gunned right now, right now today, back home in Georgia or Alabama? Somebody, anybody would pay.

There is it. Can you feel it? I know you can Georgia, South Carolina, or Alabama, and Mississippi and Texas too. Some country just flew over and drew down on a place of mercy and caring, and shut the lives down, down, down into the ground. It’s not a movie reel my fellow Americans. Afghanistan and Iraq, Ukraine or Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and poor pitiful Gaza are not a Bruce Willis flick. We’re gathering enemies as fast at Obama and the Neocons can lie and cheat. A lot of enemies.

Maybe some of you reading this just started thinking; “How can all this death and killing really make us safe?” Let’s pretend for a moment we are in a Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger flick. America has pissed off 100 countries by either invading them, bossing them around like step-children, or by trying to break them financially by stealing natural resources or business. Let’s say Bruce or Arnold only have Britain left as a true friend, and of course tag along Canada. Is our military so mighty it can take over the world? Will our nuclear weapons somehow save us from the final, unequivocal pissed off moment when the world gets enough? Have we really become so sensational as to believe Die Hard or Missing In Action with Chuck Norris is real? Or are we blessed with just as many retards in office and in uniform as the next country?

I made some of you mad, now didn’t I? It’s okay, cuss me out and run on out to Walmart, get a new pair of undies for your iPhone 6, medicate yourself with the 2 for 1 pastries in that oh-so-cool deli section. Go home, switch the TV on, and watch some blonde bimbo with an IQ of 90 smile her truth at ya. That’s it, sleep, sleep the unmistakable sleep of the medicated society. Yes, you pissed me off too, live with it. But for those of you like me, kids who got all grown up believing America is special – get off your ass and do something about these psychopaths! You see surely, they are destroying the country and the world we believed was possible. Here is one of the surgical tools the Obama administration is leveling on people around the world.

The worst president in the history of the United States of America cannot even utter in decency America’s sympathies for the dead Russians littering the desert there in Egypt. You read somewhere I know, how only a mumbling John Kerry conveyed your “give a shit” over that tragedy. And even when a big ass white and read flag is painted across the roof of a hospital with the wordsMédecins Sans Frontières,” some dip shit officer with zero conscience to match his superiors gave the order to decimate the infirmary. Obama and his minions, then proceeded to conjure a similar incident in Syria, so the Russians could be blamed too. Our president and his advisers came up with a plan to water down the guilt, and to “double down” on Russia with another allegation unsubstantiated. It is unbelievable, the sort Americans have given power to. I cannot even fathom it, to be honest.

Obama’s weapon of choice in the hospital attack described was a killing machine of devastating precision and lethality. The gunship that rained death on those people in their hospital beds was an AC-130 Whiskey aircraft equipped with the most advanced targeting and strike armaments available to any military. The video seen above details the capability, how proud our military is of it, and the true nature of this attack. Crewmembers of this attack aircraft zoomed in on exactly who they wanted to kill. Exactly. The video below of a separate attack in Afghanistan gives us an idea of how the hospital attack went down. The crewmembers of the gunship using infrared targeting to fire incdendiaries at first individual people on the ground, then using missiles to blow up a building not too dissimilar from the hospital the doctors were treating patients in.

Now I cannot know what your attitude is toward American policy. Frankly, all I care about is your humanity and logic. How anyone on this rock we live on can imagine killing as a peace building tool, is beyond my comprehension. Defending ourselves, that is one thing. Projecting horror and decimation on people in these other countries, in a way no other country on Earth even pretends to, it’s savagery. No one has attacked the United States of America in force in over 70 years. The Washington arms dealers tell us it is because we kill foreigners like we do. The world thinks we’re crazy, bad ass, war like, and they are fearful to tread on us. This is the logic, it simply has to be. But there is another logic, another truth. Maybe the rest of the world just wants to be left alone? Maybe we are the ones stirring up all the chaos? I leave you to imagine a Bruce Willis movie where America minded her own business. A film where we killed no one overseas, a drama with a happy ending not paid for in buckets of blood. Do you think it is possible I am right? Have our leaders ever tried a new approach?

Oh I forgot, peace is not worth taking the chance. 

I leave you with the lead in from Military.com about this situation.

“An Air Force AC-130 Special Operations Command gunship may have carried out the strike in Afghanistan that allegedly hit a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the embattled northern city of Kunduz, killing at least 22, including 12 staffers.”

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called the event a “tragic incident”, but stopped short of an apology.

Posted in USA0 Comments

The Zionist-neoconservative midwives of Islamic State

Zionist neoconservatives

By Jamal Kanj

On a Thursday night 12 November, terrorists blew themselves up on the streets of Beirut. The next day, coordinated terrorist attacks struck the heart of Paris. Perpetrators belonging to the same group targeted Muslims and Christians in the Lebanese and French capitals.

Just a month ago, there was the moving scene of European women and men holding signs welcoming refugees arriving at train stations.

Thus, the horrific attacks in Paris would be even more appalling if there is any truth to the news that some of the terrorists had disguised themselves as refugees in order to reach France, especially since the refugees had found better reception in Europe than anywhere else, including many of the Arab and Muslim countries. For these terrorists to exploit that hospitality is neither an Arab or Muslim value.

Lasting conflicts and fragmentations of the Arab world were envisioned more than 30 years ago by former Israeli Foreign Ministry official Oded Yinon.

There could be no justification for the terrorist attacks in Paris or the atrocious murders in Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus or Nigeria. Putting aside our virtuous indignation, however, we mustn’t forget that the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) was the illegitimate child of George Bush’s “birth pangs of democracy” in the Middle East. The misguided, US-led Western interventionist policies created the environment that gave birth to the refugees and the terrorists – a programme designed for Israel by Zionist neoconservative appointees in the dens of the US State Department and the Pentagon.

Lasting conflicts and fragmentations in the Arab world were envisioned more than 30 years ago by former Israeli Foreign Ministry official Oded Yinon. In a 1982 treatise, A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”, published inKivunim (Directions), the official journal of the World Zionist Organisation, Yinon argued that the future priorities for the “Jewish state” (JS) are “The dissolution of Syria and Iraq… into ethnically or religiously unique areas.” Almost 30 years earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett proposed the same for Lebanon.

Islamic State’s ideology flourishes on Western pandering to the Jewish State as an exceptionalist state beyond reproach, defying UN resolutions with complete impunity.

IS and JS have a shared strategy: perpetual conflict between Islam and the West is critical for their survival.

IS gets its oxygen from the US’s and other Western powers’ unconditional diplomatic and financial support for JS. IS’s ideology flourishes on Western pandering to JS as an exceptionalist state beyond reproach, defying UN resolutions with complete impunity. Following Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Washington, Israel is in line to be rewarded, again, for its intransigence and attempts to derail the nuclear deal between the West and Iran.

The Israeli-planned and Western-executed “dissolution of Syria and Iraq”, Lebanon, Yemen and Libya into ethnic or religious entities has created fertile grounds for dissent, offering Islamist demagogues the perfect recipe to manipulate feeble minded individuals to rally around IS, believing they were avenging their religion.

Alas, all of this was already predictable, a known consequence and anticipated outcome of actions by US intelligence agencies.

