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U.S. Asia-Pacific Strategy Destabilizes Region

September 29, 2012 2 comments

China.org.cn
September 29, 2012

US Asia-Pacific strategy destabilizes region
By Zheng Yongnian

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Thinking that the U.S. will invest huge resources to confront China as it did against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, these countries, especially the ones which have maritime boundary disputes with China, have chosen to side with the U.S.

[T]he U.S. pivot has shifted the priority in Asia from economic policy to strategic policy. This has occurred, in part, due to U.S. perception of its own strengths. After the onset of the financial crisis, U.S. economic dominance weakened, but its military remains the most powerful in the world.

History has shown that economic competition is mostly benign, but strategic confrontation can and has lead to military conflict. When the two countries fall into such confrontation, they will inevitably assume the roles of the two ancient Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta, or the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

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The United States claims that its high-profile “pivot to Asia” strategy aims to “deter” the threat from a rising China in order to maintain the existing order in Asia. But the effects of this strategy seem to prove just the opposite.

Is Asia now more stable than it was before the U.S.’s adoption of this Asia-Pacific strategy? Obviously not. China and the U.S. had been living on relatively good terms before. But dramatic changes have happened in Asia due to America’s new policy.

Before this new policy, China and other Asian nations had been constantly adjusting themselves to cater to the needs of others. Most Asian countries, ASEAN nations in particular, adopted a pragmatic foreign policy. They regarded China’s economic growth as an opportunity and accordingly adjusted their relations with China. Meanwhile, China prioritized its economic and trade relations with other Asian countries, and accordingly kept a low profile on political and strategic issues and recognized the leading role of ASEAN. It was because of this mutual effort that the relationship between ASEAN nations and China had rapidly progressed, and the bilateral relations between China and other Asian countries became gradually institutionalized through various regional, international, bilateral and multilateral channels.

Some Western scholars have already realized the fact that during the past three decades, Asia maintained peace despite China’s rapid growth, seemingly disproving the “tragedy of great power politics” in which an emerging power will eventually challenge the existing great power. Peace in Asia, to a large extent, was a result of rational choices and mutual adjustment of Asian countries including China. China placed its strategic priorities on economy and trade instead of the military.

The so called “threat” that the U.S. faces in Asia ― fears that China will eventually push it out of Asia ― is therefore more cognitive than real. Where do these fears come from? There are many contributing factors, including the so-called “security dilemma” caused by structural anarchy in international relations, differences in political ideology, and a lack of mutual trust.

How does the U.S. “pivot to Asia” affect regional geopolitics? Here we have to take into consideration the relationships between China and the U.S., China and other Asian countries, and the U.S. and other Asian countries.

First of all, the U.S. Asia strategy has changed and even interrupted the process of mutual adaptation of China and other Asian countries. Although the Obama administration has only voiced the strategy in its political rhetoric, the shift is enough to amplify Asian countries’ expectations for U.S. support. Thinking that the U.S. will invest huge resources to confront China as it did against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, these countries, especially the ones which have maritime boundary disputes with China, have chosen to side with the U.S. Although China’s response to the U.S. strategy has been largely defensive, it is still enough to prevent its relations with these countries from developing further.

Secondly, the U.S. pivot has shifted the priority in Asia from economic policy to strategic policy. This has occurred, in part, due to U.S. perception of its own strengths. After the onset of the financial crisis, U.S. economic dominance weakened, but its military remains the most powerful in the world. During the Cold War period, economic and military presence had the same weight in the U.S.’s foreign policy. But with its pivot, the U.S. is re-introducing strategic competition into Asia. This change has forced China to begin to move its focus from the economy to military strategy.

After years of joint efforts, China and the U.S. have actually built up very close bilateral relations, particularly in economic cooperation, trade and finance. As a result, some American scholars created a term “ChinAmerica” to describe the interactions and interdependency of China and the United States. But the U.S.’s re-introduction of strategic competition has changed this relationship. History has shown that economic competition is mostly benign, but strategic confrontation can and has lead to military conflict. When the two countries fall into such confrontation, they will inevitably assume the roles of the two ancient Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta, or the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The U.S. bases its “pivot to Asia” on its cognition of “national interest”. Likewise, it is also difficult for China to change its cognition of national interest. However, this does not mean that China-U.S. military confrontation is unavoidable. If U.S. wants to counterbalance China in Asia by pivoting back to the region, China must find means to counterbalance the U.S. Such means are the guarantee of peace.

The author is director of the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore.

(This article was published in Chinese and translated by Chen Qiuping.)

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Pakistan-Russia Ties

September 29, 2012 Leave a comment

The News International
September 29, 2012

Pak-Russia ties

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In the final analysis, as the Central and South Asian configuration of states undergoes a new transformation, Russia and Pakistan need to reach out to each other to reap the full and positive benefits of a real relationship, including the tempting energy and economic objectives that could lead to advantageous geopolitical outcomes for all involved.

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A flurry of high-level visits by Russian officials to Islamabad in the recent past and the much-anticipated trip by Russian President Vladimir Putin have been reported both as highlighting Russia’s efforts to augment strategic relations with Pakistan and Pakistan’s attempt to find new friends given the growing impasse with the United States.

While there has been much talk of a quiet and inconspicuous Russo-Pak rapprochement evolving, what do we make of Putin calling off his visit to Pakistan at the eleventh hour this Thursday? This has also meant the deferment of a planned quadrilateral summit between Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan that was to be held in Islamabad on Oct 2.

For now, there is no word on new dates either for the summit or for Putin’s visit. The reasons for the deferral are also unclear. There is speculation that Putin’s decision was the result of Pakistan’s reluctance to award, without bidding, the contract for building its section of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline to Russian energy giant Gazprom. The other view is that Russia may have pulled out of the trip due to Indian pressure. Hopefully, the Russians will provide a fuller explanation soon – it is certainly being read as a setback for Pakistan’s attempt to cultivate new relationships and create negotiating space vis-à-vis the US.

Russia and Pakistan have been working, quietly and out of sight, on a rapprochement after decades of bitterness and misgivings. The reorientation of ties has been particularly spurred by developments in Afghanistan.

President Zardari and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev have met six times in the last three years. On Russia’s end, it realises that, given the US-Nato exit from Afghanistan in the near future, power in the region will shift.

It is, thus, trying to improve economic ties and secure its southern borders against the spread of terrorism by reaching out to both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Russia sees Pakistan as a gateway for energy trade to the entire Subcontinent. On the other hand, Pakistan desires better ties with Russia not just on the economic front but also as an alternate source of military supplies, especially given Washington’s growing foot-dragging and China’s continued inability to meet all of Pakistan’s requests.

The question remains: given extenuating reasons on both sides to push for enhanced ties and a recent display of all the right gestures and statements, how then do we explain the cancellation of Putin’s visit, which is clearly a step back in the relationship? Before jumping to conclusions, it is important to take into account the long-standing foundation of mistrust that will undergird any future relationship between Pakistan and Russia. In light of a deeply acrimonious past, hiccups along the way are to be expected. Let us then look at Putin’s decision as just one of these hiccups that will hopefully be ironed out in time. In the final analysis, as the Central and South Asian configuration of states undergoes a new transformation, Russia and Pakistan need to reach out to each other to reap the full and positive benefits of a real relationship, including the tempting energy and economic objectives that could lead to advantageous geopolitical outcomes for all involved.

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Syria: Russian Foreign Minister Warns of Abyss of Bloody Sectarian Strife

September 29, 2012 1 comment

RT
September 28, 2012

Rebel support ‘pushes Syria deeper into the abyss of bloody sectarianism’ – Lavrov

14-minute video of Lavrov’s address to the United Nations General Assembly

Those who insist on a ceasefire only by the Syrian government encourage the opposition to intensify its hostilities, and “take upon themselves an enormous responsibility,” Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

The shortest way to stop the loss of life in Syria, Lavrov said, is to adhere to the commitments in the Geneva communique, which were agreed upon by the Action Group as follow-up of the Kofi Annan Plan.

“We proposed to adopt a resolution in the UN Security Council that would endorse the Geneva communique as the basis for negotiations at the beginning of the transitional period, but this proposal had been blocked,” Lavrov noted.

“Those who oppose the implementation of the Geneva communique,” he explained, “in fact push Syria even deeper into the abyss of bloody sectarian strife.”

Lavrov noted that the deepening of internal conflict in Syria is of particular concern because the militarization of the conflict is combined with open calls for foreign intervention.

“We have consistently called for the consolidated efforts of the international community to compel the government and its opponents to immediately cease the violence and come to the negotiating table,” Lavrov said, adding that so far, there has been no progress in reaching unanimity on how to create conditions towards achieving that goal.

The foreign minister also expressed concern about the growing number of war crimes on both sides of the conflict, as recorded in a recent report by the UN Human Rights Council.

“Extremist organizations including al-Qaeda have become more active in Syria – they perpetrate terrorist attacks against innocent civilians and civil infrastructure,” Lavrov said.

The situation in the region requires the international community to use a comprehensive approach, and to reject “simplified and ideology-driven patterns and double standards,” the FM asserted.

He also condemned any unilateral sanctions “imposed by a state or a group of states sidestepping the United Nations to advance their political goals.”

“We have no doubt that such sanctions, especially when they are applied extra-territorially, weaken the unity of the international community and undermine the effectiveness of its efforts,” Lavrov said, adding that the events of recent years have clearly shown that “unilateral actions that violate international law and go beyond the decisions of the UN Security Council or distort the substance of these decisions do not do any good.”

He urged the UN to discuss the consequences of such actions and to resume discussions on the humanitarian limits of sanctions, a topic that, he said, somehow “faded away” in the UN.

Meanwhile on Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington would contribute an additional $15 million in “non-lethal gear” to the “civilian opposition” trying to oust Assad. Another $30 million will be sent in humanitarian assistance to help people affected by the continuing conflict, Clinton said at a Friends of Syria meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA.

“It is no secret that our attempts to move forward at the UN Security Council have been blocked repeatedly, but the United States is not waiting,” Clinton said.

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Outside Meddling In Syria Threat To Whole World Order: Russian Official

September 29, 2012 2 comments

Xinhua News Agency
September 28, 2012

Syria crisis can only be solved within U.N.: Russian official

       
MOSCOW: Attempts to solve the Syria crisis outside the U.N. would have destructive consequences for both Syria and the existing world order, a senior Russian diplomat said Friday.

“The attempts to look for ways out of the crisis in Syria outside the U.N. Security Council would have very destructive and dangerous consequences for Syria itself, for the Middle East region and, eventually, for the current world order as a whole,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said at a conference of professional diplomats.

He said the only way out is through negotiations and compromise.

“Implementation of the Libyan model, supporting only one side in this confrontation is a way to nowhere,” Ryabkov said.

The task of the international community is not to take sides in a domestic conflict or conduct operations to topple a government, but to stop violence and facilitate dialogue so as to find a compromise solution, Ryabkov said.

He also warned that “deep changes” in the Middle East and North Africa will cause repercussions in many other regions of the world for a long time.

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Itar-Tass
September 28, 2012

UN Resolution on Syria Inadmissible

The resolution on Syria of the United Nations Human Rights Council contains a number of “inadmissible clauses”, Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Maria Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva said, commenting on Russia’s vote against this document.

“One can’t agree with the unilateral conclusions concerning the tragedy in El-Houleh as well as with the fact that these murders are similar to other such incidents in Syria,” she said.

The Russian diplomat says that the investigation should be completed instead of accusing the government of having insufficient proof.

“There are countries that are actually encouraging terrorism in Syria, therefore we have no doubt that the episode in El-Houleh is being intentionally hyped in the media and is being used for the purpose of a forceful scenario regarding that country,” Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva stressed.

The El Houleh Village became known after the mass murder of 116 people there at the end of May.

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South Ossetia: Georgia Plans False Flag Terror Attacks In Abkhazia

September 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Republic News Agency
September 28, 2012

Georgian intelligence services are planning to carry out acts of terror in Abkhazia

September 30, on the Independence Day of the Republic of Abkhazia, in the Gali district, the residents of which are mainly Megrelians, Georgian special services are planning to carry out a terrorist attack.

As IA Res has been informed by a competent source in the security services of South Ossetia, “three groups, consisting of 15 people, are being prepared for this purpose. The groups` leaders are Amiran Kvartsheliya, Bakur Bumetskeriya and Dmitri Boiko.

According to information available to local intelligence services, the diversionists are going to carry out explosions at mass festivities and fire upon the FSS Border Control Agency of Russia in the Republic of Abkhazia.

“Once again Georgian authorities are planning to impose the responsibility for the attacks on the Abkhazian authorities and on the Russian military forces,” said the official.

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U.S. Cannot Read Runes In Middle East

September 28, 2012 Leave a comment

China Daily
September 28, 2012

US cannot read runes in Mideast
By Hua Liming*

Amid the anti-American protests in Muslim countries, US President Barack Obama urged world leaders on Tuesday to strongly oppose violence and extremism, arguing that protecting free speech is a universal responsibility rather than just an American obligation.

It seems that US politicians haven’t learned any lesson from the anti-US fury sparked by the film that belittles Prophet Muhammad. The United States also refuses to accept that the Muslim protests will make it even more difficult for it to deal with the “anti-American” regimes in Iran and Syria.

The film first sparked anti-American protests in Egypt and Libya, which soon spread to more than 20 countries across the Middle East and beyond.

Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, was killed along with three colleagues in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. The violent protests also forced 65 US embassies across the world to issue warnings to Americans to take precautions against violent attacks, and the Pentagon has sent Marines to protect embassies in Yemen and Sudan. Indeed, the range and violent intensity of the present anti-American wave is unprecedented.

In a vain attempt to calm the anti-American sentiments, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US government “had absolutely nothing to do with” the film. But Washington has to think beyond the immediate impact of the film, because the protests are an outburst of Muslims’ longstanding anger at the US.

Washington has remained unrivalled in the Middle East since the end of the Cold War, with its presence enhanced by US-Israeli relations. It also plays a key role in the Israel-Palestine peace talks, even though it is not welcomed by many in the Middle East.

Things, however, could have been different. The US could have been a welcome superpower in the Middle East after the end of World War II, when several countries had gained independence and learned many things from the US’ experience. But the US blindly “helped” Israel win the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and deal with other conflicts. Supported by the US, Israel annexed Arab territories beyond the proposed borders of a Jewish state and kept expanding its settlements in occupied land.

Many of the millions of displaced Palestinians are now living in exile, away from the land of their ancestors. Besides, the past few years have seen many Arab countries fall into economic stagnation. These have helped Islamic fundamentalists attract more youths to their camp. As a result, there has been a massive rise in the number of Islamists since the 1960s and 1970s.

The Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks deepened Americans’ hatred of Muslims which in turn intensified anti-American feelings among Muslims. The US used the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, killing countless civilians and displacing millions. Wartime scandals such as the Abu Ghraib prison abuse and the burning of the Quran by US servicemen added fuel to the fire burning within many Muslims.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist who threw a shoe at former US president George W. Bush and was jailed for his act, said after his release that he may be free now, but his country is still captive. He said it was humiliating seeing his country suffer, Baghdad burn and Iraqi people killed indiscriminately.

The journalist’s words echo the feelings of many Arabs. US-based polling agency Zogby International’s annual polls in the recent past show the majority of respondents in six Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, hate the US and some 80 percent regard Washington and Tel-Aviv as the two biggest threats to regional security.

Washington got it wrong in the Middle East in the first place and is now paying a bloody price for that. Taken aback by the violent protests in the Middle East one year after the “Arab Spring”, Clinton said “it is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable,” adding that “the people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob.”

Clinton’s remarks suggest Washington has not yet understood why the Muslim world has erupted in anger. The US has always considered its social system and values superior to that of other countries and is still keen on promoting US-style democracy in the Middle East.

Bush tried to impose democracy with the help of the gun. His plan was doomed to fail, and it did. So when people in some Arab countries overthrew their leaders in 2011, the US rejoiced assuming that it would benefit immensely from the regime changes brought about by the “color revolution”.

The reality, however, has turned out to be different. Islamist parties and groups have evolved rapidly and come to power in the Middle East countries that have seen regime changes. Western media reports say that Salafism and the Muslim Brotherhood, instead of Western democracy, have burgeoned in the Middle East after the Arab Spring.

The truth is the self-righteous democratic model of the West is rather feeble, and cannot be applied to a region where Islam is the dominating ideology. No wonder, the new leaderships in the Middle East countries cannot and do not want to contain Muslim anger at the US and Israel. In this sense, the anti-American wave is the inevitable result of the Arab Spring.

If Washington calls the anti-American protesters a “mob”, it has to take the risk (one of the greatest it has taken) of confronting almost the entire Muslim population in the world.

But the US will not give up on the Middle East – not because the region is no longer a haven for Americans, not even because it is focused on its “pivot to Asia” strategy. Let us hope the US realizes it opened a “Pandora’s box” by launching wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that it would be utterly unwise to open another in the Middle East.

*The author, a former ambassador to Iran, is a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies.

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Geostrategy: U.S. Tries To Recruit Armenia Against Iran, Russia

September 28, 2012 1 comment

PanArmenian.net
September 27, 2012

Expert: U.S. trying to shape Armenia into ally for anti-Iranian policy

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“Armenia borders Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran…The U.S. has a significant stake in all five countries, and Armenia is now coming into view as a potentially potent lever to advance American aims…As the US tries to woo Armenia to become a stronger ally in the region, the term ‘geostrategic’ has never been more apt.”

“Through economic and diplomatic incentives, the U.S. is actively trying to shape Armenia into an ally. As President Obama seeks to economically isolate Iran – his sanctions have cut the value of Iran’s currency in half – he is trying to regionally isolate the regime, as well. Armenia is key to that strategy.”

“Armenia’s two best friends at the moment are arguably the U.S.’s most challenging adversaries: Russia and Iran.”

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In America’s eyes, Armenia might be in the most important position of any US ally to pursue an anti-Iranian policy, the Truman Project’s Daniel Gaynor writes.

In his article, the expert tries to answer the question as to why the U.S. prioritizes cooperation with Armenia.

“Few countries are in a better position to shape US foreign policy than Armenia. Armenia borders Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Iran. As a part of the former Soviet Union, it relies on nearby Russia extensively for trade and military backing. The U.S. has a significant stake in all five countries, and Armenia is now coming into view as a potentially potent lever to advance American aims. That is, if the Armenians can be won over. As the US tries to woo Armenia to become a stronger ally in the region, the term ‘geostrategic’ has never been more apt.

“Armenia is literally at the center of a number of countries that Washington considers among its top priorities. As President Obama tries to accomplish key foreign policy objectives – like preventing Iran from attaining nuclear bombs or seeing democracy flourish in Russia – he’s got to encourage Armenia to play along. To Armenia’s south, one such issue is unfolding in Iran’s nuclear centrifuges,” the article reads.

“America is racing to develop every diplomatic pressure point it can on Iran, lest Israel launch a preemptive attack and embroil America in a third Middle East war in ten years. One of those pressure points goes straight through Armenia. While the US has cut off formal relations with Iran – Washington talks through Switzerland’s embassy there – it’s no secret that it employs a variety of foreign policy crowbars to influence and destabilize Iran’s ruling regime. Some, like President Obama’s latest round of economic sanctions, are well known. Partnering with Armenia is not, but could have, a major impact. Through economic and diplomatic incentives, the U.S. is actively trying to shape Armenia into an ally. As President Obama seeks to economically isolate Iran – his sanctions have cut the value of Iran’s currency in half – he is trying to regionally isolate the regime, as well. Armenia is key to that strategy.

“For Armenia, the game is far less simple. Partnering with the U.S. – with whom it has a good, but not great, relationship – could alienate the few friends Armenia has left in the South Caucasus region. It wants military cooperation with Russia, but economic access to the West. While it has tried to deepen relations with the European Union and the U.S., Armenia’s two best friends at the moment are arguably the U.S.’s most challenging adversaries: Russia and Iran. That’s not necessarily because of shared ideologies, or even shared interests; it’s because Armenia doesn’t have many friends to pick from. Of its four neighbors, two – Turkey and Azerbaijan – have closed off their borders to Armenia,” Mr. Gaynor writes, according to stratrisks.com.

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Diaoyu Dispute: Declining U.S. Seeks To Contain Rising China

September 28, 2012 2 comments

China Daily
September 27, 2012

Friendly advice to Japan,US
By Zhou Fangyin

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The US should not forget the aggressive past of Japan, especially the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, which partly was the result of Washington’s tolerance of Japanese expansionism.

China’s influence is increasing in the Asia-Pacific region and even the rest of the world, while the US’ is declining. This is a relatively long-term but inevitable trend, which the US finds very uncomfortable to accept. The change in the balance of power will gradually erode the supremacy of the US and other countries’ confidence in America’s might. This realization seems to be giving American politicians and policymakers sleepless nights.

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China issued a white paper on the Diaoyu Islands on Tuesday so that the international community would better understand Beijing’s stance on the Diaoyu Islands dispute. This is especially important because of the United Nations General Assembly session underway in New York.

The “nationalization” of the Diaoyu Islands by Japan is not only an infringement of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also a severe challenge to the post-World War II international order. The Cairo Declaration of 1943 and Potsdam Proclamation of 1945 required Japan to return Taiwan and its affiliated Diaoyu Islands to China, which is part of the international order.

The international community, especially the United States, made great efforts to build the post-World War II international order. So Washington has to be aware of the serious consequences Tokyo’s provocations could cause. The US should not forget the aggressive past of Japan, especially the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, which partly was the result of Washington’s tolerance of Japanese expansionism.

Unfortunately, the contradictory statements of US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta during his visit to Japan and China last week proves the fact that Washington is using the China-Japan dispute to strengthen its military presence in the Asian-Pacific region. On one hand, Panetta said the US would not take sides in the Diaoyu Islands dispute, on the other hand, he declared that US-Japan security treaty covers the Diaoyu Islands.

