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Romania: U.S. Escalates Missile Brinkmanship Against Russia

June 30, 2012 1 comment

Stop NATO
June 30, 2012

Romania: U.S. Escalates Missile Brinkmanship Against Russia
Rick Rozoff

On June 29 U.S. European Command announced the signing of new accords with the government of Romania for the stationing of American interceptor missiles in the country, a senior Russian diplomat stated that further talks with the U.S. on cuts in conventional and nuclear arms will not occur until Washington changes its stance on the U.S.-NATO missile shield project in Europe, and a top Russian official pledged to develop the means of circumventing the interceptor system on earth and in space.

At a joint committee meeting in the Bucharest, Major General Mark Schissler, Director of Plans and Policy at Headquarters U.S. European Command, and the Romanian Defense Ministry’s State Secretary for Defense Policy and Planning Sebastian Hulaban signed two implementing arrangements and three amendments to existing implementing arrangements related to the construction and operation of an American interceptor missile facility at a former air base in Deveselu. The new implementing arrangements pertain to the use of land surrounding the base and the use of air space over it for Phase II of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, the first phase of which was announced to be operational at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Chicago in May.

Also present for the signing were Rear Admiral Randall Hendrickson, Deputy Director of the Missile Defense Agency, and Brigadier General Thomas Sharpy, Director of Plans, Programs and Analyses for U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

The new codicils follow the Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement between the two nations which was signed in September of last year and entered into force in December. That pact in turn succeeded Romania’s announcement in February 2010 that it would host U.S. missiles as part of the Barack Obama administration’s Phased Adaptive Approach system to deploy scores of interceptors on land and sea in Eastern Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea along Russia’s western flank.

Construction on the Romanian site will begin next year and in 2014 24 Standard Missile-3 interceptors will be deployed to the country, to be followed by as many, of a more advanced model, in Poland three years later.

Earlier in June U.S. representatives participated in an industry day in Romania, announcing that ground would be broken for the missile facility within months and dangling the prospect of contracts before local businesses, although Missile Defense Agency facilities require an American prime contractor for the military components.

The American representatives said they expected two contracts to be approved, one for developing the facilities of the Missile Defense Agency and one for the U.S. Navy component that is included in the Deveselu site. The involvement of the Navy, which will gain an access control center and facilities for 250 personnel, could indicate that the U.S. and NATO will not limit themselves to the placing of land-based Standard Missile-3s but may add the deployment of the sea-based version on American guided missile cruisers and destroyers in the Black Sea. 

Commenting on the above, the press officer at the American embassy in Romania, Kenneth Wetzel, said, “This project reaffirms Romania’s commitments to NATO and reflects the very strong relations between our two countries.”

The missile shield facility will initially be a bilateral U.S.-Romanian undertaking until it is transferred to NATO control. Bogdan Aurescu of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Romanian companies have gained considerable experience in NATO and NATO-interoperable projects since joining the U.S.-led military bloc in 2004 that permits the country to be the first to host longer-range, higher-velocity interceptors in Europe. (Two years ago the Pentagon moved a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 battery and approximately 100 military personnel to Poland.)

The 2011 agreement on basing U.S. interceptor missiles in Romania begins with these words:

“Having in mind the United States–Romanian Strategic Partnership and the further development thereof, and recognizing that a very important pillar of the United States–Romanian relationship is the solidarity embodied in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, the United States and Romania recognize the importance of enhancing their individual and collective national security by working within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization…

“Reaffirming their strong will to work together towards contributing to, in accordance with the principle of the indivisibility of the security of NATO and with the principle of NATO solidarity, the NATO missile defense capability, as a key mission of the Alliance, with the aim of providing full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces, as well as to shaping NATO’s central role in missile defense in Europe…”

In 2005, the year after Romania joined NATO, the U.S. signed a comprehensive defense cooperation agreement with the country that provided the Pentagon its first military bases in a former Warsaw Pact country, including the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base which had been used for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent to that has been employed for the wars in that nation, Afghanistan and Libya.

On June 18 the above-cited Romanian official Aurescu met with Poland’s presidential adviser on security matters Stanislaw Koziej to share Romania’s experience in regard to hosting American Standard Missile-3 interceptors. The U.S. will deploy the new Standard Missile-3 Block 1B, to go into production this fall, to Romania in 2015 and the more advanced Block 11A to Poland in 2018.

The missile system will be controlled by NATO from the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany and connected with the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance X-band missile radar put into operation in Turkey in January, which an Obama administration official last autumn described as “probably the biggest strategic decision between the United States and Turkey in the past 15 or 20 years.”

On June 29 Grigory Berdennikov, the Russian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, stated that Russia will not continue talks with the U.S. on conventional and nuclear arms reductions until, as cited by Russian Information Agency Novosti, “Washington changes its stance on the global deployment of U.S. missile defenses.”

The news agency quoted Berdennikov as warning:

“[H]ow are we supposed to move forward if the United States refuses to curb its missile defenses?

“We are certainly hoping that they will change their stance on missile defense, because at this point there is no progress (in missile defense talks) whatsoever. We cannot do anything else while there is no clarity on missile defense issues.”

On the same day Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told a Russian radio station that Russia will develop a response to the U.S.-NATO missile interception system that will allow for it being confronted and overcome. He said, “Our task is to create a real guarantee of security for the Russian Federation by arming Russian forces with equipment capable of countering any attempts to offset the strategic balance.”

According to a Xinhua News Agency account of his statement, Russia will “create defensive systems capable of intercepting incoming missiles or upgrade its own first-strike nuclear forces so as to overcome any anti-missile umbrella.”

Rogozin added: “We, of course, will create a system of overcoming and suppressing any anti-missile defense. If somebody thinks it is possible to surround us with an anti-missile fence, we will break down everything, the entire wall, if someone would attempt to isolate us or make us kneel down.”

In anticipating the next step in U.S. and NATO missile interception plans – the inevitable expansion into space – the Russian official said that his nation will also “give an adequate response” to the threat of military attacks from that domain.

He explained Russia’s concerns regarding the militarization of space: “Obviously, long-term space stations will be created not only for civilian but, perhaps, for military purposes. Today it is impossible to draw the line between civilian and military space (programs).”

The deployment of interceptor missiles in Romania and Poland will mark the beginning and not the end of U.S. and NATO plans for an international – and beyond, to space – missile system for potential first-strike use against Russia and other nations, a system that can prove the greatest threat to humanity since the end of the Cold War.

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Combined Maritime Forces: U.S.’s Global Naval Force in the Arabian Sea

June 30, 2012 2 comments

Stop NATO
June 29, 2012

Combined Maritime Forces: U.S.’s Global Naval Force in the Arabian Sea
Rick Rozoff

The U.S. Navy blog site ran a feature on the U.S.-created and -led multinational Combined Maritime Forces operation throughout the Arabian Sea on June 28.

Established in February 2002 toward the beginning of the so-called global war on terror, it has in the interim expanded to include 35-40 ships engaged in what are identified as anti-piracy operations and the “promotion of security, stability and prosperity” in 2.5 million square miles of international waters from the Horn of Africa to the western coast of Pakistan and from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden separating Somalia from Yemen: A zone taking in recent and current American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization theaters of war in Iraq, Afghanistan-Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen; indeed the central focus of Western military operations and geopolitical strategy over the past decade.

Two and a half years ago Washington claimed that its campaign and that of its NATO allies in Afghanistan had proven so successful that it had driven al-Qaeda elements out of South Asia, forcing them to – somehow, it was never explained how – flee across the entire width of the Arabian Sea to Somalia and Yemen, although overall developments related to the intractable, and unwinnable, war in Afghanistan in the interim hardly bear out the first half of that self-deluding assessment.

The over decade-long Combined Maritime Forces initiative is commanded by American Vice Admiral John Miller, who is simultaneously commander of U.S Naval Forces Central Command and the U.S. Fifth Fleet, all three based in Bahrain. Its deputy commander is Commodore Simon Ancona of the Royal Navy, who also serves as the United Kingdom Maritime Component commander in charge of Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships in the Middle East. The U.S. Fifth Fleet has a Carrier Strike Group, Expeditionary Strike Group, at most times two nuclear-powered supercarriers and other ships and aircraft with 15,000 service members assigned to them.

Combined Maritime Forces consists of three combined task forces (CFTs) — CTF 150, CTF 151 and CTF 152 – which are identified as conducting maritime security, counter-piracy and Persian Gulf maritime security operations, respectively.

The Combined Maritime Forces website describes the geostrategic importance of its area of operation as encompassing “some of the world’s most important shipping lanes,” from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Oman and the Laccadive Sea; where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Arabian Sea and where the latter connects with the Persian Gulf and where it flows into the Bay of Bengal.

Combined Maritime Forces now includes naval forces from 26 nations, all but one, Thailand, NATO members states, partners and Troop Contributing Nations for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Member states: The U.S., Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.

Partners: Australia, Bahrain, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

Troop Contributing Nations not yet in the second category: Malaysia and Singapore.

Combined Task Force 150 operates in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and Indian Ocean and has been commanded at various times by the U.S., Britain, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and Pakistan.

The strategic significance of CTF 150’s geographical scope is described by Combined Maritime Forces as follows:

“This area is a vital artery of world trade that includes the main shipping routes from the Far East to Europe and the US with over 23,000 shipping movements per year. Over one third of the world’s oil passes through the Area of Operation (AOR) each year. In addition the AOR contains three narrow waterways, know as ‘choke points’, where vessels are required to pass closely between two shorelines…”

Combined Task Force 151 is deployed to the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia, covering 1.1 million square miles. It has been commanded by the U.S., Denmark, Turkey, Pakistan and South Korea. CTF 151 coordinates all its activities with NATO and the European Union Naval Force Somalia, which are conducting Operation Ocean Shield and Operation Atalanta, respectively.

Combined Task Force 152 operates in what Combined Maritime Forces refers to as the Arabian Gulf; that is, what most of the world knows as the Persian Gulf. The use of the first description is a naked affront to Iran and is meant to be just that. CTF 152 operates in conjunction with the navies of the six Gulf Cooperation Council member states: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It has been commanded by the U.S., Britain, Italy, Australia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The Combined Maritime Forces website offers this concise background information (and at least implicitly reveals why the CTF 152 is present where it is):

“Today the Gulf is one of the most strategic waterways in the world due to its importance in world oil transportation. It contains in the region of 700 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, representing over half of the world’s oil reserves, and over 2,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves (45% of the world total). Arabian Gulf countries maintain about one-third of the world’s productive oil capacity. The majority of the oil exported from the Arabian Gulf is transported by sea.”

