Archive for March, 2010

Mongolia: Pentagon Trojan Horse Wedged Between China And Russia

March 31, 2010 2 comments

March 31, 2010

Mongolia: Pentagon Trojan Horse Wedged Between China And Russia
Rick Rozoff

Because of its history, its location and the nations which surround it, Mongolia would seem the last country in the world to host annual Pentagon-led military exercises and in Asia to offer NATO troops for the war in Afghanistan.

From the early 1920s until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 Mongolia was the former nation’s longest-standing and in many ways closest political and military ally, its armed forces fighting alongside those of the USSR against the Japanese in World War II. It was not a member of the Warsaw Pact as that alliance was formed in Europe six years after and in response to the creation of NATO in 1949, but Mongolia was a military buffer between the Soviet Union and the Japanese army in China in the Second World War and between it and China during the decades of the Sino-Soviet conflict.

Mongolia is also buried deep within the Asian continent and is the world’s second-largest landlocked nation next to Kazakhstan, which is only 21 miles from its western border. Those two countries along with North Korea, impenetrable in most every sense of the word, are the only three that border both China and Russia.

Mongolia’s entire northern frontier is abutted by Russia and its eastern, southern and western borders by China. There is no way to enter the country except by passing through or over Russia and China.

As such Mongolia would have appeared to be a refuge of non-alignment in a world of rapidly expanding U.S. and NATO penetration of increasingly vast tracts of the earth’s surface.

But in the post-Cold War period no country is beyond the Pentagon’s reach, either inside or on its borders.

In the last decade alone the U.S. has acquired bases and other military installations and stationed its armed forces throughout parts of the world that it had never penetrated during the Cold War era, including:

Africa: Approximately 2,000 troops and the Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.

Black Sea: Seven new air and training bases in Bulgaria and Romania and the de facto control of air, navy, infantry and surveillance bases in Georgia.

Baltic Sea: The activation in April of a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 theater interceptor missile battery in eastern Poland with an initial contingent of 100 troops to run it.

Middle East: Air bases, forward operating bases, base camps, weapons storage facilities and troops transit centers in Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait and a long-range (2,900-mile) interceptor missile radar facility in Israel staffed by 120 U.S. military personnel.

Central Asia: An air base in Kyrgyzstan through which 35,000 U.S. and NATO troops transit each month for the war in Afghanistan and plans for a new special forces “anti-terrorist” training center in the nation.

South Asia: A proliferation of infantry and air bases in Afghanistan, including the mammoth Bagram Air Field with 25,000 military personnel and contractors. The Bagram military complex has been more than tripled in size since the 2001 invasion and is currently undergoing yet further large-scale expansion.

East Asia: The return of the U.S. military to the Philippines after being ordered to leave by the country’s Senate in 1991 with at least 600 troops and two permanent structures in Camp Navarro in Mindanao where the U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) is based.

South America: Seven new military, including air and naval, bases in Colombia agreed upon last summer.

Central America: In addition to the U.S. retaining the use of the Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras for its 550-troop Joint Task Force-Bravo after the military coup d’etat of last June 28, a report surfaced in September of 2009 that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had reached an agreement with new Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli for the opening of two new American naval bases, one each on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts.

Indian Ocean: U.S. Africa Command deployed lethal Reaper “hunter-killer” drones, spy planes and over a hundred service members to Seychelles late last year.

South Pacific: A secretive military satellite base in Western Australia was approved in 2007. The massive expansion of the Andersen Air Force Base and construction of barracks for 8,000 Marines on Guam is underway.

New bases on every inhabited continent outside the Pentagon’s own.

Mongolia, however remote it is and previously inaccessible it may have been, is no exception to the wave of worldwide U.S. military expansion.

On March 29 NATO announced that the nation had become the 45th country to contribute troops for the North Atlantic military bloc’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The 44th nation to be formally dragooned into NATO’s first ground and first Asian war was Montenegro, the world’s newest (universally recognized) state.

There are in fact more than 45 countries with troops subordinated to NATO in the Afghan war zone in addition to those from all but six European nations, two South Pacific ones (Australia and New Zealand), a Persian Gulf state (the United Arab Emirates), all three South Caucasus nations (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia), Asia’s Singapore and South Korea and the U.S. and Canada.

Last November the Financial Times confirmed that Colombia was deploying infantry forces to Afghanistan under NATO command, in December the ISAF website divulged that Egyptian military personnel are operating in the east of the country [1], and this January the U.S. armed forces newspaper Stars and Stripes revealed that troops from Bahrain and Jordan were already in the war zone.

The inclusion of Colombia and Egypt is particularly significant as now troops from all six populated continents are among those of fifty-some-odd nations serving under NATO – soon to number 150,000, with almost all U.S. forces placed under NATO command – in not only a single war theater but in one country. The world has never before witnessed such a widespread military network concentrated on and in one small land.

Mongolia’s Defense Minister Luvsanvandan Bold was at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 29 to formalize his nation’s deployment of an estimated 250 more troops for the Afghan war. He was accompanied by his country’s chief of the general staff and secretary of the National Security Council.

The delegation met with NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero and the “meeting marked the formal recognition of the Mongolian contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).”

NATO’s number two civilian leader said on the occasion that “These are important agreements, not just from a legal perspective, but chiefly to mark Mongolia’s full recognition as a member of ISAF and a key contributor to the international mission.” [2]

The military bloc announced that as Mongolia is now an official Troop Contributing Nation, it will be invited to the 56-nation NATO foreign ministers meeting to begin on April 23 in Estonia.

The Mongolian entourage also visited Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, NATO’s main military command, outside Mons, Belgium, where it was accorded an honor guard reception and met with the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Sir John McColl.

NATO now has a military partner squeezed between Russia and China.

A report from last year placed matters in historical perspective. Deployment to Afghanistan will assist “The Mongolian army, which has not seen major combat since assisting the Soviet invasion of Manchuria in 1945,” to “acquire vital, on-the-ground experience.” The mission “will mark its largest military presence in Afghanistan since the age of Genghis Khan.” [3]

However, the U.S. first secured Mongolian troops for the war in Afghanistan much earlier, in 2003, and Genghis Khan was invoked for the occasion, which should cast in doubt the references to peacekeeping used in subsequent citations. The latest development signals the transition from a bilateral U.S.-Mongolian military partnership to the broadening of NATO’s role in Asia and the further consolidation of an Asian NATO.

“The landlocked nation has previously operated artillery training teams in Afghanistan and sent troops to serve with the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq,” and in the course of doing so “Mongolia’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has helped cement its alliance with the United States and secure grants and aid.” [4]

U.S. Marines were deployed to the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator (Ulaanbaatar), “for the first time in the history of the Marine Corps, Aug. 18, 2003 in support of Khaan Quest ’03.” [5]

The live-fire military exercise, which has been held every year since, is named after Genghis Khan. The announced purpose of the training exercises, run by the Pentagon’s Pacific Command, has been to upgrade Mongolian soldiers to United Nations peacekeeping standards. Having little else in the way of exports, the nation’s troops are paid comparatively handsomely for missions abroad.

As to the nature of the peacekeeping missions the Pentagon has been training Mongolia’s armed forces to conduct, after the first Khaan Quest exercises – in which they were instructed by U.S. Marines in “peacekeeping operations such as check point, patrolling, immediate action drills, riot control and more” [6] – in August of 2003, the U.S. deployed troops they had instructed to Iraq in September and to Afghanistan in October.

The second rotation of Mongolian troops to Iraq occurred in early 2004 and the second Khaan Quest U.S.-led military exercises were staged in Mongolia the same year.

Mongolia was invited to participate in the Cobra Gold exercises in Thailand, Asia’s largest war games, in 2004 for the first time. The roster also included the U.S., Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore.

The following year U.S. Marines returned to the nation for Khaan Quest 2005 and almost two weeks of joint training with the Mongolian Armed Forces.

The Marines and 130 local troops engaged in what was described as a mock battle 65 miles west of the capital, a repeat of similar engagements in 2003 and 2004. [7]

Five months after the April exercises Mongolia’s President Nambariin Enkhbayar visited Hawaii on his way home from the United Nations to meet with the top commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, whose “vast area of responsibility [consists of] half the surface of the globe that includes half its population spread across 36 countries,” [8], Admiral William Fallon.

After the meeting the Mongolian head of state was quoted as saying “We have been discussing how to cooperate to expand and develop the capacity of the Mongolian armed forces and peacekeeping operations,” and that he and Fallon “found complete understanding” about collaboration between the Pentagon’s Pacific Command and the Mongolian armed forces. [9]

The following month Donald Rumsfeld became the first U.S. secretary of defense to visit Mongolia and addressed soldiers from the nation who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Until the last moment he also was to have visited China’s and Russia’s other joint neighbor, Kazakhstan, to “discuss increasing U.S. help in their [Kazakhstan’s and Mongolia’s] military modernization programs” on his way to a NATO meeting in Lithuania to meet “with Ukraine’s defense minister about that country’s effort to join the organization.” [10]

Speaking of Mongolian officials’ military cooperation with the U.S., he said “Located between Russia and China, they decided that their democracy, stability and future was mostly tied to the relationships they could create.” [11]

It was confirmed at the time that six U.S. Marine and one Army officer were assigned to the nation’s military and that “With US funding and training, the Mongolian government built a peacekeeping force of 5,000 troops from its current force of 11,000 troops.” [12] Almost half its men under arms are available for deployments abroad.

On November 21st of 2005 President George W. Bush followed in Rumsfeld’s footsteps, arriving for a one-day visit to Ulan Bator with his secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. As Rumsfeld was the first Pentagon chief, so Bush was the first standing U.S. head of state to visit Mongolia. Both were on recruitment missions, and not just for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A report on the U.S. defense chief’s trip included the observation that “In Mongolia, Rumsfeld tried to nurture a relationship that may be a hedge against a shift in China’s current path.” [13]

Bush’s comments while there didn’t spare his hosts an ex post facto swipe at the nation’s political past (until last May the ruling party’s name was still that of the communist period) and an evocation of the Genghis Khan mythos (and ethos): “Free people did not falter in the Cold War, and free people will not falter in the war on terror. The Mongolian armed forces are serving the cause of freedom, and U.S. forces are proud to serve beside such fearless warriors.” [14]

Months afterward it was revealed that Rumsfeld had promised impoverished Mongolia (with a population roughly equal to that of Chicago) $11 million worth of U.S. military equipment. [15]

In January of 2006 Mongolia announced that, despite a transition in the nation’s cabinet underway at the time, it would keep its U.S.-trained troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the middle of the year the U.S. State Department disclosed that “Rumsfeld said the United States plans to join Mongolia in an upcoming multinational exercise that is intended to strengthen regional cooperation in peacekeeping.

“The exercise, called ‘Conquest,’ is scheduled for late summer.” [16] Once again the alleged peacekeeping nature of America’s military role in Mongolia was belied by the name of the operation.

During the summer the Pentagon conducted the Khaan Quest 2006 exercises in which “300 American military personnel [trained] 600 Mongolian troops, as well as 200 others from Bangladesh, Fiji, South Korea, Thailand and Tonga,” at what by that time was a permanent training base at Tavan Tolgoi (Five Hills).

It was announced before the August war games that “The training is part of the millions of dollars that President Bush promised during his visit to Mongolia last year.” [17]

During Khaan Quest 2006 “Admiral William J. Fallon, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, greeted media and soldiers, praising the peacekeeping exercises and stressing the importance of Tavan Tolgoi as an international training site.” [18] The next year Fallon took over Central Command whose area of responsibility includes both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The two-week military exercises were held “on the windswept steppe of Mongolia, a key American ally strategically placed between Russia and China.”

To demonstrate its appreciation of the role that Mongolia plays in U.S. geostrategic plans for Eurasia, three months earlier “The U.S. Congress passed a resolution…commending Mongolia on marking 800 years since Genghis Khan forged a nation out of the vast territory inhabited by disparate tribes, and praising its ‘commitment to democracy, freedom and economic reform.'”[19]

In late July and early August Mongolian air force officials were invited to Operation Cooperative Cope Thunder in Alaska, “the largest multilateral air combat exercise in the northern Pacific, with about 1,300 personnel participating” from the United States, NATO, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Sweden. [20]

In October the seventh rotation of Mongolian troops “left for Iraq on board a special flight” to “join U.S. soldiers on patrol missions and maintaining order in the Iraqi capital [of] Baghdad.” [21]

By 2007 the Pentagon’s military integration of Mongolia had progressed beyond the point of the latter merely sending observers to U.S. war games and in July Mongolian airmen joined colleagues from the U.S., Spain, Thailand and Turkey for the two-week Red Flag-Alaska exercises in which “80 aircraft and 1,500 service members from the six countries [flew] together in this multinational exercise that provides realistic combat training….” [22]

The same month, at a time when almost 1,000 of its troops had served in the Iraq war zone, The Times of London in a feature called “War earns Mongolia rich peace dividend” summed up the results of four years of direct U.S.-Mongolian military cooperation:

“[Mongolian] soldiers are fed, given new uniforms, battle armour and night-vision equipment when they arrive in Iraq and President Bush has promised Mongolia $14.5 million to renovate its Armed Forces.

“The country’s readiness to fight in Iraq was also key to winning it a highly sought-after first-round place in Washington’s $5 billion Millennium Challenge Account.” [23]

Khaan Quest 2007 expanded to include over 1,000 troops from the U.S., Mongolia and seven other Asian and Asia-Pacific nations – Bangladesh, Tonga, South Korea, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Cambodia – to “improve their interoperability” and the “multinational speed of response, mission effectiveness…and unity of effort. [24]

The 2008 Khaan Quest exercises added troops from France, India, Nepal and Thailand to the U.S. Pacific Command-run operation.

The BBC reported at the time:

“As exercises go, these ones are relatively small – but they are symbolic.

“They represent part of Mongolia’s ongoing efforts to build ties that extend beyond its two super-power neighbours.” [25]

In July of 2008 Mongolia was invited to participate in the 20-nation Pacific Rim Airpower Symposium held in the capital of Malaysia. Mongolia doesn’t border the Pacific or even have a navy. It is separated from that ocean by hundreds of miles of Chinese and Russian territory.

The four-day event was hosted by the Royal Malaysian Air Force and U.S. Pacific Air Forces’ 13th Air Force, and included participants from the U.S., Malaysia, Mongolia, Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The commander of the 13th Air Force, Lieutenant General Loyd Utterback, remarked at the time: “Through this symposium, we have a great opportunity to share and understand what each nation brings to the battlefield.” [26]

Mongolian forces were also part of a U.S.-led military exercise on the order of Khaan Quest in Bangladesh in April of 2008 along with troops from the U.S. and the host nation, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Tonga.

Following by three years what appeared like an attempt at a “color revolution” scenario in Mongolia in March and April of 2005 ahead of a presidential election (on the heels of successful equivalents in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan), riots broke out in Ulan Bator after parliamentary elections in the summer of 2008. The standard “color revolution” technique. Molotov cocktails were hurled into the offices of the ruling Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party and at least five people were killed and 300 injured, leading to a four-day state of emergency being declared. (The protests were led by supporters of the Democratic Party of Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, about whom more later.)

Five months afterward, in early November, Mongolia and Russia held a joint peacekeeping training exercise in the first country, the only joint maneuvers of any sort since the breakup of the Soviet Union seventeen years earlier. In the interim the Pentagon had led six comparable exercises in Mongolia from 2003-2008.

Mongolia was granted observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (whose members are China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) in 2004, but in the succeeding six years has made no efforts to gain full membership.

In July of 2009 the nation’s military announced that it would expand upon previous deployments to Afghanistan, limited to artillery training units, by sending a full contingent of troops as part of “cooperation that stems from its ‘third neighbor’ policy to reach out to allies other than China and Russia,” meaning the U.S. and NATO. [27]

On August 15 the twelve-day Khaan Quest 2009 exercises were launched under U.S. leadership. In addition to American and Mongolian forces, troops from Cambodia, India, Japan and South Korea participated.

“The exercise is the most visible form of US-Mongolian military cooperation,” which “grew out of Mongolia’s participation in the US-led war in Iraq, the first combat action that Mongolian troops had seen since World War II.”

“In addition to the Khaan Quest exercise, US military cooperation with Mongolia includes the Marine Leadership Development Exchange Program, an initiative unique to Mongolia in which a small group of US Marines ’embeds’ with Mongolian forces full time to help train them in western military methods.” [28]

Developing out of the annual Khaan Quest exercises, a Mongolian Expeditionary Force consisting of “elite soldiers selected by Mongolian Armed Forces Maj. Javkhlanbayar Dondogdorj specifically” for Afghanistan are to be deployed to the war front in that country. [29]

The exercises in Mongolia were preceded by a United Nations Staff Officers Course run under the U.S. State Department’s Global Peace Operations Initiative with officers from the U.S., Mongolia, Germany, Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Khaan Quest 2009 closed with a ceremony which featured “a parade by the graduating platoons and speeches by the chief of staff of US Pacific Command (which sponsored the exercise), as well as Mongolia’s defense minister and chief of armed forces.” [30]

This year’s Khaan Quest 2010 “is scheduled to begin August 2010 and event officials are expecting a larger participating force” than in 2009. [31]

Earlier in the year, on May 24, the candidate of the Democratic Party, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, won the nation’s presidential election, becoming the first president never to have been a member of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party and the first to have been educated in the West. In fact he received a diploma from the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Economic Institute in 2001 and a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government the following year.

The nation’s military ties with Washington and with NATO can be expected to grow even firmer and more extensive under the Elbegdorj administration.

With its vast expanse (over 600,000 square miles) and its sparse population (less than 3 million people with almost 40 percent living in the capital), Mongolia is the optimal location for U.S. military surveillance (ground, air and satellite) to monitor China and Russia simultaneously. The nation’s new U.S.-educated head of state is not likely to deny Washington’s requests in that regard.

1) International Security Assistance Force
American Forces Press Service
December 16, 2009
2) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 29, 2010
3) Reuters, July 22, 2009
4) Ibid
5) Marine Corps News, August 28, 2003
6) Ibid
7) Xinhua News Agency, April 17, 2005
8) U.S. Department of Defense, May 18, 2009
9) Associated Press, September 20, 2005
10) Voice of America News, October 16, 2005
11) United News of India, October 22, 2005
12) Ibid
13) Associated Press, October 25, 2005
14) USA Today, November 21, 2010
15) Regnum (Russia), March 13, 2006
16) U.S. Department of State, June 5, 2006
17) Mongolia Web, July 30, 2006
18) Mongolia Web, August 21, 2006
19) Reuters, August 11, 2006
20) United Press International, July 28, 2006
21) Xinhua News Agency, October 4, 2006
22) Air Force Link, July 26, 2007
23) The Times, July 16, 2007
24) Ulan Bator Post, August 2, 2007
25) BBC News, September 10, 2008
26) Air Force Link, July 23, 2008
27) Reuters, July 22, 2009
28) EurasiaNet, August 25, 2010
29) Khaan Quest 2009, August 21, 2009
30) EurasiaNet, August 25, 2010
31) Khaan Quest 2009, August 25, 2009

Categories: Uncategorized

As Obama Talks Of Arms Control, Russians View U.S. As Global Aggressor

March 28, 2010 2 comments

March 28, 2010

As Obama Talks Of Arms Control, Russians View U.S. As Global Aggressor
Rick Rozoff

U.S. and NATO military expansion along Russia’s western and southern flanks diminishes the need for Cold War era nuclear arsenals and long-range delivery systems appreciably. Washington can well afford to reduce the number of its nuclear weapons and still maintain decisive worldwide strategic superiority, especially with the deployment of an international interceptor missile system and the unilateral militarization of space. And the use of super stealth strategic bombers and the Pentagon’s Prompt Global Strike project for conventional warhead-equipped first strike systems with the velocity and range of intercontinental ballistic missiles to destroy other nations’ nuclear forces with non-nuclear weapons.

On March 26th U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev reached an agreement on a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1) of 1991.

The new accord, if it is ratified by the U.S. Senate, will reportedly reduce U.S. and Russian active nuclear weapons by 30 per cent and effect a comparable reduction (to 800 on each side) in the two nations’ delivery systems: Intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic long-range bombers and ballistic missile submarines.

After a phone conversation between the two heads of state to “seal the deal,” Obama touted it as “the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades.” [1]

The START 1 agreement expired almost four months earlier, on December 5 of last year, and its replacement has been held up by, among other matters, Russian concerns over increasingly ambitious American interceptor missile system plans for Eastern Europe, on and near its borders.

Judging by the lengthy ordeal that has been the Obama administration’s health care initiative – so far the bill has only been passed in the House (by a 219-212 vote) where his party has a 257-178 majority – and the opposition it confronts in the Senate, a new nuclear arms accord with Russia will be a captive to domestic American political wrangling at least as much as less important and potentially controversial issues traditionally are.

Though even if approved by both houses of Congress there will be nothing to celebrate in Moscow. (Or in Iran, which will be the main target of Washington’s next “disarmament” drive after the momentum gained from Friday’s announcement.)

The new treaty would reduce both nations’ deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550, but the U.S. only acknowledges currently possessing 2,200 in storage while in fact having 3,500.

On the day of the telephone conversation between Obama and Medvedev, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tauscher stated there would be “no constraints” on the expansion of American and allied nations’ interceptor missile deployments, a new treaty notwithstanding.

Three days earlier Russian Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Nikolai Makarov was interviewed by one of his country’s major newspapers and warned: “If the Americans continue to expand their missile defenses, they will certainly target our nuclear capability and in this case the balance of forces will shift in favor of the United States.” [2]

On March 27 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated, “Nothing in this treaty contains clauses which would make it easier for the U.S. to develop a missile shield which would pose a risk to Russia,” [3] but neglected to add that nothing would prohibit it either.

Perhaps Lavrov needs to listen more closely to Ellen Tauscher.

It is a matter of speculation why Russia’s political leadership consistently defers to the U.S. on issues ranging from the war in Afghanistan to so-called missile shield deployments near its northwest frontier, and from the Pentagon acquiring new military bases in the Black Sea nations of Bulgaria and Romania to NATO establishing a cyber warfare facility (politely named Cooperative Cyber Defence Center of Excellence) in neighboring Estonia.

Whatever combination of perceived comparative military weakness, over-willingness to oblige, national inferiority complex, eagerness to be seen as the junior partner of the world’s only superpower and fear of the results of confrontation actuates Russia’s government, the policy of accommodation has only left its nation more isolated, encroached upon by U.S. and NATO military presence, and regarded as a less than dependable ally by other nations prepared to challenge bids by the U.S. to achieve global dominance. In short, it doesn’t work. Not for Russia and not for the world at any rate. It is splendidly effective for the U.S. and NATO, however.

On the very day that an Obama administration beset by a series of foreign policy frustrations, setbacks and debacles scored a public relations victory at Russia’s expense, the Pentagon announced that it was allotting funds from a $350 million war chest “set aside for countries that need help developing their counterterrorism activities, conducting stability operations, or assisting U.S. forces” to Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Croatia, and Hungary, ostensibly “to help build those countries’ military capabilities for the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan.” [4]

The first four nations border Russia and the other two are not too far from its western border.

A report from a pro-government Georgian news source dispensed with public relations pabulum and described the development in less evasive terms:

“The Pentagon said on Friday it would build the military capabilities of Georgia and the Baltic states bordering Russia to ready them for operations in Afghanistan.

“The Pentagon announcement came on the same day U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sealed an agreement on a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty that they are to sign on April 8 in Prague.

“In notifications sent to Congress, the Pentagon said military assistance programs for Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia and Hungary were designed to build their capacities `to conduct stability operations alongside U.S. forces in Afghanistan,` Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

“Russia defeated Georgia`s military bid to retake a pro-Moscow region from rebels in a five-day war that rekindled tension between the Kremlin and the West. Russia has since accused Washington of re-arming the Georgian ‘war machine.'” [5]

The operative phrases are “build the military capabilities of Georgia and the Baltic states bordering Russia,” “conduct stability operations alongside U.S. forces,” and “re-arming the Georgian war machine.”

The day before the Obama-Medvedev conversation Russian Information Agency Novosti reported on a poll conducted by the Levada Center independent polling and sociological research organization on the attitude of Russians toward the U.S. The results showed that only 9 per cent of those contacted viewed the U.S. as promoting “peace, democracy and order” in the world, while 73 per cent viewed Washington as “an aggressor seeking to establish control over all countries.” [6]

A poll Medvedev, Lavrov and others in the Kremlin may want to pay some attention to if for no other reason that to pretend to represent the interests and the opinions of their people.

The survey also showed that a majority of Russian citizens saw no value in improving relations with the U.S. After all, why cultivate friendlier contacts with a nation, whose head of state last December boasted of it being “the world’s sole military superpower” and which will have a record $708 billion military budget next year, when it is an aggressive power bent on dominating your own country and every other one on the planet?

It would be ludicrous to attribute the above-documented sentiments, almost a full generation after the breakup of the Soviet Union and 25 years after Mikhail Gorbachev became its last leader, to the residual effects of “anti-American propaganda.” (Though in the unlikely event Western news media notice the poll that is how they can be depended upon to construe its results and meaning.)

In fact any informed and impartial populace attending to world developments in the post-Cold War period would reach a similar conclusion, and no doubt outside of the “Euro-Atlantic family,” as NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen while in a maudlin mood recently deemed it, comparable percentages could be expected worldwide if people truly spoke their minds.

Well-founded Russian suspicions of U.S. global geopolitical objectives can only be reinforced by several recent developments.

