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Anatomy Of NATO Attack On Pakistan

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Pakistan Observer
January 31, 2012

Review of NATO attack
Asif Haroon Raja*
Edited by RR


Apache helicopters


F-18s

It will be recalled that in order to multiply pressure on Pakistan, the western border was deliberately heated up by Pakistan’s strategic partners sitting in Kabul.

Between May and September 2011, tens of deadly raids had been conducted by Waliur Rehman- and Maulvi Faqir-led militants based in the safe haven of Kunar and by Fazlullah-led militants based in Nuristan duly backed by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), RAAM, the Afghan regime and NATO. Levies employed on border duties and villagers were cruelly killed by militants. Kabul and ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] HQ were repeatedly requested to control cross-border terrorism and to close down the sanctuaries of anti-Pakistan militants in Kunar and Nuristan provinces, but no heed was paid. Perforce, General Headquarters deployed regular troops in Mehmand [Mohmand] and Chitral and cleared the restive areas of the presence of undesirables. The 7 AK Regiment was deployed in the Mehmand Agency closer to the Afghan border. It established several border posts to keep a watch over possible infiltration routes.

Two posts, Volcano and Boulder, were set up ahead of a village in the Mohmand Agency on a barren ridgeline about 8,000 feet in height in a manner that they leaned forward on the forward slope so as to effectively cover the valley running from east to west. The two posts, each comprising about a platoon strength of 34 soldiers, were so deployed as to cover the northwestern and northeastern approaches. Weapons were sighted in a manner as to be able of bringing down an enfilade and spraying fire in the valley. One post covered the exit point of the valley in the west; the second post covered the eastern edge at the entry point. Company HQ with a platoon was in depth. The posts located on a dominating salient enjoyed excellent line of sight and arc of fire. The two posts also acted as the screen for the battalion.

The valley was frequented by TTP [Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan] militants together with Afghan National Army-trained Afghan militants based in Kunar. This route was the shortest and safest from Kunar and led straight to heart of the Mehmand Agency wherefrom the infiltrators had multiple choices to either strike within that tribal agency, or Bajaur, or Upper or Lower Dir. Deeper targets in Malakand, Buner, Swat or even Chitral and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could also be reached via Mehmand.

As a consequence of the deployment of the two posts, several attempts by militants to sneak through the valley were successfully blocked. As a result, cross-border movement had ceased from mid-October onwards. Blockage of the main passageway resulted in the assembling of large numbers of militants belonging to the TTP in Kunar who were getting desperate to enter Pakistan. The Karzai regime, NDS [National Directorate of Security] and Afghan National Army (ANA) were also boiling with anger after attacks on NDS HQ and murder of Prof Rabbani in Kabul and wanted to settle scores.

In order to seek assistance from NATO, NDS and RAW [India's Research and Analysis Wing] passed false information to the CIA that Pakistan-sponsored militants were using the Salala-Kunar route to create unrest in Kunar and other regions of Eastern Afghanistan. It was also conveyed that the two Pakistani posts at Salala were not only providing cover to the infiltrators but also preventing the movement of their fighters into Mehmand. Based on this input, a comprehensive plan was hatched in Kabul to provide covering fire to the batch of over 100 militants and ensure their safe entry. It was also planned to destroy the two posts so as to remove the irritants for good.

As a cover-up, plan, a mockup operation by the ANA was conducted in Kunar province from 25 November onwards. NATO air cover was made part of the operation. The area was well away from the Salala area and deep inside Afghan territory and the Pakistan Army was informed about it in advance. Just before dawn on the night of 25/26th, when all the soldiers were fast asleep except for the sentries on duty, two Apache helicopters suddenly crossed the border and started firing at the two posts indiscriminately. The helicopters remained at a safe distance for fear of being hit by an ack-ack gun or a surface-to-air missile. The helicopters were backed by four other combat helicopters and close air support was provided by F-18s. No sooner had fire came on the posts than a field officer commanding the two posts instantly contacted the ISAF and informed it that Pakistani posts were being attacked and that the fire must cease. But firing continued for one hour.

During this period, the bulk of the infiltrating force along with donkeys laden with ammunition and explosives moved past the valley. By that time, urgent messages had been sent by GHQ on a hotline and the helicopters turned back. When the helicopters went away and the dust settled down, the defenders detected movement in the valley. The stragglers had still not gone past the valley and as such were brought under coordinated fire. On receipt of a distress signal from the militants, the helicopters returned and plastered the two posts with ATGMs [anti-tank guided missiles] with a vengeance for the next thirty minutes. 24 soldiers including one major and one subaltern died and 16 soldiers received serious injuries.

In order to obfuscate the facts NATO has taken urged a plea as an afterthought that the helicopters responded to hostile fire coming from the posts. There was no reason for the defenders to open fire at the helicopters without any provocation. If one agrees with NATO’s preposterous contention for argument sake, the fast-moving and highly maneuverable helicopters with anti-armor and anti-aircraft protection could have easily moved away out of range of the weapons deployed on the ground.

If it was unintentional, as claimed by NATO leadership, why couldn’t the helicopters equipped with night-fighting capability see a Pakistani flag fluttering on top of a post and soldiers dressed in uniforms, particularly when each flying helicopter/jet/cargo plane carries marked maps showing the border and border posts? If the helicopters came in response to the call made by the ANA, how come the attackers attacked the static posts atop a ridgeline? In these ten years NATO should have learnt that Taliban never take up static defences and that too on hilltops. They prefer caves and valleys. If the helicopters made a mistake once, why was the mistake repeated? If the map reference of Salala posts was marked wrongly by the Border Coordination Centre, or passed on wrongly by a NATO liaison officer, why did the massacre continue for ninety minutes after NATO HQ was frantically informed on a hotline at multiple levels including GHQ to get the fire stopped forthwith?

Since the real purpose was to give covering fire to the infiltrators, heads of the troops manning the posts were pinned down to facilitate the unobserved and unhindered movement of infiltrators carrying their extra baggage on donkeys. It would be a sheer underestimation of NATO power to take nearly two hours to destroy posts made of cement blocks and strengthened by sandbags. It was a willful massacre and it didn’t end on 26 November. The terrorists that managed to sneak in on that night are now busy carrying out terrorist attacks in Kyhber Pakhtunkwa, Khyber Agency and other nearby areas.

The inquest carried out by ISAF’s Brig Stephen Clark apportions equal blame on both sides and wrongfully maintains that the fire was in self-defence. The US accepts several omissions made by the attackers but terms all of them coincidental and affixes partial responsibility on Pakistan. It is inconceivable that the ISAF, with the best technology, was unaware of the existence of two posts. US officials consistently stated that the attack was unintentional before and during the course of inquiry, thereby influencing the investigating team. The US wants the Pakistan Army to accept this factually incorrect report based on half-truths. Mercifully, the Army and the government are on one page. Not only has the report has been rejected, the government has taken bold and appropriate steps to checkmate America’s bellicosity and aggressive unilateralism.

*The writer is a retired Brig [brigadier commander] and a defence analyst.

Categories: Uncategorized

Obama-Saakashvili Meeting: Iran War Base In Return For Presidential Election Support

January 31, 2012 1 comment

Voice of Russia
January 31, 2012

Georgian-American homage
Natalya Kovalenko

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[A] reason to befriend Tbilisi is a possible military aggression against Iran. In this case, the US could use Georgian territory for the deployment of US aircraft. The US would not even have to ask Georgia, as experience shows that Georgia is a voluntary participant in all US military operations.

If Saakashvili’s candidature is approved in Washington he as good as having the presidential post in his pocket already.

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Talks between the US and Georgian presidents have taken place in Washington. Mikhail Saakashvili did not manage to enumerate definite agreements they reached but called the meeting productive. Experts believe that the presidents talked about a possible attack against Iran and US support for Saakashvili in the presidential election in Georgia in 2013.

Announcer: The Georgian leader had advertised his first official visit to Washington long before the meeting with Obama. He said that American-Georgian relations were achieving a real breakthrough in the fields of security, defence, trade, tourism, energy supplies, science, education, culture, etc. However, his expectations must have been overrated.

The meeting was only a ceremonial event, at least that part of it where journalists were allowed. The presidents exchanged stock phrases about their adherence to the development of relations in the fields of security and strategic partnership. Following the meeting, Obama called Georgia a responsible player in the world arena, promised further US support for Georgia in its bida to join NATO and declared further consolidation of trade relations between the two countries, including a possible free trade agreement.

Speaking frankly, it was hardly worthwhile crossing the Atlantic to hear these generalities but Saakashvili is in no position to decline an invitation from Washington.

President of the Politika Foundation Vyacheslav Nikonov says:

“Georgia is a country that the US has been granting great support to in recent years. If we look at the figures, Georgia always either came second after Israel or third after Israel and Egypt, according to the amount of money invested in its support by the US. Georgia constantly receives US military assistance and American instructors train the Georgian army.”

On the other hand, relations between the US and Georgia cooled down in the last couple of years. Washington could not have failed to notice Tbilisi’s outrageous violation of human rights and freedoms. However, to stop Saakashvili from impeding Russia’s joining the WTO, Washington had to compromise. For this reason, Obama declared that the US appreciated the model of democracy and transparency that Georgia had set up in its region.

Another reason to befriend Tbilisi is a possible military aggression against Iran. In this case, the US could use Georgian territory for the deployment of US aircraft. The US would not even have to ask Georgia, as experience shows that Georgia is a voluntary participant in all US military operations.

Political scientist, St. Petersburg University Professor Valery Ostrovsky says:

“If we take the Afghan war, Georgia takes first place among coalition countries in the number of servicemen sent there as against the percentage of its population. Georgians have died in Afghanistan and Iraq and this policy seems to persist.”

On his part, Saakashvili needs support from abroad ahead of the 2013 presidential campaign. He can very well manage the domestic opposition but his position is too shaky to withstand reproaches for violating democratic values on the part of overseas human rights protectors. If Saakashvili’s candidature is approved in Washington he as good as having the presidential post in his pocket already.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. War Against Iran: More Combat Fatalities Without Growth In Strength

January 31, 2012 3 comments

Voice of Russia
January 31, 2012

US keeps up sabre-rattling show for Iran
Andrei Ptashnikov

News from Washington proves that the US is serious about its plan to carry out a military operation against Iran.

Announcer: Washington has repeatedly threatened Iran on the highest level. US Defense Minister Leon Panetta has also publicly declared that such a development was quite realistic. In his interview for the CBS TV company he said:

“The United States – and the president’s made this clear – does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us, and it’s a red line obviously for the Israelis, so we share a common goal here. If we have to do it we will deal with it. If they proceed and we get intelligence that they are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon then we will take whatever steps necessary to stop it.“

Panetta almost literally repeated US President Barack Obama’s message on the situation in the country which he sent to Congress several days ago.

Obama also declared that America would not stop at anything to prevent Iran from creating nuclear weapons. Given all these belligerent declarations, one gets the impression that a military solution to the Iran problem seems most likely to Washington. Israel, a loyal US ally, holds the same view. It seems that even Tehran’s readiness to resume talks on its nuclear programme with six international intermediaries is not taken into consideration any more. Tough economic sanctions are being introduced against Iran and more and more US combat ships are patrolling the Persian Gulf.

One would like to hope that all these are only methods of political and economic pressure on Iran and no military actions will follow. But what if they do follow, like in Iraq and Afghanistan?

At that time we also doubted that America would venture on an armed invasion, but it did venture on an invasion, though without any special accomplishments. The same scenario may be repeated this year, especially ahead of the forthcoming presidential election in the US.

It is common knowledge that a short victorious war usually raises the country’s leader’s popularity to the skies. The current US president needs this badly as his rating is rather low at present. However, a war against Iran is unlikely to be short and victorious. Iran is a much stronger enemy than Iraq or Afghanistan, where the wars have already lasted for 10 years. Incidentally, the US invaded Iraq on the same charges it is using against Iran now. No nuclear weapons have been discovered in Iraq, so Washington has to think again.

Leon Panetta gave a touching detail in his TV interview.

“The toughest thing in this job, frankly, is writing the condolence letters to the parents of those young men and women who are killed in action. But I also say to them, ‘Your son or daughter is really a true hero and patriot, because they were willing to give their life for their country. And that means that they’ll never be forgotten.’ And I hope that’s some measure of comfort for them – because, in the end, the only comfort I have is to know that these kids, when they put their lives on the line, are helping America be strong for the future.”

We can only say one thing definitely in this respect. America will not grow stronger in the war against Iran and the head of the Pentagon will have to sign many more mournful letters.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: January 31 II

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

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Obama Praises Georgia As Model Democracy, NATO Partner

White House Meeting: U.S. Supports Georgia’s NATO Membership

NATO, U.S. Experts To Visit Azerbaijan

U.S. Military Delegation To Hold Talks In Kyrgyzstan

Afghan War: NATO Loses 34 Soldiers This Month

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Obama Praises Georgia As Model Democracy, NATO Partner

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24399

Civil Georgia
January 31, 2012

Obama Meets Saakashvili

‘Georgia should be extraordinarily proud of the progress it made’;
‘Anticipating fair and free elections’;
‘Formal transfer of power will solidify reforms’;
Exploring ‘the possibility of a free trade agreement’ with Georgia;
‘Georgia sets model of democracy for the region as a whole’;
‘Georgia responsible player on the world scene’;

Tbilisi: U.S. President, Barack Obama, told his Georgian counterpart in Washington on January 30 that Georgia was setting a model of democracy for the region and was now “anticipating fair and free elections,” and President Saakashvili said he was leaving the Oval Office “very happy because we basically got what we wanted to get.”

The U.S. President praised Georgia for “progress that is made in building a sovereign and democratic country”, saying that Georgia should be “extraordinarily proud” of that; he also commended personally Saakashvili, saying that “under the President’s leadership” Georgia “made enormous strides.”

“And one of the first things that I did was express my appreciation for the institution-building that’s been taking place in Russia – in Georgia [he immediately corrected himself]; the importance of making sure that minorities are respected; the importance of a police and system of rule of law that is being observed,” the U.S. President said.

“So I want to express my appreciation for the work that’s been done in the past, but also anticipating fair and free elections; the formal transfer of power that will be taking place in Georgia, which I think will solidify many of these reforms that have already taken place,” President Obama said after talks with President Saakashvili – the first official meeting between the two at the White House.

On elections President Saakashvili said in his remarks after the meeting, that this year’s parliamentary elections “will mark bringing in another political system, constitution system with more parliamentary government.”

Saakashvili then added: “As you [referring to President Obama] rightly mentioned next year new President will be elected in Georgia. And that’s also important because [we] will move our democracy forward and will generally get much more to a diversified and pluralistic political scene.”

The U.S. President said that he had discussed with his Georgian counterpart how to further strengthen “already a very strong bilateral relationship”, including in economy and added that possibility of free trade agreement with Georgia would be explored.

“Georgia has made strides in creating an effective free market system and more progress needs to be made. The United States wants to help in that progress,” he said.

“What we’ve agreed to is a high-level dialogue between our two countries about how we can continue to strengthen trade relations between our two countries, including the possibility of a free trade agreement. Obviously, there’s a lot of work to be done and there are going to be a lot of options that are going to be explored,” he said.

President Saakashvili thanked his U.S. counterpart for mentioning “the prospect of a free trade agreement”, saying that it would help “to attract lots of additional activity to my country, and basically helping our nation-building process.”

On defense and security, President Obama said that he thanked the Georgian leader for his country’s “extraordinary contributions” to the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan, describing Georgia as “one of the most dedicated contributors outside of NATO to the ISAF effort.”

“We have talked about how we will continue to strengthen our defense cooperation, and there are a wide range of areas where we are working together. And I reaffirmed to the President and assured him that the United States will continue to support Georgia’s aspirations to ultimately become a member of NATO,” Obama said.

President Saakashvili thanked the Obama administration for, what he called, “elevating our defense cooperation further” and also expressed gratitude to President Obama for “talking about Georgia’s self-defense capabilities and developing it.”

“That’s also of course an important message back to my nation,” Saakashvili said.

President Obama also said that the U.S. appreciated “the model of democracy and transparency” that Georgia was setting not just for itself, but also “for the region as a whole.”

“And we think that with continued progress over the next several years that a lot of countries will say to themselves that if Georgia can perform these transformations, then we can as well. They’ve been a responsible player on the world scene and in multilateral for a,” the U.S. President said.

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White House Meeting: U.S. Supports Georgia’s NATO Membership

http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c32/330407.html

Itar-Tass
January 31, 2012

US and Georgia are to deepen their cooperation

TBILISI: Deeper  cooperation between Georgia and the United States will be aimed at upgrading the country’s defences and ensuring compatibility of the Georgian armed forces with NATO, Georgian Deputy Prime Minister, minister of state for re-integration Eka Tkeshelashvili told Georgian journalists in Washington.

Commenting on a meeting of the Georgian and American presidents in the White House on January 30, Ms. Tkeshelashvili said: “Problems of Georgian-American cooperation in the sphere of security were discussed in detail at the meeting. The presidents discussed concrete aspects of the current situation with bilateral cooperation in the sphere of security, as well future prospects in that direction. It was pointed out that cooperation will be deepened with the aim of ensuring compatibility of the Georgian armed forces and NATO as well as upgrading the country’s defence potential.”

According to her information, President Barack Obama said at the meeting that the United States supported Georgia’s intention to join NATO.

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NATO, U.S. Experts To Visit Azerbaijan

http://en.trend.az/news/politics/1986197.html

Trend News Agency
January 31, 2012

NATO, U.S. experts to visit Azerbaijan
K. Zarbaliyeva

Baku: NATO and the U.S. experts are scheduled to visit Baku on Feb.14.

During the visit a review will be made on NATO assistance in reforming the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, including in military training, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry told Trend on Tuesday.

The cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO was laid in 1994, signing a framework document – Partnership for Peace.

In April 1996, an official document was signed within the Partnership for Peace Program, which identifies specific areas of cooperation between countries and the alliance. Currently, in accordance with this program, Azerbaijan implements about 50 partnership tasks.

On Aug. 3, 2005, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on approval of an Individual Partnership Action Plan between Azerbaijan and NATO.”

Now cooperation is carried out in the second phase of the plan.

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U.S. Military Delegation To Hold Talks In Kyrgyzstan

http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?pg=6&id=305565

Interfax
January 31, 2012

U.S. military delegation to visit Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK: A delegation from the U.S. Central Command is expected to arrive in Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday to formulate joint plans for 2012, a Kyrgyz Defense Ministry source said.

“A delegation from the Unites States Central Command is coming to our country to work out joint plans for 2012,” he told Interfax on Tuesday.

“The composition [of the delegation] and all of the topics on the talks’ agenda will be announced on the same day [Wednesday],” the source said.

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Afghan War: NATO Loses 34 Soldiers This Month

http://channel6newsonline.com/2012/01/insurgents-kill-nato-soldier-in-southern-afghanistan-5/

BNO News
January 31, 2012

Insurgents kill NATO soldier in southern Afghanistan

KABUL: A coalition service member died in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday after he was attacked by insurgents, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said. His nationality was not immediately known.

ISAF said one of its service members was killed as a result of an insurgent attack in Afghanistan’s south. But because the multinational force defers the release of specific details to national authorities, other details about the incident were not immediately available.

The nationality of the service member was also not immediately disclosed by ISAF. “It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities,” a brief statement said.

Tuesday’s death raises the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year to 34, according to official figures. The deadliest incident so far this year happened on January 19 when a NATO helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan, killing six U.S. Marines.

A total of 566 ISAF troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2011, down from 711 in 2010. A majority of the fallen troops were American and were killed in the country’s south, which is plagued by IED attacks on troops and civilians.

There are currently more than 130,000 ISAF troops in Afghanistan, including some 90,000 U.S. troops and more than 9,500 British soldiers…

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Categories: Uncategorized

White House Recruits South Caucasus Allies For Attack On Iran

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Times.am (Armenia)
January 30, 2012

US held discussions with Azerbaijan about its relations with Iran: Is the USA looking for a platform?
Edited by RR

U.S. charge d’affaires to Azerbaijan Adam Sterling announced that the U.S. understands Azerbaijan’s special position on Iran due to the geographical location, he said while commenting on the sanctions imposed on Iran.

According to Azeri Press Agency, the diplomat said Iran-related issues are always discussed in bilateral meetings.

“We constantly discuss it during the talks with Azerbaijan,” he said.

Today Russian Kommersant wrote that the Georgian and U.S. presidents will discuss the possibility of the use of Georgian territory for attacking Iran. The source referred to experts who confirmed that events related to Iran will be the main theme of the Georgian and American presidents. Some of them also noted that Georgia will be unable to refuse the the U.S. offer even it wants to refuse it.

This information makes us think that maybe the U.S. plans an attack against Iran and is looking for a platform in the region. Armenia is considered to be Iranian ally and it is not seriously expected to provide any assistance against Iran. Georgia is more reliable for the U.S. and negotiations with the Azerbaijani side on Iranian-Azerbaijani relations are held, as we know from the quote by the American official.

At the same time the Islamic Republic News Agency reports that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi advised European and U.S. officials to interact with Iran instead of resorting to sanctions and pressures.

Salehi made the remark here on Monday while talking to the Turkish TRT television news channel.

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Azeri Press Agency
January 30, 2012

US charge d’affaires: We understand Azerbaijan’s special position on Iran
Viktoria Dementyeva

Baku: “We understand Azerbaijan’s special position on Iran due to the geographical location,” U.S. charge d’affaires to Azerbaijan Adam Sterling said while commenting on the sanctions imposed on Iran, APA reports.

The diplomat said the Iran issue is always discussed in bilateral meetings.

“We constantly discuss it during the talks with Azerbaijan,” he said.

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Civil Georgia
January 31, 2012

Saakashvili: ‘Results from Talks with Obama Exceeded Our Expectations’

Tbilisi: President Saakashvili said “concrete results” of his meeting with President Obama “exceeded our expectations.”

“I am very impressed and satisfied by the results of this meeting,” he said in remarks made separately for Georgian journalists after leaving the White House, following his talks with the U.S. President on January 30.

He said it was the most fruitful talks he had ever had in the Oval Office. Saakashvili met twice with President Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, at the White House – first in July, 2006 and then in March 2008.

In his remarks outside the White House, Saakashvili emphasized what he called “elevating” defense cooperation with the U.S. “on a new level”.

“We are talking about elevating cooperation in the defense sphere to a new level; if in previous years we were talking only about anti-terrorism operations and our participation in peacekeeping operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, now we are talking about cooperating with the United States on developing Georgia’s self-defense capabilities. We will continue working on these issues; very concrete meetings have been planned and this is a new, higher level of our cooperation on the military and security issues,” Saakashvili said.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: January 31, 2012

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

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NATO, GCC Push Cooperation In Arab World, Persian Gulf

Azerbaijan: Valuable NATO Partner On Iranian Border

Commander Of NATO, U.S. Troops In Afghanistan Visits Georgia

Obama-Saakashvili Talks To Elevate Bilateral Ties To New Level

NATO Grooms Montenegro For Full Membership

General Dynamics Wins Contract For NATO Interceptor Missiles

Army Grants Lockheed $921 Million For Patriot Advanced Capability-3s

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NATO, GCC Push Cooperation In Arab World, Persian Gulf

http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2218303&language=en

Kuwait News Agency
January 30, 2012

NATO, GCC discuss Mideast security

BRUSSELS: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Dr Adbullatif Al-Zayani, met here Monday afternoon to discuss a range of issues including developments in the Middle East, the importance of cooperative security and of regular contacts between NATO and the GCC.

During the meeting, Rasmussen praised the strong cooperation between NATO and six GCC member states under the framework of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), according to a NATO press release.

He highlighted the active and positive role played by the GCC in the recent crisis in Libya. NATO and Partners, including GCC members, enforced the historic resolution of the United Nations Security Council on Libya…

Looking ahead, the NATO Secretary General noted that the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago will provide an opportunity for NATO to underline its interest in stability and security in the Middle East East and North Africa and to enhance political relations and practical cooperation with countries in the region.

The GCC chief arrived in Brussels on Sunday for a three-day visit for talks with EU and NATO officials.

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Azerbaijan: Valuable NATO Partner On Iranian Border

http://en.trend.az/regions/scaucasus/azerbaijan/1985735.html

Trend News Agency
January 30, 2012

Romanian ambassador: Azerbaijan – valuable partner of NATO
S. Agayeva

Baku: Azerbaijan is a valuable partner of NATO, and these relations are developing within the “Partnership for Peace (PfP)” Programme, Romanian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Daniel Cristian Ciobanu said at the opening of the NATO School in Azerbaijan on Monday.

“NATO appreciates Azerbaijan’s peacekeeping efforts, including in Afghanistan,” Ciobanu said. He said about 30 events aimed at developing relations of the Alliance with Azerbaijan are planned in 2012 as part of NATO-Azerbaijan cooperation.

The winter session of the International School NATO-Azerbaijan opened in Baku is attended by about 50 participants from 20 countries, members and partners of NATO.

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Commander Of NATO, U.S. Troops In Afghanistan Visits Georgia

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24395

Civil Georgia
January 30, 2012

Commander of NATO-led Forces in Afghanistan Visits Tbilisi

Tbilisi: General John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, visits Tbilisi to discuss Georgia’s “continuing contributions to peace and stability in Afghanistan,” the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi said on Monday.

Gen. John R. Allen will hold a series of meeting with senior Georgian government and military officials on January 30.

He will also visit and address Georgia’s 23rd infantry battalion at the Krtsanisi Training Center outside Tbilisi. The battalion is currently undergoing training to prepare for deployment in Afghanistan.

Georgia plans to send this year one additional infantry battalion to Afghanistan on top of 936 Georgian soldiers who already serve as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

As a result, after sending one more battalion – that is 749 soldiers – Georgia will become the largest non-NATO contributor to ASAF with total of 1,685 troops.

Georgia has lost twelve of its soliders since joining NATO-led operation in Afghanistan in November, 2009. The Georgian troops in Afghanistan operate without caveats.

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Obama-Saakashvili Talks To Elevate Bilateral Ties To New Level

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24393

Civil Georgia
January 30, 2012

Georgian Ambassador: Obama-Saakashvili Talks ‘to Elevate Ties to New Level’

-Saakashvili is expected to speak at the launch of World Bank study entitled Fighting Corruption in Public Services – Chronicling Georgia’s Reforms. On Wednesday, he will talk about Post-Revolutionary Societies and What Comes After the Arab Spring at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Tbilisi: A meeting between the U.S. and Georgian presidents at the White House on January 30 will “elevate our relations between the two countries to a new level,” Georgia’s ambassador to the United States, Temur Yakobashvili, said on Sunday.

“This is very important for our country, especially against the background of the political reality in which we are now, I mean developments taking place around us,” he told the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s weekly program, Accents, on January 29.

He said “there are lots of issues” on the agenda, which would be raised during the meeting between the two presidents, mainly involving four areas – political, economic, security and democracy.

“I want to assure you that the U.S-Georgia relations, including in security issues, will be elevated to the new level,” he said.

“Security issues involve not only sale of arms – that’s one of the components and I think that we will have progress in this direction too; but there are other components as well, which are more important than the issue of sale or purchase of arms, and these issues are about guarantees of our security, including such political issues like integration into NATO, bilateral military relations, which of course is not limited only with sale of arms, there is a whole set of other issues,” the Georgian ambassador said.

He said that the U.S. “is a staunch supporter of Georgia”, including to its NATO aspiration, adding that this support now was “exactly the same” as it was during the Bush administration.

On democracy, Yakobashvili said: “What we hear from our American partners is that they are very seriously satisfied with the transformation that is taking place in Georgia.”

Apart from the meeting with the U.S. president, during his visit Mikheil Saakashvili is also scheduled to meet dozens of leading Democratic and Republican members of Congress, as well as media and other opinion leaders in Washington, according to the Georgian government’s English-language weekly online newsletter.

On Tuesday, Saakashvili is expected to speak at the launch of World Bank study entitled Fighting Corruption in Public Services – Chronicling Georgia’s Reforms. On Wednesday, he will talk about Post-Revolutionary Societies and What Comes After the Arab Spring at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

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NATO Grooms Montenegro For Full Membership

http://www.defpro.com/news/details/31740/?SID=eba1b537bf0e3cbad4e4ed11f54b8a1f

Defence Professionals
January 28, 2012

Montenegro and NATO Hold Talks on Development of Third Package of Partnership
Goals 2012Â

The Minister of Defense of Montenegro, Boro Vucinic, met Jan. 26 with head of the Force Planning Directorate in the NATO’s Department of Defense Policy and Planning, Mr. Frank Boland.

On 25th-26th of January Podgorica [Montenegrin capital] hosted bilateral talks between Montenegro and NATO on the development of the third package of the Partnership Goals 2012. The head of the Force Planning Directorate in the NATO’s Department of Defense Policy and Planning, Mr. Frank Boland, was at the head of the NATO delegation, while the Montenegrin delegation was led by PhD Ivan Masulovic, Deputy Minister for Defense policy, the Ministry of Defense of Montenegro.

The discussion also covered reforms in Montenegro’s defense system in the framework of the mechanisms of the Partnership for Peace and the Individual Membership Action Plan.

Mr. Boland commented on the significant contribution of Montenegro to peace support operations [that is, deployment of troops to Afghanistan] and the results achieved so far in the reform of the defense and security system. He expressed his confidence that Montenegro will successfully fulfill all the tasks on the path towards NATO membership.

Through the work on Partnership Goals, Montenegro continues to develop the necessary capabilities in the direction of strengthening national security and preparations to assume obligations within the framework of full membership in NATO…

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General Dynamics Wins Contract For NATO Interceptor Missiles

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/general-dynamics-awarded-contract-by-aerojet-for-standard-missile-3-control-actuators-2012-01-30

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems
January 30, 2012

General Dynamics Awarded Contract by Aerojet for Standard Missile-3 Control Actuators

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems has received a contract for the design and production of electromagnetic control actuators for Aerojet’s Throttleable Divert and Attitude Control System (TDACS) in support of the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile interceptor. General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems is a business unit of General Dynamics.

The SM-3 Block IIA missile is the latest element of the Missile Defense Agency’s Phased Adaptive Approach to regional missile defense. It is a ship-based missile, carried aboard Aegis-equipped ships, with expanded range and capability over previous Block IA and Block IB missiles.

General Dynamics will design and produce actuators for the SM-3 Block IIA that provide pintle movement for control of the SM-3’s kinetic warhead’s TDACS…The company will leverage the design and manufacturing processes successfully developed under the Standard Missile Block IB program in developing and producing the new actuators.

“Our ultra-high-bandwidth and high-power-density actuators have proven to be key performance enablers for the Block IB and IIA advanced variants of the SM-3 missile, and we look forward to continuing our support on this vital program,” said Rich Schroeder, general manager of General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems’ Healdsburg Operations.

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Army Grants Lockheed $921 Million For Patriot Advanced Capability-3s

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/lockheed-martin-receives-921-million-contract-for-production-of-combat-proven-pac-3-missiles-2012-01-30

Lockheed Martin
January 30, 2012

Lockheed Martin Receives $921 Million Contract for Production of Combat-Proven PAC-3 Missiles

DALLAS: Lockheed Martin received contracts totaling $921 million from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command for hardware and services associated with the combat-proven Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment program.

The contract includes Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) missile and command launch system production for the U.S. Army and a follow-on sale of the PAC-3 Missile Segment to Taiwan. In 2009, Taiwan became the fifth international customer for the PAC-3 Missile Segment.

The contract includes production of hit-to-kill PAC-3 Missiles, launcher modification kits, spares and other equipment, as well as program management and services. Production of all equipment will take place at Lockheed Martin manufacturing facilities in Dallas and Lufkin, Texas; Chelmsford, Mass.; and Ocala, Fla., as well as the PAC-3 All-Up Round facility in Camden, Ark. Deliveries will begin in the first half of 2013.

“Demand remains strong from the U.S. and our global partners for the combat-proven PAC-3 Missile,” said Mike Trotsky, vice president of air & missile defense programs at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control business…

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the PAC-3 Missile Segment upgrade to the Patriot air defense system. The PAC-3 Missile Segment upgrade consists of the PAC-3 Missile, a highly agile hit-to-kill interceptor, the PAC-3 Missile canisters (each of which hold four PAC-3 Missiles, with four canisters per launcher), a fire solution computer and an enhanced launcher electronics system and launcher support hardware.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Romain Rolland: Message to America on the will to conquer the world

January 31, 2012 3 comments

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Romain Rolland: Selections on war

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Romain Rolland
From Message to America (1926)
Translated by K.S. Shelvankar

The Anglo-Saxon temperament of America is proud and strong, whole-hearted in its likes and its ideas, with assurance and obstinacy. It has a singular inaptitude – which strikes all of us, Europeans – to understand the mentality of other races, to enter into their psychology (and their physiology), to “size up” their spirit, their passions, their peculiar needs. It tends to believe that what is true for itself, that whatever is the Good for her, should be so for all other nations in the world. And if the latter do not judge of the matter the same way, it is they who are mistaken, and America has the right to impose it on them, in its own interests and in the interests of the world. Such a conception leads to the will to conquer the world, under cover of a narrow moralism, wedded (without its knowledge) to natural instincts of greed and domination.

Nothing is more formidable. The more the United States are called upon to act in the world, the more it is their duty to understand the true nature, the true needs, the true ideas of the other peoples of the world; for the duty of the strong is to aid the less strong realise itself and not oppress it, by compelling it to be false to its spirit. It would be a disaster for all humanity if one race, one nation, one State, however lofty it may be, were to impose the rigid and monotonous uniformity of its own personality upon the splendid variety of the universe. I add that disaster would recoil on the people who exercise this blind oppression: for the irresistible forces of oppressed nature would take their revenge upon them.

It is then essential that at this hour of history there should be – not outside of America (as advisers they would be suspect there), but in the heart of the United States itself – clear-sighted and courageous citizens who would be as beacons to their people, who would compel them to know themselves, their greatnesses and their weaknesses, their virtues and their defects, and to know the different individualities, the complementary qualities of other races.         

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A War By Other Means In The Middle East

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Arab News
January 30, 2012

A war by other means in Mideast
Aijz Z Syed

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The assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, deputy director of the Natanz nuclear plant, this month is the fourth such killing of top Iranian nuclear scientists over the past year and half.

This is not just an act of terror, as Tehran chose to describe it, but a declaration of war. It would have provoked a third World War if the US and the now deceased Soviet Union had attempted something similar against each other’s scientists. No other country for that matter would tolerate such attacks on its citizens and national interests.

The less said of the United Nations the better…The world body created to protect peace and resolve conflicts hasn’t just failed in its raison de’tre — its purpose of existence — it has become a willing tool in the hands of the world powers. The UN has increasingly been acting as handmaiden of the empire, with its institutions like the IAEA offering the fig leaf of legitimacy and at times even aiding in its quest for global hegemony.

Abdicating its collective responsibility, the world community stands and stares once again as the coalition of the ever willing cooks up yet another unjust war against another oil-rich Middle East nation.

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USS Carl Vinson

Here’s a brief history lesson. At the height of World War II when Hitler’s Germany was swallowing one mighty European nation after another without so much as a hiccup, Britain got so desperate for the US help that it resorted to all sorts of tricks to get the Atlantic cousins involved.

That old warhorse Churchill is said to have actually dispatched William Stephenson, Britain’s master spy and the man who inspired Ian Fleming’s James Bond, to the US to try everything from bribing and blackmailing the US senators to creating false-flag situations to force the US into the war against Germany. An unwilling America under a reluctant Roosevelt eventually joined the Great War after Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

As this psychological, diplomatic and economic war on Iran heats up, history appears to repeat itself all over again. Israel and its friends in the US establishment appear more desperate than the British had ever been to get Uncle Sam into the breathlessly awaited war with Iran. Desperate nations are as dangerous as desperate, suicidal men. From the Mossad men posing as CIA agents to recruit saboteurs to assassinating top Iranian nuclear scientists that could be blamed on the “Great Satan”, Israel has already taken this campaign against the Islamic republic to dangerous levels. Right now tensions between Iran and the West are so thick that even a minor skirmish or misunderstanding could spark a full-blown conflagration. The assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, deputy director of the Natanz nuclear plant, this month is the fourth such killing of top Iranian nuclear scientists over the past year and half.

This is not just an act of terror, as Tehran chose to describe it, but a declaration of war. It would have provoked a third World War if the US and the now deceased Soviet Union had attempted something similar against each other’s scientists. No other country for that matter would tolerate such attacks on its citizens and national interests.

Fortunately or unfortunately, a much sanctioned and politically and economically besieged Iran is perhaps in no position to respond to these flagrant provocations. Israel and the West may not have declared it formally but the war on Iran has already begun — on several fronts. Its economy, already vulnerable thanks to the decades of crippling curbs, has further been brutalized by the latest UN-US sanctions targeting its Central Bank and the crucial oil trade. The European Union, one of Tehran’s biggest trading partners and oil importers, has followed suit by banning Iran’s oil exports and freezing its financial assets. Goes without saying these actions are going to really hurt Iran considering some 80 percent of its foreign revenue comes from oil exports. With its economy on the brink and sanctions turning the rial into a worthless paper, inflation has hit the roof biting ordinary people.

On the political and diplomatic front too, Iran finds itself at the receiving end as it helplessly awaits the approaching D-day. Just as a much sanctioned Iraq did in the run-up to the 2003 invasion. Not a single day passes without the Israeli, American and European politicians and security experts pitching for urgent “action” against Iran.

Meanwhile, Washington and Tel Aviv are playing out the good cop-bad cop routine. The Americans raise the specter of a unilateral Israeli attack even as the Zionists raise the bang-Iran rhetoric to a feverish pitch keeping the whole world dancing on the razor’s edge. What is most disturbing though is not the perfidy of Israel or the hypocrisy of its protectors but the deafening silence of the international community. The less said of the United Nations the better. It increasingly reminds me of what Matthew Arnold said about Shelley — “an ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain.” The world body created to protect peace and resolve conflicts hasn’t just failed in its raison de’tre — its purpose of existence — it has become a willing tool in the hands of the world powers. The UN has increasingly been acting as handmaiden of the empire, with its institutions like the IAEA offering the fig leaf of legitimacy and at times even aiding in its quest for global hegemony. But then what’s new? It’s a familiar and much repeated history.

What is most disturbing though is the shameful capitulation of the rest of the world in the face of this continuing tyranny and obfuscation. Abdicating its collective responsibility, the world community stands and stares once again as the coalition of the ever willing cooks up yet another unjust war against another oil-rich Middle East nation.

That said, Iran’s leaders aren’t exactly doing their people any service by forever obsessing over nuclear power at the expense of everything else. What is Iran itself doing to end its pariah status? How about building bridges with its Arab neighbors and addressing their apprehensions that are as much a result of Western propaganda as they are of its own rhetoric? Right now, Tehran needs all the friends and allies it could get. Meanwhile the world community must do everything to prevent a war with unimaginably catastrophic consequences for the Middle East and the world.

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U.S. Soldiers’ Egregious Conduct Belies Global Human Rights Position

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Frontier Post
January 30, 2012

US soldiers’ egregious conduct
By Mohammad Jamil

It has become a habit of some national and international media persons, a few HRs [human rights] activists and so-called civil society members to criticize and malign Pak Army/ISI for any incident related to human rights.

On the contrary, they keep mum over the excesses of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere. In a video clip on http://www.youtube.com, US soldiers are shown desecrating the dead bodies of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan by urinating on them, which is the worst example of gross misconduct and human rights violation.

But this is not the first incident of US soldiers’ egregious behavior. On 13th May 2006 msnbc.com stated that U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems were sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors had been aware of signs of mental illness.

In Afghanistan, wedding parties were bombed not less than five times since 2002. Quoting an Afghan defence spokesman, CNN stated on 1st July 2002 that at least 20 people were killed and more than 60 injured in Afghanistan when a U.S. plane dropped a bomb on a wedding party as celebrants fired into the air.

On 5th November 2008, The Telegraph carried a report that Afghan officials confirmed there had been many casualties in an attack in the southern province of Kandahar. Villagers in Wech Baghtu said 37 people had died, including 23 children and 10 women, after planes flattened houses shortly after US troops had fought Taliban insurgents.

America has been engaged in wars since 1950s – from the Korean War to the Vietnam War to Iraq and the Afghanistan War. American soldiers have been perpetrating excesses on people in the occupied territories.

On 28th October 2009, a 26-year-old Fort Carson soldier was supposed to return to Afghanistan, but he intentionally shot himself in the shoulder to avoid deployment. On 5th November 2009, a 39-year-old US Army psychiatrist, who had faced repeated harassment for his ethnicity and faith from his fellow soldiers, shot dead 13 people at the Soldier Readiness Center military base in Fort Hood, Texas.

He was opposed to the war and upset about his impending deployment to Afghanistan. This tragedy once again showed how the very individuals that are trained to help victims of PTSD are themselves losing their own mental balance.

After achieving independence, the American founding fathers earned laurels for being pioneers of democracy, democratic traditions, freedom and human values, but barring a few honourable exceptions their successors have not had a commendable track record; their actions were contrary to the principles they ‘cherished’.

In the past, the US resorted to unilateral use of force ostensibly to promote democracy in Haiti, Nicaragua and elsewhere in Latin America. It had intervened forcibly to change regimes, restore order and preach democracy elsewhere. There is a long list of excesses by the American armed forces, and this is one of the reasons that today the US is hated in most countries of the world.

Though the US administration conveyed an impression that interrogation abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib were merely the work of a few rogue elements, former US president Bush promoted one of the authors of the infamous legal memos, proving such abuses emanated from White House policy.

Aside from torturing prisoners, there was a report regarding the use of white phosphorous in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November 2007, later confirmed by a US military spokesman.

Researchers report that the rate of PTSD and other mental difficulties tied to war may be as high as 35 per cent. The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, said: “I can’t imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal.”

A psychiatrist summed up the excesses perpetrated by soldiers under stress: “Your mind and mental state can have a profound affect on your physical body, your spiritual experience, and your over-all quality of life. The mind, the body, and the spirit are all inextricably interconnected. When one is affected, the other two suffer. We can live a healthy lifestyle and perform our spiritual duties, but if the mind is not healthy the other two cannot make up for the lack, and we are not truly holistically healthy or healed”.

In April 2011, Rolling Stone magazine and the German newsweekly Der Spiegel published photos of American soldiers committing grisly acts against Afghan civilians. The rogue soldiers, who formed a “kill team,” murdered innocent civilians for sport, posing for photos with some of their victims.

Some “kill team” members also kept gruesome souvenirs, such as fingers and skulls of the men and boys they killed. On 23rd March 2011, American army specialist Jeremy Morlock, 23, was sentenced for 24 years after he pleaded guilty in a US military court on 23rd March. He had admitted he was part of a “kill team” that deliberately murdered Afghan civilians for sport between January and May last year.

Yet the US State Department had the audacity to release a report on global human rights’ violations in other countries. About China, the report stated that it had stepped up restrictions on lawyers, activists, Internet access and journalists, and tightened controls on civil society. China in a quid pro quo told the US to quit as human rights judge, as it is beset by violence, racism and torture, and has no right or moral authority to condemn other governments’ human rights problems.

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Will India Join NATO’s War In Afghanistan?

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Russia & India Report
January 30, 2012

Will India join NATO’s war in Afghanistan?
Vladimir Sotnikov, The Middle East Institute

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[T]here is a big game happening in the region, with the U.S., India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other players that have been drawn in. The cost of winning in this game is the further strengthening of a strategic partnership between Washington and New Delhi, but above all pressure on Islamabad to take steps to change its position in relation to the U.S., and to once again become a “valuable strategic ally.”

[I]f India is in fact seen as a transit point for military supplies to Afghanistan, this will be the first time that New Delhi “will do big business” with the Atlantic community. Many Indian analysts say this would be a historical turning point in the politics of India’s cooperation with the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan.

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India-NATO Dialogue, February 2011

Can India use its transfer station card for NATO military cargo in the American-Indo-Pakistani “big game” in Afghanistan?

While U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Pakistani counterpart, Hina Rabbani Khar, attempt to normalize relations between the countries after the recent American drone strikes in Pakistan, the question has arisen as to how India can become an integral member of the multi-party Afghan equation, where U.S. and NATO stakes are still very high. What does the question entail?

The Pakistani transit routes for NATO convoys that supply military cargo to Afghanistan have been closed for two months (after an “erroneous” attack by a NATO aircraft on a Pakistani army checkpoint in the Pakistani-Afghan border region in November last year – V.S.). There is no end in sight, and everything depends on the expected “reset” of US-Pakistani relations. At the same time, Washington and Brussels boldly insist that NATO has alternative means of cargo delivery and that Pakistan is backing itself into a corner. But the events of the past two months, since the so-called southern route for NATO cargo stopped operating, demonstrate that NATO feels a “painful prick” for its successful activity in Afghanistan.

According to American news agency the Associated Press, the cost of transporting NATO goods may have increased by 512% following the closure of the Pakistani route. The monthly cost of transportation today is up to $115 million (along the so-called northern route), versus $17 million if using the transit route through Pakistan. In addition, there is both a political risk and political cost. Washington should seek support from Russia for increased use of the northern route to deliver NATO cargo. But with the current state of Russian-American relations – with Moscow directly opposing the Obama administration’s commitment to regime change in Syria and Iran, and also given the differences over the U.S. missile defense system (Moscow still does not agree with U.S. plans to build missile defense systems in Europe and believes they are directed against Russia) – it’s not that simple.