The U.S. and its military allies in Canada, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and the Persian Gulf have their warships and shipborne aircraft positioned in the most economically and geostrategically vital stretch of water in the world. To protect their own interests in the manner the world’s sole military superpower employs throughout most of the planet – maintaining the presence of overwhelming firepower – and whenever it suits them to threaten the fundamental interests of others.

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Oliver Goldsmith on war: Hundreds of thousands killed without consequence

June 28, 2012 1 comment

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

Oliver Goldsmith: Selections on war

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Oliver Goldsmith
From Citizen of the World (1762)

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All the great nations still nearly preserve their ancient limits; none have been able to subdue the other, and so terminate the dispute. France, in spite of the conquests of Edward the Third and Henry the Fifth, notwithstanding the efforts of Charles the Fifth and Philip the Second, still remains within its ancient limits. Spain, Germany, Great Britain, Poland, the states of the North, are nearly still the same. What effect then has the blood of so many thousands, the destruction of so many cities, produced? Nothing either great or considerable. The Christian princes have lost indeed much from the enemies of Christendom, but they have gained nothing from each other. Their princes, because they preferred ambition to justice, deserve the character of enemies to mankind; and their priests, neglecting morality for opinion, have mistaken the interests of society.

On whatever side we regard the history of Europe, we shall perceive it to be a tissue of crimes, follies, and misfortunes, of politics without design, and wars without consequence.

*****

[C]ompacts for peace are drawn up with the utmost precision, and ratified with the greatest solemnity: to these each party promises a sincere and inviolable obedience, and all wear the appearance of open friendship and unreserved reconciliation. Yet, notwithstanding these treaties, the people of Europe are almost continually at war. There is nothing more easy than to break a treaty ratified in all the usual forms, and yet neither party be the aggressor. One side, for instance, breaks a trifling article by mistake; the opposite party, upon this, makes a small but premeditated reprisal; this brings on a return of greater from the other; both sides complain of injuries and infractions; war is declared; they beat; are beaten; some two or three hundred thousand men are killed; they grow tired; leave off just where they began; and so sit coolly down to make new treaties.

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NATO Expands Military Network To All Continents

June 22, 2012 1 comment

Stop NATO
June 22, 2012

NATO Expands Military Network To All Continents
Rick Rozoff

The top military officials – chiefs of defense staff – and other representatives of 55 North Atlantic Treaty Organization and partnership states met in Croatia on June 18-20 for the 2012 Strategic Military Partnership Conference.

NATO’s Allied Command Transformation, established at the 1999 fiftieth anniversary summit in Washington, D.C. and the first alliance command based in the U.S. (in Norfolk, Virginia), reported that participation came from “numerous partnership nations that came from all over the world including South America, North Africa, the South Pacific and East Asia” and that attending nations were members of the bloc’s Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue, Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and other military partnerships.

The first of the above three includes 21 nations in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.) The Partnership for Peace program was employed to prepare the twelve nations incorporated as full members between 1999 and 2009: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Mediterranean Dialogue members are Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. As will be seen below, Libya is scheduled to be the next partner.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are members of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, with Saudi Arabia and Oman being groomed as new members and perhaps Iraq and Yemen behind them.

The nations in attendance at the NATO meeting in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, subtitled Current and Future Challenges, would have included what were formerly referred to as Contact Countries – Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea – and which are now included in a new category called Partners Across the Globe along with Afghanistan, Iraq, Mongolia and Pakistan.

The South American nation(s) were not identified, but NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Admiral James Stavridis, recently identified El Salvador in Central America and Colombia in South America, respectively, as current and future NATO partners and troop contributors in Afghanistan. This March Stavridis told Congress that Brazil and India also were potential NATO partners.

Before assuming the joint roles of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command in 2009, Stavridis was commander of U.S. Southern Command and as such in charge of American military operations and military-to-military relations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. In 2007 the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 conducted “presence operations” in the Caribbean Sea, the first time that alliance warships deployed there.

The inclusion of South America marks the crossing of a new threshold for NATO: It now has members and partners on all six inhabited continents, accounting for over a third of the nations in the world.

In January NATO’s Military Committee held a meeting in chiefs of defense staff session in which, as the NATO website described it, “Top level military representatives of 67 countries [discussed] in various formats the evolution of NATO and NATO led operations, the implementation of the new NATO Command Structure and its military consequences.” Unprecedented in scope, the military leaders present accounted for over a third of the 194 member states of the United Nations. 

The Strategic Military Partnership Conference in Croatia was held a month after the NATO summit in Chicago and concentrated on the results of the latter and the further implementation of the Strategic Concept adopted at the preceding summit in Portugal in late 2010.

French General Stéphane Abrial, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, opened the three-day conference and placed particular emphasis on two initiatives NATO calls the Connected Forces Initiative and Smart Defense. The second is designed to pool the resources of the bloc’s 28 members states in times of economic austerity and the first to increase training and exercises and the use of compatible military equipment; both will have the effect of furthering the integration of NATO members for interoperability in furtherance of operations abroad by making a military virtue of an economic necessity.

The main aspects of Smart Defence were identified as the U.S.-dominated interceptor missile system in Europe, the purchase of American Global Hawk drones by European countries for the Alliance Ground Surveillance program and the patrolling of Baltic air space by NATO warplanes.

The conference participants then discussed three main issues: Implications of the May summit for NATO member states; Partners Stability and security in the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf Region; the Connected Forces Initiative in relation to training, exercises, education and technology. Other topics addressed included what were identified as the future development of partnerships and strategic implications of improvements to military efficiency.

The new Partners across the Globe format was highlighted in discussions on expanding partnership arrangements as were the new Partnership Cooperation Menu, the Partnership for Peace Planning and Review Process, the Operational Capabilities Concept and the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme, whose first member is Mongolia as of March and one of whose next is Iraq, both now members the Partners across the Globe program as well. The latest, increasingly international, partnerships and programs are described by NATO’s Allied Command Transformation as “focused on the priorities of building capabilities, interoperability, and supporting defence and security sector reforms.”

A NATO account of the conference reiterated the current Strategic Concept’s assertion that “the promotion of Euro-Atlantic security is best assured through a wide network of partner relationships with countries and organizations around the globe.”

In relation to the May summit, the same source stated:

“The Alliance restated its willingness to provide…further support to regional partners in such areas as security institution-building, defence modernisation, capacity development, and civil-military relations. Based on a Moroccan initiative, NATO and MD [Mediterranean Dialogue] countries will develop a new political framework. The Alliance is, moreover, prepared to welcome Libya as a new partner…”

The opening of an Istanbul Cooperation Initiative Regional Centre in Kuwait was also agreed upon at the Chicago summit.

The conference in Croatia accentuated “A framework developed for NATO nations’ and partner countries’ available training and exercise ranges, along standardized lines” and the “potential to integrate partners and facilitates participation in exercises.”

The deepening and widening of military collaboration between NATO and its scores of partners, including integrating partnership nations into the global NATO Response Force, are to be built on joint efforts during and following NATO’s wars on three continents: Those in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya.

As NATO has remarked of the Connected Forces Initiative, it is “aimed at ensuring that NATO retains and builds on the valuable gains of interoperability among Allies and partners as a result of NATO’s recent operations.”

The steady expansion of NATO military partnerships and operations around the world, which now include all populated continents, has no precedent in history. This is the first attempt to establish an international military alliance that is capable of and prepared to intervene in any nation and region it chooses to for the geopolitical benefit of its leading member states.

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Iraq: NATO Forges New Strategic Partnership In Persian Gulf

Stop NATO
June 20, 2012

Iraq: NATO Forges New Strategic Partnership In Persian Gulf
Rick Rozoff

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization announced on June 20 that it has opened what it terms a Transition Cell in Iraq “to smooth the path towards strengthened partnership and cooperation.”

The decision to do so was reached at the May 20-21 summit of the Western military bloc in Chicago.

The initiative follows eight years of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq, established in 2004 under the control of NATO’s top political body, the North Atlantic Council, and in conjunction with the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq. The first commander of both the training mission and the command was David Petraeus, who set up both operations and who subsequently was in charge of U.S. Central Command, then of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan and is now director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The announcement by NATO that it was continuing and deepening military cooperation with the government and military of Iraq came a day after a Saudi deputy foreign minister visited NATO Headquarters to strengthen strategic relations with the alliance and NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged the Persian Gulf military powerhouse join the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative

On June 18 NATO announced that Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow would arrive in Israel for a two-day visit to meet with senior government officials and on June 20 leave for Jordan to meet with Prince Faisal bin Hussein, Prime Minister Al-Tarawnah and Chief of Defense Staff General Al-Zaben and deliver a keynote address at a conference titled “NATO in the new global security era.”

Israel and Jordan are members of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue military partnership along with Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, with Libya slated to be the next addition.

Ahead of the Chicago summit NATO disclosed a new, geographically unlimited, category of military cooperation it calls partners across the globe, and identified its first eight members as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

In March Mongolia, bordering Russia to its north and China to its south, was the first nation to be granted another new NATO partnership, the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme.

On June 20 NATO announced that within months Iraq’s Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme will be finalized.

Last October, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq stated American military trainers, as many as 5,000, might be allowed to remain in his country under the auspices of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq, but NATO’s insistence on immunity from prosecution for its personnel led to the mission being terminated on December 31.

Nevertheless, the U.S.-dominated military organization trained over 5,000 Iraqi officers and soldiers and more than 11,000 security personnel, members of the Iraqi Federal Police and Oil Police.

The NATO Training Mission-Iraq conducted English language courses in Iraq and training courses for senior officers at the Iraqi Defence University for Military Studies and the Iraqi War College as well as abroad at the NATO Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway.

Two years ago American Lieutenant General Michael Barbero was quoted on the NATO Training Mission-Iraq website stating: “NATO advisors and mentors are shaping the future leadership of the Iraqi Army, at all levels, from the Basic Officer Commissioning Course, to the Joint Staff and Command College, the Iraqi War College, and the Iraqi National Defence College.”

If the West can’t control how Iraqis vote and thus their government, NATO can leave behind a foreign-trained officer corps as a Trojan horse for use as needed in a country flanked by Syria in the west and Iran in the east.

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Interview: Why Does U.S. Provoke Russia?

June 20, 2012 2 comments

Voice of Russia
June 20, 2012

Why does US provoke Russia?
John Robles
Recorded on June 16, 2012

AUDIO: Download

Recent statements by Hillary Clinton regarding Syria and the Russian Federation are a provocation or not?