The Pentagon is dispatching a first contingent of 100 troops to run a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile battery in Poland next month, 35 miles from Russian territory.

On March 26 it was reported that the defense ministers of the pro-American governments of Latvia and Poland – both neighboring Russia – “called on NATO to locate more of the alliance’s facilities in central and eastern Europe,” with Polish defense chief Bogdan Klich adding, “We are aware that NATO institutions are unequally distributed between Western and Central Europe.” [7] Central Europe is the current designation for what was formerly called Eastern Europe. A nation makes that geographical leap when it joins NATO.

While delivering a presentation on his bloc’s new Strategic Concept in the Polish capital on March 12, NATO chief Rasmussen twice employed the Western mantra of “Europe whole, free and peace.”

Ten days later Polish Chief of General Staff General Franciszek Gagor presided over a ceremony for the deployment of his nation’s seventh contingent of troops to NATO’s Afghan war front – Poland will soon have 2,600 soldiers there, its largest-ever overseas military deployment – and said “the experience gained in the mission has tangibly accelerated the modernization of the Polish armed forces.” [8]

Last autumn Defense Minister Klich divulged plans to spend $16.2 billion (12.4 billion euros) “to modernize Poland’s armed forces,” with fourteen new programs including “air defense systems, combat and cargo helicopters, naval modernization, espionage and unmanned aircraft, training simulators and equipment for soldiers….” [9]

Seven years ago the Polish government signed a contract to purchase 48 U.S. F-16 fighter jets, reported to be the most expensive arms deal in the nation’s history.

Why Poland requires a modernized army nineteen years after the end of the Warsaw Pact and moreover in a Europe “whole, free and at peace” was not addressed.

What in fact is the case is that the war in Afghanistan is a mechanism employed by the U.S. and NATO to provide wartime combat training to the armed forces of several nations bordering Russia – Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Norway and Mongolia – for contingency plans far closer to home. Last August Georgian Defense Minister Davit (Vasil) Sikharulidze “told The Associated Press in an interview that…training by the U.S. Marine Corps will not only give his troops the skills necessary to fight alongside NATO allies in Afghanistan, but also could come into play if another war broke out between Georgia and Russia.” [10]

Recently Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis visited NATO headquarters in Brussels where he was summoned over the bloc’s 21st century global military doctrine to be formally adopted in Lisbon, Portugal this November.

Azubalis “stressed that the Article Five of the North Atlantic Treaty, which sets out the principle of collective defence, had to remain the key element of the new Strategic Concept,” and said “it is necessary for NATO to be more visible in member states, when organizing exercises and trainings, and when developing infrastructure.” He also “highlighted the importance of U.S. nuclear presence in Europe and stated that an appropriate NATO’s policy had to be implemented with regard to new threats.” [11]

So-called collective defense under the rubric of NATO’s mutual military assistance clause, moving NATO bases and military equipment to Russia’s borders, and maintaining American nuclear weapons in Europe have nothing to do with the war in Afghanistan or defense against such new NATO casus belli as global warming, rising sea levels, water shortages, piracy, a drop in food production and others identified by the bloc’s secretary general last autumn in London.

Also last week the armed forces of Estonia and Lithuania participated in the opening exercises of the Baltic Battalion Project (BALTBAT) Intelligent Eagle 10 operation in preparation for the two nations’ forces serving with the NATO Response Force, “a high-readiness and technologically advanced allied force made of land, air and maritime components capable of quick deployment at any time in any place for a full spectrum of operations.”

The maneuvers were “conducted in several phases: surveillance of a fictitious operation area and the elaboration on an operation plan and preparation for combat action training….” [12]

At the same time a NATO “group of experts” delegation arrived in the Estonian capital of Tallinn to deliver a presentation on the Alliance’s Strategic Concept. Next month, April 22-23, NATO is to hold a meeting in Tallinn with the foreign ministers of 56 nations, 28 full members and an equal amount of military partners from around the world. The gathering “will mark the first time that the new Strategic Concept is discussed at the ministerial level.” [13]

The U.S. Navy announced on March 23 that it was sending personnel from its military station in Rota, Spain to Latvia to lay the groundwork for the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2010 exercises later this year. “BALTOPS is an operation sponsored by Commander, United States European Command, and is an exercise aimed to promote a mutual understanding of maritime interoperability between U.S. Navy, NATO, and non-NATO participants.” [14]

Two years ago NATO opened a so-called cyber defense installation in Estonia, as the bloc itself described it at the time “after a major cyber attack on Estonian public and private institutions prompted NATO to conduct a thorough assessment of its approach to cyber defence.” The alleged perpetrators were Russian of course.

“At their meeting in October 2007 Allied Defence Ministers called for the development of a NATO cyber defence policy which was adopted [in] early 2008.” [15]

Last week Jamie Shea, NATO’s Director of Policy Planning, identified what he called cyber attack capabilities as “the fifth dimension of warfare after space, sea, land and air….” [16]

Prominent Western, especially U.S., officials have been demanding a NATO Article 5 response to cyber attacks for the past three years.

Late this month a U.S. warship, the guided missile cruiser USS Vicksberg, joined a Norwegian counterpart for anti-submarine exercises, after which the two ships “proceeded above the Arctic Circle.” The exercises included “a series of complex Air Defense Exercises (ADEX) supported by Norwegian F-16 squadrons out of [the] Bodo Main Air Station.” [17]

In the Black Sea region, American ambassador to Georgia John Bass recently assured the government of former State Department fellowship recipient and New York resident Mikheil Saakashvili of continued Pentagon support in two spheres: Ongoing training of the Georgian armed forces by U.S. Marine Corps personnel stationed in the country (by all indications permanently) and “improvement of defense systems and support structures.” [18]

Shortly afterward Saakashvili appeared at a joint press conference at NATO headquarters with Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The Georgian leader’s comments included:

“We are the biggest per capita contributor to the Afghan…to the ISAF [International Security Assistance Force]….But we also are willing to engage in training their troops in Georgia and on site in Afghanistan.”

The NATO chief said:

“I have reiterated to the president that NATO’s policy towards Georgia has not changed. We will continue to support Georgia in its Euro-Atlantic aspirations. NATO is fully committed to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Our Allies stick to their policy of non-recognition of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia….I can assure you that there will be no change of the wording of what the NATO summit decided at the Bucharest Summit in 2008. And you will recall that we decided that Georgia as well as Ukraine will become members of NATO….And we have no intention whatsoever to change this wording. So the NATO position is unchanged.” [19]

On the same day it was reported that Georgia’s State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration, Giorgi Baramidze, said his government “is pushing for rapid entry into NATO with plans to meet membership requirements within the next three years….” [20]

In February the governments of fellow Black Sea nations Romania and Bulgaria confirmed their willingness to accede to U.S. requests to base intermediate-range interceptor missiles on their territories. Shortly after the countries’ NATO accession six years ago the Pentagon secured the permanent use of four new military bases in Romania and three in Bulgaria.

Last week the Romanian government disclosed it was purchasing 24 second-hand F-16 multirole jet fighters from the U.S. “to modernise its air force.” [21]

Concurrently, the nation’s foreign minister, Teodor Baconschi, met with NATO Secretary General Rasmussen, reiterating “the NATO open door policy” toward Georgia, Ukraine and the Balkans and a commitment “to the diversification of partnership relations with NATO countries in the Western Balkans and in the Black Sea region.”

The two also insisted that “bilateral cooperation with the U.S. in the field of anti-missile defence represents one of Romania’s contributions to the development of a NATO anti-missile defence system, to be based on the principles of indivisibility of security of the Alliance and allied solidarity, as stated at the Summit in Bucharest and reaffirmed at the Summit in Strasbourg-Kehl.” [22]

Also last week, Romania’s President Traian Basescu called on members of parliament to pass a new national security law in view of three recent developments: The nation’s absorption into NATO, the deployment of U.S. military personnel to bases in the country, and “developments related to the anti-missile shield.” [23]

On the same day it was reported that the Bulgarian Defense Ministry had “approved a memorandum to exchange military personal staff with the U.S. navy.

“The memorandum sets up a bilateral program in the framework of which the navies of Bulgaria and the U.S. will have the opportunity to exchange experience and experts.” [24]

U.S. and NATO military expansion along Russia’s western and southern flanks diminishes the need for Cold War era nuclear arsenals and long-range delivery systems appreciably. Washington can well afford to reduce the number of its nuclear weapons and still maintain decisive worldwide strategic superiority, especially with the deployment of an international interceptor missile system and the unilateral militarization of space. And the use of super stealth strategic bombers and the Pentagon’s Prompt Global Strike project for conventional warhead-equipped first strike systems with the velocity and range of intercontinental ballistic missiles to destroy other nations’ nuclear forces with non-nuclear weapons.

Russia has only its nuclear capability to resort to in the event of a major attack on its territory, as it has no bases beyond its borders except for minor ones in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Armenia and Transdniester. Surely none in nations facing the United States.

1) Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2010
2) Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 23, 2010
3) Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 28, 2010
4) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 26, 2010
5) Rustavi 2, March 27, 2010
6) Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 25, 2010
7) Polish Radio, March 26, 2010
8) Polish Radio, March 22, 2010
9) Polish Radio, October 27, 2009
10) Civil Georgia, August 21, 2009
11) Baltic Course, March 25, 2010
12) Baltic Course, March 23, 2010
13) Eesti elu, March 23, 2010
14) Navy Newsstand, March 24, 2010
15) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, May 14, 2008
16) Defense News, March 23, 2010
17) United States European Command, March 22, 2010
18) Trend News Agency, March 22, 2010
19) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 25, 2010
20) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 25, 2010
21) Reuters, March 23, 2010
22) The Financiarul, March 24, 2010
23) The Financiarul, March 25, 2010
24) Focus News Agency, March 25, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Plunges Central America Back To Era Of Coups And Death Squads

March 26, 2010 4 comments

March 26, 2010

U.S. Plunges Central America Back To Era Of Coups And Death Squads
Rick Rozoff

March 24th of this year was the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, the Roman Catholic archbishop of El Salvador.

His killing drew attention to the murderous rampages of death squads in that nation and throughout Central America as no other slaying had, although hundreds of thousands of civilians were slaughtered in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras before and during the 1980s by paramilitary formations usually led by graduates of the U.S.’s School of the Americas and covertly funded by the same nation’s Central Intelligence Agency.

Graduates of the Pentagon’s School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia (now the equally euphemistic Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) include the man responsible for ordering Romero’s killing, the late Roberto D’Aubuisson; Efrain Rios Montt, head of the military junta in Guatemala in 1982-1983 which perpetrated some of the worst atrocities in the nation’s bloodstained history; and Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, who was dismissed as chief of the Honduran military on June 25 of last year and led the coup against President Manuel Zelaya three days later.

After being appointed El Salvador’s top ecclesiastic in 1977 Romero, until then considered a doctrinal if not a political conservative, spoke out forcefully against the abuses of the country’s military and the deaths squads linked to it.

Two months before he was killed he wrote to then U.S. President Jimmy Carter imploring him to desist from arming and training the Salvadoran army, particularly plans to “train three Salvadoran battalions in logistics, communications and intelligence,” and criticizing the fact that three months before “a group of six Americans was in El Salvador…providing $200,000 in gas masks and flak jackets and teaching how to use them against demonstrators.” [1]

His appeal was ignored.

On the last full day of his life Archbishop Romero celebrated mass at the Cathedral of San Salvador and ended his homily (a sermon ordinarily based on the day’s Gospel reading) with impassioned words that were an indictment, plea and command:

“I would like to make an appeal in a special way to the men of the army, to the police, to those in the barracks. Brothers, you are part of our own people. You kill your own campesino brothers and sisters. And before an order to kill that a man may give, the law of God must prevail that says: Thou shalt not kill! No soldier is obliged to obey an order against the law of God.

“No one has to fulfill an immoral law. It is time to recover your consciences and to obey your consciences rather than the orders of sin. The church, defender of the rights of God, of the law of God, of human dignity, the dignity of the person, cannot remain silent before such abomination. We want the government to take seriously that reforms are worth nothing when they come about stained with so much blood. In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people whose laments rise to heaven each day more tumultuously, I beg you, I ask you, I order you in the name of God: Stop the repression!” [2]

The following evening he said mass at the small chapel of the Divine Providence cancer hospital. During the most solemn segment of the Catholic service, the liturgy of the Eucharist, the officiating priest consecrates and elevates in turn the communion wafer and wine.

As he lifts first the host, then the chalice, he utters an account of Jesus at the Last Supper:

“Before he was given up to death, a death he freely accepted, he took bread and gave you thanks. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: Take this, all of you, and eat it; this is my body which will be given up for you.

“When the supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said:

“Take this, all of you, and drink from it; this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.”

It was while Romero recited the last words that a shot from an M16 assault rifle pierced his heart, leaving him to bleed to death in front of the altar, his blood mingling with the spilled communion wine.

Thirty years later no one has ever been convicted of, no one has ever been charged with, his murder.

The Salvadoran death squads and their opposite numbers elsewhere in Central America tried to hide their violent and grisly crimes under the cloak of religiosity, but to murder El Salvador’s top religious leader at the moment and under the circumstances they did was the work of men without moral or spiritual motives. It was the act of brutes.

Eight years ago a BBC report stated that the killing was, “according to declassified US documents and other witnesses, carried out by Salvadorean police intelligence agents on the orders of Major Roberto D’Aubuisson.” [2] The U.S. military-trained D’Aubuisson carried the details of his role to the grave with him in 1992.

After Romero’s death, after his – even in the most secular acceptance of the word – martyrdom, the mantle of the U.S. presidency was passed from Carter to Ronald Reagan, who appointed then recently retired Army general and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Alexander Haig as his secretary of state.

In his eighteen-month tenure at what is formally the top diplomatic post in the U.S., Haig was involved in military, covert and in some instances openly terrorist operations against the governments of Afghanistan, Angola, (post-Khmer Rouge) Cambodia, Ethiopia, Grenada, Mozambique, Poland and Suriname among other nations, but from the day he took the helm at the State Department his main focus was on Central America.

It was during his watch there from 1981-1982 that the death squad campaigns in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and the Contra war against Nicaragua began in earnest.

During the early years of the first Reagan term U.S. military aid to El Salvador was increased from $5.9 million 1980 to $35.5 million in 1981 and to $82 million in 1982. A fourteenfold increase in two years.

This March 24th a government of El Salvador for the first time officially apologized on behalf of the state for the murder of Romero. President Mauricio Funes, elected last June on the ticket of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front – the very group Washington armed and trained the Salvadoran military to exterminate thirty years ago – said on the anniversary that “This is something that should have been done a long time ago.” [4]

His comment was uttered during a ceremony unveiling a mural dedicated to Oscar Romero at San Salvador’s international airport.

A thousand Salvadorans marched from the chapel he was killed in to the cathedral in the capital chanting Romero’s own words: “They can kill me, but they will never kill justice.”

His words, his example have unfortunately assumed more urgency thirty years after his death than any would have wished.

Last June 28 D’Aubuisson’s fellow graduate of the School of the America’s, Hondura’s General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, led a military coup d’etat against the standing government of President Manuel Zelaya and forced the head of state into exile in Costa Rica.

The very next day President Barack Obama welcomed Colombian head of state Alvaro Uribe, linked to Latin America’s longest death squad horrors, to the White House, and the visit was followed by news that the Pentagon was acquiring the use of seven new military bases in the South American country. Colombia borders Venezuela and Ecuador, both Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) members along with Honduras before the coup.

To use an apt Cold War term, the coup was the opening salvo in the “rollback” against the most serious attempt in Latin America’s history to assert itself against centuries of U.S. domination.

On January 13th of this year the post-coup regime of non-popularly elected Roberto Micheletti withdrew Honduras from ALBA, the only time a member has left the alliance.

“Honduras’s entrance into the bloc in 2008 under the leadership of President Manuel Zelaya is considered to be one of the motivations for the right wing military coup that kidnapped and expelled Zelaya last June.” [5]

Washington’s desperation has increased dramatically since the meeting of the Rio Group in Mexico last month, which “agreed to form a Latin American alternative to the Organization of American States that excludes the United States and Canada.” [6]

Cutting across major ideological lines, 18 Latin American and 15 non-Ibero-American Caribbean nations met at what was declared a Unity Summit, and in the words of the host country’s President Felipe Calderon, “We have decided to create an organization that includes all the organizations of Latin America and the Caribbean. We have decided to base an organization on shared values including sovereignty and the non-use of force, including threats of force, international cooperation, ever closer integration of Latin America and the Caribbean and permanent political dialogue.” [7]

The new and expanded organization proposed, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), will include all nations in the Western Hemisphere except for the U.S. and Canada, will supplant and render moribund the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States (OAS), and will “resolve a host of problems, including the launching of interaction with Mercosur, the Andean Community of Nations, the Union of South American Nations, the Organization of Ibero-American States and ALBA – the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.” [8]

A Russian analyst suggested that “There is little, if any, doubt that the future Community will be at loggerheads with the OAS, since Washington is used to bossing Latin America around and imposing on the region what strategically important decisions suit it best.”

He also warned that “The United States is certainly not about to trust some newly-formed organization with control of the processes under way in the countries south of the Rio Grande.

“The Empire is getting ready to ‘act energetically’ to foil a constituent summit of the future Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.” [9]

Early in March U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Costa Rica to embrace her nation’s new surrogate in Honduras, Porfirio Lobo, and to chastise Latin America for defying Washington’s will. Lobo, for example, was the only Latin American head of state (though one only recognized by the U.S. and a few allies) not invited to the Unity Summit in Mexico on February 22-23. His exclusion was a frank commentary on the June 2008 coup by every government in the Western Hemisphere except his own and those of the U.S. and Canada.

“The United States helped to broker November elections that brought Honduran President Porfirio Lobo to power, but his government has been shunned by several countries in the region because the polls were organized by the de facto government that overthrew Zelaya.”

Clinton was “winding up a six-nation Latin American tour during which she was challenged by leaders who repeated charges that the United States did not take a hard enough line against the coup, which echoed a long history of military takeovers in the region.” [10]

With a command of diplomatese that renders her a worthy successor of the late Alexander Haig, Clinton stated it was time to “move forward,” as “We think that Honduras has taken important and necessary steps that deserve the recognition and normalization of relations.”

Unintentionally emphasizing why there is a need for ALBA and CELAC, she added, “Other countries in the region say that they want to wait a while. I don’t know what they’re waiting for….”

In Costa Rica she met with Lobo and “said she had notified Congress that the United States would restart the flow of more than USD 30 million in non-humanitarian aid to Honduras that was cut off after the June 28 coup that ousted Zelaya.”

While offering lip service to the relative undesirability of military coups in the U.S.’s backyard, she nevertheless asserted “But we think its time to move forward and ensure that such disruptions of democracy do not and cannot happen in the future.” [11] Scant comfort to other ALBA member states awaiting Washington’s next maneuver.

To refute what Clinton characterized as the Lobo regime’s “commitments to re-establish constitutional order in the country,” on March 24 Honduran professor Jose Manuel Flores, an active opponent of the newly-installed government of Porfirio Lobo, was murdered at the Instituto San Jose del Pedregal where he taught, “shot in the back when hooded individuals entered the school through the roof….” [12]

Hooded assassins murdering dissenting academics conjures up nightmares from the darkest period of death squad atrocities in the 1980s.

According to human rights and resistance groups in Honduras, since last year’s coup there have been 130 murders and over 3,000 arrests of opponents of the junta. [13]

On March 25 the National Popular Resistance Front announced plans for a mass rally in the capital that “will coincide with a general strike and a national mourning campaign convened by teachers’ organizations after Professor Jose Manuel Flores was killed by hooded men two days ago,” blaming “the Honduran oligarchy and Porfirio Lobo’s de facto regime” [14] for the latest killing of those Clinton demands “move forward” by submitting to Washington’s diktat.

In late February over 10,000 supporters of deposed President Manuel Zelaya left the main university in the capital of Tegucigalpa, but “were blocked by soldiers from nearing the presidential palace and diverted to the parliament in the city center….” Troops ordered from their barracks by a regime that “has taken important and necessary steps that deserve the recognition and normalization of relations,” as Hillary Clinton would phrase it a week later.

“Six teachers’ unions backed the protests and called for classes to be suspended nationwide.” [15]

Military coups d’etat and masked hit squads are back in Central America with Washington’s blessing and the threats are not limited to Honduras, which is intended as both object lesson and prototype by the White House and the State Department.

In February Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez warned “that the right-wing in Latin America was being organized to attack the Bolivian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) and the Union of South American Nations (Unasur),” adding however that “the U.S. government would not be able to stop the development of ALBA in Central America despite the coup in Honduras.”

“The U.S. Empire” will employ reactionary and covert forces to subordinate the next government of Brazil (a general election will be held this October), “which also will be terrible for the unity of South America.” [16]

In addition, it was reported on March 25 that Nicaragua’s ambassador to the Organization of American States, Denis Moncada, accused the U.S. ambassador to his nation, Robert Callahan, of “meddling in Nicaraguan internal affairs.” Callahan, Moncada continued, “has publicly supported attempts by Nicaraguan opposition parties, rating as fraudulent the 2008 municipal elections, when the Sandinista National Liberation Front won the majority of the country’s mayoralties.” [17]

The Nicaraguan press recently published an article by Uruguayan journalist Jorge Capelan titled “The United States and its Web of NGOs in Nicaragua,” which detailed that “the destabilizing strategy the United States has pursued in Venezuela through non-governmental organizations and ‘contractor’ firms is also being applied in Nicaragua against the Sandinista government.”

The report documented that since 1994 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) created “so-called Offices of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in several countries worldwide.

“They were originally created to support transition to capitalism in Eastern European countries, but they later spread to other states where it was necessary to address situations in which US interests were threatened.”

An OTI was launched in Venezuela in July of 2002, two months after the 47-hour coup there, and in late 2005 in Bolivia in an attempt to prevent Evo Morales’ victory in the December 18 presidential election.

Although there “is no OTI in Nicaragua,” USAID is concocting “a similar strategy against the Sandinista government through the CampTransparencia program run by the paramilitary DynCorp firm.

“CampTransparencia has organized forums and other similar activities in Nicaragua. Its main cadres have experience in ‘regime change’ operations.” [18]

The current preferred method of effecting the subversion and overthrow of governments considered to present obstacles to U.S. geopolitical designs is the “color revolution” model first employed in Yugoslavia in 2000 and replicated in the former Soviet states of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. The first attempt to export a variation of the technique to Latin America was in Bolivia two years ago.

Last May Hillary Clinton railed against “growing Iranian, Chinese and Russian influence in the Western Hemisphere,” which has ostensibly encouraged “leftist leaders like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega to promote anti-U.S. sentiment and rely on aid from China, Iran and Russia.” [19] She particularly singled out Nicaragua, stating “We are looking to figure out how to deal with [President Daniel] Ortega” as “the Iranians are building a huge embassy in Managua. You can only imagine what it’s for.” [19]

In the 1980s the Reagan administration frequently invoked alleged Russian and Iranian influence in Nicaragua to justify its support for the Contra war against the nation.

To Central America’s immediate north, on March 22 Defense Secretary Robert Gates and chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen accompanied Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Mexico, and upon returning top U.S. military commander Mullen spoke of Mexico’s “own version of counterinsurgency,” and said, “We’re working with them to generate as much capability as they can in that fight.” [19] In speaking as he did, Mullen reiterated his statements in January of 2009 that the U.S. military was prepared to employ the same counterinsurgency tactics used in Afghanistan and Iraq for Mexico and that the infamous Plan Colombia could be the “overarching” model for the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Earlier this month the joint commander of United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), General Victor Renuart, spoke before the Senate Armed Services Committee and said of his dual commands that their missions range “from supporting law enforcement on the U.S.-Mexico border to monitoring Russian military planes and ships off U.S. borders,” and that “Northcom has shared military lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan to combat violence and illegal activity on the Southwest border.” [20]

The White House and the Pentagon are not prepared to allow the rest of the nations in the Americas to determine their own destiny without interference. Without intervention.

The 2002 coup in Venezuela and the 2009 coup in Honduras are not the last that Washington will support given the opportunity. Latin American vigilance and unity are required more than ever before.

3) BBC News, March 24, 2002
4) Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2010
5), January 15, 2010
6) Americas Society/Council of the Americas, February 23, 2010
7) Cancun Mexico News, February 23, 2010
8) Nil Nikandrov, OAS without US: An Alternative
Strategic Culture Foundation, March 21, 2010
9) Ibid
10) Reuters, March 5, 2010
11) Ibid
12) Prensa Latina, March 24, 2010
13) Ibid
14) Prensa Latina, March 25, 2010
15) Agence France-Presse, February 26, 2010
16) Xinhua News Agency, February 8, 2010
17) Prensa Latina, March 25, 2010
18) Prensa Latina, March 22, 2010
19) Associated Press, May 1, 2009
20) United States Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
March 24, 2010
21) United States Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
March 11, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

Full Circle: NATO Completes Takeover Of Former Yugoslavia

March 24, 2010 4 comments

March 23, 2010

Full Circle: NATO Completes Takeover Of Former Yugoslavia
Rick Rozoff

In 1991 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was a nominally defensive military bloc with sixteen members that, as the cliché ran, had never fired a shot.

In 1991 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the only simultaneously multiethnic and multiconfessional nation (entirely) in Europe, consisting of six federated republics with diverse constituencies.

By 2009 NATO had grown to 28 full members and at least that many military partners throughout Europe and in Africa, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Asia and the South Pacific. Next month NATO is to hold a summit in Estonia to be attended by the foreign ministers of 56 nations. Last month a meeting of NATO’s Military Committee in Brussels included the armed forces chiefs of 63 nations, almost a third of the world’s 192 countries.