So what are Washington’s options in this situation? In our opinion, it would, of course, be preferable for the U.S. if Pakistan reopened the transit route for NATO convoys through its territory in the near future; however, this still seems to be a distant deed, in view of new strikes by U.S. drones on Pakistani territory which, as the Pakistani military commented emotionally, “As before, violates Pakistan’s sovereignty.” That’s why the question has arisen of India’s attractiveness for Washington in engaging alternative routes. If you take the word of American commentators, this question has come up recently.

According to Luis Martinez, military commentator for the channel ABC, American officials claim that much of the added cost of transporting NATO cargo comes out of rerouting cargo originally intended for Pakistan’s territory, and it is currently arriving by ship in other countries in the region for subsequent air transport to Afghanistan. For example, there is the added cost of moving some types of cargo from Pakistani ports to Indian ones, from which the goods are transported by air to Afghanistan, or transporting them further north on freight trains for subsequent transport along one of the northern way routes.

With all this, we’re experiencing déjà vu. When in 2001, U.S. forces entered Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime, New Delhi zestfully offered its services as a U.S. partner in the antiterrorist coalition. As former Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf said, the momentous offer from the Indians only spurred him to cooperate with the U.S. in Washington’s fight in Afghanistan. (Islamabad could not allow their “eternal antagonist” to surpass them in cooperating with the U.S. – V.S.)

Curiously, in 2001, Washington politely declined the Indian offer, because it believed that a partnership with Pakistan would be more valuable in Afghanistan. Today, in order to force Pakistan to resume its role as a partner of the U.S., Washington seems to have “knocked on India’s door.” And New Delhi has opened its doors, ignoring the fact that its proposal was rejected in 2001. So in our opinion, there is a big game happening in the region, with the U.S., India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other players that have been drawn in. The cost of winning in this game is the further strengthening of a strategic partnership between Washington and New Delhi, but above all pressure on Islamabad to take steps to change its position in relation to the U.S., and to once again become a “valuable strategic ally.”

It’s noteworthy that the U.S. could use an Indian route to transport sensitive military equipment. Whatever the case, if India is in fact seen as a transit point for military supplies to Afghanistan, this will be the first time that New Delhi “will do big business” with the Atlantic community. Many Indian analysts say this would be a historical turning point in the politics of India’s cooperation with the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan. (New Delhi’s current cooperation with Kabul doesn’t count –V.S.)

So India seems to be using the current crisis in U.S.-Pakistani relations to their own advantage. And this time, New Delhi is acting very pragmatically – it waited until Washington came to them with requests, and the Indian leadership will have another chip in bargaining with Pakistan. We can only speculate about where the Indian-Pakistani-American triangle will go with the high cost of resolving the Afghan crisis.

But some things can be predicted already. The first is that the government of President Asif Ali Zardari in Pakistan (with his current precarious position in the country) wishes to make concessions to Washington and, despite everything, will reopen the transit route for NATO cargo to Afghanistan via Pakistan.

The Pakistani military, most of which is currently sharply opposed to amplifying India’s role in Afghan affairs, will support this. They will even put aside their strong dissatisfaction with both U.S. policy and the policy of the civilian administration in Pakistan.

The second, and in our view less likely thing, is that the “thaw” begun in Pakistani-Indian relations will stop because, once again, for the Pakistani military, above all else, India is the main threat. But this is unlikely because Washington, playing on the Pakistani-Indian controversies to solve their own problems, is simultaneously pushing Pakistan to “defuse” its relations with India to ensure the support of both New Delhi and Islamabad in resolving the Afghan crisis and creating the most favorable conditions for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

So Washington is playing high stakes in the region, but both India and Pakistan are playing the game along with them. After all, a situation may arise, purely hypothetically, where India offers its services to the U.S. in the latest peace talks with the Taliban involving, say, the Northern Alliance, with which New Delhi has long been developing a trusting relationship. But that falls within the domain of bold political predictions.

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Western Showdown With Iran Will Turn Into West-China Showdown

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Global Times
January 30, 2012

China faces tough call in Iran showdown

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China should quicken its steps in coordinating with countries in South and East Asia and try its best to form a temporary alliance with them in continuing to buy oil from Iran. Such an alliance is possible, as seen from the hesitation of countries like Japan and India in sanctioning Iran.

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USS Abraham Lincoln

The Iran situation remains unpredictable as the country considers suspending oil exports to EU countries. China faces a tough diplomatic challenge.

Despite these twists and turns, the general direction is clear. The US and Europe are determined to unseat the current Iranian regime. An oil embargo, aimed at choking Iran’s economic lifeline, has been adopted. Overall oil embargoes will start in six months whether Iran stops oil exports to the EU or not.

It’s the gamble that will decide the political fate of this major Middle East oil producer with a population of 60 million. Equally at stake is the future global geopolitical landscape. China will be deeply involved in the process, of which it should be under no illusion.

A showdown between the West and Iran will partly be turned into a West-China showdown, namely whether China should comply with the West’s geopolitical decision. In previous major world political conflicts, China has sought to avoid direct confrontation with the US and Europe. The tradeoff is a relatively mild policy from the West toward China. Now the West has the same expectations of China.

But the Iran issue involves so much of China’s interests that no other previous international conflict is comparable in this regard. Ten percent of China’s oil is imported from Iran, and China cannot stay aloof from the affair.

While there is no other choice for China, it should have the courage to drop minor details and focus on the biggest realistic interests of China on this issue and China’s diplomatic principles that need to be protected most. The former is continuing to import oil from Iran while the latter is opposing external forces to change a country’s regime, particularly with threats of war.

The two basic stands are against EU and US policies toward Iran. But this opposition is inevitable due to the importance of the Iran issue for China. It is obvious that eventually the resolution of the problem will come to the point of forcing China to pull back from its stance. China should consider how to handle it when the time comes. China needs to prepare to face it squarely once the conflict becomes impossible to avoid.

China should quicken its steps in coordinating with countries in South and East Asia and try its best to form a temporary alliance with them in continuing to buy oil from Iran. Such an alliance is possible, as seen from the hesitation of countries like Japan and India in sanctioning Iran.

The US may make risky moves at some key time in order to prevent China from acquiring oil from Iran, a possibility that cannot be ruled out. China should be well prepared for the situation to escalate. When its rights are unfairly stepped upon, due countermeasures should be in place.

The cash-strapped West has many concerns about starting another war at this time. The failure of the sanctions doesn’t necessarily mean war. It suggests more room for China to exert its diplomatic power.

Categories: Uncategorized

Iran Pretext For Pentagon’s New Earth-Penetrating Ordnance

January 30, 2012 1 comment

Voice of Russia
January 30, 2012

War preparations or a new bluff?
Boris Volkhonsky

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Iran here is just a pretext. The U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta did not even try to conceal the fact that the program is a lot more far-reaching.

“It’s not just aimed at Iran,” he said in an interview with the WSJ. “Frankly, it’s aimed at any enemy that decides to locate in some kind of impenetrable location. The goal here is to be able to get at any enemy, anywhere.”

Since the number of enemies the U.S. have around the world has been increasing with every consecutive administration, one can only wonder, where the new devices might be used. Even if they aren’t, an additional $82 million would come in very handy for the Pentagon.

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On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Pentagon war planners have concluded that their largest conventional bomb isn’t yet capable of destroying Iran’s most heavily fortified underground facilities, and are stepping up efforts to make it more powerful.

The 30,000-pound “bunker-buster” bomb, known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), reports the WSJ, was specifically designed to take out the hardened fortifications built by Iran and North Korea to cloak their nuclear programs.

Initial tests indicated that the bomb, as currently configured, wouldn’t be capable of destroying some of Iran’s facilities, either because of their depth or because Tehran has added new fortifications to protect them.

Therefore earlier this month the Pentagon secretly submitted a request to Congress for funding to enhance the bomb’s ability to penetrate deeper into rock, concrete and steel.

Now the question is whether the desire to enhance the MOP’s penetrating facility is a sign of new preparations for a war that seems inevitable, or does it point to something else.

Mutual threats from the U.S. to Iran and back have been floating in the air for months, apparently leading to little more than just a war of words. The U.S. threats to block Iran’s oil exports resulted in a vague promise by the European Union to impose sanctions in a six-month time, and by Japan to gradually cut its dependence on Iranian imports, while two main recipients of Iranian oil – China and India – unambiguously rejected the idea of sanctions.

Likewise, Iranian threats to block the Hormuz Strait for all traffic do not seem implementable.

Lately, the two sides have somehow downgraded the level of the war of words adopting a “wait-and-see” policy towards one another.

More so, the U.S. has tried to even play down the belligerent remarks coming from its closest Middle Eastern ally, Israel, warning that any unilateral coercive action is not welcome.

So, the initiative voiced by the unnamed Pentagon officials, seems to be just a continuation of the bluff. In any case, the issue of whether to start a war against Iran or not, is not going to be decided by developments in the alleged Iranian nuclear program. The crucial point is how such a decision would affect Obama’s re-election prospects – whether it would be more favorable for him to appear as a strong-arm leader, or adopt a dovish image.

At the moment, President Obama is investigating what approach would be more lucrative from the electoral point of view, leaving open both options. On the one hand, he overtly sticks to the international sanctions as a most reliable tool to influence Iran. On the other hand, he has asked the Pentagon to come up with military options.

One thing, though, becomes clear from the WSJ report. And it has nothing to do with a possible warfare, but has more of an earthly foundation.

The Defense Department has spent about $330 million so far to develop about 20 of the bombs, which are built by Boeing Co, reports the WSJ. The Pentagon is seeking about $82 million more to make the bomb more effective.

This passage seems to explain everything. While foreign policy makers are playing their games, the Pentagon is quick to capitalize on the situation.

And definitely, Iran here is just a pretext. The U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta did not even try to conceal the fact that the program is a lot more far-reaching.

“It’s not just aimed at Iran,” he said in an interview with the WSJ. “Frankly, it’s aimed at any enemy that decides to locate in some kind of impenetrable location. The goal here is to be able to get at any enemy, anywhere.”

Since the number of enemies the U.S. have around the world has been increasing with every consecutive administration, one can only wonder, where the new devices might be used. Even if they aren’t, an additional $82 million would come in very handy for the Pentagon.

Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies.

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Containing China, SCO: U.S. Increases Military Presence In Philippines

January 30, 2012 1 comment

Bulatlat
January 29, 2012

Why beg for an increase in US military presence?
By Benjie Oliveros

It has now hit the headlines: the US is negotiating with the Aquino government for an increase in its military presence in the country through more frequent joint military exercises and other military cooperation activities, and an increase in the number of US troops rotating in the country. Recent policy pronouncements and visits by American officials have been leading to this point.

The Obama administration has declared, as part of its spending cuts, that it would move toward refocusing the concentration of its overseas deployment of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan to the Asia-Pacific region. Then came the visit of US State Secretary Hillary Clinton, which was followed recently by a delegation of US Senators that included former Republican presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona, Senators Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut), Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) and Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire).

Instead of taking a negotiating position, the Aquino government is now practically begging the US to increase the number of rotating troops in the country from the current 600 US Special Forces soldiers at any given time, and to make more frequent the conduct of joint military exercises. The Aquino government is justifying this by raising the specter of a potential conflict with China over the Spratly islands, and declaring that the US would aid the Philippines in case war erupts. The Aquino government practically grabbed the ploy of the US hook, line and sinker.

Is this not true?

First of all, the US would act only according to its own interests. This is clearly stated in US policy documents and was proven, historically, in practice. When the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos asked for US support in the country’s conflict with Malaysia over Sabah, the US did not respond. Likewise, when the conflict over claims to the Spratly islands first erupted, the US likewise clarified that it is not obligated to act in behalf of the Philippines.

It was only later when there still seems to be no end in sight to the world economic crisis and China has been increasingly resistant to WTO impositions did the US join the fray. Also, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which China is one of the prime movers, is gradually consolidating its ranks.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization traces its roots from the Shanghai Five of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the objective of which was to strengthen confidence-building and trust among the member-states by mutually reducing the deployment of troops and armaments in common borders. However, with the founding of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in June 2001, which also coincided with the acceptance of Uzbekistan as a member, the SCO expanded its areas of cooperation.

According to the SCO charter, which was signed in June 2002, its areas of cooperation would encompass:

1. Maintenance of peace and enhancing security and confidence in the region;

2. Search for common positions on foreign policy issues of mutual interest, including issues arising within international organizations and international fora;

3. Development and implementation of measures aimed at jointly counteracting terrorism, separatism and extremism, illicit narcotics and arms trafficking and other types of criminal activity of a transnational character, and also illegal migration;

4. Coordination of efforts in the field of disarmament and arms control;

5. Support for, and promotion of, regional economic cooperation in various forms, fostering favorable environment for trade and investments with a view to gradually achieving free flow of goods, capitals, services and technologies;

6. Effective use of available transportation and communication infrastructure, improvement of transit capabilities of member States and development of energy systems;

7. Sound environmental management, including water resources management in the region, and implementation of particular joint environmental programs and projects;

8. Mutual assistance in preventing natural and man-made disasters and elimination of their implications;

9. Exchange of legal information in the interests of development of cooperation within SCO;

10. Development of interaction in such spheres as science and technology, education, health care, culture, sports and tourism.

Thus, the SCO is developing to be a military, political, and economic bloc that poses a challenge to US hegemony in the region. According to the US-based Council on Foreign Relations, the SCO has gone to the extent of calling for the withdrawal of US troops in the region. It has also been conducting joint military exercises.

Economically, the SCO covers 30 million square km and encompasses a combined population of 1.46 billion or 20.8 percent of the world’s population of 6.991 billion. It is also one of the most energy-rich regions in the world.

In July 2005, Iran, Pakistan, and India gained observer status. Russia is asking the member-states to speed up the processing of membership of these countries. This would make the SCO even stronger.

Would the US move against China in defense of the Philippines?

US interest in Asia revolves around containing China and the growth of the SCO, and securing under its economic sphere of influence, the most populous region in the world. Asia is home to 4.14 billion people or 59 percent of the world’s population. US corporations must be salivating over the idea of cornering Asia for US investments and exports. And it would not risk getting into a conflict with the biggest market and its main investment destination in Asia: China. Besides, China is too big to conquer militarily. The major powers in the world – the US, Britain, France, Japan – tried to up to World War II but failed.

Also, the US would think twice before provoking an armed conflict with China. China has surpassed Japan in being the biggest creditor of the US. According to a Reuters report, China holds $906.8 billion in US Treasury bonds. Japan, which used to be the biggest US creditor, has dropped to second with $877.4 billion in US Treasury bonds.

What is the purpose of the move of the US to increase the frequency of joint military exercises and the number of troops rotating in the country?

This is part of the grand plan that includes maintenance of its troops in South Korea and Japan, which, according to reports, number from 70,000 to 85,000; the deployment of 2,500 Marines and tightening of air force cooperation with Australia; and stationing of combat ships in Singapore.

The US said it is not interested in rebuilding its military bases in the country. This has an element of truth to it because the US could no longer afford to maintain a lot of permanent bases overseas. According to the 2010 US Quadrennial Defense Review, there are three key elements in US defense posturing: forward-stationed and rotationally deployed forces, capabilities, and equipment; a supporting overseas network of infrastructure and facilities; and a series of treaty, access, transit, and status-protection agreements and arrangements with allies and key partners.

But this does not negate the fact that bases or no bases, the US is hell-bent on projecting its military might in the region.

Would the Philippines benefit from an increased US presence in the country and the region?

If we consider the transfer of decommissioned, obsolete, US coast guard cutters as a benefit, then probably yes. If we consider the training of AFP troops in targeting, torturing, and killing our fellow Filipinos and Moro brothers, who are resisting the US-imposed, oppressive, anti-people policies of the government, in the name of counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency as a benefit then it would be another yes.

And besides, even if the US supports Philippine claims to the Spratly islands, what would the Filipino people gain from it? It is only the giant oil companies that would profit from the oil reserves in the islands. Take the Malampaya oil and gas reserves for example. While Shell made a big show of paying $1.1 billion in royalties to the government for the extraction and processing of natural gas, this is made insignificant by the fact that its operations never made the prices of gas and oil in the country cheaper. Nor did it result in the country being more energy self-sufficient.

Aside from projecting its military might in the region, US troops are here to ensure that the US-dictated policies of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization are maintained, and its investments in the country and the region are protected and promoted.

So instead of begging the US to increase its military presence in the country, the Aquino government should be working for the repeal of the US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty, the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, and the Visiting Forces Agreement and calling for the withdrawal of all foreign troops in the country. That is unless, the US, and not the Filipino people, is the real boss of the Aquino government.

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U.S. Looking For Enemies

January 29, 2012 2 comments

Frontline
January 28-February 10, 2012

 

Looking for Enemies
John Cherian

 

The new United States military doctrine “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defence”, officially unveiled in January, is a clear indication that Washington’s focus has once again shifted to China and the Asia Pacific region. The U.S. had not really shifted its gaze away from the region as it fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly half of U.S. Air Force F-22 jet fighters have been based in the Asia Pacific region. Two U.S. aircraft carriers have always been around in the region. As many as 22,000 U.S. troops are permanently based in South Korea. In the 2006 Quadrennial Review, the Pentagon had allocated six aircraft carriers and 60 per cent of the U.S.’ submarines to the Pacific. Washington had approved a $-6 billion arms deal with Taiwan despite strenuous objections from China. Before the new Pentagon strategy was announced, President Barack Obama announced the permanent stationing of U.S. troops in Australia.

But with the occupation of Iraq over and the winding-down process in Afghanistan beginning, the U.S. wants to identify new enemies to fight. American economic and security interests, the 2012 Pentagon document emphasises, are “inextricably linked to developments in the arc extending from the Western Pacific to East Asia into the Indian Ocean and South”. The U.S., according to the new doctrine, “will have to necessarily rebalance towards the Asia Pacific region”.

Obama, who was present when the document was released on January 5, made it a point to remind the world that though the defence budget had been trimmed, U.S. defence spending would still continue to remain higher than the combined defence budgets of the next 14 biggest militaries in the world. “Over the next 10 years, the growth of the defence budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this: it will still grow,” he told the media in Washington.

The latest Pentagon doctrine identifies China as the enemy the U.S. will have to confront. “Over the long term, China’s emergence as a regional power will have the potential to affect the U.S. economy and our security in a variety of ways…The U.S. will continue to make a variety of investments to ensure that we maintain regional access and the ability to operate freely,” the document states. “The growth of China’s military power must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region.” Though U.S. officials keep on harping about the China threat, they do concede that the country is far away from achieving any kind of parity in military capabilities with the U.S.

The document goes on to highlight the U.S. government’s continuing efforts to forge even stronger military alliances with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia. Efforts are currently under way to rope in India and Vietnam into the anti-China alliance. The document singles out India, describing it as “a regional anchor and a provider of security for the broader Indian Ocean region”. The U.S. military has been carrying out joint exercises with their Indian and Vietnamese counterparts for some years now.

The U.S. has lifted a ban on military cooperation with Indonesia’s “Kompas” Special Forces. Many of the other countries in the region, such as Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia, have been military allies of the U.S. for a long time. Another of China’s neighbours, Myanmar, seems to be rushing into a strategic embrace with the West.

The U.S. wants the Pacific to remain an “American lake” and at the same time ensure free access to its warships through the key choke points in Asia, whether it is the Strait of Hormuz or the Strait of Malacca. The new Pentagon document on several occasions mentions the U.S.’ determination to ensure the “free flow of goods” and “access to the global commons”. Shortly after its release, an influential American think tank close to the Obama administration, the Centre for a New American Society (CNAS), called on Washington to pursue a policy of “cooperative primacy” in the South China Sea to preserve the freedom of navigation and the independence of smaller countries in the region.

In 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signalled that Washington was once again starting to refocus its attention seriously on containing China. She declared that the U.S. had a “national interest” in the South China Sea and was prepared to mediate in the territorial disputes that China was embroiled in with its smaller neighbours.

The South China Sea, which stretches across more than one million square miles, connects the Indian Ocean with the South Pacific. It has vital shipping lanes and huge amounts of untapped oil and gas. If the U.S. and its allies are able to exert control over the South China Sea, it will then be easy to mount an effective naval blockade of China.

The Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman, Geng Yansheng, said that the accusations levelled against China in the Pentagon document were “totally baseless”. He stressed that China’s “peaceful development” presented opportunities rather than challenges to the international community. He expressed the hope that the U.S. would deal with China and the Chinese military “in an objective and rational way”.

People’s Liberation Army Daily published an article by a senior army officer, Major General Luo Yuan, accusing the U.S. of targeting China. “Casting our eyes around, we can see that the U.S. has been bolstering its five major military alliances in the Asia Pacific region and is adjusting the positioning of its five major military base clusters, while also seeking more entry rights for military bases around China,” he wrote. The state-owned Xinhua news agency advised the Obama administration “to abstain from flexing its muscles”.

U.S. troops may have left Iraq, but the policymakers in Washington aim to maintain their vice-like grip on the oil resources of the region. “U.S. policy will emphasise Gulf security,” the new military strategy states. There are no proposals to wind up the American military bases in the region or reduce the number of troops based in the Gulf countries aligned to the U.S.

The Pentagon on January 3 answered an Iranian warning to keep U.S. aircraft carriers out of the Persian Gulf by declaring that American warships would continue regularly scheduled deployments to the strategic waterway. Obama has been paying lip service to the “Arab Spring” but bolstering authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia. The U.S. weapons deal with Saudi Arabia last year has been described as the biggest in history. The defence document details the importance of the Gulf states in the looming confrontation with Iran. U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking during the release of the Pentagon document, asserted that the U.S. army was well prepared to fight simultaneous land wars in Iran and the Korean peninsula.

American troops remain in Germany, Japan and Korea though the Second World War ended more than 65 years ago. The U.S. is scouting for military bases in Africa and Asia. Then there is the threat of using nuclear weapons. “Even when the U.S. forces are committed to large-scale operations in one region, they will be capable of denying the objectives of – or imposing unacceptable costs on – an opportunistic aggressor in a second region,” the Pentagon doctrine states. The document has clarified that “imposing unacceptable costs” means that the U.S. “can field nuclear forces that can under any circumstances confront an adversary with the prospect of unacceptable damage”.

Obama has further strengthened the “pre-emption” policy that the Bush administration had put in place after the events of 9/11. This policy has no sanction under international law. Since 2001, the U.S. has bombed and invaded countries if the White House concludes that its national interests are at stake. The Bush administration’s Strategic Plan for 2007-12 aimed to “directly confront threats to national or international security from … failed or failing states”. The latest Pentagon document states that the U.S. will for the foreseeable future retain the right “to establish control over ungoverned territories, and directly striking the most dangerous groups and individuals when necessary”. The U.S., appropriating the role of the world’s policeman, will of course retain the right to determine which are the individuals, dangerous groups and countries that have to be targeted. This policy of pre-emption is already being witnessed in Somalia and Yemen.

In Iran, the government has blamed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for targeting its nuclear scientists. According to many reports, the U.S. army had a role in the killing of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

The Pentagon’s goal of fighting “two wars” concurrently will entail the increased use of military drones and “precision strategic bombing”. The U.S. has announced that it plans to deploy sea-based drones in the Pacific by 2018. A new generation of sea-based drones being developed by the U.S. will be able to operate 2,500 km away from the carrier, putting the ships out of harm’s way. The U.S. has already started training more pilots to operate drones than to fly conventional fighters and bombers.

Pentagon budget figures show that the U.S. spent $5 billion on drones. In 2002, the U.S. military spent only $550 million on the technology. The use of drones, known as “the messengers of death” in places where they have wreaked havoc, has gone up significantly after Obama entered the White House. According to statistics published in Der Spiegel, Obama despatches a missile-equipped drone into action once every four days. During the Bush presidency, the average was one drone in 47 days.

Categories: Uncategorized

Iran The Target: Pentagon Seeks New Superbomb

January 28, 2012 1 comment

RT
January 28, 2012

US toothless against Iran rock: Pentagon seeks new superbomb

Having considered the toughness of the rock-hidden Iranian nuclear facilities, America’s Nutcracker military command has decided to save jaw and develop a new conventional superbomb, since the US still plans to do the job in Iran without nukes.

Washington has once again reminded Tehran that it has the military capability to crack Iranian hard-target nuclear sites with conventional weapons, leaking to the Wall Street Journal plans to develop an even more effective bunker-buster bomb.

The American military is no longer in love with the most powerful non-nuclear weapon it possesses, the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), a 13,600-kilogram mammoth capable of penetrating deep underground facilities.

The Pentagon paid around $330 million to Boeing to develop and produce 20 MOP bombs, specially developed to destroy bunkers in countries like Iran and North Korea.

Now, the Defense Department intends to spend another $82 million, to make those bombs even more effective.

An MOP is capable of penetrating 60 meters of reinforced concrete or 38 meters of hard rock, delivering 2,700 kg of explosives deep down, to reliably demolish anything manmade. Yet, in the case of Iran’s Persian mountains, even this doesn’t seem enough.

In hiding its nuclear work, Tehran clearly considered the experience of Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad, who lost their research nuclear reactors in 1981 and 2007 respectively.

Iranians really had to turn into fairytale dwarves, digging deep into the mountains but with a very un-fairytale intention: not to find something precious, but to safely hide their nuclear program.

In our times, when bombing a sovereign state into Stone Age is an easy walk, as we see from Libya’s example, such a precautionary measure does not appear superfluous.

But this is exactly what makes American generals nervous – they need 100% guarantees that the targets they cannot destroy do not exist, particularly in Iran.

For example, military experts are not sure an MOP can get to Iran’s Fordow enrichment plant facility that has 60 meters of hard rock mountain above it.
At the moment, only a tactical nuclear weapon of several dozen kilotons could guarantee the site’s elimination.

“Once things go into the mountain, then really you have to have something that takes the mountain off,” an unnamed US military official is reported to have said.

But no, using nukes would set a precedent for all the other proud owners of atomic arms worldwide. Countries like China, North Korea and – God forbid – Russia would get a free hand to blindside America with nukes at the first breath of suspicion.

The last time the US used nuclear weapons against a civilian population was in Japan in 1945, and that fact is still well-remembered, and not just in Japan.

That is why today, the American military lays its hopes on conventional explosives with expanded capabilities, putting tactical nukes by for a rainy day.

And just in case you were wondering, none of the abovementioned has anything to do with Israel. Though Tel-Aviv has never tried out its almost proven nuclear arsenal on anybody, they rather like saber-rattling, saying they would protect the Jewish state at any cost – and preemptively.

Their fingers are apparently itching on the trigger switch, in forgetfulness that the country starting a war is not necessarily the one that finishes it.

Categories: Uncategorized

Asia Challenges U.S., NATO Over Iran

January 28, 2012 1 comment

Voice of Russia
January 28, 2012

Asia challenges US, Europe over Iran
Konstantin Garibov

China, India and Turkey have warned that they won’t support a ban on Iranian oil imports and will prevent the US from blocking oil supplies from Iran. Japan and South Korea are planning to follow suit. Europe introduced a ban on Iran oil imports this week. The Voice of Russia’s Konstantin Garibov reports.

The new package of sanctions against Tehran which was approved by EU foreign ministers on Monday provides for a gradual ban on the import of Iranian oil and oil products. The EU plans to stop purchasing oil from Iran by July 1st. Until recently, the main buyers of Iranian oil in Europe were Greece, Italy and Spain, and they bought 600,000 barrels a day.

Europe has chosen to gain time so that it could find alternatives for Iranian oil imports. Yevgeny Satanovsky of the Institute of the Middle East, has this to say.

“There will be no problem in replacing Iranian oil with oil from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, or Kuwait. The Gulf Cooperation Council has already made it clear that it will recoup the losses.”

Meanwhile, Europe might face quite a headache as its oil refineries were designed to refine Iranian oil and, what’s more, a particular brand of it. Experts have been speculating on who will lose more from the embargo – the seller, or the buyers? The IMF predicts a 20-30% increase in the cost of oil. That means an increase of 20-30 dollars, at the present.

Sergei Druzhilovsky of the Moscow Institute of International Relations, has this to say.

“18-20 percent of Iranian oil is bought by Europe. A ban on these exports will cause no serious problems for the Iranian economy. Oil prices for China and India may be affected by it. It looks like dumping is inevitable as Iran will definitely have stockpiles of oil to go on sale. Iran is now switching to payments in currencies other than the dollar – the Japanese yen, the Indian rupee, the Chinese yuan.”

This week, China and India have reiterated their determination not to support the embargo. Japan moved towards changing its position under pressure from the US. Tokyo asked by way of exception not to force it to cut imports. South Korea has been dragging its feet over the decision, forced to choose between the political solidarity with its pushy overseas partner and the country’s energy security. Unlike Tokyo and Seoul, Ankara has dismissed pressure from the US as irrelevant.

Analyst Stanislav Tarasov comments.

“Turkey’s position is purely pragmatic. It is fully aware that Europe is going through a depression and that cutting Iranian oil imports will only make things worse. Iran is Turkey’s main partner, accounting for one half of its oil imports. Ankara won’t find any alternatives to Iranian supplies in Arab countries. And oil from Iran offers freedom of action. Turkey is simply being reasonable about the issue. A primitive political game is under way aimed at forcing Iran into joining the six-party talks on its nuclear program. This game testifies to the deteriorating quality of Western diplomacy. The moment Turkey completed its mediatory mission of obtaining Iran’s consent to a meeting with the six-party representatives in Istanbul, the West set itself to torpedoing the talks.”

Islamabad will participate in a project to build a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan despite threats of international sanctions, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

Pakistan believes that sanctions should spread be expanded solely on the Iranian nuclear program. They should not affect Islamabad because of its participation in a gas project with Iran, a Pakistani foreign ministry statement says.

Categories: Uncategorized

The War Against Iran Is Already Underway

January 28, 2012 1 comment

Strategic Culture Foundation
January 27, 2012

The Conundrum of Iran
Leonid Slavin

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If the conflict with Iran takes the shape of a protracted bombing campaign and comes as a prologue to the occupation of the country, the US will need to strengthen its positions in adjacent regions, meaning that Washington will be trying to draw the Caucasian republics (Georgia, Azerbaijan) and those of Central Asia into the orbit of its policy and thus tightening the “Anaconda loop” around Russia.

The opposition mounted to the plans underlying the military scenario by China, Russia, and India seems to hold the promise of an alliance of countries seeking to tame US hegemony and raging unilateralism.

The morally charged concepts of humanitarian interventions and war on terror had just as well been invoked to legitimize downright aggressions against Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Matthew H. Kroenig from the Council on Foreign Relations recently went so far as to warn that Iran would some day pass its nuclear technologies to Venezuela. The motivation must be to somehow bundle all critics of the US foreign policy.

Chances are that a part of the oil embargo plan is to make the West encounter oil supply problems and start constructing pipelines across Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Qatar, and Iraq as alternative routes reaching the shores of the Arabian, Red, and Mediterranean Seas.

Since the new US military strategy implies focusing on two regions – the Greater Middle East and South East Asia – the issue of the Strait of Hormuz appears coupled to that of the Strait of Malacca which offers the shortest route for the oil supply from the Indian Ocean to China, Japan, South Korea, and the rest of South East Asia.

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The EU oil embargo recently slapped on Iran and the threats voiced by the US and other Western countries to come up with further sanctions against the country led watchers to conclude that an armed conflict between Iran and the West has finally became imminent.

The first potential scenario in this context is that the current standoff would eventually escalate into a war. The US forces in the Gulf area currently number 40,000, plus 90,000 are deployed in Afghanistan, just east of Iran, and several thousand support troops are deployed in various Asian countries. That adds up to a considerable military potential which may still fall short of what it takes to keep a lid on everything if armed hostilities break out. For example, Colin H. Kahl argues in a recent paper in Foreign Affairs that, even though “there is no doubt that Washington will win in the narrow operational sense” (1), the US would have to take a vast array of pertinent problems into account.

At the moment, maintaining the status quo is not in US interests, holds Stratfor, a US-based global intelligence agency: “If al Assad survives and if the situation in Iraq proceeds as it has been proceeding, then Iran is creating a reality that will define the region. The United States does not have a broad and effective coalition, and certainly not one that would rally in the event of war. It has only Israel…” (2) If the conflict with Iran takes the shape of a protracted bombing campaign and comes as a prologue to the occupation of the country, the US will need to strengthen its positions in adjacent regions, meaning that Washington will be trying to draw the Caucasian republics (Georgia, Azerbaijan) and those of Central Asia into the orbit of its policy and thus tightening the “Anaconda loop” around Russia.

An alternative scenario also deserves attention. EU sanctions would surely hurt many of the European economies – notably, those of Greece, Italy, and Spain – by ricochet. In fact, Spanish diplomatic chief José Manuel García-Margallo Y Marfil bluntly described the sanctions decision as a sacrifice (3).

As for Iran, the oil blockade can cause its annual budget to contract by $15-20 billion, which generally should not be critical but, as the country’s parliamentary elections and the 2013 presidential poll are drawing closer and the West actively props up its domestic opposition, outbreaks of unrest in Iran would quite possibly ensue. Tehran has already made it clear it would make a serious effort to find buyers for its oil export elsewhere.

China and India, Iran’s respective number one and number three clients, brushed off the idea of the US-led sanctions momentarily. Japan pledged support for Washington over the matter but did not post any specific plans to reduce the volume of oil it imports from Iran. Japan, by the way, was badly hit in 1973 when Wall Street provoked an oil crisis and US guarantees turned hollow. Consequently, Tokyo can be expected to approach Washington’s sanction suggestions with the utmost caution and to ask the US for unequivocal guarantees that the White House will be unable to provide. Right now the US is courting South Korea with the aim of having it cut off the import of oil from Iran.

The opposition mounted to the plans underlying the military scenario by China, Russia, and India seems to hold the promise of an alliance of countries seeking to tame US hegemony and raging unilateralism. Stratfor analysts have a point saying that time is not on the US side, considering that the BRICs countries have some opportunities to influence the situation in the potential conflict zone by launching joint anti-terrorism and anti-piracy maneuvers in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, etc.

Inducing regime change in Iran, which is Washington’s end goal, still takes a pretext. The US has long been eying various factions in Iran in the hope of capitalizing on the country’s existing domestic rivalries parallel to the employment of tested color revolution techniques such as the support for the Green Movement or the establishment of a virtual embassy in Iran.

Richard Sanders, a vocal critic of US foreign policy, opined that, at least since the invasion of Mexico in the late XIX century, the US permanently relied on the mechanism of war pretext incidents to compile justifications for its military interventions (4). US arch-conservative Patrick J. Buchanan cited in his opinion piece titled “Did FDR Provoke Pearl Harbor?” the fairly common view that US financial circles knowingly provoked the Pearl Harbor attack to drag the US into a war with the remote goal of ensuring the dollar empire’s global primacy (5).

The lesson to be learned from the history of the Vietnam War, namely the Gulf of Tonkin incident in which USS Maddox entered Vietnam’s territorial waters and opened fire on boats of its navy, is that the initial conflict was similarly ignited by the US intelligence community, the result being that the US Congress authorized LBJ to militarily engage Vietnam. (By the way, no retribution followed in June 1967 when the Israelis attacked USS Liberty, killing 34 and wounding 172). The morally charged concepts of humanitarian interventions and war on terror had just as well been invoked to legitimize downright aggressions against Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Speaking of the current developments around the Persian Gulf, Washington’s choice of pretexts for aggression comprises at least three options, namely (1) Iran’s nuclear dossier; (2) an engineered escalation in the Strait of Hormuz; (3) allegations that Iran supports international terrorism. The US objective behind the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program – to make everybody in the world accept Washington’s rules of the game – has never been deeply hidden. The abundant alarmist talk is intended to deflect attention from the simple truth that building a nuclear arsenal with the help of civilian nuclear technologies is absolutely impossible, but Matthew H. Kroenig from the Council on Foreign Relations recently went so far as to warn that Iran would some day pass its nuclear technologies to Venezuela (6). The motivation must be to somehow bundle all critics of the US foreign policy.

The Strait of Hormuz, which is the maritime chokepoint of the Persian Gulf, is regarded as the epicenter of the coming new war. It serves as the avenue for oil supplies from Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, the Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates and is therefore being closely monitored by all likely parties to the conflict. According to the US Department of Energy, 2011 oil transit via the Strait of Hormuz totaled 17 billion barrels, or roughly 20% of the world’s total (7). Oil prices are projected to increase by 50% if anything disquieting happens in the Strait of Hormuz (8).

Passing through the Strait of Hormuz takes navigation across the territorial waters of Iran and Oman. Iran grants as a courtesy the right to sail across its waters based on the UN Treaty on Maritime Goods Transportation. It must be understood in connection with Washington’s recurrent statements concerning the Strait of Hormuz that in this regard the US and Iran have the same legal status as countries which penned but did not ratify the treaty, and thus the US has no moral right to references to international law. Iran’s administration stressed recently after consultations on national legislation that Tehran would possibly subject to a revision the regulations under which foreign vessels are admitted to Iranian territorial waters (9).

Navies are also supposed to observe certain international laws, in particular those defining the minimal distance to be maintained by vessels of other countries. It constantly pops up in the US media that Iranian boats come riskily close to US vessels but, as watchers note, provocateurs like the CIA-sponsored separatists from Iran’s Baluchistan could in some cases be pulling off the tricks in disguise.

Chances are that a part of the oil embargo plan is to make the West encounter oil supply problems and start constructing pipelines across Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Qatar, and Iraq as alternative routes reaching the shores of the Arabian, Red, and Mediterranean Seas. A few of these projects, the Hashan–Fujairah pipeline, for instance, are as of today in the process of being implemented. If that is the idea, the explanation behind Washington’s tendency to convince its allies to create a “safer” pipeline infrastructure is straightforward. Geopolitics being an inescapable reality, it does have to be taken into account, though, that the region’s countries remain locked in a variety of conflicts and, due to geographic reasons, Tehran would be a key player even if the pipelines are launched.

Since the new US military strategy implies focusing on two regions – the Greater Middle East and South East Asia – the issue of the Strait of Hormuz appears coupled to that of the Strait of Malacca which offers the shortest route for the oil supply from the Indian Ocean to China, Japan, South Korea, and the rest of South East Asia. The arrangement implicitly factors into the Asian countries’ decision-making related to Iran.

The precedent of “the war on terror” – a campaign during which the US occupied under dubious pretexts Iraq and Afghanistan at the costs of thousands of lives – must also be kept in mind. Ages ago, the White House sanctioned subversive activities against various parts of the the Iranian administration, including the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. Former CIA operative Phillip Giraldi writes that US and Israeli agents have been active in Iran for quite some time and are responsible for the epidemic of the Stuxnet virus and the series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear physicists. The groups within Iran which aligned themselves with the country’s foes are the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, the Baluchistan-based separatist Jundallah, whose leader Abdolmajid Rigi was arrested in February, 2010 by Iranian security forces and admitted to cooperating with the CIA, and the Kurdish Free Life of Kurdistan (10).

In essence, a war against Iran – up to date a secret war – is underway. The problem the parties involved are trying to resolve is to find a way of prevailing without entering the “hot” phase of the conflict.

(1) Colin H. Kahl. Not Time to Attack Iran. January 17, 2012.

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137031/colin-h-kahl/not-time-to-attack-iran?cid=nlc-public-the_world_this_week-link6-20120120

(2) Iran, the U.S. and the Strait of Hormuz Crisis. January 17, 2012. http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/iran-us-and-strait-hormuz-crisis?utm_source=freelist f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20120117&utm_term=gweekly&utm_content=readmore&elq=b90cfbef7b1a402ea2f1fc384080fa15

(3) La UE acuerda vetar las importaciones de petroleo de Iran. 23.01.2012 http://www.lavanguardia.com/internacional/20120123/54245752767/ue-vetar-importaciones-petroleo-iran.html

(4) Richard Sanders. How to Start a War: The American Use of War Pretext Incidents. Global Research, January 9, 2012. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28554

(5) http://buchanan.org/blog/did-fdr-provoke-pearl-harbor-4953

(6) Recent Events in Iran and the Progress of Its Nuclear Program. January 17, 2012. http://www.cfr.org/iran/recent-events-iran-progress-its-nuclear-program/p27090?cid=nlc-public-the_world_this_week-link5-20120120

(7)  http://www.eia.gov/cabs/world_oil_transit_chokepoints/full.html
(8) Michael T. Klare. Danger Waters. January 10, 2012. http://aep.typepad.com/american_empire_project/2012/01/danger-waters.html#more

(9) Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya. The Geo-Politics of the Strait of Hormuz: Could the U.S. Navy be defeated by Iran in the Persian Gulf? Global Research, January 8, 2012. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28516

(10) Philip Giraldi. Washington’s Secret Wars. 08 December 2011. http://www.councilforthenationalinterest.org/news/opinion-a-analysis/item/1236-washington%E2%80%99s-secret-wars 

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: January 28, 2012

January 28, 2012 1 comment

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New U.S. Army Stresses Space, Interceptor Missile, Cyber Capabilities

Canadian Troops, 155-Vehicle Convoy Head To Arctic

NATO’s Afghan War Distribution Network And The Baltic States

NATO Requirements: Baltic Lands Forces Integrated Into Danish Division

NATO Allies To Observe U.S.-South Korea-Japan War Games

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New U.S. Army Stresses Space, Interceptor Missile, Cyber Capabilities

http://blog.al.com/huntsville-times-business/2012/01/space_missile_defense.html

Huntsville Times
January 27, 2012

General says space, missile defense critical tools for a smaller, restructured Army
By Kenneth Kesner

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama: The economic challenges faced by the nation will lead to military force reductions and program changes and a different future for all, including the Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, said Lt. Gen. Richard Formica.

But as tough decisions are made, the SMDC leader said it’s critical – especially to a smaller Army and the envisioned “joint force” – that commanders and troops not be denied access to space and cyberspace capabilities.

“If the Army wants to be able to shoot, move and communicate, it needs space. [I]t needs missile defense,” Formica said Thursday, addressing the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association’s annual meeting.

“I believe that exploiting the potential of space and missile defense capabilities will be more important in the future, where conflicts will take place in domains without boundaries, and where forward presence may be reduced,” he said.

The luncheon was held amid exhibits of Huntsville’s space history and technology in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. That’s where an ASMDA civilian “Wall of Honor” is now featuring portraits of men and women who have made significant contributions to missile defense over the decades.

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Canadian Troops, 155-Vehicle Convoy Head To Arctic

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/01/23/edmonton-military-trek-arctic.html

CBC
January 23, 2012

Military convoy begins trek to the Arctic

Hundreds of military vehicles and personnel are beginning a three-day trek from CFB Edmonton to Yellowknife to test themselves and their gear in a harsh winter environment.

Soldiers from 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group learn how to properly pack a toboggan in preparation for the Exercise Arctic Ram. (Courtesy: DND)
The military convoy consists of three large groups travelling on separate dates:

* 90 soldiers and 50 vehicles will travel Jan. 20-22.

* 230 soldiers and 80 vehicles will travel Jan. 25-27.

* 60 soldiers and 25 vehicles will travel Feb. 9-11.

All vehicles will be further broken down into ‘packets’ of about 10 vehicles for reasons of safety and to alleviate congestion on highways.

The convoys will stop for rest and refueling at specified stops along the way. Fuel trucks will be travelling with the convoy.

The training exercise called ARCTIC RAM 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group’s first to be conducted in the Northwest Territories.

Exercise ARCTIC RAM, from Feb. 14 to 26, will re-familiarize soldiers with northern operations by assessing their ability to operate in a cold winter climate, test all personnel and equipment, and help soldiers to develop an awareness of the unique requirements of Arctic operations.

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NATO’s Afghan War Distribution Network And The Baltic States

http://www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/rm/182317.htm

U.S. Department of State
January 20, 2012

The Northern Distribution Network and the Baltic Nexus
Remarks
Thomas P. Kelly
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Remarks at the Commonwealth Club, Washington
Washington, DC
As prepared

-The NDN has many paths. For example, there is a multi-modal route which enters the NDN at Poti, Georgia or Mersin, Turkey, and then transits the Caucasus and Central Asia. But the Baltic Republics offer a particularly important set of embarkation points for the surface routes to Afghanistan. The first shipment of U.S. cargo on the NDN was completed March 14, 2009, on a route that originated in Riga, Latvia, and continued through Russia into Afghanistan.

Minister Masiulis, Ambassador Pavilionis, Ambassador Nauduzas, Minister Rivasseau, distinguished guests, and friends:

It’s a great pleasure for me to participate on this panel sponsored by my Lithuanian friends. I spent three happy years in Vilnius as Deputy Chief of Mission, and one of the greatest benefits of my return to Washington a few months ago is the opportunity to collaborate with our Lithuanian friends and allies once again. This morning, I’d like to make some brief comments on the rationale for the Northern Distribution Network, ending with a few remarks on the role played by our stalwart allies in the Baltic Republics.

By way of introduction, I represent the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the Department of State, known colloquially as PM. We serve as in-house State Department experts on military and security assistance issues, and we are one of the key interlocutors for foreign governments on strategic security issues. We also serve as a bridge to the Department of Defense. When the DoD needs diplomats to accomplish U.S. security goals abroad, PM is on the job.

One of PM’s top priorities over the past few years has been to do the diplomatic work necessary to ensure that our soldiers in Afghanistan are properly supplied. As a landlocked country surrounded by some of the world’s highest mountains, Afghanistan has always posed logistical challenges. For both the Departments of Defense and State, establishing a northern supply route to supplement the traditional routes through Pakistan has been a priority since 2009. By definition, additional supply routes increase our operational flexibility, enabling us to more effectively move items in and out of Afghanistan to support the efforts of our troops and our allies.

With the help of our friends in Central Asia, the Baltic Republics, and Russia, the United States managed to establish a network of land, sea and air routes that approach Afghanistan from the north. We now refer to this as the Northern Distribution Network, or NDN. The NDN consists of integrated routes of transportation to bring cargo along commercial surface and air networks to our troops serving in Afghanistan.