Hello, this is John Robles. You are listening to an interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager and the owner of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a regular contributor to the Voice of Russia.

I’d like to talk to you about the recent statements by Hillary Clinton regarding Syria and the Russian Federation and the seeming provocation by the U.S.

You are referring of course to the incident earlier this week when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of sending helicopter gunships to Syria, more or less in her words for the express and exclusive intent of murdering Syrian civilians. You know an absurd contention but a very dangerous provocation.

Why do you think the U.S. is set on, it seems to me, provoking Russia?

You’re using the right word. These are actions that usually, ordinarily rather, are employed against a nation with which the U.S. is at loggerheads and is considering potential hostile actions against. This is wild rhetoric, it’s reckless, it’s unjustified of course and it’s not even so much evocative of the Cold War period; in many ways it is even worse than some of what we heard during even the most stressful years of the Cold War.

Why is the U.S. taunting Russia, why is it challenging it, why is it attempting to discredit and humiliate it? I think I am using the right verbs. I can only say that Russia, by standing its ground and maintaining its position on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations and continuing to oppose unilateral and lawless intervention, military intervention in the first place, into the internal affairs of sovereign nations, is an obstacle to U.S. plans for extending its military and political influence globally and to affect in the specific case of Syria and other nations so-called regime change to bring about a geopolitical configuration more favorable to the United States. Russia is standing on the way of that, then, has to be condemned and excoriated by the United States in an effort to win international support against Russia. And any fabrication, any exaggeration, any outright lie that serves that purpose, will be something that U.S.  government officials will not hesitate to employ.

What kind of things are they saying in the U.S. press about Russia right now?

We are seeing the gutter journalism mill churned up of course. There was an article in the Los Angeles Times yesterday by a regular contributor that has a statement to the effect that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Syria in supporting tyranny and dictatorship and so forth are in his genes, that is presumably that as a Russian he is genetically programmed to support genocide and dictatorship and so forth.

This was in the U.S. press?

This was in the Los Angeles Times, one of the major dailies in the United States. And the fact that filth like this can be published quite openly, and uncontested evidently, is something that truthfully I don’t recall during the Cold War where the U.S. government and its obedient mass media at least attempted to draw a distinction between, let’s say, the Soviet government and the people of the Soviet Union. Now, evidently the actions of the Russian government are attributed to some genetic deficiency within the Russian people. This is horrific, it’s almost evocative of the Hitler period.

Hillary Clinton, as she decided to make some serious anti-Russian remarks during a press conference at the Brookings Institute, you wrote something about the fact that in the background there was an Israeli flag. Do you think it was done on purpose and how was it played out in the Arab countries?

These are both very penetrating questions, so I’ll attempt to answer them. She was speaking at the Brookings Institution, which has given the Barack Obama administration amongst other personnel, on leave from the Brookings Institution, Dr. Susan Rice, who is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Ivo Daalder who is the  U.S. ambassador to NATO and other officials, so that is a venue dear to the likes of Hillary Clinton but she was speaking with Israeli President Shimon Peres and that was the occasion presumably for the Israeli flag being in the background, though I didn’t see an American flag.

She was sitting down when she made the wild accusation that Russia was sending helicopter gunships to be used against Syrian civilians, because that’s what she stated, and in the meantime incidentally waving her arm in the air and almost shaking her fist, I guess for rhetorical effect. The irony or the fact that anyone watching that on Youtube throughout the world and particularly in the Arab world watching her make one of her more provocative statements to date in relation to Russia as she is all but draped in the Israeli flag would certainly send a message other than what she intended I suppose, unless it was intended as you imply. And I certainly can’t answer that.

But we do have to recall that her comment is not an isolated one. It was backed up by her spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, spokesman for the State Department, former U.S. ambassador to NATO incidentally. It was backed up by Jay Carney, White House spokesman, and others who have immediately afterwards made comparable statements indicting Russia for an event that as we now know never occurred.

Every few years there seems to be an intensification of the Russia-baiting initiative. It’s generally stirred up the press in the United States and perhaps even more so in Britain. There have been recent articles in the Daily Telegraph, there have been some in recent months in the Guardian, including by Simon Tisdall, who’s their deputy editor, and it’s the worst sort of anti-Russian vitriol that, again, I have seen since the Cold War and perhaps worse than anything I saw during that period, and it is clear that the U.S. wants to complete its transformation of the Middle East as they would perhaps refer to as. That is, the overthrow of secular, non-monarchical governments in Arab countries in favor of the U.S.’s dearest military client in the world right now – Saudi Arabia – with whom it signed a $60 billion arms deal late last year as your listeners will recall, which by my calculations is probably the largest bilateral military weapons package in
 human history, and the fact that the democracy-loving and freedom-promoting and so forth United States (those are all in italics, ironic italics) is siding with the likes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and other monarchic, theocratic regimes in the Persian Gulf and working hand-in-glove with them, much as the United States and Saudi Arabia did against Afghanistan starting since 1978, when the Saudis provided the funds and not a few fighters for the Mujahideen war and the United States provided weapons and advisers.

And we seem to see a resumption of that bilateral strategic, or geostrategic, alliance between United States and Saudi Arabia. Russia stands in the way. First of all, Russia’s government is very principled is demanding adherence to international law, to particularly non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign nations as we’ve talked about, and the United States is the opposite. They feel emboldened to, feel driven by, I would add, the need to interfere in and topple the governments of any number of countries in the world, and because these two nations, Russia and the United States, are so fundamentally opposed on that key principle of international relations, then the United States has to isolate, has to discredit and has to politically if not otherwise crush Russia in order to have its position become the dominant one, one that is uncontested.

Thank you.

You were listening to the interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager and the owner of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a regular contributor to the Voice of Russia.

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Saudi Arabia: Persian Gulf Of Strategic Interest To NATO

June 20, 2012 2 comments

Stop NATO
June 19, 2012

Saudi Arabia: Persian Gulf Of Strategic Interest To NATO
Rick Rozoff

On June 18 Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Nizar Madani at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

The head of the Western military alliance extended an invitation to the Persian Gulf kingdom to join NATO’s partnership program in the region, stating “Saudi Arabia is a key player in the region and NATO would welcome the opportunity to engage the Kingdom’s government as a partner in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.”

The latter was launched in 2004 during the NATO summit in the Turkish city which gave the partnership its name, part of a series of sweeping measures that also saw the largest-ever one-time expansion of NATO membership – the absorption of seven new nations in Eastern Europe, including the first former Yugoslav and first three former Soviet republics – as well as committing the bloc to upgrading its other Middle Eastern military partnership program, the Mediterranean Dialogue (whose members are Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia), to that of the Partnership for Peace, which was used to elevate NATO’s 12 new post-Cold War members to their current status.

The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) is aimed at the West’s political and military partners in the Persian Gulf, the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. All but Oman and Saudi Arabia have joined the ICI.

Over the past six years NATO naval groups have visited Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Leading NATO officials have paid visits to and the bloc has held conferences in ICI member states.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan, and Qatar and the United Arab Emirates supplied warplanes for NATO’s six-month air campaign against Libya last year.

Now, with the U.S. and its Western allies refocusing on the Persian Gulf and the threat of Western military action against Syria and Iran mounting, it is clearly NATO’s intention to recruit Saudi Arabia for the Persian Gulf partnership.

The Saudi diplomat, in addition to meeting with NATO chief Rasmussen, also met with the bloc’s deputy secretary general, the North Atlantic Council (which consists of the permanent representatives – ambassadors – of its 28 member states) and other alliance officials “who provided him with an overview of NATO’s outreach and cooperation programmes with partner countries in the Mediterranean and in the Gulf region.” That is, with the seven Mediterranean Dialogue and four Istanbul Cooperation Initiative members. (To date. Libya will be the next member of the first, with Syria and Lebanon to follow if the West succeeds in overthrowing the government of Syria. Iraq and Yemen are prospective members of the second.)

As the NATO website wrote concerning the visit of the Saudi official, “For NATO, the security of its partners in the Gulf is a key strategic interest to the Alliance.”

Precisely how strategically important the Persian Gulf is to NATO and its leading member, the U.S., and in part why it is so was indicated on June 14 when Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro gave a briefing via teleconference on Global Economic Statecraft Day in which he demonstrated what the State Department in large measure exists for: To drum up business for American arms manufacturers.

His comments included:

“Global Economic Statecraft Day is a global event that we’re holding to highlight America’s commitment to put strengthening American jobs at the center of our foreign policy…Our work in the Political-Military Bureau, to expand security cooperation with our allies and partners, is critical to America’s national security and economic prosperity. And it is also an important part of the State Department’s economic statecraft efforts…[It is] the Secretary of State that is given the authority to oversee and authorize all arms sales in order to ensure they advance U.S. foreign policy.”

He also boasted:

“Today, I can confirm that this is already a record-breaking year for foreign military sales, which are government-to-government sales. We have already surpassed $50 billion in sales in Fiscal Year 2012. This represents at least a $20 billion increase over Fiscal Year 2011, and we still have more than a quarter of the fiscal year left.

“To put this in context, Fiscal Year 2011 was a record-setting year at just over 30 billion. This fiscal year will be at least 70 percent greater than Fiscal Year 2011…”

Sixty percent of the arms sales abroad so far this fiscal year resulted from a $30 billion weapons contract with Saudi Arabia signed last December for 84 F-15 fighter jets and assorted weaponry. Which is part of a $67 billion deal struck with the Saudis in 2010 for the multirole warplanes, 2,000-pound bunker-busting bombs, 72 Black Hawk and 70 Apache Longbow attack helicopters, Patriot Advanced Capability-2 and other missiles, and warships. The largest bilateral arms transaction in history.

And that in turn is part of an $123 billion arms package with Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates announced in the same year. The “Iranian threat” may be the most lucrative public relations scheme ever devised.

Last December 25 the U.S. signed a deal to sell 96 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor missiles to the United Arab Emirates, the first THAAD missiles to be deployed outside the U.S. It was also announced last year that the United Arab Emirates will become the first Arab state to open an embassy at NATO Headquarters.

On June 11 the U.S. and Turkey began the second round of this year’s Anatolian Eagle air combat exercises in the second country, whose purpose is, in the words of the Pentagon’s press service, “to conduct a variety of air missions to include interdiction, attack, air superiority, defense suppression, airlift, air refueling and reconnaissance.”

The joint U.S.-Turkey Anatolian Eagle-2012/1 was held in March. The ongoing Anatolian Eagle-2012/2 also includes the participation of NATO and warplanes from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Pakistan and Italy.