By 2008 the former Yugoslavia has been fragmented into six recognized nations (the former federal republics of Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia) and a semi-recognized province of Serbia, Kosovo.

Until the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991, NATO had never staged operations outside the territory of its member states.

In 2004 it ran eight operations in four continents, including a training mission in Iraq and combat deployments in Afghanistan. The first former Yugoslav republic, Slovenia, was inducted into NATO in that year along with six other Eastern European nations in the bloc’s largest-ever expansion.

The Alliance’s first three military operations, however, all occurred in the former Yugoslavia. In 1995 NATO launched Operation Deliberate Force against the Republika Srpska with 400 aircraft and over 3,500 sorties and stationed troops in Bosnia afterward.

In 1999 it unleashed the relentless 78-day Operation Allied Force air war against Yugoslavia and in June of that year deployed 50,000 troops to Kosovo.

Two years later it sent troops to and initiated the first of several operations in Macedonia following an armed conflict in that country.

The three interventions preceded September 11, 2001.

After NATO invoked its Article 5 collective military assistance clause following the latter date, NATO Partnership for Peace affiliates as well as full member states started to deploy troops to Afghanistan.

After the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq two years following that, soldiers from Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia were deployed to the war zone in that nation to prove their loyalty as NATO candidate countries. Montenegro did not gain its Western-backed independence until 2006, but has already been levied for troops for the Afghan war. Croatia was rewarded with full membership in 2009 and Macedonia would have accompanied it into the ranks of the world’s only military axis except for the lingering name dispute with Greece.

In December of 2008 the complete transfer of contributing states’ troops from Iraq to Afghanistan began and there are now military personnel from five of the six former Yugoslav republics – Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia – committed to NATO in the world’s longest active and deadliest war theater.

In the post-Cold War epoch the former Yugoslavia has been the laboratory for global NATO, its testing ground and battleground, the prototype for the disintegration of nations and for their transformation into economically nonviable monoethnic statelets and Western military colonies.

The NATO military command in charge of the Balkans, Allied Joint Force Command Naples formed in 2004, oversees the eleven-year NATO military operation in Kosovo, Kosovo Force (KFOR), and has a headquarters in Bosnia and in Macedonia and a new military liaison office in Serbia. (Croatia and Slovenia are now full members.)

In addition to the Adriatic Charter initiative launched by the United States in 2003, which successfully prepared Albania and Croatia for NATO membership and is currently doing the same for Macedonia, Bosnia and Montenegro with Serbia and Kosovo to follow, the Allied Joint Force Command Naples is the major mechanism for recruiting troops from former Yugoslav republics for wars abroad. Particularly for that in Afghanistan, but the Naples command also operates the NATO Training Mission – Iraq in Baghdad.

Considered by many observers as a major architect of the breakup of Yugoslavia, Richard Holbrooke, now U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, delivered an address in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar last month in which he “drew parallels between the Bosnian war and the onslaught against the Taliban in Afghanistan,” and said:

“The U.S. has led and won similar wars in Kosovo and Bosnia with the support of the international community. And we are very optimistic about Afghanistan too.” [1]

In the same month the parliament of the Republika Srpska passed a law allowing for a referendum on its current status within Bosnia – two years after the U.S. and almost all its NATO allies supported and recognized the secession of Kosovo from Serbia – and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reacted by stating that the Barack Obama administration does “not want to see any moves to break up Bosnia,” and to insure the integrity of Bosnia (and breakaway Kosovo also) she “reiterated Washington’s support for EU and NATO integration of Western Balkans countries, Serbia included.”

“But the NATO piece of it, I’m watching very closely because…we want Bosnia-Herzegovina to feel like they’re welcome.” [2]

Also in February, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon sounded the same theme while speaking at the Harvard Kennedy School. In a presentation called The Obama Administration’s Vision for Southeastern Europe, Gordon said “To fully achieve European and therefore American security, we believe that peace and stability should not only extend across northern and central Europe, but also southeastern Europe,” with special emphasis on “Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Turkey.” [3]

In completing the incorporation of all of Southeastern Europe into the U.S.-dominated military bloc, the current American administration would put the capstone on “the historic project of trying to bring democracy to the whole of Europe.”

In particular, “the Obama administration will seek to position Bosnia for future membership in the European Union and NATO,” and in reference to Serbia, “The door to NATO membership is open”.”

According to Harvard’s daily student newspaper, Gordon noted in his speech that “yesterday marked the second anniversary of Kosovo’s independence: a sign that progress has been made.” [4]

Earlier this month former NATO secretary general George Robertson joined the chorus pushing the Alliance’s absorption of the Balkans: “Serbia can offer a lot….I believe it wants to become a part of [the] European mainstream rather than to stay on the margins. All the neighbors of Serbia will be members of the EU and NATO. I am convinced that all the Western Balkan countries will be part of the Alliance in ten years.” [5]

Serbia, by far the most populous of all former Yugoslav states with more than 7 million citizens, is receiving the most attention from NATO at the moment.

Mary Warlick, newly appointed U.S. ambassador to the nation, recently “announced that the door of NATO membership is open to Serbia” and said “the United States fully supports the European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Serbia and is doing all it can to facilitate Belgrade’s efforts in this direction.” [6]

Her comments were reiterated by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, the U.S.’s Admiral James Stavridis, who in early February visited Serbia’s capital “to establish personal relationships and strengthen cooperation and partnership” and meet with the nation’s president, defense minister and chief of staff of the armed forces. (NATO opened a military liaison office in Belgrade in December of 2006 when Serbia joined the bloc’s Partnership for Peace program.)

Stavridis’ NATO delegation was briefed “on the progress and continued efforts to professionalize the Serb military” and “participated in the annual National and Armed Forces Day reception.” [7]

Last year the pro-Western government of President Boris Tadic signed an Individual Partnership Program with NATO.

Recently the public affairs chief of the Serbian Ministry of Defense announced that a “Serbian mission [to] NATO will be officially opened by the beginning of June, which is in accordance with participation in the program Partnership for Peace,” and will be staffed by six officers. [8]

On the same day, and to provide a blunt indication of what further NATO integration means, a Serbian news source disclosed that troops from the nation are being readied for peacekeeping deployments in Uganda, Lebanon and a third nation as yet unidentified.

Whereas “the participation of the Serbian Army in international peace operations has until now been limited to sending observers and medical experts,” the country’s armed forces have “organized courses [for] which Serbian experts will be enabled to participate in infantry units and mine clearing units.”

Moreover, military analyst Aleksandar Radic said “NATO and the EU follow the participation of countries in peacekeeping missions very closely. The countries in our region have understood that and started participating in these missions in order to gain a reference for joining international organizations.” [9]

Serbian soldiers are inching ever closer to the Afghan war theater.

But not with the support of their countrymen.

Last month the results of a TNS Medium Gallup poll in Serbia showed that “only 20 percent of Serbian citizens would support NATO accession, which is four percent less than last year.” [10]

In tandem with moves to drag Serbia deeper into the NATO nexus despite widespread popular opposition, Brussels and Washington are consolidating their hold on the other three former Yugoslav republics not yet full NATO members: Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and a delegation of the permanent representatives of all 28 member states arrived in Bosnia on March 23 to consult with leaders of the nation on a Membership Action Plan, “an essential stepping stone on the road toward alliance membership.”

A senior official in Bosnia’s Foreign Ministry announced that “We expect that Bosnia will be invited to join [the] MAP in Tallinn,” [11] a reference to the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Estonia on April 10.

Earlier this month the chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nikola Spiric, visited NATO headquarters in Brussels to meet with Rasmussen and to address the North Atlantic Council.

“NATO Allies thanked Mr. Spiric for the invitation extended to the North Atlantic Council to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina later this month and looked forward to the next meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers in April, when the Membership Action Plan for the country will be discussed.” [12]

A week earlier a high-level NATO delegation headed by Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Naples, arrived in the Macedonian capital of Skopje to meet with Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Defense Minister Zoran Konjanovski and chief of the Army General Staff Miroslav Stojanovski and discuss the Army of the Republic of Macedonia’s “contribution to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, the achievements of the Republic of Macedonia in the implementation of reforms and the participation in the command structure of the Alliance as well as ARM’s progress in the application of the NATO operation skills concept.”

The delegation also inspected a military base in Krivolak where Fitzgerald and his colleagues were “introduced to the new training capacities and the project of its development into a regional center.” [13]

On February 22nd Boro Vucinic, Montenegro’s defense minister, visited NATO headquarters and met with Deputy Secretary General Claudio Bisogniero. The latter “reaffirmed NATO’s willingness to continue providing relevant assistance and expertise to Montenegrin authorities” and “expressed satisfaction with Montenegro’s decision to become a contributor to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan.” [14]

In mid-March Admiral Fitzgerald was in Montenegro and at a press conference expressed his satisfaction at his host nation’s movement toward the North Atlantic bloc, stating “he had witnessed a significant improvement in the past two years,” and said “Montenegro had demonstrated it was a ‘responsible and reliable partner’ in the membership process.”

Speaker of the Parliament of Montenegro Ranko Krivokapic said that NATO membership was a “national priority” and that for the Alliance “it is also strategically important to have this part of the Adriatic coast integrated into the NATO structure.” [15]

On March 22 NATO’s KFOR launched five days of exercises throughout Kosovo in conjunction with the European Union’s EULEX (European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) and the separatist Kosovo Police Service (KPS).

The drills are headed by NATO commander Markus Bentler.

In an allusion to Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority that KFOR, EULEX and the KPS are training to subjugate in common, a KFOR statement on the exercises said:

“KFOR will handle its force in Kosovo very flexibly and determinedly. The aim of these operations is to strengthen the capacities of KFOR, EULEX and the Kosovo police so that they could respond to any scenario that brings security into question.” [16]

The putative president of the Republic of Kosovo, Fatmir Sejdiu, recently returned from NATO headquarters and a meeting of the bloc’s North Atlantic Council – usually reserved for the ambassadors of full member states – where he had updated those envoys on the “general evolution in Kosovo, Kosovo’s objective [of making] further progress and, especially, its ambition to become a member of NATO.”

Sedjiu had also “thanked the North Atlantic Council ambassadors for all the support that NATO has [provided] and is providing to Kosovo and has expressed the commitment of our institutions to an active partnership and close cooperation with NATO.”

At a press conference in Pristina after his return, he spoke of his offer to make members of the Kosovo Security Force, a NATO-trained national army in embryo, available for “NATO peacekeeping operations.” [17]


In 1991 the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and from the following year onward the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, presented an obstacle to NATO’s drive to the east – the former Soviet Union and Asia – and to the south – the Middle East and Africa.

In the story of Aesop’s a bundle of sticks tied together could not be broken but, once separated, each could be easily snapped in two.

In completing the fragmentation of Yugoslavia NATO removed a crucial impediment to its expansion into a global military force. In its place it has acquired seven new members and candidates and as many potential sites for training camps, air and naval bases, and transit points for moving troops and weapons to new war zones on three continents and in the Middle East.

1) Tanjug News Agency, February 17, 2010
2) Tanjug News Agency, February 26, 2010
3) Harvard Crimson, February 16, 2010
4) Ibid
5) Tanjug News Agency, March 11, 2010
6) Radio Serbia, February 5, 2010
7) NATO Public Affairs, February 16, 2010
8) Radio Serbia, March 22, 2010
9) Blic, March 22, 2010
10) Tanjug News Agency, February 11, 2010
11) BalkanInsight, March 23, 2010
12) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 3, 2010
13) Makfax, March 16, 2010
14) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, February 22, 2010
15) Xinhua News Agency, March 18, 2010
16) Tanjug News Agency, March 22, 2010
17) President of the Republic of Kosovo, March 22, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

NATO: AFRICOM’s Partner In Military Penetration Of Africa

March 20, 2010 1 comment

March 20, 2010

NATO: AFRICOM’s Partner In Military Penetration Of Africa
Rick Rozoff

The world’s oldest military bloc (formed 61 years ago) and the largest in history (twenty-eight full members and as many partners on five continents), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, counts among its major member states all of Africa’s former colonial powers: Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium.

After World War II and the groundswell of anti-colonial sentiment throughout Africa and Asia, the European powers were forced to withdraw from most of the African continent, though Portugal retained its possessions until the 1970s.

Most new African nations adopted some model of socialist-oriented economic and political development and the continent as a whole more closely aligned itself with the Soviet Union, which moreover had for decades supported the anti-colonial struggles in Africa, than with the West, both Western Europe and the United States.

With the end of the Cold War and the breakup of the Soviet Union nearly twenty years ago, the major Western powers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, united under the aegis of NATO, saw that as with the Balkans and the former republics of the Soviet Union itself, Africa was now wide open for penetration and domination.

NATO’s largest, most powerful and dominant member is of course the United States. On October 1, 2007 the Pentagon established United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) under the temporary wing of United States European Command, which at the time included in its area of responsibility all of Africa except for four island nations in the Indian Ocean and the Horn of Africa states and Egypt. (The first were in Pacific Command and the others in Central Command where Egypt, alone among Africa’s 53 nations, remains.)

A year to the day later AFRICOM was launched as the first new U.S. regional military command outside North America since Central Command was activated 25 years earlier in 1983. It takes in far more nations – 52 – than any other military command in history.

AFRICOM was conceived, carried, nurtured and delivered by the Pentagon’s European Command (EUCOM), based in Stuttgart, Germany where AFRICOM headquarters are also based as no nation in Africa has yet volunteered to be the host.

The top commander of EUCOM is “dual-hatted” as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and has been from General Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1951 to Admiral James Stavridis today.

The three top EUCOM/NATO military commanders most instrumental in the creation of AFRICOM were General Joseph Ralston (2000-2003), General James Jones (2003-2006) and General Bantz John Craddock (2006-2009). Arguably Jones, former Marine Corps four-star general and current U.S. National Security Adviser, was the real father of Africa Command. [1]

The distinction between the Pentagon and NATO in relation to Europe and Africa – and increasingly the Caucasus, the Caspian Sea Basin, Central Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean – is blurred and more and more of a strictly formal nature.

NATO has now joined AFRICOM’s first war, in Somalia.

The bloc’s Allied Command Operations website announced on March 18 that from March 5-16 the North Atlantic military alliance had airlifted 1,700 Ugandan troops from their homeland to the Somali capital of Mogadishu for the intensified fighting that began there earlier this month.

The Pentagon supplied the transport planes “under the NATO banner” and the operation was “undertaken by USA contracted DynCorp International.” [2]

The commander of AFRICOM, General William Ward, recently informed the Senate Armed Services Committee of plans to focus the military command’s attention on East Africa and indicated plans to assist the formal government of Somalia to reclaim the country’s capital.

In May the European Union is to began training 2,000 Ugandan troops for deployment to war-wracked Somalia to assist the regime being propped up by the West.

NATO recently confirmed that it has prolonged an agreement to provide strategic sealift and airlift support for African (Ugandan, Rwandan and Burundian) troops to assist Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government in the nation’s civil war.

The bloc’s European command, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), “delegated the authority to Joint Command Lisbon to have the operational lead for NATO engagements with the African Union and they provide the majority of the personnel to support the mission.” [3]

As with the government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government doesn’t even control its own capital. Since last week fighting there has led to hundreds of people being killed and wounded and thousands displaced.

Six days earlier NATO effected a changing of the guard “in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin” [4] as part of its Operation Ocean Shield, and five warships of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 joined four from the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 in Djibouti, where there are some 2,000 U.S. troops and where AFRICOM bases its Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. Djibouti also hosts over 1,000 French soldiers and France’s second largest military base abroad.

On March 10 NATO extended its deployment of warships in the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa until the end of 2012 in what originally was portrayed as an ad hoc, short-term deployment when Operation Ocean Shield was initiated last August following Operation Allied Protector in March. Instead, NATO has effectively expanded its over eight-year-old naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea, Operation Active Endeavor, through the Red Sea and into the Arabian Sea and is now involved in the Horn of Africa both on land and at sea.

The Standing NATO Maritime Groups consist of warships from member states assigned for the occasion – the latest deployment in the Gulf of Aden includes a U.S. ship – and is under the command of Allied Component Command Maritime Naples, one of the two Component Commands of Allied Joint Force Command Naples.

Allied Joint Force Command Naples (JFC Naples) was inaugurated six years ago as part of NATO strategy to deploy further south and east, succeeding Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH). The reorganization was a component of Alliance transformation policy growing out of the 2002 NATO summit in Prague. JFC Naples takes in the entire NATO Area of Responsibility (AOR) which, as will be seen, includes the Balkans, Africa, the Mediterranean Sea region and Iraq.

Its commander is the U.S.’s Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, who is also the top commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa. Earlier this year Fitzgerald was in Kosovo threatening Serbian authorities in the north, branding them “a threat to Kosovo stability.” [5]

NATO’s Naples Command has offices and is involved in operations throughout the Balkans: In Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia.

The NATO Training Mission – Iraq is also conducted under JFC Naples’s supervision. (Its first commander was General David Petraeus, now in charge of United States Central Command.)

In his dual capacity as head of U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa, Fitzgerald is also in charge of the Pentagon’s Africa Partnership Station (APS), created in 2006 and now part of AFRICOM.

Its first deployment was to West Africa, including the Gulf of Guinea, in 2007 and 2008 when the USS Fort McHenry and HSV (High Speed Vessel) Swift visited Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo. Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, current U.S. National Security Adviser, James Jones years ago marked off that expanse of Africa along its Atlantic Coast as a vital theater in the battle for world oil supplies. [6]

On March 13 the U.S. began military exercises in Ghana which will last to the end of the month.

“The three-week exercise, with about 120 Ghana Armed Forces personnel and about 95 US Marines, forms part of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2010 project.” [7]

The operation is the first of three U.S. Marines will conduct in Africa this year.

The day before the Ghanaian maneuvers began, AFRICOM completed the Africa Partnership Station East operation at the other end of the continent.

On its final day a review was held in Mombasa, Kenya with leaders from Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania and the U.S., which was hosted by Admiral Mark Fitzgerald of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (and NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples).

Two American warships were deployed for the occasion, the frigate USS Nicholas and HSV Swift.

A Kenyan naval officer described what preceded the exercises in East Africa: “From Naples, the ships steamed to Souda Bay, Greece, and then through the Suez Canal to our first Africa Partnership Station engagement in Djibouti.

“During this deployment, Swift and Nicholas covered a total of 12,500 nautical miles and conducted 11 ports of calls; namely, Mombasa, Kenya; Dar es salaam, Tanzania; Durban and Cape Town, South Africa; Maputo, Mozambique; Port East, Reunion; Port Louis, Mauritius; and Port Victoria, Seychelles.” [8]

The commander of Africa Partnership Station East, Captain James Tranoris, described its significance: “While APS has been active in East Africa for a few years, this year marks the inaugural deployment of an international staff to execute the mission.”

AFRICOM’s APS has established itself in both the Gulf of Guinea and the western shores of the Indian Ocean.

At the north end of the continent, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, was in Algeria to promote both the Mediterranean Dialogue partnership and the Alliance’s new Strategic Concept.

The first is a NATO program that includes Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, expanding the bloc’s influence – and presence – from both banks of the Jordan River to well down Africa’s western coast.

The second is the formalization of NATO’s 21st century military strategy to further the global, expeditionary character of the military bloc.

“During his address the Chairman underlined the cooperation between NATO and Algeria in the framework of the Mediterranean Dialogue and praised Algeria’s great contribution to the formation of its Officers in the NATO Regional Cooperation Course (NRCC) at the NATO Defense College (NDC).

“Admiral Di Paola also stressed the need to bring forward Mediterranean Dialogue views into the New NATO Strategic Concept.” [9]

Di Paola also visited Morocco and delivered a speech on “the new NATO Strategic Concept to officers of the Royal Moroccan Army General Staff.

“He praised the cooperation between NATO and Morocco in the framework of the Mediterranean Dialogue and the contribution of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces to NATO operations,” and urged the “ongoing development of the new Strategic Concept to strengthen the ties between NATO and its Mediterranean partners.” [10]

In 1884 the major European powers gathered at the Berlin Conference to divide up those parts of Africa that had escaped colonization and to create a consortium to dominate and exploit an entire continent and its peoples.

The anti-colonial struggles after the Second World War put an end to that enforced order, but 126 years later there are ominous indications that the former colonial masters are nostalgic for their past power.

1) Global Energy War: Washington’s New Kissinger’s African Plans
Stop NATO, January 22, 2009
2) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations
March 18, 2010
3) Ibid
4) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 12, 2010
5) 11 Years Later: NATO Powers Prepare Final Solution In Kosovo
Stop NATO, March 18, 2010
6) Global Energy War: Washington’s New Kissinger’s African Plans
7) Ghana Government, March 18, 2010
8) United States Africa Command
Africa Partnership Station
March 17, 2010
9) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
International Military Staff
March 15, 2010
10) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
International Military Staff
March 18, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

Eleven Years Later: NATO Powers Prepare Final Solution In Kosovo

March 19, 2010 2 comments

March 18, 2010

Eleven Years Later: NATO Powers Prepare Final Solution In Kosovo
Rick Rozoff

March 17 marked the sixth anniversary of a concerted assault against Serbs and other ethnic minorities in Kosovo that resulted in 800 Serbian homes and thirty-five Orthodox churches and monasteries being destroyed, 4,000 Serbs and Roma (Gypsies) forced to flee their homes, 900 hundred people injured and 19 killed.

The attacks followed the accidental drowning of three ethnic Albanian youth which local separatist politicians and media attributed to the actions of Serbs and used to incite an orgy of intolerance, ethnic hostility and violence.

They marked the worst, and deadliest, violence in the Balkans since NATO’s 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and the war in Macedonia two years later launched by an offshoot of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) operating out of NATO-occupied Kosovo. Clashes occurred between ethnic Albanians and Serbs and between both and NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) troops. The dead and wounded included members of all three groups.

On the first day of the attacks, which started in the ethnically-divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica but soon spread to several other locales, personnel of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) abandoned offices in the cities of Gnjilane, Prizren and Pec and one UN representative, alluding to the anti-Jewish rampage in Nazi Germany in 1938, said “Kristallnacht is under way in Kosovo. What is happening in Kosovo must unfortunately be described as a pogrom against Serbs: churches are on fire and people are being attacked for no other reason than their ethnic background.” [1]

The United Nations ombudsman at the time, Poland’s Marek Nowicki, issued a similar warning, saying “there exists the intent to cleanse this land of the presence of all Serbs.” [2]

The government of Serbia, and Kosovo was still legally recognized as its province by every nation in the world except Albania, also characterized the attacks as designed to perpetrate ethnic cleansing. But NATO, in charge of KFOR and as such the Serbian sites that were destroyed, did not.

Four years later Albanian separatist leaders declared the province’s unilateral independence on February 17. Despite a historically unprecedented campaign by the U.S. and its NATO allies to gain international recognition for “the first NATO state in the world” as Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica described the illegal entity shortly following its secession [3], after over two years and a combination of heavy-handed pressure and handsome bribery from the West only 65 of the world’s 192 nations accord the breakaway entity diplomatic recognition.

Those who do not include the BRIC nations – Brazil, China, India and Russia – and the overwhelming majority of countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Those who do include the United States and all other NAT0 members except for Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain which have their own reasons for fearing the Kosovo precedent, and small (and very small) states particularly susceptible to economic incentives like Belize, the Comoros, Liechtenstein, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Monaco, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, and San Marino.

In early January the commander of NATO’s Joint Forces Command Naples, U.S. Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, was in Kosovo and met with German KFOR Commander Markus Bentler, afterwards claiming that self-governing Serbian enclaves, surrounded and besieged by Kosovo separatists, “represent a threat to Kosovo stability,” and emphasizing “KFOR’s readiness to answer any threat.”

More specifically, Fitzgerald said that “All violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 pose a threat to security. Since the resolution does not approve of parallel institutions, they are cause for concern.”

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 was adopted on June 10, 1999 and placed Kosovo under interim UN administration.

As for ethnic Serbs violating the terms or even the spirit of the resolution by refusing to surrender to an illegal secessionist regime not recognized by almost two-thirds of United Nations members, UN Resolution 1244 “Reaffirm[s] the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act….”

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia devolved into the Western-engineered State Union of Serbia and Montenegro in 2003, which in turn split into its two parts in 2006. This created waters muddy enough for advocates of Kosovo separatism to fish in, but the fact remains that Kosovo was a province of Serbia during the eleven years of the Federal Republic mentioned in UN Resolution 1244. The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro was coterminous with and the successor state to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Constitutional Charter of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro of February 4, 2003 states:

“Should Montenegro break away from the state union of Serbia and Montenegro, the international instruments pertaining to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, particularly UN SC Resolution 1244, would concern and apply in their entirety to Serbia as the successor.”

Serbs in Kosovo don’t desire to leave Kosovo but to remain in Serbia. Residents of the U.S. state of West Virginia can appreciate the distinction.

By an ostensible “threat to security” the NATO commander meant the unwillingness of Serbs and other non-Albanian minorities to vote in elections held by and entrust their fragile security to a renegade political anomaly with an ethnically exclusionary agenda and extensive, in fact inextricable, links to Europe’s largest criminal underworld. (To wit, trafficking in narcotics, weapons, sex slaves, passports and, if accounts in the recent memoirs of former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Carla Del Ponte are to be credited, organs extracted from murdered victims.)