The US wants to play the role of a “mediator”. However, a mediator should be impartial, which Washington is not. Nor does it want to help resolve any dispute. Moreover, the US-Japan alliance disqualifies Washington from being even a “communicator” in the Diaoyu Islands dispute.

Nobody expected Panetta’s visit to Asia to break the impasse, because the US wants to use Japan and the Sino-Japanese dispute to contain China’s rise so that it can maintain its supremacy in Asia-Pacific. But at the same time, Washington doesn’t want the situation to go out of control, because that could draw it into direct confrontation with China.

Against this backdrop and as part of its “pivot to Asia” strategy, the US has taken a series of steps in the Asia-Pacific region, including the deployment of the Osprey aircraft in Okinawa, Japan.

Japan is trying to get a free ride on America’s “pivot to Asia” strategy now that the balance of power between China and the US is changing and Washington needs Tokyo to guard against Beijing. So to “deal” with China, Japan will not shy away from making full use of the US.

Considering Japan’s motive and purpose, US policymakers need to tread with caution and rethink their commitment to Japan, if they have any, so that America is not drawn into an unnecessary conflict. This is why Panetta warned the Japanese government not to take radical actions.

Electoral factors, too, have prompted Japan to intensify its disputes over islands with Russia, the Republic of Korea and China. But Japan should not be swayed by its electoral politics, for a seasoned politician has to see beyond domestic public opinion. It is easy to arouse national sentiments but much more difficult to cool them down. In case nationalism gains the upper hand in Japan, other policy options will get a not so glorious burial, which would not be a welcome situation, because it could lead to conflicts with other countries in the region.

China’s influence is increasing in the Asia-Pacific region and even the rest of the world, while the US’ is declining. This is a relatively long-term but inevitable trend, which the US finds very uncomfortable to accept. The change in the balance of power will gradually erode the supremacy of the US and other countries’ confidence in America’s might. This realization seems to be giving American politicians and policymakers sleepless nights.

Given China’s increasing diplomatic influence in East Asia, the US will make every effort to maintain its influence in the region. That’s why it is using the territorial sea disputes between China and some of its neighbors to display its diplomatic “smart power”.

The US is taking some short-term measures to create an unfavorable situation for China to thwart its peaceful rise. What Washington has done after announcing its “pivot to Asia” strategy is in line with this logic.

The Diaoyu Islands dispute has intensified to such an extent that it could lead to more frequent frictions and even a military conflict, which is something China does not want.

For China, an overly tough, inelastic policy or an overly mild policy both will lead to problems. In the long run, Beijing’s foreign policy should be a well-balanced combination of both mild and tough policies. China should judge a situation on the basis of reality and the reactions of other countries.

Had Japan been rational, it would have realized that it is unwise to infringe on the interests of a rising neighboring power, even with the backing of the US, for once a conflict breaks out, Washington will be more than happy to stand by and see Tokyo pay a heavy price.

Over the past several decades, China has been pursuing a foreign policy of “win-win” cooperation.

But the results of such a policy depend on whether the other side is equally willing to do so. If the other side pursues an agenda of winner-takes-all or is opportunistic, China’s unilateral goodwill will not yield any results. Instead, it will make it easier for the other side to take more provocative actions and encourage other countries to do the same.

The author is associate research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy, China Academy of Social Sciences.

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Interview: Egypt Must Reclaim Non-Aligned Legacy

September 27, 2012 2 comments

Press TV
September 27, 2012

Israel refusal to join NPT inexcusable: Analyst

Interview with Rick Rozoff, Center for Research on Globalization

VIDEO

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has warned Israel over its saber-rattling against Iran and the obstructionism of Tel Aviv which is preventing the realization of a nuclear-free Middle East.

The Middle East “no longer tolerates” any country’s refusal to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), “especially if this is coupled with irresponsible policies or arbitrary threats,” Morsi said in his address at the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

The Egyptian leader was referring to Israel’s policy of ambiguity about its military nuclear activities, which has helped it procure the Mideast’s only nuclear arsenal.

Press TV has interviewed Rick Rozoff, with the Center for Research on Globalization, from Chicago about the issue. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: I wanted to ask you, firstly, how you assess the relationship between Egypt and Israel especially since the fall of Mubarak and especially with this recent speech of President Morsi?

Rozoff: Yes, the speech today before the General Assembly in the United Nations by newly-elected President Morsi appears to signal a significant shift in the Egyptian position not only vis-à-vis Israel, but I would say in terms of intervening actively against threats by the United States, Israel and its allies – verbal at this point, perhaps more in the future – against Iran and other neighboring countries.

Considering the significance of Egypt in the Arab world, having the largest population, that this is a very meaningful transition, apparently, and one that I hope President Morsi and his government continue with.

Press TV: How does that equal then with Morsi’s government essentially saying that they will keep the “peace treaty” with Israel alive?

Rozoff: Well, that’s not the only impediment to Egypt realizing really its legacy – one that went back to Nasser of course – as being an independent, non-aligned country and that hopefully Egypt will reassert itself in that capacity, but it means, first of all, seriously reexamining the Camp David Accords and everything that has followed.

But it also means the military client state relationship it has with the United States. The fact that it remains a major member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partnership program, called the Mediterranean Dialogue, to continue along the path of genuine non-alignment and de-militarization of the region and ultimately all over the world, Egypt would have to sever its close military ties with the United States and would have to withdraw from the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue program.

Press TV: How significant is Morsi’s call for Israel to join the NPT and on that topic of nuclear non-proliferation also about the fact that every nation has the right to peaceful nuclear energy?

Rozoff: That’s a very good combination of requests, or of demands. First of all, it is inexcusable that Israel has remained a non-signatory nation to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for half a century practically.

And it’s this sort of rogue activity of Israel and its major sponsor of course the United States; ‘law of the jungle’ is an expression that Egypt’s Morsi used and that’s not an inaccurate one. That is, the largest beast who feels it can operate with impunity summarily violates international law and Israel is certainly doing so in relation to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

That’s a legitimate demand. It should be taken up seriously by the [UN] General Assembly and it should be introduced into the Security Council.

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Syria: David Cameron As Ivan Karamazov

September 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia
September 17, 2012

David Cameron poses as Ivan Karamazov
Boris Volkhonsky

1862: Dostoevsky on the new world order

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He did not particularly mention those who are “of no conscience”, but British diplomats have made it clear that the British Premier had in mind Russia and China – the two countries that have blocked a number of West-sponsored resolutions on Syria.

[T]he tip of his criticism should be aimed at those who instigate violence in Syria in order to achieve their geopolitical aims. And to find those, the British premier should not look at Russia or China, but rather turn his eyes westwards (or, while being in New York, look around).

[W]hile speaking of the sufferings of young Syrian children, why didn’t Mr. Cameron mention the sufferings of young Yugoslav children in the late 1990s who died under NATO bombings? Why didn’t he refer to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who were killed as a result of Western aggression, in which Britain took an active part, second only to its elder brother? Why didn’t he made any reference to Western marines who went on a rampage in Libya leading to mass atrocities against Gaddafi loyalists?

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On Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron launched a strong attack at the United Nations and its inability to stop atrocities in Syria by saying that the blood of young Syrian children is a “terrible stain” on UN’s reputation.

“If the United Nations charter is to have any value in the 21st century we must now join together to support a rapid political transition,” the Guardian quotes Mr. Cameron as saying. “And at the same time no one of conscience can turn a deaf ear to the voices of suffering.”

He did not particularly mention those who are “of no conscience”, but British diplomats have made it clear that the British Premier had in mind Russia and China – the two countries that have blocked a number of West-sponsored resolutions on Syria.

Now, it would be permissible to ask Mr. Cameron a couple of questions.

First of all, is it really the fate of “young children” that bothers the British Premier, or is it the strategic dominance of Britain’s elder brother in the crucial Middle Eastern region – the dominance, for which Bashar al-Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are posing the two last remaining obstacles. Otherwise, why be so insistent on a “rapid political transition”, even putting it before the “voice of suffering”.

Second, the course of events in Syria definitely shows that there is a civil war going on, a war in which the government is only trying to quell a mutiny. The mutiny itself was raised by local radicals with the direct participation of mercenaries from a number of adjacent countries and armed by the West via its satellites in the Middle East.

A war is always fraught with atrocities, and despite whatever Mr. Cameron might have been saying from the UN rostrum, the insurgents are no “meek lambs” or “innocent children”.

As has been demonstrated by numerous reports from Syria, the biggest bulk of atrocities were committed by insurgents armed with Mr. Cameron’s friends’ assistance. So, he may be right in criticizing the UN for being unable to stop the atrocities, but the tip of his criticism should be aimed at those who instigate violence in Syria in order to achieve their geopolitical aims. And to find those, the British premier should not look at Russia or China, but rather turn his eyes westwards (or, while being in New York, look around).

Third, while speaking of the sufferings of young Syrian children, why didn’t Mr. Cameron mention the sufferings of young Yugoslav children in the late 1990s who died under NATO bombings? Why didn’t he refer to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who were killed as a result of Western aggression, in which Britain took an active part, second only to its elder brother? Why didn’t he made any reference to Western marines who went on a rampage in Libya leading to mass atrocities against Gaddafi loyalists? Such questions may go on indefinitely.

Indeed, those events do not seem to have taught Mr. Cameron and his like anything. The invasion of Iraq has led to total chaos in the country. The invasion of Afghanistan has not only alienated 99.99 percent of Afghans against the West but has also led to a loss of a long-time Western ally in the region, Pakistan. The “Arab Spring” which caused such enthusiasm in the West just a little bit more than a year ago now has backlashed in a way that no one would like to have experienced.

And still, while lamenting over “the sufferings of Syrian children” (which, for the most part have been a direct result of Western interference), the West, under an outdated pretext of “freedom of expression,” remains stubborn in its intentions to let the instigators of violence to roam at large and add further fuel to the bonfire flaring up in all the Muslim world.

Or, maybe by referring to the “suffering of young children” Mr. Cameron suddenly remembered Ivan Karamazov who rejected global harmony based on a single tear of a child. But in really the allusion is a very disclosing one – while speaking about the “child’s tear” Ivan Karamazov in fact instigated Smerdyakov to murder the Karamazovs’ father. Isn’t it something the British premier is trying to do now?

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

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Qatar’s Threat To Syria: Time To Slap Sanctions On Gas Dwarf

September 27, 2012 4 comments

Voice of Russia
September 27, 2012

Syrian crisis: polarization of opinion
Ilya Kharlamov

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Western leaders making similar statements in New York is only natural given their permanent drive to rein in Damascus and Tehran and revise the current system of international relations in circumvention of the UN.

“We know that Qatar sponsors a spate of negative changes that are taking place in Northern Africa, and that Qatar lends support to Syrian rebels. I think that the time is ripe for considering slapping sanctions on this gas dwarf.”

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Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott in 2010

Participants of the 67th General Assembly in New York have remained at odds over the situation in Syria. On Thursday, Qatar urged interference in the political standoff between Syrian authorities and rebels, something that was supported by France and Tunisia. Moscow, Tehran and Cairo, for their part, continue to call for a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the discussion in absentia, warning against taking decisions on Syria that bypass the UN.

All those urging the ouster of the Assad regime by outside forces specifically pointed out the UN’s current inability to act. British Prime Minister David Cameron, in turn, said that the blood of children killed during the civil war in Syria was a “terrible stain on the reputation of the United Nations.” He was echoed by French President Francois Hollande who described the UN’s inaction as “shocking.”

Western leaders making similar statements in New York is only natural given their permanent drive to rein in Damascus and Tehran and revise the current system of international relations in circumvention of the UN. Adding fuel to the fire was a statement by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the ruling Emir of the State of Qatar, who called for mulling a military intervention in Syria, where he said a no-fly zone should be created.

This is a very dangerous tendency, believes Igor Korotchenko, a Moscow-based political analyst.

“Qatar acts as an instigator of sorts,” Korotchenko says, referring to Qatar possessing hefty sums and local tribal leaders’ ambitions. “We know that Qatar sponsors a spate of negative changes that are taking place in Northern Africa, and that Qatar lends support to Syrian rebels. I think that the time is ripe for considering slapping sanctions on this gas dwarf,” Korotchenko says.

Western elites and their Middle Eastern partners are irked with the position taken by Moscow and Beijing, which have repeatedly blocked the UN Security Council’s resolutions on Syria.

In an interview with the Voice of Russia broadcast on Thursday, Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of the Russia in Global Affairs magazine, lambasted Western countries’ push for meddling in the Syrian conflict. He attributed this push to the West’s dissatisfaction with its own actions, Lukyanov said.

“The situation in Syria came to a standstill,” Lukyanov says, separately referring to the killing of a US Ambassador to Libya that recently hit international headlines. “Some in the United States have already slammed Washington’s desire to interfere in the Syrian conflict that I think reflects the West’s inability to act,” Lukayanov says, singling out the West’s frustration about Bashar Assad still being in power in Syria.

For his part, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi called the resolution of the Syrian problem one of his key priorities. He added that this would help Syria contain a threat of a foreign military intervention that he stressed is being opposed by Cairo. Morsi was echoed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who said on Thursday that the Syrian crisis should only be resolved through a national consensus in a wide-scale inter-Syrian dialogue under the UN’s aegis. Lavrov was speaking during his meeting with UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

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Russia, BRICS, NAM Condemn West For Syrian Terrorism, Chaos

September 27, 2012 4 comments

Voice of Russia
September 27, 2012

Lavrov on Syria: “Inactivity incites terror”
Olga Denisova

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: “To a great extent the ongoing violence in Syria should be blamed on the countries that incite anti-Assad forces to deny a ceasefire and seek a change of regime. Actually, this approach hardly differs from the principles of terrorism applied by the armed opposition groups.”

The Russian delegation pointed out that no resolution was required for starting a dialogue on the basis of the principles of the Geneva Communique. Russia’s partners in BRICS share this opinion. Among five BRICS member-states, Russia and China are permanent members of the UNSC. The BRICS member-states adopted a joint resolution at the UN General Assembly session.

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Refusal to apply the Geneva agreements on Syria reached on June 30, 2012 puts at risk the implementation of the key principles outlined by the UN Security Council in the fight against terror. The participants in a high-level UNSC meeting on the Middle East on Wednesday voiced different approaches to the situation in Syria.

The Syrian crisis has remained the thorniest Middle Eastern issue for more than a year. Meanwhile, all major UNSC member states had expressed their views on the situation before the UN General Assembly session opened in New York on Tuesday. US leader Barack Obama again stressed that peace will come to Syria only after President Bashar Assad resigns. French President Francois Hollande urged the UN to take active steps in Syria and protect the areas controlled by the opposition. Not only Syrians have found themselves directly or indirectly involved in the conflict. Only a consolidated approach can result help in finding the right solution, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:

“To a great extent the ongoing violence in Syria should be blamed on the countries that incite anti-Assad forces to deny a ceasefire and seek a change of regime. Actually, this approach hardly differs from the principles of terrorism applied by the armed opposition groups.”

The French president accused the UNSC of inactivity which often looks somehow ‘selective’. The attacks which rocked Syria in the past two months were not in any way condemned by the UNSC. Speaking to journalists, Sergei Lavrov spoke about the decision of some countries to revise the Geneva agreements:

“It is important that all participants in the Geneva session adhere to what they had signed up to. Some of Russia’s Western partners condemn the attacks but then say that although ‘terrorism is evil there is no other way to people in Syria to topple the bloody regime’. This is a very dangerous position which looks as if they were justifying terrorism.”

The final communiqué of the Action Group for Syria has been approved by the permanent members of the Security Council, the League of the Arab States, Turkey, the EU and the UN Secretary General. However, for some countries this document is just a piece of paper.

It was not originally planned to adopt any resolution on Syria at the latest session of the Security Council. The Russian delegation pointed out that no resolution was required for starting a dialogue on the basis of the principles of the Geneva Communique. Russia’s partners in BRICS share this opinion. Among five BRICS member-states, Russia and China are permanent members of the UNSC. The BRICS member-states adopted a joint resolution at the UN General Assembly session.

“The joint declaration of the Foreign Ministers of the BRICS countries objectively estimates the ways of solving the Syrian crisis and supports the Geneva Communique as a basis for these actions. This is a good basis for reaching a consensus in the UN Security Council, the current absence of which is so saddening for some of our colleagues.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also stressed that there was no military solution to the Syrian crisis and the unsettled conflict was a threat to the security of the entire region.

The UNSC member-states pointed out that changes currently taking place in the Middle East were only the beginning of the road. New conflicts will be looming large if political reforms are not carried through, which is impossible without modernizing the economy and the social sphere.

The Syrian problem is not the only one in the region. No substantial achievements are evident in solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict either.

“Russia is insistently calling for stepping up the efforts of the ‘quartet’ of Middle Eastern intermediaries in close cooperation with the League of Arab States to speedily resume the Palestinian-Israeli talks. We believe that the ‘quartet’s inability to organize a ministers’ meeting at the current UN General Assembly session is a serious mistake.”

It was said in the corridors of the UN General Assembly that the meeting of the intermediaries in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement did not take place because the US was against it.

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Itar-Tass
September 27, 2012

Russian foreign minister raises Syrian problems at his meetings at UN General Assembly

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“Participants in the meeting noted that Russia’s and NAM’s positions on a wide range of issues are next to identical, that both Russia and the NAM want a more fair world order. They also noted their commitment to the principle of the supremacy of law and non-acceptance of jackboot policies…”

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MOSCOW: Problems of the Syrian settlement and threats to peace and stability were in the focus of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s meetings on the sidelines of the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

Thus, Lavrov met with his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, “to discuss key problems of the international agenda, including the situation in North Africa,” the spokesman said.

The Russian foreign minister also met with top-ranking officials from the Non-Aligned Movement “troika” (Iran, Egypt, and Venezuela). They also discussed the situation in the Middle East and North Africa with a special focus on the Syrian settlement. “Issues of inter-civilization dialogue were raised in the context of efforts to find ways to overcome international instability,” the spokesman said.

Lavrov praised “the role the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is playing in world politics, the high authority of this representative alliance of states in conditions of the formation of a new, polycentric system of international relations,” the ministry spokesman noted. “Participants in the meeting noted that Russia’s and NAM’s positions on a wide range of issues are next to identical, that both Russia and the NAM want a more fair world order. They also noted their commitment to the principle of the supremacy of law and non-acceptance of jackboot policies. They expressed confidence that further steps are needed to encourage mutually beneficial cooperation, including within the United Nations system.”

During his meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkic, Lavrov discussed key aspects of the Balkan situation, including the Kosovo settlement.

The Russian foreign minister also met with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Madagascar Pierrot Rajaonarivelo. “The ministers exchanged views on the development of the situation in the Malagasy settlement,” the spokesman said.
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Interfax
September 27, 2012

Lavrov warns against military intervention in Syria

NEW YORK: Moscow speaks against any external military interference and provoking of the Syrian opposition from outside.

“There is no doubt that the military approach, moreover the external military inference pose a serious threat to regional security and entails unpredictable consequences. Sustainable settlement is possible only through talks and the search for compromises that takes into account the interests of all confessions and ethnic groups,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Larvov said at an open session of the UN Security Council in News York.

“There is a basis for this: the development of the UN Security Council Resolutions 2042 and 2043 and Kofi Annan’s plan dated June 30. The Geneva communique of the ‘action group’ was approved. It nails down the consensus of all UN Security Council permanent members, the LAS, Turkey, EU and the UN Secretary General. We are certain that the Geneva communique is still up to date and in demand,” Lavrov said.

He also spoke in favor of effort of the UN/LAS envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.
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Russian Information Agency Novosti
September 27, 2012

Putin slams the West over Syria

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has slammed the West over actions in the war-gripped Syria as “some Western countries have already triggered chaos in a number of countries but can’t stop doing it, pursuing the same policy in Syria”.

Putin met with residents of the Ryazan region Thursday, where he was asked about his stance on the Middle East and Syria.

The president said that he backs positive changes in all countries but is against imposing them violently as these changes should evolve internally.

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Itar-Tass
September 27, 2012

Putin criticises Western policy in Syria

NOVO-OGAREVO: President Vladimir Putin critised the West over its policy with regard to Syria.

“The main point is that our partners cannot stop. They have already created an atmosphere of chaos in many territories and are now continuing the same policy in other countries, including Syria,” Putin said on Thursday, September 27.

At a meeting with Ryazan region residents, one of them asked the head of state about his position with regard to developments in the Middle East and Syria.

“Our position is to facilitate changes for the better in all countries without imposing what we consider right, especially by force, but rather to inspire development from within,” he said, adding that this is Russia’s position on the situation in Arab countries and Syria.

“We cautioned about the need to act carefully, without imposing anything by force in order to avoid chaos. And what do we see now? The situation looks very much like chaos,” Putin said.

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Drone Carnage: The Moral Question the American Warlords Can’t Evade

September 27, 2012 2 comments

Frontier Post
September 27, 2012

A moral question

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Indeed, with what peace of mind can President Obama sleep when even children get slaughtered in the drone assaults that he now personally approves? Appallingly enough, as part of his drone adventurism he has decreed that everyone within the vicinity of the targeted object be deemed a combatant, even if civilian, and liable to be decimated.

Doesn’t Obama’s conscience gets pricked when the Hellfire missile takes in its killer sweep a child playing with toys in his home or a mother feeding her baby in her compound?

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It doubtlessly is a damning report that the researchers of an American universities have delivered on America’s drone adventurism. It succinctly brings out what a horrendous toll it has been exacting on innocent civilian lives and keeping the whole lot of the populace in the targeted areas in constant dread of drones and their fatal assaults.

The psychological impact on people is just terrible, it underlines. But will this report have any impact on the American strategists at all? Not even an outside chance.

At this time these times, civil society worldwide is up in protest against this American adventurism. It wants it to be stopped as this leads inevitably to the killing of civilians indefensibly. For this brutal collateral damage, even the UN human rights community is raising its voice increasingly loudly against the use of drone attacks by the American warlords to take out targets they deem a threat to American lives and assets.