In August 2002, CIA analysts authored a study,The perfect storm: Planning for the negative consequences of invading Iraq. It predicted the breakup of Iraq, regional instability and a surge in global terrorism.

In a pre-war briefing, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was presented with two intelligence assessments warning that the Iraq invasion would lead to anarchy and an increase in terrorism. In January 2003 the National Intelligence Council think-tank issued an assessment forecasting that “many angry young recruits” would fuel the ranks of Islamic extremists.

Today it’s not enough to mourn Paris’s or Beirut’s victims. We must also remember the estimated 1.3 million people who were banished directly and indirectly by the deviated “war on terrorism”.

Despite the red flags, the Bush administration opted to heed the advice of Israeli advocates, ideologues who were trained at the offices of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Israeli think-tanks in Washington. After Bush’s election, large donors of the Republican Party recommended them for key policy-making positions in the Pentagon and the State Department.

The Zionist neoconservatives redirected the war compass from Al Qaeda to fight Israel’s wars. According to a Bush administration insider’s book, during a policy discussion Israel firster Paul Wolfowitz argued: “We don’t have to deal with Al Qaeda… We have to talk about” Iraq.

Just one day before the Iraq invasion, US Vice-President Dick Cheney delivered a speech, which was likely prepared, or at least proofed, by Zionist neoconservative and White House Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, in which Cheney foolishly claimed: “We will… be greeted as liberators” in Iraq.

Today it’s not enough to mourn Paris’s or Beirut’s victims. We must also remember the estimated 1.3 million people who were banished directly and indirectly by the deviated “war on terrorism”. For the Zionist neoconservatives’ conceived war has offered more than 1.3m reasons to recruit terrorists.

Posted in Middle East, USAComments Off

Do We Really Want a “Pre-emptive” World War with Russia?

Global Research
fighter plane

Washington continues making an international fool of herself by her inability to effectively counter the impression around the world that Russia, spending less than 10% of the Pentagon annually on defense, has managed to do more against ISIS in Syria in six weeks than the mighty US Air Force bombing campaign has done in almost a year and half. One aspect that bears attention is the demonstration by the Russian military of new technologies that belie the widely-held Western notion that Russia is little more than a backward oil and raw material commodity exporter.

Recent reorganization of the Russian state military industrial complex as well as reorganization of the Soviet-era armed forces under Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s term are visible in the success so far of Russia’s ISIS and other terror strikes across Syria. Clearly Russian military capabilities have undergone a sea-change since the Soviet Cold War era.

In war there are never winners. Yet Russia has been in an unwanted war with Washington de facto since the George W. Bush Administration announced its lunatic plan to place what they euphemistically term “Ballistic Missile Defense” missiles and advanced radar in Poland, Czech Republic, Romania and Turkey after 2007. Without going into detail, BMD technologies are the opposite of defensive. They instead make a pre-emptive war highly likely. Of course the radioactive ash heap in such an exchange would be first and foremost the EU countries foolish enough to invite US BMD to their soil.

Then came the highly provocative US-instigated coup d’etat in Ukraine in February 2014, installing a cabal of gangsters, neo-nazis and criminals who launched a civil war against its own citizens in east Ukraine, an ill-conceived attempt to bring Russia into a ground war across her border. It followed two UN Security Council vetoes by Russia and China of US proposals for No Fly zones over Syria as was done to destroy Qaddafi’s Libya. Now Russia has surprised the West by accepting the request of Syrian President Bashar al Assad to help eliminate the terrorism that has ravaged the once-peaceful country for over four years.

What the Russian General Staff has managed, since the precision air campaign began September 30, has stunned western defense planners with Russian technological feats not expected. Two specific technologies are worth looking at more closely: The Russian Sukoi SU-34 fighter-bomber and what is called the Bumblebee hyperbaric mortar weapon.

Sukhoi SU-34 ‘Fullback’ fighter-bomber

The plane responsible for some of the most damaging strikes on ISIS and other terror enclaves in Syria is manufactured by the Russian state aircraft industry under the name Sukhoi SU-34. As the Russian news agency RIA Novosti described the aircraft,

“The Su-34 is meant to deliver a sufficiently large ordnance load to a predetermined area, hit the target accurately and take evasive action against pursuing enemy planes.”

The plane is also designed to deal with enemy fighters in aerial combat such as the US F-16. The SU-34 made a first test flight in 1990 as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the chaos of the Yeltsin years caused many delays. Finally in 2010 the plane was in full production.

According to a report in US Defense Industry Daily, among the SU-34 features are:

• 8 ton ordnance load which can accommodate precision-guided weapons, as well as R-73/AA-11 Archer and R-77/AA-12 ‘AMRAAMSKI’ missiles and an internal 30mm GSh-301 gun.

• Maximum speed of Mach 1.8 at altitude.

• 3,000 km range, extensible to “over 4,000 km” with the help of additional drop tanks. The SU-34 can also refuel in mid-air.

• It can fly in TERCOM (Terrain Contour Matching) mode for low-level flight, and has software to execute a number of difficult maneuvers.

• Leninets B004 phased array multimode X-band radar, which interleaves terrain-following radar and other modes.

Now new EW technologies

Clearly the aircraft is impressive as it has demonstrated against terrorist centers in Syria. Now, however, beginning this month it will add a “game-changer” in the form of a new component. Speaking at the Dubai Air Show on November 12, Igor Nasenkov, the First Deputy General Director of the Radio-Electronic Technologies Concern (KRET) announced that this month, that is in the next few days, SUKHOI SU-34 fighter-bombers will become electronic warfare aircraft as well.

Nasenkov explained that the new Khibiny aircraft electronic countermeasures (ECM) systems, installed on the wingtips, will give the SU-34 jets electronic warfare capabilities to launch effective electronic countermeasures against radar systems, anti-aircraft missile systems and airborne early warning and control aircraft.

KRET is a holding or group of some 95 Russian state electronic companies formed in 2009 under the giant Russian state military industry holding, Rostec.

Russia’s advances in what is euphemistically termed in military jargon, Electronic Counter Measures or ECM, is causing some sleepless nights for the US Pentagon top brass to be sure. In the battles in eastern pro-Russian Ukraine earlier this year, as well as in the Black Sea, and now in Syria, according to ranking US military sources, Russia deployed highly-effective ECM technologies like the Krasukha-4, to successfully jam hostile radar and aircraft.

Lt. General Ben Hodges, Commander of US Army Europe (USAREUR) describes Russian ECM capabilities used in Ukraine as “eye-watering,” suggesting some US and NATO officers are more than slightly disturbed by what they see. Ronald Pontius, deputy to Army Cyber Command’s chief, Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, told a conference in October that, “You can’t but come to the conclusion that we’re not making progress at the pace the threat demands.” In short, Pentagon planners have been caught flat-footed for all the trillions of wasted US taxpayer dollars in recent years thrown at the military industry.

During the critical days of the March 2014 Crimean citizens’ referendum vote to appeal for status within Russia, New York Times reporters then in Crimea reported the presence of Russian electronic jamming systems, known as R-330Zh Zhitel, manufactured by Protek in Voronezh, Russia. That state-of-the-art technology was believed to have been used to prevent the Ukrainian Army from invading Crimea before the referendum. Russian forces in Crimea, where Russia had a legal basing agreement with Kiev, reportedly were able to block all communication of Kiev military forces, preventing a Crimean bloodbath. Washington was stunned.