That is, refusing to submit to the West’s carefully groomed client state and the first NATO pseudo-nation. As with the Georgia of Mikheil Saakashvili, all the West’s much-celebrated “Euro-Atlantic” rhetoric about diversity, pluralism, rule of law, transparency, human rights and democratic values is exposed for the hollow, self-serving lie it is.

After 50,000 NATO troops poured into Kosovo in 1999, bringing with them their allies from the Kosovo Liberation Army which they had trained and armed in camps in Albania, hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Roma and other minorities fled the province. 200,000 Serbs alone remain in exile almost eleven years later.

Roma sources have estimated that a comparable amount of Roma and related Askalis and Egyptians have been terrorized into fleeing their homes and relocating elsewhere in Kosovo, other parts of Serbia, Macedonia and further abroad.

UN Resolution 1244, which of late NATO and U.S. officials have taken to evoking (as the Devil quotes Scripture) also “Reaffirm[s] the right of all refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes in safety.”

Before NATO’s entry and the KLA’s return in June of 1999, Kosovo was one of the most ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse spots on the earth. Its two million citizens consisted of Muslims, Christians and Jews, including (to defy stereotypes) Muslim Slavs and Christian Albanians. Its inhabitants were Albanian, Serbian, Askali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Egyptian, Gorani, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Roma and Turkish.

If the province was diverse, the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army wasn’t. It was monoethnic. Fiercely so. It sought an exclusively Albanian Kosovo and after that Greater Albania.

The West is near to providing it with the first and is assisting its former members – ex-KLA chief Hashim Thaci is now recognized by the West as Kosovo’s prime minister – to achieve the second.

In the late 1990s no one but ethnic Albanian separatist extremists, by no means all Albanians, felt constrained to wage unprovoked armed attacks against security and civilian targets in the province.

The fate of the smaller ethnic communities, those neither Albanian nor Serbian, since June of 1999 gives the definitive lie to eleven years of Western propaganda about Kosovo. Roma, Gorans, Turks and others have been murdered, driven in fear from their homes and forced to flee the province.

Paul Polansky, head of the Kosovo Roma Refugee Fund, wrote in 2008 (two days before Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence) that “Before NATO troops arrived, there were about 17,500 Gypsy homes with a population of about 120,000. By the time I did my survey [in 2007] more than 14,500 homes had been destroyed by Albanians and only about 30,000 Gypsies were still in Kosovo.”

He added:

“I witnessed many Albanians chasing out Gypsy families and then looting their homes before burning them down. This happened in front of NATO troops.”

“Fearing independence, all minorities are still leaving Kosovo….After eight years of UN administration, there is still no freedom of movement for minorities outside their own villages.”

“The German government acknowledges that there are more than 35,000 Kosovo Gypsies living today in Germany. Germany hopes to deport them when Kosovo has independence….” [4]

He further detailed that remaining Roma have been living in camps on or near toxic dumps (an abandoned mining and smelting complex with a slag heap containing 100 million tons of poisonous materials) and suffering from epidemic rates of cancer and brain damage.

Polansky used the word appropriate to what is occurring: Genocide.

Last October, twenty months after separatist leaders announced Kosovo’s independence, Germany formalized plans to forcibly deport 14,000 Kosovo refugees including 12,000 Roma. A member of parliament of the opposition Left Party warned that the expulsion would put them in danger, as “Kosovo is a country in which minorities are deeply discriminated against and persecuted.” [5]

There are an estimated 20,000 internally displaced persons in Kosovo living in dangerous and squalid conditions. A United Nations report estimates that 20 per cent of Roma remaining in Kosovo are stateless.

Albanians have not fared much better. A feature in Germany’s Der Spiegel in 2002 revealed that “After the war the cruelest cleansings took place among the Albanians. Under the pretext that they were ‘Serbian collaborators’, the leaders of the KLA liquidated their political opponents; old blood feuds were settled, and Albanian civilians were executed by the Albanians themselves.”

“The number of the victims is estimated to be more than a thousand. The perpetrators or instigators were usually former senior KLA leaders; after the war they were integrated nearly without exception into the KLA successor organization, the civilian Kosovo Protection Corps.” [6]

A report by the Reuters news agency last November documented that if non-Albanians fear for their lives in Kosovo, even ethnic Albanians were condemned to a plight that can barely be qualified as living.

Eleven years and an estimated three million euros (over $4 million) in aid later, the official unemployment rate is between 40-50 per cent and the average per capita income is 1,760 euros, “less than 93 cents a day, according to the World Bank.”

“That compares with average joblessness of just under 10 percent in the European Union and an average salary of about 24,000 euros ($35,930).” [7]

Kosovo is the showcase for the West’s self-styled humanitarian intervention and post-Cold War “nation building.” The prototype for Afghanistan, Iraq and much of the rest of the world.

With the perversion – the inversion – of the intent of UN Resolution 1244, the U.S. and its NATO allies are well on their way to insuring a monoethnic Kosovo with a NATO standard army.

In late January of this year U.S. ambassador to Kosovo Christopher Dell “said that Serbia’s efforts to once again impose its legal system on Kosovo are a clear violation of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1244.”

He further stated:

“What has been forgotten over the last ten years is that Resolution 1244 clearly takes the power over Kosovo away from Serbia, and Belgrade’s effort to impose a legislative system in Kosovo is an open violation of the resolution….This resolution recognizes Kosovo’s territorial integrity and the fact that there is only one legal system in Kosovo. All countries that do not recognize Kosovo still recognize the validity of Resolution 1244.” [8]

Again, the resolution unequivocally confirms “the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other States of the region, as set out in the Helsinki Final Act….”

Which is how Russia still views the mandate of UN Resolution 1244. Two days after the American envoy’s egregious comments, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said that the current Western – U.S., NATO and European Union – plans for forcibly subjugating northern Kosovo and its Serb minority “violates Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council.”

“By this I refer to the so-called strategy for northern Kosovo, which violates UN SC Resolution 1244 and generates tensions in the province.”

He also said that Russia “insists on the UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, fulfilling its obligations in representing Kosovo in regional and international institutions.” [9]

However, U.S. Ambassador Dell, in indicating that Western intentions toward surviving Serbian enclaves are not peaceful, referred to their autonomous governing bodies as “criminal parallel structures” and added “criminal structures organized in the north are completely linked with the so-called parallel governmental structures.” [10] To exclusively single out Serbian communities in a Kosovo that is the most crime-ridden part of Europe is a tour de force of arrogance, underhandedness and Goebbelsesque distortion of the truth.

Serb and other threatened minority communities are to be subordinated to the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX), which will transition them to the control of the Kosovo regime of former KLA chief Hashim Thaci.

In late January Pieter Feith, the European Union Special Representative in Kosovo, disclosed that “EULEX personnel will be moving into northern Kosovo soon.”

“Feith’s strategy for northern Kosovo calls for the support of the ‘international community’ in direct links between Serbia’s European perspective and the decrease of Belgrade’s support for the ‘parallel’ structures in the north of Kosovo.

“The strategy was created by Feith and the temporary institutions in Pristina, and it is part of the decentralization process in Kosovo, with the goal of taking over control in the northern [Serbian] part of Kosovska Mitrovica.” [11]

In the same week Feith visited NATO headquarters in Brussels with EULEX chief Yves de Kermabon to “take part in an informal meeting with the NATO Council and…focus on cooperation between the EU and NATO in the field, and the situation in the north of Kosovo.

“The visit comes after the meeting of the NATO military leadership, who discussed Kosovo.” [12]

(Starting in December of 2007 the European Union worked in tandem with Washington to unleash an independent Kosovo on Europe and the world and to supplant the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo with the European Union Rule of Law – EULEX – Mission as the transitional mechanism for turning the province fully over to the new Republic of Kosovo. The EU nations that led the drive to recognize Kosovo’s secession were Britain, France, Germany and Italy, the same four countries that met in Munich 70 years earlier to cede the Sudetenland and then all of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany.)

Russian political analyst Pyotr Iskenderov wrote a few days afterward that “the plan for a final solution for North Kosovo is similar to the one Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili had in mind launching an attack against South Ossetia in August, 2008. Even the stated objectives – the restoration of the constitutional jurisdiction in Saakashvili’s wording – is the same in both cases.

“The contours of the Kosovo separatists’ plan to suppress the Serbian resistance in the northern part of the province with the help of the US and the EU are becoming increasingly visible.” [13]

After KFOR and EULEX secure domination over Serb communities, they will be transferred to the rulers in Pristina and their NATO-created army.

The month after Thaci and his colleagues declared independence with the assistance of the major NATO nations, KFOR and the revamped KLA that was the Kosovo Protection Corps began the conversion of the latter into the Kosovo Security Force (KSF). It was officially inaugurated in January of 2009.

Described by Western powers as an “unarmed disaster-relief organization,” it was recently identified by a German news agency more accurately as “Kosovo’s fledgling army, mainly manned by former guerrillas….” [14]

Last year it was announced that the Pentagon would supply it with uniforms, Britain with training – in the words of the Defence Ministry to NATO standards and according to London’s ambassador to Kosovo to prepare the state for NATO membership – and Germany with 200 vehicles.

Last September NATO held maneuvers with the Kosovo Security Force, Exercise Agile Lion, and pronounced that the KSF had achieved Initial Operational Capability. “The next goal for the KSF is to reach Full Operational Capability.” [15]

UN Resolution 1244 also explicitly calls for “Demilitarizing the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and other armed Kosovo Albanian groups….”

NATO has instead rearmed them and is in the process of institutionalizing the former KLA as a national army.

The last time foreign powers militarily occupied Kosovo was in the early 1940s. They were Benito Mussolini’s Italy and Adolf Hitler’s Germany. The last time an Albanian military formation was created by an occupying power was in 1944 when Heinrich Himmler set up the Skanderbeg SS Division.

January of 2009 brought the official launching of the KSF “overseen by Nato.” [16]

Within days of assuming the post of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis affirmed that “We are interested in having modern equipment and advanced training for KSF, and I will try in my capability to assist widely during my three-year mandate.” [17]

On March 15 a NATO website disclosed:

“Since achieving Initial Operational Capability in September 2009, the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) has continued to develop its skills and capabilities in core areas, with the assistance of NATO forces in Kosovo….NATO nations decided to support this task with a Donation Programme established In June 2008. The value of all the equipment and infrastructure projects required by the KSF to be fully capable is 37.4 million euros. [18]

On March 7 the Kosovo Security Force, erstwhile “unarmed disaster-relief organization,” brandished arms at what was described as a Kosovo Liberation Army memorial service to mark the twelve anniversary of the latter’s rebellion against the government of Yugoslavia and the death of its commander at the time, Adem Jashari. An “armed honor guard” also displayed the NATO flag during the parade.

KFOR commander General Markus Bentler pretended to be offended at what, after all, is only the KLA renamed and with new insignia reverting to form, and even mentioned suspending NATO’s training of the 2,500-man force the day of the armed march.

The nominal president of Kosovo, Fatmir Sejdiu, responded by stating “KFOR is an important investor in the enlargement of KSF and…all the steps thus far were undertaken in agreement and partnership and I believe that in the future (it) will contribute to our NATO membership.” Hashim Thaci’s deputy Hajredin Kuci added the assertion that “nobody should expect Kosovo not to behave like a sovereign state.” [19]

However, the bond between the North Atlantic military bloc and its KLA allies is an old and unbreakable one, and the next day relations between the NATO Kosovo Force and its Kosovo Security Force subordinates were restored and “a new agreement was reached by which the KSF ceremonial unit could carry weapons in a manner agreed upon in advance.” [20]

Russian analyst Pyotr Iskenderov, cited earlier, wrote that “The statements emanating from Pristina and the intensifying international debates over the Kosovo theme do not only show that the Albanian separatists are preparing an attack against their opponents but also give an idea of its potential scenario, the distribution of roles in it, and the extent to which Hashim Thaci and other former leaders of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army are relying on international support in the process.” [21]

From January 15-24 of this year NATO’s KFOR conducted military exercises throughout Kosovo. The stated purpose of the maneuvers was to “enable KFOR forces to maintain a high degree of readiness and be prepared to quickly deploy in response to any scenario.” [22]

Afterward a Serbian news agency reported on a KFOR press release which stated “the exercises were conducted so as to check the full operational capability of multinational combat groups after the structural changes in the international military forces have taken place.

“More than 5,000 soldiers from 31 countries, 700 tactical vehicles on land, and 21 helicopters for air support, were included in this military simulation of real-life battle conditions….[T]he exercises confirmed that the multinational battle groups are ‘fast, very flexible, mobile, and ready to deploy in response to any situation which might endanger security on the whole territory of Kosovo.'”

“KFOR said there will be further exercises so that the groups could be trained and their operational capability preserved at the highest possible level.” [23]

Toward the end of last month the U.S. deployed two companies of soldiers based in Camp Bondsteel, the largest overseas military installation the Pentagon has constructed since the Vietnam War, to the north of Kosovo.

“The KFOR command in Pristina has announced that their deployment will confirm operational ability to reinforce and support any combat group in Kosovo.”

The U.S. exercises in February and the KFOR ones the previous month occurred against the backdrop of the threats by NATO commander Admiral Mark Fitzgerald and U.S. ambassador to Serbia Christopher Dell examined earlier and are part of “an ICO [International Civilian Office – European Union Special Representative]/Kosovo Albanian government strategy to ‘integrate’ this [northern Kosovo], predominantly Serb area of the province, and bring it under Pristina’s control.

“Serbs in the north, however, are refusing any kind of connection to the Kosovo institutions. Pristina’s intent is to start shutting down local governments supported by Belgrade.” [24]

In conjunction with coordinated moves against Serbian communities in the north of Kosovo by KFOR, EULEX, the Kosovo regime of Thaci and Sejdiu and its new army in formation, attacks against Serb civilians have also intensified in an effort to drive them out of the province.

Three firebombs were hurled at the home of a Serb family in northern Kosovska Mitrovica last month and the house of an elderly Serb couple in Klina was stoned at the same time.

On February 18 in Gnjilane, in eastern Kosovo, the grave of a Serbian woman buried earlier in the day was dug up and robbed. A local Serb official remarked of this desecration: “The deceased’s last wish was to be buried in the upper part of the Gnjilane cemetery. This was the first burial in this cemetery since 1999. The digging up of her grave is a clear message to Serbs that they cannot even bury their dead in Gnjilane.” [25]

Two days later a Serbian male was assaulted in Istok, in northwestern Kosovo, by a gang of Albanians and afterward taken to a hospital in Kosovska Mitrovica. The coordinator for returning Serbs in the city said “that the situation in Istok has drastically worsened over the last week, and that the attack has further upset Serbs living in the municipality.”

“There are five homes almost complete for returning Serbs…and it is obvious that someone does not like it,” Vesna Malikovic added. [26]

Almost eleven years ago the U.S. and NATO brought their KLA allies to power in Kosovo. There was no way they could have achieved that objective on their own.

To demonstrate to whom the likes of Hashim Thaci, Ramush Haradinaj, Agim Ceku and other former Kosovo Liberation Army leaders see themselves indebted to for the opportunity of purging the province of all non-Albanian inhabitants – and eliminating Albanians not deemed sufficiently subservient – they have named the main street in the capital of Pristina after George W. Bush, who engineered Kosovo’s formal secession two years ago.

Major streets in the capital are also named after Tony Blair, Madeleine Albright and William Walker, and last November 1 Bill Clinton arrived in Pristina to join Hashim Thaci in unveiling a grotesque eleven-foot statue to the former American president.

While promoting NATO’s new Strategic Concept with her 12-member Group of Experts last month, Madeleine Albright said that “If you wish to know what I think is the most important thing I accomplished as U.S. secretary of state, I think it is the stopping of the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo,” though local media reported she initially used the phrase “conducting the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.” [27]

There was no need for her to correct herself. She stated the matter accurately the first time.

1) B92, March 17, 2004
2) Ombudsman office, Pristina, Kosovo, Statement to the Media, 18 March 2004
3) Serbian Government, April 26, 2008
4) The Statesman (India), February 15, 2008
5) Reuters, October 14, 2009
6) Der Spiegel, September 21, 2002 (In German)
7) Reuters, November 20, 2009
8) Beta News Agency, January 27, 2010
9) B92/FoNet/Tanjug News Agency, January 29, 2010
10) Beta News Agency, January 27, 2010
11) Tanjug News Agency, January 30, 2010
12) B92/FoNet/Tanjug News Agency, January 29, 2010
13) Strategic Culture Foundation, February 3, 2010
14) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 8, 2010
15) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Kosovo Force, September 16, 2009
16) BBC News, January 21, 2010
17) Kosovo Times, July 30, 2009
18) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Allied Command Operations
March 15, 2010
19) B92, March 7, 2010
20) Southeast European Times, March 11, 2010
21) Strategic Culture Foundation, February 3, 2010
22) Radio Serbia, January 13, 2010
23) Tanjug News Agency, February 6, 2010
24) B92, February 22, 2010
25) Beta News Agency, February 19, 2010
26) FoNet, February 20, 2010
27) Tanjug News Agency, February 11, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

AFRICOM lanza su primera ofensiva a gran escala en Somalia

March 18, 2010

AFRICOM lanza su primera ofensiva a gran escala en Somalia
La primera guerra de EE.UU. en África
Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

Más de 43 personas han resultado muertas en la capital somalí de Mogadiscio durante dos días de combate entre fuerzas insurgentes de Shabab (al-Shabaab), que el 10 de marzo avanzaron hasta menos de dos kilómetros del palacio presidencial de la nación, y tropas del Gobierno Federal Transitorio respaldado por EE.UU. Los enfrentamientos sólo han comenzado.
El último embajador de EE.UU. en Somalia (1994-1995), Daniel H. Simpson, escribió una columna para el Pittsburgh Post-Gazette el 10 de marzo en la que planteó la pregunta: “¿Por qué, aparte de la acusación sólo ligeramente documentada de extremismo islámico en Shabab, vuelve EE.UU. a involucrarse en Somalia en este momento?”

Respondió señalando “Parte del motivo es porque EE.UU. tiene su única base en África en Djibouti, la antigua Somalilandia Francesa, en la costa relativamente cerca de Mogadiscio. El Comando África de EE.UU. fue establecido allí en 2008 y, ante la falta de disposición de otros países africanos para recibirlo la base en Djibouti se convirtió en el centro de operaciones para las tropas y los cazabombarderos estadounidenses en África.

“Bien provisto de dinero, a pesar de las costosas guerras en Iraq y Afganistán, el Departamento de Defensa obviamente se considera en condiciones de emprender una acción militar en África, en Somalia” [1].

Cumpliendo con el papel que se le ha asignado, el New York Times filtró planes militares de EE.UU. para la actual ofensiva en Somalia el 5 de marzo en un informe intitulado “EE.UU. ayuda a Somalia en su plan de volver a tomar su capital.” (Nótese que el Gobierno Federal Transitorio es presentado como Somalia propiamente dicha y Mogadiscio como su capital.)

El tono del artículo, por cierto, era de apoyo y aprobación de la justificación del Pentágono para la intervención directa en Somalia a un nivel no visto desde 1993 y de apoyo a las acciones por encargo vistas últimamente con la invasión etíope en 2006. El informe comenzó con una descripción de un avión de vigilancia militar que daba vueltas sobre la capital somalí y una cita del nuevo jefe de estado mayor de las fuerzas armadas de la nación, general Mohamed Gelle Kahiye: “Son los estadounidenses. Nos están ayudando”.

Después, “un funcionario estadounidense en Washington, quien dijo que no estaba autorizado a hablar en público” –una característica de la prensa libre de EE.UU.– fue citado, aunque no identificado, diciendo que se habían planeado, cuando no llevado a cabo, operaciones encubiertas de EE.UU., y “lo que se verá probablemente son ataques aéreos y Operaciones Especiales que llegan, atacan y se van” [2].

El New York Times también dio antecedentes sobre la actual ofensiva:

“Durante los últimos meses los consejeros estadounidenses han ayudado a supervisar el entrenamiento de las fuerzas somalíes que serán utilizadas en la ofensiva… Los estadounidenses han suministrado un entrenamiento clandestino para agentes de inteligencia somalíes, apoyo logístico para mantenedores de la paz, combustible para maniobras, información de reconocimiento sobre las posiciones insurgentes y dinero para balas y fusiles” [3].

Cuatro días después el general William (“Kip”) Ward, comandante del Comando África de EE.UU. (AFRICOM), testificó ante el Comité de Servicios Armados del Senado.

En su introducción, el presidente del comité, senador Carl Levin, reforzó recientes intentos estadounidenses de expandir el alcance de la guerra Afganistán-Pakistán, la más mortífera y prolongada del mundo, hacia el oeste y el sur, señalando que “al-Qaida y violentos extremistas que comparten su ideología no se encuentran sólo en la región Afganistán-Pakistán sino en sitios como Somalia, Mali, Nigeria y Níger” [4].

En su informe formal Ward mostró una discreción semejante y expandió el área de “contraterrorismo” (CT) del Pentágono aún más lejos del Sur de Asia: “El Comando África de EE.UU. ha concentrado la mayor parte de sus actividades de refuerzo de capacidad CT en África Oriental en Kenia, Etiopía, Djibouti y Uganda, que – aparte de Somali – son países directamente amenazados por terroristas” [5].

También habló de la actual ofensiva del “gobierno de transición para recuperar partes de Mogadiscio” y declaró: “pienso que es algo que debemos hacer y apoyar” [6].

El senador Levin y el general Ward incluyeron ocho naciones africanos en la categoría ampliada de la Operación Libertad Duradera de la guerra afgana, países que van desde el extremo nororiental del continente (el Cuerno de África) al extremo oeste (el Golfo de Guinea rico en petróleo). Los militares de EE.UU. ya han participado en operaciones de contrainsurgencia en Mali y Níger contra rebeldes de la etnia tuareg, que no tienen vínculos concebibles con al-Qaida, lo que no se desprende de los comentarios de Levin.

Entre el sur de Asia y África está Yemen en la Península Arábiga. El informe del New York Times citado anteriormente recordó a los lectores que: “A EE.UU. le preocupa crecientemente el vínculo entre Somalia y Yemen.” Por cierto, tal como establecen los comentarios de Levin anteriormente citados, Washington (junto con sus aliados de la OTAN) está forjando un frente de guerra expandido desde Afganistán y Pakistán a Yemen y hacia África [7].

La extensión de la guerra del sur de Asia no ha dejado de ser observada en las capitales del mundo, y durante este año el analista político ruso Andrei Fedyashin comentó: “Agregando los cuatro frentes –si EE.UU. se lanzara a un ataque contra Yemen y Somalia– tendría que invadir un territorio igual a tres cuartos de Europa Occidental; y es difícil que tenga fuerza suficiente para eso” [8].

La tenga o no, es exactamente lo que la Casa Blanca y el Pentágono están haciendo. La única otra objeción que se podría presentar a la descripción del autor mencionado es que también limita severamente el frente de batalla propuesto.

En los últimos seis meses se han enviado tropas somalíes a Djibouti, Etiopía, Kenia y Uganda para entrenamiento de combate “y en su mayoría han vuelto a la capital, y esperan entrar en acción”.

Además “hay unos 5.000 mantenedores de la paz ugandeses y burundeses, 1.700 más están en camino y se espera que tengan un papel vital en el respaldo a las fuerzas somalíes en avance” [9].

En octubre pasado EE.UU. dirigió diez días de ejercicios militares en Uganda –Fuego Natural [10]– con 450 soldados estadounidenses y más de 550 de Burundi, Kenia, Ruanda, Tanzania y Uganda. Los soldados estadounidenses fueron desplegados desde Campo Lemonier, en Djibouti, sede de la Fuerza de Tareas Conjunta/Cuerno de África del Pentágono y de más de 2.000 soldados de EE.UU; el centro de operaciones de facto de AFRICOM.

Al realizarse las maniobras, un importante periódico en Uganda escribió que estaban “orientadas hacia la formación de la primera Fuerza Militar Conjunta del Este de África” [10].

Aparte de utilizar esta fuerza regional multinacional en Somalia, EE.UU. también puede desplegarla contra los rebeldes del Ejército de Resistencia del Señor (LRA, por sus siglas en inglés) en Uganda, el Congo y Sudán, y podría incluso emplearla contra Eritrea, Zimbabue y Sudán, las únicas naciones del continente africano que no están enredadas en algún grado en cooperaciones militares con Washington y la OTAN. (Libia ha participado en ejercicios navales de la OTAN y Sudáfrica ha recibido barcos de guerra del bloque.) [11]

Durante este mes, el periódico keniano The East African divulgó que “los legisladores estadounidenses están presionando por una ley que considere otra fase de acción militar para capturar a los rebeldes del Ejército de Resistencia del Señor”.

La fuente noticiosa agregó que la Ley de Desarme del LRA y de Recuperación del Norte de Uganda adoptada el año pasado por el Congreso de EE.UU. “requiere que el gobierno de EE.UU. desarrolle una nueva estrategia multifacética” y como tal la nueva ley en consideración “no será la primera vez que el gobierno de EE.UU. suministre apoyo al ejército de Uganda en la lucha contra el LRA”.

“EE.UU. ha estado respaldando a la UPDF [siglas en inglés de Fuerza de Defensa del Pueblo de Uganda] con logística y entrenamiento para combatir al grupo rebelde” [12].

El mes pasado se anunció que el Comando África de EE.UU. ha despachado fuerzas especiales para entrenar a 1.000 soldados congoleses en el norte y el este de su nación, donde el Congo limita con Uganda.