The NDN team in the U.S. Government includes PM; the Bureaus of European and South and Central Asian Affairs at the State Department; the U.S. Transportation Command; the U.S. Central Command; the Defense Logistics Agency; the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Staff. At PM, our key responsibility in this area is to secure international transit agreements that support the NDN.

Together with our partner nations along the network, we have transformed logistic support to Afghanistan in a relatively short period. Starting in March 2009, we began using existing rail and road infrastructure. To date, more than 58,000 containers of construction material, food, water, and other general supplies for U.S. forces in Afghanistan have been delivered via the NDN.

We have come a long way in building the NDN, but we hope to do more. Ultimately, we seek to ship 750 containers of cargo per week through the NDN. To put that goal in perspective, we deliver the equivalent of about 1,100 containers of cargo each week to Afghanistan from all routes.

The NDN has many paths. For example, there is a multi-modal route which enters the NDN at Poti, Georgia or Mersin, Turkey, and then transits the Caucasus and Central Asia. But the Baltic Republics offer a particularly important set of embarkation points for the surface routes to Afghanistan. The first shipment of U.S. cargo on the NDN was completed March 14, 2009, on a route that originated in Riga, Latvia, and continued through Russia into Afghanistan.

Riga was the primary point of embarkation in the Baltics initially. But we also send NDN Cargo through Tallinn, Estonia and one of my favorite cities, Klaipeda, Lithuania. Because of Lithuania’s strong contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom and the competitiveness of Klaipeda, Lithuania was added to the NDN in December 2010. Since then, it has facilitated the movement of over 4,000 containers of vital sustainment material to our troops in Afghanistan. I know that Minister Masiulis visited TRANSCOM two days ago, and that there are plans afoot for further modernization of the port facilities in Klaipeda…

Since its independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Lithuania and its sister Baltic republics of Latvia and Estonia have always been responsive to the United States. I’d just like to reiterate today what I’ve told many of my friends from the Baltics – your willingness to help us when we need your help does not go unnoticed. This kind of collaboration gives me great confidence in the staying power of our nation’s alliance with all three of the Baltic republics.

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NATO Requirements: Baltic Lands Forces Integrated Into Danish Division

http://www.baltic-course.com/eng/baltic_news/?doc=8584

Baltic Course
January 20, 2012

Baltic land forces to be integrated in Danish Division by end-2013

-The Defense Ministry emphasizes that the integration of the Infantry Brigade into the Danish Division will consolidate Latvia’s military capacity, improve the planning and performance of military operations, and standardize cooperation between the Baltic and Danish units pursuant to NATO requirements.

Riga: By December 31, 2013, the Land Force Infantry Brigade of the National Armed Forces, as well as the brigades of the Estonian and Lithuanian armed forces, will be integrated into the Danish Division, writes LETA.

According to the government’s action plan released by the government this week, which will be altered and supplemented in accordance with proposals received from non-governmental organizations and other expert groups, the integration of the Latvian Land Force battalion into the Danish Division will be funded with state budget money provided to the Defense Ministry.

During the implementation of the three Baltic countries’ joint unit, the Baltic Battalion (BALTBAT), close military cooperation developed with the Scandinavian countries, including Denmark, the Defense Ministry’s Press Department. As part of this cooperation, significant support was provided for BALTBAT, thereby consolidating the National Armed Forces’ capacity.

After the BALTBAT project was halted and the Land Force Infantry Battalion set up, it became obvious that quality and adequate support for the battalion’s training was necessary.

This support has been provided by the Danish Division since 2005.

The continuation of the cooperation between the three Baltic countries and Denmark should be considered as a continuation of the BALTBAT project, albeit on a higher level, and it proves that the Baltic countries wish to continue stable cooperation in the long term, the Defense Ministry informs

The Defense Ministry emphasizes that the integration of the Infantry Brigade into the Danish Division will consolidate Latvia’s military capacity, improve the planning and performance of military operations, and standardize cooperation between the Baltic and Danish units pursuant to NATO requirements.

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NATO Allies To Observe U.S.-South Korea-Japan War Games

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/US-South-Korea-to-Hold-Joint-Military-Exercises-138187854.html

Voice of America News
January 27, 2012

US, South Korea to Hold Joint Military Exercises
Steve Herman

Seoul: The United States and South Korea are to hold two military exercises on the Korean peninsula soon. They will be the first such war games since the recent change of leadership in North Korea.

There had been speculation one or both of the joint U.S.-South Korean military drills might be postponed or called off this year. But on Friday, the U.S. and South Korea militaries announced the annual exercises would go ahead.

A command post exercise, named “Key Resolve” is to start on February 27. It will involve 2,100 U.S. personnel, including 800 coming from Japan and elsewhere, as well as the participation of 200,000 South Korean troops.

Members of the U.N. Command, as well as officers from Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark and Norway, are to observe.

It will overlap with the start of a two-month joint tactical field exercise, known as “Foal Eagle.” The training is to involve 11,000 U.S. forces, along with a still undecided number of South Korean military divisions and smaller-sized units.

Foal Eagle, is to run from March 1 through April 30.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Most Significant Shift In U.S. Military Policy Since End Of Cold War

January 28, 2012 2 comments

Daily Pioneer
January 26, 2012

America reinvents policies to meet new challenges
Mayuri Mukherjee

By scripting the most dramatic shift in its foreign and defence policies since the end of the Cold War, the US prepares to confront a new world order

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In the last two decades since, Washington, DC has actively played the role of a global hegemon that has maintained an absolute military superiority over the rest of the world, further strengthened by its economic prowess.

In the first half of the post-Cold War era, the continued maintenance of such a mammoth defence structure was justified by military engagements in Europe (think of the ‘humanitarian intervention’ of the US-led Nato forces in the Balkan Wars)…

Mr Obama’s new doctrine focuses America’s attention on balancing power equations among emerging nations such as India and China in the Asia-Pacific region.

This will be done through a network of regional allies on the front-stage, in diplomatic terms, and through sophisticated secret surveillance, un-manned drones and CIA-style special operations in the back-stage, in military terms.

Think of how quickly popular support waned for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though far more American soldiers died in the Vietnam and Korea. No one really bought the fourth World War logic, and they are no less glad that it is now over.

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When US President Barack Obama said in a recent interview that, “I made a commitment to change the trajectory of American foreign policy…and I think we have accomplished those principal goals,” his statement was lot more true than popularly acknowledged. Indeed, the new set of ‘defence strategies’ unveiled by his Administration earlier this month marks the most significant shift in US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.

In the last two decades since, Washington, DC has actively played the role of a global hegemon that has maintained an absolute military superiority over the rest of the world, further strengthened by its economic prowess. Indeed, even after the threat of a communist take-over had been effectively eliminated by the late eighties, the US military was only nominally downsized from its war-time proportions.

In the first half of the post-Cold War era, the continued maintenance of such a mammoth defence structure was justified by military engagements in Europe (think of the ‘humanitarian intervention’ of the US-led Nato forces in the Balkan Wars) and in West Asia (a successful Gulf War saw the containment of a belligerent Saddam Hussein). Then, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, there emerged a new enemy in the form of Al Qaeda and its network of jihadi groups. It was, and still is, a stateless, shadowy entity that has nevertheless been portrayed as an evil superpower, somehow akin to communist Russia or Nazi Germany, to once again rationalise the presence of a vast American military. Indeed, as the first US troops landed in Afghanistan, neo-conservatives even declared that this would be the fourth World War (the third being the Cold War), or the ‘Long War’.

A decade later, Mr Obama has now declared that war to be over. Osama bin Laden is dead (although the threat of global jihadists remains, but that is another story), US engagement in Afghanistan is winding down, and for all practical purposes, there are no longer any American boots in Iraq.

But that is not all — the past 10 years have also witnessed the sagging of America’s economic strength. Weighed down by a mounting national debt, the US economy which is yet to fully recover from the global financial meltdown of 2007-2008, can no longer afford a gigantic military — and definitely not one that had supposedly been prepped to fight two wars at the same time. Besides, the possibility of a traditional land war is almost obsolete in a nuclear and globalised 21st century.

It is against this backdrop that the new policy, which seeks to trim the US military and renounce the bipartisan consensus achieved post-1989, must be understood. From performing the traditional role of a hegemon fighting ‘nation-building wars’, Mr Obama’s new doctrine focuses America’s attention on balancing power equations among emerging nations such as India and China in the Asia-Pacific region.

This will be done through a network of regional allies on the front-stage, in diplomatic terms, and through sophisticated secret surveillance, un-manned drones and CIA-style special operations in the back-stage, in military terms. A preview of this kind of warfare is already available in the manner in which the US is carrying out counter-insurgency operations in the AfPak region.

Also, compare this to the far more boots (and weapons) intensive approach of traditional warfare and it naturally explains the smaller, leaner, more agile but technologically advanced military that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta talked about at the release of this strategic document at the Pentagon. Finally, the new strategy also fits in with the narrative of fiscal discipline and domestic cost-cutting that has become an American imperative since the economic downturn.

Grounded in realism, the new policy is a classic example of realpolitik and marks a definite break from the quest for imperial hegemony of the neo-conservative years of former President George Bush and his deputy Dick Cheney who foolishly led US troops into an expensive and ineffective ground battle in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But the new policy is not without flaws. For instance, if the Obama Administration hopes to contain China’s imperialist tendencies — and make no mistake that that is exactly what the new strategy is all about — then simply positioning ships across the Asia-Pacific from Japan to South Korea and even in far away Australia will not serve any purpose. If anything, this unnecessarily aggressive posturing of the US can only serve to provoke an already jittery China.

Ultimately, Mr Obama’s policy is a reflection of his people’s mood. Americans are tired of foreign wars and now simply want their boys to come back home and not in a body casket, please. There may have been a time when a John F Kennedy could have captured the nation’s imagination by promising that his country would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” But those days of a zealous commitment to Americana or the rhetoric of freedom and liberty that surrounds it are long gone. Think of how quickly popular support waned for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, even though far more American soldiers died in the Vietnam and Korea. No one really bought the fourth World War logic, and they are no less glad that it is now over.

Categories: Uncategorized

Role Of India And China In Emerging Multipolar World, Asian Century

January 28, 2012 2 comments

China Daily
January 19, 2012

Working together for an Asian century
By Mukul Sanwal

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The policy issue before India is clear: will it work with China to decisively shape the future of Asia and become a major participant in world politics, or, will it partner with the US to contain China, so that it can become a regional power.

Understanding the second major strategic shift now taking place in the world provides one answer to this question. The US has correctly framed the issue, by recognizing that countries are gaining influence now “less because of the size of their armies than because of the growth of their economies”.

The perspective that energy is a zero-sum game is a Western construct, as they are profligate users of energy and see it as an integral part of their way of life. India and China on the other hand are taking steps to curb their energy consumption.

The third strategic shift is taking place within international institutions, where India and China have begun to coordinate their actions on climate change and trade negotiations, the restructuring of global economic institutions and opposition to military interventions.

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India and China are competitors, but their difficulties in achieving long-term cooperation reflect lingering attitudes rather than conflicting strategic goals. In the emerging multi-polar world, major powers will have to come to some sort of accommodation with each other, shaped by three strategic shifts.

First, a significant shift of power is taking place from the United States to Asia as the driver of global politics. The US can no longer maintain its hegemony alone and it is therefore encouraging India to join it in securing a military balance of power in Asia. But any such treaty or understanding would be implicitly against China.

India last month rejected any notion of joining a trilateral security pact with the United States and Australia.

The policy issue before India is clear: will it work with China to decisively shape the future of Asia and become a major participant in world politics, or, will it partner with the US to contain China, so that it can become a regional power.

The unresolved question for military strategists in India is China’s intentions.

Understanding the second major strategic shift now taking place in the world provides one answer to this question. The US has correctly framed the issue, by recognizing that countries are gaining influence now “less because of the size of their armies than because of the growth of their economies”.

India’s growth has differed from China’s and the rest of Asia in its reliance on domestic demand and growth in services rather than labor-intensive manufacturing.

China is now India’s biggest trading partner. Trade and business ties between China and India have increased dramatically from around $5 billion in 2002 to more than $60 billion in 2010, and the aim is to boost trade over the next five years to $100 billion annually.

The most striking difference between India and China is the demographic dividend, as a surge in Indian youth coincides with the graying of China. While India’s workforce will increase by 110 million over the next decade, China’s will increase by less than 20 million. This could push India’s growth rate ahead of China’s.

The drivers of competition between the two countries will therefore be shaped by water and energy rather than by efforts to expand trade. India has successful experience with the Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan. The perspective that energy is a zero-sum game is a Western construct, as they are profligate users of energy and see it as an integral part of their way of life. India and China on the other hand are taking steps to curb their energy consumption. The sharing of natural resources can be managed by modifying growth pathways to provide the same level of service.

No doubt both India and China want to secure their energy supplies, and since the oil supplies for both cross the Indian Ocean the answer lies in developing a joint strategic doctrine for this zone.

The third strategic shift is taking place within international institutions, where India and China have begun to coordinate their actions on climate change and trade negotiations, the restructuring of global economic institutions and opposition to military interventions. The foreign policy challenge for both countries is to work together to build networks of institutions and relationships that will support a new global order.

There is a need to review threat perceptions, security challenges and new opportunities by integrating the military, economic and multilateral spheres, because they interact with each other, and can no longer be considered in isolation. The boundary issue is moving towards an agreed framework, and the two countries must now develop a strategic partnership to realize the Asian century.

The author is a visiting professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Categories: Uncategorized

Americans Oppose War: But Does The Government Care?

January 27, 2012 2 comments

RT
January 27, 2012

Americans oppose war: But does govt care?

VIDEO

With harsh US rhetoric and tensions around Iran’s nuclear program snowballing by the hour, American polls nonetheless show that most Americans think a war with Tehran would be a grave mistake. But do the leaders care?

­Despite Iran’s recent consent to return to negotiations over its atomic work, the Obama administration says war with Tehran is still on the table. Even harsher statements come from some of Washington’s hawks like Newt Gingrich, who spoke of breaking the Iranian regime within a year.

The calls however appear to find little support with the ordinary people. Online and telephone surveys by one of the country’s online companion polls show the majority of Americans do not back the government’s talk of war against Iran.

The residents of one American city went even further and took the matter to their City Council. The legislative body of Charlottesville in Virginia passed a resolution, believed to be a first in the country, opposing the launching of a war on Iran, as well as calling for an end to current ground and drone wars engaged in by the US.

“The popular will has always been against wars, unless pushed and dragged by a very manipulative propaganda,” David Swanson, co-author of the resolution told RT. “And they have been trying – those who want war on Iran – have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get the American people onboard”.

RT’s Gayane Chichakyan went out on the streets of Washington to see how many people she met who want the US to attack Iran.

The result was – just one, out of more than a dozen.

And it’s not just ordinary US people, but many experts in the security field, who warn against starting a war with Iran. One of these is a former acting director of the CIA.

“People keep saying that the military option is still on the table. I think it would be a very bad option… One of the big problems with Iran is that if you get into an open confrontation, a military confrontation, you risk a cycle of retaliation and response with great difficulty seeing where the end point is,” John E. McLaughlin says.

A natural question here is, how can Washington continue talking war, with so many Americans against it?  

“I have a hard time thinking of any example of any issue on which the conduct of our government in Washington corresponds with majority opinion. War is not some kind of exception. The public is against bailouts for bankers, the public is against subsidies for energy companies, the public is against wars, the public is against just about every decision made on important issues in Washington,” David Swanson laments to RT.

But does the government care?

Many sense that the rift between what Americans want, and what the leaders do in the name of the American people, is not narrowing.

Categories: Uncategorized

NATO’s Grisly Crimes In Libya

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

The Herald
January 27, 2012

 

NATO’s grisly crimes in Libya
Farirai Chubvu

 


Steadfast Jaguar exercise in Cape Verde, 2006: NATO’s first war games in Africa

While Charles Ray – the US envoy here [Zimbabwe] – portrays himself as the face of the free world, a champion of human rights and democracy, and has been vociferous about his country’s role in the Libyan invasion, it turns out that just like Vietnam and other illegal wars before it, Libya is turning into a major embarrassment for Uncle Sam.

A report released last week by human rights groups in the Middle East presents extensive evidence of war crimes carried out in Libya by the United States, NATO and their proxy “rebel” forces during last year’s invasion, that culminated in the murder of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The “Report of the Independent Civil Society fact-finding Mission to Libya” presents findings of an investigation carried out last November by the Arab Organisation for Human Rights, together with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and the International Legal Assistance Consortium.

Based on interviews with victims of war crimes as well as with witnesses and Libyan officials in Tripoli, Zawiya, Sibrata, Khoms, Zliten, Misrata, Tawergha and Sirte, the report calls for the investigation of evidence that NATO targeted civilian sites, causing many deaths and injuries.

Civilian facilities targeted by NATO bombs and missiles included schools, government buildings, at least one food warehouse, and private homes.

The report also presents evidence of systematic murder, torture, expulsion and abuse of suspected Gaddafi loyalists by the NATO-backed “rebel” forces of the National Transitional Council. It describes the forced expulsion of the mostly black-skinned inhabitants of Tawergha and the ongoing persecution of sub-Saharan migrant workers by forces allied to the NTC and its transitional government.

The investigators report savage and repeated beatings of prisoners held without trial or charges, the summary execution of pro-Gaddafi fighters, and witness reports of “indiscriminate and retaliatory murders, including the ‘slaughter’ (i.e., throat slitting) of former combatants.”

The report exposes the human rights and democratic pretexts employed by the US, France, Britain and their NATO accomplices to carry out a colonial-style war of conquest. It makes clear that UN Security Council Resolution 1973, imposing a “no-fly zone” and arms embargo on Libya supposedly to protect civilians from repressive actions by Muammar Gaddafi, was in fact used to carry out a ruthless air war waged in co-ordination with “rebel” forces on the ground.

The report suggests that soon after the outbreak of anti-Gaddafi protests in Benghazi and other cities, opposition forces were receiving training from Western armed forces as well as weapons from NATO powers and allied Arab states. Opposition to Gaddafi that erupted last February following the fall of Mubarak in Egypt was rapidly taken into hand by the US, France, Britain and their agents within Libya to launch a pro-imperialist invasion.

As the report states: “From first-hand information available to the Mission, and secondary sources, it appears that NATO participated in what could be classified as offensive actions undertaken by the opposition forces, including, for example, attacks on towns and cities held by Gaddafi forces.

Equally, the choice of certain targets, such as a regional food warehouse, raises prima facie questions regarding the role of such attacks with respect to the protection of civilians.”

The report gives only the palest picture of a brutal onslaught whose purpose was to turn the clock back 43 years to the conditions that prevailed under the US-UK stooge King Idris, who turned the country’s oil resources over to American and British conglomerates and allowed the two powers to maintain large military bases on Libyan soil. The mass destruction and killing, which culminated in the levelling of Sirte and lynching of Gaddafi, make the UN-sanctioned claims of a war for “human rights” and the “protection of civilians” not only absurd, but obscene.

The rape of Libya was the Anglo-Saxons response to the revolutionary uprisings that ousted long-time pro-Western regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, two countries that border Libya. The aim of the invasion was to impose complete control on the country’s oil resources, divert and suppress the growth of working class struggles throughout North Africa and the Middle East, and deal a blow to China and Russia, which had established close economic relations with the Gaddafi regime.

The war destroyed Libya. The NTC – an unstable coalition of ex-Gaddafi regime officials, Islamists, including some with links to Al Qaeda, and Western intelligence assets – itself estimates that the invasion claimed 50,000 lives and injured another 50,000. Rising infighting between the NTC’s factions is opening the door to full-scale civil war between rival clan-based and regional militias.

Just this weekend, amid warnings from NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil of looming civil war, a crowd demanding the resignation of the transitional government forced its way into the NTC’s headquarters in Benghazi. Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, the vice president of the NTC, promptly resigned.

The report on US-NATO war crimes is also a further indictment of the assortment of “left” parties, intellectuals and academics who parroted the human rights pretexts of Washington and NATO and thus gave open or backhanded support to the invasion of Libya.

And still, the so-called International Criminal Court is deafeningly silent.

Categories: Uncategorized

Counterbalance To U.S. And NATO In Asia: New Era In Pakistan-Russia Relations

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

New Era of Pak-Russia Relations
By Sajjad Shaukat

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Notably, after the announced withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2014, the US has decided to establish six permanent military bases in the war-torn country having an eye on the energy resources of Central Asia with multiple strategic designs against Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia. Russia wants to get more involved in regional affairs to counterbalance the growing influence of the US-led West in the region. It knows that Pakistan can play a key role in the Afghan endgame and for Russian interests in Afghanistan.

Apart from the above-mentioned strategic factors which have brought together Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan against the undue influence of the US, there are some other reasons which particularly compelled Islamabad to review its policy with Washington.

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There are no permanent friends and enemies in international politics because friendship and enmity change in accordance with the states’ interests, which are of primary importance.

In this regard, after having a strong relationship with the United States for more than 60 years, a shift has occurred in Pak-US ties because of a number of reasons, and Pakistan has inclined towards the Russian Federation which also needs the latter. So a new era has started in Pak-Russia relations.

Sources confirmed that Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar would visit Moscow in February to further boost bilateral relations between the two countries. Recently, the 7th meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability was held in Moscow. The two sides discussed matters of mutual interest relating to international issues including arms control, nonproliferation and counter-terrorism.

On May 12, 2011, Pakistan and Russia agreed to promote trade, investment and joint projects, particularly in energy, infrastructure development, metal industry and agriculture. In a joint communiqué issued after the meeting of President Asif Ali Zardari and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the Kremlin, both leaders agreed that this enhanced cooperation would help develop a strong bilateral relationship based on mutual respect and mutual interests.

Moscow has shown special interest in energy projects. A working group of both countries met in October, 2011 to explore cooperation in this sector. Islamabad is interested in Russian investment in its oil and gas sectors as well as in heavy industries.

Russia has offered Pakistan counter-terrorism equipment. The package includes 10 MI-17 helicopters of an unarmed configuration. When Russian military Chief Col-Gen. Alexander Postnikov visited Pakistan in May last year, he discussed with Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani the possibility of expanding defence ties by holding joint military exercises, exchanging trainees and trainers and selling and buying weapons. Moscow has also offered to sell the Sukhoi Superjet 100, a modern aircraft with a capacity of up to 95 passengers, while the upgrading of Pakistan steel mills by Russia is being finalised.

Cordial relations with Moscow suit Islamabad’s long-term strategic interests as it seeks to diversify resources, especially in view of continuing problems with Washington that has hitherto been its biggest supplier.

During the Cold War, Pakistan was allied with the United States and the former Soviet Union backed India. However, the Soviet Union’s arms sales to New Delhi and criticism of Pakistan’s position in the 1971 war with India weakened bilateral relations.

The U-2 incident occurred in 1960 when a US spy plane was shot down by the former Sovit Union and the pilot was captured alive. The fact that the plane flew from Pakistani territory enraged the Soviet Union. The Soviets threatened to bomb the Pakistani base if future missions were flown from it. In relation to the incident, Pakistani General Khalid Mahmud Arif had stated, “Pakistan felt deceived because the US had kept her in the dark about such clandestine spy operations launched from Pakistan’s territory.”

In 1974, then-Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto visited Moscow. For the first time in their history, the Soviet Union’s ties with Pakistan began to warm. His talks prompted the former Soviet Union to establish a steel mill in Karachi at its own expanse. However, after the American CIA orchestrated the removal of Bhutto, tensions began to mount with General Zia ul-Haq, who opposed the Soviet Union ideologically.

The two countries were bitter enemies in the 1980s when Pakistan became a frontline state of the US-led war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and also during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

After Pakistan joined the US war againt terrorism in 2001, Russia vowed its support for Islamabad’s fight against the Taliban militants. In 2007, relations between Pakistan and Russia were reactivated after the visit of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

It is of particular attention that in 2010 Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stated that Russia was against developing strategic and military ties with Pakistan because of its desires to place emphasis on strategic ties with India. But Moscow changed its policy in 2011 when Putin publicly endorsed Pakistan’s bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and remarked that Pakistan was a very important partner for Russia in South Asia and the Muslim world.

In recent years, besides, various annual summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which includes Russia, China and four Central Asian states including Pakistan and Iran, on 16 August 2007, in their summit, the leaders of the SCO displayed strength against the US rising dominance in the region and military presence in Afghanistan, near the region of Central Asia.

Notably, after the announced withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2014, the US has decided to establish six permanent military bases in the war-torn country having an eye on the energy resources of Central Asia with multiple strategic designs against Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia. Russia wants to get more involved in regional affairs to counterbalance the growing influence of the US-led West in the region. It knows that Pakistan can play a key role in the Afghan endgame and for Russian interests in Afghanistan.

Besides, US President Barack Obama unveiled a defence strategy on January 5 this year which calls for greater US military presence in Asia. Obama elaborated that the strategy also calls for the US military to “rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region…even as our troops continue to fight in Afghanistan, the tide of war is receding.”

As regards Russia, it opposes the US intention to deploy an antiballistic missile defence system (NMD) in Europe, while differences already existed between Moscow and Washington over the US-led NATO’s attack on Libya. Both Moscow and Beijing, which favour multi-polar system in the world, have opposed incremental UN sanctions on Iran and US-Israeli war-mongering diplomacy against Tehran over the peaceful nuclear programme of the latter.

Apart from the above-mentioned strategic factors which have brought together Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan against the undue influence of the US, there are some other reasons which particularly compelled Islamabad to review its policy with Washington. In this respect, the US’s perennial blame game against Pakistan’s Army and the country’s intelligence agency ISI in supporting insurgency in Afghanistan and the Haqqani network, backing subversive acts, Baloch separatism and deployment of espionage system in the country to destabilize Pakistan including America’s old maximum to do more against militancy without bothering about public backlash had already worsened Pak-US relations.

Meanwhile on May 2, 2011, US commandos killed Osama bin Laden by violating the sovereignty of Pakistan, while Pak-US ties received a further blow when on November 26, US-led NATO aircraft deliberately carried out unprovoked firing on two Pakistan Army border posts in the Mohmand Agency, killing 24 troops in the wake of intermittent US-backed infiltration of militants from Afghanistan, which killed a number of security forces in Pakistan, coupled with drone attacks. In response, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership took tough measures such as the blockage of the NATO supply route to Afghanistan, the vacating of the Shamsi Airbase, a boycott of the second Bonn Conference on the future of Afghanistan, the rejection of the US investigation report in relation to the air strikes. Finally, Islamabad decided to reassess its engagement with the US.

It is notable that on November 28, 2011, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, commenting on the NATO cross-border air attack in Pakistan, emphasised that a nation’s sovereignty should always be upheld, even when hunting terrorists.

As Pakistan is redefining its relationship with America, based upon mutual respect and especially assurance of Pak sovereignty, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman has recently been asked by Islamabad to stop visiting the country until Pakistan finalises the review of its new partnership with America.

Nonetheless, a new era of Pak-Russia relations has commenced, and with the passage of time both countries will further strengthen their ties.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: January 27, 2012

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

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Pentagon To Unleash Special Operations Troops Worldwide

No To NATO: Ukrainians Protest Arrival Of U.S. Warship

Post-NATO War: Libya Teeters On Edge Of Civil War

Mongolia: Strategic U.S. Ally Between China And Russia

U.S. Regaining Military Foothold In The Philippines

NATO Chief: Missile Shield Fundamentals In Place By Chicago Summit

Russia To U.S. – Drop Missile Shield Or Face Response

No Unilateral Concessions On NATO Missile Shield: Russia

U.S. Able To Intercept Russian Missiles If Strategic Forces Not Upgraded

Win On Any Battlefield: U.S. Army Expands Global Partnerships

Pentagon’s Asia Shift Favors Submarines, Tankers

NATO International School Of Azerbaijan Session Begins

Increase In Energy Reserves Enhances Azerbaijan’s Strategic Role

Davos: Caspian-Black-Baltic Seas Pipelines Discussed

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Pentagon To Unleash Special Operations Troops Worldwide

http://www.stripes.com/news/bin-laden-raid-commander-seeks-global-expansion-of-special-ops-1.166880

Stars and Stripes
January 26, 2012

Bin Laden raid commander seeks global expansion of special ops

U.S. officials say the Pentagon is moving to unleash special operations troops worldwide as traditional military operations are cut back.

According to The Associated Press, defense officials have embraced a proposal by U.S. Special Operations Command chief Adm. Bill McRaven to push troops as they withdraw from war zones to reinforcement of units in areas somewhat neglected during the decade-long focus on al-Qaida. Positioning commandos closer to new crisis zones would make it easier to launch raids such as the ones that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden and the recent rescue of hostages from Somali pirates.

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No To NATO: Ukrainians Protest Arrival Of U.S. Warship

http://en.ria.ru/mlitary_news/20120126/170963407.html

Russian Information Agency Novosti
January 26, 2012

US Warship Calls at Ukrainian Port Amid Protests

SEVASTOPOL: A U.S. guided missile cruiser stopped at the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol on Thursday with a group of some 50 protesters chanting “Yankee, go home!” and “No to NATO!”

The USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), a Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser, is on a mission in the Black Sea and is to visit the ports of Constanta, Sevastopol and Odessa.

It carries 26 Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers and has elements of a missile defense system on board.

The protesters also burned a U.S. flag featuring the Nazi swastika instead of stars.

Yevhen Dubovik, a protest organizer, said the visit was illegal because it had not been authorized by Ukraine’s parliament.

“Nevertheless, a warship has called here that has offensive weapons on board and it is not ruled out that if it receives orders it will deliver a strike on Iran in close proximity to our coast,” he said.

“Thus Ukraine, a state not affiliated with any military blocs, may automatically become involved in an international conflict.”

The USS Vella Gulf is to remain in Sevastopol until January 31. A number of joint tactical exercises with Ukrainian naval units have been planned.

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Post-NATO War: Libya Teeters On Edge Of Civil War

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012/01/26/64661112.html

Voice of Russia
January 26, 2012

Libya teeters on edge of civil war
Konstantin Garibov

-“There have been clashes between Arabs and Berbers and between other tribes on ethnic grounds. It’s also important that the so-called fighters for freedom and democracy came to power in Libya with the help of NATO, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Britain and France which supplied planes or special task forces. For Libyans, the National Transitional Council is not legitimate.”
-“There has been no revolution in Libya. The western media have made it all up. From the very outset, it was clear that whoever would come to power after Gaddafi would be unable to rule the country or maintain its territorial integrity. Many Arabic scholars foresaw a split and it came sooner than expected. The reality is that Libya has entered a civil war.”

       
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay and the UN Libya envoy Ian Martin have expressed concern over the situation in Libya where they say the new authorities have failed to assert full authority and instill order.

The recent clashes between pro-Gaddafi supporters and NTC forces were provoked by both parties, Ian Martin said. Until recently, the interim authorities managed to handle these kinds of incidents fairly well but they might happen again in the future, the UN human rights commissioner said.

On Monday armed units of pro-Gaddafi supporters seized Bani Walid where the elders had passed a no-confidence motion against the central government. Sweeping violence also gripped Benghazi and Tripoli. Bani Walid returned under the control of the Libyan government by Wednesday.

The attacks by pro-Gaddafi forces are taking place amid the acute crisis that has hit the NTC and Libya as a whole. Alexei Podtserob of the Institute of Oriental Studies, comments.

“There have been clashes between Arabs and Berbers and between other tribes on ethnic grounds. It’s also important that the so-called fighters for freedom and democracy came to power in Libya with the help of NATO, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Britain and France which supplied planes or special task forces. For Libyans, the National Transitional Council is not legitimate.”

The revolutionaries are disgruntled at the absence of transparency in the government’s work, its failure to pay compensations promised and the presence of former Gaddafi functionaries in the current leadership. For this reason, many experts believe that the NTC is incapable of taking the situation under control. Andrei Volodin of the Center for Oriental Research at the Russian Foreign Ministry, has this to say.

“There has been no revolution in Libya. The western media have made it all up. From the very outset, it was clear that whoever would come to power after Gaddafi would be unable to rule the country or maintain its territorial integrity. Many Arabic scholars foresaw a split and it came sooner than expected. The reality is that Libya has entered a civil war.”

The so-called Arab Spring revolutions naturally spill into full-scale civil wars, Yevgeny Satanovsky of the Institute of the Middle East says. Given this, the new regimes are unlikely to see stability in the near future. According to Satanovsky, the current turmoil in Libya has the potential to wreak havoc across North Africa, and the unrest in Yemen may plunge the whole of the Arabian Peninsula into chaos.

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Mongolia: Strategic U.S. Ally Between China And Russia

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-01/26/c_131377913.htm

Xinhua News Agency
January 26, 2012

Mongolia holds seminar to mark anniversary of ties with U.S.

Mongolia: Pentagon Trojan Horse Wedged Between China And Russia

ULAN BATOR: The Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade held a seminar Thursday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the United States.

Addressing an audience of some 100 government officials, scholars and U.S. diplomats, U.S. ambassador to Mongolia Jonathan Addleton said the two countries have expanded cooperation in a wide range of areas over the past years and more and more big U.S. companies have been engaged in Mongolia’s economic development.

The ambassador also mentioned Mongolia’s “active role in international peacekeeping missions.”

Mongolia-U.S. relations have developed rapidly over the past years as the two countries have agreed to build a “comprehensive partnership based on common strategic interests.”

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U.S. Regaining Military Foothold In The Philippines

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012/01/26/64690091.html

Voice of Russia
January 26, 2012

U.S. regaining military foothold in the Philippines
Vladimir Gladkov

       
The contest for domination over the South China Sea between the US and China reaches a new level as the Philippines enters negotiations with the White House about expanding the American military presence in the country. This move will be a frustrating surprise for China. A decision to start the talks came two decades after the eviction of US forces from their biggest base in the Pacific. The development of the situation will certainly raise tensions between the US and China, considering the aggressive efforts of America aimed at expanding its military presence in the region and China’s growing thirst for oil.

The energy-rich South China Sea became a contested territory in the middle of the last century, when the Chinese Communist Party claimed its “indisputable sovereignty” over almost the entire basin. Now when China’s demand for energy has dramatically risen, Beijing will hardly accept any compromises in the battle for the Sea. According to the International Energy Agency in Paris, China will double its demand for oil in the next quarter century. Considering the fact that China imports more than half its oil while its own onshore oil resources are expecting a decline in oil-production, the expansion of American presence in the oil-rich South China Sea will infuriate Beijing.

However, the While House will hardly miss a chance to confront its main opponent, especially now when many other Southeast Asian countries seem to be on the side of the US…

“I don’t see in the near future an American base in Vietnam, but we have seen much more increased military cooperation,” said James Webb, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific affairs and a Vietnam War veteran.

…The US already has about 600 special operations troops on the territory of the Philippines…but if the agreement is reached, the Philippines islands will start hosting American Navy warships and surveillance aircraft.  The deal would follow other recent agreements to base thousands of US Marines in northern Australia and to station warships in Singapore…

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NATO Chief: Missile Shield Fundamentals In Place By Chicago Summit

http://www.rttnews.com/1806656/nato-chief-basic-components-of-european-missile-defense-to-be-ready-by-may.aspx?type=gn&Node=B1

RTT News
January 27, 2012

NATO Chief: Basic Components Of European Missile Defense To Be Ready By May

-The year 2011 also saw significant changes in NATO’s partnerships. Consultation and cooperation went beyond traditional formats. The Libya operation included direct partner involvement in decision-making for NATO-led military operations and saw consultation and cooperation with the United Nations and the League of Arab States, as well as with Libya and other countries in the region.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that the initial components of the European missile defense system are expected to be in place by the time of the Chicago Summit in May.

He said this on Thursday, while launching NATO’s first ever ‘Annual Report,’ which gives a brief overview of the Alliance’s principal achievements and challenges in 2011.

The missile defense system…is “smart defense” at its best and it embodies transatlantic solidarity, the NATO chief said in his foreword to the annual report.

He said the Alliance had already made considerable progress, as along with a prominent and phased U.S. contribution, a number of Allies have made significant announcements, including Turkey, Poland, Romania, Spain, the Netherlands and France. These different national contributions will be gradually brought together under a common NATO command and control system. Key elements of it have already been tested successfully, Rasmussen added.

The Chicago Summit will be “an opportunity to renew our commitment to the vital transatlantic bond between us and to redouble our efforts to share the burden of security more effectively,” according to him. He said important decisions will be taken at the summit “to keep NATO committed, capable and connected.”

The assessment of Alliance activities in the annual report 2011 focuses on NATO operations, emerging security challenges, modernization of NATO – its structures and capabilities – as well as NATO’s growing partnerships. These areas are examined against the backdrop of the financial crisis.

In 2011, NATO operations continued across three continents. In Afghanistan, greater stability and the beginning of transition characterized 2011. Although Afghanistan constitutes the Alliance’s most significant operational commitment to date, 2011 was marked by the Alliance’s Operation Unified Protector in Libya, which mobilized NATO forces for seven months…Progress in Kosovo was marred by peaks of violence in the north, whereas counter-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa and in the Gulf of Aden helped to reduce the pirate attack success rate in 2011. And NATO’s training mission in Iraq was terminated on December 31 after eight years of operation.

The report highlights the key measures taken by NATO to tackle cyber attacks, to respond to the growing number of countries acquiring ballistic missiles and to counter terrorism…

The year 2011 also saw significant changes in NATO’s partnerships. Consultation and cooperation went beyond traditional formats. The Libya operation included direct partner involvement in decision-making for NATO-led military operations and saw consultation and cooperation with the United Nations and the League of Arab States, as well as with Libya and other countries in the region.

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Russia To U.S. – Drop Missile Shield Or Face Response

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012/01/27/64767504.html

Itar-Tass
January 27, 2012

Russia to US: drop ABM plans of face response

       
Russia  has warned the US to drop its missile defence plans or face a Russian response, of the kind that has been outlined by President Dmitry Medvedev.

Speaking in Moscow Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin also renewed Russia’s proposal to the US and NATO to develop a joint air and missile defence system for Europe.

The Americans are sending missile defence ships to the Baltic, the Barents and the Norwegian Seas and planning to deploy interceptor rockets in Poland in 2018.

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No Unilateral Concessions On NATO Missile Shield: Russia

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012/01/27/64715239.html

Ekho Moskvy/Russian Information Agency Novosti
January 27, 2012

No unilateral missile defense concessions from Russia – Ryabkov

       
Moscow does not intend to propose any initiatives on missile defense which the U.S. could interpret as concessions. This was stated by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, speaking on Ekho Moskvy radio station.

According to him, negotiations on this subject proceed with difficulty, but they are not at an impasse. “A political decision is feasible, if there is a will to seek compromise,” said the official.

“We cannot simply adopt the American position. This would amount to action in detriment of one’s own interests,” added Ryabkov.

Moscow believes that deployment of American missile defense system elements in close proximity to Russian borders is directed against this country’s strategic nuclear forces. Negotiations have stalled due to U.S. refusal to provide legal guarantees the deployed system does not target Russia’s deterrent force.

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U.S. Able To Intercept Russian Missiles If Strategic Forces Not Upgraded

http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c32/327363.html

Itar-Tass
January 26, 2012

US might be able to intercept RF missiles if Russia does not upgrade its forces – diplomat

MOSCOW: If Russia takes no effort to modernize its strategic forces, the United States might be able to intercept our missiles by 2020, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Ekho Moskvy radio station on Thursday.

When asked what is a threat a U.S. missile defence system might pose to Russia, he said, “The threat is that within the span of several years, if the U.S. plans are implemented, we will have by the year 2020 a system that will be able to intercept Russian strategic forces unless we upgrade them so that they would be able to get through this system.”

Russia sees no point in putting forth new initiatives in talks with the United States on problems of missile defence, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said.

“There was a moment when we were close, so to say, to an intermediate common understanding of the core of the problem and of what issues are to be settled first,” he told the Ekho Moskvy radio station. “But later, regrettably, the U.S. side decided not to pass a relevant document.”

“As a result, the position of our partners has grown stiff,” he noted. “In these conditions we see no point in making any steps that might be taken as Russia’s unilateral concessions.”

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Win On Any Battlefield: U.S. Army Expands Global Partnerships

http://www.army.mil/article/72498/Odierno__Army_seeks_increased_partnerships_in_Asia/

U.S. Army
January 25, 2012

Odierno: Army seeks increased partnerships in Asia
By C. Todd Lopez

-Odierno expects development of a trilateral relationship between South Korea, Japan and the United States for security cooperation, something he said “is an important step as we continue to expand our relationships in Northeast Asia.”
-“We will strengthen our presence in the region,” [Odierno] said. “We have five of our seven mutual defense treaties in this region and we continue to conduct longstanding exercises with Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. The Army will actively seek new opportunities for expanding and existing training and engaging with new partners.”
In Europe, Africa and South America, Odierno expects similar partnerships. Even with a reduced footprint in Europe, for instance, the Army maintains its commitment there to NATO allies, Odierno said, and will have increased training opportunities with its European partners.

WASHINGTON: The Army is looking for increased opportunities to partner with allies in Asia, including both Korea and Japan.

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno recently returned from a trip to the Pacific region, including Korea and Japan, as well as other parts of Pacific Command to include Hawaii and Alaska.

Odierno spoke Jan. 25 at a breakfast hosted by the Association of the United States Army’s Institute of Land Warfare in Arlington, Va.

In Japan, the general met with the Japanese minister of defense and the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force commander.

“Both expressed their optimism and were excited about increased opportunities to work together with the Army, which they see as critical to the future of the Asian region,” Odierno said.

While in Korea, he met with the country’s minister of defense and army chief of staff.

“Both leaders were extremely appreciative of our Army’s continued commitment and dedication to security in Northeast Asia,” Odierno said.

Odierno expects development of a trilateral relationship between South Korea, Japan and the United States for security cooperation, something he said “is an important step as we continue to expand our relationships in Northeast Asia.”

The general said the trip to Asia was productive, adding that it’s “clear that our partners and allies in Asia/Pacific desire increased engagement with our great Army – especially as we continue to maneuver our way through these complex and uncertain times we have,” Odierno explained.

…He also said the Army must not lose the ability to conduct missions across any operational environment, including regular and irregular warfare, civilian operations, counter insurgency and humanitarian assistance.

The Army can also shape the international environment “with strong military relationships with allies and by building partner capacity,” he added.

Such relationships, Odierno said, are already strong in Asia, and will continue to grow.

“We will strengthen our presence in the region,” he said. “We have five of our seven mutual defense treaties in this region and we continue to conduct longstanding exercises with Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. The Army will actively seek new opportunities for expanding and existing training and engaging with new partners.”

In Europe, Africa and South America, Odierno expects similar partnerships. Even with a reduced footprint in Europe, for instance, the Army maintains its commitment there to NATO allies, Odierno said, and will have increased training opportunities with its European partners.

The Army must also be “ready to win,” dominantly and decisively. “The cost of indecision and cost of entering the fight without a dominant capability, enabled by superior technology and unmatched leadership, is the unnecessary loss of American lives,” Odierno said. “We must and will retain an Army with the capacity and capability to win decisively on any battlefield, should the terms fail.”

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Pentagon’s Asia Shift Favors Submarines, Tankers

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-26/pentagon-s-focus-on-asia-favors-submarines-bombers-tankers-panetta-says.html

Bloomberg News
January 26, 2012

Pentagon’s Asia Shift Favors Subs, Tankers
By Tony Capaccio

-The plan calls for increasing the size of the Navy’s current Virginia-class attack submarines to carry more Tomahawk cruise missiles and to develop an undersea, non-nuclear “strike option” similar to an intercontinental ballistic missile.
-The Littoral Combat vessels, made for operating close to shore by Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Maryland, and Austal of Henderson, Australia, get an expanded role in the plan. Panetta said the Navy intends to base some of them in Singapore and other patrol craft in Bahrain.

The Pentagon’s shift to forces focused on Asia and the Middle East in a budget outlined today may protect from deep cuts U.S. makers of aircraft carriers, submarines, surface-combat vessels, electronic-warfare sensors, drones, long-range bombers and tankers.

While the plan would slow the pace of shipbuilding, its emphasis on naval forces in an era of budget-cutting may help vessel-makers Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., General Dynamics Corp. (GD), Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) and Austal Ltd. It also may provide opportunities for aircraft companies Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) and Boeing Co. (BA) and missile maker Raytheon Co. (RTN)

“This budget protects, and in some cases increases, investments that are critical to our ability to project power in Asia and the Middle East,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at a news conference at the Pentagon today disclosing elements of a $613 billion defense proposal for fiscal 2013. That includes $88.4 billion for continuing combat, led by the war in Afghanistan.

‘Far More Lethal’

The biggest initiative other than military hardware is a reduction of the Army – “gradually,” according to Panetta – to 490,000 personnel from about 565,000 today. The Army numbered about 480,000 in February 2002, one year before the Iraq invasion. The budget also calls for reducing the Marines to 182,000 from about 202,000 today.

“They will be fundamentally shaped by a decade of war, far more lethal, battle-hardened and ready,” Panetta said of U.S. forces. The Army was increased by as much as 95,000 and the Marines by 30,000, largely because of the Iraq war.

The Pentagon’s Asia and Middle East emphasis reinforces the need for a long-range, stealthy bomber, and sustaining the Navy’s 11-carrier force with 10 air wings and big-deck amphibious vessels, Panetta said.

Huntington Ingalls of Newport News, Virginia, is building the three-ship, $40 billion Gerald R. Ford class of carriers to be equipped with a new electromagnetic catapult system built by closely held General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.

‘‘Modernizing our submarine fleet will be critical to our efforts to maintain maritime access in these vital regions,” Panetta said.