USS Donald Cook…

Thereafter, in April, 2014, one month after the accession of Crimea into the Russian Federation, President Obama ordered the USS Donald Cook into the Black Sea waters just off Crimea, the home port of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, to “reassure” EU states of US resolve. Donald Cook was no ordinary guided missile destroyer. It had been refitted to be one of four ships as part of Washington’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System aimed at Russia’s nuclear arsenal. USS Donald Cook boldly entered the Black Sea on April 8 heading to Russian territorial waters.

On April 12, just four days later, the US ship inexplicably left the area of the Crimean waters of the Black Sea for a port in NATO-member Romania. From there it left the Black Sea entirely. A report on April 30, 2014 in Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta Online titled, “What Frightened the American Destroyer,” stated that while the USS Donald Cook was near Crimean (Russian by that time) waters, a Russian Su-24 Frontal Aviation bomber conducted a flyby of the destroyer.

The Rossiyskaya Gazeta went on to write that the Russian SU-24 “did not have bombs or missiles onboard. One canister with the Khibin electronic warfare complex was suspended under the fuselage.” As it got close to the US destroyer, the Khibins turned off the USS Donald Cook’s “radar, combat control circuits, and data transmission system – in short, they turned off the entire Aegis just like we turn off a television by pressing the button on the control panel. After this, the Su-24 simulated a missile launch at the blind and deaf ship. Later, it happened once again, and again – a total of 12 times.”

While the US Army denied the incident as Russian propaganda, the fact is that USS Donald Cook never approached Russian Black Sea waters again. Nor did NATO ships that replaced it in the Black Sea. A report in 2015 by the US Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office assessed that Russia, “does indeed possess a growing EW capability, and the political and military leadership understand the importance…Their growing ability to blind or disrupt digital communications might help level the playing field when fighting against a superior conventional foe.” Now new Russian Khibini Electronic Counter Measure systems are being installed on the wingtips of Russia’s SUKHOI SU-34 fighter-bombers going after ISIS in Syria.

Killer Bumblebees

A second highly-advanced new Russian military technology that’s raising more than eyebrows in US Defense Secretary ‘Ash’ Carter’s Pentagon is Russia’s new Bumblebee which Russia’s military classifies as a flamethrower. In reality it is a highly advanced thermobaric weapon which launches a warhead that uses a combination of an explosive charge and highly combustible fuel. When the rocket reaches the target, the fuel is dispersed in a cloud that is then detonated by the explosive charge. US Military experts recently asked by the US scientific and engineering magazine Popular Mechanics to evaluate the Bumblebee stated that, “the resulting explosion is devastating, radiating a shockwave and fireball up to six or seven meters in diameter.” The US experts noted that the Bumblebee is “especially useful against troops in bunkers, trenches, and even armored vehicles, as the dispersing gas can enter small spaces and allow the fireball to expand inside. Thermobarics are particularly devastating to buildings — a thermobaric round entering a structure can literally blow up the building from within with overpressure.”


We don’t go into yet another new highly secret Russian military technology recently subject of a Russian TV report beyond a brief mention, as little is known. It is indicative of what is being developed as Russia prepares for the unthinkable from Washington. The “Ocean Multipurpose System: Status-6” is a new Russian nuclear submarine weapons system designed to bypass NATO radars and any existing missile defense systems, while causing heavy damage to “important economic facilities” along the enemy’s coastal regions.

Reportedly the Status-6 will cause what the Russian military terms, “assured unacceptable damage” to an adversary force. They state that its detonation “in the area of the enemy coast” (say, New York or Boston or Washington?) would result in “extensive zones of radioactive contamination” that would ensure that the region would not be used for “military, economic, business or other activity for a long time.” Status-6 reportedly is a massive torpedo, designated as a “self-propelled underwater vehicle.” It has a range of up to 10 thousand kilometers and can operate at a depth of up to 1,000 meters. At a November 10 meeting with the Russian military chiefs, Vladimir Putin stated that Russia would counter NATO’s US-led missile shield program through “new strike systems capable of penetrating any missile defenses.” Presumably he was referring to Status-6.

US Defense Secretary Carter declared on November 8 in a speech that Russia and China are challenging “American pre-eminence” and Washington’s so-called “stewardship of the world order.” Carter added that, “Most disturbing is Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling,” which in his view, “raises questions about Russian leaders’ commitment to strategic stability, their respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons…”

Not surprisingly, Carter did not mention Washington’s own very loud nuclear saber-rattling. In addition to advancing the US Ballistic Missile Defense array targeting Russia, Carter recently announced highly-advanced US nuclear weapons would be stationed at the Büchel Air Base in Germany as part of a joint NATO nuclear program, which involves non-nuclear NATO states in Europe hosting more than 200 US nuclear warheads. Those NATO states across Europe, including Germany, have just become a potential Ground Zero in any possible nuclear war between the United States and Russia. Perhaps it’s time for some more sober minds to take responsibility in Washington for restoring a world at peace, minds not obsessed with such ridiculous ideas of “pre-eminence.”

Posted in Russia, USA0 Comments

An Invisible US Hand Leading to War?


Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness



In considering the terrifying but also sadly predictable news of a Russian fighter jet being downed by two Turkish fighters, let’s start with one almost certain assumption — an assumption that no doubt is also being made by the Russian government: Turkey’s action, using US-supplied F-16 planes, was taken with the full knowledge and advance support of the US. In fact, given Turkey’s vassal status as a member of US-dominated NATO, it could well be that Ankara was put up to this act of brinksmanship by the US.

What makes the downing of the Russian jet, and the reported death of at least one of its two pilots (the other was reportedly captured alive by pro-turkish Turkmen fighters on the Syrian side of the Syria-Turkish border, and will presumably be returned to Russia) so dangerous is that as a member of NATO, supposedly a “mutual assistance” treaty that binds all members to come to the defense of one that is attacked, if Russia were to retaliate by downing a Turkish military plane, NATO countries including the US would be obligated to come to Turkey’s defense.

Russia knows this, and that is why so far the Russian response to the downing has been muted. Had it been a Jordanian, Saudi or Kuwaiti jet that downed the Russian SU-24, Russia’s response would have been instantaneous. The guilty party would have had some of its planes shot down, or perhaps even bombed on the ground. But President Putin so far has limited himself to demanding a meeting, to warning that Russian-Turkish economic relations would be threatened, etc.

This restraint is good, but clearly, Vladimir Putin will not stop there. Even putting aside domestic considerations (imaging the public clamor for a military response here in the US if some small country shot down a US plane!), he will have to respond or his whole project — so far stunningly successful — of restoring Russia to its pre-USSR-collapse position as a global power, would be a failure.

Putin’s options are actually quite broad, though some carry considerably more risk for everyone, not just for Russia and Turkey. He could have his own air

force in Syria, where Russia is legally acting at the request of the Syrian government to defend it against rebel forces of ISIS and Al Nusra, some of which are backed by both Turkey and the US, calmly wait for a Turkish military jet to cross into Syrian airspace. At that point it could be downed by Russian planes or missiles. No doubt Turkey will be extraordinarily careful going forward to have its pilots keep well away from Syrian air space too avoid that, but it could happen. My guess is that Russian fighter pilots and anti-aircraft batteries in Syria already have their marching orders to take that action, which probably would not activate NATO confrontation with Russia and lead to World War III, as long as there was reasonable evidence that Turkey’s plane was in Syrian airspace.