Se han citado declaraciones del ex diplomático de EE.UU. Daniel Simpson acerca de uno de los motivos de Washington para impulsar una nueva guerra dentro y alrededor de Somalia: probar las fuerzas terrestres y aéreas de AFRICOM en Djibouti para la acción militar directa en el continente.

Un informe de United Press International del 10 de marzo, publicado bajo la rúbrica de noticias energéticas, ofreció otra explicación. En un artículo intitulado “África del Este es la nueva zona álgida del petróleo”, la agencia noticiosa reveló que “África del Este emerge como el próximo boom del petróleo después de un gran descubrimiento en la Cuenca del Lago Alberto de Uganda. Se han encontrado otras reservas de petróleo y gas natural en Tanzania y Mozambique; se realiza exploración en Etiopía e incluso en Somalia, desgarrada por la guerra”.

La región es, en boca del director ejecutivo occidental de una firma que prospecta en busca de petróleo, “la última área con verdadero alto potencial en el mundo que no ha sido plenamente explorada” [13].

El artículo agrega: “Se estima que en la región del Lago Alberto, situado en el centro de África, entre Uganda y la República Democrática del Congo, hay varios miles de millones de barriles de petróleo. Es probable que sea el mayor campo en tierra hallado al sur del Desierto del Sahara en dos décadas.”

También habló de un “vasto territorio de 350.000 kilómetros cuadrados en Etiopía sin salida al mar que podría contener considerables reservas de petróleo. También se calcula que hay 4 billones de pies cúbicos de gas natural”.

Y, más pertinente al Cuerno de África:

“Un estudio de 1993 de Petroconsultants de Ginebra concluyó que Somalia tiene dos de las cuencas con más interés potencial para la producción de hidrocarburos en toda la región – una en la región central Mudugh, la otra en el Golfo de Adén. Análisis más recientes indican que Somalia podría tener reservas de hasta 10.000 millones de barriles” [14].

Aliados de Washington en la OTAN también están profundamente involucrados en la militarización de África del Este.

El 10 de marzo la OTAN extendió su operación naval Escudo Oceánico en el Golfo de Adén, frente a la costa de Somalia,que se prolongará hasta el fin de 2012, una extensión sin precedentes de 33 meses. El 12 de marzo el “Grupo Marítimo Permanente 2 de la OTAN se hará cargo de misiones del Grupo Marítimo Permanente 1 de la OTAN para la tarea de cuatro meses. El cambio aumentará la contribución de la OTAN de cuatro a cinco barcos…” [15].

En las mismas audiencias del Comité de Servicios Armados del Senado a las que se dirigió el comandante de AFRICOM William Ward, el Comandante Supremo Aliado en Europa de la OTAN, almirante estadounidense James Stavridis, “señaló que 100.000 soldados de la OTAN están involucrados en operaciones expedicionarias en tres continentes, incluyendo operaciones en Afganistán, frente a la costa de África y en Bosnia.” (Evidentemente quería decir Kosovo en lugar de Bosnia.)

Stavridis, quien es al mismo tiempo máximo jefe militar del Comando Europeo de EE.UU., dijo que “la naturaleza de lasamenazas en este siglo XXI [va] a exigir algo más que quedarnos sentados detrás de nuestras fronteras” [16].

También dijo que considera que “Irán es alarmante en muchos aspectos” y mencionó específicamente el “terrorismo patrocinado por el Estado, la proliferación nuclear y su proyección política en Latinoamérica” [17].

El secretario general de la OTAN, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, volvió recientemente de Jordania y el Estado del Golfo Pérsico de Bahréin, donde presionó a ambas naciones para que apoyen la guerra en Afganistán y las operaciones navales de la Alianza.

“El máximo responsable de la OTAN dijo [el 9 de marzo] que ha pedido a Jordania y a Bahréin que contribuyan a operaciones navales de la alianza de lucha contra el terrorismo y la piratería en el Mediterráneo Oriente y en el Golfo de Adén, al terminar una visita a los dos países. La OTAN quiere aumentar la cooperación con Estados árabes y musulmanes, porque los ve como importantes aliados en una serie de misiones, incluido el importantísimo despliegue en Afganistán” [18].

Respecto a los casi nueve años de la Operación Esfuerzo Activo del bloque militar occidental en todo el Mar Mediterráneo y su Operación Escudo del Océano en el Golfo de Adén, Rasmussen dijo: “Nos gustaría mucho fortalecer la cooperación (con Bahréin y Jordania) dentro de estas operaciones” [19].

Durante su estadía en Jordania estuvo fortaleciendo lazos militares con la cooperación del Diálogo Mediterráneo de la OTAN –Argelia, Egipto, Israel, Jordania, Mauritania, Marruecos y Túnez– y en Bahréin reforzando la Iniciativa de Cooperación de Estambul que apunta a los seis miembros del Consejo de Cooperación del Golfo: Bahréin, Kuwait, Omán, Qatar, Arabia Saudí y los Emiratos Árabes Unidos.

Bahréin, Egipto, Jordania y los Emiratos Árabes Unidos tienen personal militar que sirve bajo la OTAN en Afganistán.

A fines de febrero una delegación de las 53 naciones de la Unión Africana (AU) visitó el cuartel general de las Potencias Aliadas en Europa de la OTAN en Mons, Bélgica.

“La OTAN sigue apoyando la misión de la AU en Somalia (AMISOM) a través de la provisión a pedido de transporte estratégico por mar y aire para Naciones que Contribuyen Tropas a AMISOM. El último apoyo de transporte aéreo ocurrió en junio de 2008 cuando la OTAN transportó un batallón de mantenedores de la paz burundeses a Mogadiscio” [20].

El 10 de marzo AMISOM desplegó tanques para impedir la captura del palacio presidencial somalí por rebeldes.

El bloque de la alianza militar del bloque Noratlántico, que en los últimos años ha realizado ejercicios en gran escala en África Occidental, e inauguró su Fuerza de Reacción internacional en Cabo Verde en 2006, también apoya la “operacionalización de la Fuerza de Alerta Africana – la visión de la Unión Africana para un aparato continental de seguridad a disposición similar a la Fuerza de Reacción de la OTAN” [21].

En mayo la Unión Europea, cuyos miembros coinciden en gran parte con los de la OTAN y que está empeñada en una intensa integración con el bloque militar en una escala global [22], comenzará a entrenar a 2.000 soldados somalíes en Uganda.

El brigadier general Thierry Caspar-Fille-Lambie, oficial comandante de las fuerzas armadas francesas en Djibouti, dijo: “Las tropas somalíes serán entrenadas con las capacidades militares necesarias para ayudar a pacificar y estabilizar ese volátil país”.

Emitió esa declaración “en la ceremonia de clausura de cuatro semanas de entrenamiento operativo de 1.700 soldados ugandeses que serán desplegados” en Somalia en mayo. El embajador francés en Uganda dijo: “Los soldados de la UE trabajarán en estrecha colaboración con la UPDF para entrenar soldados somalíes” [23].

Los 2.000 soldados que serán entrenados por la UE representarán todo un tercio de un ejército somalí proyectado de 6.000 hombres.

Los planes de la tríada global EE.UU.-OTAN-UE incluyen un papel militar colectivo aún mayor en la nueva rebatiña por África. El 4 y 5 de marzo una delegación de AFRICOM se reunió con funcionarios de la Unión Europea en Bruselas, “en busca de cooperación de la UE en África,” específicamente en “áreas en las que la cooperación podría ser posible, sobre todo en la próxima misión de la UE para entrenar a soldados somalíes” [24].

Tony Holmes, el adjunto del comandante para actividades civiles-militares de AFRICOM, dijo “Somalia es un área en la que vamos a hacer mucho más, la Unión Europea ya está haciendo mucho y hará aún más…

“Somalia es muy importante para nosotros. La Unión Europea participa en el entrenamiento de somalíes en Uganda y eso es algo en cuyo apoyo podríamos trabajar estrechamente.”

La delegación de AFRICOM, incluyendo al general de división Richard Sherlock, director de estrategia, planes y programas, también discutió “cooperación en contraterrorismo con la UE en la región del Sahel, notablemente en Mauritania, Malí y Níger…” [25].

A fines de enero el jefe del Comité Militar de la OTAN, almirante Giampaolo Di Paola, dijo “que la Alianza está en discusión con un Estado del Golfo para enviar aviones AWACS para una misión de reconocimiento sobre Afganistán en apoyo de su misión en ISAF y también contra la piratería frente a Somalia” [24].

Para demostrar que la operación contra la piratería de la OTAN frente a la costa de Somalia tiene otros objetivos que los reconocidos, a comienzos de este año un portavoz de la OTAN anunció que el contingente naval del bloque en el Golfo de Adén “tiene ahora la tarea adicional” de intervenir contra un despliegue ficticio de combatientes somalíes a través del Golfo hacia Yemen.

El vocero, Jacqui Sheriff, dijo que “los barcos de guerra de la OTAN estarán atentos a cualquier cosa sospechosa” [25].

Es como si los combatientes somalíes de al-Shabaab no tuvieran otra cosa que hacer mientras EE.UU. prepara un asalto general en su contra en su patria.

Cinco días después del artículo en el New York Times que detalla los planes de guerra estadounidenses en Somalia, el Washington Times da seguimiento y agrega a ese informe.

Es “probable que” las operaciones de EE.UU. “sean la demostración más abierta de respaldo militar de EE.UU. desde la malograda Operación Devolver la Esperanza de 1992…”

“Aviones de vigilancia sin tripulación han estado dando vueltas sobre Mogadiscio en los últimos días, al parecer identificando posiciones insurgentes mientras el TFG [Gobierno Federal Transitorio] pone en orden sus fuerzas. Consejeros del ejército de EE.UU. han estado ayudando a entrenar las fuerzas del TFG, que han sido equipadas en gran parte con armas estadounidenses de un valor de millones de dólares, enviadas por avión a Mogadiscio durante las últimas semanas.”

El informe del periódico señala además: “No está claro cuándo comenzará la ofensiva. En las calles se rumorea que será en las próximas semanas…”

La campaña ya ha comenzado.

“Después de proteger Mogadiscio, la ofensiva, apoyada por milicias aliadas al gobierno, por lo menos por ahora, probablemente continuará contra al-Shaabab en el campo del oeste y el sur hacia la frontera con Kenia” [26].

Después de la capital, todo el país. Después de Somalia, la región.

La guerra no ha hecho más que empezar.


1) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10 de marzo de 2010.

2) New York Times, 5 de marzo de 2010.

3) Ibíd.

4) Senate Armed Forces Committee, 9 de marzo de 2010.

5) United States Africa Command, 9 de marzo de 2010.

6) Senate Armed Forces Committee, 9 de marzo de 2010.

7) “U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean”, Stop NATO, 8 de enero de 2010.

“Yemen: Pentagon’s War On The Arabian Peninsula”, Stop NATO, 15 de diciembre de 2009.

8) Agencia rusa Novosti, 11 de enero de 2010.

9) New York Times, 5 de marzo de 2010.

10) The Monitor, 14 de octubre de 2009.

11) “AFRICOM Year Two: Seizing The Helm Of The Entire World”, Stop NATO, 22 de octubre de 2009.

12) The East African, 1 de marzo de 2010.

13) United Press International, 10 de marzo de 2010.

14) Ibid.

15) Stars and Stripes, 11 de marzo de 2010.

16) United States Department of Defense, 9 de marzo de 2010.

17) Ibíd.

18) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9 de marzo de 2010.

19) Ibíd.

20) North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe

24 de febrero de 2010.

21) Ibíd.

22) “EU, NATO, US: 21st Century Alliance For Global Domination”, Stop NATO, 19 de febrero de 2009.

23) Agencia de noticias Xinhua, 13 de febrero de 2010.

24) Europolitics, 5 de marzo de 2010.

25) Ibíd.

26) Kuwait News Agency, 28 de enero de 2010.

27) Canwest News Service, 1 de enero de 2010.

28) Washington Times, 10 de marzo de 2010.

Categories: Uncategorized

Georgia: Simulating War Or Provoking It?

March 16, 2010 1 comment

March 16, 2010

Georgia: Simulating War Or Provoking It?
Rick Rozoff

On the evening of March 13 Georgia’s Imedi television channel ran a 30-minute prime time “simulated” newscast about a Russian invasion of the South Caucasus nation complete with a report that the country’s mercurial (if not megalomaniacal) president – Mikheil Saakashvili – had been assassinated.

The show was aired “by the Imedi TV’s weekly program Special Report, which started just a couple of minutes before 8pm – the time when Imedi TV runs its usual news bulletin Kronika.” (Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from Civil Georgia reports of March 14, 2010.)

The Special Report’s regular news anchor, Natia Koberidze, opened the program with the words: “Have you ever thought about the end of Georgian statehood? Probably yes, because we have already seen this threat in the summer of 2008.”

The reference was to the five-day war fought between Georgia and Russia after the first launched an all-out assault on neighboring South Ossetia on August 8, killing hundreds of civilians and scores of Russian soldiers stationed there.

As the Georgian newscaster herself pointed out its significance and as past is assuredly prologue in the current context, some information on the 2008 war in the South Caucasus is justified.

The attack itself followed several days of deadly shelling of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali by Georgian artillery, which in turn followed by one day the completion of the Immediate Response 2008 NATO military exercises which included the participation of 1,200 U.S. troops, the largest deployment the Pentagon has ever made to Georgia. Some of them – and their equipment – remained in Georgia after the August 8 Georgian invasion of South Ossetia and throughout the conflict.

Britain was to have conducted war games in the country the next month, Georgian Express 2008, until the war intervened to prevent them.

Weeks before the war broke out the U.S. sent 400 Marine Corps-trained Georgian troops to Afghanistan in addition to the 2,000 that were in Iraq, the third largest national contingent in the latter country at the time.

As soon as the invasion of South Ossetia and the resulting war with Russia had commenced, the Georgian commander in Iraq, Colonel Bondo Maisuradze, announced: “Georgia will remove all of its 2,000 soldiers from Iraq to join the fighting in the breakaway province of South Ossetia as soon as transport can be arranged.” [1]

Georgian troops were brought home on U.S. military transport planes while the fighting raged.

It was reported at the time that “First-line Georgian soldiers wear NATO uniforms, kevlar helmets and body armour matching US issue, and carry the US-manufactured M-16 automatic rifle….” [2] Less than two weeks after the war ended the U.S. sent the first of three warships to Georgian ports on the Black Sea.

The beginning of the March 13 Georgian broadcast notified viewers that what was to follow could occur “if Georgian society is not brought together against Russia’s plans.”

But “in the course of the report itself the TV station carried no sign on the screen indicating that the report was fake.”

Anyone tuning in to the program after the formal disclaimer or alerted to the newscast by others saw footage of Russian tanks and warplanes apparently attacking and invading Georgia which – given the time slot of the program and its announcer – would have led any unwarned viewers to believe that what they were watching was occurring in real time.

The full lead-in to the program was as politically charged and partisan, both in regards to Russia and South Ossetia on one hand and to Georgian internal politics on the other, as could be scripted. “Russia’s tactics against Georgia become more and more dangerous. The occupying force is vigorously searching for and is finding a foothold within the Georgian political spectrum.

“We want to offer you a simulated, special bulletin of Kronika. Our viewers and invited guests [in the Special Report program’s studio] will see a news bulletin of probably the toughest day for Georgia, which takes into view those threats which politicians and experts are discussing regularly; [a news bulletin about] how events may develop if society is not consolidated against Russia’s plans. Let’s see a news bulletin about the worst future.”

The program featured a video clip of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, at one point pounding clenched fists together (though with a relaxed and even benign expression on his face), with a voice-over translation in Georgian in which he is identified as having ordered his nation’s forces “to neutralize the threat coming from Saakashvili.”

Later, as though it was a delayed crosscut, a scene is shown of U.S. President Barack Obama at a podium outside the White House (what appears to be a Rose Garden briefing) with Vice President Joseph Biden behind him to his right.

The Imedi news anchor who followed Natia Koberidze (who opens and closes the feature) announced, as though it was an urgent, breaking development, that Obama “is just making a statement; here is live footage,” and the Georgian-language voice-over had him demanding that Russia “stop the military campaign” against Georgia.

The male anchor then revealed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was “on her way to Moscow.”

Not to spare Georgian viewers any shocking sensationalism, the announcer spoke of the “assassination of President Saakashvili,” which news was “disseminated by Nogaideli’s party.” The last allusion is to the Movement for Fair Georgia, headed by former prime minister and current opposition figure Zurab Nogaideli who had visited Moscow last December and met with among other Russian officials Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The false newscast at one point mentions that internal unrest in Georgia and Russian aggression against the nation “focused on the post-local election period, sometime in early June, 2010,” a detail easy to miss while watching scenes of Russian tanks, jeeps and troops advancing on the capital and warplanes ominously piercing the sky.

The timing is not fortuitous. Local elections are planned in May and anti-Russian hysteria serves more than one purpose for the Saakashvili regime.

A Civil Georgia report on the program said: “[T]he opposition, allegedly led by Nino Burjanadze and Zurab Nogaideli – the two politicians who have recently met with Russia’s PM Vladimir Putin – protests against local election results; Russia uses [the] unrest in Georgia and intervenes militarily. The fake report culminated with an announcement about President Saakashvili’s ‘assassination’ and ‘clashes’ in the outskirts of Tbilisi.

It can be said of Nino Burjanadze, head of the Democratic Movement–United Georgia, what Anatole France wrote of a French commander during the Hundred Years War: He had many friends among his enemies and many enemies among his friends; he fought now for his own side, now against it, but always for his own advantage; for the rest he was no worse than his fellows, and one of the least stupid.

She has twice served as interim head of state in Georgia. For a two-month period during the so-called Rose Revolution from November 23, 2003 to January 25, 2004 and from November 25, 2007 to January 20, 2008 when Saakashvili stepped down to run for reelection.

Burjanadze has been a major proponent of her nation joining NATO; in fact since the Imedi broadcast of March 13 she had criticised Saakashvili for perhaps permanently jeopardizing Georgia’s membership prospects.

In the fake newscast she is portrayed as little better than a Russian agent who meets with troops who mutiny against Saakashvili and who with Nogaideli and other opposition leaders establishes a “people’s government” after the standing government is evacuated from the capital.

The Imedi anchor announced that Burjanadze and Nogaideli arrived in the capital of South Ossetia after an attempt on the life of its president, Eduard Kokoity, and “along with the Russian authorities, they also blamed the Georgian authorities for organizing the attack on Kokoity.”

Voice-overs for both opposition leaders are fabricated to support the above claims.

That is, they are guilty of the grossest treason: Collaborating with an invading power and betraying their nation and its government under fire.

That impression, however much criticism of the program may attempt to neutralize it, will carry over into the May elections – or at any rate was intended to – and mar the chances of candidates from the Democratic Movement–United Georgia, the Movement for Fair Georgia and the opposition in general.

As the program was being broadcast, panic ensued among many Georgians and “the number of calls received by an emergency ambulance service increased significantly at the time,” people rushed to withdraw money from automatic teller machines, mobile phone networks crashed and many hurried to flee the capital and towns near the South Ossetian border.

After the newscast ended “the program continued in [the] studio with a large group of invited guests discussing Russia-Georgia relations and potential security threats. Only a few participants of the program spoke out against the fact that Imedi TV did not run a caption saying that the report was fake.”

During and particularly since Saakashvili’s Rose Revolution Georgia has become the political playground – and battleground – of cosmopolite billionaire emigres from several countries, notably George Soros, Boris Berezovsky and the late Badri Patarkatsishvili. The last-named owned Imedi Media Holding, the television station’s parent company, along with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

After showing footage of Saakashvili’s security forces brutalizing demonstrators in early November of 2007, Imedi TV facilities were taken over by government riot police and the Georgian National Communications Commission suspended the station’s broadcast license for three months.

Currently, “Imedi TV’s head is Giorgi Arveladze, former member of the government and a long-time ally of President Saakashvili.”

It is inconceivable that the March 13 program could even have been considered, much less prepared and cleared for broadcasting, without Saakashvili’s authorization. If not on his express orders.

After a backlash began developing in Georgia and internationally, “Many opposition parties made separate statements condemning the Imedi TV’s fake report, alleging that it was done in a prior agreement with the authorities, in particular with President Saakashvili.”

The following day Saakashvili and other government leaders attempted to distance themselves from the broadcast, but what the nation’s president said indicates that the opposition’s accusations are well-founded.

He acknowledged that aspects of the program were, in his word, unpleasant. Not irresponsible. Not inflammatory or reckless. Not dangerous and surely not criminal. Unpleasant.

Yet he added: “But the major unpleasant thing about yesterday’s report – and I want everyone to realize it well – was that this report is maximally close to reality and maximally close to what may really happen, or to what Georgia’s enemy keeps in mind.”

That enemy, he said, began “a real bad movie” in August of 2008, “but we stopped this movie.

“Although we know that its director is still writing a script for a scenario which is close to what we saw yesterday.”

The above is anything but a disavowal. It is a transparent endorsement.

“Saakashvili also mentioned Nino Burjanadze, ex-parliamentary speaker and a leader of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia party, who has recently met with Russia’s PM Vladimir Putin. Burjanadze and Zurab Nogaideli, ex-PM and leader of the Movement for Fair Georgia party, who met separately with PM Putin, were part of the Imedi TV’s fake report according to which they were key organizers of unrest in Tbilisi after the local elections, which was then followed by a Russian invasion.”

If Burjanadze, Nogaideli or any of their supporters are assaulted – or far worse – by nationalist extremists the blood will be on Saakashvili’s hands.

Burjanadze directly accused Saakashvili of organizing a “terrorist act against his people.” She added that she would continue to pursue an ongoing legal action against him. “The lawsuit, which I filed eight months ago, was about groundless allegations against me, according to which I was a spy of Russia, sponsored from Russia and so on and so forth. I am sure that the next lawsuit will be put on the shelf again. However, I am not going to stop my activities.” [3]

On March 14 demonstrators, including members of Georgian opposition parties, gathered outside the Imedi TV building. “Some protesters were lashing out at some of the program’s guests, criticizing them for not speaking out against the fake report while participating in the discussion in the studio after the report was aired.” [4]

On March 15 Georgia’s six main opposition parties released a joint statement which called for continuing “a dialogue with Russia for normalization of the two countries’ relations and Georgia’s peaceful unification.”

The statement also said:

“The staged report of the Imedi television channel was an informational terror act against Georgia’s people committed by Mikhail Saakashvili to keep his power.

“This program posed a threat to the health of people, their peace of mind and life.” [5]

On the same day, however, Saakashvili’s political crony and Imedi head Georgi Arveladze echoed his boss’s tone: “Our objective was not to scare society but to show the dangers facing our country.” [6]

The U.S. ambassador to the country, John Bass, issued an obligatory criticism of the program as “irresponsible,” but his characterization of its effect was far milder than what it would have been if the situation was reversed and Russian television had broadcast a comparable incitement to hysteria and violence: “It’s not in keeping with what we would consider standards of professional journalism.”

The mayor of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi was less retrained in his response. Gigi Ugulava said “It is unacceptable to terrify people…in difficult conditions with irresponsibility. It can`t be allowed. To be a journalist is a big responsibility. Spreading shocking and untrue information like this is unacceptable.” [7]

Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement-United Georgia announced the day after the broadcast that it had initiated a lawsuit against Imedi. A spokesman for the party said that its attorney “has been working over the lawsuit since yesterday and [it] will be brought to a court of law soon. This will be a criminal lawsuit as Imedi’s actions have gone beyond administrative offences.” [8]

On the same day Shalva Natelashvili, leader of the opposition Georgian Labor Party, demanded the immediate closing of the station and urged “the UN Security Council to hold a special session in the framework of the Hague Tribunal and assign a special group for punishing those persons who were propagandizing war on Saturday evening.” [9]

Vice Speaker of the Georgian Parliament Paata Davitaia, in promising a parliamentary investigation into the matter, said that the program was a direct violation of the law in three regards: By portraying members of the Georgian armed forces as traitors, by staging fake interviews with members of the diplomatic corps and by falsely reporting the assassination of the president.

Christian Democratic members of parliament also condemned the broadcast as a violation of the law. [10]

The responses from Russia and South Ossetia have been along similar lines.

Sergei Markov, a senior State Duma deputy, said “This report appeared months after the Imedi station was taken under Saakashvili’s control, so everything has been agreed [upon] with him,” adding “Hatred toward Russia is Saakashvili’s political agenda, and it is important for him to discredit those who are crossing him by seeking contacts with Russia.” [11]

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, spoke in the same vein, stating “I am sure that today’s provocation was initiated by the ruling regime, by Saakashvili.” [12] He also said that Saakashvili was using “the same playbook” he had employed in launching the invasion of South Ossetia in 2008. [13]

Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin also denounced the Imedi program and those behind it: “This was a grandiose provocation as it will leave its trace in Georgia’s public opinion. This means attributing a stable image of [Georgia’s] enemy to Russia and Russians, this means tensions regarding delimitation of borders between Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.” [14]

The spokesman for the country’s Foreign Ministry, Andrei Nesterenko, denounced the program as “irresponsible and immoral” and said, “The provocative TV show has caused tangible damage to security and stability in the region, significantly heightening the intensity of an already complex situation.” [15]

In South Ossetia, the victim of Saakashvili’s last military aggression, on March 13 before the Imedi newscast was shown later in the evening the Special Representative for Post-Conflict Settlement said that Georgian media had fabricated a report of an attack on a Georgian village as a provocation ahead of discussions on the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict scheduled to be held in Geneva on March 18.