The main plea of the dissenting voices is that the drones may be killing the terrorists, but no less are they mowing down innocent civilians who have nothing to do with terrorism. There indeed are very many voices that do not condone even the killing of terrorists in drone attacks, equating it with extrajudicial murder. They argue that no law, national or international, provides for the killing of a criminal or a suspect. Instead, every effort must be made to arrest them and bring them to justice in a court of law.

Nonetheless, all these pleas have fallen on deaf ears in Washington, so far. The decision makers over there remain unimpressed by the factual reality that these drone assaults are in fact proving counterproductive and creating more recruits for terrorism and extremism. Even as this drone adventurism is palpably giving a tremendous fillip to anti-Americanism worldwide, the American warlords yet stay unswayed. They are keeping up with it. Indeed, since the advent of Barack Obama’s presidency, they have further intensified it, raising a moral question that they must answer.

On what ground can they justify the killing of an innocent civilian even as collateral damage? The 9/11 holocaust was horrible, precisely because those slaughtered were no combatants but innocent civilians. And so has to be the killing of civilians in the drone strikes. Indeed, with what peace of mind can President Obama sleep when even children get slaughtered in the drone assaults that he now personally approves? Appallingly enough, as part of his drone adventurism he has decreed that everyone within the vicinity of the targeted object be deemed a combatant, even if civilian, and liable to be decimated.

The extent of his adventurism’s viciousness can easily be visualised from the destructive range of the Hellfire missile fired by drones. It not only destroys the struck target. It annihilates the compounds and assets in close vicinity and kills the human beings in and around them. Doesn’t Obama’s conscience gets pricked when the Hellfire missile takes in its killer sweep a child playing with toys in his home or a mother feeding her baby in her compound? What sin have they committed to meet such a tragic demise? Or do he and his war commanders think that the child, the mother and the baby should perish as they are not Americans and their lives are not even worth a dime?

Here there is certainly a moral question that is becoming increasingly compelling with each passing day and the American warlords can no longer evade answering it. So prompt they have always been in raising the issue of extrajudicial killings elsewhere in the world. And that promptness they have now to show in their own case. Of course, one could have no sympathy or compassion for those who kill and maim the fellow human beings in suicide bombings and terrorist blasts. But the murder of those having nothing to do with terrorism in the US drone attacks cannot be acceptable either and on no pretext could it be condoned or justified.

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Obama at the UN: Fiat justitia, et pereat mundus

September 27, 2012 3 comments

Voice of Russia
September 26, 2012

Barack Obama: Let there be justice even if the world perishes
Boris Volkhonsky

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For the US, the outbreak of violence is indeed a good excuse for further military buildup in the Middle East – in full accordance with the president’s logic, “if the strongest weapon against hateful speech is more speech, then the strongest weapon against violence is more violence.”

[O]ne may ask the US president what exactly he meant by saying that “Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views.” Did he mean scores of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans killed as a result of US military invasion, or thousands of Pakistani civilians killed in drone strikes?…And where else can we expect a new stage of the “fight to protect the right of all people to express their views”? Syria, Iran, China, or wherever?

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US President Barack Obama’s speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday quite naturally attracted global attention. The central part of it was dedicated to the infamous film “Innocence of Muslims” and the wave of outrage that was sparked by it.

The US President made a bow to Muslims’ feelings by calling the video “crude and disgusting”, but then pounced upon those who expressed their outrage all across the Muslim world.

He vehemently rejected all attempts aimed at forcing the US government to ban the blasphemous film, stating that “the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech” and putting the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment as the highest principle of the US policy.

“Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views — even views that we disagree with,” said the president and added that “efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics or oppress minorities.”

Too much has been said that such rhetoric really puts the cart before the horse and that by doing so the proponents of “freedom of expression” really confuse the symptoms with the deeper reason. For the US, the outbreak of violence is indeed a good excuse for further military buildup in the Middle East – in full accordance with the president’s logic, “if the strongest weapon against hateful speech is more speech, then the strongest weapon against violence is more violence.”

Also, one may ask the US president what exactly he meant by saying that “Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views.” Did he mean scores of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans killed as a result of US military invasion, or thousands of Pakistani civilians killed in drone strikes? And what about the US enthusiastic inspiration of and participation in the “Arab spring” which eventually backfired against Americans themselves? And where else can we expect a new stage of the “fight to protect the right of all people to express their views”? Syria, Iran, China, or wherever?

“We will bring justice to those who harm our citizens and our friends,” said Mr. Obama at the UN. But what about those who instigate the wave resulting in harm? On that, the US president seems to be unshakable – free speech will not be curbed.

Naturally, Barack Obama’s voice was not the only one heard at the UN. As reported by Reuters, Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari said that “the international community must not become a silent observer and should criminalize such acts that destroy the peace of the world and endanger the world security by misusing freedom of expression.” Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Mursi, said freedom of expression carried with it responsibilities, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president of the world’s most-populous Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia, called for a binding international treaty to “prevent incitement to hostility or violence based on religions or beliefs.”

Indeed, time has come to realize that words can at times be even more dangerous that weapons of mass destruction because they can set huge masses of people in motion, and some kind of a non-proliferation treaty is drastically needed.

Funnily enough, against this background of international disagreement, the US president recently received support from another ardent supporter of sacrilege in disguise of “freedom of expression”, the notorious singer Louise Ciccone blasphemously calling herself “Madonna”. Performing on Monday night in Washington she said that “we have a black Muslim in the White House” and called on the audience to vote for Obama.

Her ignorance and lechery are too well known and have been best characterized by Russia’s vice premier Dmitri Rogozin on Twitter.

What is more important is the obstinacy with which the US president (definitely not being a Muslim) is defending the radical atheist liberal policy line. It has already led to tragedies for the Muslim world and the US itself, but it seems that in standing up for unlimited freedom of expression and promising to “bring justice” to all those who disagree, Barack Obama is of an opinion that “Fiat justitia, et pereat mundus” (Let there be justice, though the world perish).

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Russia, Pakistan and Opportunities for Regional Cooperation

September 26, 2012 Leave a comment

 

Russia, Pakistan and Opportunities for Regional Cooperation 

Farooq Yousaf

 

Presidents Asif Ali Zardari and Dmitry Medvedev meeting in Moscow in May 2011

  

Pakistan-Russia ties are witnessing a fresh start with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expected visit, as quoted by Pakistan media in early October, the first visit by a Russian president to Pakistan. Something considered improbable in the past may soon become a reality as both sides are striving for a new start in bilateral ties. 

Although Russian state media has cast doubts on Putin’s visit, yet it is obvious that even if the visit is cancelled another high level official, such as the foreign minister, will visit Pakistan.  

The visit, primarily intended for a quadrilateral Afghan conference in Islamabad, would also include a one-on-one meeting with the president of Pakistan.

It is reported by Russian Foreign Ministry officials that both states would also sign multiple MOU’s (Memorandums of Understanding) on development and investment in the steel and energy sectors of Pakistan. President Asif Ali Zardari, while meeting with a high-level Russian delegation to Pakistan in early September headed by the Russian sports minister, expressed his desire for cooperation with Moscow in the aforementioned sectors.[i]

Historically, Russia and Pakistan have never enjoyed prolonged periods of fruitful ties. Even after Pakistan’s inception, Liaqat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s first prime minister, preferred to visit the USA, even though invited first by the then Soviet government. Relations saw their only major high during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government, when on his visit, in 1974[ii], the Soviet government agreed to establish the Pakistan Steel Mill at its own expense, coupled with helping in the nuclear energy sector.

It was during the Zia-ul-Haq regime when the Carter administration of the USA, Saudi Arabia and General Zia teamed up with the help of right-wing parties to train the Mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan[iii].

Keeping in context Pakistan’s current political situation, the latest developments hold the utmost importance for the country. Currently, the United States and its allies have increased pressure on Pakistan to force support for Washington’s policy of strengthening its influence in the region, despite the apparent contradiction with the national interests of Pakistan. Along with that, the USA is also losing its influence in the region because of growing anti-US sentiment. That is why increased cooperation on a bilateral basis and within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will help address political and economic issues in Pakistan. This in turn will provide additional opportunities to Islamabad for a more independent foreign policy and lesser economic dependence on the United States and international financial institutions, apparently controlled by the US[iv].

Washington’s current policy and politics in the Afghan war seem to be aimed at dininishing the impact of Islamabad in the country and the peace process, and increasing the role of India in resolving the crisis[v]. Unsurprisingly, officials in Kabul also show an unfriendly attitude towards Pakistan, which is reflected in regular accusations against the Pakistani leadership regarding support of the Haqqani Network and other extremist organizations operating within Pakistan[vi] [vii] [viii].

With the current financial and strategic dependencies, Pakistan can only act as  a mere spectator against US policies and demands. Only by increasing cooperation with China and Russia will a regional approach in addressing the Afghan issue and ensuring stability in the country help Pakistan protect its national interests.

It is obvious that positive ties with Russia would not only give strategic strength to Pakistan but would also provide a good opportunity for overcoming the country’s energy woes coupled with enhancing regional trade and cooperation.

In the context of military cooperation, Air Chief Marshall, Tahir Rafiq Butt, visited Moscow in August, and termed his visit a significant development towards greater cooperation with Russia in the field of defence, particularly in air defence. It was also reported in the beginning of September that the Pakistan Army chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, was also scheduled to visit Moscow for a high-level meeting with his Russian counterpart. This visit could be of huge significance as it points towards a major policy shift. A foreign office spokesman in Islamabad, on condition of anonymity, said:

“We have turned a new page in our relationship with Russia. It is a major shift”[ix]

Pakistan is an active member of the world community in combating terrorism and cross-border crime. Taking into account this special significance and the negative publicity it gathers from the world media even after making all its efforts and sacrifices, it would be useful to expand cooperation with the SCO states, especially Russia and China. This cooperation can also be in areas such as prevention and mitigation of natural and technological disasters, emergency management, training and development of local experts – in which Russia has rich experience – in regard to scientific and technical resources coupled with human and financial resources.

The current upturn in ties can be used to develop long-term economic cooperation with Russia. Moscow has expressed interest in participating in the construction of the TAPI (the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India, Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline), CASA-1000 (Central Asia South Asia Regional Energy and Trade) energy project and the Pakistan Steel Mill [x]. In this regard, Islamabad could prepare proposals for Moscow’s participation in the implementation of major infrastructure projects in the country, leading to a positive development in bilateral relations.

Pakistan enjoys a great strategic edge, serving as a bridge and corridor to different regions. This also gives Russia an attractive spot to materialize its strategic depth. Therefore, ongoing developments between Moscow and Islamabad, high-level visits, and Pakistan’s possible role in the SCO, signs for a greater South and East Asian alliance in the form of the SCO, and an axis of a China-Russia-Pakistan-Iran partnership can bring positive omens not only to the region but also to the Asian continent as a whole.

 
[i] http://tribune.com.pk/story/434697/bold-move-russia-shows-interest-in-iran-gas-pipeline-project/

[ii] http://orientalreview.org/2011/05/25/warming-ties-with-russia/

[iii] http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=3138

[iv] http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2011-05/25/content_12576227.htm

[v] http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Security-Watch/Articles/Detail/?lng=en&id=143969

[vi] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/9341684/Afghanistan-blames-Pakistans-intelligence-agency-for-Kabul-suicide-attack.html
[vii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/425065/kabul-blames-foreign-spy-agencies-for-insider-attacks/

[viii] http://tribune.com.pk/story/411902/kabul-blames-pakistan-for-cross-border-shelling/

[ix] http://tribune.com.pk/story/430434/shift-in-policy-army-chief-to-make-historic-moscow-trip/

[x] http://www.lisauk.com/view.php?i=92
 

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NATO Response Force: Bloc Holds Major Naval Exercise In Mediterranean

September 26, 2012 2 comments

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations
September 26, 2012

EXERCISE NOBLE MARINER 2012 LAUNCHED IN TOULON, FRANCE


Photograph: NATO

From 24 September to 7 October 2012, NATO will conduct a major naval exercise code-named Noble Mariner 12 (NOMR12) in the Mediterranean Sea.

NOMR12 plays an important part in the certification process of the NATO Response Force (NRF). This year, the objective is to certify the capacity of France to lead the maritime component of NRF.

Task Force (TF) 445 and all its units will deploy to the exercise zone and evolve in a crisis scenario involving a multi-threat environment. NOMR12 will allow to train the staff of participating units in all types of warfare, highlighting the expeditionary nature of NRF deployments.

Allied Maritime Command Northwood will oversee both the preparation and conduct of this exercise.

Rear Admiral Philippe Coindreau (French Navy), FRMARFOR Commander, will assume command of TF 445.

The successful completion of this exercise will allow FRMARFOR to assume command of the maritime component of the NRF for the whole of 2013.

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Georgia Tries To Deflect Attention By Creating South Ossetian “Threat”

September 26, 2012 2 comments

Republic News Agency
September 26, 2012

Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia
Edited by RR


Tskhinval 2008

Tskhinval: September 25, 2012, the president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, in his speech at the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly accused Russia of “attempts to influence political processes in Georgia, in particular by conducting large-scale maneuvers and concentration of troops on the border” of the allegedly occupied regions of Georgia.

As always, the Georgian leadership is excessively dramatizing the situation. In addition to creating myths concerning the past and the present in Georgian-South Ossetian relations, Georgia regularly uses in its propaganda various conflict situations, interpreting them according to its own interests and goals. Tbilisi’s points are often supported extensively in the West and then, unfortunately, are repeated in the statements of high-ranking officials in Europe, the U.S. and some international organizations.

The conclusions of the report of an independent European Union commission, led by Ms. Heidi Taljavini, clearly have proved to the world that Georgia was the aggressor in August 2008, but the following permanent military preparations and Georgian threats to “restore the territorial integrity”, which has been repeatedly stressed by South Ossetia unfortunately are ignored by the world community.

Georgian authorities make statements about the South Ossetian “threat” to distract their own people from the complicated political situation in the country on the eve of parliamentary elections, which unveiled the sadistic regime of the Georgian leadership under the mask of a democratic facade.

For the favorable resolution of the situation, official Tbilisi needs to find an external enemy.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia has declared with all responsibility that mobilization or accumulation of military forces is not taking place in the Republic. Russian military units have been stationed in South Ossetia in accordance with bilateral Russian-South Ossetian agreements. They are the only military forces in the territory of South Ossetia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Ossetia once again is calling on the international community and the participants of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly to draw attention to the build-up of Georgian military forces at the border of South Ossetia, which, as contemporary history shows, is really dangerous and expresses the revanchist sentiments of the Georgian authorities who prefer to see the problems of the region only in the light of their own interests, ignoring reality.

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Resurgent Japanese Militarism: Undoing Results Of World War II

September 26, 2012 2 comments

Xinhua News Agency
September 26, 2012

Commentary: Be vigilant against resurgence of militarism in Japan

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[I]n the name of becoming a “normal country,” Japan has actively expanded its armed forces and increased its defense budget in recent years. Moreover, it has also been seeking to revise the pacifist postwar constitution and the three non-nuclear principles.

To some degree, Japan’s islands-purchasing farce marks a giveaway to the sneaky resurgence of militarism. It is not only a serious infringement upon China’s territorial sovereignty, but also a public defiance of the success of the world’s anti-fascism war and the postwar international order.

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BEIJING: Japan’s main opposition party elected former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as its new leader on Wednesday, offering him another chance at the premiership.

The victory of Abe, a traditional security hawk, might have far-reaching implications on the increasingly tense relations between his country and its neighbors.

Since the Japanese farce of “purchasing” China’s Diaoyu Islands plunged the bilateral relationship to its lowest point in years, all contenders in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) race have struck hawkish tones.

Abe is highly vocal in urging Tokyo to take a tougher line in its territorial disputes with China and South Korea. In a speech delivered Tuesday, he even spoke of the need to stand up to Beijing.

Days ago, another LDP candidate, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, said that Japan should turn Self-Defense Forces into “national defense forces” and exercise the right of collective self-defense.

It is no wonder that The Washington Post, a major U.S. newspaper, warned in a recent front-page story that Japan is in the midst of “a gradual but significant shift to the right” and acts more confrontationally in the region than at any time since World War II.

Japan’s accelerated right-leaning tendency and toughened foreign polices are rooted in its right-wingers’ resentment at the international order after World War II.

During World War II, it was Japanese militarists that launched aggression against other Asian countries and brought disasters to their peoples.

The Asian people, especially the Chinese, paid a heavy price in resisting Japan’s aggression. At the same time, the Japanese also suffered greatly during the war.

As a consequence, one of the important principles for the postwar international order is to prevent the revival of militarism in Japan. For example, the Japanese constitution has a specific clause that says Japan forever renounces war as a sovereign right of the the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

However, in the name of becoming a “normal country,” Japan has actively expanded its armed forces and increased its defense budget in recent years. Moreover, it has also been seeking to revise the pacifist postwar constitution and the three non-nuclear principles.

To some degree, Japan’s islands-purchasing farce marks a giveaway to the sneaky resurgence of militarism. It is not only a serious infringement upon China’s territorial sovereignty, but also a public defiance of the success of the world’s anti-fascism war and the postwar international order.

The lessons of World War II must be kept firmly in mind. Japan must disabuse itself of illusions, and the world needs to make sure that Japanese militarism will not rise again from the ashes.

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Why Does NATO Need Bases In Afghanistan?

September 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia
September 26, 2012

Why does NATO need bases in Afghanistan?
Ilya Kharlamov

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The absence of a productive dialogue between Moscow and the alliance on the issue of European missile defence obliges Moscow to insist on knowing the West’s plans with regard to Afghanistan.

“We are concerned about the character of international military presence in Afghanistan after 2014 and we are worried by the information that at present new bases are being built there that can deploy tens of thousands of servicemen…”

In the case of Syria, Moscow and Beijing have already shown that they can block the West’s militarist plans in the Security Council.

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Moscow intends to find out about the future of NATO military contingents in Afghanistan after 2014. NATO leadership has repeatedly announced that by that time its troops will be withdrawn from that country.

However, there is information that foreign bases will remain in Afghanistan. Russia proposes to clarify this issue at the UN General Assembly session, which began recently, and also at a meeting of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The absence of a productive dialogue between Moscow and the alliance on the issue of European missile defence obliges Moscow to insist on knowing the West’s plans with regard to Afghanistan. Russia’s security is at stake and also that of the region bordering on Russia, so Russian diplomats’ insistence is absolutely natural. Russian permanent representative at the UN Vitaly Churkin believes that leaving NATO bases in Afghanistan raises many questions. If the alliance announces an end to the anti-terrorist operation in 2014, the presence of foreign military forces will have different aims and nothing is known about such aims yet.

In essence, Russia intends to clearly formulate its position: if the fight against terrorism must be continued, the UN Security Council’s mandate should be prolonged. It is possible that this issue will be discussed on the 27th of September during consultations between members of the UN Security Council and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko believes that Russia is prepared to pragmatically cooperate with the alliance to solve the Afghan problem on the basis of the UN Security Council resolution.

“We are concerned about the character of international military presence in Afghanistan after 2014 and we are worried by the information that at present new bases are being built there that can deploy tens of thousands of servicemen. All this is superfluous if we only mean stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan. We proceed from the assumption that no superfluous military presence in Afghanistan is required.”

Alexander Grushko added that Russia understands the need to leave foreign military instructors in Afghanistan to train personnel for the Afghan army and security service. If any other plans are implemented there, it will further complicate Moscow’s relations with NATO.

Russia is also planning to ask the US to provide a report on the Afghan campaign at the UN General Assembly session. This could give rise to a contradictory situation. It is common knowledge that no special progress has been achieved there. Neither terrorism nor huge economic and social problems have been solved in Afghanistan since NATO’s arrival. The admission of a failure is unlikely to impel the UN Security Council to prolong the mandate. Moreover, it will be a good reason not to provide similar mandates in Syria and Iran. On the other hand, if Americans prove their success, there should logically be no bases left in Afghanistan and all the troops have to be withdrawn.

Political scientist Pavel Zolotaryov has shared his opinion with The Voice of Russia.

“It is not clear at present whether Americans have completed their operation or if it should be continued. In any case, it should be decided by the UN. It would not be correct to continue any activities relying on the US administration’s decisions only. The same is true about NATO, which has assumed responsibility for security outside their traditional zone of influence, Europe. So Russia’s raising this issue is absolutely legitimate.”

It is clear that Washington has room to manoeuvre. For example, it can ignore Russia’s requests or act without the Security Council’s permission because more and more Americans are in favour of this idea. In the case of Syria, Moscow and Beijing have already shown that they can block the West’s militarist plans in the Security Council. In addition, Russia could revise its cooperation with the alliance in Afghanistan, starting with cargo transit and finishing with training Afghan personnel.

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Annihilation From The Air: Drone Warfare’s Invisible Dead

September 26, 2012 5 comments

The News International
September 26, 2012

After nine months of research and more than 130 interviews, in what is being called one of the most exhaustive attempts by academics to evaluate Washington’s drone wars, the Stanford and New York universities’ law schools have finally put out a damning report.

According to the new study, just one in fifty victims of the CIA programme of “targeted” drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas are known militants, while between 2,562 and 3,325 people were killed in Pakistan between June 2004 and mid-September this year – of whom between 474 and 881 were civilians, including 176 children.

Based on these and other figures, the report calls the strikes politically counterproductive and damaging, concluding they have killed innocent civilians, ruined the local economy, undermined respect for international law and left the people of the tribal areas psychologically battered, constantly living under the daily threat of annihilation from the air.

The report especially focuses on children becoming collateral damage of strikes, and comes down particularly hard on the common tactic of the “double-tap” strike where initial strikes are followed up by further missiles, killing an even greater number of civilians, and putting fear into the hearts of rescuers who often wait for hours before daring to visit the scene of an attack.