But should no such opportunity present itself, Russia has plenty of other opportunities to counter Turkey. Remember, Russia is also defending Syria’s coastline, and could sink or capture a Turkish ship that entered Syrian waters (or Russian waters in the Black Sea, which borders both countries).

Russia — knowing that this is really not about Turkey, but about push-back by the US against growing Russian power and influence, both globally and in the Middle East region — could also choose to respond in a venue where it has more of an advantage, for example in Ukraine, where it could amp up its support for the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, perhaps by downing a Ukrainian military plane, or more broadly, providing air cover to protect those regions. Russia could also, less directly, provide aid to Kurdish rebels in both Syria and in Turkey itself who are fighting against Turkish forces.

I’m sure there are plenty of other options available to Russia also to turn the screws against both Turkey and NATO, without openly pushing buttons that could lead to a direct confrontation with the US and its NATO fiction. Working in Russia’s favor is that the US aside, the European nations of NATO have no desire to be at war with Russia. There are clearly hotheads in the US Congress, the Pentagon, and perhaps even within the neo-con-infested Obama administration, who are pushing for just such a mad showdown. But in Europe, where the actual fighting would mostly occur, and where memories are still strong of the destructive power of war, there is no taste for such insanity. It could, in fact, have been a big error in the long run for the US to push Turkey into such a deadly provocation, if it leads to more anti-American sentiment among the citizens of such key NATO countries as France, Germany, Italy and Britain.

It should be added that Russia and China have become much closer in recent years, economically, politically and militarily. This means there is also the possibility that the two countries could, in concert, step up pressure on the US in the western Pacific, for example by forcing down one of the provocative US flights near China’s new island projects in the South China Sea. That would force an already stretched US military to shift more forces to Asia from Europe and the Middle East.

It is all terribly dangerous and it is hard to predict where things will lead. One thing seems certain, though. This outrageous shootdown of a Russian plane that was in no way posing a threat to Turkey or Turkish forces, will not end here, because Russia and President Putin cannot allow Turkey and NATO to so blatantly act against Russia and its pilots and go unpunished, particularly as it is Russia that is acting legally in Syria, while the US, Turkey and other nations backing rebel forces there are in all acting blatant violation of international law.

Unless saner heads start prevailing in Washington, this could all quickly spiral into the kind of situation in 1914, where a lot of ill-conceived treaties led to a minor incident in the Balkans turning inexorably into World War I.

Posted in Russia, Turkey, USA0 Comments

The Doctrine of 9/11 Anti-Immigration



Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas sponsored a bill (HR4038) to block Iraqi and Syrian refugees from entering into the United States. The bill is known as the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, which passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives. “We are a nation at war,” said Congressman McCaul. Given the name of the bill and the bellicose attitude of the Republicans and Democrats who voted for it, the enemies in that war are the refugees.

Who are these refugees, these families who have been uprooted from their homes in Iraq and Syria? They are victims of war and chaos. They are regime change refugees. It is this that pushes them out of their homes, makes them risk the turbulent Mediterranean Sea and the barbed wire borders. Refugees flee – they do not have a destination in mind. Their objective is to be out of the line of fire. Where they go is immaterial. Most want a piece of land where they can reconstruct the elements of normality. Camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey bristle with such desires. Flowers are planted outside the UNHCR tents; cinder blocks become the desks for impromptu classrooms; amongst the slush, fires burn for warmth and for food. Wretchedness is intolerable. It is ameliorated by small gestures and great hopes.

UNHCR – the UN Refugees agency – is conservative with its figures. But even from the UN numbers, the scale of the crisis is remarkable. Iraq’s collapse began with Gulf War 1 in 1990-91 and continues unabated till today. Four million Iraqis have been displaced with about half a million additional Iraqis as registered refugees. Before the Syrian crisis, the Iraqis could flee to Iran, Jordan and Syria. Now the road to Syria is blocked and Jordan is saturated with Iraqi and Syrian refugees.

Syria’s own crisis is gargantuan. Half the population is displaced, with the refugees numbering at least five million people. Eighty percent of the Syrian people now live in poverty, and life expectancy has fallen by twenty years. The human cost of this war has been astounding. What are the Syrians to do but to try and flee circumstances that are without parallel?

Neither Iraq nor Syria seems near peace. Flight is the best option for people who have lost the ability to imagine their homelands in a state of stability. But where should they fly?

Lebanon, Iran, Jordan and Turkey have taken in large numbers of refugees. Lebanon – a country with merely four million residents – has well over one million refugees. The financial situation in the country is in tatters. It has relied upon foreign aid and charity to help manage the refugee influx. At the major donor’s conferences, the Rich Powers arrive with smug looks of Benevolence on their faces. They pledge a great deal of money to the UN agencies. When it comes to fulfilling these pledges, their ink runs dry. The UN estimates that only about a quarter of the pledges for refugee relief are fulfilled.

Why are these funds essential? The UN’s last report on Syrian refugees showed that 86% of refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line, while almost half of those in Lebanon live in sub-standard shelters. Almost two million refugees will face this coming winter without fuel, shelter, insulation, blankets or warm clothes. “Refugees’ resources are depleted,” says the UNHCR, “They are becoming more impoverished and their vulnerabilities are on the rise.” Out of sheer desperation they seek something better – which is why they become vulnerable to the siren song of “Europe” sold to them by smugglers.

Reading the June report from the UNHCR is sobering. There are now almost sixty million refugees in the world – that is one out of every 122 humans on the planet. Each day, last year, 42,500 people became refugees. Half of these refugees are children.

Where are these refugees being made? The top three countries, which account for half of the world’s refugees, reveal a trend – Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Each of these countries has been ruined by war, often wars initiated and fueled by the West. Like an angry dragon, the United States breathed fire from Afghanistan to Somalia in search of al-Qaeda. Already weakened, both these countries saw their politics dispensed for a US project. In Afghanistan, the US transformed one band of warlords into the national government. In Somalia, the US refashioned local militias into the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism. In both cases, US power enhanced the authority of brutal gunmen, which pushed sections of the population into the arms of their adversaries – the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia. Proxy wars and drone strikes ended the possibility for a stable life in these places. Refugees were born in the maw of these conflicts.


US complicity in the production of the regime change refugees means little to those American politicians who hate immigrants and refugees. The word “refugee” has now come to stand in for “immigrant.”

These politicians do not see refugees as people who flee war. Their bibles are not books on US foreign policy and wars. They have read deeply into that seam of American letters that fulminates against immigration of any kind – from Samuel Huntington’s Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity to Tom Tancredo’s In Mortal Danger to Ann Coulter’s Adios, America. Hatred of immigrants has a long history in the US, as early as the movements of the 19th century against European Catholics and Jews in the Know Nothing Party of the 1850s and the Immigration Restriction League of the 1890s. Anti-immigration was always closely linked to anti-Black racism. Fredrick Douglass saw this in 1869 in his speech to defend Chinese and Japanese immigration. “I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity,” said Douglass, “and when there is a supposed conflict between human and national rights, it is safe to go to the side of humanity.” Douglass spoke for the soul. He was not heeded. He would be little heeded today.