Boris Chochiev recalled “that while making a speech at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London [on February 17], Georgian President Saakashvili stated a new war in the South Caucasus region is possible and that he would not exclude the probability of a conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.” [16]

On March 15 Chochiev announced that “Near the village of Mejvriskhevi, the movement of a big column of Georgian armed forces arriving from the Georgian town of Gori has been observed.” [17]

South Ossetian Foreign Minister Murat Djioev spoke of the March 13 Imedi program and said, “This was a provocation aggravating the situation and speaks to the fact that Georgian authorities are getting prepared for certain actions, bearing in mind the fact that after the broadcast Georgian armed forces moved towards the boundary line of South Ossetia.” [18]

The nation’s ambassador to Russia, Dmitry Medoev, spoke of the Georgian broadcast and also attributed a menacing motive to it: “It is clearly a ‘pulp’ version for the future. In the opinion of the Georgian authorities, scenes of attacking Russian forces should be a background for and even justification of the prepared future incursion of Georgia into South Ossetia.”

He added that on the eve of the invasion of his country in 2008 Georgian media had portrayed footage of Georgian artillery barrages against South Ossetia as being fired from Russian positions and that “the report broadcast by Imedi demonstrates the readiness of the Georgian media to provide informational support to possible military adventures of the Georgian regime.” [19]

There was nothing simulated, fabricated or fictional about the South Caucasus war of 2008 and there is nothing fake about plans for the next one.

1) Associated Press, August 9, 2008
2) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, August 9, 2008
3) Itar-Tass, March 15, 2010
4) Rustavi 2, March 14, 2010
5) Itar-Tass, March 15, 2010
6) Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 15, 2010
7) Rustavi 2, March 14, 2010
8) Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 14, 2010
9) Rustavi 2, March 14, 2010
10) Ibid
11) Moscow Times, March 15, 2010
12) Press Trust of India, March 14, 2010
13) Moscow Times, March 15, 2010
14) Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 15, 2010
15) Ibid
16) Ministry for Press and Mass Media of the Republic of South Ossetia
March 15, 2010
17) Ibid
18) Ibid
19) Ibid

Categories: Uncategorized

Rasmussen In Poland: Expeditionary NATO, Missile Shield And Nuclear Weapons

March 14, 2010 3 comments

March 14, 2010

Rasmussen In Poland: Expeditionary NATO, Missile Shield And Nuclear Weapons
Rick Rozoff

The civilian chief of the world’s only, and history’s first self-proclaimed global, military bloc is having a busy month.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen delivered an address in Washington, DC on February 23 on the military alliance’s new 21st century Strategic Concept along with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her predecessor twice-removed Madeleine Albright and National Security Adviser James Jones, the last-named a former Marine Corps general and NATO Supreme Allied Commander. [1]

At the seminar and on the preceding evening at Georgetown University in what is arguably NATO’s true capital, Rasmussen sounded familiar themes: Highlighting the need to prevail in Afghanistan, NATO’s first ground war and first armed conflict outside of Europe. Applauding the work of the bloc’s new cyber warfare center in Estonia, ostensibly to protect the comparatively new member state against attacks emanating from Russia. Identifying Iran and North Korea for particular scrutiny.

He also spoke of “deepening our partnerships with countries from across the globe” and affirmed “NATO is a permanent Alliance….” [2]

The bloc’s chief announced the creation of “a new division at NATO Headquarters to deal with new threats and challenges.” [3]

Since then Rasmussen has visited Jordan, Bahrain, Finland, the Czech Republic and Poland to promote the broadening of worldwide military partnerships, the recruitment of more troops and other support for the Afghan war, and the expansion of an eventual global missile shield system within the context of NATO’s further transformation into an international and expeditionary security and military force. In Rasmussen’s words, the Alliance is to become a global security forum in addition to being the world’s only permanent military alliance.

The Strategic Concept meeting held in Finland on March 4 with the foreign ministers of that country and of Sweden, Alexander Stubb and Carl Bildt, respectively, as well as Finland’s defense minister – the first formal gathering on the Strategic Concept held in a non-member nation – focused on the two Scandinavian nations’ expanding role in Afghanistan and what was described as EU-NATO cooperation and Nordic cooperation.

Regarding supposed threats which within the current context could only be an allusion to Finland’s neighbor Russia, Rasmussen said that it was no longer sufficient to “line up soldiers and tanks and military equipment along the borders.” Instead the bloc’s members “really have to address the threat at its roots, and it might be in cyber space,” as the “enemy might appear everywhere in cyberspace.” [4]

He also reprised the demand he voiced at the Munich Security Conference on February 7 that NATO assume the function of a global security forum.

The previous day Rasmussen indicated the nature of that role in alluding to the currently longest and biggest war in the world: “Afghanistan will serve as a prototype for future civil-military cooperation in handling crises in other weak or failing nations,” as paraphrased by a major American news agency. [5]

On March 5 he met with the Czech prime, defense and foreign ministers in Prague where the four “discussed missile defence, which the Secretary General considers an important part of securing the Euro-Atlantic community against the threat of missiles” [6] and increased contributions to the Afghan war effort.

Rasmussen’s visit to Jordan on March 7 was in part designed to consolidate NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership with the host nation, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia and Algeria. His trip to Bahrain the following day was aimed at solidifying ties under the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative with the Gulf Cooperation Council states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in furtherance of NATO’s plans in Afghanistan and the Gulf of Aden and its agenda against Iran. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa “was briefed on NATO’s perception of the Gulf and international security conditions and invited to visit NATO Headquarters….” [7]

On March 12 the secretary general arrived in Warsaw to participate in the NATO’s New Strategic Concept – Global, Transatlantic and Regional Challenges and Tasks Ahead conference at the nation’s Royal Castle organized by the Warsaw Center for International Relations and the Polish Ministry of Defense.

His address reiterated the now standard demand that NATO combine Article 5 so-called collective defense for its members – in Poland’s case that can only be a reference to Russia – with expeditionary deployments outside NATO’s self-defined area of responsibility as exemplified by recent wars and other armed missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan, the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa, the Mediterranean Sea and the Darfur region of Sudan.

Rasmussen did not limit that role to the use of conventional weapons.

“NATO’s core task was, is, and will remain, the defence of our territory and our populations. But we need, at the same time, to take a hard look at what deterrence means in the 21st century.

“For our deterrence to remain credible, I firmly believe it must continue to be based on a mix of conventional and nuclear capabilities. And our new Strategic Concept should affirm that.” [8]

As a warm-up exercise he had spoken the day before at the Transatlantic Forum 2010 at the University of Warsaw and earlier on the 12th he met with staff and students from the University of Warsaw’s Institute of International Relations and the Institute of Strategic Studies in Krakow.

Reporting on his position regarding the use of nuclear weapons during his stay in the Polish capital, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported him advocating that “atomic weapons were still needed for deterrence reasons,” [9] and Deutsche Presse-Agentur quoted him as saying:

“Nuclear weapons will remain a major element of credible deterrence in the future. A world without atomic weapons would be wonderful, but as long as states and non-state structures exist which aim to gain atomic weapons, then we should also maintain our nuclear capacities.” [10]

Nine days earlier Rasmussen had advocated the same stance in announcing “the western military alliance will debate the bloc’s nuclear policy in Estonia next month.” Responding to a recent call by the foreign ministers of Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway to debate the stationing of between 240-350 U.S. warheads at air bases in Europe, the NATO chief said the Alliance “will have to balance calls to remove outdated weapons with a need for a strategic nuclear ‘deterrent.'” [11]

“There are a lot of nuclear weapons in the world, and a number of countries that either have them, would like to have them, or could have them quickly if they decided they needed them. That is just the way it is. So whatever we do in support of arms control and disarmament should be balanced with deterrence.” [12]

In his main address in Poland he also stressed that “our new Strategic Concept will also need to reflect [the] need to reflect that the meaning of territorial defence is changing” and that another “challenge that we must tackle head-on is cyber security.” [13]

Reaffirming demands made earlier in the Czech Republic, he added:

“[W]e must develop an effective missile defence. In the coming years, we will probably face many more countries – and possibly even some non-state actors – armed with long-range missiles and nuclear capabilities. Therefore, I believe that NATO’s deterrent posture should include missile defence.

“That’s why deterrence and defence need to go together. And why we have the obligation to look into missile defence options.”

Two days before Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued another warning against U.S. interceptor missile deployments near his nation’s borders – including those planned in Poland – saying, “Russia cannot allow US plans to deploy elements of its missile system in Europe to threaten the effectiveness of its nuclear deterrent.”

“Military experts say the planned missile system could be able to hit Russia’s ballistic missiles in the next ten years.” [14]

As to the pretext that Washington and NATO are employing to ring Russia’s western flank with missile shield installations, Lavrov said:

“It is evident that Iran currently poses no threat to the U.S. and European countries….At the moment, Iran has no missiles capable of striking Europe, let alone the U.S., and is unlikely to develop [such missiles] in the foreseeable future.” [15]

While in Warsaw Rasmussen also elaborated on the global nature of 21st century expeditionary NATO.

“We need more flexible, mobile and deployable armed forces. If our military is stationary, if our armed forces can’t be moved beyond the borders of each individual member state, the defence of Allied territory will not be effective.”

He called for “overhaul[ing] our military command structure, to make it more flexible and deployable.”

“Today, NATO is engaged in Afghanistan, in the Balkans, in the Mediterranean Sea, and off the Horn of Africa. This broad spectrum of missions and operations is only natural. Today’s risks and threats are increasingly global in nature, and our Alliance must reflect this fact.”

In his address at the Royal Castle in Warsaw he twice employed a variation of the catch phrase first introduced by President George H.W. Bush in 1989: Europe whole, free and at peace. [16]

Europe, whole if not necessarily free and by no means at peace outside its borders, is to continue being NATO’s and the U.S.’s base for military interventions throughout much of the world.

“[O]ur first line of defence must be to complete the consolidation of Europe as a continent that is whole, free and at peace.

“What does this consolidation of Europe entail? For one, it means that NATO’s Open Door policy must continue.” Rasmussen was speaking in the immediate sense about candidate nations in the Balkans and in the former Soviet Union.

In relation to the Afghan war in particular, “NATO and the EU should cooperate and coordinate better.”

“NATO Headquarters must be less of a bureaucracy and more of a streamlined, operational headquarters. A headquarters where staff and resources are realigned to serve the Alliance’s new priorities, not outdated legacy activities and narrow national interests.”

In relation to where the true “first line of defense” should be, alluding to last year’s Belarusian-Russian military exercises near Poland’s borders Rasmussen added:

“If our military is stationary, if our armed forces can’t be moved beyond the borders of each individual member state, the defence of Allied territory will not be effective….We think Russia sends the wrong kind of signal by conducting military exercises that rehearse the invasion of a smaller NATO member.”

Russia is in fact larger than Poland, but Poland has a population almost four times that of Belarus and is a member, indeed a major outpost, of a U.S.-led global military bloc.

Moreover, the NATO chief stated that, in regards to Russia’s new military strategy which identifies NATO expansion along its frontiers and U.S. missile deployments in its neighborhood as the chief threats to its national security, “Russia’s new military doctrine does not reflect the real world.”

NATO has expanded military partnerships throughout almost all of Europe, in the Middle East, Africa, the Caucasus, Central and South and East Asia, and the South Pacific, but despite Rasmussen’s claim that Russia has “a very outdated notion about the nature and role of NATO,” a time traveller from the last century could be forgiven for thinking that in relation to post-Soviet Russia the only thing that has changed is NATO’s brazen drive to encircle it.

After delivering his speech at the Strategic Concept seminar, Rasmussen matched the deed to the word and “travelled from Warsaw to Bydgoszcz to visit the Joint Forces Training Centre (JFTC) – part of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT) military body. The JFTC prepares officers for deployment to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.” [17]

He addressed commanders of the Norfolk, Virginia-headquartered Allied Command Transformation, after which he inspected troops of NATO’s Third Signal Battalion stationed there.

Three days earlier NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, Admiral James Stavridis, spoke before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and anticipated his civilian colleague’s comments in Poland to a remarkable degree.

“Stavridis noted that 100,000 NATO troops are involved in expeditionary operations on three continents, including operations in Afghanistan, off the coast of Africa, and in [the Balkans].”

“Stavridis called the new phased-in approach for European missile defense ‘timely and flexible,’ and said it will provide ‘capability that we can step up and be adaptive, as the Iranian capability to use ballistic missiles goes forward.'” The following day Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov forcefully refuted the excuse Stavridis resorted to in order to justify American and NATO missile shield deployments, as seen earlier.

“The admiral said he is very confident in the first stage of the program, which is sea-based with the Aegis weapons system and ‘reasonably confident’ in the second phase, which is shore-based.” He also paralleled Rasmussen’s contentions that “The nature of threats in this 21st century [is] going to demand more than just sitting behind our borders” and that “Among the greatest concerns that impacts both military and civilian realms…is cybersecurity.” [18]

Both the ship- and land-based Standard Missile-3 deployments Stavridis alluded to are to be centered, among other locations, in the Baltic Sea and almost certainly on Polish soil. Next month the U.S. will begin the activation of a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile battery near the Baltic Sea city of Morag, thirty five miles from the Russian border, and base 100 soldiers there, the first American troops ever to be stationed in Poland and the first foreign ones in a generation.

“The missile battery will be equipped with elements allowing it to be integrated with the Polish defense system.” [19]

Earlier this month a Polish newspaper revealed that American missile plans in Poland are far more ambitious than just the construction of Patriot and Standard Missile-3 batteries: “The US is also interested in building longer-range missile silos near the Poland-Kaliningrad border. These would be capable of shooting down missiles from as far as 5,500 kilometers away….” [20]

On March 4 400 Polish troops and “scores of U.S. Army soldiers” [21] began military exercises at the Training Center for Peacekeeping Forces in Kielce in southeastern Poland.

From March 17 to 20 NATO will conduct air exercises over the Baltic Sea region in “a demonstration of NATO solidarity and commitment to its member countries in the Baltic Region” and “a show of solidarity with former Soviet republics concerned about Russia”, [22] that will include Polish, Lithuanian and French warplanes as well as U.S. tanker aircraft.

The NATO Joint Force Training Center in Bydgoszcz in northern Poland which Anders Fogh Rasmussen toured on March 12 “trained 2,186 personnel from 32 Allied and Partnership for Peace Nations prior to deployment to ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] during 11 training events. The 2010 training year will see an increase in the total number of personnel impacted by the Joint Force Training Center.”

It has a staff of 84 personnel from eighteen member nations consisting of officers, non-commissioned officers and NATO civilians.

“However, in the coming year the authorized strength of the organization will rise to 105.” [23]

While the NATO secretary was in Warsaw, Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich spoke at the same conference, which was timed to coincide with the eleventh anniversary of Poland’s full absorption into NATO, and advocated that NATO’s new Strategic Concept prepare “for the worst possible scenarios,” even if such scenarios were “not too probable.” [24]

Klich also said he wanted “to attract NATO infrastructure into Poland” and that “he is prepared to organize an exercise involving NATO rapid-reaction forces in Poland in 2013.” [25]

Poland and its Baltic neighbors represent the point at which NATO’s dual strategic objectives – “defending Europe whole and free,” including with nuclear weapons, and an expansion “increasingly global in nature” – converge.

1) 21st Century Strategy: Militarized Europe, Globalized NATO
Stop NATO, February 26, 2010
2) Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at Georgetown
North Atlantic Treaty Organization, February 22, 2010
3) Remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the fourth
Strategic Concept Seminar on Transformation and Capabilities, Washington DC
North Atlantic Treaty Organization, February 23, 2010
4) Agence France-Presse, March 4, 2010
5) Associated Press, March 4, 2010
6) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 5, 2010
7) Bahrain News Agency, March 8, 2010
8) Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at NATO’s New
Strategic Concept – Global, Transatlantic and Regional Challenges and Tasks
North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 12, 2010
9) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 12, 2010
10) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 12, 2010
11) Agence France-Presse, March 3, 2010
12) Xinhua News Agency, March 4, 2010
13) Speech by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at NATO’s New
Strategic Concept – Global, Transatlantic and Regional Challenges and
Tasks Ahead
14) Press TV, March 10, 2010
15) Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 10, 2010
16) Berlin Wall: From Europe Whole And Free To New World Order
Stop NATO, November 9, 2009
17) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, March 12, 2010
18) United States Department of Defense, March 9, 2010
19) Polish Radio, February 28, 2010
20) Warsaw Business Journal, March 2, 2010
21) Xinhua News Agency, March 5, 2010
22) Reuters, March 2, 2010
23) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Transformation
March 5, 2010
24) Polish News Agency via Xinhua News Agency, March 13, 2010
25) Warsaw Business Journal, March 12, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

AFRICOM’s First War: U.S. Directs Large-Scale Offensive In Somalia

March 12, 2010 1 comment

March 11, 2010

AFRICOM’s First War: U.S. Directs Large-Scale Offensive In Somalia
Rick Rozoff

Over 43 people have been killed in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in two days of fighting between Shabab (al-Shabaab) insurgent forces, who on March 10 advanced to within one mile of the nation’s presidential palace, and troops of the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government. The fighting has just begun.

The last ambassador of the United States to Somalia (1994-1995), Daniel H. Simpson, penned a column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on March 10 in which he posed the question “why, apart from the only lightly documented charge of Islamic extremism among the Shabab, is the United States reengaging in Somalia at this time?”

He answered it in stating “Part of the reason is because the United States has its only base in Africa up the coast from Mogadishu, in Djibouti, the former French Somaliland. The U.S. Africa Command was established there in 2008, and, absent the willingness of other African countries to host it, the base in Djibouti became the headquarters for U.S. troops and fighter bombers in Africa.

“Flush with money, in spite of the expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense obviously feels itself in a position to undertake military action in Africa, in Somalia.” [1]

Fulfilling its appointed role, the New York Times leaked U.S. military plans for the current offensive in Somalia on March 5 in a report titled “U.S. Aiding Somalia in Its Plan to Retake Its Capital.” (Note that the Transitional Federal Government is presented as Somalia itself and Mogadishu as its capital.)

The tone of the feature was of course one of approval and endorsement of the Pentagon’s rationale for directly intervening in Somalia at a level not seen since 1993 and support for proxy actions last witnessed with the invasion by Ethiopia in 2006. The report began with a description of a military surveillance plane circling over the Somali capital and a quote from the new chief of staff of the nation’s armed forces, General Mohamed Gelle Kahiye: “It’s the Americans. They’re helping us.”

Afterward “An American official in Washington, who said he was not authorized to speak publicly” – a hallmark of the American free press – was, if not identified, quoted as maintaining that U.S. covert operations were planned if not already underway and “What you’re likely to see is airstrikes and Special Ops moving in, hitting and getting out.” [2]

The New York Times also provided background information regarding the current offensive:

“Over the past several months, American advisers have helped supervise the training of the Somali forces to be deployed in the offensive….The Americans have provided covert training to Somali intelligence officers, logistical support to the peacekeepers, fuel for the maneuvers, surveillance information about insurgent positions and money for bullets and guns.” [3]

Four days later General William (“Kip”) Ward, commander of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In his introductory remarks the chairman of the committee, Senator Carl Levin, reinforced recent American attempts to expand the scope of the deepening Afghanistan-Pakistan war, the deadliest and lengthiest in the world, to the west and south in stating that “al Qaeda and violent extremists who share their ideology are not just located in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region but in places like Somalia, Mali, Nigeria and Niger.” [4]

In his formal report Ward pursued a similar tact and expanded the Pentagon’s “counter-terrorism” (CT) area of responsibility yet further from South Asia: “U.S. Africa Command has focused the majority of its CT capacity building activities in East Africa on Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Uganda, which – aside from Somalia – are the countries directly threatened by terrorists.” [5]

He also spoke of the current offensive by “the transition government to reclaim parts of Mogadishu,” stating “I think it’s something that we would look to do and support.” [6]

Senator Levin and General Ward included eight African nations in the broader Afghan war category of Operation Enduring Freedom, countries from the far northeast of the continent (the Horn of Africa) to the far west (the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea). The U.S. military has already been involved in counterinsurgency operations in Mali and Niger against ethnic Tuareg rebels, who have no conceivable ties to al-Qaeda, not that one would know that from Levin’s comments.

In between South Asia and Africa lies Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula. The New York Times report cited earlier reminded readers that “The United States is increasingly concerned about the link between Somalia and Yemen.” Indeed as Levin’s comments quoted above establish, Washington (along with its NATO allies) is forging an expanded war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and into Africa. [7]

That extension of the South Asia war has not gone unobserved in world capitals, and earlier this year Russian political analyst Andrei Fedyashin commented: “Adding up all four fronts – if the United States ventured an attack on Yemen and Somalia – America would have to invade a territory equal to three-fourths of Western Europe; and it is hardly strong enough for that.” [8]

Strong enough or not, that is just what the White House and the Pentagon are doing. The only other objection that can be raised to the above author’s description is that it too severely narrows the intended battlefront.

In the past six months Somali troops have been sent to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda for combat training and “most are now back in the capital, waiting to fight.”

In addition, “There are also about 5,000 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers, with 1,700 more on their way, and they are expected to play a vital role in backing up advancing Somali forces.” [9]

Last October the U.S. led ten days of military exercises in Uganda – Natural Fire 10 – with 450 American troops and over 550 from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The U.S. soldiers were deployed from Camp Lemonier (Lemonnier) in Djibouti, home to the Pentagon’s Joint Task Force/Horn of Africa and over 2,000 U.S. forces. The de facto headquarters of AFRICOM.

At the time of the maneuvers a major Ugandan newspaper wrote that they were “geared towards the formation of the first Joint East African Military Force.” [10]

In addition to using such a multinational regional force in Somalia, the U.S. can also deploy it against Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in Uganda, Congo and Sudan, and could even employ it against Eritrea, Zimbabwe and Sudan, the only nations on the African continent not to some degree enmeshed in military partnerships with Washington and NATO. (Libya has participated in NATO naval exercises and South Africa has hosted the bloc’s warships.) [11]

Earlier this month the Kenyan newspaper The East African divulged that “American legislators are pushing for a law that will see another phase of military action to apprehend Lord’s Resistance Army rebels.”

The news source added that the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Bill adopted by the U.S. Congress last year “requires the US government to develop a new multifaceted strategy” and as such the new bill under consideration “will not be the first time the US government is providing support to the Uganda army in fighting the LRA.

“The US has been backing the UPDF [Uganda People’s Defence Force] with logistics and training to fight the rebel group.” [12]

Last month it was announced that the U.S. Africa Command has dispatched special forces to train 1,000 Congolese troops in the north and east of their nation, where Congo borders Uganda.

Former U.S. diplomat Daniel Simpson was quoted above as to what in part is Washington’s motive in pursuing a new war in and around Somalia: To test out AFRICOM ground and air forces in Djibouti for direct military action on the continent.

A United Press International report of March 10, placed under energy news, offered another explanation. In a feature titled “East Africa is next hot oil zone,” the news agency disclosed that “East Africa is emerging as the next oil boom following a big strike in Uganda’s Lake Albert Basin. Other oil and natural gas reserves have been found in Tanzania and Mozambique and exploration is under way in Ethiopia and even war-torn Somalia.”

The region is, in the words of the Western chief executive officer of an oil prospecting firm, “the last real high-potential area in the world that hasn’t been fully explored.” [13]

The article added: “The discovery at Lake Albert, in the center of Africa between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is estimated to contain the equivalent of several billion barrels of oil. It is likely to be the biggest onshore field found south of the Sahara Desert in two decades.”

It also spoke of “a vast 135,000-square-mile territory in landlocked Ethiopia that is believed to contain sizable reserves of oil. It is estimated to hold 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas as well.”

And, more pertinent to the Horn of Africa:

“A 1993 study by Petroconsultants of Geneva concluded that Somalia has two of the most potentially interesting hydrocarbon-yielding basins in the entire region – one in the central Mudugh region, the other in the Gulf of Aden. More recent analyses indicate that Somalia could have reserves of up to 10 billion barrels.” [14]

Washington’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies are also deeply involved in the militarization of East Africa.

On March 10 NATO extended its naval operation in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, Ocean Shield, to the end of 2012, an unprecedentedly long 33-month extension. On March 12 “Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 will take over missions from Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 for the four-month assignment. The change will increase NATO’s contribution from four ships to five ships….” [15]

At the same hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee that AFRICOM commander William Ward addressed, NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, America’s Admiral James Stavridis, “noted that 100,000 NATO troops are involved in expeditionary operations on three continents, including operations in Afghanistan, off the coast of Africa, and in Bosnia.” (Evidently Kosovo was meant for Bosnia.)

Stavridis, who is concurrently top military chief of U.S. European Command, said “The nature of threats in this 21st century [is] going to demand more than just sitting behind our borders.” [16]

He also said he finds “Iran alarming in any number of dimensions,” specifically mentioning alleged “state-sponsored terrorism, nuclear proliferation and political outreach into Latin America.” [17]

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently returned from Jordan and the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain where he pressured both nations to support the war in Afghanistan and Alliance naval operations.

“NATO’s top official said [on March 9] that he has asked Jordan and Bahrain to contribute to alliance naval operations fighting terrorism and piracy in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aden, as he ended a visit to the two countries. NATO is keen to improve cooperation with Arab and Muslim states, seeing them as important allies for a number of missions, including the all-important deployment in Afghanistan.” [18]

Regarding the Western military bloc’s almost nine-year Operation Active Endeavor in the entire Mediterranean Sea and its Operation Ocean Shield in the Gulf of Aden, Rasmussen said, “We would very much like to strengthen cooperation (with Bahrain and Jordan) within these operations.” [19]

While in Jordan he was strengthening military ties with NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership – Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia – and in Bahrain firming up the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative aimed at the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have military personnel serving under NATO in Afghanistan.