A U.S. Air Force press report, not mentioning Saudi Arabia’s involvement, offered this description of the exercise:

“The Blue Force, consisting of the United States, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Turkey and NATO, will perfect their large force employment skills against the Red Force of F-16s, F-4s and F-5s piloted by Turkish pilots.”

The same source quoted a U.S. Air Force official as contending, “If there’s ever another (Operation) Allied Force, these are the people we’re going to fight with side by side.”   

There can be little doubt about who the victims of the next Allied Force, the name of NATO’s 78-day air war against Yugoslavia 13 years ago, would be in the current geopolitical context. Turkey borders Syria and Iran, which are the two main impediments to Turkey and Saudi Arabia further expanding their influence in the Middle East.

Late last month the two nations, both invested in overthrowing secular, republican Arab governments from Libya to Syria and beyond, signed a military training agreement in Riyadh. The pact provides for training Saudi soldiers in Turkish (NATO standard) military schools for participation in joint military operations.

In initiating her campaign against Russia and China over Syria in February, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invoked the Arab Spring and the Arab Awakening (the capital letters are hers): “They must understand they are setting themselves against the aspirations not only of the Syrian people but of the entire Arab Spring, the Arab Awakening.”

What in fact she and her Western counterparts are promoting in the Arab world from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf is a lethal mixture of militarism, monarchism and theocracy.

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U.S. Implementing Afghanistan And Kosovo Models For Syria

Stop NATO
June 18, 2012

U.S. Implementing Afghanistan, Kosovo Models For Syria
Rick Rozoff

In a feature entitled The ‘Kosovo Road’ to Syria in The Gulf Today, a website based in the United Arab Emirates, author Hichem Karoui succeeded in identifying the template being employed by the U.S. to effect the overthrow of the Syrian government through the time-tested combination of supporting armed insurgents on the ground while plotting a concomitant air war.

The two go hand-in-hand and the first is the necessary precondition for implementing the other.

The writer also detailed the precise models being used: Those in Afghanistan from 1978-1992 and in the Serbian province of Kosovo in 1999.

Karoui toed the line of his state’s government, that of Qatar, which is arming and in other manners assisting the so-called Free Syrian Army in its armed uprising against the Syrian government, in no way questioning the basic assumption of Gulf states elites and their Western allies that President Bashar Assad must be forced out of office and be replaced by a regime supported by the Gulf monarchies and NATO powers.

However, he let several important cats out of the bag in his brief feature.

For example, he mentioned meeting with Burhan Ghalioun, until June 10 the president of the opposition Syrian National Council, in the Qatari capital Doha a few days earlier. Karoui asked Ghalioun, a professor of sociology at the Sorbonne in Paris, “whether it is true that there is a scenario resembling the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan: funds from the Arabs, and weapons from the USA and its allies for the forces resisting Assad and his Russian allies?”

His interlocutor responded with an evasive and in fact non sequitur statement, but the question was sufficient on its own merits as it contained within itself the only possible answer: The U.S. and its chief allies in the Arab world, the hereditary leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman) are replicating the joint strategy used against the government of Afghanistan and its Soviet allies in the last quarter of the 20th century.

The Gulf monarchies, sheikhdoms and emirates are supplying the funds as well as many of the arms and recruiting foreign religious extremists as fighters; the U.S. and its NATO allies are preparing to arm anti-government forces with more advanced weaponry and train and advise them with Western special forces personnel.

As Pakistan was used as the base of operations for attacks inside Afghanistan from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, so now Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq are used for the same purpose vis-a-vis Syria.

Now that the term civil war has been used by Western and United Nations officials, a threshold has been crossed wherein the U.S. and NATO can claim to be intervening in an armed conflict between warring parties as it did in Bosnia in 1995 and in Kosovo in 1999. As an alleged disinterested third party, even as a “peacekeeping” force.

In fact, the author also stated:

“We have seen cases where wars and regime change are conducted as undercover operations, sometimes with the full knowledge of powerful Congressmen. This may happen again, not to mention the Kosovo crisis when Nato launched a military intervention against Russia’s strongest objections…”

He recalled that former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson recently asserted that Washington should openly enter the fray in Syria and that NATO should consider arming and training the rebels, citing the discredited canard of Russia supplying the government with attack helicopters as the impetus to do so.

Richardson told Fox News’ Juan Williams, “If the Russians get in there, and there’s evidence of that, I think that would be the defining step to move forward with arming the rebels.”

Karoui also reminded his readers that the U.S. Senate’s roving war-inciting trio of John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham visited the border of Turkey and Syria in April and met with the Free Syrian Army’s General Mustafa al-Sheikh and Colonel Riad al-Asaad (the ranks they formerly held in the Syrian armed forces), with McCain issuing the following alarmist and inflammatory comment:

“Make no mistake. The situation in Syria is an armed conflict. This is a war…”

The disinformation concerning Russian helicopters, first voiced by Secretary of State Hillary on June 12 and immediately parroted by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland (an American ambassador to NATO in the George W. Bush administration), also serves as the pretext for the U.S. and NATO to push for the enforcement of a no-fly zone and the provision of ground-to-air missiles to the Free Syrian Army, reminiscent of Washington supplying Stinger missiles to the Pakistan-based Afghan mujahidin in the 1980s.

Whether or not American government officials pretend to believe their casus belli, that Russian helicopter gunships necessitate direct involvement in the name of protecting civilians, supplying the means to shoot them down is an additional provocation toward Russia, already at loggerheads with the U.S. over the latter’s interceptor missile system deployments on and near its western and southern borders.

The implementation of a no-fly zone over parts or the entirety of Syria by the U.S. and its NATO allies and Gulf partners would have to occur without a United Nations mandate, as any effort to authorize it in the Security Council would be blocked by Russia and China. Hence the reference to the 1999 Kosovo precedent. A more recent example exists as well. Last year the U.S., NATO and its Gulf partners Qatar and the United Arab Emirates exploited language contained in UN Resolution 1973 “to establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians” to wage an unrelenting six-month air war against the government of the country with over 26,000 air missions and almost 10,000 strike sorties in addition to as many as 150 cruise missile attacks.

The Kosovo model pertains to another component of Western plots against Syria. In late April Syrian opposition figures led by Ammar Abdulhamid, who has lived in Washington, D.C. since 2005 and is a former visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, left the American capital for the capital of Kosovo, Pristina, where they consulted with former members of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army on whose behalf the U.S. and NATO bombed the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for 78 days in 1999.

Abdulhamid told the Associated Press:

“We are here to learn. Kosovo has gone through an experience that I think will be very useful to us in terms of how the different armed groups that formed the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) organized themselves.”

That he and his fellow anti-government leaders made such a trip with so explicit a purpose without the express consent of – without the visit being arranged by – the White House and State Department is inconceivable.

The pattern of Washington working in unison with multinational, cross-border armed extremists – with, if the word has any meaning, terrorists – has now been revealed as a global phenomenon.

While working with the Afghan mujahidin operating from within Pakistan 30 years ago, the U.S. and its Arab allies particularly favored what were arguably the two most ruthless leaders, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, whose respective groups – the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin and the Haqqani network – are currently fighting against their erstwhile American paymasters and arms suppliers. In fact the above organizations represent two-thirds of the groups the U.S. and NATO state they are waging the over decade-long war in Afghanistan against.

The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency also assisted foreign, primarily Arab, fighters in Pakistan engaged in the earlier Afghan war, including Osama bin Laden and his Maktab al-Khidamat as well as a Libyan named Abdelhakim Belhadj. The latter followed the traditional route through Saudi Arabia to Pakistan for the U.S. proxy war with the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Later he returned to his homeland where he founded the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group of which he was the designated emir.

During last year’s air war against Libya conducted by the U.S. and NATO, Belhadj was the chief military commander of the Western-supported rebels and until recently the commander of the Tripoli Military Council.

Last November the Arabic-language press reported that 600 Libyan fighters formerly under his command entered through Turkey to Syria to fight against the government.

The U.S. continues to employ the services of Saudi-backed armed Wahhabi extremists as it did in South Asia starting over 30 years ago. Today the target is Syria. Tomorrow it will be another nation whose government is marked by Washington for regime change.

In most cosmogonies order emerges from chaos. The U.S. and its allies are frantically attempting to reverse the causality.

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Libya: New AFRICOM And NATO Beachhead In Africa

June 16, 2012 2 comments

Stop NATO
June 16, 2012

Libya: New AFRICOM And NATO Beachhead In Africa
Rick Rozoff

On June 15 the news agency of the U.S. Defense Department, American Forces Press Service, ran a story on commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Army General Carter Ham’s testimony before the House Armed Services Committee four months before in which he which averred that last year’s war against Libya “imparted important lessons” for the Pentagon’s newest regional military command.

Operation Odyssey Dawn, as the first twelve days (March 19-31) of the naval blockade and air attacks against the North African nation of slightly more than six million people was codenamed, was AFRICOM’s first operation – its first war – before the North Atlantic Treaty Organization took control with its six-month Operation Unified Protector.

Testifying with General Ham was Admiral James Stavridis, jointly commander of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

AFRICOM was created by EUCOM under the tutelage of dual EUCOM and NATO top commanders Generals James Jones and Bantz John Craddock in the years before achieving full operational capability – that is, being launched as an independent unified combatant command – on October 1, 2008. In the year preceding that, during its October 1, 2007-September 30, 2008 initial operational capability, it was subordinated to EUCOM. Almost all of Africa’s now 54 countries (with South Sudan becoming an independent nation last year) were in EUCOM’s area of responsibility and all but Egypt (still covered under U.S. Central Command) are now in AFRICOM’s. As such, AFRICOM encompasses more nations than any other Pentagon regional command and all but one nation in a continent that is the world’s second-most populous, with Africa’s population having surpassed one billion last year.

The war against Libya was the inauguration of AFRICOM as an active military force capable of waging large-scale combat operations, as it was NATO’s first war in Africa, building on a strategy first unveiled in the massive Steadfast Jaguar war games in Cape Verde in 2006 to launch the global NATO Response Force.

During his congressional testimony, AFRICOM chief Ham applauded new military-to-military relations with the barely functioning government of Libya, which was bombed into power by NATO warplanes and U.S. Tomahawk cruise and Hellfire missiles, specifying the activation of an Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli that, according to the Pentagon press service, “can help coordinate security assistance, international military education and training and other security cooperation.”

The same source reported that “Ham said military operations in Libya drove home the point that all U.S. combatant commands including Africom must be capable of operating across the full spectrum of conflict,” and quoted him directly as pledging:

“It is probably not going to be very often where Africa Command goes to the more kinetic, the more offensive operations in Africa. But nonetheless, we have to be ready to do that if the president requires that of us.”