The Right’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has alienated Latino and Asian voters. It has made the Right’s electoral calculus shudder. There is no turning away from the hideous rhetoric, rooted deeply in the sensibility of white privilege. The refugee has given the Right an opportunity. The Syrian refugee debate has allowed the Right to properly turn what is a human story into a one about security. Not the security of the people who are migrating from dangerous zones, but the security of the United States – which lives in a fantasy of insecurity. This is the doctrine of 9/11 anti-immigration. There is no point discussing the technicalities of refugee transfer, the way in which the ten thousand refugees slated for entry into the US have gone through two years of screening by the UN and the US. This does not matter to the xenophobe. Their coin is not reason. It is fear.

Ann Coulter, who is part of Donald Trump’s campaign for President writes in her book, “Sending undesirable immigrants to an enemy nation is a war tactic.” What are the refugees in this addled imagination? Not human beings fleeing wars set in motion by the West, but ISIS agents ready to strike inside the United States. No such thing. The Paris attackers were not refugees. The 9/11 attackers did not come to the US as refugees. Refugees have not been the author of these attacks.

Countries are being wiped off the map by wars initiated by the West and driven by its allies. Passports wither, hopes die. Adults sit in refugee camps as the cold winds blow and their children watch the days go by, little hope of learning to read and write. They don’t know Congressman McCaul or HR4038. They do, however, know that the United States has taken in less than two thousand Syrian refugees over the past four years. That’s less than the daily number that flees from Syria. America is far from the dreams of the refugees. They would like the war to end. They would like shelter. They would like to be treated as human beings.

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Court Rules Legal Justification For Drone Assassinations Of US Citizens Can Remain Secret

Many legal scholars contend that it is illegal for the U.S. to kill American citizens away from the battlefield without a trial.
Image result for Drone Assassinations PHOTO

An unmanned drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

NEW YORK — The U.S. government can keep secret various memos related to its legal justification for using drones to kill citizens suspected of terrorism overseas, a federal appeals court said in a decision unsealed Monday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reached its decision in a second round of Freedom of Information Act requests by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times after an earlier request had succeeded in forcing the government to disclose a redacted version of a 2010 41-page legal opinion prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department describing for the Defense Department the legality of targeted drone attacks.

The appeals court said then that prior public disclosures by senior government officials including President Barack Obama necessitated the document’s release.

The Oct. 22 decision by the 2nd Circuit to keep eight memos secret largely upheld an Oct. 31, 2014 ruling by U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan. It remained sealed for a month to provide time for appeal.

In a decision written by Circuit Judge Jon O. Newman, a three-judge appeals panel said it had ordered the release of the 2010 legal opinion because government officials made public statements about the document in relatively close proximity to its creation. It noted that a 2002 document providing legal advice to the president’s close legal adviser will remain sealed after it did not lead to public statements by government officials until eight years after its creation.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said he strongly disagrees with the ruling, which allows three “crucial legal memos” to remain secret.

“In a democracy, there should be no room for ‘secret law,’ and the courts should not play a role in perpetuating it,” Jaffer said in a statement. “As President Obama considers his legacy and the certainty that the targeted-killing program will soon be in the hands of a new president, we urge the administration to disclose more information about the program and subject it to stronger oversight.

“The government should not be using lethal force based on standards that are explained only vaguely and on facts that are never published or independently reviewed,” he added.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The requests from the ACLU and the Times for documents discussing the “targeted-killing” program were made in 2011 after a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen killed Anwar Al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader who had been born in the United States, and another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, and after an October 2011 strike killed Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, al-Awlaki’s teenage son and also a U.S. citizen.

Some legal scholars and human rights activists complained that it was illegal for the U.S. to kill American citizens away from the battlefield without a trial.

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Over 1,000 People Killed By Police Since The Beginning Of 2015


A protestor holding a sign saying "Stop Murder by Police"

Just 34 police officers have been shot during the same time period, and one criminal justice blogger called 2015 “the second safest year for police ever.”

A protestor stands in front of riot Police Monday, April 27, 2015, following the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

MINNEAPOLIS — Police have killed over 1,000 people in 2015, and about 20 percent of those killed were completely unarmed.

As of Monday evening, U.S. police had killed 1,024 people since the start of the year, according to The Counted, a continuously updated database of U.S. police killings maintained by The Guardian. Of the total, 203 victims of police were unarmed.

In November alone police killed 10 unarmed males, including Jamar Clark, the 24-year-old man whose death led to in ongoing protests in Minneapolis, and Jeremy Mardis, a six-year-old who was shot by police in Louisiana during a chase. (Body camera footage showed that the two officers involved in Mardis’ death fired recklessly into the car driven by Chris Few, the boy’s father, who was also injured in the incident. The two officers have been arrested.)

Despite claims America’s police forces need to be highly armed in order to defend themselves against a “war on cops,” just 34 police were fatally shot and three others died of assault in the line of duty so far this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks police deaths in the United States.

Barring a sudden spate of violence in the final days of this year, police killings appear to be down from 2014, when 47 police were fatally shot in the line of duty. Radley Balko, a criminal justice blogger at the Washington Post, argued that the raw data on police fatalities is deceptive and makes this line of work seem even more dangerous than it really is. In a comparison of the number of dead officers to the total population, he noted that, “by this measure 2015 is shaping up to be the second safest year for police ever, after 2013.”

The data provided by projects such as The Counted is crucial because the federal government does not keep a comprehensive database of police killings. In October, The Guardian compared crowd-sourced data like their database with the FBI’s official data on police killings in 2014, and found that several widely-reported victims of police violence were missing from the FBI’s data, including Eric GarnerTamir Rice and John Crawford. Of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S., only 224 reported data to the FBI.


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US Military Accused Of Manipulating Intel On ISIS



By Joshua Krause

Our government’s complicity in the rise of ISIS is so obvious now, and yet the mainstream media continues to push the patently false notion that a bunch of lunatics in the desert managed to carve out their own nation, without any outside influence. This sort of thing simply does not happen in a vacuum. It would be no more ridiculous than if the Manson family had recruited, trained, and equipped an army of followers to take over Los Angeles, all by themselves.

Frankly, it’s horrifying that our government and their lackeys in the media can continue to tell the same lie over and over again and still get away with it, though it’s not all that surprising. At the top, our system is run by pathological liars and murderers, while the citizenry of our nation are far too mired in entertainment and poverty to concern themselves with the state of our government.

But, like all criminals, they leave a paper trail of evidence for those of us who are concerned about their unsavory deeds. The latest evidence has come from several anonymous intelligence officials, who claim that the Pentagon-run CENTCOM has been covering up the true strength of ISIS in the Middle East.

Senior military and defense officials who refuse to provide details because the information is classified tell NBC News that officials at United States Central Command possibly “manipulated” intelligence regarding ISIS in Iraq.

While the officials have personally seen no evidence of intelligence manipulation, one senior official predicts an investigation by the Pentagon Inspector General could still lead to a “shakeup” of Central Command (CENTCOM) intelligence personnel.