‘Strike Option’

The plan calls for increasing the size of the Navy’s current Virginia-class attack submarines to carry more Tomahawk cruise missiles and to develop an undersea, non-nuclear “strike option” similar to an intercontinental ballistic missile. Raytheon of Waltham, Massachusetts makes the Tomahawk. Huntington Ingalls and General Dynamics make the submarine.

The “strike option” concept was first proposed by the Bush administration and resurrected in fiscal 2011 under Obama.

The Littoral Combat vessels, made for operating close to shore by Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Maryland, and Austal of Henderson, Australia, get an expanded role in the plan. Panetta said the Navy intends to base some of them in Singapore and other patrol craft in Bahrain…

The fiscal 2013 budget proposal is 1 percent less, unadjusted for inflation, than this year’s $531 billion plan. The numbers include spending on military construction.

The defense number, not including combat, grows to $534 billion in fiscal 2014, $546 billion in fiscal 2015, $556 billion in fiscal 2016 and $567 billion in 2017.

Adjusted for inflation, the Pentagon projects a 1.6 percent reduction in real spending power between 2013 and 2017.

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NATO International School Of Azerbaijan Session Begins

http://en.apa.az/news.php?id=164573

Azeri Press Agency
January 27, 2012

Winter session of NATO International School of Azerbaijan (NISA) starts

Baku: The next winter session of NATO International School of Azerbaijan (NISA) starts.

Press service of Ministry of Foreign Affairs told APA that the opening ceremony will be held on January 30.

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Increase In Energy Reserves Enhances Azerbaijan’s Strategic Role

http://en.trend.az/capital/energy/1985196.html

Trend News Agency
January 27, 2012

Turkish minister: Increase in energy reserves enhances Azerbaijan’s role
A. Taghiyeva

Baku: The increase in energy reserves enhances Azerbaijan’s role for Turkey, Turkish Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz said in an interview with T24 on Friday.

“The discovery of new gas fields in Azerbaijan is also our achievement,” Minister said.

Yildiz said that the implementation of the Trans Anadolu (TANAP) project contributes to the supply of Azerbaijani gas to Europe.

Earlier, Azerbaijan and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a consortium. It will build a pipeline to supply gas from the Shah Deniz field to Europe through Turkish territory.

The construction of the TANAP gas pipeline is required to export most of 50 billion cubic meters of gas that Azerbaijan intends to produce by 2025.

The participants of the project plan to resolve all issues on this gas pipeline in 2012 and begin construction for the project to be implemented by late 2017, when the implementation of the second stage of Shah Deniz field development is launched. The gas pipeline will be the basis of the Southern Gas Corridor.

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Davos: Caspian-Black-Baltic Seas Pipelines Discussed

http://en.trend.az/capital/energy/1984862.html

Trend News Agency
January 27, 2012

Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Turkey to implement joint energy projects

-The two countries have an agreement on transportation of Azerbaijani oil via system of main oil pipelines of Ukraine: in the direction of the Kremenchuk oil refinery from the port of Odesa; transit in the direction of the Mozyr oil refinery (Belarus); transit in the direction of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic), as well as in the direction of Poland’s oil refinery with the use of the Belarusian and Polish sections of the oil pipeline Druzhba (for the period prior to completion of the Brody-Plock pipeline construction).

Baku: Ukraine is holding an active dialogue with Azerbaijan on implementation of joint projects in the energy sector, president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich told Ukrainian mass media outlets in Davos on Thursday following a meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the presidential press service reported.

“We held another round of negotiations. Two protocols are being prepared for signing. There are technical issues that need to be considered by specialists. Undoubtedly, Ukraine will continue to work on transportation of the Caspian gas as a gas consumer and as a country that can take part in the construction of gas-transport systems involving our resources. It is very interesting for us,” President Yanukovych said.

He said now trilateral negotiations are underway between Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Turkey on cooperation in energy sector projects.

“We see the perspective,” President Yanukovych said, adding that the negotiation parties practically confirmed their interest in these projects.

Two documents will be signed between the two countries on gas supplies to a LNG terminal and establishment of a Ukrainian-Azerbaijan company to develop the project to build the facility.

It is expected that the developer of a feasibility study for a Ukrainian LNG-terminal, the Spanish company Socoin, will complete the work soon. The cost of construction of the terminal was decreased from $1.5 billion to $1 billion.

The Ukrainian national project LNG terminal includes construction of a marine terminal for liquefied natural gas. Ukraine will be able to diversify gas supplies in the volume of 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year after implementation of the project.

The two countries have an agreement on transportation of Azerbaijani oil via system of main oil pipelines of Ukraine: in the direction of the Kremenchuk oil refinery from the port of Odesa; transit in the direction of the Mozyr oil refinery (Belarus); transit in the direction of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic), as well as in the direction of Poland’s oil refinery with the use of the Belarusian and Polish sections of the oil pipeline Druzhba (for the period prior to completion of the Brody-Plock pipeline construction).

====

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Prepares For Global Unmanned Warfare

January 27, 2012 2 comments

Voice of Russia
January 26, 2012

The U.S. prepares for unmanned warfare
Boris Volkhonsky*
Edited by RR

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First of all, a network of special operation bases and the use of drones signify that the U.S. would be able to attack any adversary anywhere, not bothering too much about whether they are attacking a sovereign state or not.

Sources say that the U.S. plans to use such bases in Australia and in the Philippines, which reflects a new emphasis Washington is laying on confronting China along its eastern borders. With drones and special bases being deployed all over the globe and especially in the vicinity of such a sensitive area as the South China Sea, it gives the U.S. new opportunities to further alienate an unlimited number of nations.

====

As the U.S. Defense Secretary has been getting ready to present a new Pentagon budget for 2012, some details of his plans became known to the media.

One of the striking new features in the plan is that while the Pentagon is preparing to cut its conventional forces, it lays more emphasis on unmanned drones and special operation bases. According to some sources, the plan is to increase the fleet of unmanned aircraft by 30 percent in the coming years. Also, new, small so-called “lily-pad” bases will be deployed in various points of the globe for launching special operations and engaging allies.

Definitely, such plans reflect a growing weariness felt by the American public after the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which have claimed thousands of American lives. The number of civilian casualties among Iraqis and Afghans exceeds it by scores, but who cares?

Definitely, the majority of American taxpayers are no longer ready to pay for the deaths of their children. Unmanned aircraft seem a much more preferable tool for conducting warcraft. Again, it should be said that the use of drones does not significantly diminish the number of civilian casualties in the countries they are deployed in, but that again hardly bothers the U.S. public as well as authorities.

Therefore, from the elections point of view, the new plan might serve President Obama’s interests. But what could be its long-term implications?

First of all, a network of special operation bases and the use of drones signify that the U.S. would be able to attack any adversary anywhere, not bothering too much about whether they are attacking a sovereign state or not.

This has been done repeatedly in recent years. Drones were used over Somalia and Pakistan, with which the U.S. is not engaged in any war. The most notorious special operation launched by the U.S. last year on the territory of a sovereign state was the elimination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan without even giving prior notice to Pakistani authorities.

It also sheds some light on the future of Afghanistan. Most probably, Obama (or whoever will be the White House host in 2014) will fulfill the promise to withdraw combat troops from there. But it will in no way mean that the operation is over. Instead of the stationary presence of regular troops, there will be small mobile units launching secret raids and hunt-and-kill missions.

With the expansion of the drone fleet and special operation bases, one should expect that the number of drone strikes and special forces raids will only increase. Formally, it would allow U.S. authorities to state that a) they are not launching any war against anybody, and b) they are sparing the lives of American soldiers. But in fact it would only be a continuation of the old belligerent policy.

But what would such practice result in? If we look back at Pakistan where the use of drones was most widespread, we can see that it not only inflicted enormous damage in terms of human lives and infrastructure, but also extremely alienated the Pakistani people from the U.S. and brought bilateral relations to the verge of total collapse. In fact, the Chinese were the only ones who were happy about the outcome, since it enabled them to tie Pakistan much closer to their strategic interests.

Sources say that the U.S. plans to use such bases in Australia and in the Philippines, which reflects a new emphasis Washington is laying on confronting China along its eastern borders. With drones and special bases being deployed all over the globe and especially in the vicinity of such a sensitive area as the South China Sea, it gives the U.S. new opportunities to further alienate an unlimited number of nations. So, the dilemma the present administration is facing is the following: is it worth risking further international isolation (which favors the U.S.’ global opponents and primarily China) for the sake of securing re-election for a second term?

*Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

Categories: Uncategorized

ASEAN And SCO: Eurasian, Asia-Pacific Security And Stability Without Military Blocs

January 26, 2012 1 comment

Jakarta Post
January 27, 2012

ASEAN and SCO: Same traditions and missions
Vitaly Vorobyev*
Edited by RR

====

Non-bloc approaches, equality, transparency, collective principles, non-confrontation and supremacy of universal rules of international law are the pillars of such an architecture. Creating global indivisible security based on mutual understanding, respect and cooperation is largely a reflection of fundamental ideas of philosophy initially inherent to ASEAN and SCO. If the two organizations with observer status in the UN General Assembly come closer, it would not only strengthen their positive international image but also make their shared ideas even more relevant globally.

The fact that ASEAN and the SCO carry out their activities without infringing on the diversity of cultures, religions and values of the peoples living in their member states serves as the common ground for joint efforts. Mutual exchange of relevant experience would help make SCO and ASEAN even more attractive.

Why not, for example, consider ASEAN becoming an observer at the SCO and the SCO receiving ASEAN Dialogue Partner status? What prevents the SCO and ASEAN from thinking about the SCO’s joining the Bali Treaty? Apparently, there are no fundamental or procedural obstacles to that. Not only ASEAN and the SCO, but also the whole cause of designing and creating a security and stability architecture in the Asia-Pacific will benefit from this.

====

Moscow: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, widely known as ASEAN, will celebrate its 45th anniversary in August 2012.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) marked its 10th anniversary in 2011. Both organizations lie in the vast Euro-Asian terrain. The 10 ASEAN member states constitute a southern part of this territory, while the six SCO member states (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) cover its heartland — the northern and eastern parts.

The most crucial world shipping lanes between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans pass through the ASEAN area to the Atlantic Ocean and Europe. At the same time the SCO area may be called as a land transport corridor connecting the Pacific Basin with Europe and the Atlantic coast.

Despite an “age difference,” both unions have already established a chain of dialogue partners and observers among which are the largest and the most powerful states of the modern world.

It is not only the location that naturally brings the SCO and ASEAN closer to each other. Generally, they have much in common, including a common spirit and similar basic principles.

Neither of the organizations is a military and political bloc with instruments of compulsion.

Regardless of size and power, all members of both ASEAN and the SCO are equal and follow the same consensus principle while adopting the most important decisions. Both multifaceted organizations, being socially oriented, work hard with a view to adequately match the priorities of domestic development with the necessity to respond continuously to the volatile flow of external challenges and threats.

Financial and economic globalization has embraced almost the entire world. Local crises resonate in all directions and it has become impossible to mitigate them on a national level only. International terrorism fuelled by drug trafficking and separatism, organized crime and illegal migration, kidnapping and human trafficking have achieved a global dimension. Efforts by individual states are obviously insufficient to oppose them.

Both megatrends can only be efficiently reversed through a wide international consensus for risk evaluation and decision-making. The course of events brings new possibilities for international players to unite their efforts if they view problems more or less in the same way and/or have similar interests, though not in each and every respect.

In this context, it is urgently needed to intensify the implementation of the framework agreements on SCO-ASEAN cooperation achieved a few years ago. There is not even a visible obstacle for that. It is time to establish working contacts between them not on an occasional but on a regular and institutional basis. Progress in this direction will add substance to the creation of regional architecture on security and multilateral cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (AP) region.

Non-bloc approaches, equality, transparency, collective principles, non-confrontation and supremacy of universal rules of international law are the pillars of such an architecture. Creating global indivisible security based on mutual understanding, respect and cooperation is largely a reflection of fundamental ideas of philosophy initially inherent to ASEAN and the SCO. If the two organizations with observer status in the UN General Assembly come closer, it would not only strengthen their positive international image but also make their shared ideas even more relevant globally.

Cooperation between the SCO and ASEAN can develop actively in many, if not all, domains of their work. To this end, it is important to organize information exchanges between the Secretariats in Beijing and Jakarta.

The establishment of contacts between two major working bodies — the Council of National Coordinators of the SCO and the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting — appears quite promising.

Both organizations have either specific programs or specialized structures aimed at combating terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and trans-border crime. For example, the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a permanent body in the SCO framework. The SCO has gathered useful practices in countering cyber crime.

Large-scale tasks to create by 2015 involve three communities — namely, political-security, economic and socio-cultural — which are being tackled by ASEAN would undoubtedly be of interest to the SCO, as would be the ASEAN Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity approved in 2010 and aimed at developing the transport, information and communication infrastructure of the association. ASEAN could take an interest in some practical projects that are being implemented by the SCO, including those in cooperation with ESCAP.

The fact that ASEAN and the SCO carry out their activities without infringing on the diversity of cultures, religions and values of the peoples living in their member states serves as the common ground for joint efforts. Mutual exchange of relevant experience would help make SCO and ASEAN even more attractive.

The agendas of the SCO and the ASEAN Regional Forums have much in common. Both structures can only benefit if dialogue is established and the SCO joins the Forum’s activities as soon as possible.

Over the years, ASEAN has gone through a number of difficult transformation periods, including the enlargement of its original membership. Today, keenly and timely adapting to world changes, ASEAN is leading the integration processes in the Asia-Pacific. Many characteristics and qualities of ASEAN can serve as a worthy and useful example for the SCO, which as it enters a phase of intensified development in the new decade.

Both organizations can complement each other without prejudice to their independence, self-sufficiency, and specificity. Formally, it can be done on a networking basis. Why not, for example, consider ASEAN becoming an observer at the SCO and the SCO receiving ASEAN Dialogue Partner status? What prevents the SCO and ASEAN from thinking about the SCO’s joining the Bali Treaty? Apparently, there are no fundamental or procedural obstacles to that. Not only ASEAN and the SCO, but also the whole cause of designing and creating a security and stability architecture in the Asia-Pacific will benefit from this.

*The writer was ambassador of the special envoy of the president of Russia for the SCO Affairs during 2000-2006.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: January 26, 2012

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

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U.S. To Deploy Third Carrier Strike Group To Persian Gulf

Russia: U.S. Uses Global Missile Shield To Boost Leadership Status

Georgia’s Saakashvili In U.S. On Obama’s Invitation

Georgian Defense Chief Hails NATO Role In Military Buildup

Afghan War: Georgia To Almost Double NATO Contingent

Thousands Of NATO Trucks In Pakistan Backlog

Land, Sea, Air: Rasmussen Says NATO “Delivers” In Africa, Asia, Europe, Arabian Sea

EU Commissioner: Final Decision On Trans-Caspian Pipeline By June

Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline Proceeds Apace

Turkey-Greece-Italy: Caspian, Middle East Pipelines To Europe

Davos: Azerbaijan’s President Discusses Trans-Eurasian Energy Projects

Turkish Military Chief To Visit Azerbaijan

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U.S. To Deploy Third Carrier Strike Group To Persian Gulf

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012/01/26/64665940.html

Interfax
January 26, 2012

U.S. to deploy more warships to Gulf in March

The U.S. plans to deploy a third convoy of warships led by USS Enterprise to the Gulf in March.

The country`s second aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and its battle group entered the Gulf via the Strait of Hormuz last Sunday, accompanied by UK and French warships.

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Russia: U.S. Uses Global Missile Shield To Boost Leadership Status

http://www.rbcnews.com/free/20120125165804.shtml

RosBusinessConsulting
January 25, 2012

Putin: U.S. uses anti-missile shield to strengthen leadership status

Moscow: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said today that plans to deploy the anti-missile defense system in Europe are related to the U.S. aspirations to strengthen its status as global leader. “Sometimes I think they need vassals, not allies,” he told students in the city of Tomsk today.

The anti-missile issue is one of the challenges in Russia-U.S relations. President Dmitry Medvedev threatened to pull out of the Strategic Nuclear Arms Treaty (START) unless the U.S. abandons its anti-missile plans.

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Georgia’s Saakashvili In U.S. On Obama’s Invitation

http://en.trend.az/news/politics/1984288.html

Trend News Agency
January 25, 2012

The President of Georgia leaves for U.S.
N. Kirtzkhalia

Tbilisi: The President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili leaves for the USA on U.S. President Barack Obama’s invitation on Wednesday, the official website of the President of Georgia reported.

An official meeting of the two presidents in the Oval Office of the White House will be held on January 30.

Mikheil Saakashvili will participate in the Basecamp Summit, to where he received a special invitation, the website of the President reported.

Major investors from around the world and business leaders will participate at the conference, which will be held in California on January 27-30.

The President of Georgia will address at the conference. The topic of his speech is “The destruction of tyranny and democracy-building: Lessons from the Rose Revolution in Georgia.”

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Georgian Defense Chief Hails NATO Role In Military Buildup

http://rustavi2.com/news/news_text.php?id_news=44460&pg=1&im=main&ct=0&wth=

Rustavi 2
January 25, 2012

Georgian Defense Minister meets with foreign diplomats

Foreign diplomats visited the Ministry of Defense of Georgia today where they discussed military education, trainings, Georgia`s relations with NATO and the ongoing ISAF operation with the Georgian minister.

Ambassadors, military attaches and representatives of various organizations attended the meeting held in the ministry.

Georgian Minister Bacho Akhalaia summed up results of the past year at the meeting and discussed the plans of 2012.

“We have achieved more-or-less serious progress in terms of the transformation of armed forces. Obviously the assistance and consultations we are receiving from our friends from NATO have made a serious contribution to this. We can say that now we are unanimous that we are on the right way and I think this year will be much more successful than the previous ones”, the minister said.

“It was a very productive briefing today on the priorities of the ministry for the coming year and in fact a couple of more years ahead in terms of both simultaneously strengthening Georgia`s defense capabilities but also creating a more modern transparent defense establishment that is thinking ahead, planning appropriately for the threats, potential and actual that Georgia faces”, U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John Bass said.

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Afghan War: Georgia To Almost Double NATO Contingent

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120125/170948606.html

Russian Information Agency Novosti
January 25, 2012

Georgia to Almost Double its Troops in Afghanistan in 2012

STRASBOURG: Georgia plans to strengthen its almost 1,000-strong peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan by 700 more troops in 2012, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said on Wednesday.

While other nations participating in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan are pulling their troops out of the war-torn country, President Mikheil Saakashvili proposed last year to increase the number of Georgian peacekeepers and the country’s lawmakers approved his move in December.

Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg, Vashadze said Georgia “has solid intentions to continue participating in the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan.”

Georgia, which is actively seeking NATO membership, joined the international U.S.-led coalition fighting the Afghan insurgency in August of 2009.

The Georgian minister added that it is “impossible to grow further without taking security issues into account… and we [Georgia] are constantly working on the issue of joining NATO.”

Georgia currently has around 750 troops in the Helmand Province and 175 in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.

At least ten Georgian soldiers have been killed since joining the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in Afghanistan.

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Thousands Of NATO Trucks In Pakistan Backlog

http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/26/thousands-of-nato-trucks-in-pakistan-backlog.html

Dawn/Agence France-Presse
January 26, 2012

Thousands of Nato trucks in Pakistan backlog

KARACHI: Two months into Pakistan’s blockade on Nato supplies crossing into Afghanistan, thousands of trucks are crowding the port in Karachi where drivers, fed up with waiting, are starting to desert.

For a month, directors of transport companies, drivers and their helpers hung around patiently, buoyed by rumours of an imminent reopening of the border, shut after US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26.

But the botched raids snowballed into the biggest disaster in Pakistani-US relations since the 2001 American invasion began after the 9/11 attacks.

Two months on, Pakistan is still reviewing the relationship and no one knows when the border will reopen, through which passes 25 per cent of the supplies needed by the 130,000 foreign troops under US command in landlocked Afghanistan.

Fed up, running out of money and missing their families, many of the drivers have since abandoned their trucks and returned to their homes, often in Pakistan’s troubled northwestern areas near the Afghan border.

“They had no more money in the end so they left one helper with their vehicle for security and care, and went back to their families,” said Mohammad Saleh Afridi, vice chairman of the All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association.

He says more than a thousand trucks are stranded in Karachi. In addition, there are containers and military vehicles — about 5,000 according to a count provided by the authorities in early January.

Since then, more have arrived by boat. Hundreds of oil tankers are filling huge car parks by the sea.

“Most of the tankers are loaded with fuel, so helpers have to look after them to avoid looting,” said Afridi.

Working for Nato is also a serious handicap in a society fed up with the US alliance that many blame for violence sweeping the country.

“Nobody wants to see us any more,” said Khan. “(Roadside) hotels and restaurants are afraid of attacks and don’t allow us to stop by anymore. Police are taking lots of bribes — it wasn’t like that before, three years ago for example —and tell us to stop working for Nato.”And the trouble doesn’t stop at the border.

“In Afghanistan, we’re attacked very often and Afghan police insult us, they shout: ‘Shame on you, you’re working for American infidels!’”

A driver for Nato earn 30,000 rupees ($330) a month, then an additional 30,000 rupees per trip to Afghanistan, which they can do once or twice a month, far more than the average salary of 7,000 rupees in Pakistan.

When the war began in late 2001, the job was easy, but not anymore.

“You could make loads of money, so we borrowed money to buy trucks. But now everything is expensive and difficult,” said Khan, who is paying back at 15 per cent a 2.5 million rupee ($27,700) debt.

In 10 years, 10 of his drivers have been killed and 12 of his trucks destroyed. He hopes one day to get out of the spiral of debt and get a new job.

“Every Pakistani who’s not involved in the business is against it,” he said.

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Land, Sea, Air: Rasmussen Says NATO “Delivers” In Africa, Asia, Europe, Arabian Sea

http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-FAE37D1C-C32395E3/natolive/news_83780.htm

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
January 26, 2012

NATO Secretary General: NATO Delivers

At his first press conference of 2012, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, presented a look back at the Alliance’s principal achievements over the past year.

“In 2011, our Alliance faced many tough tests, perhaps more than ever before”, the Secretary General said. “And the good news is that we got very good results. If I had to sum it up in two words, I would say ‘NATO delivers’”, he added.

Citing examples, Mr Rasmussen pointed to Afghanistan…

Over Libya, NATO conducted a successful operation…

In Kosovo, Mr Rasmussen underlined that NATO troops had dealt effectively with the unexpected flare-up of tensions…

The Secretary General also stressed successes in the fight against piracy off Somalia where NATO forces helped to half the number of vessels captured by pirates.

“These are real achievements, and we can be very proud. On land, sea and in the air, NATO forces worked to keep us all secure”, Mr Rasmussen said.

Looking ahead to the Chicago summit, he stressed that NATO will have to shape an Alliance which is capable of overcoming the economic crisis while continuing to guarantee security. “We must stay capable of dealing with current threats and future crisis. And we must become more connected with partners around the world”, he said. “Ultimately, we must renew our commitment to the vital transatlantic bond. That bond is the best security investment we have ever made. It has stood the test of time for six decades. And thanks to it, NATO continues to deliver real returns for all Allies, year after year. And we must continue to invest commitment and capabilities to keep it strong”.

Fogh Rasmussen also launched the first “Annual Report” which gives an overview of NATO’s principal achievements and challenges in 2011.

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EU Commissioner: Final Decision On Trans-Caspian Pipeline By June

http://en.trend.az/capital/energy/1984448.html

Trend News Agency
January 26, 2012

European Commissioner: Trans-Caspian pipeline decision may be made by June
A. Badalova

Baku: A final decision on whether to go ahead with the Trans-Caspian Pipeline project may be made in June, the EU commissioner for energy Günther Oettinger told Interfax.

Oettinger said that the negotiations between the Commission and the officials from the Turkmen and Azerbaijani governments were “intensive” yet “constructive”.

He added that the next meeting on the project will take place in a few days in Frankfurt.

The design capacity of the 300-kilometer-Trans-Caspian pipeline through the Caspian seabed between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan is linked to Europe’s demand for Turkmen gas and defining Caspian Sea status between the two countries.

Trans-Caspian project can become part of the “Southern Gas Corridor”, designed to diversify gas supplies to Europe.

There is no direct agreement on the implementation of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline yet. However, in September 2011 the European Union issued a mandate to start negotiations on an agreement between the EU, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the Trans-Caspian project. Negotiations are underway.

Despite the fact that construction of an underwater gas pipeline is associated with unresolved status of the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan believe that implementation of this project is the two states’ sovereign right.

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Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline Proceeds Apace

http://en.trend.az/capital/energy/1984401.html

Trend News Agency
January 26, 2012

Turkmen, Afghan presidents focus on TAPI gas pipeline project
H. Hasanov

Turkmenistan, Ashgabat: Negotiations were held between the presidents of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov and Hamid Karzai, in Turkmenbashi, the Turkmen government said on Thursday.

During the meeting special attention was paid to cooperation in the fuel and energy sectors and specifically the implementation of the construction of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, the report said.

Both sides stressed that “implementation of this large-scale energy project is important for all parties involved…”

The TAPI project was launched in December 2010 in Ashgabat when important agreements were concluded following the high level summit.

The length of the TAPI may reach over 17,000 km. The design capacity is about 33 billion cubic metres of gas per year, while the cost is estimated at $7-8 billion.

The source of raw materials in addition to the Dovletabad field will come from the Galkynysh field, which is one of the world super giants.

In February 2011 it was decided to take measures to build the corresponding infrastructure that will eventually enable the grid to reach a fivefold increase in the export of Turkmen electricity to Afghanistan.

Turkmenistan has initiated a project of laying the Atamyrat-Ymamnazar-Akina-Andkhoy railway which will become an important link in international transit traffic in the long term.

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Turkey-Greece-Italy: Caspian, Middle East Pipelines To Europe

http://en.trend.az/capital/energy/1984422.html

Trend News Agency
January 26, 2012

ITGI – only Southern Corridor project capable of securing final investment decision by 2013
A. Badalova

-ITGI is one of the proposed projects within the Southern gas Corridor, which involves gas supplies from the Caspian region and the Middle East to the EU countries. The project includes a modernised Turkish pipeline infrastructure, as well as an Interconnector Turkey-Greece (ITG projects) and an Italy-Greece interconnector (IGI). The project shareholders are the Greek company DEPA and Italy’s Edison. The total estimated project cost is 1.5 to 2 billion euros.

Baku: ITGI (Turkey-Greece-Italy gas pipeline) is the only Southern Gas Corridor project capable of securing a final investment decision by 2013, CEO of IGI Poseidon and head of international gas infrastructures in Italian energy company Edison Elio Ruggeri said at the European Gas Conference 2012 in Vienna.

According to the ITGI project’s statement, Ruggeri noted that in order to secure production from the second phase of Azerbaijani Shah Deniz gas field development to start in 2017, it is essential that the selected project can take a final investment decision by 2013.

“As acknowledged by many energy experts ITGI, having completed the most relevant permitting and regulatory procedures, is the only Southern Corridor project capable of securing a final investment decision in accordance with the Shah Deniz II schedule,” Ruggeri said.

He said that ITGI project’s maturity is an asset for both Europe, as it secures quick availability of Azeri gas, and for the Shah Deniz consortium, as it reduces the possible risk of delays in the start-up of production.

ITGI is one of the proposed projects within the Southern gas Corridor, which involves gas supplies from the Caspian region and the Middle East to the EU countries. The project includes a modernised Turkish pipeline infrastructure, as well as an Interconnector Turkey-Greece (ITG projects) and an Italy-Greece interconnector (IGI). The project shareholders are the Greek company DEPA and Italy’s Edison. The total estimated project cost is 1.5 to 2 billion euros.

The initial planned capacity of the ITGI pipeline will hit 10 billion cubic metres per year. One billion cubic metres will be transported to Bulgaria, one billion cubic metres to Greece, while the remaining eight billion cubic metres will go to Italy.

The Edison and Depa companies established IGI Poseidon SA to develop and construct the Greece-Italy pipeline known as Poseidon.

Gas, which will be produced within the second phase of Shah-Deniz field development is regarded as the main source for the project.

ITGI along the other pipeline projects within the Southern Gas Corridor have submitted final proposals to the Azerbaijani side, which will make its decision on preferable transportation route in the first quarter of 2012.

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Davos: Azerbaijan’s President Discusses Trans-Eurasian Energy Projects

http://en.apa.az/news.php?id=164464

Azeri Press Agency
January 26, 2012

Azerbaijani President meets UBS Global’s Chairman of Board of Directors

Baku: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met Chairman of the Board of Directors of UBS Global Kaspar Villiger in Davos. APA reports quoting the AzerTAc news agency that they discussed the issues of building and developing cooperation between Azerbaijan and the UBS, one of the largest banks in Switzerland. They also exchanged view on the prospects of building financial cooperation with Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company and State Oil Fund.

Kaspar Villiger recalled his visits to Azerbaijan and meetings with national leader Heydar Aliyev…

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Turkish Military Chief To Visit Azerbaijan

http://en.apa.az/news.php?id=164447

Azeri Press Agency
January 26, 2012

Chief of General Staff of Turkish Armed Forces Necdet Ozer to visit Azerbaijan on February 7
Rashad Suleymanov

Baku: Chief of General Staff of Turkish Armed Forces Necdet Ozer will visit Azerbaijan, military sources told APA.

The visit will be paid on February 7-9. It is Ozer’s first visit to Azerbaijan as Chief of General Staff of Turkish Armed Forces.

During the visit the delegations will hold meetings in Azerbaijan’s military organizations as well as with state and governmental representatives to assess the current state of the bilateral military relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey and the perspectives of the relations will be discussed at the meetings.

Ozer visited Azerbaijan last year as General Commander of Turkish Gendarmerie Forces.

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Categories: Uncategorized

NATO’s Lost Cause: Specter Of Defeat, Another Vietnam-Like Scenario, Looming Large

January 26, 2012 1 comment

Arab News
January 26, 2012

NATO’s lost cause in Afghanistan
Osama Al Sharif

The specter of defeat, another Vietnam-like scenario, is looming large
Edited by RR

NATO’s war in Afghanistan will go down in history as a big flop — one that the politicians had failed to end and the generals were unable to win. On the other hand, commentators and historians will ponder the fact that this backward tribal country was able to repulse the Soviets and an international coalition of no less than 50 Western countries led by the United States within a period of 30 years or so.

The US and its allies want to quit Afghanistan in 2014, but the specter of defeat, another Vietnam-like scenario, is looming large. More than 10 years after the US bombed and later occupied this mountainous country in South Asia in retaliation for al-Qaeda attacks on Washington and New York, the purpose of the war and the path to an honorable exit appear to have been lost.

An Afghanistan expert, journalist Michael Hastings, says in his new book, “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan,” that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was in charge of military operations between 2009 and 2010, rarely mentioned al-Qaeda in his briefings to US congressmen. Even Gen. David Petraeus, who took over from McChrystal, would never talk about al-Qaeda in his meetings with his top aides. Hastings points to the number that former National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones put out, which is that there were less than 100 al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan.

After destroying Osama bin Laden’s lair in the mountains of Afghanistan and forcing most of the Taleban leadership to flee in the early days of the invasion, the US focused its attention on solidifying the rule of its ally President Hamid Karzai and on counterinsurgency. But both tasks have proved untenable.

The Taleban insurgency remains a big challenge to NATO forces. In military terms, modern warfare has failed to crush guerrilla warfare. The people, the terrain and culture were all against the invaders. The regime of Karzai was corrupt and unpopular. The tribal nature of Afghanistan and its culture frustrated efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans. American drones and friendly fire have killed more civilians than combatants. The Taleban used the rugged terrain of the south and southwest intelligently. They infiltrated the enemy ranks and were able to carry out stunning attacks inside Kabul.

Last week an Afghan soldier fired his machine gun, killing four French troops in their base camp. He was avenging the dead Taleban whose bodies were desecrated by US Marines less than two weeks ago. There are 3,600 French soldiers in Afghanistan, part of a total of 130,000 foreign troops in that country.

It was not the first incident of this kind nor will it be the last. France has suspended the training of Afghan soldiers and is considering pulling out its troops before the 2014 deadline. In an election year, both in France and the United States, the image of coffins arriving home from the war front in Afghanistan will not please the public. Until the end of last year, the death toll for coalition soldiers stood at 2,765. Having failed to defeat the Taleban, who rely on support from their brethren in Pakistan’s border region, the US is now listening to Karzai’s advice to negotiate with the insurgents. Last week it was revealed that US negotiators have been secretly meeting with a representative of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, head of the outlawed Hizb-i-Islami group, which has been battling US forces mostly in the east and north of the country.

It was a step in the direction of widening talks so that they include the Taleban as well. All previous attempts to bypass the Taleban were met by failure. Officially the US refuses to talk to Mullah Omar, the fugitive Taleban leader believed to be hiding in Pakistan. But talks with his lieutenants and senior Pashtun tribal heads are underway — at least through the Karzai government.

But what could these talks lead to? The Taleban want NATO forces out, while Washington would like to see an arrangement that will involve the Taleban in a future government. The gap is wide. Washington has lost the cooperation of a major ally, which is Pakistan. Trust between the US and Pakistan has reached record lows since the Americans carried out a covert operation to kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistani territory without informing their allies in Islamabad.

Two months ago US aircraft bombed two Pakistani border points, killing more than 20 soldiers. Washington later apologized but not before Pakistan suspended all cooperation with the US.

According to Hastings, trust is also lacking between Karzai and President Obama. Gen. McChrystal used to mock the Afghan president, calling him the man with the funny hat. And Hastings reported that he had heard US officials say that Karzai was a manic depressive and that he was a drug addict.

At one point Washington wanted to rebuild Afghanistan and guide it toward democracy. But the rebuilding efforts have been marred by setbacks and corruption. At one point the US was forced to deal with opium-growing warlords in an attempt to win favors and isolate the Taleban.

The Taleban are waging a war of attrition while sending signals that they are willing to talk peace with Karzai and the Americans. All they have to do is to wait, since time is on their side. 2014 is a long way ahead for the Americans and their allies. In the end they will leave the country to its fate, just as they did in Iraq. For the people of Afghanistan the day when NATO soldiers leave will not spell the end of war but only a change in its course.

Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.

Categories: Uncategorized

Russia: Putin Accuses U.S. Of Attempts To Dominate World

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Itar-Tass
January 26, 2012

Putin accuses US of attempts to dominate world

TOMSK: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States of attempts to dominate the world and challenging internal political procedures in other countries as a tool for achieving that goal.

He spoke about foreign policy at the end of his meeting with Tomsk students that lasted about 3.5 hours on Wednesday, January 25. One of them asked Putin what could be the reasons for the negative Western reaction to the parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan.

“The reason is the U.S. foreign policy doctrine. They want to control everything…sometimes I have the impression that the United States does not need allies, that it needs vassals,” the prime minister said.

“They are not prepared to cooperate on real terms either with Europe or us. Cooperation on equal terms means determining threats together and working out a system of response to them together. They reject that flatly,” he said, referring to the missile defence system the U.S. is building in Europe.

According to Putin, one of the American ways to influence other countries is to “doubt everything and say that you do not meet certain standards” but “they work out these standards themselves”.

The Russian authorities are ready to cooperate with public organisations in the country but will not allow them to turn into a tool for external influence, Putin said.

“An attempt to use our non-governmental organisations by foreign states in their own interests for securing their own foreign policy goals with regard to our country must entail rejection. This must not be allowed to happen,” he said.

“The authorities must respond and listen, no matter what they say and how abuse their language may be. It’s indecent, but all the same [we] must listen to them,” Putin said. “The only thing we must not allow is allowing anyone to use anything inside the country for achieving their own foreign policy goals with regard to our country.”

Speaking of the elections in Kazakhstan, he recalled that the number of parties represented in the national parliament has increased from one to three. “That’s a step forward. That’s good,” he said.

Categories: Uncategorized

NATO’s Pet Despot

January 26, 2012 1 comment

Voice of Russia
January 25, 2012

 

NATO’s favorite despot

 

Audio: Download

 

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list, a contributing writer to GlobalResearch.ca, and a regular contributor to the Voice of Russia.

Recorded on January 12, 2012
Mikheil Saakashvili, some have called him NATO’s favorite despot.
I think that’s an accurate characterization of Mr. Saakashvili, yes.

He made some statements that the Russian Empire is about to collapse.

Yes, he’s been making statements along that line for a couple of weeks, maybe longer. It’s a repeated leitmotif for Mr. Saakashvili, that the Empire – I take it that’s a borrowing from a person he no doubt admired greatly, Ronald Reagan, and his – 30 years ago – his reference to the former Soviet Union as being the Evil Empire. I imagine Saakashvili knows what sort of terminology to use to be picked up in the West, but yesterday he made what were quite characteristic comments that, were they to be made by any other head of state, would certainly raise a few eyebrows around the world, but not when it comes from Mr. Saakashvili.  For example, speaking again about Russia,  Russia was now, and I quote him, “like crazy,” because Georgia survived the war that it provoked with South Ossetia and Russia in August of 2008. Since he came into power on the back of the so-called “rose revolution” in 2003, Mr. Saakashvili, U.S.-educated incidentally, Columbia graduate, he’s clearly modeled himself after a medieval Georgian monarch, one Davit the Builder, and in his speech yesterday  Saakashvlili evoked once again King Davit and Queen Tamar. But then at another point, referring to Russia, and I am quoting this from Civil Georgia, an English-language website from the nation, this is in Georgia’s political reality, “Political vampires, mummies and various monsters will not be able to return” and so forth. This sort of lunatic verbiage is what we’ve come to expect from Mr. Saakashvili, notwithstanding which, however, he remains, as I mentioned, the pet despot of NATO countries, and their political darling outside the Euro-Atlantic area.

Why?

He serves their purposes. He and his regime have recently authorized the deployment of another large military unit of Georgian troops to Afghanistan to serve under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. When they arrive to join their cohorts already there, the Georgian troop contingent in Afghanistan will be the largest of any non-full NATO member, exceeding even the 1,550 troops that Australia currently has in Afghanistan. So they are providing cannon fodder.

How many troops are there from Georgia?

It will be over 1,600.

Back to Afghanistan, can you fill us in also about this scandal with the Marines and their trophy video?

For those of us who have seen it, I assume you have, and I regret that I have, it is, I don’t even know the proper adjectives to use in a case like this: appalling, repugnant, but also, I am afraid, reflective of the attitude of the 21st century new colonial troops that NATO has deployed in the Balkans and South Asia and so forth, and U.S. military forces around the world who evidently believe they can commit any kind of, not only gruesome, but degrading act of any sort, an ultimate insult to the nation, of course, which they are occupying, with impunity, because there is no force big enough to make them pay the consequence of those sort of actions. You are, of course, referring to a video that’s gone around the world of four, what they identified as four U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, joking while the four of them urinate on the corpses of what are identified as Taliban fighters, dead Taliban fighters. Heaven knows who they truly were, but to commit an action like that is appalling to a degree unimaginable, and the soldiers, of course, are treating this as all good fun, U.S. Marines, and it’s part of a series of similar behaviors including cutting off body parts as trophies and such like, in the name of spreading civilization and democracy to Afghanistan.

Do you think, maybe this was orchestrated?

As I was originally saying that anyone who was killed in Afghanistan or on the other side of the border in Pakistan is automatically referred to not only by the U.S. and NATO officials but by their ever-obedient mass media in the West as being Taliban or al-Qaeda. They could simply be militiamen; they could be people fighting to defend their country against foreign occupation. But on the broader question of whether the timing of the release of these videos, one can never rule out in the world of psy-ops and black ops, provocative materials released or permitted to be released at a given period with an ulterior motive.

Anyone who’s fighting against the United States is actually some sort of a weird terrorist even if they are defending their own country.

Right. That could be Serbian women in northern Kosovo, who are…

Sure, terrorists!

Yeah, they are “terrorists” for opposing NATO actions to deprive them of what’s left of their homeland. It can be Libyans defending their country against bombings.

They all are terrorists.

Evidently anyone with any shred of dignity, self-respect and national pride would be referred to as terrorists.

Can you give our listeners a rundown what’s the real situation there on the ground?

There may be a sincere desire by the United States to extricate itself from Afghanistan by making whatever deal they have to cut, even with their alleged adversaries,  adversaries of the last decade. Militarily it’s gone catastrophically for the U.S. and NATO – it’s the longest war in America’s history.

After 10 years what are they leaving behind?

Devastation, dislocation, hundreds of thousands of Afghans forced to flee their towns and villages; heaven knows what sort of unexploded ordnance, depleted uranium and so forth strewn throughout the country in the past ten years. Certainly nothing good. And a heroin, opium cultivation, epidemic, of course.

What about the thousands of men in prison in Afghanistan accused of being terrorists, being detained indefinitely without charges?

Far from closing down the torture chambers in Guantanamo Bay or in Bagram, in Afghanistan, and so forth, as you are alluding to, the U.S. government now, the White House, has officially signed off on the National Defense Authorization Act that would permit the internment of U.S. citizens under basically martial law conditions: military trials without recourse or access to standard legal protection.

I talk a lot against NATO. You do too. Could we be called terrorists?

You know, that’s probably more serious a question than we both realize at the moment.

So, we should really be afraid that we could be picked up and taken to Guantanamo tomorrow?

Technically speaking, even American citizens residing in the United States might be susceptible to that sort of treatment.

Categories: Uncategorized

Joseph Joubert on war: All victors will be defeated

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Joseph Joubert
From The Notebooks
Translated by Paul Auster

What comes through war is given back through war. All spoils will be retaken, all plunder will be dispersed. All victors will be defeated and every city filled with prey will be sacked in return.
(1796)

I imitate the dove and often throw a blade of grass to the drowning ant. (1785)

An age in which we have children who can scarcely remember having seen their fathers. (1796)

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: January 25, 2012

January 25, 2012 Leave a comment

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U.S.-NATO ABM Response: Russian Missiles In Kaliningrad This Year

Fifth Generation Warplanes And U.S. Global “Domain Dominance”

Ex-President: Saakashvili May Draw Georgia Into War With Iran

Afghan War And Beyond: U.S.-Georgia Defense Cooperation Deepens

U.S.-Japan Military Exercises Underscore New Strategy Guidance Focus

Pakistan: Opposition Parties Stage Walk-Out In Senate Over U.S. Drone Strikes

U.S., Czech Defense Chiefs Discuss “Unequivocal” NATO Ties

Defense Minister Wants Czech Troops In Afghanistan For Two More Years

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U.S.-NATO ABM Response: Russian Missiles In Kaliningrad This Year

http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?pg=4&id=304116

Interfax
January 25, 2012

Russia to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad region in 2nd half of 2012 – source

KALININGRAD: Russia plans to deploy Iskander tactical missiles in the Kaliningrad region in the second half of 2012, a Baltic Fleet source told Interfax-AVN on Wednesday.

“The higher command in Moscow endorsed the roster of a naval unit being set up to be armed with Iskander missile systems yesterday. The staffing of this unit with officers, sergeants and draft servicemen under this organizational order should begin in the near future,” the source said.

“The first battery armed with Iskander missiles will appear in the Kaliningrad region in the second half of 2012,” he said.

President Dmitry Medvedev mentioned plans to deploy Iskander missile systems in the Kaliningrad region in his special statement on November 23, 2011, as one of the measures Russia would take in response to the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in Europe.

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http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hHbnvI-AiYhzY__uEMiYIhybZeLQ?docId=CNG.3248d6bb9b1f306d64ddfceb443a1871.441

Agence France-Presse
January 25, 2012

Russia ‘to deploy missiles on EU border this year’

MOSCOW: Russia plans to deploy Iskander missiles on the European Union’s border later this year, a source in its western Baltic Fleet told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday.

A source told the news agency that senior naval staff had confirmed plans to assign personnel for a naval unit set to service the missile complexes in the Kaliningrad exclave that borders EU members Poland and Lithuania.

“Recently in Moscow the senior command confirmed the staffing of a naval unit that is being created to put the Iskander missile complexes into service,” the source said.

In November President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia was prepared to deploy Iskander missiles, which officials said have a range of up to 500 kilometres (310 miles), to strike against a planned US defence system in eastern Europe.

The first unit equipped with Iskander missiles is set to appear in the Kaliningrad region in the second half of the year, the source said, adding that S-400 missile systems would be deployed there in spring.

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Fifth Generation Warplanes And U.S. Global “Domain Dominance”

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=66911

U.S. Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
January 24, 2012

Air Force Leaders Say Strategy Calls for F-22, F-35 Capabilities
By Jim Garamone


-“These capabilities give our leaders the ability to hold any target at risk, anywhere in the globe, at any time. I think it is important for any adversary to understand we possess those capabilities and intend to continue the development.”
-Americans have become used to having domain dominance, Miller said, expecting U.S. service members to be able to operate on land, at sea, in the air with a fair degree of autonomy as they pursue national objectives.

WASHINGTON: Fifth-generation fighter aircraft are key to America maintaining domain dominance in the years ahead, Air Force officials said here today.

Lt. Gen. Christopher D. Miller, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs, and Maj. Gen. Noel T. “Tom” Jones, the service’s director for operation capability requirements, said the technology – exemplified in the F-22 and F-35 – assumes greater importance in combating growing anti-access, area-denial capabilities.

The generals spoke during a media roundtable in the Pentagon.

Fifth-generation aircraft are particularly valuable as part of the new defense strategy guidance that President Barack Obama unveiled here earlier this month, they said. That strategy explicitly affirms that the United States military must be able to defeat ant-access, area-denial threats.

There is a continuing competition between nations developing anti-access capabilities and others devising ways to defeat that, the general said.