There is no doubt that this meticulous report will go a long way in challenging the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan and elsewhere. Indeed, an important aspect it highlights is precisely how difficult is it to obtain accurate data on casualties given US efforts to shield the drone programme from democratic accountability, and its failure to ensure basic transparency and accountability in targeted killings or provide details about the programme.

The lack of transparency is compounded by the fact that the areas targeted by drones are under military and militant control, making access difficult for local as well as foreign journalists and thus allowing civilians killed by drones to become ‘invisible dead.’

But after the release of this damning report, will anything change? Will the Obama administration relent in carrying out this controversial campaign of death? Many hope that it may just – especially if the report has an impact on the American public.

Coming from American lawyers rather than Pakistani human rights groups, the criticism is likely to resonate a lot more in US domestic debates over the legality of drone warfare. As Reprieve’s director, Clive Stafford Smith, said: “George Bush wanted to create a global ‘war on terror’ without borders, but it has taken Obama’s drone war to achieve his dream.” But Obama’s dream seems to have become Pakistan’s nightmare and it may just be time for the US to wake up from its delusion once and for all.

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U.S. “Mediation” Brings More Wars, Worsening Living Conditions

September 26, 2012 Leave a comment

People’s Daily
September 26, 2012

US mediation always focuses on its own interests
By Zhang Di

At a crucial time when Sino-Japan relations are deteriorating over the Diaoyu Islands issue, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent visits to Japan and China are generally interpreted as “mediation”. Panetta stressed the U.S.-Japan alliance and vowed to deploy missile defense systems in Japan while he proposed friendly diplomacy and peaceful settlements, and claimed that the United States would take no side on the Diaoyu Islands issue. Such “mediation” apparently adds fuel to the dispute and arouses people’s doubt about U. S. “sincerity” to promote peace in Asia Pacific.

Looking back upon history, it is not difficult to find that the United States likes to “mediate” between countries, such as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Kosovo crisis. However, these mediations bring more wars and worsen living conditions to people. It indicates that any malicious “mediation” will lead to troubles and negative results.

Panetta will only safeguard the interests of the United States, rather than those of China or Japan. The Diaoyu Islands issue was originally caused by the secret transfer from the United States to Japan. In recent years, Japanese right-wingers even staged an “islands-buying” farce. What’s worse, the United States acts as the umbrella of Japan and plays an irresponsible role at the crucial moment.

Since the United States announced the shift of strategic focus back to the Asia-Pacific region, it can always be seen in affairs related to China, from the East China Sea, South China Sea, Diaoyu Islands to Huangyan Island. On the one hand, the United States instigates neighboring countries against China on territorial issues and, on the other hand, it plays the role of peacemaker as the disputes escalate.

The United States has never been the messenger of peace and its sole intention of returning to the Asia-Pacific is to mess up others and safeguard its own interests. The so-called “mediations” and “peace-making” are not applicable for the United States at all.

China has its own interests. It will never sacrifice its interests to please the United States and Japan. We should have a clear understanding of their words and deeds and not have unrealistic illusions about the seemingly beautiful “olive branch”. Only by continuously developing and strengthening itself can China grasp the initiative in the future development.

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Partners Across the Asia-Pacific: NATO Reinforces Pentagon’s Shift to East

September 25, 2012 7 comments

Stop NATO
September 25, 2012

Partners Across the Asia-Pacific: NATO Reinforces Pentagon’s Shift to East
Rick Rozoff

On September 24 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization granted Iraq the second Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme under the auspices of the bloc’s latest military collaboration and integration framework, partners across the globe.

The latter program (for which the substantives are occasionally capitalized), NATO’s latest, incorporates to date eight nations in the broader Asia-Pacific region (including West Asia, the Middle East) that have supplied troops for the U.S.-led military organization’s war in Afghanistan under International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command or are subsumed under NATO consultative arrangements and training programs like the Afghanistan-Pakistan-ISAF Tripartite Commission, the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and the NATO Training Mission – Iraq.

The partners across the globe currently are Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Korea. Among the 50 nations providing NATO with troop contingents for the war in South Asia are additional Asia-Pacific states not covered by other international NATO partnership formats like the Partnership for Peace (22 nations in Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia), the Mediterranean Dialogue (seven nations in North Africa and the Middle East, with Libya to be the eighth) and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, which targets the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates).

Those states – Malaysia, Singapore and Tonga – are likely the next candidates for the new global partnership, as are Latin American troop contributors like El Salvador (present) and Colombia (announced). The inclusion of the last will mark the expansion of NATO, through memberships and partnerships, to all six inhabited continents.

In the past two years there has been discussion about NATO establishing a collective partnership arrangement, which could include individual partnerships as well, with the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which are, in addition to Malaysia and Singapore, mentioned above, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

During the NATO summit in Chicago this May, Secretary General Rasmussen met with what were identified as 13 partners across the globe.

Regarding the new partnership agreement with Iraq, the NATO website reports that it follows and builds upon the eight-year NATO Training Mission-Iraq, which was employed to train thousands of Iraq officers, soldiers and oil police, and “inaugurates a full-fledged partnership.”

The Alliance further stated, “The signing of the partnership accord marks the formal accession of Iraq to NATO’s ‘partnerships family,'” which will create the basis for the Western alliance “assisting Iraq as it builds a modern security sector which can cooperate with international partners.”

That is, the NATO-trained Iraq armed forces are being recruited into the Western military axis’ international nexus.

Four days earlier NATO signed an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme with South Korea in Brussels which, the NATO press release on the occasion stated, “follows seven years of progressive engagement from a dialogue that was initiated in 2005.”

In June NATO Secretary General Rasmussen hosted prime minister of New Zealand John Key at NATO headquarters in Brussels, where the two signed the same agreement.

The first Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme was signed with Mongolia this March. (Though an agreement with the same title was signed with Switzerland in the same month.) That country borders China and Russia; in fact, of the eight current partners across the globe, three – Mongolia, Pakistan and Afghanistan – share borders with China and two others, Japan and South Korea, are its near neighbors.

In conjunction with the U.S., NATO is striving to assemble the remnants of defunct or dormant Cold War-era military blocs in the Asia-Pacific region, all modeled after NATO itself – the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America (ANZUS) – to replicate in the East against China what NATO expansion has accomplished in Europe over the past 13 years in relation to Russia: its exclusion, isolation and encirclement by military bases, naval deployments and interceptor missile installations.

The U.S. has recruited Japan, South Korea and Australia into its global sea- and land-based missile shield grid, with a recent report indicating the Pentagon plans to add the Philippines to the list with the deployment there of an Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance mobile system of the sort already stationed in Japan, Israel and Turkey.

Following Mongolia, New Zealand, South Korea and Iraq, NATO intends to sign Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme accords with its remaining partners across the globe: Afghanistan, Australia, Japan and Pakistan.

Like South Korea with its neighbor to the north, Japan is embroiled in a showdown with China, and Afghanistan and Pakistan are involved in armed conflicts, with NATO waging a nearly 11-year war in Afghanistan and periodic incursions and attacks across the border in Pakistan.

The formal consolidation of military partnerships with the above nations will provide NATO the rationale for direct participation in hostilities in the Asia-Pacific region as a manifestation of the bloc’s repeated claims to being a global military force.

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Nagasaki Voices Protest Against New U.S. Nuclear Test

September 25, 2012 1 comment

Xinhua News Agency
September 25, 2012

Nagasaki further voices protest against “new” type of nuclear test by U.S.

OSAKA: Japan’s southwestern city of Nagasaki expressed its outrage and protest against a new type of nuclear test conducted for the sixth time in August by the United States, the local press reported on Tuesday.

The report said that the United States conducted a nuclear test which simulated a nuclear blast using intense X-ray beams and checked how plutonium would react at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico on August 27.

The sixth test caused further condemnation by the city, following last week’s protest against the fifth new type of nuclear test which was reportedly carried out between April and June this year.

According to the report, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue sent a letter of protest, dated September 24, to U.S. President Barack Obama, saying that the people of Nagasaki, who have been calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons, cannot retrain their resentment after encountering reports about a further test despite their protest.

“As a representative of an atomic-bombed city strongly protest again,” the mayor said.

The letter also urged that the United States make sincere efforts to stop any nuclear tests, adding that the country should fulfill its leadership role in achieving a world without nuclear weapons.

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Pentagon Chief’s Asia-Pacific Trip Advances Strategic Pivot

September 25, 2012 1 comment

China Daily
September 24, 2012

Panetta’s Asia-Pacific trip aids strategic pivot
By Zhao Shengnan and Zhou Wa

Expert says regional tensions give US excuse to intervene in region

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Panetta announced Washington had lifted a 26-year-old ban on visits to US military ports by New Zealand’s navy…[T]he opportunity to rub noses was eagerly accepted by the Obama administration, which has been working feverishly to shower attention on just about every country with a Pacific coastline to counter China’s rising influence in the region, said the Washington Post.

Panetta’s visit to Japan amid the tension showed the US was accelerating its shift of strategic focus though a closer US-Japan alliance.

Days after Panetta urged both China and Japan to show restraint, Japan and the US on Saturday started an amphibious assault drill based on the scenario of retaking an island occupied by enemy forces.

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US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s weeklong visit to the Asia-Pacific region helped boost Washington’s partners’ military capabilities as part of a strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific, analysts said.

The trip, which concluded on Saturday, took Panetta to Japan, China and New Zealand.

It was his first visit to China and third trip to Asia since taking office in July 2011. He also became the first Pentagon chief to visit New Zealand since 1982.

The recent spate of visits by senior Washington officials to the Asia-Pacific, including Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, underlined the growing attention the US is paying toward the region as it pulls out of the Middle East, said analysts.

In Beijing, Panetta said the United States would play a constructive role in the Asia-Pacific region through strengthening cooperation and helping some countries to build up their defense capability, instead of establishing military bases.

During his visit to Japan, Tokyo and Washington agreed to install a second missile-defense radar system, and the MV-22 Osprey military aircraft was given the go-ahead to begin flight operations in Japan on Wednesday.

Panetta’s calls for improved military ties and cooperation with China and New Zealand were welcomed, but concern remains about its shift in strategic focus to the region.

In Beijing, Panetta conducted “candid and frank discussions” with several senior officials, including Vice-President Xi Jinping.

Most meetings ran longer than scheduled as the two sides explored topics ranging from Taiwan to cyberspace, while the overarching topic was US-China relations in the context of the US strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

On Friday, Panetta announced Washington had lifted a 26-year-old ban on visits to US military ports by New Zealand’s navy, but Wellington said it had no intention of reciprocating by allowing US ships to visit its bases.

New Zealand has a small military, and the rapprochement is unlikely to tilt the regional balance of power.

But the opportunity to rub noses was eagerly accepted by the Obama administration, which has been working feverishly to shower attention on just about every country with a Pacific coastline to counter China’s rising influence in the region, said the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, the US defense budget crunch will force the US Navy and Marine Corps to lean on regional partners to establish a constant presence in the Pacific, according to the US magazine National Defense.

Panetta’s trip also coincided with escalating tensions between Tokyo and Beijing over the Diaoyu Islands. Tokyo’s “purchase” of the islands, which have belonged to China since ancient times, has triggered protests across China.

Li Haidong, a professor from the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University, said Panetta’s visit to Japan amid the tension showed the US was accelerating its shift of strategic focus though a closer US-Japan alliance.

Days after Panetta urged both China and Japan to show restraint, Japan and the US on Saturday started an amphibious assault drill based on the scenario of retaking an island occupied by enemy forces.

Regional tensions give the US an excuse to intervene in the region, said Ruan Zongze, an international affairs expert with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

He said the US will still use other excuses to increase its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region by creating regional tensions.

“What it has done with the Philippines is one example,” he said. China and the Philippines have overlapping claims over the South China Sea.

Washington used to press China to agree to some rules-based system to solve the South China Sea issue, but in September two US submarines arrived at the Philippine Subic Bay.

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EUCOM/NATO Military Chief On NATO Interceptor Missile System

September 24, 2012 1 comment

United States European Command
September 24, 2012

Missiles and Pirates
Admiral James Stavridis


Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey provides the ballistic missile defense under the European Phased Adaptive Approach

In the week ahead, I’ll focus on two topics that don’t always get a huge amount of attention, but are very important: piracy and missile defense. These are two key missions we are undertaking today with NATO forces and reflect the kind of trans-national threats that the Alliance must be prepared to face in this turbulent 21st century.

Later in the week, I’ll be turning my attention to missile defense.

The NATO center for missile defense is in Ramstein, Germany, at the Air Component Command ably led by US Air Force 4-star General Phil Breedlove, a deeply experienced airman with multiple tours in Europe during his 30+ year career. General Breedlove is working hard on putting the nascent NATO missile defense system in place.

The Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey provides the ballistic missile defense under the European Phased Adaptive Approach. Currently, we have a command and control system largely located in Ramstein; and advanced phased array radar forward deployed in NATO ally Turkey’s southern region; and several AEGIS missile defense ships operating at sea in the Eastern Mediterranean. This provides the beginning of a missile defense system over Turkey, Greece, and parts of the Balkans.

Over time, our plan is to add additional radars and missile systems ashore, as well as to bring four additional missile defense AEGIS destroyers into the Mediterranean, to be stationed in Rota, Spain.

We will be working on burden-sharing, as many of the NATO allies have good missile defense capability at sea and ashore that can be linked into the system. Unfortunately, we still have some disagreements with Russia about the system (Russia is concerned this system may have the capability to defeat their strategic ICBM force…) I’m hoping to eventually see a robust missile defense system in place that provides coverage for the entire Alliance.

Appropriately, I am spending a great deal of time on the challenges of Afghanistan and the Balkans at the moment; but there are other key issues at work facing the Alliance, and this week I’ll be investing in these two areas.

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U.S.-Japanese War Games Aimed At Containing China

September 24, 2012 Leave a comment

China Daily
September 24, 2012

US playing dual role

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As early as 2005, Japan’s Defense Agency had prepared a plan to defend the remote islands south of Kyushu and Okinawa against a possible “invasion” from China. The plan said Japan should dispatch 55,000 GSDF troops, and planes, warships and submarines if the remote islands were attacked. The possible reasons for such an attack, the report said, were the Diaoyu Islands dispute…

The US began test-flying MV-22 Ospreys in Okinawa on Sept 21. Since the Japanese see the airplane-helicopter hybrid as crucial leverage in a territorial dispute with China, the US is encouraging Japan to stay away from a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the issue.

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Photograph: U.S. Marine Corps

Any discerning person can see the motive behind the joint drill between Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force and the US Marine Corps in Guam on Saturday. It was the first exercise of its kind, held purportedly to enhance the two countries’ capabilities to defend remote islands from “foreign assault”.

Tension between China and Japan had mounted further on Friday night as scores of Japanese policemen landed on China’s Diaoyu Islands. But instead of taking steps to defuse the tension, Japan started the joint drill, which GSDF claimed was not aimed at any specific island or third country.

As early as 2005, Japan’s Defense Agency had prepared a plan to defend the remote islands south of Kyushu and Okinawa against a possible “invasion” from China. The plan said Japan should dispatch 55,000 GSDF troops, and planes, warships and submarines if the remote islands were attacked. The possible reasons for such an attack, the report said, were the Diaoyu Islands dispute and China’s exploration for marine resources in the East China Sea. The report at best was wild speculation.

The Diaoyu Islands dispute is a delicate issue, and the US is responsible for creating it. First, it wrongly grouped them with Ryukyu Islands (known as Okinawa today) to take over their administration in 1951. Second, it handed them over to Japan, rather than China, in 1972.

Now that it has become a covert part to the Diaoyu Islands dispute, it has the chance of absolving itself by playing a constructive role to resolve it. But it seems it is interested only in making the issue thornier.

The US began test-flying MV-22 Ospreys in Okinawa on Sept 21. Since the Japanese see the airplane-helicopter hybrid as crucial leverage in a territorial dispute with China, the US is encouraging Japan to stay away from a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the issue.

During his recent visit to China, US Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta reiterated that Washington would not take sides in territorial disputes in the region. But while in Japan, which he visited before China, he said the US-Japan security treaty also covered the Diaoyu Islands.

The US pivot to Asia and the rebalancing of its armed forces are aimed at just one thing: containing China’s rise.

We hope Washington is not running with the hare and hunting with the hounds?

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U.S. In the Thick of China-Japan Island Dispute

September 24, 2012 2 comments

Beijing Review
September 24, 2012

Play fair

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[T]he Pentagon chief reiterated U.S. commitments to Japan while meeting with Japanese officials, saying that the U.S.-Japan Mutual Cooperation and Security Treaty applied to the Diaoyu Islands, indicating that Washington has an obligation to fight alongside Tokyo if the territories in question are attacked.

[T]he U.S. military and strategic alliance with Japan has emboldened the latter to lay claims on a territory upon which it holds no sovereignty at all. The United States has thus taken a biased stance over the Sino-Japanese contention for decades.

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USS George Washington nuclear-powered supercarrier, with homeport in Yokosuka, Japan

When two people quarrel over an old feud, how is a close friend of one of the parties involved likely to react? He may take the side of his friend, angering the other party and possibly leading to a bigger fight in the end. Or he can try to be a peacemaker, persuading the two to calm down and settle their differences in a more conciliatory and effective manner. Clearly, the latter is the right attitude to take.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta planned to play the role of mediator in the current territorial dispute between China and Japan. Before he paid a visit to China, he made an unexpected detour to Tokyo, where he remarked that the United States would not take sides on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands, but wished for China and Japan to exercise restraint and solve the dispute by diplomatic means. However, the Pentagon chief reiterated U.S. commitments to Japan while meeting with Japanese officials, saying that the U.S.-Japan Mutual Cooperation and Security Treaty applied to the Diaoyu Islands, indicating that Washington has an obligation to fight alongside Tokyo if the territories in question are attacked.

With Japanese authorities’ arbitrary move to “nationalize” China’s Diaoyu Islands, tensions between China and Japan have been rising, marked by a looming possibility of further clashes or even confrontations. China and Japan are major players in many global and regional economic and political issues, so peace and cooperation between the two countries will only help the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large. It would be in the best interest for the two nations, as well as the United States, to work toward preventing the crisis from escalating.

A growing number of Chinese citizens believe the United States has sowed the seeds of the feud between China and Japan. Its unilateral and illegal return of the jurisdiction over the islands to Japan, in violation of legal-binding global agreements, has resulted in de facto Japanese control of the islands. Furthermore, the U.S. military and strategic alliance with Japan has emboldened the latter to lay claims on a territory upon which it holds no sovereignty at all. The United States has thus taken a biased stance over the Sino-Japanese contention for decades. Chinese people across the world are watching to see whether it will again adopt a partial approach.

China is determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and will never make even the slightest concessions under any circumstances. To defuse the rising tensions in East Asia, Japanese authorities have no choice but to revoke the absurd and unjustifiable act of “buying” the Chinese territory.

During the past week, demonstrations have been staged in a number of Chinese cities to protest Japan’s territorial assertion. Some demonstrations have regrettably turned violent. These irrational expressions of anger must end, Japan must act responsibly and the United States should remain impartial, so that all sides can play fair.

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West Threatens Ukraine Over Gas Princess

September 23, 2012 3 comments

Itar-Tass
September 23, 2012

US threatens sanctions against Ukraine urging Tymoshenko’s release


Hillary Clinton and Yulia Tymoshenko

The US Senate has threatened to introduce sanctions against the Ukrainian authorities over jailing the former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

The Senate has adopted a resolution that stressed that the Tymoshenko trial was “politically motivated”. The document urges her immediate release in particular due to her poor health condition..

The resolution also urges to the US State Department to recall the ambassador from Kiev and halt the work of the embassy.

The senators have agreed that it is necessary to stop contacts between NATO and Ukraine until Tymoshenko is released.

The resolution is not binding and does not oblige the US State Department or Ukraine’s authorities to react on it.
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Itar-Tass
September 23, 2012

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry calls declarative US Congress’ resolution

KIEV: Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said it inexpedient to comment on the US Congress’ resolution on Ukraine for the declarative and non-binding character of the document, Ukraine’s local media report, referring to the press service of the Foreign Ministry, which said Kiev had always considered the US Senate as an example of parliamentary, of high standards of democracy, of paramount of right, and of following of democratic procedures.

However, the document on doubtful procedure, which was adopted there, is difficult to consider seriously.

“The authors of the resolution on Yulia Timoshenko tried at any expense to be ahead of protests from other senators against this document, they made corrections in a hurry, and suggested the Senate adopt the resolution “audibly” just several minutes the Congress’ session is over, where only half a dozen members of the upper house of the American parliament were present,” the foreign ministry said.

The ministry’s comment says “Timoshenko’s supporters have done everything to launch in Ukraine’s information space another falsified reason for loud, groundless discussions and discrediting of upcoming parliamentary elections. These efforts contradict Ukraine’s national interests and are doomed to failure.”

The US Congress adopted a resolution which threatens political sanctions against Ukraine’s authorities for keeping in prison the country’s former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko. The document reads that the trial had been politically motivated and she should be set free immediately, as she requires medical treatment.

The resolution, drafted at the initiative of James Inhofe, a senator representing the Republican Party, urges the Department of State not to issue US entry visas for Ukrainian officials responsible for the imprisonment and bad treatment of Yulia Timoshenko, as well as for the bad treatment of over a dozen of political leaders connected with the Orange Revolution of 2004.

Besides, the senators urged Ukraine “to have parliamentary elections in October by honest and transparent ways, in compliance with standards of the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe.”

The US legislators expressed concern that “the continuing imprisonment of Timoshenko threatens the worsening of relations between the United States and Ukraine.”

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UNIAN
September 21, 2012

Hryshchenko: Ukraine not to react on calls of EU to release Tymoshenko

Foreign Minister of Ukraine Konstyantyn Hryshchenko states that Ukraine will not react to calls of the European Union to released imprisoned ex-Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko.