The allegations, which were first reported by the New York Times, involve possible manipulation or outright dismissal of some intelligence analysis that determined ISIS posed a more serious threat in Iraq than had been previously reported. The accusation is that senior military or civilians officials at CENTCOM in Florida altered or ignored the analysis and downplayed the threat from ISIS to paint a more positive picture of Iraqi and U.S. military progress against ISIS.

The U.S. military receives intelligence from a large number of analysts from a variety of agencies, both military and civilian, on any given subject or target — much of it contradictory — which leaves the information open to subjective interpretation and possible manipulation at more senior levels, both civilian and military.

Essentially, senior members of CENTCOM manipulated the information they had on ISIS to downplay the severity of the situation. They kept everyone in the dark about ISIS’ capabilities, and concealed our military’s failures in the region.

There are two ways you can look at these claims. On the surface, it sounds like these anonymous officials are informing us that CENTCOM was simply telling our elected representatives what they wanted to hear, rather than the awful truth. They wanted to make it look like they had everything under control for the people who cut their checks, so they kept DC out of the loop.

Of course, this idea completely ignores the evidence that our government had a hand in the creation of ISIS. There’s no real reason for them to cover up the strength of this organization to the people who are using them to topple Assad. In reality, they’re not covering up failure and incompetence.

They’re concealing the fact that our military was never supposed to make any progress against ISIS. They’re just trying to make their records look clean for anyone who is nosy enough to dig deeper. At best, our military’s mission in the region is to contain ISIS, not defeat them, and they cooked the books to make it look like our military was kicking ass.

Staff members at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence are also poring over years of Centcom intelligence reports and comparing them to assessments from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and others. The committee is not just examining reports about Iraq, Syria and the Islamic State, but also about Afghanistan and other areas under Centcom’s purview. The insurrection inside Centcom is an important chapter in the story of how the United States responded to the growing threat from the Islamic State. This past summer, a group of Centcom analysts took concerns about their superiors to the inspector general, saying they had evidence that senior officials had changed intelligence assessments to overstate the progress of American airstrikes against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

While the mainstream media has reported on this cover-up, they’ve yet to offer any real explanation for it. They dare not say the obvious. The DoD and the White House don’t want the public to know what the military is really doing in the Middle East, and how they’re willfully failing to defeat ISIS. So don’t expect the masses to wake up to this fact anytime soon.

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How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy


It’s the right time for Obama to rethink the administration’s policy toward both Assad and his jihadist foes

US President Barack Obama at the G20 Turkey Summit on 15 November, 2015 in Antalya. (Photo: AA)

In the wake of the ISIS terrorist attack on Paris, President Barack Obama declared that his administration has the right strategy on ISIS and will “see it through”. But the administration is already shifting its policy to cooperate more closely with the Russians on Syria, and an influential former senior intelligence official has suggested that the administration needs to give more weight to the Assad government and army as the main barrier to ISIS and other jihadist forces in Syria.

Obama’s Europeans allies as well as US national security officials have urged the United State to downgrade the official US aim of achieving the departure of Bashar al-Assad from Syria in the international negotiations begun last month and continued last weekend. Such a shift in policy, however, would make the contradictions between the US interests and those of the Saudis, who continue to support jihadist forces fighting with al-Qaeda’s Syria branch, al-Nusra Front, increasingly clear.

Russia had proposed to the United States in September that the United States and Russia share intelligence on ISIS and exchange military delegations to coordinate on joint steps against ISIS. The initial Obama administration response was to reject either intelligence sharing or joint planning with Russia on Syria out of hand. The reasoning was that the Russians were engaged primarily, if not exclusively, to shore up the Assad regime, which was unacceptable to Washington. Secretary of State John Kerry declared on 1 October: “What is important is Russia has to not be engaged in any activities against anybody but ISIL. That’s clear. We have made that very clear.”   

But that was before Paris. The fallout from that attack has changed the political vectors pushing and pulling Obama administration policy. The most obvious shift came two days after the attacks and just hours after Obama announced new intelligence arrangements with France. CIA director John Brennan reversed the earlier US decision to reject intelligence sharing with Russia on Islamic State. Revealing that he had had several conversations with his Russian counterpart since the beginning of Russia’s air offensive in Syria, Brennan said the ISIS threat “demands an “unprecedented level of cooperation” among international intelligence services. Brennan said he and his Russian counterpart had begun exchanging intelligence focused primarily on the flow of terrorists from Russia into Iraq and Syria but that now US-Russian cooperation needed to be “enhanced”.

At the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey on 15-16 November, Obama acknowledged for the first time in his meeting with Putin that Russia was indeed combatting ISIS, according to a White House official. In fact, the Russians had been hitting ISIS targets regularly during October, including what it said was a command centre in the ISIS capital, Raqqa. The Obama administration had refused to acknowledge that fact in October and instead focused on the Russian targeting of non-ISIS groups. But the White House press leak about the Obama-Putin conversation did not repeat that complaint.

The issue of whether Assad must go as part of a settlement has been a fixture of US Syria policy ever since 2011, although it has now been modified to allow the Syrian president to stay in power for a period of six months as part of a settlement. But the Paris attacks may well be sparking new debate within the Obama administration on whether that demand makes sense. In an interview with CBS News on 15 November, the former deputy director of the CIA, Michael Morell, suggested that the exclusion of Assad may need to be revised. “I do think the question of whether President Assad needs to go or whether he is part of the solution here, we need to look at it again,” Morell said. “Clearly he’s part of the problem. But he may also be part of the solution.”

It is not likely that Morell, was acting CIA director twice in 2011 and again from 2012 to 2013, was merely reflecting a personal view on the matter. Statements by US intelligence officials since 2012 have emphasised the importance of the Syrian administration and military as the primary buttress against both ISIS and al-Qaeda and its jihadist allies seizing power in the country – a point that the Obama and Kerry chose not to make. Since the “moderate” forces have all but disappeared in late 2014 and early 2015, and al-Qaeda and it jihadist allies have become the only rivals to Islamic State, that point became even more critical.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this week, “I cannot agree with the logic that Assad is the cause of everything” in Syria. That contrasts with John Kerry’s argument that unless Assad leaves Syria, “this war will not end.”

But Kerry’s position is based on the assumption that the major forces fighting against the regime would end the war and enter into peaceful competition if Assad could be induced to leave. In reality, of course, those forces are committed to using force to achieve the destruction of the old “secular” political order in Syria and establish an extremist conservative Islamic State.

The issue of whether to continue to demand Assad’s departure arises just as the UN peace negotiations process on Syria – meaning negotiations among the outside powers intervening in the conflict – begin a new and highly political phase. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has revealed that the next phase will turn on bargaining among the international sponsors of anti-Assad groups about who would be allowed to join a new government. Those decisions, in turn, would depend on which of the groups are deemed by the foreign sponsors of those very groups to be “terrorists” and which are deemed acceptable.

As Hammond acknowledges, the Saudis are certainly not going to agree to call Ahrar al-Sham or other extremist jihadist groups allied with it and al-Nusra “terrorists”.  They may have to give up al-Nusra Front, which has expressed support for the Islamic State terrorist assault on Paris.