“Fifth-generation aircraft are a key ability that the Air Force is bringing to the nation’s ability to operate in those environments,” he added.

The Air Force has flown against anti-access environments since it was founded. American fighters countered this capability in the skies over Korea and Vietnam. Airmen faced off against surface-to-air missiles ringing Hanoi. In the Persian Gulf War, airmen defeated the ground-to-air threat over Iraq, and most recently, they knocked out the anti-access capabilities around Tripoli.

F-22s and F-35s bring maneuverability, survivability, advanced avionics and stealth technology to the fight. Both planes are multi-role capable, able to fight air-to-air and air-to-ground.

“These capabilities give our leaders the ability to hold any target at risk, anywhere in the globe, at any time,” Jones said. “I think it is important for any adversary to understand we possess those capabilities and intend to continue the development.”

Another aspect of the strategy includes the ability to operate against adversaries across the spectrum of conflict. F-22s and F-35s are particularly relevant at the top of the spectrum, “where we can’t always set the conditions for our operations as easily as we have in the last couple of decades of military conflict,” Miller said.

This is an extremely valuable capability that must be nurtured, the generals said.

Americans have become used to having domain dominance, Miller said, expecting U.S. service members to be able to operate on land, at sea, in the air with a fair degree of autonomy as they pursue national objectives.

“This is not a birthright,” Miller said. “That is something we have had to work very hard in the past to gain, … and we can’t take for granted that we are going to be able to support the joint team in future environments unless we maintain a high-end capability to target an adversary’s air forces, their surface-to-air forces and basically be able to seize control of parts of the air space and other domains the joint commander needs.

“It’s an Air Force capability,” he added, “but it’s a key Air Force contribution to the joint warfighting capability of the nation.”

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Ex-President: Saakashvili May Draw Georgia Into War With Iran

http://rt.com/politics/shevardnadze-iran-war-saakashvili-557/

RT
January 24, 2012

Georgian President Saakashvili ‘eyeing Iran war to hold power’

To keep his post, Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili may draw the country into a war against Iran, former Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze believes.

“I don’t rule out that to retain the [presidential] chair Saakashvili may join a military campaign against Iran, which would become a catastrophe for our country,” Shevardnadze said, as cited by ‘Georgia on-line’ news portal.

The issue may be discussed at the upcoming meeting between Saakashvili and US President Barack Obama in the White House on January 30, Shevardnadze noted.

“Any anti-Iranian campaign on Georgian territory shouldn’t be accepted,” the former Georgian president stressed.

Georgian expert on the Caucasus Mamuka Areshidze says that if a military operation against the Islamic Republic begins, Georgia would face extreme difficulties, Regnum agency reports.

“According to some estimates, in this conflict Georgia would be responsible for providing combat service support with the use of its aerodromes and hospitals,” he said. The expert added that such a scenario would lead to certain threats for Georgia. “There would only be negative consequences. But all that is secondary compared to the measures that Russia might take,” Areshidze stated.

For many analysts the beginning of a war against Iran is just a question of time, rather than a hypothetical possibility.

Elizbar Javelidze from the Georgian opposition movement Public Assembly says Washington is gearing up for attack. In Georgia, the US is sponsoring the construction of hospitals and other facilities that could be used, if war is launched.

“A big war between the US and Iran is beginning in the Persian Gulf. $5 billion was allocated for the construction of these 20-bed military hospitals,” Javelidze said.

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Afghan War And Beyond: U.S.-Georgia Defense Cooperation Deepens

http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24378

Civil Georgia
January 25, 2012

NSC Chief: U.S.-Georgia Defense Cooperation Deepens

Tbilisi: U.S. Republican Sen. John McCain, who strongly backed a Georgia-related provision in the U.S. Defense Authorization Act, said on December 15 that U.S. defense cooperation with Georgia “has been stalled ever since Russia invaded” Georgia in 2008. “While there has been some slow and minor progress to enable Georgia’s armed forces to deploy to Afghanistan, precious little has been done to strengthen Georgia’s ability to defend its government, people, and territory,” McCain said.

Assumptions that defense cooperation between Washington and Tbilisi has been downscaled in recent years are “almost completely made up” and “erroneous”, Giga Bokeria, secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, said.

He said in an interview with the Georgian weekly magazine, Tabula, that President Obama’s reservation over a section of the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act, which calls for “normalization” of military cooperation with Georgia, including the sale of defensive arms, was mainly a legal issue about the constitutional authorities of the legislative and executive branches and it should not be interpreted as if the Obama administration was against deepening defense cooperation with Georgia.

In his signing statement on December 31, President Obama listed the provision of the defense authorization act dealing with Georgia among those sections of the Act which he would treat as “non-binding” should any application of the provision conflict with his constitutional authority. President Obama cited two reasons behind his decision; the statement said that these provisions of the Act could interfere with the President’s constitutional foreign affairs powers and also said that these provisions “could be read to require the disclosure of sensitive diplomatic communications and national security secrets.”

U.S. Senior Diplomat on Defense Cooperation with Georgia

“We are very grateful to all of our supporters including those in the U.S. Senate who have supported this kind of provision [in the defense authorization act] on deepening military cooperation with Georgia; they are our long-time friends,” Bokeria said.

“At the same time, I want to say that speculation as if a reservation made by President Obama’s administration was particularly about Georgia is simply a result of not knowing this issue by those who made such comments. It was not about any particular country; this is about jurisdiction – that is whether the Congress has right…to indicate to the executive, in this case to the President, what kind of policy should be carried out on the issue [defense cooperation]…So it was not that they do not support the deepening of defense cooperation with Georgia,” he said.

“The narrative as if there has been kind of a downgrade in [U.S.-Georgia] military cooperation in recent years is almost completely made up,” he continued. “On the contrary, there is a trend of deepening cooperation [in the defense sphere]. We may want further deepening of this cooperation at a faster pace and that’s natural and we will discuss these issues [during the planned Obama-Saakashvili meeting at the White House on January 30].”

“This cooperation is deepening and it involves, among other matters, cooperation in the Afghan operation, which is important for global security and for our own security and also involves cooperation beyond the one in Afghanistan. Yes, training [of Georgian troops by the U.S.] has been a significant part of this cooperation, but that’s not the only sphere where cooperation has been and is ongoing and has even deepened recently; I do not want to speak about all the details, but portraying a picture as if there has been a stagnation or movement backwards [in defense cooperation] is erroneous.”

“We are grateful to everyone, including those within the U.S. political spectrum, who supports further deepening of this cooperation. At the same time we are grateful for the cooperation that we have with the [Obama] administration,” Bokeria said.

“The issue of jurisdiction between the legislative and executive branches in the United States is important and interesting, but it’s not up to us to comment on that,” Bokeria said, adding that as stated in the White House statement, defense cooperation would be one of the key issues discussed at the upcoming meeting between Obama and Saakashvili.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Philip H. Gordon, said at a news conference in Washington on January 9 that the U.S. approach on military cooperation with Georgia remains focused on education, training and preparing Georgian troops for Afghan deployment.

Asked if the administration was going to implement a Georgia-related provision in the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Gordon responded: “I don’t think it changes our approach so far.”

“Where specific weapons sales are concerned, we treat it like we do with other countries. They’re taken on a case-by-case basis, taking a lot of factors into account. But we’ll continue that security relationship with Georgia in all of those ways,” Gordon said.

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U.S.-Japan Military Exercises Underscore New Strategy Guidance Focus

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=66909

U.S. Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
January 24, 2012

U.S.-Japan Exercises Underscore New Strategy Guidance Focus
By Donna Miles

WASHINGTON: Two bilateral command post exercises with Japan kicked off yesterday and today, reflecting the growing strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region as outlined in the new defense strategy guidance President Barack Obama announced earlier this month.

Japanese and U.S. military forces launched Keen Edge 12 yesterday at Yokota, Japan. The biennial exercise continues through Jan. 27.

Today, Exercise Yama Sakura kicked off, with operations to run through Feb. 5.

Both exercises are designed to increase interoperability of U.S. and Japanese forces and their readiness to defend against external threats, officials said.

By providing realistic, combined and joint training that enhances both countries’ combat readiness posture, they in turn provide for regional stability and security, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bill Clinton, a U.S. Pacific Command spokesman.

Keen Edge historically has been part of an annual exercise series that alternates between field training exercises, called Keen Sword, and command-and-control exercises.

About 500 U.S. personnel and about 1,380 Japanese forces are participating in this year’s CPX, during which headquarters staffs will use computer simulations to practice steps they would take in the event of a crisis or contingency.

Participants will practice responding to events ranging from non-combatant evacuations and force-protection scenarios to integrated air and missile defense to enhance bilateral coordination and cooperation, officials said.

Forces involved will use the computer-based Joint Theater Level Simulation System to direct and respond to exercise events. This system, officials reported, helps provide a realistic environment for commanders and staffs as they react and respond in real time to events generated by computer simulation.

U.S. participants in Keen Edge 2012 hail from U.S. Forces Japan headquarters; 13th Air Force, with headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and in Japan through its Detachment 1; U.S. Naval Forces Japan; U.S. Army Japan; and Marine Forces Japan.

Meanwhile, nearly 800 U.S. military personnel and more than 3,500 Japanese forces are participating in Yama Sakura, the largest bilateral exercise between the U.S. Army Pacific and Japanese ground forces since the Great Tohoku Earthquake in March.

About 150 U.S. soldiers from the 8th Army headquarters element at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, will serve as the higher command for participating U.S. forces, which include members of U.S. Army Japan.

The exercise, officials said, will focus on bilateral and joint planning, coordination and interoperability of ground-based elements of the U.S. and Japan security alliance.

During senior-level talks between U.S. and Japanese military leaders last month about future operations and engagement between the two countries, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ted Kresge, 13th Air Force commander, said interoperability strengthens the bilateral alliance.

Meanwhile, 8th Army officials said Exercise Yama Sakura helps to ensure its ability to operate with its other U.S. and Japanese counterparts to defend South Korea as well as maintain regional security.

“This exercise improves 8th Army’s ability to deter or defeat aggression on the Korean peninsula,” said Army Brig. Gen. David J. Conboy, 8th Army’s deputy commander. “It also helps strengthen the Republic of Korea-United States alliance by enabling critical staff coordination and collaboration at the multinational level.”

Clinton said engagements like these support the new defense strategy guidance that recognizes the challenges as well as opportunities in Asia and the Pacific.

That strategic guidance, announced earlier this month, provides a strategic vision intended to guide the military through 2020 with its heavy focus on the region.

“Through continuous evaluation of our force posture and engagement activities, we will work with our regional partners and allies to maintain the military strength to protect our interests, defend our allies and deter potential adversaries from acts of aggression and intimidation,” Clinton said.

U.S. relationships with Asian allies and key partners will remain critical to the region’s future stability and growth, Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, U.S. Pacific Command’s commander, told the Annual Hawaii Military Partnership Conference on Jan. 6, the day after the guidance was announced.
In addition to strengthening existing alliances that have provided a vital foundation for regional security, Willard said, the United States also will strive to forge closer ties with emerging regional partners.

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Pakistan: Opposition Parties Stage Walk-Out In Senate Over U.S. Drone Strikes

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20121\25\story_25-1-2012_pg7_1

Daily Times
January 25, 2012

Opposition stages walk-out in Senate over drone strikes
By Tanveer Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: Senators from opposition parties on Tuesday staged a token walkout from the Senate against resumption of drone attacks in the country’s tribal areas.

Leader of the opposition Maulana, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, said the government and army had made no announcement that they would defend Pakistani territory against drone strikes.

Responding to this, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the US government should care about the voice of the people of Pakistan. “This [drone strikes] is a direct hit by the US on the territory of Pakistan, which is not acceptable,” he added. He said the Senate should pass a resolution, which would be presented in the UN to stop US aggression in Pakistan.

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U.S., Czech Defense Chiefs Discuss “Unequivocal” NATO Ties

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=66912

U.S. Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
January 24, 2012

Panetta, Czech Republic Counterpart Discuss Key Issues
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta hosted the Czech Republic’s top defense official here today to discuss several key issues, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby said.

Among the topics Panetta discussed with Defense Minister Alexandr Vondra was “the unequivocal commitment of the United States to the NATO alliance,” Kirby said.

They also discussed the 2012 NATO summit, which will be held in Chicago in May, and the Czech Republic’s proposal for a multinational aviation training center, he added.

“Secretary Panetta thanked the minister for the Czechs’ critical contributions to operations in Afghanistan, and they both discussed plans for the transition,” Kirby said. “They also exchanged views on the budget challenges each country is facing and expressed satisfaction that the language for a Reciprocal Defense Procurement Agreement has been agreed.”

Panetta and Vondra agreed to maintain communication as they prepare for future meetings, the Pentagon spokesman added.

“The ministers agreed to continue a close dialogue in the coming months ahead as they prepare for the NATO defense ministerial in Brussels next month and for the Chicago summit,” he said.

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Defense Minister Wants Czech Troops In Afghanistan For Two More Years

http://www.ceskenoviny.cz/news/zpravy/minister-wants-czech-soldiers-to-stay-in-afghanistan-until-2014/745144

Czech News Agency
January 24, 2012

Minister wants Czech soldiers to stay in Afghanistan until 2014

Washington: Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra wants Czech soldiers to stay in Afghanistan until 2014, while their current mandate expires at the end of 2012, Vondra told CTK and Czech Radio at the beginning of his visit to Washington today.

He is to meet his U.S. counterpart Leon Panetta later today.

Vondra (senior government Civic Democrats, ODS) said he would like to propose to the government and parliament in the spring that Czech troops´ deployment in Afghanistan be extended by another 24 months.

Vondra did not specify how strong Czech troops should serve in Afghanistan in the following two years.

“I do not want to tell the numbers. I suppose that our helicopters may return there and that our special forces will terminate their mission this year. I think that we will definitely still focus on the training, this is the most important part,” Vondra said.

Afghanistan is one of the topics that Vondra and Panetta are to discuss today.

“We are in America and I always say together in, together out. We must do our utmost for Afghanistan to be able to govern and provide security by its own forces after 2014,” Vondra said.

Czechs are, for instance, training Afghan helicopter pilots. The Czech Republic would like to establish a NATO helicopter pilot training centre in Pardubice, east Bohemia.

This project, in which Croatia also participates, is another issue that Vondra will discuss with Panetta today. They will follow up the talks on the plan that Czech PM Petr Necas (ODS) led with Obama in Washington last autumn.

Vondra also wants to make an agreement with Panetta on “mutual obtaining of defence orders” that would make it easier for Czech firms to win defence and security contracts in the United States.

The fact that Vondra pushed through the purchases of equipment for the Czech military without intermediaries last year has opened the path to this agreement, he said.

The agreement is actually completed, both countries should sign it in the spring, he added.

After the talks with Panetta, Vondra is to meet three Senators, Richard Lugar, John McCain (both Republicans) and Carl Levin (Democrat), as well as Congressman Michael Turner (Republican).

Vondra will also talk to members of the National Security Council and deliver a speech to the Atlantic Council think-tank on NATO, its May summit in Chicago and the Central European approach to transatlantic relations.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: January 24, 2012

January 24, 2012 2 comments

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ThalesRaytheon Gets New NATO Interceptor Missile Contract

Finnish Foreign Minister Needs NATO Chief At Bloc’s Headquarters

Latvia: NATO Chief Discusses Afghan War, Cyber Warfare

Fresh U.S. Drone Strike Kills Six In Pakistan

U.S.-Philippines Drills Raise Questions About U.S. Asian Intentions

Kosovo Organ Trafficking Case Gains New Dimension

EU-NATO Eurocorps Deploys From U.S. Base In Germany

Britain: U.S. Air Force Commanders Hail NATO’s Libya, Future Wars

Iranian Official: U.S., NATO Presence In Region Causes Insecurity

Armenia: NATO’s Third Partner In The Caucasus

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ThalesRaytheon Gets New NATO Interceptor Missile Contract

http://www.afcea.org/signal/signalscape/index.php/2012/01/23/15383/

Signal Magazine
January 23, 2012

NATO Agency Signs Missile Defense Command and Control Contract
Posted by George I. Seffers

The NATO Air Command and Control System Management Agency (NACMA) on behalf of the NATO Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence Programme Office and in coordination with the NATO Command, Control and Consultation Agency, has signed a contract with ThalesRaytheonSystems to deliver a Ballistic Missile Defence Interim Capability element at NATO’s Air Command in Ramstein, Germany.

The contract value is €3 million.

Implementation of the contract, which is expected within three months, will deliver a key component toward NATO’s objective of declaring an interim missile defence capability at its summit in Chicago in May.

It will give NATO the capability to conduct 24/7 territorial missile defence operations while simultaneously deploying a theatre missile defence command and control capability to any necessary theatre of operations.

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Finnish Foreign Minister Needs NATO Chief At Bloc’s Headquarters

http://www.nato.int/cps/en/SID-BA02A4DE-D1321293/natolive/news_83652.htm

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
January 23, 2012

Finnish Foreign Minister visits NATO HQ

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Mr. Erkki Tuomija, visited NATO Headquarters on Monday 23 January 2012. He met with the NATO Secretary General, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

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Latvia: NATO Chief Discusses Afghan War, Cyber Warfare

http://www.defpro.com/news/details/31548/?SID=a856ca79d078e80845aa3c22ed416653

Defence Professionals
January 23, 2012

NATO Secretary General praises Latvia as a committed NATO Ally 

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Riga on 20 January 2012 and met with President Andris Berzins, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics and Minister of Defence Artis Pabriks.

During the visit, the Secretary General thanked Latvia for the commitment to defend the Alliance’s values [in] its contribution to the Alliance’s ISAF operation in Afghanistan…[T]he Secretary General said…”Your ports and railways are our lifeline to Afghanistan. And every day, Latvia helps shape our decisions on every aspect of NATO’s work”.

The Secretary General took part in the ceremony at the Freedom Monument and Places of Rememberance in Riga, and laid flowers in memory of the Latvians killed by Soviet security forces during the struggle for the restoration of independence on this day in 1991. “The people of Latvia know that freedom does not come for free. You have fought for your liberty many times over the years. Your nation is a symbol of courage and commitment to the cause of freedom ,” he said.

The Secretary General and Prime Minister Dombrovskis also signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Latvia and NATO concerning Cooperation on Cyber Defence.

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Fresh U.S. Drone Strike Kills Six In Pakistan

http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=136867

Pakistan Observer
January 24, 2012

6 killed in fresh drone attack
Tariq Saeed

Peshawar: A fresh drone attack carried out by the American CIA in North Waziristan Agency Monday morning killed six people.

There was a relative calm in the adventurism by the CIA-operated drones which had been on a killing spree in the Pakistani tribal belt, particularly South and North Waziristan for the last over three years as they had halted their attacks following the NATO attack on the Salala check posts in the Mohmand Agency November last.

Reports reaching here said a few Predator planes, in a third missile hit after the Mohmand tragedy, targeted a vehicle in the Degaan area some 30 kilometers west of Miran Shah, the headquarters of the North Waziristan agency, Monday early morning, destroying the vehicle completely.

“The American planes hovering in the skies for quite some time fired many missiles at a vehicle heading towards the Datta Khel area from Tehsil Degaan and the vehicle was seen in high flames where a nearby house was also damaged,” sources told the Observer, adding that as many as six people on board the vehicle were found dead.

…The people of the area said and added that three drones were hovering in the skies when the attack took place.

It was also said militants belonging to the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group of Taliban took away the dead bodies of Monday’s strikes to an unknown place.

American planes or infamous CIA-operated drones which have been launching missile attacks in the Pakistani tribal belt since August 2008, have killed more than two thousand people in 275 hits, mostly in the North and South Waziristan agencies. Out of those strikes, 33 were conducted in 2008 and 53 in 2009. However, the notorious drones struck 118 times in 2010 and seventeen attacks were launched in 2011. No doubt, a big majority of the drone’s victims remained innocent tribals.

However, the attack on the Salala military post in Mohmand had resulted in extremely staining the Pak-America relations. The Pakistani government while succumbing to public pressure also had to halt all NATO supplies to Afghanistan routed through the Torkham and Chaman borders besides getting the Shamsi airbase vacated by the Americans.

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U.S.-Philippines Drills Raise Questions About U.S. Asian Intentions

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2012-01/23/c_131374109.htm

Xinhua News Agency
January 23, 2012

Proposed U.S.-Philippines drills raise questions about U.S. intentions in Asia
By Liu Tian

BEIJING: As the United States and the Philippines plan to hold joint military drills near disputed waters in the South China Sea from March to April, one can’t help but raising questions about the real intentions behind Washington’s pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.

Since the United States announced its “return” to the Asia-Pacific region with much fanfare late last year and rolled out a new defense strategy on Jan. 5, countries in the region have been wondering what all this fuss would mean to them.

For many people, they hope the United States, the world’s sole superpower, will play a constructive role in promoting peace, prosperity and stability in the region.

But as the planned joint military drills show, the United States could become a destabilizing force in the region itself if it puts its power in the wrong places.

The United States and the Philippines have claimed that their proposed war games are not directed against other countries in the region, but the motive behind the planned joint drills is really dubious.

As to the issue of the South China Sea, the priority for all parties is to shelve disputes and refrain from taking radical measures to escalated the situation.

The United States, as an outside power, should work with all parties concerned to prevent tensions from getting out of control, rather than support one side or the other.

Instead of trying to arm the Philippines and stoking tensions, the United States should restrain the activist and provocative moves by its so-called ally.

After all, it is in the interests of all parties to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, which has been considered as a major engine driving the global economy.

So far, Washington’s performances have failed the good expectations of many people in the region. It should take concrete measures to back up its claim that its presence in Asia-Pacific is a positive contribution to regional peace.

For the Philippines, as signatory of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, it is obliged to honor its commitments and stop any provocative action.

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Kosovo Organ Trafficking Case Gains New Dimension

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes-article.php?yyyy=2012&mm=01&dd=23&nav_id=78431

Radio Television of Serbia/Tanjug News Agency
January 23, 2012

Kosovo organ trafficking case “gains new dimension”

BELGRADE: Deputy War Crimes Prosecutor Bruno Vekarić said Monday that the investigation into human organ trafficking in Kosovo was “gaining a new dimension”.

A resolution is in sight, he told state broadcaster RTS in Belgrade on Sunday, and commended Russia’s reported involvement in the probe.

He further noted that a cooperation agreement has been signed with Russia which involves exchange of information, and pointed out that the most important thing for the victims and their families was for the investigation, conducted in four countries, “to reveal the truth”.

The war crimes case investigated by the Serbian Prosecution concerns kidnappings, illegal imprisonment and removal of vital organs from Serb and other civilians in Kosovo and northern Albania in 1999 and 2000. The case was also investigated by Council of Europe Rapporteur Dick Marty, who in late 2010 submitted his report, naming ethnic Albanian KLA as perpetrators.

Serbia is demanding an investigation to be conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.

But allegations of illegal trafficking in human organs in Kosovo surfaced once again, this time related to the case dubbed “Medicus”, after a clinic in Priština. This time, donors consented to operations after they were offered to illegally sell their organs.

The suspects in the case are currently on trial in Priština. Media reports on Monday said that Canadian citizen Raul Fain, who claims that in 2008 in Priština he received a kidney extracted from a Russian woman at the price of EUR 87,000, would appear as a witness via video link in the trial in the case of illegal organ trafficking and transplants.

Canadian daily Toronto Star says that Fain would issue his testimony under oath before the Ontario Supreme Court in the trial that started on October 4, and quoted EU mission in Kosovo, EULEX Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime Jonathan Ratel who said that Fain is in no way a suspect, but a key witness in the process.

In an interview for Toronto Star, former Canadian prosecutor Ratel recalled that the 46-page long indictment charges seven individuals with one or more criminal acts of human trafficking and organized crime, as well as illegal performance of surgeries or abuse of office.

According to the daily, in his statement before the Canadian authorities, Ratel, who works as an investment consultant in Toronto, gave a detailed account of the kidney transplant he underwent at the Priština clinic.

Fain, who suffered from grave kidney problems, was notified in 2008 by his cousins from Israel that “a certain agreement can be reached as regards kidney transplants in Kosovo”.

He was introduced to Moshe Harel whom the authorities described in the indictment as the mediator of Turkish doctor Yusuf Sonmez.

Harel is also said to be one of the major financiers of the surgery and Interpol has issued a warrant for his arrest due to human trafficking in Kosovo.

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EU-NATO Eurocorps Deploys From U.S. Base In Germany

http://www.usafe.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123286665

U.S. Air Forces in Europe
January 19, 2012

Eurocorps deploys from Ramstein
by Airman 1st Class Trevor Rhynes
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany: Troops from Eurocorps deployed from Ramstein Air Base, using the capability of the Joint Mobility Processing Center Tuesday.

Eurocorps is a multinational standing army corps available for the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance.

Headquartered in Strasbourg, France, the force was created in May 1992, activated in October 1993 and declared operational in 1995.

“Eurocorps was an idea that originated in 1952, when France and Germany tried to create a unified European Army,” said French Army Sergent-Chief Joseph Patray, a Public Affairs specialist assigned to Eurocorps.

“Forces from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Spain made up the force that deployed to support International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan,” said 2nd Lieutenant Patrick Labbe, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

The force deploys from Ramstein because of the services they offer to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and deploying service members.

“Ramstein is a focal point for all NATO missions going to Afghanistan,” said Labbe. “With Eurocorps being an extension of NATO, we have the processes available for this sort of a deployment. Ramstein also possesses all of the facilities necessary for a large movement like this.”

Because of facilities like the JMPC, Team Ramstein is able to strengthen alliances between NATO partners.

“Deploying from Ramstein helps by building partnerships across our two organizations and increases inter-operability within the U.S. and our NATO/Eurocorps partners,” said Labbe. “The JMPC is proud to support our joint effort for the mission in Afghanistan.”

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Britain: U.S. Air Force Commanders Hail NATO’s Libya, Future Wars

http://www.usafe.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123287036

U.S. Air Forces in Europe
January 23, 2012

USAFE leaders visit RAF Mildenhall
By Staff Sgt. Tabitha Lee
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

ROYAL AIR FORCE MILDENHALL, England: The U.S. Air Forces Europe commander and command chief visited Royal Air Force Mildenhall Airmen Jan. 19, to express their gratitude and discuss upcoming changes to the Air Force.

RAF Mildenhall’s contributions to Operations Odyssey Dawn and Unified Protector were highlighted during the visit.

“This last year, you guys have done phenomenal stuff. The biggest reason the Chief and I are coming through is just to say ‘thanks,'” said Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, USAFE commander…

The general also congratulated the 100th Air Refueling Wing for exceeding expectations in 2011.

“You guys flew almost 310 percent of your flying-hour program this last year. That’s pretty impressive,” said Welsh. “The 100th ARW flew about 2,000 sorties, and off-loaded more than 100 million pounds of gas. One-hundred million pounds of gas! You can’t get your arms around that one; it’s fantastic.”

The general and the chief addressed some changes that were unveiled in the defense strategy document, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” earlier this month.

The global strategy for the United States was recently re-worked in Washington D.C. and Welsh concentrated on what that means for USAFE.

The general said that the strategic partnership in Europe is complex and that America’s leaders have assured the country that, as always, America-European relations will continue to evolve and adapt.

The commander stressed that there are some things that will always require an Air Force presence in Europe, like mobility, contingency basing, and command and control of air activity.

To conclude his visit, Welsh re-emphasized that with all the changes, the U.S. Air Force will remain the world’s greatest air power.

“All this stuff that’s around us right now with the budget cuts and the discussions of downsizing is not going to change the fact that this will be the best Air Force in the world, in the future, just like it is today,” said Welsh.

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Iranian Official: U.S., NATO Presence In Region Causes Insecurity

http://times.am/?l=en&p=4046

Times.am
January 24, 2012

Iranian official: “US and NATO presence in region may cause insecurity”

According to Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, the military presence of US and NATO in the region has intensified insecurity.

He made the remarks in an interview with IRNA on the sidelines of his meeting with Sergei Shoigu Kuzhugetovich, Minister for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Management of the Federation of Russia.

“Insecurity and drug trafficking has severely increased as a result of the presence of NATO and the US in Afghanistan,” Najjar added.

He noted that Iran and Russia agreed to sign new MoUs in the field of security and emergencies.

Visiting Mohammad-Najjar also had a meeting with his Russian counterpart Rashid Nurgaliyev on Monday in which both officials underlined the need for the broadening of mutual cooperation.

Note that Russia does not agree with the sanctions against Iran which Western forces plan to put. The Russian and Chinese sides do not cut off relations with Iran despite all announcements by the USA and EU countries’ leaders.

The EU accepted the decision to reject Iranian oil till July 1 of this year. They aim by this way to force Iran to stop uranium enrichment. The Iranian side continues claiming that the enrichment is for only civilian needs.

Iranian officials announced yesterday that the embargo on Iranian oil may have negative and unpredictable consequences.

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Armenia: NATO’s Third Partner In The Caucasus

http://times.am/?l=en&p=4058

Times.am
January 24, 2012

NATO-Armenia military cooperation is developing

A delegation led by NATO international military department on cooperation and regional security, general-mayor Carlos Branko is in Armenia on January 23-24 to discuss new initiatives for military cooperation between NATO and counterpart states, the press service of Armenian Ministry of Defense informed about this.

The sides discussed military cooperation between Armenia and NATO and some documents which will assist the cooperation. 

The NATO delegation leader met the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of RA, Colonel General Yuri Khachaturov, and during the meeting the sides discussed Armenian peacekeepers’ participation in international peacekeeping actions. General-Mayor Carlos Branco expressed NATO’s gratitude towards Armenia for participating in the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. 

Armenian Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan also hosted the guests. During the meeting he spoke briefly about the reforms held in the Armenian defense sphere and also discussed the spheres where assistance from NATO is accepted.

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http://news.am/eng/news/90437.html

Armenian News
January 24, 2012

Armenia’s Defense Minister briefs NATO representative on country’s defense reforms

YEREVAN: A delegation led by NATO International Military Headquarters Cooperation and Regional Security Department Chief, Major General Carlos Branco, is at the Armenian MOD between Monday and Tuesday. The main objective of the delegation’s visit to Armenia is to discuss new initiatives toward developing military cooperation between NATO and its partnering countries.   

During the delegation’s meetings with MOD officials, the parties examined NATO-Armenia military cooperation, the MOD informed Armenian News-NEWS.am.

At a meeting between Major General Carlos Branco and Colonel General Yury Khachaturov, the Armenian Armed Forces Chief of Staff, the interlocutors reflected on NATO-Armenia military cooperation and Armenian peacekeepers’ activities. [In Afghanistan and Kosovo]

And receiving the NATO delegation, Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan briefly presented Armenia’s defense reforms, its future activities, and anticipated assistance from NATO. The parties also exchanged views on regional security matters. 

Also, Major General Carlos Branco paid visits to the MOD Peacekeeping Brigade and Vazgen Sargsyan Military Institute.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Anatole France on Émile Zola, military terrorism and world peace

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Anatole France: Selections on war

Emile Zola on war mania: A blind and deaf beast let loose amid death and destruction, laden with cannon-fodder

Émile Zola: One sole city of peace and truth and justice

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Anatole France
Translated by J. Lewis May

From speech delivered at the funeral of Émile Zola on October 5, 1902

Zola’s heart was in the right place. He had the nobility and the simplicity of all great-hearted men…His apparent pessimism, a sombreness of outlook which flings a shadow over so much of his writings, only half conceals his fundamental optimism, his steadfast faith in the progress of enlightenment and justice. In his novels, which are, properly speaking, essays in sociology, he attacked with vigour and persistency a society that was idle and frivolous, he took arms against the prevailing evil of the age, to wit the tyranny of wealth…He attacked the evils of society wherever he found them. Such, then, were the things he hated. In his later works he brought out into clear and deep relief his fervent love of human kind. He essayed to outline and pre-figure a better state of society.

Prominent men, leaders of opinion, were too often prone to palliate a crime they felt powerless to destroy. The shadows deepened. There fell an ominous silence. Then it was that Zola wrote to the President of the Republic – wrote that deliberate and terrible letter [J'accuse] which denounced the infamy and the crime.

With what howls of execration he was hailed by the criminals themselves, by their base supporters, by their involuntary accomplices…you know well enough…You heard the shouts of rage, the murderous cries which followed him even into the Palais de Justice, and echoed in his ears all through the long-drawn trial, when the true facts were willfully suppressed, when witness after witness was guilty of the grossest perjury, and all the accompaniments of military terrorism were shamelessly employed.

Let us not pity him because he suffered and endured. Let us envy him. Standing triumphant upon the most stupendous heap of calumny ever reared by the folly, the ignorance and the wickedness of man, his fame is enthroned on inaccessible heights.

Let us envy him. He has done honour to his country and to the world by a monumental life-work and by a great and glorious deed. Let us envy him, for the fates and his great heart won him the proudest of destinies; he was a moment in the universal consciousness.

*****

From a speech delivered on January 13, 1906 on the eighth anniversary of Émile Zola’s J’accuse

Don’t let us forget that we have been threatened with a policy of financial and colonial adventure. Don’t let us forget that if the nationalists and the clericals managed to get their pet candidate elected President, we should be dragged into all manner of distant military expeditions, perhaps into a war in Africa, which, in order to swell the profits of some big banking establishment, would employ forces that ought to be reserved for the defence of our moral and intellectual heritage, for the protection of this land of ours, the land of philosophy and revolution, which bears within her the seeds – even now I see them quickening – the precious seeds of social justice and of worldwide peace.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. And NATO Are On The March Worldwide: Part III

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

End the Lie
January 19, 2012

 

U.S. and NATO are on the march worldwide – part III

 

By Madison Ruppert

Editor of End the Lie

Geopolitical developments continue at a pace that likely makes most peoples’ heads spin, and for good reason.

With the situation in Syria, the push for war with Iran and the global growth of NATO control, it appears we are in truly volatile and historic times.

The confrontation between the West and Russia over the missile shield in Europe and Turkey only continues to get more heated, especially with the Russian announcement of new radar systems.

The fact that Russia is also butting heads with the West over Syria definitely does not help defuse the situation.

There is also the matter of the United States, European Union and NATO bringing the Balkan states into the Western sphere of influence.

If you have not done so already, I highly recommend that you take a few moments to read parts one and two of this series in order to familiarize yourself with this complex web of multilateral relations and geopolitical developments spanning the entire globe.

Western Balkans

Yesterday at a hearing of the U.S. Helsinki Commission in Washington, it was stated that, “All Western Balkan countries should become members of the European Union and NATO, and the U.S.A. should continue to offer support to this process,” according to EMG.

The hearing, called “The Western Balkans and the 2012 NATO Summit” included Congressman Christopher Smith saying that the violence in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina prove NATO must remain in the region.

Similarly, Congressman Eliot Engel said that American troops should not leave Kosovo but instead should use the drawdown in Iraq as an opportunity to step up their presence.

Engel said that all of the nations in the region should become integrated in the EU and NATO, a move which is likely aimed at further isolating, encircling and indirectly threatening Russia.

He said that Serbia’s membership must not be accepted before that of Kosovo because it might block Kosovo’s entry, adding that Belgrade needs to accept that the division of Kosovo is not possible in order to create regional peace.

Present at the hearing was Ivan Vejvoda, the Executive Director of the Balkan Trust for Democracy who stated that while the Serbian parliament was neutral about NATO membership in 2006, it now votes against it.

Vejvoda claims that the situation in Kosovo has calmed down, all involved parties have assumed more moderate positions adding that supposedly dialogues between Belgrade and Pristina will begin soon.

Despite this claim, Vejvoda said that the level of KFOR troops present in Kosovo should not be reduced, indicating that it is not nearly as calm as he is attempting to make it out to be.

Daniel Serwer of Johns Hopkins University also said that both Montenegro and Macedonia should be integrated into NATO at the Chicago Summit coming up in May, however Serwer believes that Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo are all not ready to join NATO.

He acknowledged that it is ultimately Belgrade’s decision, “but in order to become a NATO member Serbia should respect territorial integrity and sovereignty of its neighbors.”

I find this assertion quite laughable given that NATO is an egregious violator of territorial integrity and sovereignty, exemplified most obviously by invasions of Pakistani airspace along with the bloody Libyan operation.

Nida Gelazis from Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars also thinks that NATO should have an extended presence in the region, saying that the Kosovo police cannot replace KFOR “for a long time to come.”

Georgia

Georgia is also a key variable in this equation, especially given the nation’s strategic positioning relative to Russia.

Yesterday the Azerbaijani Trend News Agency reported that Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian President, is set to meet with Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, to “underline the special relations of both countries,” according to Temur Yakobashvili, Georgia’s Ambassador to the United States.

Yakobashvili said that these talks will include all of the major areas of bilateral cooperation which include issues of a political and economic nature and security and defense cooperation.

The latter is arguably one of the most important given Georgia’s critical geographic location and the role it can play in the United States and NATO’s effort to surround Russia and China.

Yesterday Trend also reported that the Georgian president’s press secretary, Manana Manjgaladze made a statement to reporters in conjunction with Saakashvili’s official visit with Obama on January 30.

“In the two decades since Georgia gained independence, U.S. support has been crucial for Georgia’s sovereignty, its democratic transformation, its economic development and its progress towards NATO membership,” Manjgaladze said.

Azerbaijan

Another article published in Trend yesterday covered a meeting between an official from the United States Department of State and the Defense Minister from Azerbaijan.

The meeting was between Eric Rubin, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and Azerbaijani Defense Minister Colonel-General Safar Abiyev.

The Defense Ministry told Trend that they discussed the successful military cooperation between Azerbaijan and the United States along with the development of ties in different fields.

Rubin said that it is in the United States’ interest to protect “Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity to establish peace in the region.”

Rubin said that the United States recognizes that Azerbaijani territories are occupied while the Azerbaijani Defense Minister said that Armenia is continuing their aggressive policy and “that protraction of the peaceful settlement creates favorableconditions to resume the war in the region.”

Montenegro

New Europe reports that NATO has announced that it will continue its support of Montenegro’s defense reforms, along with their intention to join NATO.

On January 17, Commandant of Strategic Operations Command Admiral James Stavridis and the Montenegrin Chief of Joint Staff Admiral Dragan Samardzic met in Brussels to discuss what is in store for Montenegro’s defense.

Stavridis highlighted the Montenegrin efforts to join NATO along with their advancements in their defense systems and NATO’s commitment to help them in these efforts.

Also emphasized was the participation of Montenegrin troops in the NATO ISAF operation in Afghanistan, which Montenegro appears to be a part of for the long haul as Samardzic presented Stavridis with future plans for their participation in the ISAF operation and other plans to integrate Montenegro in Euroatlantic structures.

India

India is playing a large role in this global growth of the U.S.-NATO Empire with a strategic location, immense land mass and large population, it is the perfect ally for the West to use to extend their hegemony over the region.

India is part of the growing multilateral relationship between the United States, Australia, Japan and India – which, like all of the other alliances emerging now – acts to encircle and isolate both Russia and China.

Now the United States is trying to work with India to expand the missile shield which is currently dominating Europe and making the Russians quite concerned.

This comes just weeks after the United States offered to sell the fifth generation F-35 fighter jets to India.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Scher characterized the Indian-American defense ties as not only valuable but critical for the security and stability of the region and the world at large.

Scher emphasized that the United States “is and will be a dependable weapons supplier to India.”

The United States is also dependably turning a blind eye to the Indian nuclear program along with the trade of natural uranium from Australia to India – allowing India to devote their more locally obtained uranium to their nuclear weapons program.

Scher said that Washington is awaiting a response from India while saying that they had already been involved in discussions surrounding the missile shield project.

Russia

Obviously Russia is not part of the global growth of NATO but instead represents one of the most vocal and powerful opponents to said growth and thus plays a large part in this equation.

Dmitry Rogozin, the Vice-Premier of Russia, said in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station that the new U.S.-NATO missile defense system includes around one thousand missiles.

Rogozin stated that this number is near the threshold established by the START-3 treaty, which was signed on April 8, 2010.

Russian President Medvedev has also warned that Russia very well might back out of the START agreement entirely if the United States continues down this path with no regard for Russia’s legitimate concerns.

This dovetails with Rogozin’s statement that the actions of the United States, NATO and allied states could bring about a new arms race.

Rogozin said that the United States is pressuring allies in Europe to obtain warships which are outfitted with Aegis missile interception systems.

He also pointed out that there is no guarantee that the United States will stop developing the missile defense system after the set date of 2020.

I can understand his concerns, especially since there is not so much as a guarantee that the United States will not target Russia, Russian interests or Russian allies with the so-called defense system.

South China Sea

The South China Sea is one of the focal points of this cold war between the West and China with the United States and NATO increasingly trying to draw in allies in the region in order to further isolate China.

Obviously the United States does not side with China in the dispute and some previous actions on the part of the United States have made me wonder if this is all an attempt to goad China into attacking.

China has repeatedly told the United States that no country without a direct interest in the South China Sea dispute should be meddling in the issue, but the United States has taken no heed whatsoever.

A recent conference in Beijing was held between senior officials from China and ASEAN member nations in which they discussed the problems surrounding the implementation of the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) and the nations were actually able to come to an agreement on some key issues.

Meanwhile, a conference in Washington was held by the Center for a New American Security, coinciding with the release of their report, “Cooperation from Strength: The United States, China and the South China Sea.”

According to China’s Global Times, the Beijing meeting “sent a signal that countries directly concerned with regional disputes want peace,” while the Washington conference’s signal “was mixed with some hostility.”

They likely take this position because the CNAS study argues that the South China Sea is a geopolitical epicenter which will determine whether the United States can hold on to a dominant role in the Asia-Pacific region, which is precisely what the Pentagon’s new strategy intends to do.

During the conference, the United States’ Chief of Naval Operations, Jonathan Greenert, said that certain aspects of the report would be integrated into military planning; adding that he believes the United States Navy can hold a predominant influence in the West Pacific.

The CNAS study advised that the United States lead a multilateral security mechanism which is aimed at countering China’s growing power and influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

This is precisely what is happening, as I outlined in part one of this series.

The new multilateral alliance would include Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia, which is exactly what is happening as I write this.

Interestingly, the Global Times writes, “the US cannot force others to recognize them as the leader. It no longer has the power to play such an important role, nor do countries in the region need Uncle Sam’s care. Any strategic attempt to form an alliance against China would be against the will of the countries in the region, and the last thing those countries want to do is pick a side between the US and China.”

Indeed I find this to be a very pertinent point as many nations are being pulled both ways between a waning power (the United States) and rising powers (Russia and China).

It will be interesting to see if the United States can hold on to the influence they have in the Asia-Pacific region or expand their power as the Pentagon is hoping to do.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: January 23, 2012

January 23, 2012 2 comments

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U.S. Envoy: NATO To Keep Strait Of Hormuz Open

U.S. Aircraft Carriers To Deliver “Direct Message To Iran”

Obama, Saakashvili To Discuss Caucasus, Afghan War

Pakistan Rejects U.S. Report On Deadly NATO Attack

U.S. Drone Strike Kills Four In Northwestern Pakistan

Pakistani Political Leader: End U.S. Drone Strikes

World Island: U.S. Commander Looks To Mackinder For Naval Strategy

NATO Intensifies Military Cooperation With Azerbaijan

U.S. Sees Iran’s Neighbor Azerbaijan As Major Strategic Partner

China Questions U.S.-Philippines Joint Military Drills

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U.S. Envoy: NATO To Keep Strait Of Hormuz Open

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-23/nato-will-keep-strait-of-hormuz-open-u-s-ambassador-says.html

Bloomberg News
January 23, 2012

NATO Will Keep Strait of Hormuz Open, U.S. Ambassador Says
By Robert Hutton

U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Ivo Daalder said the alliance will keep the Strait of Hormuz open in the face of Iranian threats to close the shipping channel.

European Union foreign ministers meet in Brussels today to discuss economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, including the possibility of an oil embargo.

“I have not looked at the exact military contingency plannings that there are and how long that would take,” Daalder told BBC Radio 4’s “Today show.

“But of this I am certain: the international waterways that go through the Strait of Hormuz are to be sailed by international navies including ours and the British and the French and any other navy that needs to go through the Gulf; and second, we will make sure that that happens under any circumstance.”

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U.S. Aircraft Carriers To Deliver “Direct Message To Iran”

http://rt.com/news/aircraft-carrier-hormuz-iran-391/

RT
January 22, 2012

US aircraft carriers to deliver ‘direct message to Iran’

In an apparent show of strength, Washington is deploying a second carrier strike group in the Gulf. US officials also confirmed their commitment to maintaining a global fleet of 11 aircraft carriers despite budget pressure to cut the fleet’s size.

“That’s the reason we maintain a presence in the Middle East,” AP cited US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, as saying in a speech to about 1,700 sailors aboard the USS Enterprise. “We want them to know that we are fully prepared to deal with any contingency and it’s better for them to try to deal with us through diplomacy.”

Panetta added that the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise is on course for the Persian Gulf – and will steam through the Strait of Hormuz in a direct message to Iran, AP reports.

“We’ll continue to make those messages clear. The most important way to make those messages clear is to show that we are prepared, that we are strong, that we’ll have a presence in that part of the world,” Panetta added.

The USS Enterprise, along with the other six ships in the carrier strike group, will deploy to the Middle East in March. It means the US will maintain two carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf region. The warships are expected to support the country’s battle operations in Afghanistan, its anti-piracy efforts and other missions.

Meanwhile, Iran claims it is not concerned with the move, saying it is a part of routine activity.

“US warships and military forces have been in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region for many years and their decision in relation to the dispatch of a new warship is not a new issue and it should be interpreted as part of their permanent presence,” Revolutionary Guard Deputy Commander Hossein Salami was quoted by the IRNA news agency on Saturday.