In late February a delegation of the 53-nation African Union (AU) visited NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium.

“NATO continues to support the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) through the provision of strategic sea- and air-lift for AMISOM Troop Contributing Nations on request. The last airlift support occurred in June 2008 when NATO transported a battalion of Burundian peacekeepers to Mogadishu.” [20]

On March 10 AMISON deployed tanks to prevent the capture of the Somali presidential palace by rebels.

The North Atlantic military bloc, which in recent years has conducted large-scale exercises in West Africa and inaugurated its international Response Force in Cape Verde in 2006, also supports “the operationalisation of the African Standby Force – the African Union’s vision for a continental, on-call security apparatus similar to the NATO Response Force.” [21]

In May the European Union, whose membership largely overlaps with that of NATO and which is engaged in intense integration with the military bloc on a global scale [22], will begin training 2,000 Somali troops in Uganda.

Brigadier General Thierry Caspar-Fille-Lambie, commanding officer of French armed forces in Djibouti, said “the Somali troops will be trained with the necessary military skills to help pacify and stabilize the volatile country.”

He issued that statement “at the closing ceremony of four-week French operational training of 1,700 Ugandan troops to be deployed” to Somalia in May. The French ambassador to Uganda said “The EU troops shall work in close collaboration with UPDF to train Somali troops.” [23]

The 2,000 soldiers to be trained by the EU will represent a full third of a projected 6,000-troop Somali army.

The U.S.-NATO-EU global triad plans an even larger collective military role in the new scramble for Africa. On March 4 and 5 a delegation from AFRICOM met with European Union officials in Brussels “seeking EU cooperation in Africa,” specifically in “areas where cooperation could be possible, notably with the soon-to-be-launched EU mission to train Somali troops.” [24]

Tony Holmes, AFRICOM’s deputy to the commander for civil-military activities, said “Somalia, that’s an area where we’re going to be doing a lot more, the European Union is already doing a lot and will be doing more….

“Somalia is very important for us. The European Union is involved in training Somalis in Uganda and that’s something we might be able to work closely with to support.”

The AFRICOM delegation, including Major-General Richard Sherlock, director of strategy, plans and programs, also discussed “counter-terrorism cooperation with the EU in the Sahel region, notably in Mauritania, Mali and Niger….” [25]

In late January the chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, said “that the Alliance is in discussion with a Gulf state to deploy AWACS planes for a reconnaissance mission over Afghanistan in support of its ISAF mission and also for anti-piracy off Somalia.” [24]

To demonstrate that NATO’s anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia has other designs than the one acknowledged, early this year a NATO spokesman announced that the bloc’s naval contingent in the Gulf of Aden “now has an additional task” to intervene against a fictional deployment of Somali fighters across the Gulf to Yemen.

The spokesman, Jacqui Sheriff, said “NATO warships will be on the lookout for anything suspicious.” [25]

As though Somali al-Shabaab fighters have nothing else to do as the U.S. is engineering an all-out assault on them in their homeland.

Five days after the New York Times feature detailed American war plans in Somalia, the Washington Times followed up on and added to that report.

U.S. operations are “likely to be the most overt demonstration of U.S. military backing since the ill-fated Operation Restore Hope of 1992….”

“Unmanned U.S. surveillance aircraft have been seen circling over Mogadishu in recent days, apparently pinpointing insurgent positions as the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] marshals its forces. U.S. Army advisers have been helping train the TFG’s forces, which have been largely equipped with millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. arms airlifted into Mogadishu over the last few weeks.”

The newspaper report further stated: “It’s not clear when the offensive will start. The word on the street is sometime in the next few weeks….”

The campaign has already begun.

“After securing Mogadishu, the offensive, supported by militias allied with the government, for now, at least, is likely to continue against al-Shebab in the countryside west and south toward the border with Kenya.” [26]

After the capital, the entire country. After Somalia, the region.

The war has just begun.

1) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 10, 2010
2) New York Times, March 5, 2010
3) Ibid
4) Senate Armed Forces Committee, March 9, 2010
5) United States Africa Command, March 9, 2010
6) Senate Armed Forces Committee, March 9, 2010
7) U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean
Stop NATO, January 8, 2010
Yemen: Pentagon’s War On The Arabian Peninsula
Stop NATO, December 15, 2009
8) Russian Information Agency Novosti, January 11, 2010
9) New York Times, March 5, 2010
10) The Monitor, October 14, 2009
11) AFRICOM Year Two: Seizing The Helm Of The Entire World
Stop NATO, October 22, 2009
12) The East African, March 1, 2010
13) United Press International, March 10, 2010
14) Ibid
15) Stars and Stripes, March 11, 2010
16) United States Department of Defense, March 9, 2010
17) Ibid
18) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 9, 2010
19) Ibid
20) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
February 24, 2010
21) Ibid
22) EU, NATO, US: 21st Century Alliance For Global Domination
Stop NATO, February 19, 2009
23) Xinhua News Agency, February 13, 2010
24) Europolitics, March 5, 2010
25) Ibid
26) Kuwait News Agency, January 28, 2010
27) Canwest News Service, January 1, 2010
28) Washington Times, March 10, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

Decade Of The Drone: America’s Aerial Assassins

March 9, 2010 1 comment

March 9, 2010

Decade Of The Drone: America’s Aerial Assassins
Rick Rozoff

2010 is the last year of the first decade of the new century and millennium and is the tenth consecutive year of the United States’ war in Afghanistan and in the 15-nation area of responsibility subsumed under Operation Enduring Freedom. In early March American military deaths in the Greater Afghan War theater – Afghanistan, Cuba (Guantanamo Bay), Djibouti, Eritrea, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yemen – surpassed the 1,000 mark.

This year is also the tenth year of the first ground and the first Asian war fought by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which wages wars from and not to protect the nations of the northern Atlantic Ocean.

2010 is the tenth and deadliest year in Washington’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) for targeted assassinations and untargeted “collateral damage.”

Originally designed for battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance, albeit often to call in lethal military strikes, drones have been employed by the U.S. since 2001 to identify and kill human targets.

The first “hunter-killer” unmanned combat air vehicle, the Predator, was used by the Pentagon in Bosnia in 1995 and later in the 78-day air war against Yugoslavia in 1999.

In 2001 Predators were equipped with Hellfire missiles and were deployed from Pakistan and Uzbekistan to launch attacks inside Afghanistan. The following year they were flown from the U.S. military base at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti for the same purpose in Yemen.

The Predator and its successor, the Reaper, capable of carrying fifteen times more weaponry and flying at three times the speed, have been used for deadly attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and with particularly murderous effect in Pakistan since the autumn of 2008. They are equipped with cameras connected by satellite links to bases in the United States.

In October Vice Admiral Robert Moeller, deputy commander of U.S. Africa Command, announced that Reapers, “capable of carrying a dozen guided bombs and missiles,” [1] were deployed to Seychelles off the eastern coast of the African continent to patrol the Indian Ocean.

Radio Australia ran a story on March 8 that stated “US President Barack Obama may have taken his time to decide on his Afghanistan policy, but he’s also now become more of an enthusiast for drone missile strikes than his predecessor.” [2] In both Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as in Yemen.

Discussing a report by the New America Foundation, the station documented that deadly U.S. drone missile strikes on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border have been increased by 50 per cent since the Obama administration took over the White House a year ago January 20.

Citing the above-mentioned think tank, the Radio Australia report said there have been 64 drone strikes in South Asia in the past fourteen months compared to 45 under the George W. Bush administration between the invasion of Afghanistan in October of 2001 and January of 2009.

Bill Roggio, editor of the Long War Journal, was interviewed and said “there is an average five to seven strikes a month although in January there were 11.”

He was further quoted describing the qualitative as well as the quantitative escalation of American drone warfare in Afghanistan and Pakistan: “The main drone is the ‘Predator’ which carries the ‘Hellfire’ anti-tank missile.

“The ‘Reaper,’ the older brother of the Predator, they made that so it could carry larger Hellfire missiles as well as it can carry, again, the 500 pound GPS (global position system)-guided bombs. So they’re very, you know, this is sort of a revolution in air warfare.” [3]

The Reaper carries a thousand pounds of munitions and is also equipped for the Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missile. Plans for adding Stinger air-to-air missiles are underway.

In terms of the human cost of Obama’s 2008 Afghan war campaign pledge – “If we have actionable intelligence about high-level al Qaeda targets in Pakistan’s border region, we must act if Pakistan will not or cannot” – at the beginning of this year Pakistan’s influential Dawn News published an account of what that policy has meant to Pakistanis. In an article titled “Over 700 killed in 44 drone strikes in 2009,” the source, quoting Pakistani government statistics, wrote:

“Of the 44 Predator strikes carried out by US drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan over the past 12 months, only five were able to hit their actual targets, killing five key Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, but at the cost of over 700 innocent civilians.”

For each alleged al-Qaeda or Taliban member killed by missiles fired from U.S. drones “140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die. Over 90 per cent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities….On average, 58 civilians were killed in these attacks every month, 12 persons every week and almost two people every day.” [4]

The dead may have been armed or unarmed, males or females, adults or children. What they have in common is that they were targeted based on “actionable intelligence” provided by someone on the ground, not necessarily a disinterested party.

Last October, as the killing had begun in earnest, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston warned:

“My concern is that these drones, these Predators, are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

“The onus is really on the government of the United States to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions, are not in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons.” [5]

Undaunted, the U.S. substantially intensified the attacks.

This January China’s Xinhua News Agency interviewed Pakistani political analyst Farrukh Saleem, who said that American drone missile attacks in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas had increased from 17 in 2008 to 43 in 2009 with more than 70 expected to be delivered this year.

Saleem was quoted warning that “Such attacks always trigger violence, suicide attacks and casualties in Pakistan. So more drone attacks mean more violence in Pakistan.” [6]

On the same day Senator John McCain was in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and praised the drone attacks as “an effective part of the U.S. strategy.” [7]

It was reported last December 17 that a U.S. drone strike had killed at least 20 people in Pakistan’s North Waziristan Agency and on the 27th that 13 more were killed in the same region.

Since the New Year began the lethal attacks have only intensified. The following is not an attempt at a comprehensive account, but is gathered from assorted press reports.

On January 1 it was reported that five people were killed and several more injured by two American drone attacks east of the North Waziristan capital. As to the identities of the slain, Reuters quoted a local security official as saying, “The bodies were burned beyond recognition. We are trying to determine their identity.” [8] The previous night two more were killed and several injured in another strike.

Reports continued to detail missile strikes and deaths in the nation’s tribal areas.

January 3: Five more people were killed in North Waziristan in a drone attack.

January 6: At least thirteen were killed and eight wounded by two back-to-back missile strikes. “According to Pakistan’s Geo News, a suspected drone fired two missiles at a house in the Datta Khel region in the first attack, killing seven people.

“Another strike occurred as local people began retrieving bodies from the rubble of the house, killing five people. The identities of those killed in the attacks were unknown.” [9]

January 8: Five were killed in a village in North Waziristan.

January 9: An American drone fired two missiles into a village, Ismail Khan, in North Waziristan which killed four people.

January 13: Thirteen people were killed in the village of Tappi in the same agency. “A senior security official confirmed the death toll, and said four missiles were fired from unmanned planes in the remote area.” [10]

January 15: Fifteen were killed in the village of Zannini in North Waziristan. Six were killed in the village of Bichi.

January 17: At least twenty were killed in the Shaktoi area of South Waziristan.

January 19: Six people were killed in the village of Booya in North Waziristan according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

January 24: Pakistani insurgents claimed to have shot down a U.S. drone in North Waziristan, one of eight drones seen flying over the area.

January 29: Between six and fifteen people were killed in the North Waziristan town of Muhammad Khel in a reported attack on the Haqquani Network by three American missiles.

February 2: The U.S. fired as many as eight missiles into four villages in North Waziristan, killing twenty-nine people.

February 14: Five people were killed in a drone attack in the same agency. At least three others were wounded.

February 15: A drone strike allegedly killed a Chinese Uighur separatist leader in the same district.

February 17: A U.S. missile strike killed three and injured two victims in North Waziristan.

February 18: Four people were killed in a missile strike on a vehicle in the same agency.

February 24: At least thirteen alleged militants were killed in a U.S. drone attack in the Dargah Mandi area of North Waziristan.

March 8: An American drone fired five missiles into a house near Miranshah, the capital of North Waziristan, killing at least five people and wounding four.

Approximately 160 people have been killed in drone missile strikes in Pakistan in slightly over two months this year. If that pace continues, 2010 will be far deadlier than the year before: 960 to 700. If, as seems more likely, the amount of the attacks increases, the death toll will be even higher than the nearly 140 per cent increase the above extrapolation threatens.

Drone missile attacks are increasingly becoming the weapon of choice of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (as in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq), the Joint Special Operations Command (Yemen) and the Air Force, which as of last year had 195 Predators and 28 Reapers.

All indications are that they will soon have more.

This year the Obama administration has sought from Congress $33 billion more for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq “on top of a record request for $708 billion for the Defense Department next year.” [11]

With the new Quadrennial Defense Review, “The pilotless drones used for surveillance and attack missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are a priority, with a goal of speeding up the purchase of new Reaper drones and expansion of Predator and Reaper drone flights through 2013.” [12]

A February 1 article called “China, Iran Prompt U.S. Air-Sea Battle Plan in Strategy Review,” revealed that in line with the new Quadrennial Defense Review a “joint Air Force-Navy plan would combine the strengths of each service to conduct long-range strikes that could utilize a new generation of bombers, a new cruise missile and drones launched from aircraft carriers.” [13]

As the U.S. is massively expanding its military buildup on the Pacific island of Guam, “The Army is building a missile defense system on the island and the Air Force is adding more drones.” [14]

In mid-January prominent U.S. senator Carl Levin called for “using drones to launch airstrikes” in Yemen, adding the demand for “everything from physical actions that could be accomplished in terms of use of drones or air attacks” to “clandestine actions.” [15]

Regarding the strengthening of military ties between the U.S. and Yemen, a Russian news source disclosed that “Under a new classified cooperation agreement, the U.S. would be able to fly cruise missiles, fighter jets or unmanned armed drones against targets in the country, but would remain publicly silent on its role in the airstrikes.” [16]

In late January the Wall Street Journal reported:

“The U.S. military’s involvement in Yemen has already begun to grow….[T]he U.S. has increased the number of surveillance drones flying over Yemen, as well as the number of unmanned aircraft outfitted with missiles capable of striking targets on the ground, according to a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of the deployments.

“Most drones operating outside of Iraq and Afghanistan are controlled by the Central Intelligence Agency, but the official said the drones operating over Yemen belong to the military’s secretive Joint Special Operations Command.” [17]

The commander of Joint Special Operations Command until 2008 was now General Stanley McChrystal, chief commander of what will soon be 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Drone missile assassinations and the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians that often accompany them are an integral component of his counterinsurgency strategy in South Asia. The qualitative escalation of drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan began when McChrystal replaced David McKiernan as top U.S. and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force commander in Afghanistan last June.

In other parts of the world, the Pentagon is to contribute military drones for the Northern Coasts maneuvers in Finland this September, the “largest naval military exercise that has ever been seen in Finnish territorial waters.” [18]

A resolution issued by the Finnish Peacefighters in Lapland last month mentioned “a program on Finnish TV about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles being tested in Lapland at the Kemijarvi Airfield. This actual training area stretches to the Russian border and follows the border for tens of kilometers.

“The strategy for Star Wars, which the US is developing, means that the pilotless plane is directed from a command center in Nevada, and follows the terrain and movements on a data screen thousands of kilometers away and maneuvers the drones. These drones have been used in Afghanistan and they have killed a lot of civilians.” [19]

While Stanley McChrystal was commander of the Joint Special Operations Command the U.S. conducted eleven deadly predator attacks in Iraq in April of 2008. At the time “Defense Secretary Robert Gates prodded the Air Force to do more to rush drones to the war zone.”

An American newspaper reported at the time that “Commanders are expected to rely more on unmanned systems as 30,000 U.S. troops sent last year are withdrawn. The military has dozens of Predators in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all it operates 5,000 drones, 25 times more than it had in 2001.” [20]

Last December the government of Venezuela called on the world community to condemn incursions into its airspace by U.S. military drones operating from Aruba and from Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles. The type of drones that flew for several days over Venezuelan territory wasn’t specified, but under both bilateral and NATO military obligations the Netherlands would not refuse the U.S. the right to station Predator and Reaper drones on bases in their Caribbean island colonies.

The United States has not only increased its arsenal of unmanned aerial vehicles by twenty-five times over the past decade, it has massively increased the range and lethality of its hunter-killer drones. A recent report disclosed that beginning in 2008 the Air Force Research Laboratory started to “build the ultimate assassination robot,” described as “a tiny, armed drone for U.S. special forces to employ in terminating ‘high-value targets.’” [21]

Formerly special forces teams were deployed or cruise missiles were fired to assassinate intended victims. In the case of the second and frequently the first the risk was that they couldn’t be used twice.

Predator and Reaper drones return after missions and their supply of Hellfire missiles is replenished for further deadly attacks.

They have become Washington’s preferred 21st century weapons for perpetrating international assassinations.

1) Associated Press, October 25, 2009
2) Radio Australia, March 8, 2010
3) Ibid
4) Dawn News, January 2, 2010
5) BBC News, October 28, 2009
6) Xinhua News Agency, January 8, 2010
7) Ibid
8) Reuters, January 1, 2010
9) ADN Kronos International, January 6, 2010
10) Agence France-Presse, January 14, 2010
11) Associated Press, January 12, 2010
12) Ibid
13) Bloomberg News, February 1, 2010
14) Voice of America News, January 19, 2010
15) Press TV, January 13, 2010
16) Russian Information Agency Novosti, December 30, 2009
17) Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2010
18) Helsingin Sanomat, January 28, 2010
20) USA Today, April 29, 2008
21) Wired, January 5, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S., NATO Intensify War Games Around Russia’s Perimeter

March 6, 2010 3 comments

March 6, 2010

U.S., NATO Intensify War Games Around Russia’s Perimeter
Rick Rozoff

Along with plans to base anti-ballistic missile facilities in Poland near Russia’s border (a 35-mile distance) and in Bulgaria and Romania across the Black Sea from Russia, Washington and the self-styled global military bloc it leads, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have arranged a series of military exercises on and near Russia’s borders this year.

While the White House, Pentagon and State Department pro forma identify al-Qaeda, Taliban, Iran, North Korea, climate change, cyber attacks and a host of other threats as those the U.S. is girding itself to combat, Washington is demonstrating its true strategic objectives by deploying interceptor missiles and staging war games along Russia’s western and southern borders.

200 U.S. Marines participated in the recently concluded Cold Response 2010 NATO military exercise as part of a 14,000-troop force training for “cold weather amphibious operations, interoperability of expeditionary forces, and special and conventional ground operations” in Norway and Sweden. [1] It was the fourth such military training held in Norway since 2006 and the first to be held exclusively in the Arctic Circle.

The American troops engaged “in tactical exercises at various unit levels, ultimately culminating in a bilateral, brigade-sized beach assault” [2].

The NATO war games included troops from 15 nations, among them – in addition to the U.S. – Britain, Austria, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Austria, Finland and Sweden are Partnership for Peace affiliates of the North Atlantic military bloc.

The drills occurred “entirely north of the Arctic Circle and…emphasize[d] individual and unit cold weather capabilities.”

Britain supplied its Amphibious Task Group and 2,000 marines, sailors and soldiers. Royal Marines were in Norway since January along with American and Dutch counterparts “learning how to survive and fight in extreme weather and terrain.” [3]

A newspaper from the United Kingdom remarked that “The training prepares them [British combat troops] for their next deployment” and “if you can fight there, you can fight anywhere.” [4]

“The exercise is vital in ensuring that the Royal Navy maintains its traditional sea-fighting capability whilst undertaking amphibious warfare in a cold weather environment.” [5]

Marines and other service members from the U.S., Britain, Germany and fellow NATO and NATO partner states did not train for Arctic warfare to deploy to Afghanistan or the Gulf of Aden.

Cold Response 2010, in which U.S. Marines were involved for the first time in four years, ended on March 4. Less than two weeks afterward, from March 17-20, NATO warplanes will conduct exercises in the Baltic Sea region over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. All three nations border Russia’s mainland or its Kaliningrad territory.

The drills will include “French Mirage 2000, Polish F-16, and Lithuanian L-39 Albatross fighters, along with U.S. aerial tankers.” [6]

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dillschneider, spokesman for the Allied Air Headquarters in Ramstein, Germany, described the purpose of the upcoming air exercises near Russia’s northwestern border as “to demonstrate solidarity with NATO’s Baltic members.” [7]

Recently, as NATO repeatedly defines itself as global and expeditionary, currently waging the largest and longest war in the world in Afghanistan, it has also increasingly emphasized its “core mission” to respond militarily to alleged threats to member states under its Article 5 “collective defense” provision.

There can be no doubt as to which nation the Alliance and its American leader are sending a signal to by deploying warplanes to the Baltic region in less than two weeks. It is the same country that NATO has been flying continuous patrols over the area against for the past six years. The same one that the West had it mind when it assigned 14,000 troops for war games in the Arctic Circle earlier this month.

Overlapping with NATO’s military exercises in Russia’s far northwestern neighbor of Norway, the U.S. dispatched the guided missile destroyer USS John L. Hall to Georgia’s Black Sea port of Poti for a seven-day stay starting on February 25.

Poti is nineteen miles from Abkhazia, which America’s Georgian client Mikheil Saakashvili is anxious to employ his army – financed, trained and armed by the U.S. – to subdue despite the presence of Russian troops there.

The American ship and its crew were engaged in joint exercises with the Georgian navy and coast guard.

“However, the main task of the American vessel in the Black Sea was not the practice of Georgian-American interaction on the sea, but in tracking the drills of the Black Sea fleet,” a Russian Navy source said on March 3. A dozen Russian ships had staged “an amphibious landing of troops on the coast of Abkhazia” on February 27 as the U.S. destroyer monitored the action from a few miles down the Black Sea coast. [8]

On March 1 new U.S. ambassador to Georgia John Bass presided over the launching of the fourth radar installation on the nation’s Black Sea shore constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

On February 22 U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke arrived in Georgia after visiting the former Soviet states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to expand American and NATO military equipment transport, troop transit, overflights and other logistics for the deepening war in Afghanistan.

Speaking of Kyrgyzstan, “Holbrooke said that the United States would soon renew an agreement to use the Manas airbase, where he said 35,000 US troops were transiting each month on their way in and out of Afghanistan.” [9] That is, 420,000 American soldiers a year at that rate.

While in Georgia, Holbrooke met with Saakashvili and Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaia and all three attended what was characterized in the local press as a demonstration training operation at the Krtsanisi National Training Center for U.S.-trained troops headed to the Afghan war front. The Georgian military site has been home to U.S. Marine Corps and Green Beret instructors since 2002. The Georgian armed forces are Washington’s proxy army in the South Caucasus and have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan under U.S. command.

They are also the force that assaulted South Ossetia in August of 2008 and were bested by Russia in a five-day war that resulted from that action.

After his inspection Holbrooke said: “Today I had the honor to take a view of the demonstration exercise on the ground and to meet with soldiers with whom I had some useful talks. I was given the opportunity as well to see US instructors being actively involved in the training process. On my arrival in Washington I will report about it to the United States’ president, Secretary of State and my colleagues.” [10]

Veteran Indian analyst and former career diplomat M K Bhadrakumar wrote of the civilian point man for America’s South Asian war that “Holbrooke insisted his visit ‘had nothing to do with Georgian-Russian relations,’ but the reality is that Washington hopes to incorporate Georgia as a vital link in the proposed NATO supply chain leading to Afghanistan from Europe, which will bypass Russian territory. Clearly, NATO is gearing up to cross over from the Balkans, across the Black Sea, to the Caucasus in an historic journey that will take it to Central Asia via Afghanistan.” [11]

American author Edward Herman recently presented a similar perspective in pointing out that since the end of the Cold War “Across the globe…U.S. military bases are expanding, not contracting. The encirclement of Russia and steady stream of war games and exercises in the Baltic, Caspian, Mediterranean and Western Pacific areas continue, the closer engagement with Georgia and effort to bring it into NATO moves ahead, as do plans for the placement of missiles along Russia’s borders and beyond.” [12]

Journalist Eric Walberg begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting followed suit in his March 2 article “Georgia vs Russia: Fanning the flames,” in which he stated: “With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world expected a new era of peace and disarmament. But what happened? Instead of diminishing, US and NATO presence throughout Europe, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Central Asia rapidly increased, and the world experienced one war after another – in the Caucasus, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan, each one hotter and more horrible than the last.” [13]

On March 5 military exercises began in Poland with “400 Polish soldiers and scores of U.S. Army soldiers” in what had as its immediate objective training the host country’s troops to “cooperate with their American superiors in East Afghanistan.” [14]

On February 27 Polish President Lech Kaczynski ratified a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the U.S. to permit the deployment of 100 soldiers to run a Patriot missile base near the Baltic city of Morag.

NATO recently inaugurated a Joint Forces Training Center in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz.

The March 17-20 NATO air maneuvers over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are “the first in a series of military drills to be held this year near the Russian border.”