As he already has. U.S. Army Africa commander Major General David Hogg recently disclosed that the Army will begin the deployment of over 3,000 troops to Africa beginning next year, complementing special forces operations in Central Africa, a counterinsurgency campaign in Mali, involvement in the ongoing war in Somalia (especially from Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti where the U.S. has 2,000-3,000 troops, aircraft and ships), drone missile attacks in Yemen and Somalia directed by U.S. military personnel in Seychelles and Ethiopia and other, more covert, military operations throughout the continent.

Ham also spoke of AFRICOM’s Operation Odyssey Dawn being the model for expanding war-time cooperation with traditional NATO allies to include military partners in the Arab world, which is to say those outside Africa; to wit, the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Last year Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, long-standing U.S. military partners and since 2004 members of NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative program, supplied warplanes under NATO command for the merciless six-month bombardment of Libya.

The AFRICOM commander added that the collaboration between his command and EUCOM was central to the AFRICOM cum NATO war last year, saying, “we could not have responded on the timelines required for operations in Libya had air and maritime forces not been forward-stationed in Europe” and “Operations in Libya have truly brought U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command to a higher level of collaboration.”

Recall that AFRICOM was incubated by EUCOM and that Admiral Stavridis is commander-in-chief of EUCOM and NATO military forces in Europe alike and as such was in charge of Operation Unified Protector from March 23 to October 31 of last year.

Ham also stated that Europe is, “both through NATO and through the European Union,” as paraphrased by American Forces Press Service, “heavily invested in security matters in Africa.” In his own language, “it is our strong relationship and partnership with U.S. European Command that allows us to have access and meaningful dialogue in the planning and coordination of those activities.”

Speaking alongside Ham, Stavridis reinforced the former’s position that AFRICOM and EUCOM remain inextricably linked, as EUCOM supplies AFRICOM with practically all his personnel and equipment (in many cases joint NATO assets) as well as sharing its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany with it.

He mentioned in particular that the two Pentagon commands “shared nautical component commanders” and engaged in unison in “anti-piracy” naval operations in the Mediterranean Sea and off the Horn of Africa as well as in Africa’s oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, though the admiral was discreet enough not to offer the above details.

In addition, he stated:

“We are also exploring ways that we can create efficiencies in intelligence and information sharing. And I believe we essentially share intelligence facilities now, and there may be some ways to do even more of that.”

Earlier this year Stavridis, in speaking of expanding NATO cooperation around the world, including for the first time “exploring possibilities with…India and Brazil,” recommended Libya as a candidate for NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue military partnership, which includes every North African nation except that country – Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria – stating:

“Today, the Mediterranean Dialogue, we’re in the process of talking, for example, with Libya. Already many of the other nations in General Ham’s [AFRICOM’s] region are part of this. The nations around the Mediterranean are natural NATO partners.”

After the murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi last October, Agence France-Presse cited U.S. ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder urging that “Libya could bolster its ties with the transatlantic alliance by joining NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue, a partnership comprising Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania, Jordan and Israel.”

At a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers last December, “several NATO officials and spokespersons expressed interest in Libya joining the Mediterranean Dialogue,” according to a report in the Tripoli Post.

The statement issued by the ministerial included this initiative:

“Significant political developments have taken place this year in North Africa and the Middle East. Against this background and in accordance with our partnership policy, we have agreed to further deepen our political dialogue and practical cooperation with members of the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative…We stand ready to consider, on a case-by-case basis, new requests from countries in these regions, including Libya, for partnership and cooperation with Nato, taking into account that the Mediterranean Dialogue and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative are natural frameworks for such requests.”

U.S. Central Command and NATO are greedily eyeing Syria and Lebanon as their next military client states, as the next Mediterranean Dialogue cohorts after Libya, which will leave the entire Mediterranean region a NATO sea except for Cyprus and Gaza, which will become the final acquisitions.

The absorption of Libya with Syria to follow would be entirely in keeping with the pattern NATO has established of militarily integrating nations it has attacked and brought about “regime change” in over the past seventeen years.

Bosnia is a NATO partner being prepared for the bloc’s Membership Action Plan, the final stage before full membership in the alliance. After the 78-day NATO air war against it in 1999, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia disintegrated into three entities: Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. The last has been referred to by a former Serbian president and prime minister as the world’s first NATO state.

In 2009, only three years after it became independent, NATO offered Montenegro a Membership Action Plan. Serbia was brought into NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in 2006 and hosts a NATO military liaison office. Bosnia and Montenegro are supplying NATO with troops for the war in Afghanistan. Bosnian troops also served under the NATO-supported Multinational Division Central-South in Iraq.

This year NATO announced that Afghanistan and Iraq are members of a new military program, partners across the globe.

Nations bombed and occupied by the Western military organization are tapped for bases and troops to be used in wars against the next victims of aggression.

In regards to Africa, the offensive by the axis of AFRICOM, EUCOM, NATO and the European Union, with assistance from the Arab monarchies, to resubjugate the continent by returning it to the conditions of a century ago is well underway.

Categories: Uncategorized

Pentagon Finishes Contingency Plans For Invasion Of Syria

June 16, 2012 5 comments

RT
June 15, 2012

Pentagon finishes contingency plans for Syria invasion

Officials with the US Department of Defense have confirmed that the Pentagon has finalized procedures that outline how American forces could soon combat the government of war-torn Syria and officially involve itself in that state’s bloody uprising.

After months of rumors suggesting that the US has unofficially made efforts to weaponize rebel forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, officials with the Defense Department tell CNN that the Pentagon has finished drafting blueprints that lay-out just how the US military could aid in ousting the leader with America’s own troops.

In their report, CNN cites Defense Department officials speaking on condition of anonymity; in a separate sit-down however, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey confirms to the outlet that intensifying violence overseas in recent months has prompted the Pentagon to expedite establishing a role for US forces.

The violence “gives us all pause that have been in Iraq and seen how these issues become sectarian and then they become civil wars and then they become very difficult to resolve,” Dempsey tells CNN this week.

“There is a sense that if the sectarian violence in Syria grows, it could be worse than what we saw in Iraq,” he adds.

Although the issue of involving US forces in the war against Assad’s regime has been on the table since the beginning of the uprising, authorities in Washington — off the record — have all but officially thrown their hat in the ring in regards to offering assistance. RT reported earlier this week that intelligence forces have revealed to Israel’s Debka news agency that the US was believed to be readying the establishing of a no-fly zone in Syria, and last month discussed murmurings that suggested US President Barack Obama had quietly approved a shipment of anti-tank weapons to Syrian rebels.

CNN’s report confirms that the military has indeed drafted instructions that lay-out the implementation of the no-fly zone. Additionally, officials say that a large number of US troops could soon be installed overseas to aid in the war.

As early as March of this year, lawmakers including John McCain (R-Arizona) began rallying together to ask Congress to consider authorizing strikes on Assad. Without the permission of the United Nations, though, the US has been hesitant to offer any formal assistance.

“NATO took military action to save Kosovo in 1999 without formal UN authorization. There is no reason why the Arab League, or NATO, or a leading coalition within the Friends of Syria contact group, or all of them speaking in unison, could not provide a similar international mandate for military measures to save Syria today,” Sen. McCain told Capitol Hill constituents earlier this year.

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U.S. Exploits Syrian Situation For Showdown With Russia

June 15, 2012 5 comments

Stop NATO
June 14, 2012

U.S. Exploits Syrian Situation For Showdown With Russia
Rick Rozoff

On June 12 what passes for the U.S.’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, further escalated tensions with Russia in an appearance with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Brookings Institution, a think tank that has supplied the Barack Obama administration with many of its key foreign policy personnel.

With an Israeli flag behind her and waving her right hand in the air, she vociferated:

“We have confronted the Russians about stopping their continued arms shipments to Syria. They have, from time to time, said that we shouldn’t worry – everything they are shipping is unrelated to their (the Syrian government’s) actions internally. That’s patently untrue.

“And we are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”

Russian officials promptly denounced the charge as the crude fabrication and cruder provocation it was, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov remonstrating:

“We are not delivering to Syria, or anywhere else, items that could be used against peaceful demonstrators. In this we differ from the United States, which regularly delivers riot control equipment to the region, including a recent delivery to a Persian Gulf country. But for some reason the Americans consider this to be fine.”

Clinton has been steadily raising the level of anti-Russian invective, vilification and intimidation in recent months.

Last December she denounced the country’s parliamentary elections of that month as being “neither free nor fair,” stating:

“Russian voters deserve a full investigation of all credible reports of electoral fraud and manipulation, and we hope in particular that the Russian authorities will take action.”

In February she commented on the double veto by Russia and China in the United Nations Security Council over Syria in the following choice American-style diplomatese at a so-called Friends of Syria conference in Tunisia:

“It’s quite distressing to see two permanent members of the Security Council using their veto while people are being murdered – women, children, brave young men – houses are being destroyed.

“It is just despicable and I ask whose side are they on? They are clearly not on the side of the Syrian people.”

Her characterization of Russia’s and China’s second joint veto over attempted moves against the Syrian government by the U.S., its NATO allies and their coalition of Arab monarchy partners (Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco. Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) as despicable echoed that of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice earlier in that month:

“The fact that Russia and China chose to align themselves with a dictator who is on his last legs rather than the people of Syria, rather than the people of the Middle East, rather than the principled views of the rest of the international community, was indeed disgusting and shameful and I think that over time it is a decision they’ll come to regret when there is a democratic Syria that won’t forget this action.”

Despicable, disgusting and shameful are typical entries in the lexicon employed by the international relations corps of the world’s sole military superpower. (The term embraced by President Obama in his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.) And indicative of the level of its diplomacy and its attitude toward other, even major, nations.

In the same address in Tunisia in February, Clinton bluntly called for a military coup d’etat in Damascus in these words:

“To those Syrians who still support Assad, especially members of the Syrian military: understand that this regime has no future. The longer you carry out its campaign of violence, the more it will stain your honor. But if you refuse to take part in attacks on your fellow citizens, your countrymen will hail you as heroes.”

Before she steps down as secretary of state Clinton may well establish a record for demanding foreign heads of state abdicate power – or face the fate of those who don’t do so at the snap of her fingers – adding Syria’s Bashar Assad to Ivory Coast’s President Laurent Gbagbo, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and, practically speaking, Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko last year. 

There are fewer and fewer governments in the world unwilling to do Washington’s bidding as votes in the United Nations Security Council and Human Rights Council on Syria this year demonstrate. In fact Russia, China, Iran, Belarus, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela and at times Sudan are all that remain of nations with an independent foreign policy orientation.