Tensions escalated in the Gulf after Iran warned the US that it might block the Strait, which is a major transit route for global oil supplies, if the West places an embargo on its oil exports.

Tehran also urged Washington not to send carriers into the Gulf. In return, Washington said it would continue to deploy its ships in the region.

The USS Enterprise, along with the other six ships in the carrier strike group, will deploy to the Middle East in March. Therefore, the US will maintain two carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf region. The warships are expected to support the country’s battle operations in Afghanistan, its anti-piracy efforts and other missions.

Next week the EU is set to agree an embargo on Iranian oil. The West expects the sanctions to force Iran to suspend the nuclear weapon activities it is allegedly practicing.

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Obama, Saakashvili To Discuss Caucasus, Afghan War

http://rustavi2.com/news/news_text.php?id_news=44427&pg=1&im=main&ct=0&wth=

Rustavi 2
January 22, 2012

Bass comments on forthcoming Obama-Saakashvili meeting

U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John Bass made another comment on the forthcoming meeting between Obama and Saakashvili scheduled to take place in the Oval Office of the White House on the 30th of January.

John Bass said with the meeting the two countries are expected to get closer to each other even more.

“It`s an important opportunity for both leaders to touch base after they have not seen each other in several months. We`ve got a lot to talk about. There are a lot of way we are working together both in this region and in Georgia but also further afield places like Afghanistan”, John Bass said.

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Pakistan Rejects U.S. Report On Deadly NATO Attack

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/23/us-pakistan-usa-idUSTRE80M0YV20120123

Reuters
January 23, 2012

Pakistan rejects U.S. report on NATO attack

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s military on Monday rejected U.S. findings on a November 26 NATO cross-border air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and plunged relations to a low point.

“Pakistan does not agree with several portions and findings of the investigation report, as these are factually not correct,” the military said in a statement.

The U.S. report released on December 22 found both American and Pakistani forces were to blame for the border incident, inflaming already strained ties.

“Affixing partial responsibility of the incident on Pakistan is therefore unjustified and unacceptable,” said the Pakistani military.

Pakistan responded to the attack by shutting down ground routes to supply U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan and forced the United States to vacate an air base used to launch drone flights.

Last week, a senior Pakistani security official told Reuters the routes would be reopened, but heavy tariffs would be imposed.

(Reporting by Qasim Nauman; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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U.S. Drone Strike Kills Four In Northwestern Pakistan

http://en.trend.az/regions/world/usa/1982951.html

Trend News Agency
January 23, 2012

4 killed in U.S. drone strike in NW Pakistan

At least four people were killed in two U.S. drone strikes on Monday morning in North Waziristan tribal region in northwestern Pakistan, Xinhua reported.

According to Urdu TV channel Geo report, one drone fired two missiles at a vehicle suspected of carrying militants in Datta Khel of North Waziristan on Pakistan-Afghan border.

The second U.S. drone launched two missile strikes at the house of a local tribal man in the same area on suspicion of being a militants’ hideout.

It was not clear who were targeted in the strike.

This is the third such airstrike in northwestern Pakistan since the beginning of 2012.

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Pakistani Political Leader: End U.S. Drone Strikes

http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/23/imran-urges-us-to-stop-drone-attacks.html

Dawn
January 23, 2012

Imran urges US to stop drone attacks

WASHINGTON: PTI leader Imran Khan urged the United States on Sunday to stop drone attacks in Pakistan because they also killed many innocent people.

In an interview to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Mr Khan noted that each bomb that killed terrorists also killed many people who might be related to the terrorists but were not involved in terrorism.

And this ‘collateral damage’ “creates more Jihadis than it kills”, he argued.

Mr Khan also urged cessation of all military activities in the region if the United States wanted to engage the Taliban in meaningful peace talks. “One cannot talk and be at war at the same time,” he said, shaking his head at the policies of the Obama and Bush administrations, which depended heavily on drone strikes.

CNN introduced Mr Khan as “the most popular political leader” in Pakistan today who could be the country’s future prime minister and that’s why, it argued, his views on the drone strikes were important.

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World Island:U.S. Commander Looks To Mackinder For Naval Strategy

http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2012/01/20/14645-the-rising-east-walsh-looks-to-mackinder-for-naval-strategy/

Honolulu Civil Beat
January 20, 2012

The Rising East: Walsh Looks To Mackinder For Naval Strategy
By Richard Halloran

-In an interview earlier, Walsh said he had been influenced by Sir Halford Mackinder, the British political geographer who devised the “heartland theory” of world power in 1904. Mackinder argued that whoever controlled Eastern Europe could control the “world Island” in the center of the Eurasian continent and, in turn, the world itself.
By applying Mackinder’s geographic insights to Asia, Walsh said, “You can identify where the critical node is,” which is the South China Sea.
-With American interests stretched from Seoul to Sydney to Sri Lanka, the South China Sea is essential to U.S. warships traversing to and from the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
-Similarly, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific and Asia, Admiral Robert Willard, has noted: “The sea lines of communication that crisscross the South China Sea carry $5.3 trillion in bilateral annual trade, of which $1.2 trillion is U.S. trade.”

Admiral Patrick Walsh, who completed his watch as commander of the Pacific Fleet and retired from the Navy on Friday, leaves behind a proposal for an imaginative maritime strategy intended to reinforce the U.S. posture in Asia and to deter a potentially aggressive China.

Walsh suggests that the U.S. shift its focus and forces from Northeast Asia, the center of American attention in Asia since World War II, to Southeast Asia, specifically the South China Sea. Through that vital sea-lane passes more than half of the world’s shipping, of which 23 percent is U.S. trade — and is a vulnerable Chinese lifeline.

The admiral departed Pearl Harbor with a word of caution as he relinquished command to Admiral Cecil Haney, saying: “In the Pacific Century, sea power resumes its traditional role in the sea-lines of communication…”

Asian nations are scrutinizing America’s moves, especially the consequences of military budget cuts, he said. “They are watching with keen interest the effect of the U.S. economic challenges, the strain of more than a decade of war on the Navy’s ability to remain forward, to remain engaged and ready.”

In an interview earlier, Walsh said he had been influenced by Sir Halford Mackinder, the British political geographer who devised the “heartland theory” of world power in 1904. Mackinder argued that whoever controlled Eastern Europe could control the “world Island” in the center of the Eurasian continent and, in turn, the world itself.

By applying Mackinder’s geographic insights to Asia, Walsh said, “You can identify where the critical node is,” which is the South China Sea.

Moreover, he said, “It forces an assessment of whether we are prepared for where this economic juggernaut [China] is going.”

Applying Mackinder’s thought raises the question of whether the U.S. has positioned its forces to assure that the sea-lanes are kept open for the economic benefit of the U.S. and its allies — or can be closed in an operation to dissuade threats from China.

With American interests stretched from Seoul to Sydney to Sri Lanka, the South China Sea is essential to U.S. warships traversing to and from the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Moreover, turbulence arises from competing claims to various islands in that sea, to access to undersea gas and oil deposits, and to rights in fishing grounds.

Admiral Walsh said he had discussed his application of Mackinder’s heartland theory with Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister of Singapore considered to be the elder statesman of East Asia. “He was very interested in what we were doing,” the admiral said.

The admiral urged the U.S. to cultivate relations with that city-state and other Southeast Asian nations as Americans “invite partners to contribute to the overall security of the region.” That includes Vietnam, which has opened its ports to repair U.S. warships. The U.S. has moved to restore diplomatic relations with Burma, also called Myanmar, as it has begun political reforms.

In Washington on Wednesday, senior State Department officials met with Singaporean counterparts in the first U.S.-Singapore Strategic Partners Dialogue to discuss what State called “an already robust array of initiatives.”

A joint statement clearly aimed at China said they “affirmed the importance of freedom of navigation, and lawful, unimpeded commerce, respect for international law, and the peaceful settlement of disputes.”

China is well aware of the importance of the South China Sea to its economy and thus to its military modernization. Spokesmen in Beijing have asserted that China “enjoys indisputable sovereignty” over that sea, considering it to be internal waters. Beijing has repeatedly objected to U.S. joint exercises with Southeast Asian navies there.

Walsh’s strategic concept, about which he has written a classified paper, has evidently had some influence beyond his headquarters at Pearl Harbor. It did not show up in the Pentagon’s new strategic guidance but Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed similar thoughts in her recent call for the U.S. to “pivot” its strength to Asia.

The United States has helped “to protect unfettered access to and passage through the South China Sea,” she wrote, “and to uphold the key international rules for defining territorial claims in the South China Sea’s waters. Given that half the world’s merchant tonnage flows through this body of water, this was a consequential undertaking.”

Similarly, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific and Asia, Admiral Robert Willard, has noted: “The sea lines of communication that crisscross the South China Sea carry $5.3 trillion in bilateral annual trade, of which $1.2 trillion is U.S. trade.”

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NATO Intensifies Military Cooperation With Azerbaijan

http://en.apa.az/news.php?id=164167

Azeri Press Agency
January 23, 2012

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “Azerbaijan develops its partnership with NATO”

Baku: “The Azerbaijan-NATO partnership was continued in 2011”, says the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s annual press release for 2011.

The issues of defense reforms, practical cooperation, security in the region, future development of Azerbaijan-NATO relations, including the beginning of an news Individual Partnership Action Plan, operations and energy security were discussed during the political dialog last year. The 28+1 (NATO member countries and Azerbaijan) meeting on energy security was held in NATO headquarters last year.

As a result of discussions on the beginning of the 3rd round of the NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), the 3rd round document of IPAP was adopted on December 20, 2011.

Azerbaijan actively participated in the international political processes on Afghanistan, the country’s representatives participated in an informal meeting of foreign ministers of countries contributing to NATO’s ISAF operations and International Conference on NATO in Bonn, as well as a foreign ministerial meeting of non-NATO member countries contributing to ISAF at NATO headquarters.

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U.S. Sees Iran’s Neighbor Azerbaijan As Major Strategic Partner

http://www.news.az/articles/politics/53152

News.Az
January 23, 2012

US sees Azerbaijan as ‘a major strategic partner’

-The US sees Azerbaijan as a major strategic partner that helps to build bridges in the region while watching and checking Russian and Iranian intentions.
-A new war over Karabakh due to an Iran scenario is possible given the strategic distraction a military strike on Iran.

News.Az interviews Dr Theodore Karasik, director of Research & Development at the Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis.

What can you say about the opinion that West is losing the South Caucasus? Anyway, this region seems not to be on the list of priorities in the US foreign policy?

I think that assumption is wrong. The South Caucasus remain vital to the West and is a priority item for US foreign policy when it comes to energy resources and routes as well as events in neighboring countries.

Security is among the key components of US-Azerbaijani cooperation. What is Azerbaijan for the United States in this sense, given its location in a complex region with problematic neighbors?

The US sees Azerbaijan as a major strategic partner that helps to build bridges in the region while watching and checking Russian and Iranian intentions.

Azerbaijan has made it clear that it won’t allow its territory to be used for anti-Iranian actions. Can the West convince the West to change this position?

I think Azerbaijan’s decision is a prudent one and there is no reason to use Azeri territory anyway since other countries are making themselves available.

How can the possible military invasion in Iran influence the situation in the region of South Caucasus, overall, and Azerbaijan, in particular?

This depends on the use of air strikes and whether any refugee flows occur.  The Iranian government may also try to upset any US or allied foreign presence in any neighboring countries such as from Afghanistan to Azerbaijan.

What do you think of the assumption that growing tensions in Iran may cause a new war for Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia?

A new war over Karabakh due to an Iran scenario is possible given the strategic distraction a military strike on Iran. Then again, it would not be in any one’s interest to launch a new adventure.

What can be Azerbaijan’s role as the nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council?

This new role will allow Azerbaijan greater opportunities to voice Baku’s regional concerns.

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China Questions U.S.-Philippines Joint Military Drills

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international-business/china-questions-us-philippines-joint-military-drills/articleshow/11602500.cms

Economic Times
January 23, 2012

China questions US-Philippines joint military drills

BEIJING: China today questioned US and the Philippines plans to hold joint military drills near the disputed waters in the South China Sea saying that American intervention could destabilise peace in the region.

“One can’t help but raise questions about the real intentions behind Washington’s pivot to the Asia-Pacific region”, a commentary in the state-run Xinhua news agency said today about the US, Philippines plan to hold joint military drills from March to April.

China claims the entire South China Sea and the islands, which are believed to be rich with oil and gas resources, as its own.

Besides Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also question the Chinese claim and stake their own claims over the same.

The Xinhua commentary said both US and Philippines have claimed that their proposed war games are not directed against other countries in the region, “but the motive behind the planned joint drills is really dubious”, it said.

“The planned joint military drills show, the United States could become a destabilising force in the region itself if it puts its power in the wrong places”, it said.

“As to the issue of the South China Sea, the priority for all parties is to shelve disputes and refrain from taking radical measures to escalated the situation”, it said.

Calling US an “outside power”, the daily said Washington should work with all parties concerned to prevent tensions from getting out of control, rather than support “one side or the other”.

“Instead of trying to arm the Philippines and stoking tensions, the United States should restrain the activist and provocative moves by its so-called ally”, it said.

“After all, it is in the interests of all parties to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, which has been considered as a major engine driving the global economy”, it said.

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Categories: Uncategorized

The Eurasian “Triple Alliance.” The Strategic Importance of Iran for Russia and China

January 23, 2012 1 comment

Global Research

January 23, 2012

 

CONFRONTATION BETWEEN MILITARY BLOCS: The Eurasian “Triple Alliance.” The Strategic Importance of Iran for Russia and China
by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Global Research, January 23, 2012

Despite areas of difference and rivalries between Moscow and Tehran, ties between the two countries based on common interests have developed significantly.

Both Russia and Iran are both major energy exporters, they have deeply seated interests in the South Caucasus. They are both firmly opposed to NATO’s missile shield, with a view to preventing the U.S. and E.U. from controlling the energy corridors around the Caspian Sea Basin.

Moscow and Tehran’s bilateral ties are also part of a broader and overlapping alliance involving Armenia, Tajikistan, Belarus, Syria, and Venezuela. Yet, above all things, both republics are also two of Washington’s main geo-strategic targets.

The Eurasian Triple Alliance: The Strategic Importance of Iran for Russia and China 

China, the Russian Federation and Iran are widely considered to be allies and partners. Together the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, and the Islamic Republic of Iran form a strategic barrier directed against U.S. expansionism. The three countries form a “triple alliance,” which constitutes the core of a Eurasian coalition directed against U.S. encroachment into Eurasia and its quest for global hegemony.

While China confronts U.S. encroachment in East Asia and the Pacific, Iran and Russia respectively confront the U.S. led coalition in Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. All three countries are threatened in Central Asia and are wary of the U.S. and NATO military presence in Afghanistan.

Iran can be characterized as a geo-strategic pivot. The geo-political equation in Eurasia very much hinges on the structure of Iran’s political alliances. Were Iran to become an ally of the United States, this would seriously hamper or even destabilize Russia and China. This also pertains to Iran’s ethno-cultural, linguistic, economic, religious, and geo-political links to the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Moreover, were the structure of political alliances to shift in favor of the U.S., Iran could also become the greatest conduit for U.S. influence and expansion in the Caucasus and Central Asia. This has to do with the fact that Iran is the gateway to Russia’s soft southern underbelly (or “Near Abroad”) in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

In such a scenario, Russia as an energy corridor would be weakened as Washington would “unlock” Iran’s potential as a primary energy corridor for the Caspian Sea Basin, implying de facto U.S. geopolitical control over Iranian pipeline routes. In this regard, part of Russia’s success as an energy transit route has been due to U.S. efforts to weaken Iran by preventing energy from transiting through Iranian territory.

If Iran were to “change camps” and enter the U.S. sphere of influence, China’s economy and national security would also be held hostage on two counts. Chinese energy security would be threatened directly because Iranian energy reserves would no longer be secure and would be subject to U.S. geo-political interests. Additionally, Central Asia could also re-orient its orbit should Washington open a direct and enforced conduit from the open seas via Iran. 

Thus, both Russia and China want a strategic alliance with Iran as a means of screening them from the geo-political encroachment of the United States. “Fortress Eurasia” would be left exposed without Iran. This is why neither Russia nor China could ever accept a war against Iran. Should Washington transform Iran into a client then Russia and China would be under threat.


Misreading the Support of China and Russia for U.N. Security Council Sanctions

There is a major misreading of past Russian and Chinese support of U.N. sanctions against Iran. Even though Beijing and Moscow allowed U.N. Security Council sanctions to be passed against their Iranian ally, they did it for strategic reasons, namely with a view to keeping Iran out of Washington’s orbit.

In reality, the United States would much rather co-opt Tehran as a satellite or junior partner than take the unnecessary risk and gamble of an all-out war with the Iranians. What Russian and Chinese support for past sanctions did was to allow for the development of a wider rift between Tehran and Washington. In this regard, realpolitik is at work. As American-Iranian tensions broaden, Iranian relations with Russia and China become closer and Iran becomes more and more entrenched in its relationship with Moscow and Beijing.

Russia and China, however, would never support crippling sanctions or any form of economic embargo that would threaten Iranian national security. This is why both China and Russia have refused to be coerced by Washington into joining its new 2012 unilateral sanctions. The Russians have also warned the European Union to stop being Washington’s pawns, because they are hurting themselves by playing along with the schemes of the United States. In this regard Russia commented on the impractical and virtually unworkable E.U. plans for an oil embargo against Iran. Tehran has also made similar warnings and has dismissed the E.U. oil embargo as a psychological tactic that is bound to fail.

  
Left photo: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and President Dmitry A. Medvedev of Russia during a bilateral meeting in Dushabe, Tajikistan.
The bilateral Iranian-Russian meeting was held on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit on August 28, 2008.
Right photo: Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov together in Moscow discussing Russia’s step-by-step nuclear proposal.

Russo-Iranian Security Cooperation and Strategic Coordination

In August 2011, the head of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, Secretary-General Saaed (Said) Jalili, and the head of the National Security Council of the Russian Federation, Secretary Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev met in Tehran to discuss the Iranian nuclear energy program as well as bilateral cooperation. Russia wanted to help Iran rebuff the new wave of accusations by Washington directed against Iran. Soon after Patrushev and his Russian team arrived in Tehran, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, flew to Moscow. 

Both Jalili and Patrushev met again in September 2011, but this time in Russia. Jalili went to Moscow first and then crossed the Urals to the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.

The Iran-Russia Yekaterinburg meeting took place on the sidelines of an international security summit. Moreover, at this venue, it was announced that the highest bodies of national security in Moscow and Tehran would henceforth coordinate by holding regular meetings. A protocol between the two countries was was signed at Yekaterinburg.

During this important gathering, both Jalili and Patrushev held meetings with their Chinese counterpart, Meng Jianzhu. As a result of these meetings, a similar process of bilateral consultation between the national security councils of Iran and China was established. Moreover, the parties also discussed the formation of a supranational security council within the Shanghai Cooperation Council to confront threats directed against Beijing, Tehran, Moscow and their Eurasian allies.

Also in September 2011, Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian envoy to NATO, announced that he would be visiting Tehran in the near future to discuss the NATO missile shield project, which both the Moscow and Tehran oppose.

Reports claiming that Russia, Iran, and China were planning on creating a joint missile shield started to surface. Rogozin, who had warned in August 2011 that Syria and Yemen would be attacked as “stepping stones” in the broader confrontation directed against Tehran, responded by publicly refuting the reports pertaining to the establishment of a joint Sino-Russo-Iranian missile shield project.

The following month, in October 2011, Russia and Iran announced that they would be expanding ties in all fields. Soon after, in November 2011, Iran and Russia signed a strategic cooperation and partnership agreement between their highest security bodies covering economics, politics, security, and intelligence. This was a long anticipated document on which both Russia and Iran had been working on. The agreement was signed in Moscow by the Deputy Secretary-General of the Supreme Security Council of Iran, Ali Bagheri (Baqeri), and the Under-Secretary of the National Security Council of Russia, Yevgeny Lukyanov.

In November 2011, the head of the Committee for International Affairs in the Russian Duma, Konstantin Kosachev, also announced that Russia must do everything it can to prevent an attack on neighbouring Iran. At the end of November 2011 it was announced that Dmitry Rogozin would definitely visit both Tehran and Beijing in 2012, together with a team of Russian officials to hold strategic discussions on collective strategies against common threats.

  
Left and right photos: Secretary-General Jalili and Secretary Patrushev in Tehran, Iran holding Iranian-Russian national security talks during August 2011.

  
Left photo: Deputy Secretary-General Ali Bagheri at a press conference in Moscow, Russia after signing a security pact with Russian officials.
Right photo: Konstantin Kosachev, the Chairperson of the Committee for International Affairs in the Russian Duma.

Russian National Security and Iranian National Security are Attached

On January 12, 2012, Nikolai Patrushev told Interfax he feared that a major war was imminent and that Tel Aviv was pushing the U.S. to attack Iran. He dismissed the claims that Iran was secretly manufacturing nuclear weapons and said that for years the world had continuously heard that Iran would have an atomic bomb by next week ad nauseum. His comments were followed by a dire warning from Dmitry Rogozin.

On January 13, 2012, Rogozin, who had been appointed deputy prime minister, declared that any attempted military intervention against Iran would be a threat to Russia’s national security. In other words, an attack on Tehran is an attack on Moscow. In 2007, Vladimir Putin essentially mentioned the same thing when he was in Tehran for a Caspian Sea summit, which resulted in George W. Bush Jr. warning that World War III could erupt over Iran. Rogozin’s statement is merely a declaration of what has been the position of Russia all along: should Iran fall, Russia would be in danger.

Iran is a target of U.S. hostility not just for its vast energy reserves and natural resources, but because of major geo-strategic considerations that make it a strategic springboard against Russia and China. The roads to Moscow and Beijing also go through Tehran, just as the road to Tehran goes through Damascus, Baghdad, and Beirut. Nor does the U.S. want to merely control Iranian oil and natural gas for consumption or economic reasons. Washington wants to put a muzzle around China by controlling Chinese energy security and wants Iranian energy exports to be traded in U.S. dollars to insure the continued use of the U.S. dollar in international transactions.

Moreover, Iran has been making agreements with several trade partners, including China and India, whereby business transactions will not be conducted in euros or U.S. dollars. In January 2012, both Russia and Iran replaced the U.S. dollar with their national currencies, respectively the Russian rouble and the Iranian rial, in their bilateral trade. This was an economic and financial blow to the United States.

   
Left photo: Vladimir V. Putin and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holding talks in Tehran, Iran on the sidelines of a summit of Caspian Sea nations in October 2007.
Right photo: Dmitry O. Rogozin, the departing representative of Russia at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.



Syria and the National Security Concerns of Iran and Russia

Russia and China with Iran are all staunchly supporting Syria. The diplomatic and economic siege against Syria is tied to the geo-political stakes to control Eurasia. The instability in Syria is tied to the objective of combating Iran and ultimately turning it into a U.S. partner against Russia and China. 

The cancelled or delayed deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to Israel for “Austere Challenge 2012″ was tied to ratcheting up the pressure against Syria. On the basis of a Voice of Russia report, segments of the Russian media erroneously reported that “Austere Challenge 2012″ was going to be held in the Persian Gulf, which was mistakenly picked up by news outlets in other parts of the world. This helped highlight the Iranian link at the expense of the Syrian and Lebanese links. The deployment of U.S. troops was aimed predominately at Syria as a means of isolating and combating Iran. The “cancelled” or “delayed” Israeli-U.S. missile exercises most probably envisaged preparations for missile and rocket attacks not only from Iran, but also from Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Territories.

Aside from its naval ports in Syria, Russia does not want to see Syria used to re-route the energy corridors in the Caspian Basin and the Mediterranean Basin. If Syria were to fall, these routes would be re-synchronized to reflect a new geo-political reality. At the expense of Iran, energy from the Persian Gulf could also be re-routed to the Mediterranean through both Lebanon and Syria.

  
Left photo: Syrian Defence Minister Dawoud (David) Rajha visiting the docked Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in the Syrian port of Tartus on January 8, 2012.
Right photo: Syrian allies, Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, join President Bashar Al-Assad for a summit in Damascus, Syria on February 25, 2010.

  
Left photo: The Alvand, one of the two Iranian warships that visited the Syrian port of Lattakia during February 2011.
Right photo: Rear-Admirial Habibollah Sayyari holding a press conference on February 28, 2001 at the Iranian Embassy in Syria about the Iranian naval presence off Syria’s Mediterranean coast.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. And NATO Are On The March Worldwide – Part IV

January 23, 2012 Leave a comment

End The Lie

January 22, 2012

 

U.S. and NATO are on the march worldwide – part IV

By Madison Ruppert

Editor of End the Lie

The global growth of the West and NATO is so complex and so far reaching that it is almost overwhelming.

However, I have been writing this series in an attempt to show my readers how many seemingly disconnected events are, in fact, highly connected and interrelated developments.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in and start examining some of the more important events which have transpired since the last part of this series.

Please do not forget to get yourself familiar with what is going on by reading parts onetwo, and three. If I have missed anything I would appreciate you letting me know by emailing me directly at admin@endthelie.com.

Estonia

At a meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves discussed continuing long-term NATO air operations in the Baltics, saying, “We have clearly stated repeatedly that the air security mission is not only unavoidable in a military sense, but it also represents a good example of smart defense and an expression of NATO’s internal [solidarity] with respect to its member states,” according to Estonian World Review.

Ilves said that Estonia is considering raising their monetary support of NATO and therefore would be “entitled to expect support from its allies.”

Yet the strongest statement coming from Ilves was when he said, “Baltic air space is also NATO’s air space; it is NATO’s task to defend this air space. This can only be done by the fighters of NATO members [sic] states located in the Baltic states.”

Given the region’s strategic location relative to Russia, this statement is quite interesting, to say the least.

It seems that the Estonian president is eager to give up his nation’s sovereignty in exchange for a spot in the vicious NATO alliance, something which I find quite worrisome for the people of Estonia and the greater Baltics as a whole.

He also said that a long-term air security solution should be adopted at the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago with the goal of “enhanced defense and deterrence capabilities of NATO.”

Ilves also said that they would need to maintain “the continued presence of the US armed forces in Europe, enhancing NATO’s cyber defense ambitions.”

Interestingly, it was also reported that they discussed the Afghan operation “and its possible development after the end of the mission’s military stage.”

Yet, as I have been repeatedly pointing out, there have been no indications that there is going to be an end of the mission’s military stage any time soon evidenced by the talks surrounding a long-term American-led presence in Afghanistan.

This fact fits into the picture perfectly because it serves as a strategic location relative to several nations including Pakistan, Iran and Russia.

During Rasmussen’s trip to Estonia, he praised the nation’s commitment to continue high levels of military spending in the face of an economic crisis and austerity.

“I particularly value the Estonian government’s decision to increase its defense spending to 2 percent of GDP this year. This is a significant achievement, and a most welcome commitment. And it sets an excellent example,” he said.

“You used the economic crisis as an opportunity to implement substantial defense reforms. By streamlining your military structures and making them more efficient, you were able to make substantial savings,” the Secretary General said.

“You have used these savings to invest in higher priorities – in operational needs and in more useable capabilities. And that is one important lesson for the Alliance more widely,” he added.

I find this type of logic to be nothing short of abhorrent and the fact that it is being employed to justify military spending in countries that cannot afford it is quite worrisome and should be a matter of concern for the people of Estonia.

We are facing a similar dilemma in the United States with the war profiteers parasitically eating our economy alive along with the similarly corrupt and corporatist financial industry.

Lithuania

The Lithuanian Minister of National Defense, Rasa Jukneviciene, also met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in a joint meeting with the Prime Minister, Andrius Kubilius.

During the meeting the two Lithuanian leaders and the top NATO official discussed “perspectives of the Baltic Air Policing mission, smart defense, the operation of the INternational Security Assistance Force [ISAF] in Afghanistan and join military training,” according to DefPro.

“Collective planning within NATO is of utmost importance to us, just like joint military training,” Jukneviciene said.

This is Rasmussen’s second visit since 2009 when he visited during the Baltic States’ 5th anniversary of NATO accession, something which I would argue is hardly worth celebrating.

Lithuania is an important ally in NATO’s global encirclement effort due to their strategic location relative to Russia.

Philippines

Reuters has reported that the United States and the Philippines will be engaging in joint military drills near the disputed area of the West Philippine Sea.

They rightly point out that these operations “may anger Beijing” as they are aimed at “testing their readiness to protect offshore oil and natural gas platforms,” not to mention the fact that the United States recently gave a naval vessel to the Philippines as well.

Lieutenant-General Juancho Sabban, the military commander on the Philippines’ western island of Palawan, stated that this would be the first time that an annual military exercise would focus primarily on protecting offshore energy platforms.

He claimed that the maneuvers should not irk China, although I think that is quite doubtful given that they indeed have claims to territory in the region.

To support this contention, I point to China repeatedly telling the United States that countries without a direct interest in the South China Sea dispute should stay out it, something which the United States has clearly ignored.

“Why should they [China] be angry, this is an annual activity,” he said, ignoring the fact that the United States is involved.

It appears that the exercise is mostly aimed at preparing to protect corporate interests which could possibly, in the future, come “under attack by terrorists,” according to Sabban.

This dovetails with the ship recently provided to the Philippines which is being used to patrol the same region which this exercise seems to be focused on.

The drills are reportedly to be held near the Malampaya gas project which includes property owned by a division of Chevron, Chevron Malampaya LLC, along with a division of Royal Dutch Shell, Shell Philippines Exploration B.V.

This cooperation between the United States and the Philippines is hardly new, with American Special Forces troops holding training sessions for Filipino troops since 2002.

This has been done under the guise of “fighting a group of al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in the southern Philippines” and the classic humanitarian excuse as well.

But this history goes back even further, with joint military exercises being held under a security treaty signed in 1951.

Recently four prominent American Senators traveled to the Philippines to meet with President Aquino to discuss the growing military cooperation.

John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Sheldon Whitehouse and Kelly Ayotte, all members of the Senate’s armed services committee, vowed to support the Philippines request to acquire a second Hamilton-class cutter according to The Philippine Star.

“The senators said that they are increasing their presence in the Asia-Pacific region. As you know, they already have established bases in Australia and Singapore. There will be increased military exercises in Asia-Pacific region and that would also include the Philippines,” said Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesman, quoting the Defense Secretary Voltair Gazmin who was present at the meeting between the president and the American Senators.

Lacierda added that the Philippines is ready to participate in more military exercises with the United States saying, “We profit from the experiences of joint military exercises. It enhances our experience, it improves our capabilities. We learn from the Americans.”

Unfortunately what they are learning is how to be militaristic, imperialistic and brutal, traits which are not conducive to a peaceful resolution of the South China Sea dispute.

Then again, it has become quite obvious that the West and NATO have no interest in peace. If they did, they would sign a pact with Russia dealing with the anti-ballistic missile shield program and also take up the Russian offer to integrate their radar systems with the NATO system.

This approach to the South China Sea dispute was highlighted by McCain in saying that China should not be allowed to have “disproportionate control” over what they pointedly call the West Philippine Sea.

“If there is indeed a withdrawal of the US then I believe that that would mean a lessening of stability in the region,” McCain said, perfectly reflecting the nonsensical attitude held by so many warmongers who are in the pockets of the defense contractors.

Apparently angering China by meddling in the dispute and increasing the stakes by heavily arming some nations creates more stability than if the United States dealt with the massive domestic problems instead and let these countries solve their own disputes as nations have done for centuries.

Currently several countries claim the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea or the “West Philippine Sea” depending on what you read (and how biased the source is) but the typically agreed upon location is indeed the South China Sea, contrary to what you might read in Filipino publications.

Countries which claim the islands include China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan, some of which have small numbers of military units in the region.

The Philippines is currently making a push to modernize their armed forces, with the United States providing a great deal of the equipment.

“The secretary asked for assistance regarding military hardware, especially cutters,” the spokesman for the Filipino Department of National Defense (DND) Peter Galvez said, without giving further details.

The dangerous aspect of this partnership is that the United States is indeed planning on conducting military exercises in the region of the Spratly Islands themselves, something which would likely make China uncomfortable, and rightly so.

China has made it painfully clear that they want the United States and any country without direct involvement in the dispute to mind their own business. This hardly seems like an unreasonable request given that the United States really has no place in the dispute.

Except, of course, for the Western corporations which are operating in the area and given that the United States military more often than not serves corporate interests nowadays, it is only logical that the U.S. would insert itself into the equation despite the fact that it will only serve to make it more dangerous for everyone involved.

Poland

Since 2004 Polish pilots have been trained on bases belonging to the United States and recently the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, General Mieczyslaw Cieniuch paid a visit to the 162nd Fighter Wing at the Tucson International Airport in Tucson, Arizona.

General Cieniuch is the highest ranking Polish military officer and is the equivalent of General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thus the appearance was quite a meaningful one.

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe report, “Other dignitaries who travelled with General Cieniuch were Army Maj. Gen. Andrzej Falkowski, the Polish Defense Attaché to Washington D.C., and Army Brig. Gen. Sławomir Wojciechowski, Polish Deputy Chief of Operational Planning.”

This visit came just days avert General Cieniuch visited Washington D.C. where he was given the Legion of Merit award by General Dempsey.

The award was conferred for General Cieniuch’s “leadership with the cooperation, understand and relationship between the armed forces of the United States and Poland.”

Like Lithuania and Estonia, Poland is an important strategic ally for NATO and the West because Poland’s capital of Warsaw is less than 800 miles from the Russian capital, Moscow (which is also its most populous city in Russia and the entirety of Europe with over 11.5 million residents according to the 2010 Census).

Of course Poland is also a key player in the anti-ballistic missile system, which is rightfully angering the Russians and has led them to create their own advanced warning radar system.

Hopefully the people of these various countries will not allow themselves to be deceived into thinking they need to join the Western war machine.

The U.S.-NATO approach to conflict clearly does not work, evidenced by the constant war, suffering and death we see plaguing the globe.

Maybe if more people step back and take a look at the larger scheme that is playing out here we will be able to push back the tide of neo-imperialistic militarism.

If we do not, I can guarantee whatever comes out of it will not be pretty, to say the least.

Categories: Uncategorized

Missile Defense Questions Still Uncertain

January 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia

January 22, 2012

Missile defence question still uncertain

Interview with Gennady Yevstafiev – retired Lieutenant General of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

Ekaterina Kudashkina

http://english.ruvr.ru/images/flv/player.swf

Audio:

Download

This is not the first time he is really trying to explain to us how we should behave. It clearly shows that since Rasmussen became NATO boss, his mentality is changing. And it is not for him to decide what is good and what is not for the Russian side. And there are certain arguments which are in favour of having this just as a sort of a hedge for any possible movement which could develop later. Yes, I would agree that at this stage that the NATO ABM Treaty may result in a theater missile defense exercise in establishing a sort of missile net around our borders is not very dangerous but you never know what is going to happen in coming years. And unfortunately people like Rasmussen, they come and go on but missile defense remains. This is one of the arguments.

And secondly, the problem of strategic stability is connected with such an intangible thing which is covered by the word “uncertainty”. So, what they are trying to create this is not very frustrating capability right now, but it is a problem of creating an atmosphere of uncertainty. And this kind of atmosphere our country has to take into account to its strategic interests and we can’t allow our national security to be in limbo, it could not be like this. It is going to be very painful for the national conscience that there is something on our borders that could be used against us. Every government has to make its own decisions and as far as I am concerned there is a different issue.

And of course the attempt which Rasmussen is trying, not for the first time, some time ago he was trying to undermine Russian decision. It is clearly indicating that this is something they want to remove in their own interests. If there is something they want to remove it means that the fact in itself that something we have to remove in our interests, and that’s why it’s no wonder we behave like that.

They are lastly, of course the activity of handling missile defense field is very indicative on the possible moves of the United States and NATO in the Persian Gulf against Iran. The fact that they are so insistent on this problem clearly shows that they had some plans against Iran and that’s why they want to remove our uncertainty and their own uncertainty and to be very clear as far as Iran is concerned. That’s what I think.

Mr. Yevstafiev, so the whole thing on the one hand is so complicated but on the other hand it is quite obvious and transparent. So, why do you think the negotiations have been stalled for such a long time and what does it take to get them going?

First of all the question you asked has three dimensions. One dimension is – the negotiations themselves. But the negotiations themselves depend on activity in the military field – that is the second dimension. And the third dimension is strictly political dimension. Both countries – Russia and the United States have entered the election cycle and this cycler, it appears it is going to be very difficult for both countries. Obama is in a serious trouble domestically and we have a number of questions before the presidential elections and the situation is not at all clear how it is going to develop, though I don’t have any doubts that Putin would be elected. But this aspect of the situation deeply influences the ongoing negotiations or not the negotiations but the ongoing exchanges of opinion.

Ellen Tauscher is a very canny lady and she is trying somehow to alienate certain things from each other. First of all our negotiations are in the deadlock mostly because of the American position. They have their prime forestage and they are fulfilling it and they don’t give an inch to our proposals. Sometimes they even invent very bizarre arguments such like Mr. Rasmussen invented about the fact that the guarantee is in the founding act between Russia and NATO. And this is the first. But secondly the negotiations are deadlocked and it is quite clear that till May this year it is going to be deadlocked. And on the eve of May’s meeting in Chicago of NATO and usually our top leader used to visit this meeting, there would be some active movements. And now the people are studying what could be done. The important thing here is to continue exchanges of views and whatever negotiations are possible to arrange so that the dialog is maintained at least on a low level but nevertheless the dialog is there.

Secondly the problem is connected with strategic stability and strategic stability is a thing where all  things are integrated. How could we discuss the whole spectrum of these things with the Americans when Obama, despite his promise, was not successful in arranging the ratification of the Test Ban Treaty through the American Senate? Nobody speaks about that but that is an established fact – the Test Ban Treaty is not ratified by the United States, that’s one of the major reasons why the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is not put into effect. And it is a part of a strategic dilemma and if this issue is not resolved how do we go further?

Secondly, now they are trying to show some signs of discussing conventional weapons in Europ. What they propose – they are trying to invite us to our proposals of ten years age, when we suggested them – they didn’t want, but now they are trying in the convenient circumstances for them, they are trying to resume some sort of movement around these issues. But even then there are no clear signs that they are capable of suggesting something progressive and a sort of a breakthrough. It is sort of a remake of an old story but usually remaking doesn’t work. Thirdly, non strategic nuclear weapons, non strategic tactical nuclear weapons these weapons are parts of the overall picture of strategic stability. And if they don’t have an ABM treaty in place I don’t see any chance of serious negotiations on non-strategic nuclear weapons. An attempt to move these negotiations from the fabrics of strategic stability problem is not going to be profitable, so, there could be no movement. That’s why the whole thing is also in, I would say, suspended position.

Certainly, politically the election campaign is only mounting and I don’t see any kind of real breakthrough in this field. Moreover, there could be, if Americans declare war in the Persian Gulf and in Pakistan with its problems now, you know, the situation will be extremely aggravated. And if they act aggressively they would violate their responsibility of a great power which is responsible for peace. There is a want to start some sort of aggressive actions within Iraq and in Afghanistan; all this is surely a hot thing.  And I hope they wouldn’t do this because otherwise they will contaminate the whole international atmosphere with violence, aggression and all other things which would make impossible any kind of serious negotiations that it will take a number of years to restore the whole thing to the normal stage of affairs.

Sir, thank you very much. Our guest speaker this time was Gennady Yevstafiev – retired Lieutenant General of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: January 21, 2012

January 21, 2012 1 comment

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Pentagon Chief: No Post-World War II/Korea/Vietnam/Soviet Collapse-Style Drawdown For “Strongest Military In The World”

Top U.S. Navy Commander On “State-On-State Conflict” In South China Sea

Dragon In The Room: U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander On South China Sea

Pentagon, Philippines Plan Military Exercise Near Spratly Islands

Asian NATO: U.S. Senators Push Increased Military Ties With Philippines

New Defense Strategic Guidance: U.S. Shifts Air-Sea Battle Operations To Asia

Global NATO: Baltic Troops In Afghanistan, NATO Warplanes In Baltic

Estonia: Baltic Air Space Is NATO’s Air Space

Polish Military Leader Visits U.S. Counterpart, Tours Bases

Canada Shifts Troops, Armored Vehicles From Afghanistan To Arctic

Canada Intensifies New Cold War With Russia In Arctic

Second U.S. Aircraft Carrier Strike Group Arrives In Arabian Sea

NATO Soldier Killed In Southern Afghanistan

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Pentagon Chief: No Post-World War II/Korea/Vietnam/Soviet Collapse-Style Drawdown For “Strongest Military In The World”

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=66878

U.S. Department of Defense
January 20, 2012

Panetta: U.S. Military Best in World, But Threats Remain
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

-“This isn’t like drawdowns in the past…when the potential enemy or the enemy that we were confronting, you know, was disabled and in some way rendered ineffective. We’re still confronting a number of threats in the world.”
-“Number one, we are and have to remain, the strongest military in the world. We are not going to back off from our position of being the strongest military. If we’re going to confront those threats, if we’re going to be a world leader, we have got to maintain our military power.”

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The U.S. military is the world’s best and it’s on the right path to face the challenges ahead, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here today.

Speaking to a crowd of service members, civilians and local leaders at a town hall meeting, Panetta said the military “has to be able to make that turn as we head into the future.”

“We’re at a point, as you know, where the Iraq mission was brought to an end…”

The defense secretary also cited U.S., coalition and Afghan progress made in Afghanistan and NATO’s success in…Libya.

Panetta also said the current drawdown isn’t like previous drawdowns following World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War or the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“This isn’t like drawdowns in the past…when the potential enemy or the enemy that we were confronting, you know, was disabled and in some way rendered ineffective,” he said. “We’re still confronting a number of threats in the world.”

“We’re still fighting a war in Afghanistan,” Panetta said. “We’re facing threats from North Korea. We’re facing threats from Iran. We continue to face threats from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction.”

The defense secretary also noted threats from “rising powers” in Asia, continuing turmoil in the Middle East, and in the cyber world where “the battlefields of the future could very well be in cyber.”

After Congress mandated a reduction of $487 billion in the defense budget over the next 10 years, Panetta said he saw it as an “opportunity to shape the defense system we need for the future.”

“Number one, we are and have to remain, the strongest military in the world,” he said. “We are not going to back off from our position of being the strongest military. If we’re going to confront those threats, if we’re going to be a world leader, we have got to maintain our military power.”
Panetta was also adamant about not hollowing out the force which, he said, is a mistake “we’ve made in the past.”

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Top U.S. Navy Commander On “State-On-State Conflict” In South China Sea

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2088414/Dispute-oil-rich-islands-South-China-Sea-escalate-state-state-conflict-U-S-admiral-warns.html

Daily Mail
January 20, 2012

Dispute over oil rich islands in South China Sea could escalate into ‘state-on-state conflict’, U.S. admiral warns
U.S. top commander in Pacific warns drive to seize more oil resources could result in conflict in the region
By Wil Longbottom

The U.S. Navy’s top commander in the Pacific has said disputes over oil rich waters in the South China Sea could blow up into serious military confrontations.

Admiral Patrick Walsh said a diplomatic row between six Asian nations over the Spratly Islands could escalate into a ‘state-on-state conflict’ as countries attempt to seize new oil resources.

The South China Sea – which is heavily travelled by shipping companies, including tankers transporting oil from the Persian Gulf – is vital to the Asia-Pacific region.

Adm Walsh said there was potential for an incident to intensify, in the same way tensions between China and Japan spiked after two of their ships collides near the disputed Senkaku and Diaoyu islands in 2010.

‘Quickly the event escalated from something that was local, containable, manageable, to something that became a state-on-state sort of conflict.

‘No matter which perspective you adopt, it’s (the South China Sea)
critically important for security and stability. It is the critical node to all the economic activity.

‘Any interruption there would create a real problem.’

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Dragon In The Room: U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander On South China Sea

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=66861

Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
January 19, 2012

Admiral Details Challenges, Opportunities of Pacific Fleet
By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON: As America’s focus shifts to the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. Pacific Fleet is well-placed to protect national interests and connect with regional nations, Pacific Fleet’s commander, Adm. Patrick Walsh, said.

President Barack Obama’s military strategy announced earlier this month says that America’s focus will shift more toward the Asia-Pacific region in keeping with the U.S. position as a leading Pacific nation.

The Navy’s Pacific Fleet is…well-positioned to take on the added focus, Walsh said during a recent interview with American Forces Press Service.

The fleet will continue to build military-to-military relations with Pacific nations, the admiral said. It will seek to strengthen ties with rising powers such as China and India while maintaining long-established relations with Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia. It will continue to work bilaterally, trilaterally or multinationally with all in the region, he said.

China is the dragon in the room. The nation now has the second-largest economy in the world – growing at about 8 percent annually – and is investing in its military force.

The South China Sea and the Spratly Islands are a potential flashpoint with China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all claiming sovereignty.

“It’s very important for us to understand how the Chinese characterize the South China Sea,” Walsh said. “We have very different interpretations of what we think they want. That leads to confusion and friction. That’s something I’ve addressed with my counterpart and something we must work toward resolving.”

“There are established norms and behaviors at sea that have brought us the security, the stability, the prosperity in the Asia Pacific since the World War II era,” he added. “We can’t set that aside for an interpretation that the South China Sea falls under the category of internal Chinese law. That just won’t work.”

“Moving forward, the question is how do we resolve the tension that exists now with the demand for greater resources?” he said. “Having a credible force that is sustainable forward is critically important to working with partners in the region to resolve disputes and to resolve conflict.”

India is another rising international economic power and the Pacific Fleet has a robust military-to-military relationship with the second-most populous nation in the world.