In June 500 U.S. Marines and Estonian troops will participate in ten days of exercises in northern Estonia, “a hundred kilometers from the Russian border.” [15]

Later in the year NATO will conduct war games in the Baltic Sea region with “over 2,000 personnel from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the U.S.” The exercises will be “the largest since the three Baltic countries joined the alliance….” [16]

A Russian source commented on the above developments by reminding its readers that NATO “will draw a record number of soldiers to Russia’s borders….” [17]

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Finland on March 4 to preside over the bloc’s first new Strategic Concept seminar held in a non-NATO country, co-hosted by the host country and Sweden, both formerly nominal neutral nations.

Rasmussen said “that Afghanistan, where Finland and Sweden have soldiers serving under NATO’s peacekeeping operation, was a model example of NATO’s regional defence starting far from the alliance’s borders.” [18]

Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said in his introductory remarks that one of his country’s members of parliament “once described Nato as Finland’s secret lover or mistress. I would rather argue that our partnership with Nato is like ‘common-law marriage.’ We have been committed and reliable partners for a long time, almost two decades.” [19]

When NATO fully incorporates Finland it will acquire “237,000 troops, beefed up with the latest infantry weapons and heavy armor” [20] along a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia. [21]

American and other NATO member states’ troops, warplanes and warships are visiting Russia’s neighborhood more frequently and approaching its borders more precariously. Over the past five years the Pentagon and NATO have secured permanent air, naval and training bases in Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Lithuania and interceptor missile sites in the first three nations.

As Indian journalist M K Bhadrakumar remarked, NATO’s post-Cold War drive to the east began in the Balkans and has proceeded inexorably to the Black Sea, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Afghanistan. It has also turned the Baltic Sea into a U.S. and Alliance lake, with Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden within the Western military phalanx – all have troops in Afghanistan under NATO command, for example – and Russia left alone in the region.

That trajectory – from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, the Caucasus and Central Asia – places U.S. and NATO military presence along a substantial portion of the land borders of European Russia.

1) United States European Command, February 24, 2010
2) Ibid
3) Arbroath Herald, February 26, 2010
4) Ibid
5) United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, March 2, 2010
6) Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 4, 2010
7) Associated Press, March 2, 2010
8) Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 3, 2010
9) Agence France-Presse, March 4, 2010
10) Georgia Times, February 23, 2010
11) Asia Times, March 1, 2010
12) Z Magazine, March 2010
13) Global Research, March 2, 2010
14) Xinhua News Agency, March 5, 2010
15) Russian Information Agency Novosti, March 4, 2010
16) Ibid
17) Russia Today, March 1, 2010
18) Agence France-Presse, March 3, 2010
19) Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, March 4, 2010
20) Strategy Page, June 29, 2009
21) Afghan War: NATO Trains Finland, Sweden For Conflict With Russia
Stop NATO, July 26, 2009
Scandinavia And The Baltic Sea: NATO’s War Plans For The High North
Stop NATO, June 14, 2009
End of Scandinavian Neutrality: NATO’s Militarization Of Europe
Stop NATO, April 10, 2009

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Tightens Missile Shield Encirclement Of China And Russia

March 4, 2010 1 comment

March 4, 2010

U.S. Tightens Missile Shield Encirclement Of China And Russia
Rick Rozoff

So far this year the United States has succeeded in inflaming tensions with China and indefinitely holding up a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia through its relentless pursuit of global interceptor missile deployments.

On January 29 the White House confirmed the completion of a nearly $6.5 billion weapons transfer to Taiwan which includes 200 advanced Patriot anti-ballistic missiles. Earlier in the same month it was reported that Washington is also to provide Taiwan with eight frigates which Taipei intends to equip with the Aegis Combat System that includes the capacity for ship-based Standard Missile-3 interceptors.

The Aegis sea-based component of the expanding U.S. interceptor missile system already includes Japan, South Korea and Australia, and with Taiwan added China would be justified in being apprehensive.

On February 28 the U.S. House and Senate foreign affairs committees permitted the “sale to Taiwan of missiles, helicopters and ships valued at about $6.4 billion” despite weeks of protests from China. “The U.S. Defense Department wants to sell Taiwan the most advanced Patriot anti-missile system….The system, valued at $2.8 billion, would add to Taiwan’s network of 22 missile sites around the country….” [1]

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang recently stated “The responsibility for the current difficulties in China-U.S. relations [belongs] completely to the U.S. side” for failing to recognize and respect China’s “core interests.” [2]

If the proposed placement of U.S. missile shield components in Poland, the Czech Republic, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Alaska and elsewhere were explained by alleged missile threats emanating from Iran and North Korea, the transfer of U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles to Taiwan – and, as was revealed in January, 35 miles from Russian territory in Poland – represents the crossing of a new threshold. The Patriots in Taiwan and Poland and the land- and sea-based missiles that will follow them are intended not against putative “rogue states” but against two major nuclear powers, China and Russia.

The PAC-3, “one of the most comprehensive upgrade programs ever undertaken on an American weapon system,” [3] is in theory a strictly defensive anti-ballistic missile system, targeting cruise and tactical ballistic missiles. However, it has seven times the range of its PAC-2 predecessor and with plans for a yet further major upgrade, the Missile Segment Enhancement, its operational capability will be doubled again. With a future range of some 300 kilometers, the PAC-3 would be able to intercept and destroy missiles over Chinese and Russian territory.

The English-language government newspaper China Daily published an article on February 22 called “China circled by chain of US anti-missile systems,” which observed that “Quite a few military experts have noted that Washington’s latest proposed weapon deal with Taiwan is the key part of a US strategic encirclement of China in the East Asian region, and that the missiles could soon have a footprint that extends from Japan to the Republic of Korea and Taiwan.” [4]

The article cites a Chinese air force colonel and military strategist as contending that “China is in a crescent-shaped ring of encirclement. The ring begins in Japan, stretches through nations in the South China Sea to India, and ends in Afghanistan. Washington’s deployment of anti-missile systems around China’s periphery forms a crescent-shaped encirclement.”

Regular Pentagon military exercises in Mongolia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Cambodia as well as solidification of military ties with the nations of the Indian subcontinent – Pakistan, India and Bangladesh – are further cause for concern in Beijing.

The China Daily feature also quoted an expert in military affairs at the Institute of Political Science and Law as saying “The US anti-missile system in China’s neighborhood is a replica of its [the U.S.’s] strategy in Eastern Europe against Russia. The Obama administration began to plan for such a system around China after its project in Eastern Europe got suspended.”

In fact the current U.S. administration has by no means abandoned plans to surround Russia as well as China with a ring of interceptor missile installations and naval deployments.

Last month’s revelations that Washington is going to station land-based interceptors in Bulgaria and Romania were followed by a report that in addition to the Patriot missile batteries that will be set up in eastern Poland next month “The US is still looking to build missile silos in northern Poland” and, even more alarming, “The US is also interested in building longer-range missile silos near the Poland-Kaliningrad border. These would be capable of shooting down missiles from as far as 5,500 kilometers away….” [5]

The distance between the capitals of Poland and Iran is less than 4,000 kilometers, so American missiles with a range of 5,500 kilometers are designed for other purposes. They could take in a broad stretch of Russia.

The above-cited Chinese feature noted in addition that “the ring encircling China can also be expanded at any time in other directions….Washington is hoping to sell India and other Southeast Asian countries the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-3 missile defense system.”

The U.S. has had Patriot interceptor missiles deployed in Japan, South Korea and in Taiwan even before the planned delivery of 200 more to the third state.

“Analysts say that China is closely monitoring US-India missile defense cooperation since any integration of India into the US global missile defense system would profoundly affect China’s security.” [6]

On February 24 Russian Lieutenant General Yevgeny Buzhinsky was paraphrased by one of his nation’s main news agencies as stating “China could strengthen its nuclear capability in response to U.S. global missile defense plans.”

Indicative of what reaction U.S. missile shield deployments in China’s neighborhood could provoke, he said: “At present, China has a very limited nuclear potential, but my recent contacts with Chinese military representatives indicate that if the United States deploys a global missile defense system, in particular in the Far East, China will build up its offensive capability.” [7]

In response to U.S. insistence on supplying Taiwan with hundreds of Patriot missiles, Blackhawk helicopters and Harpoon missiles, on February 23 the Pentagon announced that China had delivered on its pledge to postpone military contacts with Washington by canceling scheduled exchanges, including “a visit by Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and visits to the U.S. by China’s chief of the general staff, Chen Bingde, and a Chinese regional commander.” [8]

A Russian commentary on March 2 placed the developments in stark perspective. “The differences between the USA and China have gone so far that some time ago Beijing announced that all contacts with Washington in this field would be stopped….The visit to China by Pentagon Chief Robert Gates, which was set for the first half of this year, is also put into question. Besides, bilateral consultations on strategic security were also delayed on Beijing’s initiative.” [9]

Another analysis from the same country added a historical dimension to the burgeoning crisis in U.S.-China relations.

“This winter has been a cold one for China-US relations. So many serious disagreements between the two countries have not surfaced simultaneously for decades….In the past China and the US avoided taking harsh measures against each other serially, but evidently things have changed beyond recognition over the past several months.” [10]

As mentioned above, the U.S. is implementing plans to replicate the interceptor encirclement of Russia in regards to China. China’s sense of alarm and its government’s response, then, can be expected to parallel those of Russia.

In late February Polish President Lech Kaczynski ratified a Status of Forces Agreement for American troops to be based at the Patriot missile battery near Russia’s Kaliningrad district.

All American and NATO claims to the contrary, “Poland’s former Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and the Polish president himself earlier admitted that they are not concerned about threats from Iran, but they are interested in establishing an ‘American umbrella’ above Poland, thus trying to show that they see Russia as an aggressor and a threat to Poland.”

“According to the agreement, about 100 American soldiers will service up to eight US Patriot missile launchers” [11] in an installation that “will be equipped with elements allowing it to be integrated with the Polish defense system.” [12]

Early last month General Nikolai Makarov, chief of Russia’s General Staff, warned that American interceptor missile plans jeopardize his nation’s national security and have sabotaged the finalization of a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which has been in limbo since December 5.

Makarov said of the U.S. project, “We view it very negatively, because it could weaken our missile forces.” [13]

Echoing his fears over the fate of START talks, on February 19 Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Washington’s missile project “in the most immediate sense” is negatively influencing negotiations on a replacement to a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. [14]

Five days later Konstantin Kosachev, head of the State Duma committee for international relations, said “If the connection between the strategic arms reduction treaty and missile defense is not exhaustively fixed by the sides in preparing the treaty… this would automatically create obstacles for subsequent ratification of the document in the State Duma and create additional difficulties for further advance[s] in cutting strategic offensive weapons.” [15]

The provocative decisions by the U.S. on missile deployments in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria since the expiration of the START last December lead to no other conclusion than the White House and the Pentagon intend the indefinite postponement if not the aborting of any comprehensive agreement to limit and reduce nuclear arms.

Russia’s permanent representative to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has recently voiced the concern that the U.S. still plans to base anti-ballistic missile facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic [16] in spite of statements by President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates last September 17 that previous plans for both countries are being replaced by “stronger, smarter, and swifter” deployments.

The U.S. has not substituted the missile encirclement of Russia with that of China. It is conducting both simultaneously.

As it is doing so, the Pentagon announced on February 12 that “A U.S. high-powered airborne laser weapon shot down a ballistic missile in the first successful test of a futuristic directed energy weapon, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said….” [17]

A Reuters report of the test launched from a base in California over the Pacific Ocean, one which has been touted as finally realizing the Ronald Reagan administration’s plans for the Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as Star Wars, described its purpose: “The airborne laser weapon is aimed at…providing the U.S. military with the ability to engage all classes of ballistic missiles at the speed of light while they are in the boost phase of flight.” [18]

One of weapon’s manufacturers, the Boeing Company, issued a press release for the occasion which said in part: “This experiment marks the first time a laser weapon has engaged and destroyed an in-flight ballistic missile, and the first time that any system has accomplished it in the missile’s boost phase of flight….The laser is the most powerful ever installed on an aircraft….” [19]

Northrop Grumman, another partner in the project (Lockheed Martin being the third), added: “While ballistic missiles like the one ALTB [Airborne Laser Testbed] destroyed move at speeds of about 4,000 miles [6,500 km] per hour, they are no match for a superheated, high-energy laser beam racing towards it at 670 million mph [one billion kph].” [20]

The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency was no less enthusiastic about the results, stating “The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defence, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, at a range of hundreds of kilometres….” [21]

The airborne laser weapon is mounted on a modified Boeing 747 commercial airliner. Its potential range is global.

Ten days later it was reported by the U.S. Army that the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico will receive a new laser weapon and “The Army may soon blast missiles out of the sky with a laser beam.” The weapon contains “100-kilowatt lasers that can rapidly heat a target, causing catastrophic events such as warhead explosions or airframe failures.”

Pentagon officials said it has “successfully worked in the laboratory and on the battlefield and now they want to begin shooting down missiles with it.” [22]

Airborne laser anti-missile weapons will join the full spectrum of land, sea, air and space interceptor missile components to envelope the world with a system to neutralize other nations’ deterrence capacities and prepare the way for conventional and nuclear first strikes.

1) Bloomberg News, March 1, 2010
2) Bloomberg News, March 2, 2010
3) Wikipedia
4) China Daily, February 22, 2010
5) Warsaw Business Journal, March 2, 2010
6) China Daily, February 22, 2010
7) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 24, 2010
8) Stars and Stripes, February 25, 2010
9) Voice of Russia, March 2, 2010
10) Roman Tomberg, Collapse of the G-2 Myth, or Stalemate in China-US
Strategic Culture Foundation, March 2, 2010
11) Russia Today, February 27, 2010
12) Polish Radio, February 28, 2010
13) Associated Press, February 9, 2010
14) Associated Press, February 19, 2010
15) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 24, 2010
16) Voice of Russia, February 23, 2010
17) Reuters, February 12, 2010
18) Ibid
19) Defense News, February 12, 2010
20) Associated Press, February 13, 2010
21) The Guardian, February 12, 2010
22), February 22, 2010

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Black Sea Military Buildup Could Trigger Missile War

March 2, 2010 1 comment

March 2, 2010

U.S. Black Sea Military Buildup Could Trigger Missile War
Rick Rozoff

Last month news reports confirmed that the United States is to station interceptor missiles in Bulgaria and Romania as an extension of the Pentagon’s European (and international) missile shield project. Details are still forthcoming, but what is all but certain is that the missiles are to be land-based versions of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) medium-range anti-ballistic missiles, though there is already speculation that even more advanced deployments are planned.

Until last month discussions of U.S. missile shield plans to replace the earlier one of basing ground-based midcourse missiles in Poland and an accompanying X-band missile radar facility in the Czech Republic centered on the Baltic and Eastern Mediterranean Seas and on Israel and the Persian Gulf, with Turkey and the South Caucasus (Georgia and Azerbaijan) expected to be the next links.

Now it is evident that the main focus of U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization interceptor missile deployments will be in the Black Sea region. The announcement that Romania will host American missiles was made on February 4; the news that Bulgaria would follow suit was disclosed on February 12.

The Pentagon has acquired the use of seven military bases in Bulgaria and Romania since 2005 (though it used air bases in both nations for the 2003 war against Iraq and for the ongoing war in Afghanistan), immediately after both countries were formally inducted into NATO the year before.

Washington has also transformed Georgia on the eastern shore of the Black Sea into a military outpost on Russia’s southern border and has similar designs on Ukraine.

In the words of a Moldovan political analyst, “the United States is turning the Black Sea into an American lake.” [1]

In recent days the Romanian press has shed more light on the details of planned U.S. interceptor missile deployments. Preliminary discussions “have suggested the implementation of around 20 interceptors in an ‘appropriate’ location in Romania.”

In addition, “Negotiations between Romania and the United States on the ballistic missile defence [were] on the agenda of the talks the [Romanian] foreign minister had with his Bulgarian counterpart” on February 26. [2]

That is, the United States presented its demands to both countries almost simultaneously. The initiative began when U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Ellen Tauscher recruited Romania for inclusion in Washington’s missile shield system in early February and the Romanian Supreme Defense Council “approved the proposal of hosting SM-3 land-based interceptors as part of the Barack Obama Administration’s plans for ‘a gradual-adaptive approach to the ballistic missile defence in Europe.’” [3]

Another Romanian news source cited a higher figure for U.S. missiles to be deployed in the nation, 24, and, moreover, lamented that there had been no open discussion or debate on the topic. “There is no public poll or consultation, nor is there a demand for a referendum….In Poland and the Czech Republic there was an active and popular campaign against the Bush proposal for a missile shield and a radar in their countries. Here there is silence.

“Maybe even the USA is shocked at the ease at which the Romanian public has accepted the prospect of their country giving its land to Americans to launch missiles against potential nuclear weapons.” [4]

A Russian analyst wrote that the stationing of Standard Missile-3 interceptors, whether in the dozens or the scores, is only the beginning of U.S. plans for the region. Or a ploy to disguise more dangerous designs.

“[I]t is reasonable to assume that the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) mobile ground-based radar system will be deployed in Romania instead of the SM-3 missile system, which hasn’t been created yet. This system includes a radar station with a direction range of 1,000 kilometers, which could be deployed in Bulgaria, for example, as well as anti-ballistic missiles that can intercept targets within a radius of 200 kilometers at an altitude of 100-150 kilometers….”

The author, Vladimir Yevseyev, senior research fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences, added “the U.S. plans to deploy more powerful anti-ballistic missiles in Europe by 2018-2020. These will probably be silo-based missiles, for example upgraded SM-3 missiles with high runway speeds and interception altitudes exceeding 1,000 kilometers, making it possible to destroy not only ICBM warheads but also ballistic missiles launched by Russia.” [5]

The forward-based X-band missile radar facility the Pentagon set up in Israel in late 2008 has a range of 2,900 miles and in conjunction with land- and ship-based interceptor missiles in Poland and the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Turkish mainland, the South Caucasus and elsewhere could track and neutralize the bulk of Russia’s nuclear forces, both land-based missiles and strategic bombers.

Regarding the potential and the possible consequences of a U.S. military buildup in the Black Sea Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis in Russia, recently wrote that “each U.S. cruiser or destroyer has two Mk-41 vertical missile launchers with 90-122 compartments for storing Tomahawk cruise missiles, a family of surface-to-air Standard missiles or RUR-5 ASROC anti-submarine rockets” and “the U.S. Navy…can launch Tomahawks from the Black Sea’s southeastern sector to hit six divisions of the Russian Strategic Missile Force accounting for 60% of the country’s intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

He also warned that Russia’s air defense system is substantially downgraded from what it was in Soviet times and its current state of disrepair is such that “Washington can voluntarily or unilaterally reduce its strategic nuclear forces because it can use high-precision non-nuclear weapons to suppress Russian nuclear arsenals….A missile defense system now would create…a headache for Moscow and would finish off the surviving individual ground-based or submarine-launched ballistic missiles.” [6]

American interceptor missiles – whether of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3, Standard Missile-3, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or Ground-Based Midcourse Defense variants – do not carry a warhead, conventional or nuclear, but are instead kinetic energy “hit-to-kill” vehicles that destroy other missiles on impact. The missiles they collide with and fragment, however, could contain conventional and nuclear warheads, leading to devastating fallout over the nation where they are intercepted.

There currently is concern in Russian military circles that if the stalled START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) talks do not address U.S. and NATO missile shield plans for Europe and its environs – as Russia insists they do and the U.S. that they don’t – then parity between the two nations’ nuclear arms and delivery systems would leave Russia at a decided strategic disadvantage if the U.S. and its allies could destroy the bulk of Russian nuclear missiles and bombers with non-nuclear interceptors.

Pavel Zolotaryov, deputy director of the Moscow-based Institute of USA-Canada Studies, warned that with the deployment of U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missiles in Poland only 35 miles from Russia’s Kaliningrad district and longer-range missiles elsewhere in Eastern Europe “we are witnessing the ‘creeping process’ of establishing a European missile defense system within the NATO defensive perimeter under U.S. supervision and without Russian involvement….” [7]

The nominal purpose for stationing medium-range ground-based interceptor missiles in nations like Bulgaria and Romania remains that of the previous Polish-Czech system advocated by the George W. Bush administration in Washington: Alleged protection against Iranian missile threats.

On February 26 Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko “signaled Moscow’s skepticism about Washington’s explanation that the interceptors were needed to protect US troops and NATO allies against the Iranian missile threat, saying…that Russia has ‘serious questions’ regarding its true purpose.” [8]

In his own words, “We are witnessing again rushed decisions being made in the ballistic missile defence field in Europe….We keep having serious questions about the real objective of the US ballistic missile defence system. We will continue to oppose all questionable and unilateral acts that could have a negative impact on international security.” [9]

In a February 21 column, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachev voiced similar misgivings in writing: “Russia is not a member of NATO, and we have to remember, that we are talking about armaments of a military bloc that Russia is not a part of. When security is at stake, no sensible politician or army officer is going to find spoken affirmations, especially those claiming that no weapon is aimed at his or her country sufficient.”

He further posed the rhetorical query “who are these systems going to protect?” and answered: “Israel? The American fleet in the Persian Gulf? These are the two principal targets for future Iranian missiles.

“The quite limited range of Iranian missiles is not going to take them anywhere near Romania in the nearest future (and it’s doubtful that anyone in Tehran has had such intentions before….)” [15]

In asking and answering the question he did he exposed the self-serving and circular reasoning behind U.S. and NATO interceptor missile plans. Iran does not have the capacity to launch missiles against sites in Bulgaria and Romania – not to mention Poland. Surely not at any target beyond those three nations. Neither does it have any reason to do so even if it could.

Perhaps the West is hoping to provoke an attack – or the contrived threat of an attack – as a pretext for “preemptive” attacks of its own. And not just against Iran.

In relation to talks on START, in limbo now for three months, the above-cited Russian parliamentarian added, “It is regrettable that all of this is happening during the course of intricate talks between USA and Russia on the new START….[A]ll of a sudden, as if it were orchestrated on the higher level, this Romano-Bulgarian missile issue emerges, creating an impression that someone was looking for a way to impede the negotiation process.” [11]

Nuclear arms limitation and reduction may be another intentional target of U.S. missile shield plans.

The day before Kosachev’s article appeared, General Nikolai Makarov, the chief of the General Staff of Russia’s armed forces, was paraphrased as asserting “the missile shield was designed to defend illusory air strikes from Russia,” and quoted as follows: “There are concerns that this missile defense system is directed against Russia….If we say that we should tackle possible threats together, we should respect each other and trust each other instead of strengthening military blocs near the Russian border….This means we have to take appropriate measures in response.” [12]

On the eastern end of the Black Sea, on February 25 the USS John L. Hall guided-missile frigate arrived at the Georgian port of Poti, “about 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the de facto border with the Russian-backed breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia,” [13] where eight days earlier an agreement was signed with Russia to build a new military base.

The arrival of the U.S. warship marked the eighth such visit since immediately after the five-day war between Georgia and Russia in August of 2008. The first was by USS Mount Whitney, the flagship of the Sixth Fleet and the command and control ship for the Commander Joint Command Lisbon and the Commander Strike Force NATO. It arrived in Poti on September 5, 2008 in an act of open defiance to Russia.

USS John L. Hall and its crew engaged in joint exercises with Georgian counterparts, which prompted Abkhazian Deputy Defense Minister Garry Kupalba to announce “A joint action plan for Abkhaz armed forces and Russian troops stationed in the republic has been developed in case Georgia launches military actions against Abkhazia.” [14]

In the summer of 2009 the USS Stout, an Aegis class Anti-Ballistic Missile destroyer, paid visits to the Romanian port of Constanta, the Bulgarian one of Varna, the Georgian ports of Batumi and Poti and to Israel and Turkey.

The Pentagon has just completed the latest of four radar installations on Georgia’s Black Sea coast.

In recent days NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder, and former U.S. envoy to NATO and current Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow among others have reiterated plans for Black Sea nations Georgia and Ukraine to become full NATO members. (Another former American NATO envoy, Kurt Volker, recently included Azerbaijan in the same category.)

On February 26 the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy was in the capital of Estonia, Russia’s neighbor and fellow Baltic Sea nation, and said: “We’ve made it very clear that even as we seek to find new ways of working with Russia we also are very clear that we don’t accept certain of their policies, the assertion of their sphere of influence, particularly in this [Baltic] region.” [15]

According to the Pentagon Russia will not be permitted a “sphere of influence” anywhere on its borders or off its coasts. Instead the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and if Washington can manage it the Caspian Sea will be transformed into American lakes. With interceptor missiles and radar bases on and off its shores.

Related articles:

Impending Explosion: U.S. Intensifies Threats To Russia And Iran

Romania: U.S. Expands Missile Shield Into Black Sea

Bulgaria, Romania: U.S., NATO Bases For War In The East

Black Sea, Caucasus: U.S. Moves Missile Shield South And East

Black Sea: Pentagon’s Gateway To Three Continents And The Middle East

1) The Messenger (Georgia), February 15, 2010
2) Nine O’Clock News (Romania), February 28, 2010
3) Ibid
4) The Diplomat, March 2010
5) Vladimir Yevseyev, The U.S. anti-missile project in Romania: New
administration, same old policy
Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 24, 2010
6) Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, February 19, 2010
Posted by Russian Information Agency Novosti
7) Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 1, 2010
8) Associated Press, February 26, 2010
9) Nine O’Clock News, February 28, 2010
10) New Europe, February 21, 2010
11) Ibid
12) Xinhua News Agency, February 25, 2010
13) Agence France-Presse, February 25, 2010
14) Interfax-Ukraine, February 26, 2010
15) Russian Information Agency Novosti, February 26, 2010

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