Unless Obama is prepared to face a rupture in the US alliance with the Sunni Gulf Sheikdoms over the issue, the result will be that the very groups committed to overthrowing the remnants of the old order by force will be invited by the United States and its Gulf allies to take key positions in the post-Assad government. It’s the right time for Obama to rethink the administration’s policy toward both Assad and his jihadist foes.

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The New Great Game Between China and the US


Will chess, not battleship, be the game of the future in Eurasia?

China’s road map is illustrated in their ambitious, recently unveiled 13th Five-Year-Plan, translated into a pop-video version, the Shisanwu(Image: Screenshot/Shisanwu)

The U.S. is transfixed by its multibillion-dollar electoral circus. The European Union is paralyzed by austerity, fear of refugees, and now all-out jihad in the streets of Paris. So the West might be excused if it’s barely caught the echoes of a Chinese version of Roy Orbison’s “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” And that new Chinese dream even comes with a road map.

The crooner is President Xi Jinping and that road map is the ambitious, recently unveiled 13th Five-Year-Plan, or in the pop-video version, the Shisanwu. After years of explosive economic expansion, it sanctifies the country’s lower “new normal” gross domestic product growth rate of 6.5% a year through at least 2020.


It also sanctifies an updated economic formula for the country: out with a model based on low-wage manufacturing of export goods and in with the shock of the new, namely, a Chinese version of the third industrial revolution. And while China’s leadership is focused on creating a middle-class future powered by a consumer economy, its president is telling whoever is willing to listen that, despite the fears of the Obama administration and of some of the country’s neighbors, there’s no reason for war ever to be on the agenda for the U.S. and China.

Given the alarm in Washington about what is touted as a Beijing quietly pursuing expansionism in the South China Sea, Xi has been remarkably blunt on the subject of late. Neither Beijing nor Washington, he insists, should be caught in the Thucydides trap, the belief that a rising power and the ruling imperial power of the planet are condemned to go to war with each other sooner or later.

It was only two months ago in Seattle that Xi told a group of digital economy heavyweights, “There is no such thing as the so-called Thucydides trap in the world. But should major countries time and again make the mistakes of strategic miscalculation, they might create such traps for themselves.”

A case can be made — and Xi’s ready to make it — that Washington, which, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya to Syria, has gained something of a reputation for “strategic miscalculation” in the twenty-first century, might be doing it again.  After all, U.S. military strategy documents and top Pentagon figures have quite publicly started to label China (like Russia) as an official threat.”

To grasp why Washington is starting to think of China that way, however, you need to take your eyes off the South China Sea for a moment, turn off Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and the rest of the posse, and consider the real game-changer — or “threat” — that’s rattling Beltway nerves in Washington when it comes to the new Great Game in Eurasia.

Xi’s Bedside Reading

Swarms of Chinese tourists iPhoning away and buying everything in sight in major Western capitals already prefigure a Eurasian future closely tied to and anchored by a Chinese economy turbo-charging toward that third industrial revolution. If all goes according to plan, it will harness everything from total connectivity and efficient high-tech infrastructure to the expansion of green, clean energy hubs. Solar plants in the Gobi desert, anyone?

Yes, Xi is a reader of economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin, who first conceived of a possible third industrial revolution powered by both the Internet and renewable energy sources.

It turns out that the Chinese leadership has no problem with the idea of harnessing cutting-edge Western soft power for its own purposes. In fact, they seem convinced that no possible tool should be overlooked when it comes to moving the country on to the next stage in the process that China’s Little Helmsman, former leader Deng Xiaoping, decades ago designated as the era in which “to get rich is glorious.”

It helps when you have $4 trillion in foreign currency reserves and massive surpluses of steel and cement.  That’s the sort of thing that allows you to go “nation-building” on a pan-Eurasian scale. Hence, Xi’s idea of creating the kind of infrastructure that could, in the end, connect China to Central Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe.  It’s what the Chinese call “One Belt, One Road”; that is, the junction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Twenty-First Century Maritime Silk Road.

Since Xi announced his One Belt, One Road policy in Kazakhstan in 2013, PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hong Kong estimates that the state has ploughed more than $250 billion into Silk Road-oriented projects ranging from railways to power plants. Meanwhile, every significant Chinese business player is on board, from telecom equipment giant Huawei to e-commerce monster Alibaba (fresh from its Singles Day online blockbuster). The Bank of China has already provided a $50 billion credit line for myriad Silk Road-related projects. China’s top cement-maker Anhui Conch is building at least six monster cement plants in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Laos. Work aimed at tying the Asian part of Eurasia together is proceeding at a striking pace.  For instance, the China-Laos, China-Thailand, and Jakarta-Bandung railways — contracts worth over $20 billion — are to be completed by Chinese companies before 2020.

With business booming, right now the third industrial revolution in China looks ever more like a mad scramble toward a new form of modernity.

A Eurasian “War on Terror”

The One Belt, One Road plan for Eurasia reaches far beyond the Rudyard Kipling-coined nineteenth century phrase “the Great Game,” which in its day was meant to describe the British-Russian tournament of shadows for the control of Central Asia. At the heart of the twenty-first century’s Great Game lies China’s currency, the yuan, which may, by November 30th, join the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights reserve-currency basket. If so, this will in practice mean the total integration of the yuan, and so of Beijing, into global financial markets, as an extra basket of countries will add it to their foreign exchange holdings and subsequent currency shifts may amount to the equivalent of trillions of U.S. dollars.

Couple the One Belt, One Road project with the recently founded, China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Beijing’s Silk Road Infrastructure Fund ($40 billion committed to it so far).  Mix in an internationalized yuan and you have the groundwork for Chinese companies to turbo-charge their way into a pan-Eurasian (and even African) building spree of roads, high-speed rail lines, fiber-optic networks, ports, pipelines, and power grids.

According to the Washington-dominated Asian Development Bank (ADB), there is, at present, a monstrous gap of $800 billion in the funding of Asian infrastructure development to 2020 and it’s yearning to be filled. Beijing is now stepping right into what promises to be a paradigm-breaking binge of economic development.

And don’t forget about the bonuses that could conceivably follow such developments. After all, in China’s stunningly ambitious plans at least, its Eurasian project will end up covering no less than 65 countries on three continents, potentially affecting 4.4 billion people.  If it succeeds even in part, it could take the gloss off al-Qaeda- and ISIS-style Wahhabi-influenced jihadism not only in China’s Xinjiang Province, but also in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Imagine it as a new kind of Eurasian war on terror whose “weapons” would be trade and development. After all, Beijing’s planners expect the country’s annual trade volume with belt-and-road partners to surpass $2.5 trillion by 2025.

At the same time, another kind of binding geography — what I’ve long called Pipelineistan, the vast network of energy pipelines crisscrossing the region, bringing its oil and natural gas supplies to China — is coming into being.  It’s already spreading across Pakistan and Myanmar, and China is planning to double down on this attempt to reinforce its escape-from-the-Straits-of-Malacca strategy. (That bottleneck is still a transit point for 75% of Chinese oil imports.) Beijing prefers a world in which most of those energy imports are not water-borne and so at the mercy of the U.S. Navy. More than 50% of China’s natural gas already comes overland from two Central Asian “stans” (Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan) and that percentage will only increase once pipelines to bring Siberian natural gas to China come online before the end of the decade.