K. Hryshchenko said this in an interview to Die Presse, Ukrainska Pravda reports. Commenting on the fact that the EU puts the signing of an Agreement on Association with Ukraine in dependence on the freeing of Yu. Tymoshenko, K. Hryshchenko, noted: “We are not about to do anything. Our judicial system should work and rely on facts”.

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UNIAN
September 17, 2012

Condoleezza Rice sends Yulia Tymoshenko letter of support


Condoleezza Rice and Yulia Timoshenko

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has written a letter to former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who has been in jail for more than a year, according to the official web site of Yulia Tymoshenko.

“Today I met with Condoleezza Rice. She gave me a letter addressed to Yulia Tymoshenko and expressed her support and solidarity,” Hryhoriy Nemyria said today on Channel 5. The letter will be delivered to the ex-premier by her lawyers.

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U.S. and NATO Afghan Endgame: The Variables

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

The Nation
September 23, 2012

Afghan endgame – the variables
By Imran Malik*

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How does the US further intend to “motivate or force” a bruised, thoroughly dejected and exploited Pakistan and its army into the North Waziristan Agency? And if it wants to land its boots on Pakistani soil, how does it expect Pakistan to react? Accept it as a fait accompli, ignore it passively or defend its territory aggressively? Will the US do it alone or will ‘all’ countries, comprising the US/Nato/Isaf combine, cross the Durand Line and attack Pakistan as one? Nuclear Pakistan’s and the militants’ reactions in such a scenario would constitute the biggest variables of the Afghan campaign.

[B]y bringing Pakistan into their fold, the Russians could have a sphere of influence extending from the Persian Gulf right up to the Malacca Straits and the Asia Pacific Region, including Iran, Pakistan and India. And the US will not have a single reliable ally in this entire swathe of Asian territory right up to Singapore.

Were Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and India to become full members of the SCO (on Russian initiatives), then that could be a real geopolitical or strategic game changer. The US could find itself literally outflanked in the region.

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The geopolitics of South Central Asian Region (SCAR) and AfPak Region (APR) are in a state of massive flux. The US/Nato/Isaf combine is primed to egress as it struggles, woefully, to retain balance in a fast deteriorating strategic and geopolitical environment.

And, ominously, Russia is making its moves to get into the most advantageous position in the region – post-2014.

The USA’s planned Afghan endgame appears to be going awry. To maintain strategic direction, it must consider the numerous variables in this complex Afghan equation and make the necessary corrections in anticipation.

The US Afghan Policy:

It has lacked clarity in its conception and execution. This confused and muddled thinking is evident, prominently, as the Afghan campaign moves into its end state. Major policy ends and objectives remain to be attained, while the bugle for the retreat has already been sounded. There have been strategic, diplomatic and intelligence failures aplenty. The obtaining strategic environment is profoundly unfavourable. Is this then the desired end state that the US and its allies had envisioned and aimed for at the outset? Will the US make the required course corrections?

The US Elections:

Will it be Obama and a continuation of the Afghan policy? Will Mitt Romney, if elected, opt for radical changes in the Afghan policy or not? The Afghans, all allies and all regional countries wait with bated breath.

The US Allies:

The ‘green on blue’ murderous attacks may force a strategic pause for the US/Nato/Isaf combine, directly impacting their withdrawal schedules. Any prolonging of the US campaign will not rest easy with them or their governments. How many of them will be willing to stick with the US for another indeterminate extension?

The Afghan National Security Force (ANSF):

It is the most critical variable. With ‘green on blue’ attacks on the rise, and joint operations with US/Nato/Isaf forces on hold, its development as a thoroughly professional outfit is in doubt. It has demonstrated suspect loyalties, poor professionalism and a penchant to react aggressively to perceived slights by its foreign trainers and colleagues. It has clearly been infiltrated by the Taliban or other groups, and shows signs of progressively biased, suspicious, volatile and deadly characteristics. Its emergence as a professionally cohesive and effective force, or not, will have a decisive impact on the egress of the foreign forces and the future of post-2014 Afghanistan.

Pakistan:

It must be the most worrisome and most unpredictable of all the variables. The USA’s handling of Pakistan could not have been worse, converting a most willing ally into a very reluctant one. The USA’s two-timing and double standards (Raymond Davis, Salala, OBL, etc.,) and its contemptuous, arrogant and self-righteous attitude caused the drift. Pakistan has also suffered from the persistent infighting within the Obama administration and the resultant conflicting demands of an ill-conceived and poorly executed Afghan policy.

The situation has been further vitiated by a plethora of ill-considered anti-Pakistan diatribes by some US congressmen. Resultantly, as we now approach the decisive Afghan endgame a thoroughly disenchanted Pakistan’s reticence and unpredictability has become more pronounced. The USA’s nervousness and irritability has increased correspondingly, as it cannot execute its endgame successfully without a willing Pakistan. They still have no clue on how to deal with a clearly annoyed and subtly defiant Pakistan.

The Militants:

The US policy lacks clarity on dealing with the militants too. It is still undecided whether it wants to negotiate with the Taliban, or bludgeon them into submission, or weaken them enough to force them to the negotiating table. By declaring the Haqqani Network (HN) a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO), the US has closed all doors to a negotiated solution to the imbroglio. Who will they now negotiate with? If they want to eliminate the militants, then do they have the time and the political and military will to do so?

How does the US further intend to “motivate or force” a bruised, thoroughly dejected and exploited Pakistan and its army into the North Waziristan Agency? And if it wants to land its boots on Pakistani soil, how does it expect Pakistan to react? Accept it as a fait accompli, ignore it passively or defend its territory aggressively? Will the US do it alone or will ‘all’ countries, comprising the US/Nato/Isaf combine, cross the Durand Line and attack Pakistan as one? Nuclear Pakistan’s and the militants’ reactions in such a scenario would constitute the biggest variables of the Afghan campaign.

Russia:

It senses Pakistan’s inevitability in any future geopolitical or strategic developments in the region. It also senses a vacuum in the SCAR and is positioning itself to exploit it. The US-Pakistan ‘non-alliance’ is not likely to last beyond the former’s egress from the region. The Russians sense a great opportunity here. By meeting Pakistan’s energy, infrastructure, defence and trade needs, they could try to replace or complement the US, albeit at a substantially lower scale. However, by bringing Pakistan into their fold, the Russians could have a sphere of influence extending from the Persian Gulf right up to the Malacca Straits and the Asia Pacific Region, including Iran, Pakistan and India. And the US will not have a single reliable ally in this entire swathe of Asian territory right up to Singapore. This is too big a prize for Russia to give up without a try.

By winning Pakistan over, the Russians could also get access to the southern routes of egress of the US/Nato/Isaf combine, the Arabian Sea, Iran, the emerging regional trade corridors and the mineral resources of the region. Were Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and India to become full members of the SCO (on Russian initiatives), then that could be a real geopolitical or strategic game changer. The US could find itself literally outflanked in the region. How far the Russians actually succeed in this scenario would have an indelible impact on the region and US interests therein. However, could the US itself turn out to be the biggest variable in this fascinating Afghan equation? Could it reverse or adjust policy and not let Pakistan and the region slip into the Russian embrace? Time, the biggest variable of all, will tell.

*The writer is a retired brigadier and a former defence attaché to Australia and New Zealand.

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In The Shadow of the NATO-Kush Mountains

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

The Nation
September 23, 2012

In the shadow of NATO-Kush mountains
By Adeela Naureen and Umar Waqar

Nobody could have noticed in 1949 that NATO would be at the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan: NATO’s Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, April 2009

It’s a political and moral imperative to fight for our core values in the Hindu Kush: Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, February 2008

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Intoxicated with notions of invincibility, US-led NATO came into the historical trap with slogans of ‘shock and awe’ and the Bush doctrine…Having smashed the rule of the Taliban regime and installing Hamid Karzai, the NATO commanders thought they had proven history wrong.

The fear factor is overtaking the US and NATO troops and officer cadre alike. The…ability to track each and every move of NATO can be gauged from the recent attack on Camp Bastion and targeting of British troops and aircraft on the birthday of Prince Harry, who after a controversial voyage to Las Vegas last month was performing his ‘Royal’ duties there.

NATO convoys and logistic bases are unsafe and the aircraft parked in hangars or taking off from Bagram and Kandahar or Mazar-i-Sharif are no surer of a safe landing or takeoff.

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As the morning sun rays reflect across the lofty peaks of mountains overlooking Kabul and bring in the dawn of a new morning every day, the Hindu Kush range stands sentinel as it has watched Alexander’s army marching through the deep gorges and rocky deserts of Afghanistan and the British troops huddling back through the passes to India, as well as the Soviets crossing the Oxus River on their way back home.

The Hindu Kush has seen many foreign warriors and their kings and military captains of war coming and perishing in the land of the Afghans.

Is it a redoubt of history, an empire smasher, a shattered zone of superpowers, the abode of the Afghan spirit, or the enigma most misunderstood in the history of mankind?

It seems that the Hindu Kush and its Afghan people will always remain a mystery. Spanning the good part of Pakistan’s tribal areas and Afghanistan’s eastern half, the Hindu Kush draws its name from the power struggle that led to Central Asians colonising…India and taking away captive Hindus through the harsh and unkind freezing mountains to Central Asia, some of them dying en route, thus giving it the name Hindu Kush or the killer of Hindus.

But the Hindu Kush and its people have the culture of freedom nurtured by nature and history over a period of a number of millennia. Irrespective of who tried to come here as an occupier, the Afghans have fought with the spirit of a tiger and the patience of an elephant; and made sure that the occupier leaves their land, lock, stock and barrel even at the cost of long wars and suffering of the Afghans and their children spanning decades.

Today, it is the turn of the Yankees and their cohorts to learn it the hard way. Intoxicated with notions of invincibility, US-led NATO came into the historical trap with slogans of ‘shock and awe’ and the Bush doctrine, and with an apparently benign role of liberators of Afghanistan. Having smashed the rule of the Taliban regime and installing Hamid Karzai, the NATO commanders thought they had proven history wrong.

Probably, they did not read the treatises and epitaphs of the British and Soviets engrained on the tombstones of erstwhile superpowers written with Afghan blood, despite having firsthand knowledge of the strength of the Afghan spirit in the Afghan jihad. The Hindu Kush today has become the NATO-Kush; the mightiest superpower of our time with the latest military technology and virtually with the support of the international community is packing up and preparing to leave the Hindu Kush mountains in disgrace.

The Afghan freedom fighters are everywhere, from the Camp Bastion of the Brits in Kandahar to the very heart of the green zone in the Bagram Airbase manned by the Yankees, and from the desolate desert of Herat to the lofty peaks of the NATO-Kush mountains. The so-called ‘green on blue’ attacks are becoming the order of the day. Despite denial of this phenomenon as individual acts by reactionary Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers, by Isaf’s senior commanders, it is a well known fact that the freedom fighters have already penetrated the rank and file of ANA through an elaborate strategy spanning the last decade or so; some Taliban sympathisers have reached the rank of colonels.

The current wave of ‘green on blue’ attacks is just the unveiling of a new strategy of the freedom fighters and is likely to play a major role in the coming days and months. The Afghan resolve for freedom from NATO’s occupation has been further strengthened by the Holy Quran burning by American troops in Afghanistan and the recent telecast of a blasphemous film targeting the personality of our beloved Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in the US.

The fear factor is overtaking the US and NATO troops and officer cadre alike. The freedom fighters’ ability to track each and every move of NATO can be gauged from the recent attack on Camp Bastion and targeting of British troops and aircraft on the birthday of Prince Harry, who after a controversial voyage to Las Vegas last month was performing his ‘Royal’ duties there.

NATO troops have been given some strange orders and rules of engagement. Yesterday every man and women, boy and girl, old and young Afghan was a suspect and could be killed on the grounds of suspicion (less the ANA officers and soldiers); today every ANA officer and solider is to be looked on as a suspect with orders to shoot to kill. Today, the NATO soldier cannot sleep with his eyes closed; cannot move in his own camp freely; and cannot rely on the ANA soldier when he goes out on joint patrolling.

NATO convoys and logistic bases are unsafe and the aircraft parked in hangars or taking off from Bagram and Kandahar or Mazar-i-Sharif are no surer of a safe landing or takeoff.

The fear factor gripping NATO soldiers can be compared with the fear of British soldiers in the Second Afghan War in the late nineteenth century. Out of thousands of British and Indian soldiers killed by the Afghans in the Hindu Kush range and its subsidiaries, the surviving British stragglers were intentionally let out to go back alive and tell the story of Afghan revenge so that no British soldier would walk into the Afghan land with the aim of occupying it. History seems to be going in circles and repeating itself time and again; the Hindu Kush becoming NATO-Kush, reminds all future adventurers that Afghan land belongs to the Afghans and they hate any one sharing it as an occupier.

The article ends with some lines from Rudyard Kipling mourning the rout of the 66th British Regiment of Foot in the Battle of Maiwand at the hands of Afghans, which was fought on July 27, 1880. An’ there ain’t no chorus ‘ere to give, Nor there ain’t no band to play; But I wish I was dead ‘fore I done what I did, Or seen what I seed that day!

The writers are freelance columnists based in Zimbabwe.

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After 46 Years: Top Chinese Security Official Visits Afghanistan

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Xinhua News Agency
September 23, 2012

Top Chinese security official makes surprise visit to Afghanistan

KABUL: A top Chinese security official on Saturday made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, the first one by a Chinese leader in nearly half a century.

Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, arrived at Kabul airport late in the afternoon.

The four-hour visit had not been announced by Beijing due to security concerns. It followed a two-day trip of Zhou to Singapore, where he met Singaporean leaders on bilateral ties.

Zhou, who is in charge of security and justice affairs, had planned to go to Turkmenistan.

It marked the first time in 46 years that a Chinese leader set his foot on the soil of Afghanistan, a war-torn country neighboring China.

The last visit was made by late Chinese leader Liu Shaoqi in 1966 when he was the President of China.

The country is still the front line in the U.S.-led war against terrorism and undergoing daily bombing and bleeding.

In Kabul, Zhou held a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

“It is in line with the fundamental interests of the two peoples for China and Afghanistan to strengthen a strategic and cooperative partnership, which is also conducive to regional peace, stability and development,” Zhou was quoted as saying in a written statement released by the Chinese delegation upon his arrival.

Zhou said the Chinese government fully respects the right of the Afghan people to choose their own path of development and will actively participate in Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

China and Afghanistan established diplomatic relations in 1955.

The two countries decided in June to upgrade their ties to the level of a strategic and cooperative partnership at a meeting between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Karzai in Beijing, marking a new step for the development of bilateral relations.

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Russia Strengthens Position In Central Asia

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

The Hindu
September 22, 2012

Russia strengthens role in Central Asia
Vladimir Radyuhin

Russia has consolidated its strategic positions in Central Asia by extending the long-term lease on its military facilities in Kyrgyzstan and securing the shutdown of a United States base in the former Soviet republic.

In exchange, Russia agreed to write off nearly $500 million in Kyrgyzstan’s debt and pledged to uplift its near bankrupt economy.

Under an agreement signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, the lease of the Russian airbase in Kant and a number of other facilities has been extended from 2017 for a further 15 years with an option for a further five-year extension.

“Russian military presence in the region, both in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, is a significant factor in stability,” Mr. Putin said at a joint news conference with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev.

A political declaration signed by the two sides reaffirmed Kyrgyzstan’s intention to evict the U.S. airbase at the Manas international airport near the capital Bishkek. Russia “welcomed” the pledge and promised to help turn the Manas airport into a cargo transit hub between Asia and Europe.

Under another deal, Russia will help Kyrgyzstan build and operate hydroelectric power stations in Kyrgyzstan at an estimated cost of $5 billion.

The deal will give Russia power to mediate in the acrimonious disputes between Central Asian states over scarce water resources.

Moscow has also promised to help Bishkek develop its mining industry and agriculture and to open Russian markets for Kyrgyzstan by granting it membership in the newly set up Customs Union of some former Soviet states.

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Afghan War: Payback Time

September 22, 2012 4 comments

Frontline
September 22-October 5, 2012

Payback time
John Cherian

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When President Barack Obama took office in 2008, there had been only around four such attacks. The “Green on Blue” killings leapfrogged after the President ordered his military surge in 2010 in tandem with the announcement of the 2014 withdrawal. Half the American military casualties occurred after the Pentagon implemented its counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan more than two years ago.

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The United States government decided to suspend the training of Afghan security forces in the first week of September after a particularly nasty month in which many U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) soldiers lost their lives. Most of them died at the hands of Afghans who were being trained by them. Five U.S. Special Operations officers were killed in one week. Special Operations officers are in charge of training Afghan security personnel. The Barack Obama administration, which has announced its plans to end the occupation by 2014, wanted to leave behind a trained Afghan force capable of maintaining security. It had earmarked nearly $50 billion for training Afghan security forces.

From available indications, the local security forces’ loyalty to the NATO armies is only skin deep. Troops from all the participating Western countries, including small countries such as New Zealand and Georgia, have been targeted by the Afghan forces that they have been training. The U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, issued an order in August directing U.S. soldiers to carry loaded weapons at all times even in secure U.S. bases such as the Bagram air base. At the last count, the U.S. had around 400 bases, most of them small, in the country. The strength of the Afghan security forces has risen to 300,000 in the last five years. In 2007, the combined strength of the Afghan Army and the national police was less than 100,000.

In the first half of this year, 21 incidents involving the killing of 30 American and European trainers were reported. The attacks have escalated since, with reports of Afghan soldiers turning their guns on their Western trainers all over the country. The number of American soldiers killed thus has now crossed 2,000. More than a thousand soldiers from other NATO and allied countries have been killed since the occupation began in 2001.

Of course, it is the ordinary Afghan who has paid the highest price. Countless numbers of Afghans have perished after the American invasion. A recent report of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on the atrocities committed by the Afghan government and warlords from 1978 to 2011 said that more than a million people had been killed and another 1.3 million disabled. Many of the warlords responsible for the mayhem in that period were backed by the U.S. and are now playing an important role in the politics of the country. The U.S. embassy in Kabul had objected to the release of the report, saying that it would “reopen old wounds”. The U.S. had reasons to be wary about the AIHRC report, given the fact that its close allies, the warlords Mohammad Qasim Fahim, Karim Khalili and Rashid Dostum, occupy important positions of power today. Besides, the report also details the close relations Washington had with elements who are now with Al Qaeda.

When President Barack Obama took office in 2008, there had been only around four such attacks. The “Green on Blue” killings leapfrogged after the President ordered his military surge in 2010 in tandem with the announcement of the 2014 withdrawal. Half the American military casualties occurred after the Pentagon implemented its counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan more than two years ago.

A significant number of Afghan Army soldiers have deserted, taking their weapons with them, since the implementation of the COIN strategy. The prominent American commentator Tom Engelhardt has tried to draw comparisons of the brewing Afghan Army rebellion with that of the first 1857 mutiny in India when sepoys turned on their British officers. Obama has been quiet on the loss of American lives, but he has reiterated that American troops will be out of Afghanistan in 2014. The prognosis for Afghanistan is gloomy after 2014. The central government in Kabul is loathed by the people and not trusted by its American paymasters. The Taliban attacks are getting more brazen by the day.

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Benghazi: Uncle Indispensable Was Here

September 22, 2012 Leave a comment

The Taylor Report
September 21, 2012

The Benghazi Thing

It is play-like time in the “indispensible nation”

From the Halls of Montezuma, take one:

Let’s play-like we care about international law and respect for other peoples.

Libya has oil but we care only for humanity and progress; when trouble is reported we must apply our “indispensibleness”.

A play-like “no-fly” zone is established from which we bomb Libya (a Lord of the Fly Zone, perhaps).

Let’s play-like we have a neutral arms embargo and then arm the side we favor, to make havoc and death more efficient…and rewarding.

Let’s play like we know what a “diplomat” is and deliver said diplomat into the rebel stronghold of a sovereign country. Supply him with armored vehicles and muscular commando types (great photo-ops); let’s play-like he’s a sage adviser to democratic aspirants.

When the mayhem ends we play-like we don’t hear about the lynched Africans. We play-like they were mercenaries. Our play-like media practice their concerned expressions. We’ll get back to that following the Hillary/Sarkozy triumphal dash.

In following scenes we play-like proper elections take place. In our play-like system the Saudi and Qatari absolute monarchies will finance the competing parties; guns and gangs will add local color. We play-like democracy depends on the money absolute monarchs. A woman will offer an ink-stained finger to the world. Uncle Indispensible was here.

And let’s play-like a house in Benghazi is a consulate (or when excited say “embassy”). And when unknown armed men attack our play-like sort of official house… we can play-like we’re surprised. And then we can sort out the locals as much as we want, and it won’t be play-like.

To the Shores of Tripoli…A pirate’s romance.

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State Department Lays Out Global Interceptor Missile Plans

September 22, 2012 Leave a comment

U.S. Department of State
September 10, 2012

Growing Global Cooperation on Ballistic Missile Defense
Remarks by Frank A. Rose
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Berlin, Germany
Edited by RR


Standard Missile-3 Block IB launch
June 27, 2012 (Missile Defense Agency)

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Phase One gained its first operational elements in 2011 with the start of a sustained deployment of an Aegis BMD-capable multi-role ship to the Mediterranean in March 2011 and the deployment of an AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey, which became operational in December 2011. Spain has also agreed to host four U.S. Aegis destroyers at the existing naval facility at Rota.

The Allies…welcomed the EPAA as the U.S. national contribution to the new NATO territorial missile defense capability, in support of our commitment to the collective self-defense of the Alliance under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

The AN/TPY-2 radar deployed in Turkey is now under NATO operational control. In addition, U.S. BMD-capable Aegis ships in Europe are also now able to operate under NATO operational control when threat conditions warrant.

In the Middle East, we are already cooperating with our key partners bilaterally and multilaterally through venues such as the recently established U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Security Cooperation Forum….Additionally, we are continuing our long-standing and steadfast cooperation with Israel on missile defense on key systems such as Arrow 3, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome.