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Pentagon, Philippines Plan Military Exercise Near Spratly Islands

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/01/19/12/ph-us-plan-military-drills-west-philippine-sea

Reuters
January 20, 2012

PH, US plan military drills in West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines: The United States and the Philippines are set to hold military drills that may anger Beijing near disputed waters in the ***West Philippine Sea***, testing their readiness to protect offshore oil and natural gas platforms, a Marine general said on Thursday.

Philippines Lieutenant-General Juancho Sabban, military commander on the western island of Palawan, said it is the first time an annual exercise will be focused on protecting offshore energy platforms, adding that the drills should not anger China which also has territorial claims in the region.

“Why should they be angry, this is an annual activity,” he said, referring to China, one of six states claiming sovereignty over the South China Sea.

The drills are to be held near the country’s Malampaya gas project, owned by Chevron Malampaya LLC, a unit of the U.S. energy firm, and Shell Philippines Exploration B.V, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell.

Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines also have conflicting claims over the disputed area believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas.

Since 2002, U.S. army special forces have held separate training for Filipino troops fighting a group of al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in the southern Philippines…

The U.S. military has also held regular military exercises with Filipino counterparts under a 1951 security treaty with its former colony.

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Asian NATO: U.S. Senators Push Increased Military Ties With Philippines

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=769155&publicationSubCategoryId=63

The Philippine Star
January 19, 2012

   
Phl, US to boost military ties
By Aurea Calica

“The senators said that they are increasing their presence in the Asia-Pacific region. As you know, they already have established bases in Australia and Singapore. There will be increased military exercises in Asia-Pacific region and that would also include the Philippines.”
-“We welcome their (US) strategic guidance on their continued presence and interest here in the country and the region. We also welcome their support on the West Philippine Issue…”

MANILA, Philippines: The Philippines and the United States have agreed to strengthen military cooperation following the visit in Manila of four American senators on Tuesday.

President Aquino met with Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Sheldon Whitehouse and Kelly Ayotte at Malacañang on Tuesday.

McCain, Lieberman and Ayotte are all members of the US Senate armed services committee.

“The senators said that they are increasing their presence in the Asia-Pacific region. As you know, they already have established bases in Australia and Singapore. There will be increased military exercises in Asia-Pacific region and that would also include the Philippines,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing yesterday, quoting Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin who was with the President in the meeting with the US senators.

Lacierda…said the Philippines also asked for a second Hamilton-class cutter, a request that the US senators vowed to support. The first Hamilton-class cutter arrived in the Philippines last August. It is now commissioned by the Philippine Navy to protect the country’s waters.

Lacierda said the Philippines welcomed the wider military cooperation between the two countries, and the Philippines is ready to engage itself in more military exercises with the US.

“We profit from the experiences of joint military exercises. It enhances our experience, it improves our capabilities. We learn from the Americans,” he said.

Some of the Filipino officials who attended the meeting included Gazmin, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions, Installations and Materiel Fernando Manalo, Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Installations and Logistics Patrick Velez and Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessment Raymund Quilop were also present.

McCain said China should not be permitted to exercise “disproportionate control” over the West Philippine Sea.

“If there is indeed a withdrawal of the US then I believe that that would mean a lessening of stability in the region,” McCain said.

China is one of the claimants of the Spratly Islands in the ***West Philippine Sea***, which is also being claimed by the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

“It’s a welcome initiative to stabilize. As to whether this would cause tension, I don’t think so,” Galvez said. “Their (US) increased presence would also help us out in terms of maritime security.”

He said the meeting lasted for about 40 minutes and tackled the Philippine military’s modernization efforts and the Spratlys issue.

“We welcome their (US) strategic guidance on their continued presence and interest here in the country and the region. We also welcome their support on the West Philippine Issue. They said they are also for a rules-based multilateral approach,” he said.

Galvez said the US lawmakers had also expressed support for efforts to promote cooperation among the armed forces in the region.

He said Gazmin had also urged the US lawmakers to support the Philippine military’s modernization program.

“The secretary asked for assistance regarding military hardware, especially cutters,” he said without elaborating.

Last year, the Philippines acquired a warship from the US Coast Guard to beef up its territorial defense capabilities.

The vessel, which has been renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar, was acquired under the US Foreign Military Sales program. The government spent P450 million for the vessel’s transfer costs.

The US has vowed to provide the Philippines another warship. 

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New Defense Strategic Guidance: U.S. Shifts Air-Sea Battle Operations To Asia

http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123286868

Air Force Link
January 20, 2012

CSAF: Airmen key to new defense strategy
By Mitch Gettle
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

-While the United States will maintain its focus on the Middle East, the defense strategic guidance also calls for a rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific theater…
The Air Force will continue to strengthen its long-standing partnerships in that region, such as those with Australia, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, and continue developing burgeoning relationships with others like India, Indonesia and Thailand, the general said.
-In addition to strengthening interoperability with selected key global partners, Schwartz said the U.S. military will continue to increase joint interdependence, as seen in ongoing efforts on the Air-Sea Battle concept.

WASHINGTON: Airmen will play an important role in the joint team’s effort to achieve the priorities laid out in the new defense strategic guidance, according to the Air Force’s top uniformed officer.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz spoke to members of the World Affairs Council of Wilmington here Jan. 19, where he discussed the capabilities the Air Force contributes to the new Department of Defense strategy.

The strategy, which was announced by defense officials Jan. 5, lays out a way forward for the military to defend the United States and its national interests while reducing military spending in a responsible, balanced manner.

Schwartz said he sees the Air Force contributing to the new strategy through the service’s four core contributions to the Nation’s joint military portfolio: domain control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air mobility; and global strike.

These four contributions, which are enhanced by the Air Force’s superior command and control networks, “have a proven track record of sustaining our Nation’s military advantage in the face of ***emerging threats***,” he said.

“The nation has come to rely on the strategic flexibility the Air Force provides to create desired, timely and precise effects at times and places of our choosing, and your Air Force is committed to providing it, even as current combat operations wind down,” Schwartz said.

While the United States will maintain its focus on the Middle East, the defense strategic guidance also calls for a rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific theater, he said.

The Air Force will continue to strengthen its long-standing partnerships in that region, such as those with Australia, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, and continue developing burgeoning relationships with others like India, Indonesia and Thailand, the general said.

“Through these air force partnerships, we will work to leverage the unique characteristics of airpower to support our Nation’s, and mutual, strategic interests,” Schwartz said.

The new defense strategy also affirms that the United States will maintain its commitments and advance its long-standing alliances in Europe, the general said.

“Working with our European allies, as well as with other global partners, we will seek to develop an enhanced, ‘smart defense’ approach that capitalizes on our ability to specialize, share and pool capabilities toward collective effects,” Schwartz said.

In addition to strengthening interoperability with selected key global partners, Schwartz said the U.S. military will continue to increase joint interdependence, as seen in ongoing efforts on the Air-Sea Battle concept.

“As potential adversaries are pursuing strategies and investments in technical capabilities that are designed specifically to challenge our access to, and ability to maneuver in, areas where we have national interests, our Nation’s advantage in establishing and maintaining air superiority, sea control, and access to forward bases is being threatened,” the general said.

Air-Sea Battle will help to maintain U.S. freedom of action across the full range of missions, including non-military; enhance power projection capability in defense of U.S. and partner-nation interests; and preserve access to the global commons, Schwartz said.

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Global NATO: Baltic Troops In Afghanistan, NATO Warplanes In Baltic

http://www.defpro.com/news/details/31503/?SID=206bc1607e257ec5929f0588ac27a6fd

Ugne Naujokaityte
Public Relations Advisor to the Minister of National Defence
January 20, 2012

Lithuanian Defence Minister emphasises value of collective planning, joint exercises with NATO

On January 19 Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene participated in the meeting of Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen where the perspectives of the Baltic Air Policing mission, smart defence, the operation of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and joint military training was addressed.

“Collective planning within NATO is of utmost importance to us, just like joint military training”, Minister of National Defence said.

With regard to the Baltic Air Policing mission Minister emphasized that the Baltic States have enhanced the host nation support to the mission which was an outstanding illustration of NATO’s solidarity and visibility in the region.

The NATO Secretary General, who is on a formal visit in Lithuania, also met with President H.E. Dalia Grybauskaite and leadership of the Seimas.

The NATO Secretary General finishes his official visit in Lithuania today. This has been a second visit of A. F. Rasmussen in our country. His first visit took place in 2009, during the celebration of the Baltic States of the 5th anniversary of NATO accession.

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Estonia: Baltic Air Space Is NATO’s Air Space

http://www.eesti.ca/?op=article&articleid=34856

Estonian World Review
January 20, 2012

Office of the President
Public Relations Department

Ilves to NATO Secretary General: Baltic air space is NATO’s air space

-According to the President, it is important for us that the long-term solution regarding air security is adopted at the forthcoming NATO summit in Chicago, one of the key outcomes being the enhanced defence and deterrence capabilities of NATO.
-“This would also mean the maintenance of trans-Atlantic relations, the contribution of the alliance’s European member states to the defence capabilities of their own dominion and, consequently – for NATO – the continued presence of the US armed forces in Europe, enhancing NATO’s cyber defence ambitions,” President Ilves noted.

“Defence and deterrence capabilities, visibility, solidarity and plausibility have made NATO the most successful international defence organisation,” stated President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at today’s meeting with the NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “During the second half of the 20th century, this greatly contributed to the birth of a democratic Europe; in the 21st century, NATO is relying, more than ever and more successfully, on the principles of smart defence.“

When speaking about the continuance of a long-term NATO air security mission in the Baltic states, the Estonian Head of State said, “We have clearly stated repeatedly that the air security mission is not only unavoidable in a military sense, but it also represents a good example of smart defence and an expression of NATO’s internal solidary with respect to its member states.”

President Ilves reiterated that Estonia is admirably performing it its duties in the alliance, is willing to consider increasing its monetary contribution to air security and, therefore, is entitled to expect support from its allies.

“Baltic air space is also NATO’s air space; it is NATO’s task to defend this air space. This can only be done by the fighters of NATO members states located in the Baltic states,” President Ilves emphasised.

According to the President, it is important for us that the long-term solution regarding air security is adopted at the forthcoming NATO summit in Chicago, one of the key outcomes being the enhanced defence and deterrence capabilities of NATO.

“This would also mean the maintenance of trans-Atlantic relations, the contribution of the alliance’s European member states to the defence capabilities of their own dominion and, consequently – for NATO – the continued presence of the US armed forces in Europe, enhancing NATO’s cyber defence ambitions,” President Ilves noted.

The Estonian Head of State and NATO’s Secretary General also discussed the alliance’s operation in Afghanistan and its possible developments after the end of the mission’s military stage.

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Polish Military Leader Visits U.S. Counterpart, Tours Bases

http://www.usafe.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123286885

U.S. Air Forces in Europe
January 20, 2012

Polish military leader visits base, student fighter pilots
By 1st Lt. Angela Walz
162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

TUCSON, Ariz. – As part of a whirlwind tour of U.S. military commands, the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, Gen. Mieczysław Cieniuch, visited the 162nd Fighter Wing here at Tucson International Airport Jan. 12.

In terms of military equivalents, General Cieniuch is Poland’s highest-ranking military officer and is the Polish counterpart to U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“We’ve trained F-16 pilots from Poland here since 2004, and it’s an honor to show their senior leaders first-hand the quality of our training wing, our personnel and our equipment,” said Col. Mick McGuire, 162nd Fighter Wing commander.

Other dignitaries who travelled with General Cieniuch were Army Maj. Gen. Andrzej Falkowski, the Polish Defense Attaché to Washington D.C., and Army Brig. Gen. Sławomir Wojciechowski, Polish Deputy Chief of Operational Planning.

Wing leaders escorted the Polish delegation around the Arizona Air National Guard base, which included visits to aircraft maintenance and operations facilities, the highlight of which were flights in the wing’s state-of-the-art F-16 flight simulators – a key aspect of flight training for Polish student pilots.

General Cieniuch stopped for lunch at the 162nd Fighter Wing Dining Facility, where he dined with base leaders and Polish student pilots before heading to nearby Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to tour the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, or “boneyard,” which is home to more than 4,400 military aircraft.

The event-filled itinerary for General Cieniuch concluded with dinner amongst 162nd Fighter Wing base leadership and spouses, as well distinguished civic and community leaders.

General Cieniuch’s trip to Tucson was preceded by a two-day visit to Washington D.C. in which he was presented the Legion of Merit award by General Dempsey for his leadership with the cooperation, understanding and relationship between the armed forces of the United States and Poland.

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Canada Shifts Troops, Armored Vehicles From Afghanistan To Arctic

http://www.680news.com/news/national/article/321259–canadian-troops-head-to-the-arctic-for-major-military-exercise

680 Radio News
January 18, 2012

Canadian troops head to the Arctic for major military exercise

The Canadian military is planning a major exercise in the Arctic. This will be the first [of] its size in decades.

It will be the first time that Canada’s armoured vehicles, used in the heat of Afghanistan, will be tested on the frozen tundra.

The exercise will allow the army to test its weaponry against defensive positions made out of ice, which can be almost as hard as steel.

More than 1,500 troops will be deployed for the Arctic Ram exercise which will run from February 14 to 26.

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http://www.kenoradailyminerandnews.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3443774

Kenora Daily Miner And News
January 20, 2012

Kenora reserve soldiers train for Arctic Ram winter combat exercise
By Reg Clayton

-“With the (withdrawal of Canadian) combat forces from Afghanistan, this is an opportunity to reacquire skills to shoot, move and communicate in high arctic conditions. The ability to operate in the arctic is identified as one of six core tasks under the Canada First Defence Strategy.”

As if January in Northwestern Ontario isn’t cold enough, two reserve soldiers with Kenora’s 116th Independent Field Battery have volunteered for Arctic Ram; a joint winter combat operations exercise taking place northwest of Yellowknife from Feb. 17 to 27.

Bombardier Kyle Friesen and Bombardier Brandon Thompson prepared for the deployment by taking part in the Winter Warfare training course in Kenora this week…

Thompson, who is from Fort Frances, is looking forward to participating in Arctic Ram with friends from other artillery units he’s known since basic training and other courses he’s been on during his three years with the Kenora reserve.

Capt. Jon Baker explained the 116th Independent Field is one of three artillery components attached to 38 Brigade Group responsible for all army reserve units in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. Friesen and Thompson will participate in Arctic Ram along with reserve and regular forces soldiers from Edmonton, Shilo and the 1st Canadian Mechanized Unit.

“With the (withdrawal of Canadian) combat forces from Afghanistan, this is an opportunity to reacquire skills to shoot, move and communicate in high arctic conditions,” Baker said. “The ability to operate in the arctic is identified as one of six core tasks under the Canada First Defence Strategy.”

Last year five Kenora reservists took part in Northern Bison 2011. The joint training exercise of the 38 Brigade designated arctic response company group put their cold weather training to the test as 265 soldier travelled more than 300 kilometre by snowmobile from Churchill, Manitoba to Arviat, Nunavut.

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Canada Intensifies New Cold War With Russia In Arctic

http://www.canada.com/news/Canada+Cold+lite+with+Russia+experts/6029086/story.html

Postmedia News
January 20, 2012

Canada in ‘Cold War lite’ with Russia: experts
By Jeff Davis

-Former Canadian ambassador to Russia Christopher Westdal said the Harper government took office with deep “Russo-phobic” instincts, similar to American neo-conservatives in the Bush administration.
-After taking power, the Harper government also advocated very aggressively for the acceptance of former Eastern Bloc countries in NATO. Framing this as a quest to finally free central European countries from Russian influence, Canada was among the biggest cheerleaders for countries like Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia to join the Western security alliance. Russia expressed deep displeasure at this push by NATO into its traditional sphere of influence.
-Beyond diaspora politics, the Tories have used the perceived Russian military threat to justify expensive purchases of military aircraft.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay loudly accused the Russians of provocation on the eve of President Barack Obama’s 2009 visit to Ottawa, telling the public a Russian bomber approached Canadian airspace.
“Back off and stay out of our airspace,” MacKay said at the time, sparking a media firestorm.

Canada and Russia are waging a “Cold War lite” two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, experts say, following news that a Canadian naval officer was slapped with espionage charges and accused of selling top-secret information to a foreign entity.

Professor Piotr Dutkiewicz, director of the Institute of European and Russian Studies at Carleton University, said the Harper government’s thinking toward Russia is outmoded.

“The Canadian government is stuck in a Cold-War mentality,” he said. “We now have a Cold War lite.”

Although official diplomatic relations have proceeded steadily under the Harper government, there is a layer of frost on the relationship that is hampering closer ties and more trade, observers say.

This, they say, is in large part due to confrontational and inflammatory political messages from the Harper government, rooted in a deep, emotional distrust of Russia.

Former Canadian ambassador to Russia Christopher Westdal said the Harper government took office with deep “Russo-phobic” instincts, similar to American neo-conservatives in the Bush administration.

Relations between Canada and Russia have suffered as a result, he said.

“Harper came with that baggage of deep suspicion of Russia,” Westdal said. “It has been discouraging for anyone hoping for better Canada-Russia relations for some years.”

Dutkiewicz said although Russian and Canadian ministers and officials meet regularly, very little comes of it all.

“At the ministerial level there are meetings, but there is no follow-up,” he said. “It seems to me there is no vigour in this relationship.”

There has not been a significant improvement in bilateral relations since the 1990s, Dutkiewicz said. Trade volumes have stalled out at about $2 billion per year, which he said is a smaller volume of trade than Canada conducts with some small countries in Latin America.

While Canadian firms are eager to do business in Russia, Westdal said, they receive very little political support from the government. The government sponsors trade missions to many countries, he said, but those looking to trade with Russia “don’t get much help, or the royal blessing.”

Dutkiewicz said the Cold War was really about an acute lack of trust, and that in this sense, very little has changed for Canada.

“Formally, the Cold war is over, but this Cold War lite is alive in hearts and minds of bureaucrats,” he said. “We simply do not trust them.”

There exists only a “very thin layer of relations” between Canada and Russia, Dutkiewicz said. He said Canada has no apparent policy direction on Russia, and that Canadian actions have been haphazard and reactive as a result.

“We have had, for the last couple of years, no coherent strategy towards Russia,” he said. “Something is happening and we are reacting, and in most cases overreacting.”

A clear thread running through Canada’s relations with Russia, Westdal said, are actions calculated to score political points with new Canadians hailing from former Eastern Bloc countries. Since taking power, he said, the Harper government has taken many actions on the world stage seem calculated to please Canadians from Eastern Europe, the Baltics and the Balkans, many of whom harbour a deep resentment toward Russia.

“Those diaspora constituencies have been assiduously cultivated by (Immigration Minister) Jason Kenney and others in the government,” he said. “There is nothing new or secret on that.”

Kenney has made a number of high-profile symbolic overtures to these countries. For example, the Canadian government recognized the Holodomor — the “killing by hunger” inflicted on Ukraine while it was a Soviet republic in the 1930s — as a genocide. Much to the satisfaction of Ukraine and its diaspora, Canada in effect recognized Moscow’s policies at the time as culpable for the deaths of millions.

After taking power, the Harper government also advocated very aggressively for the acceptance of former Eastern Bloc countries in NATO. Framing this as a quest to finally free central European countries from Russian influence, Canada was among the biggest cheerleaders for countries like Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia to join the Western security alliance. Russia expressed deep displeasure at this push by NATO into its traditional sphere of influence.

All of these moves, Westdal said, appear to have been calculated to build electoral support among diaspora voters, such as the large number of Ukrainian-Canadians in Manitoba who traditionally have voted NDP.

Beyond diaspora politics, the Tories have used the perceived Russian military threat to justify expensive purchases of military aircraft.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay loudly accused the Russians of provocation on the eve of President Barack Obama’s 2009 visit to Ottawa, telling the public a Russian bomber approached Canadian airspace.

“Back off and stay out of our airspace,” MacKay said at the time, sparking a media firestorm.

NORAD officials, unlike MacKay, were quick to say Russian pilots were “professional” in their conduct, and underscored the fact there was no violation of Canadian airspace.

Former Office of the Prime Minister spokesman Dimitri Soudas played this card again in August 2010, saying the Russian threat justifies Canada’s purchase of F-35 stealth interceptors.

“It is the best plane our government could provide our Forces, and when you are a pilot staring down Russian long-range bombers, that’s an important fact to remember,” Soudas said.

Loud protests were also made by the Canadian government after a Russian submarine planted a Russian flag on the Arctic sea floor in 2007.

Retired Colonel Alain Pellerin, executive Director of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, said the Russian military threat is on the wane.

Large parts of the once-mighty Soviet military machine have rusted out, he said, with whole fleets of submarines and aircraft having degraded beyond repair.

“As a military threat, I don’t see it,” he said. “Their military equipment has deteriorated a lot in the last 20 years, mainly due to poor maintenance.”

Nevertheless, he said, diplomatic attempts to smooth relations between Russia and the West — such as the NATO-Russia Council — have borne little fruit.

Pellerin said Russia has not lived up to the high hopes for democratization following the fall of the Soviet Union, to the profound disappointment of many in Canada and throughout the West.

The mounting need for co-ordination and co-operation in the High Arctic, Pellerin said, is the place he’s looking for a breakthrough in chilled bilateral relations.

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Second U.S. Aircraft Carrier Strike Group Arrives In Arabian Sea

http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64854

U.S. Navy
January 21, 2012

Abraham Lincoln Arrives in U.S. 5th Fleet
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary Welch, Carrier Strike Group 9 Public Affairs

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea: The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG) arrived for a routine deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), Jan. 19.

Abraham Lincoln conducted work-ups for months to train, man and equip the CSG prior to it deploying to the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR, to support maritime security operations, counter-piracy operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and conduct air missions over Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Our strike group has trained countless hours to ensure our Sailors are ready to conduct vital operations,” said Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, CSG 9. “We’re looking forward to working closely with our coalition and regional partners to keep the sea lanes safe and secure for the free flow of maritime commerce that is so important for the continued prosperity of nations in this region and around the world.”

Abraham Lincoln CSG is comprised of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9, which includes the guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Sterett (DDG 104).

The arrival of Lincoln brings the number of aircraft carriers to two within the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR. Carl Vinson arrived in theater, Jan. 9. A second aircraft carrier in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility (AOR) ensures the U.S. military has the naval and air capabilities to support operational requirements while adequately meeting other security commitments in the region. The aircraft carriers will simultaneously conduct operations in different areas of the AOR, to adequately provide support operations requirements and other security commitments in the region.

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NATO Soldier Killed In Southern Afghanistan

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-01/21/c_131372427.htm

Xinhua News Agency
January 21, 2012

NATO soldier killed in insurgent attack in Afghanistan

             
KABUL: A NATO soldier was killed Saturday in an insurgent attack in the restive Afghanistan’s southern region.

“An International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service member died following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan today,” the NATO-led ISAF said in a press release.

However, the brief statement did not reveal the nationality of the victim under ISAF policy.

The latest casualty brings the number of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan to 11 since Thursday and 29 since the beginning of this month.

Four French soldiers with ISAF were killed and 15 others injured when an Afghan army solider opened fire in eastern Kapisa province on Friday morning while six other U.S. troops with ISAF were killed when a military helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan on Thursday.

The Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the militant group announced to launch a rebel offensive from May 2011 against Afghan and NATO-led troops stationed in Afghanistan.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Romain Rolland: Where to rebuild the world after war?

January 21, 2012 Leave a comment

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Romain Rolland: Selections on war

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Romain Rolland
From The Death of a World (1933)
Translated by Amalia de Alberti

In spite of all that Society has invented to poison youth by chaining it to the galley-slave’s benches (schools, armies), the turbulence of twenty is a fine thing!

But the twenty of 1918 was not on a par with that of normal life. It equaled eighteen as well as eighty. It was made up of ill-assorted bits and pieces of every age; too much and at the same time not enough for clothing; the seams burst at every movement, revealing passions and bare flesh.

The pre-war men who had planted them did not recognize their own seed. And to the sons who had lost their fathers these pre-war men were as strangers whom they despised and came near to hating. Even among themselves, the young men were hard put to understand each other. Each one was a separate puzzle. If only life were a game! Many of them tried to maintain that it was, in order to convince themselves. But they knew very well that, if so, it was a terrible game, a game of madness. Everything had been destroyed, and the wind that blew over the field of ruin was laden with the stench of the charnel house. Where could they rebuild the world? With what stones, upon what soil, and on what data? They knew nothing; they could see nothing in the smoking chaos. Everything was lacking except arms. But it is hard for boys at twenty to condemn their arms, as their only lot, for all their youth, so menaced, and so fleeting, to the harassing task of navvies, with no one to guide them. How could they know that before they had even raised the first walls upon the quivering ground, a fresh earthquake would not demolish them? Who could believe in the duration of a world supported by the treaties of crime and stupidity? Everything was tottering, nothing was sure, life had no morrow: tomorrow the abyss might reopen – war, wars, at home and abroad.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S., NATO Actions Make Russia-China Alliance More Urgent

January 20, 2012 3 comments

Global Times
January 20, 2012

US actions make China-Russia alliance appealing

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The US has somewhat defused two powder kegs in the Middle East: Iraq and Afghanistan. It also helped bring about the fall of Slobodan Milosevic and Yugoslavia. Now it is preparing for a potential confrontation with Iran, and appears confident of another successful air strike.

Such a demonstration of armed might makes powers like Russia and China increasingly nervous.

Perhaps the US is used to resorting to war to solve geopolitical problems. But many worry that such a mentality will sooner or later lead to a US clash with Russia and China. So far Moscow and Beijing are relatively restrained, though NATO seeks to expand its strategic presence in East Europe and US strengthening its military alliances in Asia. But the two cannot fall back forever.

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As US aircraft carrier groups gather in the Arabian Sea, a showdown between Iran and the West is rumbling on. If a war erupts, this will be another upshot of the US pursuit of absolute national security.

Mainstream forces in Washington are trying to sell a ludicrous standpoint to the American people: that it is worthwhile bearing financial costs and even losing some lives to confront lurking dangers to US security in the Middle East.

This is not a rational analysis, but rather a pious belief in US politics. With an appetite for national security causes, the US becomes increasingly meticulous in eliminating potential challenges.

The US has somewhat defused two powder kegs in the Middle East: Iraq and Afghanistan. It also helped bring about the fall of Slobodan Milosevic and Yugoslavia. Now it is preparing for a potential confrontation with Iran, and appears confident of another successful air strike.

Such a demonstration of armed might makes powers like Russia and China increasingly nervous.

By stirring up other powers’ sense of insecurity, the US is actually undermining its own interests. Its security paranoia instills many uncertainties into global dynamics and into the US itself.

If the West slides into a war with Iran, the damages will not be any lower than the potential threat of Iran’s nuclear power.

Perhaps the US is used to resorting to war to solve geopolitical problems. But many worry that such a mentality will sooner or later lead to a US clash with Russia and China. So far Moscow and Beijing are relatively restrained, though NATO seeks to expand its strategic presence in East Europe and US strengthening its military alliances in Asia. But the two cannot fall back forever.

For Beijing and Moscow alike, ties with the US have been stressful. The two don’t want to set off external doubts in their heated relations. But in both countries, an increasing number of people now advocate a Moscow-Beijing “alliance.” The two do have countermeasures against the US, and they are capable of deterring US allies. If they are really determined to join hands, the balance of power on many world issues will begin to shift.

Absolute security is a luxury that no country can afford. If the US unscrupulously imposes its own will and even forces Russia and China into taking action, global dynamics may go back to chaos over which the US will have little control. History shows that any power having an inflated ego usually ends badly.

Categories: Uncategorized

BRICS Back Russia: Hands Off Iran And Syria

January 20, 2012 1 comment

The Hindu
January 19, 2012

Keep off Iran and Syria: Russia
Vladimir Radyuhin

Russia warned the West against military intervention in Iran and Syria and rejected unilateral sanctions against the two nations.

Military action against Iran would have “catastrophic consequences,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

Mr. Lavrov told an annual press conference that Moscow is seriously concerned about the threat of a military operation against Iran and is “doing its best to prevent it.” He said the war would provoke an exodus of refugees from Iran to Azerbaijan and Russia, would pour fuel into the simmering Shia-Sunni conflict and trigger a chain reaction.

The press conference was devoted to Russia’s foreign policy in 2011, but Mr. Lavrov’s tough language suggested that Moscow was bracing up for hardnosed confrontation with the West in 2012.

Mr. Lavrov said the West’s unilateral sanctions against Iran, such as the proposed oil embargo, were “aimed at suffocating the Iranian economy” and “inciting popular discontent.”

He said Iran was ready for a resumption of talks with international mediators and hinted that Europe and the United States were imposing new sanctions at this juncture with the specific purpose of torpedoing further negotiations.

The Russian Foreign Minister said Moscow would block any Western attempts to obtain United Nations mandate for military interference in Syria. A draft resolution submitted by Russia states that all Security Council members refrain from interference and use of force in Syria. Mr. Lavrov said it was self-revealing that Western powers were trying hard to remove from the Russian draft the part stating that “nothing in the present resolution can be interpreted as allowing the use of force against Syria by any party.”

At the same time, China and the other members of the BRICS group have thrown their support behind the Russian draft, Mr. Lavrov said.

“We consider it absolutely unacceptable to seek to apply the so-called Libya scenario to other conflicts,” the Russian Foreign Minister said.

“For us, the red line is fairly clearly drawn. We will not support any sanctions,” he added.

Mr. Lavrov rejected Western criticism of Russian arms supplies to Syria.

“We haven’t violated any international agreements or the U.N. Security Council resolutions,” he said. “We are only trading with Syria in items, which aren’t banned by the international law.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Target Iran: Dystopian, Morally Challenged World Where Nuclear Scientists Are Killed

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Russia & India Report
January 20, 2012

Target Iran: The morality of killing nuclear scientists
Rakesh Krishnan Simha

The serial murder of Iranian nuclear scientists is a pointer to the West’s moral compass. It is also a sign of desperation and double standards.

“Physics is an unhealthy line of work in today’s Iran,” begins an editorial in the Australian newspaper “The Age”. The jibe follows the murder of an Iranian nuclear scientist by a motorcycle riding assassin. “I shall not shed any tears whenever one of these scientists encounters the unforgiving men on motorbikes, men who live in the real world rather than a laboratory or philosophy seminar,” the morally challenged writer continues.

What kind of dystopian world is the writer living in? When did scientists become legitimate targets and hired killers turn heroic? For several decades now Australia, in lockstep with its Western allies, has parroted the drivel that terrorism in all forms must be condemned. But because the dead scientists all worked for Iran, it’s okay to gloat.

Five strikes

Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been attacked in the past two years. In the latest job on January 11, a magnetic bomb was attached to the door of 32-year-old Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan’s car during morning rush-hour in the capital, Tehran. His driver was also killed and two others seriously injured.

Last year among the four scientists attacked, the most spectacular – and tragic – incident was on July 23 when Darioush Rezaeinejad was shot through the throat outside his daughter’s kindergarten.

The official, and expected, response to these murders is the “we condemn” line from Western governments. However, the unofficial statements are a stark pointer to the West’s moral compass.

“On occasion,” gloated Republican presidential hopeful and gay-bashing, Christian fundamentalist Rick Santorum, “scientists working on the nuclear programme in Iran turn up dead. I think that’s a wonderful thing, candidly.”

And smiling for the cameras in a televised press conference Israel Defence Forces (IDF) chief Benny Gantz spoke about “unnatural events” that were delaying Iran’s nuclear push.

The gloating didn’t end there. “I don’t know who settled the score with the Iranian scientist, but I certainly am not shedding a tear,” the IDF’s Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai said on Facebook.

Settling scores with scientists? Aren’t scientists middle class folk who are simply doing a professional job their government has ordered them to do? Even at the height of the Second World War when Nazi Germany was developing nuclear technology, German scientists were not targeted.

If Iranian scientists are murdered in this macabre manner, does it then give Tehran the right to murder American, British and Israeli scientists? Indeed, the boffins conjuring up new weapons that might one day rain death over Iranian cities are legitimate assassinations targets.

Coming unstuck

The attacks, however, do not seem to be reversing Iran’s efforts. On the other hand, the spate of murders could force the Iranians to step up the pace of their bomb programme because they’re under such critical threat.

Iran’s nuclear programme is an enormous project employing hundreds of scientists and thousands of technicians. Taking out the odd scientist, however skilled and high-ranking, is extremely unlikely to delay the project. Indeed, the project has long since passed the point where the fate of any one individual could affect it.

It is in this backdrop that the Associated Press image of Roshan and his baby is so poignant – and loaded with portent. Thanks to the West’s elimination programme, his son will grow up fatherless in a country that is being economically strangled by sanctions.

And knowing the Iranian record of retribution, tit-for-tat murders of Western scientists or their families might yet happen. (The bombing of the PanAm Boeing 747 over Lockerbie was in retaliation for the US Navy’s downing in 1988 over the Straits of Hormuz of an Iran Air airliner carrying 290 civilians, including 10 Indians.)

At any rate, the murders are a sign of desperation. The fall of the Shah in 1979 was the biggest geopolitical setback for the Anglo-American axis. The Iranians attacked thousands of British and US expatriates, forcing them to leave the country.

American and British agents are finding it difficult to engineer a coup like they did in 1953 (when the democratically elected Mossadegh was deposed in a CIA-British coup) because the entire country is united. Except for the Balochs, none of the major ethnic groups has shown any interest in betraying their country.

Another sore point is that Iraq, where the US expended over $3 trillion and 4,500 soldiers’ lives, has passed under Iranian influence. It must be frustrating to see Western-style democracy transfer power to Iraq’s Shia majority, which has close links with predominantly Shiite Iran.

It is for these reasons that Iran is being demonised.

Dealing in double standards

In a December 14, 2009 article in the Los Angeles Times titled “Hit Iran Where it Hurts”, US lawmaker Ileana Ros-Lehtinen accused Iran of being a state sponsor of terrorists.

Really? And what is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s record? According to the Los Angeles Times, in February 1988, Orlando Bosch was arrested in Miami and implicated in the 1976 plot to blow up Cubana Flight 455, a terrorist act that killed 73 passengers. That’s right, 73 innocent air passengers.

The American associate attorney general called Bosch “a terrorist, unfettered by laws or human decency, threatening and inflicting violence without regard to the identity of his victims”. Bosch, however, had the advantage of having Ros-Lehtinen advocating for his release one of the cornerstones of her 1989 congressional campaign. Interestingly, Ros-Lehtinen’s campaign manager was Jeb Bush, President George H. Bush’s son. In 1990, after lobbying by Jeb Bush and Ros-Lehtinen, the Bush administration went against the Justice Department’s recommendation to deport Bosch and authorised his release.

Bosch was also a key figure in the assassination of former Chilean foreign minister and economist Orlando Letelier. It was Bosch who approved the attack and supplied the operatives who actually planted the bomb that American undercover agents built. Letelier was killed on the streets of Washington DC.

Since then, Bosch has become a permanent resident of the United States.

Clearly, hypocrisy is the West’s standing policy on foreign affairs.

Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand-based writer. He has previously worked with leading Indian publications like Businessworld, India Today and Hindustan Times.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Military Strategy – Is It Really New?

January 20, 2012 2 comments

Strategic Culture Foundation
January 20, 2012

U.S. Military Strategy – Is It Really New?
Andrei Akulov
Edited by RR

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The idea of having an agile, high-technology, ready-to-move on short notice force is not new. It has been the same concept in force before the protracted land operations in Iraq and Afghanistan started. Correspondingly, the army’s strength grew by 65 thousand. So it’s mainly about going back to before the 9/11 numbers. The same thing applies to the Marine Corps. An increase in the size of special forces of all the services, the army in particular, is not new too. It’s a long-established tendency to boost first strike, intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities.

In fact, this reduction is quite moderate compared to prior defense drawdowns in US history. President Dwight Eisenhower, for example, cut the defense budget by 27 percent after the Korean War. President Nixon cut it by about 30% percent after Vietnam, and defense spending was reduced by a whopping 35 percent after the end of the Cold War, though still remaining a heavy burden on the shoulders of American taxpayers that was hard enough to justify. Then defense expenditure skyrocketed by nearly 70 percent under the Bush administration.

Even with $500 billion in reductions, the United States will continue to spend more on defense each year in the next decade than it did during the height of the Cold War and more than the next 10 countries combined.

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The US military will be reshaped between now and 2020 with an emphasis on countering terrorism, maintaining a nuclear deterrent, protecting the U.S. homeland and “deterring and defeating aggression by any potential adversary.” That’s what the Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense new military strategy review says.

The National Military Strategy is a supporting document based on the National Security Strategy, a document prepared periodically by the administration for Congress which outlines the major national security concerns of the United States and ways the president plans to deal with them. The legal foundation for the document is spelled out in the Goldwater–Nichols Act. The document is general in content, to be elaborated in supporting documents, the national military strategy in particular.

At the beginning of 2012 President Obama unveiled the results of an eight-month defense strategy review providing guidelines on cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from previously planned Pentagon’ spending over the coming decade. The eight-page document contains no details about how broad concepts for reshaping the military – such as focusing more on Asia and less on Europe – will translate into cuts.

Since 9/11 the Defense budget grew by leaps and bounds. Over the next decade, the budget will grow less, but will still go up, and it will still be larger than it was at the end of the Bush administration.

President Obama said that looking beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – and the end of long-term nation-building with large military footprints – the USA would be able to ensure its security with smaller conventional ground forces.

The military drawdown is probably to meet stiff resistance from the Republicans. Sen. John McCain, a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, did not directly criticize the administration, but said the United States couldn’t have a “budget-driven defense strategy.

“The United States must continue to lead the world in order to ensure our economic prosperity and national security,” McCain said. “For that reason, when it comes to how we fund and procure our defense programs, business as usual will not cut it. I intend to ensure that our national defense strategy and budgets continue to strengthen America in its position of global leadership.”

The calls for a smaller nuclear arsenal are sure to draw fire from congressional Republicans. Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, immediately issued a statement saying, “This is a lead-from-behind strategy for a left-behind America.”

WHAT’S NEW?

The new strategy is said to be a high-stakes act by the administration under conditions of financial austerity combined with U.S. responsibilities overseas remaining in force against the backdrop of the ongoing concentration of three aircraft carrier groups in the Persian Gulf to counter a possible Hormuz strait blockade.

The new strategy unveils a change in missions assigned. It abandons the requirement to have the ability to fight and win two wars simultaneously – a fundamental deviation from the Obama’s national defense strategy of 2010 and a paramount requirement of all military strategies for many years in US history. Now it says the military must be able to fight one war, but is responsible for “denying the objectives of – or imposing unacceptable costs on – an opportunistic aggressor in a second region.”

While some military capabilities of the military will be curtailed, none of the basic missions will be scrapped. To enjoy global military superiority, the United States sees cyberspace warfare, special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance topping the priorities list. No scale-down on missile defense is envisaged.

The new strategy comes as the Defense Department faces $487 billion in budget cuts over the next 10 years, part of an agreement with Congress reached in August, as well as probably another $500 billion as a result of the failure to reach a deal over the federal budget deficit.

Army strength is to go down about 490 from 570 thousand. The Defense Department will begin a slow build-down of the Army that could be reversed and, in a national security emergency, it could order a massive mobilization of the National Guard and Reserves. The Marine Corps is going to face 25 thousand cuts from the present strength of 202 thousand men. Both services are set to shrink beginning in 2015. A few programs are facing up to a few years delay like the second new-class aircraft carrier, new-class nuclear attack submarine and the F-35 fifth-generation fighter, but dramatic increases in spending for warplanes in general, with an eye toward more Libya-style wars, are envisioned.

The strategy sees a reduced U.S. military presence in Europe, notwithstanding a continuing close relationship with NATO. The focus is shifted to a renewed commitment to security in the Asia-Pacific region. The United States will also work to maintain progress in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. The text of the new strategy notes that the current American military presence in the Middle East will remain, and that it will be focused on maintaining regional stability in the shadow of suspected Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon clearly sets sights on China as a potential competitor. An evolving concept known as “air-sea battle” assumes that the next war will be fought by air and sea forces against a technologically advanced adversary. China boasts rapid economic growth in a world struck by stagnation. Growing military capabilities make the Chinese military a force to reckon with. A more immediate concern is Iran for its nuclear ambitions and threats to hit the world economy by closing the Hormuz strait.

Talking about defense priorities, some changes are really drastic enough.

The strategy says the U.S. presence in Europe “must evolve.” It remains to be seen what that is supposed to be in concrete terms. But some reduction of U.S. troops based there in favor of deployments in Asia is a certain thing. It means the Asia-Pacific region has taken center stage on the Administration’s foreign policy agenda for many years to come.

The U.S. withdrawals from both Iraq and Afghanistan mean the US strategy is reoriented to other priorities. The fight against terror is one of them but by far it’s not what it was since 9/11 anymore.

The Pentagon plans to intensify its effort in boost its cyberwarfare capability. Cyberspace is a potential battlefield now, where the state’s interests are defended or offensives launched to neutralize a potential adversary.

Strategic nuclear forces are subject to reductions along the START-3 lines. But, as mentioned above, the Euro missile defense is not to be curtailed. As Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said more than once, Russia’s position is that strategic nuclear reductions and the missile defense issue are intertwined.

The US military is to field new combat systems to make sure the armed forces are capable of entering and operating where “states such as China and Iran” have weapons intended to deny such access. We’ll probably know which ones soon.

With the United States unlikely to undertake extended nation-building operations in the foreseeable future, this new strategy will rely increasingly on the overwhelming naval and air superiority to project power around the globe.

An Air-Sea Battle Command was established not long ago within the structure of the US armed forces. But the “air-sea battle” concept presupposes air dominance capability and sea control. Does it mean that, besides special operations units, the army is not a favorite son anymore? What exactly are the lessons drawn from recent war experience and how it will influence the military in the coming years?

Many details will come to light in the coming days when the Pentagon unveils its 2013 budget plan.

GENERAL ASSESSMENT

The idea of having an agile, high-technology, ready-to-move on short notice force is not new. It has been the same concept in force before the protracted land operations in Iraq and Afghanistan started. Correspondingly, the army’s strength grew by 65 thousand. So it’s mainly about going back to before the 9/11 numbers. The same thing applies to the Marine Corps. An increase in the size of special forces of all the services, the army in particular, is not new too. It’s a long-established tendency to boost first strike, intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities.

In fact, this reduction is quite moderate compared to prior defense drawdowns in US history. President Dwight Eisenhower, for example, cut the defense budget by 27 percent after the Korean War. President Nixon cut it by about 30% percent after Vietnam, and defense spending was reduced by a whopping 35 percent after the end of the Cold War, though still remaining a heavy burden on the shoulders of American taxpayers that was hard enough to justify. Then defense expenditure skyrocketed by nearly 70 percent under the Bush administration.

Under President Obama’s plan the defense budget will continue to grow in nominal terms, though not quite fast enough to keep up with expected levels of inflation. Even with $500 billion in reductions, the United States will continue to spend more on defense each year in the next decade than it did during the height of the Cold War and more than the next 10 countries combined.

In other words, new and old tactics are featured. Strategies are unchanged. It’s all about abetting regional instability to justify US intervention. Compared to the USA, Iran hasn’t committed aggression against another country in over 200 years and threatens none at present. Neither does China.

The goal is to preserve power projection capability that others don’t possess and have little to counter it with. Actually, who assigned the USA the mission to intervene (two wars or one war and a half) in other regions?

What about the legal aspects of such interventions? Wouldn’t it be wiser to change the strategy to defending the territory of the USA instead of looking for ways to preserve the capability to remain an international constable at a time the country faces financial and economic woes?

What about missile defense and the legitimate Russian concern that is so easy to understand: just imagine any other country installing strategic missile-kill-capable systems under the US’s nose, somewhere in the Caribbean, for instance? Recent experience shows no high-tech systems guarantee victory against people even if the military capability to resist them is brought to nought. No gadgets can defeat people and their will to resist those who intervene to impose values not wanted. These are the questions the military strategy fails to address.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO news: January 20, 2012

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

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U.S.-NATO Interceptor System Includes 1,000 Missiles: Russian Official

U.S., NATO Have 1,000 Missiles To Intercept Russian ICBMs: Official

Location Of U.S. Missile Shield Signals Its Anti-Russian Nature: Rogozin

67-Nation NATO Military Council Discusses Changes In Middle East

U.S. Military Chief Arrives In Israel After NATO Military Meeting

Worst-Case Scenario For Attack On Iran: World War

France’s Sarkozy: “Time Is Running Out” For Iran

Pre-NATO Summit Obama-Saakashvili Meeting To Boost Integration

France Suspends Afghan Operations After Four More Soldiers Killed

Afghanistan: Six NATO Soldiers Killed In Helicopter Crash

NATO Commander Hails Afghan War, Global Response Forces

Australia Appoints First Ambassador To NATO

Azerbaijan: State Department Official Says Iran Threat To Region, World

Obama Commends Azerbaijan For NATO War, Energy War Support

NATO’s Rasmussen In Baltics: Cyber, Air, Overseas Operations

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U.S.-NATO Interceptor System Includes 1,000 Missiles: Russian Official

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012/01/20/64217786.html

Itar-Tass
January 20, 2012

US-NATO near 1,000 missiles

The US missile defense system set up by the US and its NATO allies now includes about a thousand missiles. This was stated by the Vice-Premier of Russia, Dmitry Rogozin, in an interview on the “Ekho Moskvy” radio station. He stressed that this figure is close to the threshold set up by the START-3 treaty signed on April 8, 2010.

According to Rogozin, the Americans are pushing their allies in Europe to procure warships which are equipped with the missile interception system “Aegis.”

At the same time the Deputy Prime Minister said there is no guarantee that after 2020 the US will stop the development of the missile defense system.