Of course, the concept behind all this, which might be sloganized as “to go west (and south) is glorious” could induce a tectonic shift in Eurasian relations at every level, but that depends on how it comes to be viewed by the nations involved and by Washington.

Leaving economics aside for a moment, the success of the whole enterprise will require superhuman PR skills from Beijing, something not always in evidence. And there are many other problems to face (or duck): these include Beijing’s Han superiority complex, not always exactly a hit among either minority ethnic groups or neighboring states, as well as an economic push that is often seen by China’s ethnic minorities as benefiting only the Han Chinese. Mix in a rising tide of nationalist feeling, the expansion of the Chinese military (including its navy), conflict in its southern seas, and a growing security obsession in Beijing. Add to that a foreign policy minefield, which will work against maintaining a carefully calibrated respect for the sovereignty of neighbors. Throw in the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia and its urge both to form anti-Chinese alliances of “containment” and to beef up its own naval and air power in waters close to China.  And finally don’t forget red tape and bureaucracy, a Central Asian staple. All of this adds up to a formidable package of obstacles to Xi’s Chinese dream and a new Eurasia.

All Aboard the Night Train

The Silk Road revival started out as a modest idea floated in China’s Ministry of Commerce. The initial goal was nothing more than getting extra “contracts for Chinese construction companies overseas.” How far the country has traveled since then.  Starting from zero in 2003, China has ended up building no less than 16,000 kilometers of high-speed rail tracks in these years — more than the rest of the planet combined.

And that’s just the beginning. Beijing is now negotiating with 30 countries to build another 5,000 kilometers of high-speed rail at a total investment of $157 billion. Cost is, of course, king; a made-in-China high-speed network (top speed: 350 kilometers an hour) costs around $17 million to $21 million per kilometer. Comparable European costs: $25 million to $39 million per kilometer. So no wonder the Chinese are bidding for an $18 billion project linking London with northern England, and another linking Los Angeles to Las Vegas, while outbidding German companies to lay tracks in Russia.

On another front, even though it’s not directly part of China’s new Silk Road planning, don’t forget about the Iran-India-Afghanistan Agreement on Transit and International Transportation Cooperation. This India-Iran project to develop roads, railways, and ports is particularly focused on the Iranian port of Chabahar, which is to be linked by new roads and railways to the Afghan capital Kabul and then to parts of Central Asia.

Why Chabahar? Because this is India’s preferred transit corridor to Central Asia and Russia, as the Khyber Pass in the Afghan-Pakistani borderlands, the country’s traditional linking point for this, remains too volatile. Built by Iran, the transit corridor from Chabahar to Milak on the Iran-Afghanistan border is now ready. By rail, Chabahar will then be connected to the Uzbek border at Termez, which translates into Indian products reaching Central Asia and Russia.

Think of this as the Southern Silk Road, linking South Asia with Central Asia, and in the end, if all goes according to plan, West Asia with China. It is part of a wildly ambitious plan for a North-South Transport Corridor, an India-Iran-Russia joint project launched in 2002 and focused on the development of inter-Asian trade.

Of course, you won’t be surprised to know that, even here, China is deeply involved. Chinese companies have already built a high-speed rail line from the Iranian capital Tehran to Mashhad, near the Afghan border. China also financed a metro rail line from Imam Khomeini Airport to downtown Tehran. And it wants to use Chabahar as part of the so-called Iron Silk Road that is someday slated to cross Iran and extend all the way to Turkey. To top it off, China is already investing in the upgrading of Turkish ports.

Who Lost Eurasia?

For Chinese leaders, the One Belt, One Road plan — an “economic partnership map with multiple rings interconnected with one another” — is seen as an escape route from the Washington Consensus and the dollar-centered global financial system that goes with it. And while “guns” are being drawn, the “battlefield” of the future, as the Chinese see it, is essentially a global economic one.

On one side are the mega-economic pacts being touted by Washington — the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership — that would split Eurasia in two. On the other, there is the urge for a new pan-Eurasian integration program that would be focused on China, and feature Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, and India as major players. Last May, Russia and China closed a deal to coordinate the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with new Silk Road projects. As part of their developing strategic partnership, Russia is already China’s number one oil supplier.

With Ukraine’s fate still in the balance, there is, at present, little room for the sort of serious business dialogue between the European Union (EU) and the EEU that might someday fuse Europe and Russia into the Chinese vision of full-scale, continent-wide Eurasian integration. And yet German business types, in particular, remain focused on and fascinated by the limitless possibilities of the New Silk Road concept and the way it might profitably link the continent.

If you’re looking for a future first sign of détente on this score, keep an eye on any EU moves to engage economically with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  Its membership at present: China, Russia, and four “stans” (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan). India and Pakistan are to become members in 2016, and Iran once U.N. sanctions are completely lifted. A monster second step (no time soon) would be for this dialogue to become the springboard for the building of a trans-European “one-belt” zone.  That could only happen after there was a genuine settlement in Ukraine and EU sanctions on Russia had been lifted. Think of it as the long and winding road towards what Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to sell the Germans in 2010: a Eurasian free-trade zone extending from Vladivostok to Lisbon.

Any such moves will, of course, only happen over Washington’s dead body.  At the moment, inside the Beltway, sentiment ranges from gloating over the economic death of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), most of which are facing daunting economic dislocations even as their political, diplomatic, and strategic integration proceeds apace, to fear or even downright anticipation of World War III and the Russian “threat.”

No one in Washington wants to “lose” Eurasia to China and its new Silk Roads. On what former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski calls “the grand chessboard,” Beltway elites and the punditocracy that follows them will never resign themselves to seeing the U.S. relegated to the role of “offshore balancer,” while China dominates an integrating Eurasia.  Hence, those two trade pacts and that “pivot,” the heightened U.S. naval presence in Asian waters, the new urge to “contain” China, and the demonization of both Putin’s Russia and the Chinese military threat.

Thucydides, Eat Your Heart Out

Which brings us full circle to Xi’s crush on Jeremy Rifkin. Make no mistake about it: whatever Washington may want, China is indeed the rising power in Eurasia and a larger-than-life economic magnet. From London to Berlin, there are signs in the EU that, despite so many decades of trans-Atlantic allegiance, there is also something too attractive to ignore about what China has to offer. There is already a push towards the configuration of a European-wide digital economy closely linked with China. The aim would be a Rifkin-esque digitally integrated economic space spanning Eurasia, which in turn would be an essential building block for that post-carbon third industrial revolution.

The G-20 this year was in Antalya, Turkey, and it was a fractious affair dominated by Islamic State jihadism in the streets of Paris. The G-20 in 2016 will be in Hangzhou, China, which also happens to be the hometown of Jack Ma and the headquarters for Alibaba. You can’t get more third industrial revolution than that.

One year is an eternity in geopolitics. But what if, in 2016, Hangzhou did indeed offer a vision of the future, of silk roads galore and night trains from Central Asia to Duisburg, Germany, a future arguably dominated by Xi’s vision.  He is, at least, keen on enshrining the G-20 as a multipolar global mechanism for coordinating a common development framework. Within it, Washington and Beijing might sometimes actually work together in a world in which chess, not Battleship, would be the game of the century.

Thucydides, eat your heart out.

Posted in China, USAComments Off


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