[T]he United States and Japan already are working closely to develop jointly an advanced interceptor known as the SM-3 Blk IIA, and continue to work on enhancing interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces. We are also continuing to discuss BMD bilaterally with the Republic of Korea and Australia and we recently had our annual meeting of the U.S.-Australia-Japan trilateral missile defense forum.

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I would like to thank the Missile Defense Agency, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and our German hosts for putting on this outstanding conference, which over the years has become a much anticipated annual event. It’s been a distinct honor to be invited to speak at this conference for three years running and my pleasure to once again represent the State Department this afternoon at this influential gathering of missile defense experts from more than twenty nations.

In June of this year, the United States conducted its second consecutive successful test of the SM-3 IB interceptor and the second generation Aegis BMD 4.0.1 weapon system. This success was a critical accomplishment for Phase Two of the EPAA, which will see SM-3 IBs deployed in Romania in the 2015 timeframe.

Implementation of the European Phased Adaptive Approach

At the State Department, I am responsible for overseeing a wide range of defense policy issues, including ballistic missile defense. For nearly three years, I have been focused on carrying out the vision articulated by the President when he announced in September 2009 that the EPAA would “provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America’s Allies,” while relying on “capabilities that are proven and cost-effective.” The EPAA will provide comprehensive protection for all of our NATO European Allies and augment the defense of the U.S. homeland.

As laid out in the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review, “[t]he United States seeks to create an environment in which the development, acquisition, deployment, and use of ballistic missiles by regional adversaries can be deterred, principally by eliminating their confidence in the effectiveness of such attacks.”

Creating this new strategic environment depends on strong cooperation with our allies and partners. In order to make this vision a reality, President Obama has made international cooperation on missile defense a key priority, and we are pursuing a region-by-region approach based on the following three principles:

[R]ecognizing that our supply of BMD assets cannot meet the global demand we face, the United States is developing mobile capabilities that can be relocated to adapt to changing regional threats and provide surge defense capabilities where they are most needed.

In implementing this approach in Europe, we designed the EPAA to protect our deployed forces and Allies in Europe…

EPAA Phase One gained its first operational elements in 2011 with the start of a sustained deployment of an Aegis BMD-capable multi-role ship to the Mediterranean in March 2011 and the deployment of an AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey, which became operational in December 2011. Spain has also agreed to host four U.S. Aegis destroyers at the existing naval facility at Rota. These multi-mission ships will support the EPAA as well as other EUCOM and NATO maritime missions.

For Phase Two of the EPAA, we have an agreement with Romania to host a U.S. land-based SM-3 interceptor site beginning in the 2015 timeframe…In June of this year, the United States conducted its second consecutive successful test of the SM-3 IB interceptor and the second generation Aegis BMD 4.0.1 weapon system. This success was a critical accomplishment for Phase Two of the EPAA, which will see SM-3 IBs deployed in Romania in the 2015 timeframe.

We also have an agreement with Poland to place a similar land-based interceptor site there, including the SM-3 IIA, in the 2018 timeframe for Phase Three of the EPAA, which will extend BMD protection to all of NATO Europe.

[T]he Department of Defense has begun concept development of a more advanced interceptor, known as the SM-3 IIB, which will be deployed in EPAA Phase Four in the 2021 timeframe. The SM-3 IIB will provide an intercept capability against intermediate-range ballistic missiles and an additional layer for a more enhanced homeland defense against potential ICBM threats to the United States from the Middle East.

Cooperation with NATO Allies

…To better achieve this end, the Obama Administration is implementing the EPAA within the NATO context.

At the 2010 Lisbon Summit, NATO Heads of State and Government approved a new Strategic Concept and took the historic decision to develop the capability to defend NATO European populations and territory against the increasing threat posed by ballistic missile proliferation. The Allies also welcomed the EPAA as the U.S. national contribution to the new NATO territorial missile defense capability, in support of our commitment to the collective self-defense of the Alliance under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

At the Lisbon Summit, NATO Heads of State and Government also decided to expand the scope of the NATO Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) program to serve as the command, control, and communications network to support this new capability. NATO Allies have committed to investing over $1 billion in ALTBMD to support NATO missile defense. NATO’s plan for missile defense is based on the principle that individual Allies will make voluntary national contributions of BMD sensors and interceptor systems, capabilities that will be integrated into the NATO ALTBMD command and control backbone. As with any national contribution, Allies are responsible for the costs associated with their own contributions.

On May 20-21 of this year, the NATO Heads of State and Government met in Chicago for the NATO Summit and announced that NATO had achieved an interim BMD capability. This means that the Alliance has an operationally meaningful standing peacetime BMD capability. NATO also agreed on the BMD-related command and control procedures, designated Supreme Allied Commander Europe as the commander for this mission, and demonstrated an interoperable command and control capability.

To support this interim BMD capability, the United States has offered EPAA assets to the Alliance as our voluntary national contributions to the BMD mission. The AN/TPY-2 radar deployed in Turkey is now under NATO operational control. In addition, U.S. BMD-capable Aegis ships in Europe are also now able to operate under NATO operational control…

…We believe that NATO BMD will be more effective should Allies provide sensors and interceptors to complement the U.S. EPAA contributions. Several NATO Allies already possess land- and sea-based sensors that could potentially be linked into the system, as well as lower tier systems that can be integrated and used to provide point defense such as PATRIOT. If Allies should decide to develop their own BMD capabilities, that would create significant opportunities for European industries, science, and technology. In short, there is absolutely no requirement or assumption that NATO missile defense will be “made in the USA.” The only requirement is that the systems contributed by Allies be interoperable with NATO ALTBMD.

Some of our NATO Allies already have begun to invest in assets that can be contributed to the NATO BMD mission, while others are continuing to study the issue. For example, the Netherlands has indicated that it will spend close to 250 million Euros to modify the SMART-L radars on its frigates to detect and track ballistic missiles at long ranges and has indicated it will contribute its Patriot BMD systems to the NATO missile defense mission. Allies also can contribute via pooling of BMD assets and joint development and procurement…

Missile Defense Developments in Other Regions

The United States, in consultation with our allies and partners, is continuing to bolster missile defenses in other key regions such as the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific…

In the Middle East, we are already cooperating with our key partners bilaterally and multilaterally through venues such as the recently established U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Security Cooperation Forum.

Several of our partners in the region have expressed an interest in buying missile defense systems, and some have already done so. For example, just last year the UAE contracted to buy two THAAD batteries that…The UAE also has contracted to purchase Patriot PAC-3 to provide a lower-layered, point defense of critical national assets. As Secretary Clinton said recently on a visit to Saudi Arabia, “we can do even more to defend the Gulf through cooperation on ballistic missile defense.” We look forward to advancing cooperation and interoperability with our GCC partners in the years ahead.

Additionally, we are continuing our long-standing and steadfast cooperation with Israel on missile defense on key systems such as Arrow 3, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome.

In the Asia-Pacific, we are continuing to cooperate through our bilateral alliances and key partnerships. For example, the United States and Japan already are working closely to develop jointly an advanced interceptor known as the SM-3 Blk IIA, and continue to work on enhancing interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces. We are also continuing to discuss BMD bilaterally with the Republic of Korea and Australia and we recently had our annual meeting of the U.S.-Australia-Japan trilateral missile defense forum.

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As East Asia Tensions Rise: U.S. Campaign Playground For Demonizing China

September 21, 2012 3 comments

Global Times
September 21, 2012

Election rhetoric drives China to speak out

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The provocations by these presidential candidates are too much for the Chinese people to bear. US politicians show an indifferent attitude toward the feelings of the Chinese people. China should not turn a blind eye to such provocations…The words uttered by Romney are like those of young cynics on the Internet….With mutual discontent accumulating, the slogans politicians have chanted may become real actions. Many international conflicts stem from the showmanship of politicians.

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The campaigns for the US presidential election is well underway. Both the Republican candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are competing for the toughest stance involving China. Romney promised to take action against China on his first day in office if elected, and Obama took the relay baton by bringing up a trade case at the WTO against China’s automobile industry.

It’s an old story, China becoming a political card to play in US elections. This year, Romney and Obama seem to be playing it more heavily.

China has been blamed for the US’ falling unemployment rate and taking jobs from Americans.

Friction on trade issues between China and the US will escalate thanks to the election, and mutual political mistrust may deepen.

The provocations by these presidential candidates are too much for the Chinese people to bear. US politicians show an indifferent attitude toward the feelings of the Chinese people. China should not turn a blind eye to such provocations. No matter who the current president or candidate is, they should respect China. They should mind what they say.

The words uttered by Romney are like those of young cynics on the Internet. If he does what he has promised, he will become a president that holds extremely nationalistic views toward trade with China and may trigger a trade war between the two nations. The US economy, in its current state, wouldn’t be able to stand such consequences.

There is too much China-bashing going on in the US elections. The things these politicians have promised are not likely to be realized based upon past experience, but the promises are still very disturbing.

Their speeches are misleading the American public, who will have more complaints or even resentment toward China.

With mutual discontent accumulating, the slogans politicians have chanted may become real actions. Many international conflicts stem from the showmanship of politicians.

As US elections often involve China-bashing, China cannot remain out of the affair. China should play a role in the elections and correct the attitude of both candidates and the American public toward China.

US elections should not be a playground where China is demonized. As the elections bring American attention toward China, China should make an effort to improve its image rather than remain silent over how it is portrayed by the candidates.

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Global Times
September 21, 2012

Noda playing with fire over Diaoyu

Yoshihiko Noda has reinforced his position amid rocky relations between China and Japan after winning the election of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan on Friday.

Noda is mistaken if he believes pushing for the “nationalization” of the Diaoyu Islands and escalating tensions assure him political gains. It may also suggest that Japan has taken the wrong track.

If political maneuvering – garnering votes through orchestrating diplomatic crises and displays of muscle-flexing – prevails or becomes a common aspiration among politicians in a certain country, the country’s politics must have gone wrong. And this seems to be the case for Japan.

Japan describes China, a country that has been subject to its aggression, never engaged in any warfare in the past decades and does not possess any overseas military base, as a threat. Japan has taken increasingly hostile views toward China. It adopts a proactive and aggressive posture when dealing with China and has initiated all provocations. Japan is pushing bilateral ties to the brink of strategic confrontation.

The current tensions are focused on the Diaoyu Islands, a thorny issue that could cause bigger damage with less room for maneuver. Noda is undoubtedly behind such escalation of frictions.

His reelection as the DPJ party chief could mean a longer term for him as prime minister. If a tendency for confrontational ideology and policies takes root during his tenure, Japan will find itself leaning closer to another strategic track, away from the cause enshrined in its Peace Constitution and rational diplomacy.

The Noda administration has showed unprecedented rudeness and blind stubbornness over the Diaoyu Islands spat. It recklessly touches upon the sensitivity of bilateral ties, ignoring the possible strong reaction from China and the new balance of power. If it is true that Noda was surprised by China’s reaction, he must take the issue seriously from now on.

He must consider China’s overwhelming resolution in defending its sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and the strategic emphasis on the issue.

Noda also needs to realize that China is no longer a weak opponent, regardless of the role of the US in the matter. Strategic confrontation is not a choice for Japan.

Churning out votes by masterminding diplomatic tensions has been an eye-opener for many Chinese. It is a luxury to expect these politicians to act in line with their consciences. But we hope that Japanese and Western politicians can honor a bottom line. If they dare to risk anything for personal political gains, China will give them a taste of bitterness.

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West Tests Double Standard Policy In Syria

September 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia
September 21, 2012

West tests double standards on Syria
Konstantin Garibov

The West is testing its double standard policy on Syria. That’s how Russian experts have reacted to the reports that Western countries are planning to supply a large batch of heavy arms to the Syrian opposition and also that the United States has tightened sanctions against a Belarusian company which it suspects of supplying weapons to Damascus.

At the latest session of the so-called Friends of Syria Group in the Netherlands, representatives of more than 60 European and Arab countries called for boosting military support to opponents of the Bashar Assad regime. The possibility of bringing more groups of anti-Assad mercenaries into the country was also discussed.

Simultaneously, the United States slapped new sanctions against a Belarusian company, Belvneshpromservis, for the alleged arms supplies to Syria. Minsk refuted the allegations, seeing them as part of pressure on Belarus for having repeatedly spoken out in favor of a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Sergei Demidenko, an expert at the Institute for Strategic Assessments and Analysts, comments the issue:

“This is a standard situation. The Americans said nothing new but just accentuated their stance. And not just the Americans, but also that part of the global pool which campaigns for the overthrow of the Assad regime. They will make all sorts of verbal declarations in support of a political solution, while at the same time continuing to help the opposition. So here we once again came across double standards.”

Yevgeny Satanovsky, President of the Institute of Middle East Studies in Moscow, remarked that the Americans had always practiced double standards towards virtually any conflict on the planet.

“It’s a U.S. foreign policy tradition that doesn’t pertain only to the civil war in Syria. As for Syria, the foreign policy task has been set – to remove Assad. That’s why, everything that helps the anti-Assad militants and terrorists is supported or ignored, while everything that helps government troops is condemned and punished with sanctions.”

In this situation, Russia has renewed its calls for internal political dialogue in Syria without outside interference. Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov reiterated Moscow’s position during a meeting with Syrian ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad. The ambassador thanked Russia for humanitarian supplies to Syrian civilians.

On Friday morning, a relief plane of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry landed in Damascus. It brought 38 tons of food. Earlier, a similar batch of humanitarian aid was handed over to the Syrian Red Cross Society. The Russian Foreign Ministry has urged all countries that proclaimed themselves true friends of Syria to follow suit.

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In Defiance Of Parliament, More U.S. Marines Arrive In Yemen

September 21, 2012 1 comment

Xinhua News Agency
September 21, 2012

Second batch of U.S. Marines arrives in southern Yemen

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Earlier this week, the Yemeni parliament unanimously rejected the presence of any foreign military forces on its soil for any reasons, demanding an immediate departure of the U.S. Marines forces.

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ADEN, Yemen: The second detachment of 30 U.S. Marines has arrived Thursday on the ground in Yemen’s southern province of Lahj to back security forces and deal with counter-terrorism issues in the country’s south, a senior government official told Xinhua.

Around 30 special Marines forces arrived at the al-Anad military air base, situated in the south of the country, to conduct a joint training operation with the counter-terrorism forces of Yemen, a local government official said on condition of anonymity.

“The Marine unit arrived in addition to an earlier contingent dispatched to assist security and protect the U.S. embassy in the capital Sanaa along with its staff there,” the government official said.

“The arrival of these aircraft comes within the outline of U.S. reinforcements in the fight against the Yemen-based al-Qaida offshoot,” he added.

The U.S. Marines will conduct small-unit training and full company size training with Yemen’s anti-terrorism troops, according to the official.

The Pentagon said on Friday that a platoon of Marines had arrived in Yemen to bolster security at the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, a day after hundreds of Yemenis enraged by a U.S.-made film ridiculing Islam stormed the embassy’s ground. No embassy staff were hurt, but four demonstrators were killed in the attack.

Earlier this week, the Yemeni parliament unanimously rejected the presence of any foreign military forces on its soil for any reasons, demanding an immediate departure of the U.S. Marines forces.

The announcement of the Marines’ arrival has provoked an angry response from many conservative Yemenis, including clerics and political activists, who view it as a clear breach to the Yemeni Constitution and the Islamic rules and vow to stage more protests.

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U.S. Marine Corps
September 20, 2012

Warrior competition pits U.S. Marines against each other in mountains of Djibouti
By Staff Sgt. Robert Fisher, 24th MEU

DJIBOUTI: Marines with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit concluded a three-week training package in Djibouti Sept. 16, 2012, with a five-day competition designed to test everything they learned while ashore.

The extensive training and competition, based in the coastal mountains off the Gulf of Toujours, focused on mountain-based infantry skills intended to lend tactical superiority in rugged environments. A platoon of Marines from Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, based from the USS Iwo Jima, participated in the training.

“The Marines started off the training with some classes like the mountain course and high-angle shooting…so they learned how to operate here. Then they moved into force-on-force training events where they were forced to think ahead of an enemy and react quickly. Finally they did this competition where they had to employ everything they’ve learned out here. Everything culminated in this event,” said Capt. Juan Ramos, officer-in-charge of the training force package.

The Marines said they were “wore out” after the grueling days spent navigating the mountains with conditioning hikes and high-angle shooting ranges…

The Marines began training in Djibouti in late August with courses comprised of classroom instruction in mission essential communication skills, indirect fire coordination and targeting methods, and survival skills such as building fires and finding water. They also conducted classes on mountaineering along with a water obstacle course on an adjacent French military outpost.

The second week of the training package began Sept. 3 when the Bravo Company platoon returned to the field for a “force-on-force” exercise, in which the platoon divided into separate elements and played out a loosely-scripted scenario in a simulated battlefield within the Djiboutian mountain terrain.

The 24th MEU is deployed with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group as a theater reserve and crisis response force throughout the U.S. Central Command in the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet area of responsibility. A small contingent of Marines is ashore in Djibouti managing various unilateral, bilateral and joint exercises with other U.S. service members and French forces stationed in Djibouti.

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Berlin: NATO Nations Plan Expansion Of Interceptor Missile System

September 20, 2012 7 comments

United States European Command
September 20, 2012

Berlin conference joins nine NATO nations in Ballistic Missile Defense
Army Staff Sgt. Rick Scavetta, U.S. European Command

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Representatives from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom – nations possessing advanced air defense systems that could be upgraded for missile defense – offered a look at their ways forward. While land-based, space-based and airborne systems were considered, the conference was primarily focused on maritime assets.

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STUTTGART, Germany: U.S. and European military and civilian leaders met in Berlin recently to discuss upgrades to ballistic missile defense (BMD) capabilities in order to increase the capacity of NATO’s missile defense architecture in Europe.

More than 100 senior military and civilian government officials from nine Allied nations took part in the conference Sept. 13-14 at Julius Leber Kaserne in Berlin. Co-hosted by U.S. European Command and the German Federal Ministry of Defense, the event offered a forum for Allied leaders to present their policy views, study efforts and plans on upgrading their existing air defense systems to potentially provide additional voluntary National contributions to NATO’s BMD mission in Europe, said Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery, EUCOM’s Deputy Director of Plans, Policy and Strategy.

“The goal was to get a group of Allies together to discuss what future capabilities might be offered in an integrated European missile defense environment,” Montgomery said. “We discussed current U.S. commitments. Other countries briefed on the capabilities they have or are considering acquiring over the next few years.”

Representatives from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom – nations possessing advanced air defense systems that could be upgraded for missile defense – offered a look at their ways forward. While land-based, space-based and airborne systems were considered, the conference was primarily focused on maritime assets.

“It was clear that all nine countries were coming to the table with some level of existing or future missile defense commitments,” Montgomery said. “We then went on to discuss what further aspirations and opportunities might exist over the next seven to 10 years.”

In 2009, President Obama announced plans for a Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) to ballistic missile defense in Europe. Using a network of sensors, interceptors, and command and control structures, the plan is designed to offer the alliance a regional capability to defend NATO’s European population, territory and forces. Under the European PAA (EPAA), EUCOM works closely with Allies in Europe to determine how NATO member nations could share the burden.

At the 2010 Lisbon summit, NATO leaders agreed to invest in missile defense. At the Chicago Summit in May 2012, NATO declared an interim operational capability for missile defense, and called upon members to provide voluntary National contributions to missile defense.

The EPAA has four phases. The first phase, now complete, includes a land-based early warning system in Turkey, guided missile ships in the Mediterranean Sea and a NATO-led command and control center at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

The second phase includes a land-based defense system in Romania by 2015, followed by an additional land-based system in Poland during phase three, starting 2018. In the plan’s final phase, expected by 2020, NATO should be capable of defeating medium and intermediate range missiles plus potential intercontinental ballistic missile threats.

At the conference, Allies discussed their policies, plans and studies to develop their potential capabilities to detect and intercept possible threats. These discussions frame NATO’s upcoming senior leader forum, set for late September at Ramstein, where Alliance leaders will focus on current missile defense operational requirements. According to RDML Montgomery, the dialogue that began in Berlin has laid the groundwork for Allied nations to work together to provide sufficient missile defense capacity, interoperable and complementary to the US EPAA, that can defend Europe in the years ahead.

“In 10 years, when the NATO command is looking at its capabilities, they should have a lot more to choose from,” Montgomery said. “This was a first step toward that happening.”

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Rising Japanese Militarism and Threat of New War in Asia

September 20, 2012 1 comment

China Daily
September 20, 2012

Rising Japanese militarism
Wang Xiaoxuan*

Protective wing of US has emboldened Japan over the Diaoyu Islands, but it should not test China’s patience too far

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Facing the latest strained and complicated developments following Japan’s provocative behaviors on the Diaoyu Islands issue, China should make all possible preparations, including preparations for a possible military conflict and even war.

The resurrection of militarism within Japan is inseparable from the US. To maintain its global hegemonic status since World War II and defeat the erstwhile Soviet Union, the US sought to strengthen and cultivate Japan as an ally.

Washington poses as a neutral, but favors Japan in action, allowing Japanese officials to claim its security treaty with Japan is applicable to the Diaoyu Islands. Such a stance is essentially connivance with Japan’s militarism and aggression and could embolden Tokyo to take more provocative action with dire consequences.

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The Diaoyu Islands dispute continues to ferment following the Japanese government’s attempt to “nationalize” the islands and is at risk of spiraling out of control if Tokyo does not chart a new course.

China’s fast development since reform and opening-up in 1978 has also benefited the rest of the world. However, the development dividend they have received has not been appreciated by all beneficiaries: certain countries have never stopped proclaiming there is a “China threat”, and some countries even covet islands or maritime areas belonging to China while enjoying the huge benefits brought about by China’s rapid economic development.