Among that shrinking list Russia alone has rough strategic – nuclear – parity with the U.S. and as such is the true last barrier to the U.S. drive for global domination.

The Syrian crisis has dragged on for over fifteen months and has been exploited by the U.S. and its – particularly NATO – allies to isolate, humiliate and confront Russia in the first case and China in the second. Having to various degrees backed Russia down over Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya in recent years, Washington is now mounting a full frontal attack designed to effect not a retreat but a rout.

To believe for a moment that the military superpower that in recent years has laid waste to the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and is conducting lawless and murderous drone missile attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia is in any manner motivated by alleged humanitarian concerns in Syria is either to engage in deliriously wishful thinking or surrender to outright delusion.

On June 9 Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov provided a reality test for, an information antidote to the Western human rights argument:

“[I]n order to justify a foreign intervention they keep talking about the refugees from Syria. However, nobody talks about refugees inside Syria itself.

“This is similar to the former Yugoslavia. Does anybody think about the refugees from Serbia and Slovenia? [He may have intended Croatia with the latter reference.]

“According to some estimates, there are about a million refugees from Iraq and half a million Palestinians in Syria, and I don’t think people talk much about that.”

While in Beijing for the twelfth annual heads of state summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the beginning of the month, the Russian foreign minister emphasized an effective substitute to the West’s past 21 years of rampant military aggression, threats, bullying and arrogance in stating that “there is no alternative to the enlargement of the SCO, an interest in which is growing steadily inside and outside of the region.” 

The six members of the SCO are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. At the latest summit Afghanistan joined India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as an observer nation, Turkey joined Belarus and Sri Lanka as a dialogue partner and the president of Turkmenistan delivered a speech. Collectively, the above nations account for well over half the world’s population, three members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and four nuclear powers and are the nucleus of a genuine new 21st century international political and economic approach and structure.

Unless a peaceful, cooperative and multipolar model based on the above and its underlying philosophy emerges soon, the ineluctable destiny the world faces is that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned of on May 17:

“The introduction of all sorts of collective sanctions bypassing international institutions does not improve the situation in the world while reckless military operations in foreign states usually end up with radicals coming to power.

“At some point such actions, which undermine state sovereignty, may well end in a full-blown regional war and even – I’m not trying to spook anyone – the use of nuclear weapons.”

In intensifying its progressively more dangerous confrontation with the world’s other major nuclear power by threatening it over Syria and expelling it from the Arab world and the Mediterranean while surrounding it with NATO partnerships and a global interceptor missile system, Washington is pushing the world closer to just such a – the ultimate – nightmare scenario.

A wounded beast is often the most vicious and a dying empire doesn’t hesitate to destroy a world it cannot dominate.

Categories: Uncategorized

Russia Prepared To Respond To U.S.-NATO Interceptor Missile System

June 14, 2012 2 comments

Russian Information Agency Novosti
June 14, 2012

Putin: Russia Ready to Respond to U.S. Missile Defense

KORENOVSK (Krasnodar Territory: Russia has every possibility to provide proper response to the projected deployment of a U.S. missile shield in Europe, though Moscow would like to see the U.S. plans revised, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

“We should look forward and give response [to these plans] in a timely manner,” Putin told servicemen at a Russian air base.

“Of course, our partners should better not do this [implement their missile shield plans] as this move would drive our response,” he added.

The president stressed that regardless to the rhetoric western politicians use to describe the shield deployment plans, “this remains a part of the arms race.”

“We have every possibility to provide a proper response,” he said.

In liaison with this, Putin stressed the importance of timely implementation of state defense orders. “We must implement state defense orders strictly on time, with the necessary quality and at reasonable prices. If we do it, there will be no particular threat to us.”

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RT
June 14, 2012

Russia ready for arms race, prefers to avoid it – Putin

While Russia has every capability to adequately respond to the deployment of the US missile defense system in Europe, Moscow would prefer Washington’s plans to be reviewed, says President Vladimir Putin.

No matter what terms the American side uses, the missile defense shield “is still an element of an arms race,” the Russian leader pointed out.

“We should look into the future and respond in a timely manner (to the advancement of these plans),” Putin said. “Certainly, it would be better for our partners not to do it, because this will evoke our response,” he noted, adding that Russia has “every possibility” of providing it.

He named government defense contracts among priorities in that respect.

“We must meet our government defense targets exactly on time, with due quality and at acceptable prices,” the president stressed, as cited by Interfax. “If we do, there will be no major threat against us.”

The statements were made during Putin’s meeting with servicemen from the 393rd air base of the Russian Air Force in the Krasnodar Region.

Earlier in June, during a trip to Paris, Putin reiterated Moscow’s stance on the European missile defense plans, saying that it needs legally-binding guarantees that the system would not be directed against Russia.

“Statements like ‘Don’t be afraid’ and ‘We promise that nothing will happen’ are clearly insufficient in the modern world. This is childish. We need guarantees and serious agreements in the security sphere,” he told reporters.

Categories: Uncategorized

Syria: NATO Plans New Sykes-Picot, Middle East Chaos

Global Times
June 14, 2012

No repeat of Sykes-Picot in Mideast chaos
By M.D. Nalapat

On May 16, 1916, in the middle of World War I, Paris and London approved a secret agreement to dismember the Ottoman Empire and divide the Middle East between themselves.

The Sykes-Picot agreement set new boundaries for many countries in the region, and began a period of direct control of the Middle East that the West has sought to perpetuate to the present.

Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US and Iraq’s former colonial master, the UK, NATO has been transparent in its desire to once again exercise direct control over the countries in the region. The few regimes that are opposed to NATO hegemony are being faced with a concerted effort by NATO and its regional backers to overthrow them.

After Iraq, it was the turn of Libya, followed by Syria. Next will be Iran. I believe the casualties in Libya were much higher than the official figures claimed by the coalition. Libya has become a madhouse of tribal and religious conflicts, and a country where competing mafias have sliced up the country, united only by their subservience to the commercial interests of their creator and benefactor, NATO.

Even the so-called peace mission to Syria has as its deputy head a diplomat from France, the main player in the 2011 regime change in Tripoli and a country that is actively pressing for military intervention in Syria. Only UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with his complete confidence in NATO member states, believes that Jean-Marie Guehenno will play a “neutral” role in Syria.

NATO is also encouraging Turkey to believe that it can regain the status it enjoyed during the Ottoman Empire, thereby provoking Ankara into a hyper-active stance in support of NATO’s regime change operations.

As for Qatar and Saudi Arabia, they are so blinded by their hatred for the anti-monarchist and Shia regime of Bashar al-Assad that they are willing to join hands with NATO in destabilizing a fellow Arab government, oblivious to the fact that someday, they themselves could get exposed to the same medicine.

Unlike Libya, Syria is not in an isolated corner. An intensification of the NATO-sponsored civil war in that country, which is pitting Salafists and Wahhabis against Shia, Druze, moderate Sunnis and Christians, would set off sectarian unrest in the entire region.

If this has not happened so far, the credit must go to Russia and China, which have thus far succeeded in blocking NATO from direct military intervention. The alliance needs to know that 2012 is not 1916, and that their ongoing efforts at repeating the Sykes-Picot agreement will lead to disaster.

The author is director and professor of the School of Geopolitics at Manipal University in India.

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Global Times
June 14, 2012

Who brought Syria to brink of civil war?

UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous claimed Tuesday that Syria is now in “a full-scale civil war.” It is the first time the UN has made such a grave assessment of the country’s situation.

Civil war is usually a result of military confrontation between forces with matching combat abilities and bases. In this sense, it is a bit early to call the current situation in Syria a full-scale civil war, as opposition forces cannot compete with the government army in terms of strength and bases at the moment.

But the Syrian conflict is spiraling out of control, and sliding toward an all out civil war. This is the tragedy of Syria. The current upheaval started with small-scale clashes. The Assad regime, under external pressure, has pledged comprehensive reform, including amending the constitution and adopting more democratic steps. But the West, seeking to oust Assad, turned a blind eye to the changes. The peace of the country and security of its 20 million people are at stake in this gamble by the West.

Not all Syrian people are against Assad, who still claims the support of at least half of the population. The political will of this country is being forced to change. An opposition force is being fostered and armed, putting Syria onto a bloody course. The Assad government has its share of the blame, but the process is being promoted by the West.

The Assad regime has already changed under the new constitution. But the real reason for the West seeking to end his rule is not about democracy, but weakening Iran and Moscow’s influence in the Arab world. If the current chaos continues, Assad may very likely be overthrown. But how many more people will be killed? And are they aware they are actually victims of a geopolitical game that has nothing to do with democracy?

China is not interested in sustaining Assad’s rule, but we support the Syrian people in choosing their own fate. We urge the parties involved to negotiate for a solution to end the bloody confrontation early. But the principle has been abandoned. Now the Assad regime and the Western-backed opposition are close to a showdown.

Annan’s reconciliation plan and the chance for peace have been wasted. But we still advocate political talks. Even though the appeal sounds weak, it is better than supporting killing. The escalation of the Syrian tragedy is a crucial lesson to China and Russia. They have to avoid the tragedy being repeated in Central Asia and regions that concern them.

Syria’s fate may have already been sealed, as it is a small country struggling with big powers and facing a divided domestic political landscape. But since its special geopolitical position will not be changed with this round of military actions, it will still be grilled further.

Categories: Uncategorized

Russia Rejects U.S. Charges, Accuses U.S. Of Arming Syrian Rebels

June 13, 2012 3 comments

Russian Information Agency Novosti
June 13, 2012

Russia Rejects U.S. Allegations on Arms Deliveries to Syria

Tehran/Moscow: Russia dismissed on Wednesday claims by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that it was selling attack helicopters to Syria and accused the United States of arming rebels fighting against the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We are completing right now the implementation of contracts that were signed and paid for a long time ago,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks in the Iranian capital of Tehran. “All these contracts concern exclusively anti-aircraft defense.”

“We are not delivering to Syria, or anywhere else, items that could be used against peaceful demonstrators,” Lavrov went on. “In this we differ from the United States, which regularly delivers riot control equipment to the region, including a recent delivery to a Persian Gulf country [Bahrain]. But for some reason the Americans consider this to be fine.”

And Lavrov, speaking on Iranian state television, also said the United States was “providing arms and weapons to the Syrian opposition that can be used in fighting against the Damascus government.”