According to Rogozin, as a result of the actions of the US and NATO a new arms race could begin.

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U.S., NATO Have 1,000 Missiles To Intercept Russian ICBMs: Official

http://en.ria.ru/world/20120120/170856516.html

Russian Information Agency Novosti
January 20, 2012

U.S., NATO Have Some 1,000 Interceptor Missiles – Rogozin

-He said that U.S. interceptor missiles cover all European Russia to the Urals Mountains, and are capable of hitting not only small and medium-range missiles of “rogue states,” but also intercontinental ballistic missiles of Russia’s armed forces.
“The fact that the missile defense system can hit strategic missiles and the fact that those bases and fleet are deployed in northern seas demonstrate the evident…anti-Russian nature of the [U.S.] missile defense,” Rogozin said.

MOSCOW: The U.S. and its NATO allies already have about a thousand missiles capable of intercepting Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Russian first deputy premier in charge of defense said.

“Along with allies, whom the U.S. now persuades to buy ships equipped with the Aegis Combat System, the overall potential can be estimated at about 1,000 interceptor missiles,” Dmitry Rogozin, who is also the Russian president’s special representative for talks with NATO, said in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

He said that the figure is currently approaching the limits established by the recently signed Russia-U.S. strategic arms reduction treaty.

“There are no guarantees that after first, second, third phases [of the U.S. missile shield project] are completed, there will be no fourth, fifth and sixth. Do you really think they will halt all their technologies after 2020? That’s nonsense! They will go ahead with developing and boosting technical parameters of their interceptor missiles and performance capabilities of their warning [missile defense] systems,” Rogozin said.

He said that U.S. interceptor missiles cover all European Russia to the Urals Mountains, and are capable of hitting not only small and medium-range missiles of “rogue states,” but also intercontinental ballistic missiles of Russia’s armed forces.

“The fact that the missile defense system can hit strategic missiles and the fact that those bases and fleet are deployed in northern seas demonstrate the evident…anti-Russian nature of the [U.S.] missile defense,” Rogozin said.

Russia-NATO missile defense talks are close to deadlock as Moscow is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the U.S.-backed European missile defense program will not be directed against it. Washington, however, refuses to provide the guarantees, saying the shield is directed against threats from Iran and North Korea.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on European missile defense system at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010. President Dmitry Medvedev proposed a joint system with full-scale interoperability to ensure that the alliance’s system will not be directed against Moscow. The military bloc, however, favors two independent systems which exchange information.

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Location Of U.S. Missile Shield Signals Its Anti-Russian Nature: Rogozin

http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?pg=8&id=302942

Interfax-Military
January 20, 2012

Placement of U.S. missile defense shield in Europe signals its ‘anti-Russian nature’ – Rogozin

-The aim of deploying NATO ships in Norwegian fjords is not to provide protection from North Korean or Iranian missiles, Rogozin said.

MOSCOW: The planned deployment of elements of a U.S. missile defense shield in Europe is a clear sign that it will be directed against Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.

“The very presence of such a missile defense system’s parameters capable of accurately shooting down strategic missiles, as well as the very placement of these bases, fleet and anti-missile weapon systems in the northern seas points to one thing – the evident and practically uncontrollable anti-Russian nature of this missile defense shield,” he told the Echo Moskvy radio station on Thursday.

The aim of deploying NATO ships in Norwegian fjords is not to provide protection from North Korean or Iranian missiles, Rogozin said.

“Only the Russian Federation is present in this district,” he said.

Measures Russia will have to take in response to the deployment of elements of the U.S. missile defense shield in Europe could lead to a new round of the arms race, he added.

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67-Nation NATO Military Council Discusses Changes In Middle East

http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticleDetails.aspx?id=2215924&language=en

Kuwait News Agency
January 19, 2012

NATO defence chiefs discuss political changes in Mideast

BRUSSELS: Chiefs of Defence from sixty-seven NATO member and partner countries concluded two days of meetings at NATO Headquarters Thursday evening after discussing NATO operations and other security issues.

General Knud Bartels, the new Chairman of the NATO Military Committee , told a press conference that they discussed developments in Middle East and North Africa, Afghanistan and Kosovo.

He said the meeting listened to the militry representatives from Mediterranean Dialogue countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia), and diuscussed the implications of the recent political changes in the Middle East and North Africa.

The defence chiefs took stock of the situation in Afghanistan and expressed “guarded optimism that Afghanistan is moving in the right direction,” said Bartels.

Commenting on media reports that Pakistan is to open supply routes to NATO forces in Afghanistan, he said “Pakistan is moving in th right direction” and added that “we have to find a solution acceptable to both sides.”

Pakistan had shut the supply routes in protest against NATO cross-border air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

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U.S. Military Chief Arrives In Israel After NATO Military Meeting

http://en.apa.az/news.php?id=164029

Azeri Press Agency
January 19, 2012

U.S. military chief Dempsey arrives in Israel as allies huddle on Iran

Baku: The United States’ top military officer, Gen. Martin Dempsey, arrived in Israel Thursday to confer with Israeli allies on policy to Iran, APA reports quoting the news.yahoo.com website.

It is Dempsey’s first trip to the Jewish state since assuming the post of chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in September…

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Worst-Case Scenario For Attack On Iran: World War

http://rt.com/news/iran-conflict-us-ready-179/

RT
January 19, 2012

Pentagon ‘prepared': US set for Operation Iranian Freedom?

-“America does have very little hard and reliable intelligence data about each of the Iranian nuke sites and so their bombing will have to be extensive and long, kind of like the Yugoslavian campaign back 13 years ago, and the areas around the suspected sites will have to be turned into a Lunar landscape.”
-The uneasy tension in the region may result in a conflict running amok even against the wishes of the parties involved, warns Philip Giraldi, an ex-CIA officer who is currently the executive director of the Council for the National Interest think-tank. The worst-case scenario would be a world war, he says.

Washington is prepared to engage in war over the Strait of Hormuz at any moment, the Pentagon says. Some observers say the dangerous move is being viewed as a far from a worst-case scenario in America, especially by its hawks.

­American troops in the Persian Gulf region do not require any build-up for a possible military conflict with Iran, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday.

“We are not making any special steps at this point in order to deal with the situation. Why? Because, frankly, we are fully prepared to deal with that situation now,” Panetta explained.

The US says it will attack Iran if it tries to block the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial route for regional oil transit. Tehran has threatened to stop traffic through the Strait in response to mounting pressure, including threats, sanctions and particularly an air strike on its nuclear facilities, which Israel and the US say are on the table.

The US Navy has two aircraft carrier strike groups in the region at the moment, presumably performing routine rotations. US troops are also stationed in a number of nearby countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and other Gulf nations.

Panetta’s ready-for-war rhetoric was frowned upon by Beijing. China’s foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin commented on Thursday that “sanctions and military threats will not help solve the problem but only aggravate the situation.”

Russia holds a similar position on the brewing conflict. “What Western states…have been adding as they adopt their additional unilateral sanctions against Iran has nothing in common with the desire to keep the nuclear weapons nonproliferation regime unshaken,” Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, warned at his Q&A conference on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has reiterated that Tehran wants talks on the nuclear issues being cited as the motive for sanctions, and says it is up to the other parties, particularly the US and EU, to do their part in setting up a time and place for a meeting. At the same time the EU’s foreign policy and security chief, Catherine Ashton, told journalists such a meeting is not being prepared at the moment.
US President Barack Obama is being pressured by domestic hawks to attack Iran, according to political analyst Igor Khokhlov from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations.

“There is a lot of data that both the US and the Israeli military have gotten agreement from Obama that the attack will take place unless Iran totally dismantles its nuclear program,” he told RT. “The plans for this attack have been developed since the early years of Obama’s administration according to sources at several independent organizations currently monitoring the situation.”

And while some real concern about the controversial Iranian nuclear program does exist all over the world, including China and Russia, the real objective for the US is regime change in Iran and installing a puppet government in Tehran, analyst believes.

“Given the fact that there is a great deal of Israeli influence over US foreign policy, I believe that the real objective is to draw Iran into a full-scale war with the US and its mighty allies. The United States wants to invade Iran and replace the existing anti-American and anti-Israeli government with a new one that would be its ally,” Khokhlov said.

Such a conflict would be on a greater scale and result in greater loss of life than the invasion of Iraq or Afghanistan, the expert believes.

“America does have very little hard and reliable intelligence data about each of the Iranian nuke sites and so their bombing will have to be extensive and long, kind of like the Yugoslavian campaign back 13 years ago, and the areas around the suspected sites will have to be turned into a Lunar landscape,” he explained.

The uneasy tension in the region may result in a conflict running amok even against the wishes of the parties involved, warns Philip Giraldi, an ex-CIA officer who is currently the executive director of the Council for the National Interest think-tank. The worst-case scenario would be a world war, he says.

“The problem is that Iran is surrounded by a number of countries which are essentially hostile to it, and some of them are nuclear armed. This is a perfect cauldron for starting something with a relatively minor incident that escalates and escalates and escalates and winds up as a major war,” he told RT.

Meanwhile Foreign Minister Salehi, who is currently visiting Turkey, says the saber rattling is just meant to distract the public.

“The US is using regional powers to pressure Iran. A conflict in the Gulf is against the interests of all of those countries. The US is demonstrating to the world its power, but at the same time they secretly send letters suggesting meeting and sorting things out. The Obama administration is not honest with its own people,” the Iranian diplomat lashed out.

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France’s Sarkozy: “Time Is Running Out” For Iran

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120120/170865248.html

Russian Information Agency Novosti
January 20, 2012

France: Time Running Out for Iran

MOSCOW: French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday urged “more decisive” sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program but warned that time was running out to avoid military intervention.

In his annual speech on French diplomacy in Paris, Sarkozy said “more decisive” sanctions were needed to stop the purchase of Iranian oil and freeze the assets of the central bank.

“Everything will be done to avoid military intervention… but time is running out,” he said.

The sanctions are expected to be approved by European Union foreign ministers on Monday.

The United States and Israel have refused to rule out military intervention over suspicions that Iran, which recently began producing enriched uranium at an underground plant, may be developing nuclear arms.

Iran insists its program is peaceful.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned on Wednesday that a Western attack on Iran would be a “catastrophe” and “would pour oil on the still smoldering fire of Sunni-Shia confrontation.”

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Pre-NATO Summit Obama-Saakashvili Meeting To Boost Integration

http://rustavi2.com/news/news_text.php?id_news=44407&pg=1&im=main&ct=0&wth=

Rustavi 2
January 19, 2012

Experts and politicians comment on Saakashvili-Obama meeting

`Restart of the restart and a very important meeting and signal to all that the United States remains as a supporter of Georgia,`this is how American and Georgian politicians and experts have assessed the January 30th meeting of the Georgian and US presidents in Washington.

The presidents will discuss all topical issues which refer to US and Georgia`s strategic partnership cooperation.

`The meeting on such a level is the culmination and the outcome of the work carried out during the past few years and the beginning of the next round of strategic cooperation with the United States. Our cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan…operation should be also emphasized as well as the support of the US government to Georgia in the implementation of the reforms which will facilitate our integration into the NATO,` Georgian ambassador to the United States Batu Kutelia has said.

The visit is also important because it will be held prior to the NATO Chigaco summit.

The president of Georgia will arrive in the United States at the invitation of Barack Obama. Within the visit, Mikheil Saakashvili will hold meetings with the Senate and Congress too.

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France Suspends Afghan Operations After Four More Soldiers Killed

http://www.pajhwok.com/en/2012/01/20/france-suspends-afghan-operations

Pajhwok Afghan News
January 20, 2012

France suspends Afghan operations

KABUL: Hours after the killing of four French troops in central Kapisa province by an Afghan soldier, Paris announced the suspension of all training and joint operations in Afghanistan.

The soldiers were shot dead by their Afghan counterpart in the Tagab district earlier in the day. The suspected killer was apprehended, a brief statement from the International Security Assistance Force said.

A local security source confided to Pajhwok Afghan News that at least 15 other foreign troops were wounded in the shooting at a military base in the restive district.

Col. Asadullah Hamidi, a spokesman for the Kapisa police headquarters, said they had received information regarding the incident in Tagab. They were yet to have a detailed report, he added.

According to international media reports, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the shooting raised the query of whether his country should step up the withdrawal of all its soldiers from Afghanistan.

The TF1 television channel quoted Sarkozy as telling diplomats in Paris: “The French Army is standing next to its allies, but we cannot accept that even one of our soldiers be killed or wounded by our allies.”

He said of the shooting, the second against French servicemembers in less than a month: “It is unacceptable. I will not accept it.” The French leader ordered his Defence Minister Gerard Longuet to visit Afghanistan to demonstrate support for the French contingent.

On Dec. 29, two French troops were gunned down in Kapisa by a man in an Afghan army uniform. The attacker was shot dead by other French soldiers.
Longuet and army chief of staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud were directed to determine the circumstances of the latest attack on French troops.

“Between now and then all training, joint combat operations by the French army are suspended,” the president told the New Year ceremony. “If security conditions are not clearly established, the question of an early return of the French army will be asked.”

Earlier in the month, an American soldier was killed when a man in an ANA uniform opened fire at a military centre in southeastern Afghanistan.
More than 50 foreign troops have been killed and as many wounded by their Afghan partners since 2005, according to data compiled by USA Today.

Of the 3,600 French soldiers operating in Afghanistan under ISAF command, 82 have been killed since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban regime.

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Afghanistan: Six NATO Soldiers Killed In Helicopter Crash

http://en.apa.az/news.php?id=164035

Azeri Press Agency
January 20, 2012

Six foreign troops dead in U.S. helicopter crash in Afghanistan

                      

Baku: Six foreign soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said, APA reports quoting Reuters.

It is the worst crash since August last year when 30 soldiers, including 22 elite navy SEAL commandos, died when their helicopter came down in eastern Afghanistan.

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NATO Commander Hails Afghan War, Global Response Forces

http://www.aco.nato.int/general-langheld-highlights-isaf-and-nrf-commitments.aspx

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations
January 19, 2012

GENERAL LANGHELD HIGHLIGHTS ISAF AND NRF COMMITMENTS

-This year JFC Brunssum is in charge of NRF 2012. JFC Brunssum also serves as the higher headquarters for ISAF in Afghanistan, with ISAF as a primary mission and NATO Article 5 Operational Planning, Baltic Air Policing, Military Cooperation and NATO Response Force (NRF) among other major activities.

Commander NATO Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Brunssum, General Wolf Langheld delivering his beginning of the year address to the staff.

Wednesday, 18 January Commander NATO Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Brunssum, General Wolf Langheld delivered his beginning of the year address to the staff, where he stressed the importance of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and NATO Response Force (NRF) commitments to the Command.

“ISAF remains our number one priority. Complicated, far away, and dangerous, this most complex of missions brings with it the added challenge of an imposed timeline,” General Langheld said.

The Commander also highlighted the excellent performance of the staff at Steadfast Juncture NRF verification exercise, but emphasised that the skills must be continually exercised to stay sharp. “Key to our ongoing remit, to be prepared for NRF activation throughout 2012, is that we proactively maintain good working relationships at all levels,” he added.

On the ongoing NATO Command Structure Reform General Langheld said that a swift generation of a highly deployable and joint Command and Control (C2) construct, at the operational level, provides the North Atlantic Council the mechanism it needs, to respond effectively to emerging security threats.

JFC Brunssum, the Netherlands is one of three NATO operational level commands in NATO Allied Command Operations (ACO). This year JFC Brunssum is in charge of NRF 2012. JFC Brunssum also serves as the higher headquarters for ISAF in Afghanistan, with ISAF as a primary mission and NATO Article 5 Operational Planning, Baltic Air Policing, Military Cooperation and NATO Response Force (NRF) among other major activities.

By CPO Roland Murof (EST N), JFC HQ Brunssum PAO

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Australia Appoints First Ambassador To NATO

http://foreignminister.gov.au/releases/2012/kr_mr_120120.html

Kevin Rudd
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
January 20, 2012

Appointment of Australian Ambassador to NATO

Brussels: Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd today announced that Dr Brendan Nelson will be Australia’s first Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Dr Nelson is currently Australia’s Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union, and the Australian Government’s representative to NATO, which is based in Brussels. Dr Nelson’s appointment as Ambassador represents a deepening of Australia’s engagement with NATO.

NATO is an alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe…NATO-led forces are currently helping to bring ***stability*** to Afghanistan, and led the international effort to ***protect civilians*** in Libya. NATO plays a key role in global efforts to combat terrorism and ensure cyber security.

In Afghanistan, Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to the International Security Assistance Force and the 10th largest contributor overall. Australia is firmly committed to completing its role of supporting transition in Uruzgan Province. NATO will retain a leadership role in the international community’s engagement on Afghanistan after the conclusion of the current ISAF mission in 2014.

Dr Nelson served in the Australian Parliament as the Member for Bradfield from March 1996, and was the Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party from November 2007 until September 2008. He served as Minister for Defence, Minister for Education, Science and Training, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence.

A general practitioner by training and a graduate of Flinders University in South Australia, Dr Nelson was President of the Australian Medical Association from 1993 to 1995.

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Azerbaijan: State Department Official Says Iran Threat To Region, World

http://en.trend.az/regions/iran/1982140.html

Trend News Agency
January 19, 2012

U.S. considers Iran’s determination to develop its weapons as threat to regional and global security
V. Zhavoronkova

Azerbaijan, Baku: Iran’s determination to develop their weapons is a threat to regional and global security, U.S Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin said at a press conference in Baku on Thursday.

“As we have said many times we believe that Iran’s determination to develop their weapons is a threat to regional and global security, and we are determined to prevent Iran,” he said.

Rubin said the U.S. wants to work with all partners, including Azerbaijan, which is a direct neighbor and is directly affected, to help to persuade Iran to engage with the international community about its nuclear program.

He reaffirmed the statement of the State Department’s spokesperson, who said that the U.S. is prepared to negotiate with Iran, and the choice is left for Iran.

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Obama Commends Azerbaijan For NATO War, Energy War Support

http://en.trend.az/news/politics/1981795.html

Trend News Agency
January 19, 2012

President Obama grateful to Azerbaijan for important contribution to international efforts to ensure security

Baku: Azerbaijani Ambassador to the United States Elin Suleymanov handed over his credentials to U.S. President Barack Obama at an official ceremony at the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 18, the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington said.

President Obama stressed a long history of friendship and partnership between Azerbaijan and the United States, based on common interests. He thanked Azerbaijan for its important contribution to international efforts to ensure security [that is, supplying troops to NATO for its Afghan war] and characterized it as a key partner in energy security for the entire Euro-Atlantic community.

Suleymanov stressed Azerbaijan’s strong commitment to deepening and boosting bilateral relations and multi-faceted partnership between the two countries.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed an order appointing Elin Suleymanov as the country’s Ambassador to the United States on Oct. 26, 2011. Prior to that, he served as Consul General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles.

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NATO’s Rasmussen In Baltics: Cyber, Air, Overseas Operations

http://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/30390/

Baltic Times
January 20, 2012

NATO Secretary General visits Baltic countries

RIGA: Today, Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, during the meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who pays a working visit to Latvia, will discuss the issues related to air policing and cooperation in NATO missions and will sign the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Cooperation on Cyber Defense.

…The Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Latvia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization provides for formalization of cooperation by establishing new mechanisms to prevent risks.

It is important for Latvia, like for Lithuania and Estonia, that the patrolling of air space over the Baltic States, which is currently ensured by the forces of other NATO member states, continues. The Baltic States, in their turn, are ready to make their contribution to collective security in other areas.

Within the framework of the visit, Rasmussen will also meet the President of Latvia Andris Berzins, Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics, Minister of Defense Artis Pabriks, Minister of Transport Aivis Ronis and other Latvian officials.

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Categories: Uncategorized

South China Sea: U.S. Plans For Asia-Pacific NATO Doomed To Failure

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Global Times
January 18, 2012

Regional cooperation sees off US meddling
By Ding Gang

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The CNAS [Center for a New American Security] study argued that the South China Sea is an “epicenter” in terms of globalization and geopolitics, and it will determine whether the US can preserve its dominant role in the Asia-Pacific region…As to how the US will maintain its control over the Asia-Pacific region through the South China Sea issue, the CNAS study suggested a US-led multilateral security mechanism to counter China’s growing power in the region. A new safety network would be formed with major players around China, such as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia.

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Two conferences on the South China Sea issue were recently held in the capital cities of China and the US. The one in Beijing was the fourth round of senior official meetings between China and ASEAN countries on the implementation of the Declaration of Conduct (DOC). Meanwhile, the one in Washington was held by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) for the release of its strategic report titled “Cooperation from Strength: The United States, China and the South China Sea.” A close comparison of the two conferences reveals how future regional disputes could develop.

At the Beijing conference, senior officials from China and ASEAN countries not only exchanged opinions on the problems encountered during the implementation of the DOC, but were actually able to reach agreements on several key issues. This sent a signal that countries directly concerned with regional disputes want peace.

However the signal from Washington was mixed with some hostility. According to US media, some in the US appeared to be dissatisfied over disputes in the South China Sea easing up, hoping the White House could intervene at some point.

The CNAS study argued that the South China Sea is an “epicenter” in terms of globalization and geopolitics, and it will determine whether the US can preserve its dominant role in the Asia-Pacific region. Jonathan W. Greenert, the US Chief of Naval Operations, also stated during the conference that he will take certain elements from the report into military planning and believed the US Navy can still have a predominant influence in the West Pacific.

As to how the US will maintain its control over the Asia-Pacific region through the South China Sea issue, the CNAS study suggested a US-led multilateral security mechanism to counter China’s growing power in the region. A new safety network would be formed with major players around China, such as Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Australia.

These points clearly outline America’s eagerness to force its own rule upon the South China Sea. Although accusing China of attempting to dominate the South China Sea, it is fairly obvious that the one who wants to rule the region is the US. One classic example is the recent US sanction on companies in China, Singapore and the UAE for what the US said is selling refined oil to Iran.

However, countries in the South China Sea region hold a different mindset. Their priorities have to do with economic development, which is the frame of the region’s future. Although caught in disputes right now, none of them want their interests to become damaged. Thus they decided to talk and cooperate with China, since this will not only help solve the conflicts peacefully but also set up new rules that will help regional prosperity.

While the US is not directly involved in the regional disputes, it still has some interests in the South China Sea. But the US cannot force others to recognize them as the leader. It no longer has the power to play such an important role, nor do countries in the region need Uncle Sam’s care. Any strategic attempt to form an alliance against China would be against the will of the countries in the region, and the last thing those countries want to do is pick a side between the US and China.

The two conferences held in Beijing and Washington also reflected the complexity of the South China Sea issue. The US will not easily give up its strategic advantage and will continue to stir the water. But it is certain these attempts will eventually sink the US in the region. Naval forces may be useful, but they will lose power in the long run. Only joint development is the rule in South China Sea. The longer it takes for the US to realize this, the sooner it will be excluded from this region.

The author is a senior editor with the People’s Daily.

Categories: Uncategorized

Former Soviet Space: Ukraine’s NATO Membership Could Provoke Global Catastrophe

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Strategic Culture Foundation
January 19, 2012

Eurasian Union and Russia’s Geostrategic Stability
Yuri Andreev
Edited by RR

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[T]he integration of Ukraine into NATO would read as a casus belli for Europe. Under the arrangement, the world would find itself only a couple of steps away from a potentially global conflict, the first step being the deployment of NATO bases in Ukraine; the second, the entering into play of factors related to the resulting unprecedented shortening of the time it would take US missiles to reach crucial targets in Russia.

Seeing its defense capabilities seriously eroded and left obviously unable to rely on the retaliatory strike strategy, Russia would have either to switch to that of missile launch on warning or, due to the brevity of the warning time, even to stretch its doctrine to the point of embracing preemptive strikes. The strikes do not necessarily have to be nuclear, but the whole situation would automatically turn into a prologue to an armed conflict. This is the number one reason why Ukraine’s NATO membership would breed extreme risks and bring about the specter of a global catastrophe.

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Top U.S. foreign policy strategist and a die-hard Russophobe Zbigniew Brzeziński had a point when he wrote in The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives that “Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. Russia without Ukraine can still strive for imperial status, but it would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state”, moreover, one under permanent pressure from Central Asian republics and China. He also stressed quite appropriately therein that “However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as its access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia”.

In other words, Russia can’t realistically hope to achieve geostrategic stability unless it manages to entrain Ukraine. As a result, the task of precluding synergies between the two countries occupies a significant line on the U.S. and EU foreign-policy agendas. Russian premier Vladimir Putin’s opinion piece published in Izvestia in 2011 – “A new integration project for Eurasia: The future in the making” – where he puts forward a case for building a Eurasian union in the post-Soviet space, simply had to come under fire in the West, as what Putin suggests is an alliance between Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, to which Kazakhstan and other republics of the former Soviet Union would also be welcome.

It is clear that the West will spare no efforts to prevent the project from materializing, and Brussel’s tactic behind the free trade zone and association agreement with Ukraine reflects this wider approach. Kyiv faced an avalanche of criticism over the arrest of former Ukrainian premier Yulia Tymoshenko, and attacks on Ukraine’s current leader Viktor Yanukovych occasionally border on direct threats, but, for much deeper reasons, the EU captains are ready to pen an association deal with the country, dispense Eurointegration promises to its leadership or even – in the distant future – actually admit Ukraine to the EU just to make sure that the unification processes within the community of the East-Slavic nations (and, potentially, further across post-Soviet space) come to a grinding halt.

It is an open secret that Ukraine is key to the implementation of a host of Western geostrategic plans. It is offered to start preparing to join NATO, and circumstances like the Ukrainian constitution’s stated ban on mergers with military blocs or the existence of the Russian naval base in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol do not seem to make extending the invitation impossible. In fact, NATO is cultivating a relationship with post-Soviet Georgia regardless of similar legal obstacles.

In my view, the integration of Ukraine into NATO would read as a casus belli for Europe. Under the arrangement, the world would find itself only a couple of steps away from a potentially global conflict, the first step being the deployment of NATO bases in Ukraine; the second, the entering into play of factors related to the resulting unprecedented shortening of the time it would take US missiles to reach crucial targets in Russia.

Pledges, assurances, or legal guarantees of any kind would not help to dispel Moscow’s concerns considering that wars always begin in breach of the pacta sunt servanada [agreements must be kept] principle. By the way, a talk I gave on the subject at an international conference hosted by NATO headquarters in Brussels back in the 1990s obviously attracted heightened attention at the time. Seeing its defense capabilities seriously eroded and left obviously unable to rely on the retaliatory strike strategy, Russia would have either to switch to that of missile launch on warning or, due to the brevity of the warning time, even to stretch its doctrine to the point of embracing preemptive strikes. The strikes do not necessarily have to be nuclear, but the whole situation would automatically turn into a prologue to an armed conflict. This is the number one reason why Ukraine’s NATO membership would breed extreme risks and bring about the specter of a global
catastrophe.

The EU tends to concentrate on economic, social and cultural issues, and Ukraine’s positions in those spheres oscillate visibly as Kyiv attempts to derive benefits simultaneously in the West and in the East. On October, 18, 2011, Ukraine signed in St. Petersburg a free trade zone treaty whose list of signatories currently comprises eight post-Soviet republics, with decisions from three more – Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan – pending. The treaty did come into being with serious limitations and does not apply to such commodities as oil, natural gas, metals and sugar, but a plan to widen the scope of the accord is already on the table.

Generally, post-Soviet economic integration moves on with great difficulty and recurrent setbacks. The simplest initial part of the process – the establishment of a free-trade zone – fully exemplified the tendency. Sketchily, the zone was created in 1994, but the participant’s legislatures failed to ratify the corresponding agreement. Though a new deal was inked only in 2011, it still has to be borne in mind that a free-trade zone is about duty-free commerce and essentially about nothing else. The customs union formed by Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan (and which Kyrgyzstan is eying at the moment) was a natural next phase of the process as it implied its members’ shared tariff policies vis-a-vis third-party countries plus a de facto abolition of internal borders. A common economic space with its members synching a whole range of their economic strategies and policies and, possibly, opting for a shared currency should be a more advanced form of
integration to go for.

The customs union and the common economic space should, ideally, be overseen by supranational institutions. Once such institutions are in place, the integration agenda can be upgraded to include the establishment of a Eurasian union described in Putin’s October, 2011 paper. Other countries’ leaders contributed to the debate: Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko in a paper titled “The Destiny of Our Integration” and Nursultan Nazarbayev in “The Eurasian Union: From Concept to History of the Future”. Lukashenko, it should be noted, expressed in “The Destiny of Our Integration” a view to which his peers across the post-Soviet space would readily subscribe: equal rights, respect for national sovereignty, and the inviolability of borders are the only plausible principles the integration may be built on.

The question naturally arising in the context is what role is taken by Ukraine in the above dynamics. The country was on the hypothetical participants list when Putin spelled out the agenda for the Common Economic Space back in 2003, but Kyiv chose to steer clear of the project. On October 18, 2011, Ukraine did pen an agreement on the free trade zone which 11 post-Soviet republics – all but Georgia – will likely uphold. Moscow would be well-advised to cultivate its relations with Kyiv within a sequence of alliances implying ever tighter economic integration.

No doubt, the economic interests of the parties involved are an adequate basis for the process. Ukraine has observer status in the Eurasian Economic Community, plus now it is a signatory to the free trade deal, the reasonable gradualism promising considerable progress in the long run. Ukraine’s free trade or association agreements with the EU, if they go through despite Europe’s lingering systemic crisis, should not cause Russia to stop drawing Ukraine into the orbit of post-Soviet integration. Moreover, Moscow should count on working with Ukraine with this objective in mind among Russia’s foreign-policy priorities, and fundamental advancements in this direction would immensely outweigh narrow gains like relaxed terms for various types of commodities trade.

There is however, one more significant factor that has to be incorporated into Moscow’s geostrategic reckoning – namely, relations between Russia and China. No doubt, for Russia China is already a significant partner in a number of existing frameworks – the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS, notably – but my impression is that Moscow’s foreign policy vision remains under the spell of Europe (this imbalance appears particularly undesirable following the turn towards Asia prescribed to by the US in Washington’s new military doctrine). Even Putin’s paper says the Eurasian union should be “an essential part of Greater Europe”, but it is also true that the pertinent risk of over-reliance on Europe at the expense of Asia may not be discounted.

It would be a gross mistake to miss the importance of China to Russia’s geostrategic security. In this connection, I would like to revisit the Russian proposal for a European security treaty, reiterating my suggestion to have it reinforced and transformed into a Eurasian security treaty, with China’s rise duly taken into account. The long-term task of clarifying the defense dimension of the treaty would complement the ongoing interactions within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS, especially since the former is a predominantly economic system and the latter a fairly casual body.

The development and deepening of the strategic partnership with China, combined with convincing efforts to ally Ukraine (and with the necessary attention being paid to Belarus and Russia’s other allies) would help Russia maintain its geostrategic stability at the level at which the country would be completely immune to the invectives churned out by McCain and his like.

Categories: Uncategorized

Following Syria: Iran, The West’s Last Middle East Domino

January 19, 2012 1 comment

Frontline
January 14-27, 2012

The last domino
John Cherian

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Israel is an undeclared nuclear power that keeps on threatening to attack Iran. Nuclear-armed U.S. ships and submarines are lurking in the Persian Gulf, ready to get into action at short notice. The U.S. has big military bases in neighbouring Bahrain and Qatar. In the WikiLeaks cables, the Saudi King is on record exhorting the U.S. to “attack Iran” and “cut off the head of the snake”.

The U.S. media reported that the Obama administration initially considered a military incursion into Iran to retrieve the drone but better sense prevailed. RQ-170s are mainly used for reconnaissance and are not used to target militants in Afghanistan. The drones have been reportedly carrying out surveillance over Iran for the last two years to identify possible targets for attack.

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The end of 2011 saw the formal departure of the United States’ occupation troops from Iraq. Most of the troops have been relocated in neighbouring Kuwait so as to be ready to intervene militarily at short notice once again in Iraq or in other West Asian countries.

The U.S. is in no hurry to loosen its grip on the resource-rich region. Its strategists are busy devising ways by which it can retain its hegemony there. They are emboldened by the happenings in Libya, where, in the words of President Barack Obama, “the U.S. led from behind”. A similar strategy is being followed in the case of Syria, a close ally of Iran.

The immediate goal of the West is to effect a regime change in Syria and further isolate Iran in the region. If the West succeeds in its game plan, then Iran will be the last domino it will have to tackle in the region.

Tensions with Iran have risen alarmingly in recent months. Bellicose statements are emanating regularly from Washington and other Western capitals. The West is now threatening to impose unilateral sanctions against Iran. These include new sanctions on the export of Iranian oil and gas.

The Obama administration started piling up pressure after the release of the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which, without providing any tangible evidence, accused Teheran of engaging in clandestine uranium-enrichment activity. U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said in the last week of December that Iran could be in possession of a nuclear weapon within a year’s time. He pronounced that this was a “red line” that the U.S. would never allow Iran to cross and that his country would take “whatever steps necessary to deal with the situation”.

Israel is an undeclared nuclear power that keeps on threatening to attack Iran. Nuclear-armed U.S. ships and submarines are lurking in the Persian Gulf, ready to get into action at short notice. The U.S. has big military bases in neighbouring Bahrain and Qatar. In the WikiLeaks cables, the Saudi King is on record exhorting the U.S. to “attack Iran” and “cut off the head of the snake”.

Iran continues to insist that its nuclear programme is only for peaceful non-military purposes. Challenging the so-called evidence provided by the IAEA, Iran claims that much of it has been fabricated by U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies.

An article titled “Time to Attack Iran” by Matthew Kroenig in an influential foreign policy journal said that “a carefully managed U.S. attack” on Iran would be able to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations without provoking an all-out war engulfing the region. Kroenig was until recently Special Adviser to the U.S. Defence Secretary.

The anti-Iran hysteria in the U.S. has in recent months been carried to absurd levels. Some months ago, the U.S. government and the media gave credence to charges that the Iranian authorities had given a Mexican drug cartel a contract to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. In December, a U.S. federal judge ruled that Iran was involved in the September 11 attacks on New York. The judge concluded that Iran provided “direct help to Al Qaeda specifically for the attacks”.

Iran, which is one of the biggest oil producers in the world, has reasons to feel threatened by the latest developments. Iranian military leaders have warned that if the West implements new sanctions, Teheran retains the option of closing down the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. The Strait of Hormuz is a 6.4-kilometre-wide channel between Iran and Oman, located at the mouth of the Gulf. One-third of the world’s tanker-borne oil traffic passes through it. Nearly all the liquefied gas from Qatar passes through the strait.

Iran’s economy has already been affected severely because of years of sanctions imposed by the West. Obama signed a new piece of legislation on December 31 that would penalise companies doing business with the Central Bank of Iran. This law is aimed at countries such as India that import oil from Iran. Much of Iran’s oil goes to China and India. The European Union accounts for only 18 per cent of Iran’s oil exports.

Iran’s warning

Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi has issued a warning that “not a drop of oil” will flow through the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are imposed on the Iranian oil sector. In the last week of December, the Iranian army carried out 10 days of military drills in the Sea of Oman, located near the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian ships and aircraft dropped mines in the sea as part of the drill.

Admiral Habibullah Sayyari, the Iranian navy chief, told the Iranian media that it would be “very easy” to close the strait to shipping. “Iran has comprehensive control over the waterways,” he said, adding that Iran had no “hostile intentions” but the West “doesn’t want to go back on the plan to impose sanctions”.

Brigadier General Hossein Salami, Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, told the Fars News Agency that Iran would implement “defensive strategies to protect its vital interests”. Iran has on earlier occasions warned that in case it is attacked, the 32 U.S. military bases in the region will be targeted along with the closure of the Strait of Hormuz. Experts say that if hostilities break out, the price of oil will go through the roof.

Iran had offered to resume negotiations on its nuclear programme in an effort to stave off the latest round of sanctions. But after Obama approved the new sanctions, the Iranian army fired a new, mid-range surface-to-air missile, designed to evade radars, during the naval drill in the Gulf. Teheran also announced on January 1 that Iranian scientists had produced the nation’s first nuclear fuel rods. The rods, which contain natural uranium, have been inserted into the core of Iran’s research reactor.

U.S.’ response

The Obama administration responded to the Iranian statements on the Strait of Hormuz by immediately despatching two of its warships – the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mobile Bay – towards the strait. The U.S. Defence Department issued a warning that any step to “inhibit freedom of navigation” through the Strait of Hormuz “will not be tolerated”.

Along with the threat of using military force, the U.S. and Israel have been targeting Iranian individuals working for scientific establishments and the military. Iranian military and civilian installations have also been targeted for terror attacks. In the last two years, cars in which two nuclear physicists were travelling were blown up. Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, was wounded in a bomb attack on his car. On November 12, an explosion in a Revolutionary Guards base killed 17 people, including the man behind Iran’s missile programme, General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam. The New York Times quoted experts speculating that the base was hit by a missile fired from a drone. The Iranian authorities, however, said that the incident was an accident.

In late November, the Western media reported that a mysterious explosion had damaged a uranium-enrichment facility near the city of Isfahan. There has not been any news in the Iranian media of a major explosion taking place near Isfahan. But Israeli and U.S. officials have been claiming credit for the “acts of sabotage”. Dan Meridor, Israel’s Interior Minister, boasted: “There are countries which impose economic sanctions and there are countries who act in other ways in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.”

Earlier, in 2010, the U.S. and Israel subjected Iranian nuclear facilities to the Stuxnet computer virus. The Stuxnet computer worm reportedly also damaged computers used in industrial machinery. The purpose of the cyber attack was to cripple Iran’s nuclear programme.

For some time now, the Obama administration has authorised the use of armed drones in Iranian air space. The tensions between Washington and Teheran escalated after the Iranian air force brought down an RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone of the U.S. in the first week of December. The drone, which can fly at 15,000 metres, is among the most sophisticated in the expanding U.S. drone fleet. The downed plane was proudly put on display in Iran. Teheran refused Washington’s demand for the return of the drone, which, the U.S. claimed, had mistakenly strayed into Iranian territory.

The U.S. media reported that the Obama administration initially considered a military incursion into Iran to retrieve the drone but better sense prevailed. RQ-170s are mainly used for reconnaissance and are not used to target militants in Afghanistan. The drones have been reportedly carrying out surveillance over Iran for the last two years to identify possible targets for attack. The RQ-170 was used for surveillance of Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The U.S. think tank Stratfor, which has strong links with the military establishment, has reported that the Obama administration has been waging “a broad ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) campaign in Iran, particularly to map out Iranian nuclear sites, ballistic missile units and development efforts, its air defence networks and command and control nodes”.

Meanwhile, all the Republican candidates vying to occupy the White House in 2012, except Ron Paul, have said that they are prepared to go to war against Iran. Their main argument is that Iran is developing nuclear weapons that would pose an existential threat to U.S.’ closest ally, Israel. Playing to the gallery in an election year, Obama reiterated that the military option against Iran was very much on the table. “No options off the table means that I am considering all options,” he said.

Iran, naturally, has not taken the latest threats lightly. Its Revolutionary Guards have been put on a war footing. The country’s air force has been put on high alert and has been carrying out exercises since December. It has formed “rapid reaction units”. The Iranian government has repeatedly warned that any attack by either Israel or the U.S. will trigger a prompt response, which would envelop the entire region in flames.

China, the biggest buyer of Iranian crude, has said that it is “against emotionally charged action” in the region. Russia has warned the West against “cranking up the spiral of tension”, saying that this will be detrimental to the efforts to get Iran back to the negotiating table.

Categories: Uncategorized

Persian Gulf: Covert War And Brutal Threats Are No Substitute For Diplomacy

January 19, 2012 1 comment

Fellowship of Reconciliation
January 18, 2012

Covert War and Brutal Threats are no Substitute for Diplomacy
By Judy Bello

Cries for war with Iran are again rising. In November, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), under a new Director and heavily pressured by the US State Department, released a report implying that Iran is developing nuclear weapons (while stating that it isn’t). Iran’s civilian nuclear program is heavily monitored by the IAEA, which has repeatedly confirmed that the level of enrichment is consistent with civilian uses and no nuclear materials have been diverted. The information on which this report is based is no different than the last report from Mohammed El Baradei’s IAEA in 2009.

A dangerous situation has emerged through the cyclical threats and accusations against Iran. Due to US sanctions, Iran has started trading actively on a basket of currency. This is a serious blow to the petrodollar. The US struck Iraq shortly after Saddam Hussein began to sell oil in Euros. NATO bombed Libya after Muamar Qaddhafi began selling oil in other currencies, and began lobbying the African Union for an ‘African’ Central Bank to support an African currency based on gold (which there is plenty of in Africa) and which would be use for all intra-African trade. Now Iran is selling oil and gas to India in rupees, and to China in renmibi. They are trading with Russia in rubles. What are we to expect?

Obama has eased the level of tensions a little the last couple of days, but this remains a very dangerous situation. Iran is surrounded by US bases and military forces in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is targeted by US missiles in Europe and Israel. Repeated upgrades of international sanctions have left Iran without parts to repair their aging civilian airlines or high-tech medical equipment readily available in Western countries. Despite its vast oil reserves, Iran imports refined petroleum products like gasoline and heating oil, because sanctions have made it impossible to repair the oil refineries destroyed during the Iran-Iraq War.

War Has Begun

The last decade has seen a cyclical escalation of threats and sanctions against Iran by Israel and the United States. The US currently has two aircraft carrier fleets in the Persian Gulf, while Iranian forces conduct defensive military exercises in International waters off their own coast. At the same time the escalating program of covert sabotage ratchets up pressure inside Iran, an increasing stream of accusations comes from the US mainstream press, the Israeli and European press.

Numerous instances of sabotage and assassination have occurred inside Iran, all attributed to the Mossad, CIA and M16. On January 11, nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was killed by a magnetic bomb attached to his car from a passing motorcycle. He was the fourth Iranian scientist assassinated in the last 2 years; a fifth scientist survived an attack. Last November, an explosion killed 30 in a Tehran missile base. A couple of weeks later, another explosion occurred in a nuclear storage site in Isfahan, and in December yet another explosion rocked a nuclear site in Yazd.

These attacks were likely perpetrated with the assistance of the Mujahedin-e-Khalk (MEK) a terrorist organization that has lived under US protection on a base in Iraq near the Iranian border since the beginning of the Iraq War. Shortly after the Islamic Revolution the MEK bombed the offices of Imam Khomeini’s political party, killing more than 30 members of the Iranian Parliament and Cabinet, including senior clerics. The MEK fought with Saddam Hussein against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War, and since 2003 has worked openly with the Mossad and the CIA.

Jundallah, a terrorist organization operating in the Baluchistan region of Iran and Pakistan, perpetrated a series of attacks on Iranian citizens prior to June, 2010 when their leader was arrested and executed. During 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, Jundallah killed over 100 Iranians. Before Jundallah leader Abdolmalak Rigi was executed, he testified that the CIA was sponsoring Jundallah operations in Iran, and provided detailed information related to meetings and financial transactions. On January 13 of this year, two days after the murder of Mostafa Roshan, Foreign Policy, a foreign policy magazine close to the US State Department, published an article stating that Mossad operatives sponsoring Jundallah terrorism were masquerading as CIA agents.

There are strong indications that the US worked with Israel to unleash the Stuxnet virus on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. Israeli sources have more or less taken credit for many of these operations, while the US consistently denies involvement. But George W. Bush designated millions for covert operations in Iran. One might ask, “Where did it go?” Sometimes it appears that Israel and the US are playing ‘Good Cop’ – ‘Bad Cop’ with Iran. The most recent sanctions against Iran include a prohibition against diplomacy with Iranian officials. This leaves us with a covert war and no mechanism for reconciliation. What could possibly be gained by such a restriction?

No Iranian Retaliation

It is interesting that Iran has not significantly retaliated for these actions. Iran remains active in regional diplomacy, with a history of encouraging regional cooperation through trade and mutual support systems. The hype in the mainstream press over Iranian terrorism and the dreaded Iranian bomb seems oddly disconnected from reality. Even when attacked by Saddam’s chemical weapons during the 80s, Iran did not reciprocate in kind. Oil is often cited as the reason for this campaign of terror against Iran. And, Iran is designated a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ for actively supporting and advocating the Palestinian right to self-determination and condemning Israel’s ethnic cleansing in Palestine.

But I believe there is something more going on here. The US is a little over 200 years old. Israel is just over 60. Iran has been around for over 3000 years as a center of culture and civilization. It has a cultural identity deeply rooted in its society. Over millennia, the Persian Empire expanded across the Arab world, across India and southwest Asia. Iran has a Jewish population that goes back to Biblical times, supports Kurdish and Arab populations, and has recently absorbed influxes of Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian refugees. Iranians know who they are. This kind of integrity is stunning when you first encounter it. I imagine it is terrifying to the contemporary proponents of American hegemony.

No War on Iran! No Sanctions! No Intervention! No Assassination!

Regardless of the reason for the ongoing buildup of forces against Iran, we must reject the current status quo in no uncertain terms. I have seen a video of a Chinese news report where a well known academic is quoted as saying that China is prepared to go to war to protect Iran. Russia is currently taking a very active stand in defense of Syria and Iran. The deliberate effort to drop Syria into a civil war, like the NATO regime change in Libya is a Crime of monumental proportions, equal to the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, which are yet to be played out. I notice that Obama has eased the level of tensions a little the last couple of days, but this is a very dangerous situation. It is a dire threat to the people of Iran…but also to the world.

Contact your members of congress, the president and state department officials. Tell them enough is enough! Tell them that the American people will not stand for another war of aggression.

Categories: Uncategorized
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