The normal buildup of China’s military, including its navy, is for defense and not based on selfish interests or the pursuit of hegemony. And it should be borne in mind that despite the remarkable progress made in recent years, China’s navy is still unable to meet the international responsibilities and obligations it is expected to undertake as a big international power.

China is a peace-loving nation and the Chinese people are opposed to the use of war to resolve disputes. But such a disposition does not mean we lack the courage to stand up for ourselves. Facing the latest strained and complicated developments following Japan’s provocative behaviors on the Diaoyu Islands issue, China should make all possible preparations, including preparations for a possible military conflict and even war.

With its provocative farce of their so-called purchase of the Diaoyu Islands, the right wing in Japan has exposed its desire to regain “No 1″ status for Japan in East Asia and its unease at China’s steady and sustainable development. The Chinese government and people should be on high alert and resolutely oppose Japan’s militarism.

The Japanese government’s stance on the Diaoyu Islands issue has come amid Japan’s renewed militarism. Under the domination of militarism Japan caused untold pain to and disasters in many Asian countries. And under the umbrella of the United States’ protection, Japan conducts little soul-searching repentance for its past crimes and continuously fanfares right-wing extremism.

The resurrection of militarism within Japan is inseparable from the US. To maintain its global hegemonic status since World War II and defeat the erstwhile Soviet Union, the US sought to strengthen and cultivate Japan as an ally.

Under such strategic consideration, the US signed a security treaty with Japan and privately and illegally handed over the administration of the Diaoyu Islands to Japan, in an attempt to bury the seed for the China-Japan territorial dispute. It is because of this strategic arrangement that the US has turned a blind eye to the rise of Japan’s militarism and its continuous attempts to breach the restraints of its pro-peace constitution.

The US, which is largely responsible for the China-Japan Diaoyu Islands entanglement, should have maintained an impartial stance and sought to help resolve the dispute. Instead, Washington poses as a neutral, but favors Japan in action, allowing Japanese officials to claim its security treaty with Japan is applicable to the Diaoyu Islands. Such a stance is essentially connivance with Japan’s militarism and aggression and could embolden Tokyo to take more provocative action with dire consequences.

The Japanese government should realize the severity of the dispute and immediately refrain from any more provocations and infringements of China’s sovereignty.

From the re-naming of some of the Diaoyu Islands’ affiliated islets earlier this year and the attempt to purchase three of the islands by some Japanese rightist forces to the latest “nationalization” move by the Japanese government, the Japanese government and Japan’s right-wing forces have tried to make fools of the Chinese people.

But while not offending others if we are not offended is the long-cherished principle of China’s dealings with other countries, Japan should not mistake China’s patience and tolerance as an opportunity for pressing for more “concessions”. It should not underrate Chinese people’s courage and resolve to resist foreign aggression. China will not back down an inch on issues related to its sovereignty.

*The author is director of the Naval Research Institute of the People’s Liberation Army.

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Who Is Responsible For Killing U.S. Ambassador To Libya?

September 20, 2012 7 comments

Voice of Russia
September 20, 2012

The killing of US ambassador to Libya: who is to blame?

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Washington sticks to the stupid policy of using Islamic fundamentalists for its own self-serving agenda. The Islamists who stormed the US embassy in Cairo carried Bin Laden portraits.

The founder of the Al Qaeda terrorist network began his murky career in Afghanistan, where he worked as a CIA agent fighting against the country’s legitimate government and Soviet forces deployed there.

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America’s image suffered a major blow following the killing of US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens in an attack against the American consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday. Throughout time, killing an ambassador has been regarded as a grave insult to the state he represented and has served as a pretext for many wars.

This time, however, there is no one to go into battle against. Ambassador Stevens was killed by those who came to power with American help not long ago. “I keep asking myself,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, in confusion, “how could this have happened in a country that the US helped to liberate?” Apart from asking questions, Washington is sending warships to Libya and neighboring countries and is hastily moving SEAL forces to protect US consulates in troubled countries.

However, US marines will hardly be able to do anything about what can well be described as an unprecedented anti-American uprising which has swept all countries of the Middle East and North Africa and had spread to India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, countries of Central Europe, and even faraway Australia.

The shallow and poorly made film denigrating prophet Muhammad became but a tiny spark triggering an explosion of a devastating force. It’s clear to any sober-minded individual that the “masterpiece” which was definitely watched by no more than a handful of Internet surfers couldn’t have set off millions of people in countries scattered all over the world.

The current unrest is the result of years-long discontent over the US doggedness in forcing American values on the rest of the world. On top of that, Washington sticks to the stupid policy of using Islamic fundamentalists for its own self-serving agenda. The Islamists who stormed the US embassy in Cairo carried Bin Laden portraits.

The founder of the Al Qaeda terrorist network began his murky career in Afghanistan, where he worked as a CIA agent fighting against the country’s legitimate government and Soviet forces deployed there. Given that the US continued to adhere to this tactic in subsequent years, the current lamenting over the unthankful Libyans in connection with the killing of Ambassador Stevens, who participated in person in the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi and was linked to Islamists, is either hypocrisy, or political short-sightedness.

I once asked 16th World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov how many moves ahead he saw in chess and he answered that depending on the circumstances he calculated two or three, or sometimes six or seven moves ahead. It looks like the unfortunate “grandmasters” from Washington never see more than one move ahead. After invading Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein, the Bush-Cheney team stopped planning any further. As a result, the country has plunged into chaos and has become a terrorism hub and Al Qaeda base, thus being on the brink of falling apart.

Current developments in Europe, which was a US stronghold until now, have thrown Washington into outright confusion. The same is true regarding countries that have seen the Arab Spring, which hopefully, will not grow into an ‘Arab Winter’.

Intrigue-prone Republican candidate Mitt Romney is trying to cash in on the current state of affairs by lashing out at Barack Obama with accusations. Even though the current mess was started by the Bush-Cheney administration, the incumbent leadership will have to sort it out, no matter who comes to power in January next year.

And it will be years before this mess is sorted out eventually.

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Sino-Japanese Standoff and International Politics

September 20, 2012 Leave a comment

The Frontier Post
September 20, 2012

Sino-Japanese standoff and international politics
Afshain Afzal
Edited by RR

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[I]t was the presence of the US’ most advanced submarines in the Philippines’ Subic Bay this month which generated alarms in Beijing while the Japanese action regarding the detention of Chinese was taken as part of the plan.

The expanding US’ submarine presence in the region, especially on bases in Guam, Japan and Hawaii, coupled with movement on Subic near the Chinese Navy’s southernmost submarine base on the side of a cliff on Hainan Island was something that required monitoring.

[D]ue to Chinese commitments to put her own house in order, the US’ Navy presence in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean would remain undetected, which may pose a threat to Iran.

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It is always difficult to guess on which side the camel will sit but the recent statement of Japanese Liberal Democratic Party’s Secretary General, Nobuteru Ishihara, has given quite clear signals from Washington. Ishihara said: “Our relations with China are at their worst ever since the normalization of relations between the two countries. It is precisely because the US-Japan alliance is shaken that neighbouring countries keep entering Japan’s territory and Japan’s peace and safety have come under great threat.”

It is pertinent to mention here that relations with Washington had also turned hostile after the ruling Democrats took power in 2009. The ongoing tension between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands flared up last month when on intelligence input from Washington Japan detained Chinese activists who had landed on the islands.

This led anti-Japanese protests in China followed by a political statement from Tokyo that they intend buying the islands from a Japanese businessman. If we recall, on 16 April 2012, Tokyo’s Governor Shintaro Ishihara during a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a think-tank in Washington, issued a statement that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is negotiating with the owner of three major islands in the uninhabited chain.

The present standoff has been conspired with to realize in Japanese political circles the necessity of the alliance with the US. If we critically examine the latest developments we will arrive at the conclusions that it was the presence of the US’ most advanced submarines in the Philippines’ Subic Bay this month which generated alarms in Beijing while the Japanese action regarding the detention of Chinese was taken as part of the plan.

The expanding US’ submarine presence in the region, especially on bases in Guam, Japan and Hawaii, coupled with movement on Subic near the Chinese Navy’s southernmost submarine base on the side of a cliff on Hainan Island was something that required monitoring.

Beijing did what it had to do but both Japan and China should not come to the point of no return.

In fact it is third countries that are playing their game in the region. Washington benefit from the present standoff in three ways. Firstly, due to Chinese commitments to put her own house in order, the US’ Navy presence in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean would remain undetected, which may pose a threat to Iran.

Secondly, it would also provide a chance to the anti-China bloc to win geo-strategically important countries like Maldives to its side, directly or through its partners like India.

And thirdly, it would distort the international image of Japan as well as China, which will help India to contest a United Nations Security Council seat quite comfortably.

In fact, Western nations have completely backed capitalist India as a third world playboy for the US in the Asian region. In the recent move involving the navy buildup in Indian Ocean against Iran, China being a veto-wielding power has international obligations and Beijing must remain current on day-to-day movements in the Arabian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea.

The present Chinese standoff with Japan would not allow its navy to move to the other side of the world and monitor US-Israeli moves. Indians also got a life time opportunity to mend its fence with the Maldives in order to isolate China. To counter Chinese influence in the Maldives, Indian Defence Minister AK Antony is on a three-day visit to Male in connection with the inauguration of a military hospital and foundation stone-laying ceremony at the Training Academy of the Maldivian National Defence Forces. In another development, Japan’s ambassador-designate to China, Shinichi Nishimiya, died on 16 September 2012.

Doctors were looking into the cause of his death. He was in mid-October to take over from Uichiro Niwa as Japan’s ambassador in Beijing. The latest setback in long-troubled relations between China and Japan is due to Washington’s instigation and assurance to some politicians of support against Beijing.

As the tensions between the two powers increased, Washington gained a golden chance to cash this opportunity to further isolate China and Japan.

The dispute over the islands is not only distorting the international image of both countries but is also militarily weakening them in favour of countries ambitious to emerge as new powers in the region.

There is no doubt that, being a strong supporter of cooperation between regional countries, one also needs to comprehend that India’s invitation to Western powers on Asian land and waters would be no wise step. Japan’s decision to buy the disputed islands seems to be a political decision rather than Tokyo’s ambitious plans against China.

The magnitude of the tension between the two nations has grown so out of proportion that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda had to ask Beijing to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens and businesses amid growing anti-Japan demonstrations. New Delhi’s interference in the internal affairs of smaller states in South Asia left Male in chaos.

It is the wisdom of the Maldivian leadership to agree on early elections, otherwise the US had been pressuring the Maldives to hold elections at the end of 2013.

The fact cannot be denied that Washington always looked for tackling single individuals as compared to negotiations with elected representatives.
To conclude, if the tension continues, Japan will be forced to pull out its nationals from China and vice versa.

Such moves will only benefit the enemies of Japan and China who want to establish their hegemony in the region.

It is high time that both countries agree on bilateral talks to ease the tension, as further escalations are neither in the interest of the two countries or for global peace.

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Hebdomas Horribilis: NATO Under Siege

September 20, 2012 1 comment

Dawn
September 19, 2012

Nato under siege
Najmuddin A Shaikh*

The furore in the Muslim world over the vicious trailer of the Innocence of Muslims, leading to the death of the US ambassador and three other US embassy officials in Libya, was only one facet of the hebdomas horribilis, or horrible week, that the Americans have suffered.

Much could be written about what this will mean for America’s relations with the Muslim world and Pakistan in particular, but in this article the focus is on the other facet of the ‘horrible week’ — the developments in Afghanistan over the past few days.

On Friday and Saturday, in two separate green-on-blue attacks, six coalition soldiers were killed by Afghan security personnel.

This brought to 51 the total number of Nato troops killed in such incidents in 2012 and follows the 13 deaths under similar circumstances in August.

So far the Americans had been expressing a measure of satisfaction with the steps that the Afghans were taking to recheck the background of recruits in the Afghan forces to suspend those suspected of having ties with the insurgents. Booklets were also issued to Afghan forces on cultural differences that urged Afghans not to take umbrage at some of the things American soldiers did.

Now this latest set of insider attacks has prompted a harsher reaction, with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey stating bluntly that the Afghan authorities have to take the problem seriously.

Whatever the Americans may ask for, the fact is that there is little that the Afghans will be able to do given the unwieldy size the Afghan security forces have acquired and given the American insistence on enlarging the Afghan Local Police from 16,000 to 30,000. It is said that recruitment has now been suspended; but since the Americans do see it as a means of countering the Taliban in the rural areas this suspension is likely to be lifted.

On Sept 11, probably to mark the 9/11 anniversary, the Taliban destroyed a heavy transport helicopter at Bagram base, killing three Afghan soldiers and wounding a number of Americans. Attacks on Bagram from outside the base have happened before — most notably about a month ago when Dempsey’s transport aircraft was damaged. This time, however, it seemed that the Americans were more concerned by the accuracy of the attack.

Nevertheless, this attack was far less important than the one launched by 15 insurgents on what was regarded as the “impregnable” British base, Camp Bastion, in Helmand. Not only did the insurgents, wearing US military uniforms, penetrate the defences but in something eerily reminiscent of the Mehran base tragedy in Karachi succeeded in their attack. In addition to killing two American marines, they destroyed six Harrier jets valued at $30m each, three refuelling stations and a number of aircraft hangars.

Helmand, it must be remembered, was one of the provinces in which the ‘surge’ was supposed to have broken the back of the Taliban resistance.

The Taliban have also issued a call on their website for increased attacks in Afghanistan, specifically on US forces, to avenge the aforementioned anti-Muslim film. If nothing else, one can expect that a few more Afghan soldiers will cause green-on-blue incidents.

Relations with President Karzai touched a new low when the latter condemned the said film and implicitly held the American administration responsible, but failed to condemn the killing of the American ambassador in Benghazi. He is also at loggerheads with the Americans regarding their insistence, even while handing over control of Bagram prison holding some 60 high-value prisoners.

As if this were not enough, Karzai also issued a scathing criticism of the air raid in Laghman province on Sunday where the Americans conceded that while the attack was on insurgents, there had been civilian fatalities, which according to the Afghans included nine women and girls. The International Security Assistance Force has accepted full responsibility and will presumably pay compensation but this will be fresh fodder for the anti-American sentiment that seems to be growing stronger by the day in Afghanistan as much as it is in other Muslim countries.

British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, who was visiting Camp Bastion just a couple of days before the insurgent attack, claimed in an interview to the Guardian that his commanders were now advising that British troops could be withdrawn more quickly than originally thought. It is probable that the major part of the 9,000 British troops now in Afghanistan will be withdrawn in 2013 leaving only a skeleton force in place till full withdrawal in 2014.

Interestingly, Hammond also spent some time in the interview talking about the urgent need for reconciliation. He said: “The Afghan government needed to do much more to bring about a political settlement with the insurgents because the diplomatic effort was lagging behind the military campaign” and that any peace in Afghanistan will need to involve “reaching out Northern Ireland-style to at least the moderate part of the insurgency, to try to bring it inside through reconciliation and integration”.

He suggested that the “Afghan government needs to do more and the neighbours who have influence [Pakistan] also need to maintain pressure on those parties…to come to the table”.

Speaking of the objectives of the British in Afghanistan, he maintained that Al Qaeda having been “eliminated” it would not be right to ask British troops to risk their lives for nation-building. His view was: “Even if we had achieved nothing lasting, every year that goes by keeping the bombers at bay, keeping them off our streets, is a significant achievement in itself. But we have clearly built the basics of a future that will deny the space of Afghanistan to those who would seek to harm us.”

The British do from time to time have differences with the Americans. Hammond said as much when he asserted that “tracking people down and removing them from the battlefield” was not the best way of finding a settlement, calling into question the American campaign to eliminate mid-level commanders.

One assumes he was reflecting the views of the Nato alliance as a whole. If so, it would be fair to suggest that not only will Nato forces face greater military difficulty in the months ahead but the maintenance of a residual American military presence after 2014 may also be called into question.

For Pakistan this adds to the urgency of promoting reconciliation and doing whatever lies in its power to make this happen.

*The writer is a former foreign secretary.

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Washington Wants Pentagon And NATO To Have Carte Blanche In Syria

September 19, 2012 2 comments

Voice of Russia
September 19, 2012

The Friends of Syria: whose foes are they?
Pyotr Iskanderov

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Washington wants the [UN] envoy to have no influence on military and political issues in Syria, giving the US and NATO a carte blanche.

So, the West claims that all it wants is to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and enhance democracy there, but the very nature of the anti-Assad coalition puts in doubt these good intentions.

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The Friends of Syria group is to meet in the Netherlands Thursday. This group of countries and bodies supports Syria’s opposition in its struggle to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The session will be held amid escalating conflict in the country and a new UN envoy for Syria, ex-Algeria’s Foreign Minister, Lakhdar Brahimi, taking up his office.

Our political observer Pyotr Iskenderov comments on the situation.

The Friends of Syria was initiated by France’s leader Nicolas Sarkozy who openly spoke about his intention to apply the Libyan scenario to Damascus. Before striking Libya, NATO gathered a collection of countries and organizations to ensure support of its actions. Then, France, the UK and the US were strongly backed by the Arab League, mainly Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Those who masterminded the operation knew that if it had been initiated by Arab countries, this would have sparked a conflict between the West and the Muslim world.

The administration of Barack Obama contrasted to George W. Bush is pursuing a more exquisite foreign policy. It keeps emphasizing that after withdrawing its troops from Iraq, all it cares about is Afghanistan. In other hot spots, like Libya or Syria, the US prefers to operate through its allies, mainly France, the UK or the Arab League, being behind the operation.

This worked in Libya and could well work with Syria but it’s more complicated to mount military interference in Damascus than in Libya back in 2011. This time there is no UN Security Council resolution which has at least an subtext allowing an operation. In the case of Libya it was a no-fly zone imposed by the UN, but this time Russia and China vetoed UN resolutions against Syria. So, the move was taken at creating a broad though quite vague coalition of countries, activists and bodies to internationally legitimize pressure put on Damascus.

Recently, Syria has attempted to reinforce ties with other international unions, less broad but more diverse. In the run-up to the Netherlands meeting, a contact group on Syria met in Cairo. It features Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey which treat Assad’s regime differently and are all key players in the region.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi proposed to send the group’s own observers to seek a peaceful resolution of the conflict without foreign intervention.

It was quite timely, as in August the UN and the West decided to withdraw its observers from Syria.

However, the West obviously will do its best to prevent countries which it doesn’t control from monitoring the situation in Syria.

As some UN leaks reveal, delegates from the West were the ones skeptical about the necessity of a UN envoy at all.

Richard Gowan of New York University stated:

“I doubt that any U.N. envoy can really prevent the current conflict from getting worse, although the U.N. has an absolute obligation to keep up efforts to get humanitarian aid into the country alongside the Red Cross and Red Crescent.”

This means that Washington wants the envoy to have no influence on military and political issues in Syria, giving the US and NATO a carte blanche.

So, the West claims that all it wants is to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and enhance democracy there, but the very nature of the anti-Assad coalition puts in doubt these good intentions.

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Georgia Masses Troops, Equipment, Planes On Abkhazian, South Ossetian Borders

September 19, 2012 1 comment

Republic News Agency
September 19, 2012

What are the authorities of Georgia preparing for?

On the eve of parliamentary elections, the domestic political struggle in Georgia became extremely heated. And the trends in Georgian society are not in favor of Saakashvili.

There is a possibility that the population of the country, tired of the ill-conceived and adventurist policy of the current regime, will give their votes to “renovationists” in the person of supporters of Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Naturally, Saakashvili will never accept such a new political spectrum.

To raise his rating, he tries to use a proven script to update the Russian military threat. According to him, that will rally around Saakashvili the Georgian nation on the eve of the election.

To that end he is putting up an act with regard to the Caucasus-2012 maneuvers being held by Russia.

Tbilisi, with the help of international organizations, has launched a campaign charging Russia with preparations for an attack on Georgia under the guise of conducting maneuvers.

In Georgia demonstrative preparations for the repulsion of so-called Russian aggression are being carried out. For what are fortifications built, and why are troops and military equipment drawn up at the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia?

According to local residents, Georgian aircraft and unmanned planes began to penetrate into the territory of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

It is possible that Saakashvili for persuasiveness will carry out armed provocations in order to provoke a reflex action by Russian troops.

According to intelligence service sources of South Ossetia, the highest probability of these provocations may take place during the celebration of Independence Day. It will be celebrated in the 20th of September, with an invitation extended to Russian servicemen.

The same source has reported on a significant revitalization of Georgian special services last week. Another interesting fact is the replacement of Georgian policemen at border checkpoints by fighters of special mission units.

The Russian side, in order not to provoke Georgia, is conducting the Caucasus-2012 maneuvers only in its own territory; the 4th and the 7th military bases are not involved in the maneuvers. No additional Russian troops have been introduced in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This was repeatedly stated by the chief of the General Staff of Russia, by his deputy and by the commander of the Southern Military District.

And, by the way, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, in order not to give rise to accusations of Russian preparation for aggression, the Caucasus-2012 maneuvers were initially planned to be conducted on the plains and in firing grounds in the opposite direction from Georgia.

Being aware of the inadequacy of Saakashvili, it would be desirable to believe that the international community will clarify the reliability of the Georgian leader`s propaganda campaign and will put pressure on him in order to prevent further bloodshed.

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Afghanistan: Spinning Failure As Success

September 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Voice of Russia
September 19, 2012

Afghanistan: spinning failure as success
John Robles

The number of green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan is increasing amid widespread rioting over the American film “The Innocence of Muslims” as the US attempts to make a saving-face drawdown of troops from the country. Cooperation between “coalition” troops and the Afghans is being cut back as the attacks continue, yet the US is still trying to paint a different picture of their failure in Afghanistan.

The Western media report that this year alone there have been 37 attacks on the US, and its NATO and want-to-be NATO allies, all part of George Bush’s coalition of the willing engaged in their endless world war on terror.