Russia’s top diplomat’s comments came a day after Clinton told a forum in Washington that Moscow’s repeated assurances that the arms it supplies to Syria could not be used to attack protesters in the Middle East country were “patently untrue.”

“We are concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria,” she added, without giving further details.

Clinton also warned that such supplies would “escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”

“We know that the Assad regime is using helicopter gunships against their own people,” Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby said later. He also said, however, that he had no information on a new shipment of attack helicopters from Russia to Syria.

Syria is one of Russia’s major weapons clients, and Moscow has opposed proposals for an arms embargo on Damascus, saying this would give rebel forces an unfair advantage in the conflict.

Russia – along with China – has also twice vetoed UN resolutions against Damascus over what it says is a pro-rebel bias. Moscow has, however, fully backed UN envoy Kofi Annan’s faltering peace plan for Syria.

And Lavrov repeated again on Wednesday Moscow’s assertion that its stance was not based on support for Assad, who rules Russia’s sole remaining ally in the Arab world.

“Our position is not based on support for Bashar al-Assad or anyone else,” he said. “We do not want to see Syria disintegrate.”

Russian military experts suggested on Tuesday that Moscow may be repairing earlier-supplied helicopters for Syria, rather than providing Damascus with new models.

“There were large-scale deliveries of attack helicopters to Syria in the Soviet era,” said Andrei Frolov, editor of the Arms Exports research journal. “The last deliveries of Russian helicopters took place at the start of the 1990s.”

“There is no information about new contracts for the delivery of attack helicopters,” he went on. “This might be a case of the repair or possible modernization of earlier delivered machines.”

The editor of the Moscow Defense journal, Mikhail Barabanov, said the helicopters possibly being repaired in Russia might be Soviet-era “Mi-24 or Mi-17” models.

Clinton was answering a question on the Pentagon’s purchase of Russian helicopters for the Afghan military ahead of a pull-out by U.S. troops.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta earlier this week calling Rosoboronexport “an enabler of mass murder in Syria” and called for sanctions against the company.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said Washington “understood” Cornyn’s concerns, but said the helicopters involved were the best option to allow Afghan forces to “take on their own fights inside their own country.”

The UN says at least 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011, but is unable to update its figures. Syrian activists say the true number of those killed is at least 13,000.

But Syria hit out on Wednesday at comments by U.N.’s peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, who said the crisis in the country had now descended into “civil war.”

The Syria Foreign Ministry said in a statement that its forces were fighting armed groups responsible for “killings, kidnappings and other terrorist acts.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Syria Targeted By U.S. Advocates Of Unipolar Global Order

June 13, 2012 5 comments

Global Times
June 13, 2012

Syria targeted by US advocates of unipolar global order
By Clifford A. Kiracofe*

Washington’s regime change policy in Syria is about the world order. While human rights and democracy are featured in the propaganda mix, the real issue turns on the future of the international system and the role of international law.

The Obama administration, just as the Bush administration before it, mistakenly seeks through geopolitical measures to enforce a US-led unipolar world and to delay the emergence of a multipolar world.

In the Middle East, many Washington politicians and policymakers see Israel as the key US strategic ally. As the US pivots to the Asia-Pacific, they want Israel’s regional position strengthened and its enemies, such as Syria and Iran, weakened.

US general and former head of NATO command, Europe, Wesley Clark revealed in 2007 the game plan of the neoconservative network around then vice president Dick Cheney which played the key role in the Iran and Afghan wars of the Bush administration.

In a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Clark said that in the wake of the 9/11 attack, he learned from Pentagon sources that the Middle East game plan for the future would be regime change in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.

It should come as no surprise that Washington calls for regime change in Syria. Despite a difference in administrations, the underlying interventionist policy shows continuity. This is explained by the political influence of the pro-Israel lobby and neoconservative policy network, the Christian fundamentalists, and the human rights and democracy activists.

While their ultimate agendas may differ, these three influential pressure groups have a common foreign policy direction: military intervention to support regime change in the Middle East and elsewhere. These pressure groups called for the Iraq and Afghan wars and have since called for military intervention against Syria and Iran.

Regime change policy requires a parallel policy to undermine international law, international institutions such as the UN, and the traditional legal principle of state sovereignty.

Within traditional international law, the principle of the sovereignty of states, and the concomitant illegality of intervention into the internal affairs of states, was put forward as a foundation of the European states system established in 1648 at the Peace of Westphalia. In following centuries, these principles received general international acceptance.

During the Kosovo crisis in 1999, however, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a significant attack on international law and state sovereignty in a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago. Blair said that military intervention should be used to solve human rights issues.

Blair’s doctrine of military interventionism with state sovereignty as an anachronism was well received by human rights and democracy activists in the US.

Indeed, the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations have all been in step with the Blair doctrine. In recent years, this policy concept has emerged as the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” doctrine.

In support of the R2P doctrine, the Obama administration recently made a significant bureaucratic change to promote interventionism as a tool of US foreign policy. The White House established an Atrocities Prevention Board which reports to the president.

Irish-born Samantha Power, a close Obama confidante and human rights activist, is director of the new board which will advise on when, where, and how to intervene in support of human rights.

Predictably, killings in Syria, including the Houla massacre, are being cited as the atrocity which should trigger military intervention. Some US officials, such as Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN and an ally of Power on human rights issues, call for countries to go outside the UN process and independently intervene with military force in Syria.

Such an extremist position reflects the increasing influence of US policy circles who wish to undermine international law and launch military interventions in support of their unipolar world project. Human rights and democracy promotion provide convenient cover for the main strategic objective of hegemony.

For many around the world, however, movement toward a progressive multipolar world under traditional principles of international law cannot come soon enough.

*The author is a professor at the Virginia Military Institute.

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Pentagon’s Last Frontier: Battle-Hardened Troops Headed To Africa

June 12, 2012 2 comments

Stop NATO
June 12, 2012

Pentagon’s Last Frontier: Battle-Hardened Troops Headed To Africa
Rick Rozoff

As the U.S. begins to wind down more than ten consecutive years of combat, mainly counterinsurgency, operations in what has variously been labeled the Broader, Greater and New Middle East, war-tested troops are being prepared for redeployment to Africa and Latin (largely South) America.

Last September President Barack Obama hailed the five million U.S. soldiers that have served in the so-called global war on terror, what he called the 9/11 generation, in the preceding decade.

American commanders issue regular statements that war-time experience in Afghanistan and Iraq has trained the armed forces for new operations in other parts of the world: Africa, Latin America, those parts of the Middle East so far not undermined and attacked, the Balkans-Black Sea-Caucasus arc and the Asia-Pacific region.

On June 8 the Gannett newspaper chain’s Army Times cited the commander of U.S. Army Africa, Major General David Hogg, disclosing that a brigade-size force of U.S. troops – 3,000 “and likely more” – will begin regular deployments to the African continent beginning next year.

As a component of U.S. Army Africa’s “regionally aligned force concept,” the American military personnel will concentrate on training the armed forces of U.S. Africa Command’s new military allies – which have grown to include all 54 African nations except for Eritrea, Sudan and Zimbabwe after the overthrow of the governments of Ivory Coast and Libya last year – and, in Pentagonese, to advise, assist, partner, enable and mentor in counterinsurgency campaigns like those currently underway in Mali, Somalia and Central Africa.

As Africa is (along with South America) alone in not yet being the site of extensive and sustained U.S. military deployments, according to Hogg “As far as our mission goes, it’s uncharted territory”; in the words of Army Times, Africa is “the Army’s last frontier.”

The latter source stated the initial 3,000-troop-plus initiative is “a pilot program that assigns brigades on a rotational basis to regions around the globe.”

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is a unified combatant command whose respective components are U.S. Army Africa (based in Vicenza, Italy), U.S. Naval Forces Africa (Naples, Italy), U.S. Air Forces Africa (Ramstein Air Base, Germany), U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa and U.S. Special Operations Command Africa (the last two at the Kelley Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany where AFRICOM headquarters is located).

It has taken over regular U.S. military training and other exercises in Africa like Operation Flintlock, Africa Endeavor, Natural Fire and African Lion. This year’s Flintlock, one of fourteen major AFRICOM exercises scheduled for 2012, was canceled because of the coup in Mali.

In addition, over the past decade the Pentagon has maintained a multi-service (Army, Marine, Air Force and Navy) detachment of as many 3,000 service members, along with armored vehicles, aircraft and drones, at Camp Lemonnier in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti where AFRICOM’s Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa is based.

The U.S. military also has training centers and forward, logistics, drone and other bases and camps in Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and elsewhere.

Five years ago U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa launched the Africa Partnership Station program which in the interim has brought U.S. warships to every African coastal country except for those in North Africa (the province of the Naples, Italy-based U.S. Sixth Fleet), Ivory Coast (which since the “regime change” of last year is now a candidate for inclusion), Somalia (because of the ongoing armed conflict there), Eritrea (considered to be governed by a “rogue regime”) and Madagascar (due to the last three years’ political instability). Naval forces from Washington’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies are integrated into the initiative.

This March the U.S. Air Forces Africa’s complementary African Partnership Flight was inaugurated during an exercise in Ghana.

Last year the Obama administration announced an initial deployment of 100 special forces troops to Uganda, Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan for counterinsurgency operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army. The number of troops and the range and nature of missions will undoubtedly widen in the future.

As the Pentagon’s main expeditionary branch, the U.S. Marine Corps has been especially active in Africa in recent months.

Last month Associated Press reported that “drawing on lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan,” U.S. Marines joined American military contractors at a remote base in Uganda to train local soldiers in combat skills, including house-to-house fighting, under the auspices of the State Department’s Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program (which “includes marksmanship, urban warfare and explosives handling”) with a budget of $3.8 million this year.

U.S.-based Military Professional Resources Inc. is under contract to run the program at the Ugandan base, which also includes the participation of British and French military personnel. According to the report, the private contractors “all are ex-military and most have had experience in either Iraq or Afghanistan.”

The training is to prepare Ugandan troops for fighting in Somalia, where thousands of Ugandan and Burundian troops have been airlifted by NATO since 2010.

The Marines are assigned to the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force, which was established in October of last year, is based at the Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily and has been deployed to Uganda and Burundi for the Somali mission.

The commander of AFRICOM, General Carter Ham, was quoted in a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force press release as stating:

“One of our primary foci is support of African nations who are willing and able to provide forces to the African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM], and other peacekeeping operations. In support of the State Department’s Global Peace Operations Initiatives and the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance programs, we provide military mentors to support pre-deployment training. We work extensively with the nations of Uganda and Burundi as they provide the majority of forces to AMISOM to date.”