Just like at the beginning of the invasion when the US and the Western media reacted with horror and indignation anytime the Afghans fought back, branding them enemy combatants, then terrorists and hauling them off to their illegal torture prison, outside of the jurisdiction of international law, in Guantanamo Bay Cuba, the media in the West still don’t seem to get it. They continue to react with shock and indignation whenever their Afghan “allies,” yes that is the term they use now for the countrymen of the country they invaded, attack “coalition” forces.

Let’s stop for a minute here and put things into the proper perspective. Unlike the Soviet Union, whose intervention was officially requested by the Afghan government, the United States and NATO were never asked to enter the country. That’s one. Two: the invasion of Afghanistan, and that is what it was no matter how the West hates to admit it, was never sanctioned internationally or even within the US, and Afghanistan never threatened the US, never committed an act of aggression against the US warranting invasion, and last and most importantly was never involved in the questionable events of 9-11.

The Western media says that the attacks by Afghan “allies” have killed 51 “international service members” this year with 12 attacks in August leaving 15 dead. Yet nowhere can you find an accurate body count of the innocent Afghan people, including women and children, who have died at the hands of the coalition. This is simple to explain and is part of the US propaganda war; the people back in Kansas don’t want to hear about it, the Afghan people are an abstraction, less than human, their lives do not count as much as those of the “coalition” forces. If the American people were to find out what the US is really doing in Afghanistan, they might become upset and call for an end to the military adventure.

The US’ vested interest in hiding the truth, including about Afghanistan, is obvious by the US reaction to Wikileaks, Bradley Manning, yours truly, and anyone else who gets too close to the truth. The war should be over soon, you may think, at least that is what they want you to believe. Not hardly, despite the fact that the US is to announce that 33,000 troops who were part of the “surge” three years ago have left the country, this actually means nothing. The number of troops will remain at close to invasion level with 68,000 US troops still in-country. That is the great pull-out?

The Western media doesn’t mention this very real and provable fact; they continue to complain about Afghan “attacks.” Either they just doesn’t get it or they actually believe what they are writing when it comes to Afghanistan.

This is completely understandable as no one in the US wants to hear that they illegally invaded and decimated a country for no real reason, or at least not for the reasons they were lied to about and led to believe. No one wants to hear that their presence is not wanted and that they are aggressors and invaders: invaders who attacked one of the poorest and most defenseless countries in the world illegally and on false pretexts and then stayed there for more than a decade killing the population without being able to claim any kind of victory.

The media in the West complains that the spike in “insider” attacks is somehow souring relations between the US and its Afghan allies who are fighting side by side. Against whom? Against other Afghan people. The once-CIA-backed Taliban? The reality is that the US invaded their country, and is killing their people, so how is it that an Afghan could, in his right mind, fight alongside the invaders? Well apparently many are now taking the first chance they have to fight back. Not against their Afghan brothers and sisters but against the invaders.

This is something the US just doesn’t seem to understand. Even if there weren’t thousands of cases of innocent civilians being killed and the constant “scandals” that go unpunished, incidents of urinating on corpses, collecting body parts as trophies and the like, the US would never be welcomed in the country. They are invaders.

In the latest in a spate of what are now called “green-on-blue” attacks, an Afghan soldier in Helmand province opened fire on a vehicle he believed was driven by NATO soldiers, slightly wounding a foreign staff member. Also on Sunday, an Afghan police officer shot and killed four American troops in Zabul and on Saturday a member of a government-backed militia killed two British troops, also in Helmand.

Of course the escalation in violence and attacks against the Americans is being painted in a different light by officials and the press, and instead of admitting that they are completely losing control of the country and that the situation for them is growing worse by the day, people like U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are attempting to paint the increase in attacks as a sign of the decrease in power by the attackers. Panetta said while visiting Japan that the “insider attacks are the last gasp of a Taliban insurgency that has not been able to regain lost ground.” So the fact that they are attacking more means that they are in fact weaker? Ahem. Okay, but sorry if you call a black kettle white – it is still black.

Further underlining the US military adventure’s failure in Afghanistan and in their meddling in the Muslim world in general, on Tuesday September 18th a woman wearing a suicide vest blew herself up on a minibus in Kabul, killing 12 people including 7 foreigners. According to reports, the dead were mostly Russian and South African nationals. Apparently the attack was in protest of the infamous film “The Innocence of Muslims”.

In Kabul thousands of protestors clashed with police over the same film, in violence that was even worse that the outbreak that occurred at the beginning of the year over the burning of Korans by US troops.

On Monday NATO reported that it has cut the number of joint operations with Afghan soldiers and policemen in order to lessen the chance of insider attacks. This is the second such order given recently which further flies in the face of the claim that they are fighting “shoulder to shoulder” with the Afghans.

The Pentagon, for its part, has “suspended most joint field operations with Afghan forces because so many Americans are being killed by the men they are training” according to a CBS News report. This comes on the heels of a decision to end all joint patrols and operations without first obtaining approval from the command structure.

If they call that winning, I would hate to see what they call losing.

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America As Self-Appointed Avenging Angel: A Self-Made Illusion

September 19, 2012 1 comment

The News International
September 19, 2012

A self-made illusion
Roedad Khan*

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Democracy in Afghanistan is a self-made illusion. It is a Western-imposed farce that will be swept away if America and its allies stop propping it up with their bayonets.

The Islamic world contains the world’s greatest concentration of un-elected monarchs, military dictators, and usurpers, all supported by America. None would survive without American help…We in Pakistan have suffered four military coups, all supported by the US…

John Quincy Adam’s caution to America not to go abroad to slay dragons they do not understand in the name of spreading democracy or securing American interests has been thrown to the winds. Neither Washington, nor Madison nor Jefferson saw America as the world’s avenging angel.

Today the United States is once again in an expansionist mood. Iraq was but a “breakfast”. Afghanistan is “picnic lunch”. Where will Americans dine? The United States has strong teeth but a weak stomach.

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Alexis De Tocqueville once said: “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America”. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in his acceptance speech, did not say a word about the war in Afghanistan, as if it were a non-event, although the US still has about 90,000 troops in that country and over 2,000 Americans have died fighting a totally unjustified war.

There is clearly a conspiracy of silence about this totally unnecessary and unwinnable war. That neither Republicans nor Democrats see the war in Afghanistan as a fit subject for debate, is salt in the wound. Both seem to have adopted a collective amnesia about the war and the untold misery and havoc it has wrought.

Robert McNamara, the brilliant secretary of defence for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, helped lead America into Vietnam. McNamara believed that the fight against communism in Asia was worth sacrificing American lives, and yet he eventually came to believe that America had stumbled into a war – in which it had lost over 58,000 men and women – that was, in fact, unnecessary and unwinnable. The lessons of Vietnam were forgotten.

Iraq, a secular, socialist state, was not involved in 9/11, had no links with the Al-Qaeda. Baghdad presented no clear and present danger to its neighbours, and none to the US or Britain. The truth is that what was at stake was not an imminent military or terrorist threat but the economic imperatives of US growth. Iraq has 112 billion barrels of proven resources, or roughly 11 percent of the world’s proven supply. That is more oil than the resources of Europe and South America put together, and more than Africa and the Asia-Pacific region combined. That oil has global strategic, political and economic significance. The temptation to grab it must have been irresistible.

North Korea has admitted it has nuclear capability but it is not invaded as Iraq was. If Saddam didn’t have oil, he could torture his citizens to his heart’s content. Other leaders in the Islamic world do it everyday with the blessings of the United States. Opposition to the war in the US is growing, although the primary cause for this opposition is that the cost of the war is too great and unacceptable to the American people. It is deplorable, but nonetheless, true, that what has changed public opinion in the US and its domestic political picture, is not the efforts of its intellectuals but rather the Afghans resistance which simply will not yield to American force.

The rationale for Obama’s war in Afghanistan is phony. American soldiers fighting in Afghanistan know it. No wonder army morale is dropping. How long is it going to take for America to recognise that the war in Afghanistan is a fiasco – tragic, deeply dehumanising and ultimately unwinnable? One thing is clear, peace and stability will never resume as long as aggression continues and American soldiers remain on Afghan soil. Instead of enacting a charade, America should turn Afghanistan over to a genuine international coalition headed by the UN and get out. America has dug itself into a deep, deep hole. Playing the world’s policeman is not the answer to the catastrophe in New York. Playing the world’s policeman is what led to it.

Anti-American sentiment, now at its highest, has metastasised into violent demonstrations all over the Islamic world against a sacrilegious film. The US government has warned its citizens against travelling to Afghanistan because of the fear of being kidnapped or killed. Democracy in Afghanistan is a self-made illusion. It is a Western-imposed farce that will be swept away if America and its allies stop propping it up with their bayonets.

The Islamic world contains the world’s greatest concentration of un-elected monarchs, military dictators, and usurpers, all supported by America. None would survive without American help. Where, then, is the symbol of hope in a Muslim world ruled by US-protected and coddled, corrupt despots? We in Pakistan have suffered four military coups, all supported by the US. The result is what we have now: moving from misery to poverty and a corrupt president sitting on top of a sham democracy.

Obama has placed America on the wrong side of history. Today US foreign policy finds itself at the bottom of a slippery slope. It has assumed many of the very features of the ‘rogue nations’ against which it has rhetorically and sometimes literally done battle over the years. The legitimacy of US action in Afghanistan has vanished. Its war on terrorism has no support in the Islamic world and is fast becoming unpopular in the rest of the world. There is an old Russian saying: Once you let your feet get caught in a quagmire, your whole body will be sucked in. Today the United States seems trapped in a bad story, with no way to change the script.

Today the United States is at war in Afghanistan and our tribal area. However you title or define it, it is war, a war it cannot win. Today nationalism is among the most potent phenomena of political life in this part of the world. In the past, nationalism had succeeded in disrupting the British, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. If the United States persists in waging this totally unnecessary and unjustified war, it would suffer a similar fate. If America wants to make headway against Muslim rage, it will have to relieve the suffering of the Palestinian people. It will have to vacate its aggression in Afghanistan and withdraw its support of tyrannies in the Muslim world.

John Quincy Adam’s caution to America not to go abroad to slay dragons they do not understand in the name of spreading democracy or securing American interests has been thrown to the winds. Neither Washington, nor Madison nor Jefferson saw America as the world’s avenging angel. The lesson of history is that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

In a memorandum addressed to the Chairman Science Board, Paul Wolfowitz, then deputy secretary of defense, wrote: “Our military expedition to Afghanistan and Iraq are unlikely to be the last such excursion in the global war on terrorism. We may need to support an ally under attack by terrorists determined to replace the legitimate government; we may need to effect change in the governance of a country that is blatantly sustaining support for terrorism; or we may need to assist an ally who is unable to govern areas of his own country – where terrorists may recruit, train and plan without interference by the legitimate government”! It is scary.

Today the United States is once again in an expansionist mood. Iraq was but a “breakfast”. Afghanistan is “picnic lunch”. Where will Americans dine? The United States has strong teeth but a weak stomach. No wonder, it has digestive problems with Afghanistan. Be that as it may, America seems intent on using the September 11 attacks to impose what is called a ‘civilisation of fear’. Both Iran and Pakistan are now in gun sights. Obama has made it abundantly clear that American special forces in Afghanistan will strike into Pakistan, if Pakistan fell into the “wrong hands”. America is already at war with Pakistan in Waziristan. American drone attacks are a clear violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and are perceived quite literally as an act of war.

“The single greatest threat to (Pakistan)”, Obama said recently, “comes from Al-Qaeda and their extremist allies”. This is not true. All our major problems stem from the American occupation of Afghanistan and its frequent intrusions into our tribal territory. It has turned our tribal area into a protracted ulcer, a quagmire – a place where Pakistan is spending blood and treasure to protect American interests.

*The writer is a former federal secretary.

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NATO In Afghanistan: Organized Retreat Of Defeated Armies

September 19, 2012 1 comment

The Frontier Post
September 17, 2012

Hoax exposed

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[T]he commanders of the occupation armies have in effect fought the Afghan war throughout on lies and deceptions, not on the battlefield. It is they alone and their gullible political masters who talk of successes. But even their own soldiers confide to their private interlocutors that they have lost the war.

[T]he 2014 pullout of occupation armies is a big hoax, indeed. It is not the withdrawal of victorious armies. Verily, it is an organised retreat of defeated armies.

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The ferocious attack of Afghan Taliban on the Camp Bastion military base in Helmand province of Afghanistan is quite telltale. The base is in the employ of both the British and American armies, where Prince Harry, the third in the British line of succession, is stationed on a four-month tour of duty as well. Although he is under Taliban’s threat to his life, their spokesman has announced that Saturday’s attack on the Camp Bastion was meant to avenge the sacrilegious American film derogatory of Islam.

Whatever it is, the deadly Taliban assault has neatly knocked the bottom out of the hoax that both the British and American military high commands have been parading now for quite some time. They assert that Helmand, a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency, which has been primarily under the operational command of the British military since 2006, has been pacified. So much so, the British military commanders have lately been telling their political bosses that the province stands so secured that Afghan security forces can now easily control it.

Indeed, on this plea they have just recently even recommended to their government that many more than 500 British soldiers from their 9,000-strong military contingent in Afghanistan they had originally planned could be pulled out by this year’s end. The attack puts paid to their pretence. But then the commanders of the occupation armies have in effect fought the Afghan war throughout on lies and deceptions, not on the battlefield. It is they alone and their gullible political masters who talk of successes. But even their own soldiers confide to their private interlocutors that they have lost the war.

And for this, the military commanders and their naïve governments are squarely to blame. They showed neither the spine nor the initiative when they should have. They just kept fiddling with the war, while the Taliban and other insurgent groups were all the while regrouping in their erstwhile strongholds and rearming lethally. And when at long last they ventured out of their Kabul and Bagram redoubts in 2006, they had already lost the war.

Not only were the Taliban and other insurgents entrenched in their bastions unconquerably and resurgent, expanding beyond their strongholds, they were also running parallel governments over a vast stretch of land.

In itself, the 2014 pullout of occupation armies is a big hoax, indeed. It is not the withdrawal of victorious armies. Verily, it is an organised retreat of defeated armies.

Some in fact have already begun the retreat. The Dutch and the Canadians have long gone, leaving behind their operational grounds of Uruzgan and Kandahar provinces respectively in turmoil and in the hands of insurgents.

The French are flapping their wings feverishly to get out all their troops by this year’s end. Not much could be said about the presence of the other occupation armies till 2014 as public opinion in all the contributing nations is veering round to a quick pullout of their soldiers. In America itself, public pressure is building up fast to this effect.

This public sentiment has been spurred greatly by the growing murderous attacks of Afghan security personnel on their foreign trainers and mates. In fact, the Afghan war, by every account, is now an increasingly unpopular war in every country that has contributed troops to the occupation coalition. And to the great discomfiture of its military commanders and their governments, who all have all long fed their peoples with lies and deceits on their war efforts. They will have much explaining to do to their publics on the expending of so much of blood and treasure on a war that palpably is leaving Afghanistan in no peace but only in turbulence. A patchwork of what the occupiers are boastfully, albeit deceitfully, branding as the Afghan national army and police predictably will be unable to withstand the fury of the resistance forces that are giving such a tough time to highly-trained occupiers laced with arms from foot to teeth.

Perceptive Afghanistan-watchers are indeed already predicting a terrible civil strife engulfing the wretched country in times ahead. So much so that a British parliamentary secretary is pleading vehemently for dividing up Afghanistan into eight autonomous regions to avert this eventuality. But it is the Afghans themselves who will eventually decide their destiny, not the outsiders. And certainly the coming times do not bode well for the country and its people. The future, nonetheless, will tell which way the camel ultimately sits in the country. But the hoax of the occupiers, now getting exposed inch by inch, is sure to finally explode thunderously to their utter shame and disgrace.

Categories: Uncategorized

Reset to Reroute: Russia Should Rethink Western Relations

September 19, 2012 Leave a comment

RT
September 18, 2012

Reset to Reroute: Should Russia rethink Western relations?

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“In the first years of Perestroika, Russia was definitely Western-oriented; Gorbachev had been speaking about a ‘common European home,’ while Yeltsin actually applied for NATO and EU membership.”

The only result of these efforts was NATO’s eastward expansion.

Obama’s excuse for missing the event [APEC meeting in Vladivostok] was the upcoming presidential elections. However, it was not lost on some political analysts that Washington may have been uncomfortable with the idea of being in attendance at a summit where its superpower status would be partially eclipsed by other rising stars.

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Vyacheslav Nikonov, Deputy Head of Foreign Affairs Committee, tells RT that Russia should start looking eastward to fortify its foreign policy aims.
The Duma official said Russia should become a self-sufficient center of international strength.

“Russia cannot become anything else, there is no alternative” Nikonov told RT in a telephone interview. “We cannot be integrated into the European Union or NATO; we are too big and too Russian for that.”

Russia is doomed to be an independent, central power, he added.

Nikonov then provided some historical perspective to Russia’s timely turn to the East.

“In the first years of Perestroika, Russia was definitely Western-oriented; Gorbachev had been speaking about a ‘common European home,’ while Yeltsin actually applied for NATO and EU membership,” he noted.

The only result of these efforts was NATO’s eastward expansion, he added.

Nikonov then provided a solid case for Russia looking to the East for both security and economic advantages.

“Today, there is a move toward East Asia, which is quite logical. More than half of the global economy, and more than half of the global population lives in the Asia Pacific region. So for Russia it is very important to look eastward and to position itself not just as European or Eurasian power, but also as a Europe-Pacific power.”

Russia and China are sealing their relationship not just with words, but with concrete partnerships, including in the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In considering where America fits into these regional alliances, it is telling that US President Barack Obama took a pass on this year’s APEC meeting, held in the Russian port city of Vladivostok.

Obama’s excuse for missing the event was the upcoming presidential elections. However, it was not lost on some political analysts that Washington may have been uncomfortable with the idea of being in attendance at a summit where its superpower status would be partially eclipsed by other rising stars.

This underscores the advantages of Russia teaming up with China on the global stage.

Nikonov pointed to the Great Wall of China to support the claim that the Asian country has for millennia been concerned about protecting its northern territory from invasion. Today, that fear is greatly diminished and now China can focus attention on other problem spots.

“Beijing understands that maintaining healthy relations with Russia is very important, and today Russia-China relations are at their best ever,” Nikonov confirmed.

Asked about the future of Russia-US relations in light of the upcoming presidential elections in Washington, he believes “it doesn’t matter which administration is in power.”

“There are different Democrats and there are different Republicans,” he told RT. “Historically, however, it was easier for Russia and the Soviet Union to deal with the Republicans, which represent the more pragmatic party with less interest in a human rights agenda.”

Nikonov blamed the campaign season for the increase in rhetoric aimed against Russia, specifically from the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, who called Russia America’s “number one geopolitical foe.”

“The Obama administration is protecting his record and the reset in US-Russian relations has been one of his real achievements,” he said. “And of course the Republicans in this tough campaign will attack Obama on every foreign policy issue, including the reset.”

Nikonov then mentioned the Russia-US reset, suggesting that it may be time to reconsider that as well.

“We should probably think more strategically and not just reset the computer, but perhaps consider changing the hard disc,” he quipped.

Relations between Moscow and Washington remain strained over US plans to build a missile defense shield in former Warsaw Pact country – without Russia’s participation.

Despite Moscow’s warning that the system could trigger “another arms race,” US and NATO officials seem unfazed by such a grim prospect.

Nevertheless, Russia should not take America’s tough stance too personally.

After all, it may be simply reacting to a challenging domestic situation.
“The domestic situation inside of the US is not really favorable for an improvement of relations with any country since America has become inward looking and very xenophobic,” Nikonov concluded.

Categories: Uncategorized

East China Sea Conflict: Harbor No Illusions Of U.S. Impartiality

September 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Global Times
September 19, 2012

Don’t harbor illusions of impartial US

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta just visited Japan and China and his position on the Diaoyu issue was intensively scrutinized by the media. But Washington’s attitude still remains vague, insisting that the White House takes no position over Diaoyu’s sovereignty.

But it is obvious that Washington is not so impartial between China and Japan. In other disputes China has with its neighbors, the US directly or indirectly sides with China’s opponents. The question is how much weight the US will put behind Japan.

Until now Washington has been reluctant in openly supporting Japan’s claim, since Tokyo’s demand isn’t legitimate. Also Japan hasn’t been in a disadvantageous position that requires Washington to immediately step in. Moreover, the US has to take into consideration the Sino-US relationship. It doesn’t want to face a strategic dilemma whether to intervene if a war breaks out between China and Japan.

The US has its strategic considerations in taking a position between China and Japan. It is impossible for China to persuade Washington to take a neutral position. The hope of such is purely an illusion, though China can urge the US to move toward a neutral position through concrete actions that show doing so is more in line with US interests.

China should take the opportunity of Panetta’s visit to let the US know its will to safeguard the Diaoyu Islands and resist Japan’s provocation.

As long as Japan escalates the situation, China will take ready actions. If the US does not restrain Japan but incites it to provoke China, then we will all bear the military risks.

Japan claimed the US has agreed that the Diaoyu Islands fall within the purview of the US-Japan Security Treaty. China should show its stance to the US that China rejects any military presence in Diaoyu, and it will take military actions against such moves.

Japan has the actual control of the Diaoyu Islands. The US and Japan can make offensive moves at will. Only through taking firm actions, can our determination be firmer and we win back the initiative.

Sacrifices will be necessary in safeguarding Diaoyu. Chinese should be prepared for it. These sacrifices will not only improve the situation we are in over the Diaoyu dispute, but also lay a solid foundation for China’s global status in the future.

The US urged China and Japan to solve the dispute peacefully, and stressed it did not take a stance on the issue, which is an admission there is a dispute. It serves as a blow for Japan’s right-wing forces, which claim there is no dispute on the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands. It is China’s attitude that made the US take this position.

The policy the US takes toward Diaoyu is far from US core interests. The US attitude can vary according to how strong China’s approach is.

Categories: Uncategorized
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