The U.S. Marine Corps website reported that the unit’s African deployment — which “could become more commonplace as troop levels in Afghanistan drop in line with an approaching 2014 combat mission end date” – is part of a broader redeployment of Marines abroad:

“Already, a separate Marine Air Ground Task Force is planned for the Asia-Pacific region with troops basing in Darwin, Australia. The Black Sea Rotational Force first stood up in 2010 and is tasked with similar regional security partnership missions with southern and central European countries.”

Seventy-seven U.S. Marines are currently in Mozambique training troops from the host country as part of an Africa Partnership Station mission.

In April 1,200 U.S. Marines led the annual bilateral African Lion exercise in Morocco.

When AFRICOM achieved full operational capability on October 1, 2008 it became the first U.S. overseas regional military command established after the Cold War (since U.S. Central Command was created in 1983).

Washington, in its plan to achieve military presence throughout and superiority over the rest of the world, reserved Africa for last. Now its hour, too, has arrived.

Categories: Uncategorized

India Eschews Linchpin Role in U.S. Strategy to ‘Rebalance’ Asia

June 12, 2012 2 comments

Global Times
June 12, 2012

India eschews linchpin role in US strategy to ‘rebalance’ Asia
By Shastri Ramachandaran

The India-US Strategic Dialogue begins in Washington today, but the road to the meeting hasn’t been easy.

In January, when the Obama administration came out with its ambition of a military “pivot” to Asia, it caused confusion and unease in the region. Earlier this month, speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, which was attended by most Asian defense ministers, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta eschewed the term “pivot” and referred to a “rebalancing” toward Asia.

That cleared the confusion, but added anxiety to the unease when Panetta unveiled a US plan to boost its military presence in Asia with 60 percent of the US warships to be deployed in the Pacific.

Although Panetta said that the renewed US interest in the Asia-Pacific region was not aimed at China, “few in the audience said they believed it,” according to a recent report in the New York Times.

The stepped-up military emphasis, the Times report observed, “appears intended to force a confrontation with China, a situation feared by many countries in the region, all of which enjoy strong trade ties with China.”

Panetta, who was scheduled to visit India three days later on June 5, said his visit to New Delhi would focus on “building a strong security relationship with the country I believe will play a decisive role in shaping the security and prosperity of the 21st century.”

Asian capitals, particularly Beijing and New Delhi, and Washington were agog with speculation that, at last, India would be forced to show its hand. Many expected India to proclaim itself a strategic ally of the US. Others felt that India would make it plain that there is no basis for a strategic alliance regardless of the all-round, including defense, cooperation with the US.

Although China was not alone in being wary about the US boosting its military presence in Asia, it had reasons to be irritated with Panetta stirring up feeling against China during his eight-day tour of Asia.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did the same in 2010, when she landed in Hanoi and, more recently, when she visited Myanmar.

India is very much interested in US military technology and, therefore, keen to upscale defense cooperation. Therefore, when India did not come out cheering the new US Asia strategy and Panetta’s pitch in Singapore, it was assumed that India’s restraint was to avoid raising China’s hackles.

But when Panetta spoke in Delhi, that assumption was proved wrong. Worse for Washington was New Delhi pointedly, but politely, asserting its strategic autonomy and aversion to being taken for granted as a US ally.

For this, the US has itself and Panetta’s overblown rhetoric to blame. By describing India as the “linchpin” in the US strategy of “rebalancing” toward Asia-Pacific, Panetta forced his hosts to clarify that India could never be locked in as an integral part of someone else’s strategy.

At that time, with the third India-US Strategic Dialogue set to begin a week later, Washington expected India to not only march in step, but also bask in the glory of being appreciated for it.

As Panetta said in New Delhi on June 6 “America is at a turning point. After a decade of war, we are developing a new defense strategy – a central feature of which is ‘rebalancing’ toward the Asia-Pacific region. […] Cooperation with India is a linchpin in this strategy.”

The same day, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang assured the India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna of working together to maintain strategic communication, improve mutual political trust and appropriately address disputes and safeguard the peace and tranquillity in border areas to advance bilateral relationship to a new phase.

Krishna’s fulsome reciprocation underscored Sino-Indian relations as “one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world.”

The Indian media’s focus on both the US and China wooing India with such fervor could not have been flattering to Washington and Panetta’s high-power delegation.

Besides, Li and Krishna putting Panetta in the shade, both Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A.K. Antony conveyed their reservations on the “rebalancing” strategy to the visiting US defense secretary.

In fact, reports are that Manmohan Singh sent a firm and unmistakable message to the US that Washington needs to recalibrate its new defense strategy.

Antony, too, impressed on Panetta that the US needed to recalibrate or rethink its defense policy. He underscored the need “to strengthen the multilateral security architecture” in the Asia Pacific and that it must “move at a pace comfortable to all countries concerned.”

With everything spelled out in no uncertain terms, Washington should go into this latest meeting after shedding any illusions it still harbors of India being a linchpin in the US strategy to further militarize the Indian Ocean region. China has every reason to be pleased at the outcome, for now.

The author is an independent political and foreign affairs commentator.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Beginning of the End of NATO

June 12, 2012 2 comments

Fellowship of Reconciliation
June 11, 2012

The Beginning of the End of NATO
By Mark Johnson

The Beginning of the End of NATO

It was big enough, the gathering of more than 10,000 anti-war and peace activists on the streets of Chicago, marching toward McCormick Place, led by a squadron of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who would return their service medals by flinging them over the barricades, to mark a further shift in public opinion about the United States longest wars. A clear majority oppose them and want the troops brought home now. We have articulated the moral issues and the moral wrong of warring nations. 

It was big enough, the gathering of police and militia, lining three miles of boulevard and main streets often three deep or deeper, in uniforms of many colors, with batons and shields and masks, on foot, horseback, bicycle (the synchronized bicycle brigades were quite coordinated and lovely), supported by cars and vans and buses, whole flotilla of buses, hovering helicopters, and cameras in the hands of officers, on lamp posts, in the sky to fully frame the State’s fear of resistance. The police came from every State bordering on Illinois and from North Carolina (DNC) and Florida (RNC). The right to assembly, for free speech, and petition of grievances, was asserted and affirmed. It was never in question but it was challenged by the powers that be and they lost.

It was big enough, the some thousand people who gathered over two weekends in two large educational events, the People’s Summit and the Counter-Summit, to hear speakers and conduct workshops, to explore the broad range of impacts of the wars and the long-lingering alliance of NATOnations and the G8 powers on economies, societies, politics, environments, cultures around the world, none of it good. They brought together nurses and doctors, students and teachers, trade-unionists and small business owners, families and children, immigrants and visitors from around the world. Herein lies, for me, the central learning of the nearly nine months of planning that gave birth to this expressed intent to educate and advocate for a different future, a NATO Free Future.

From the beginning it was clear that citizens of the United States were largely ignorant of NATO as anything more than an acronym often associated with war. Unlike so much of the rest of the world, the physical presence and the fiscal impact of an alliance of more than 22 nations globally to advance the imperial agenda of the American Empire (the United States Military Industrial Complex), is a huge blind spot on the intellect and psyche of US voters and tax payers. Except for the daily attrition of dying soldiers on the battlefield and in the dark corners of suicide, we do not see the bloody brutal costs ofNATO. And we do not see the simple straight-forward link between the weight of wars abroad and the burdens of poverty and inequity at home. It will still be a long time, a long haul, before we’ve passed a tipping point of knowledge and action sufficient to end NATO, refocused the agenda of the developed world, and replaced the political and economic actors who profit from the present arrangements and therefore actively resist deep change. But now we have a richer tool box for self-education and for group work at the individual and grassroots level.

The beginning of the end of NATO depends upon our wise use of the resources brought together by a large coalition of organizations and individuals for education and action. Rather than spread the links through the summary above like confetti, I offer this brief catalogue in closing. At one debrief last week we learned that these links have had over 1.5 million discrete visits. So already for every person who came to Chicago to learn and to rally and to march, 100 people have begun to explore the reports of that gathering.  If you start here you will have a sufficient basis for making informed judgments and building grassroots level responses to end our current wars and set us on a new path. I urge you to start today.

The coalition in which FOR was most active was the planning for the Counter-Summit for Peace and Economic Justice was the Network for a NATO Free Future.  At its NATO Free Future website you can find resources gathered in advance of the conference and reports, including videos of plenary and workshops from the conference held at the People’s Church on May 19th and 20th.  http://www.natofreefuture.org/who-we-are/  The speakers list, for example that was collected for events leading up to the conference, remains an excellent resource for planning post-event speaking events as well. http://www.natofreefuture.org/2012/02/speakers-available-for-local-events-on-natog-8/ . The press and conference video tabs at the web site have hours of content and illustrate the global reach of the event.

Early on a Chicago Area Network on the NATO/G8 meetings (CANGATE), served as a local organizing committee for a broad national and international alliance of organizations. They secured the permits required for the events, maintained a constant flow of press activity, and integrated the work of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) and local OCCUPY for planned and spontaneous events through the week leading up to the rally and march. See http://cang8.org/ and particularly the catalogue of press and video at this site http://cang8.org/cang8-in-the-news/ .  The UNACsummary of the People’s Summit, including video of the event can be foundhttp://nepajac.org/Chicagorpt2.html .

From as early as August 2011 FOR joined other faith-based groups in the Chicago area and nationally to seek to frame and give voice to a faith-based critique and call for action by congregations and communities in response to NATO as a continuing injury and insult to all creation and anathema to the spirit. At the Sunday rally in Grant Park at the Petrillo Band shell, before the march to McCormick Place began, Newland Smith of the Interfaith Working Group and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship gave these remarks on our behalf which I will use to close.

NATO INTERFAITH STATEMENT May 20, 2012

Brothers and sisters, I bring greetings from the Interfaith Working Group of CANG8

On April 4, 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech delivered at Riverside Church connected the dots between the War in Vietnam and the War against Poverty.  Forty five years later we are gathered here to tell the leaders of NATO and the G8 that their wars and economic policies are increasingly destructive of the human family as well as destructive of the earth.

In the past decade faith communities have issued urgent calls about the increasingly economic injustice and the militarization of our world. [Two examples:  From the call from the 2004 General Council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, “Covenanting for Justice in the economy and the Earth,” The signs of the times have become more alarming and must be interpreted. The root causes of massive threats to life are above all the product of an unjust economic system defended and protected by political and military might. Economic systems are a matter of life or death.” And] from the United Methodist Church’s 2000 statement, “Economic Justice for a new Millennium,” [Today the world economy continues to change dramatically. The results of rapid consolidation of wealth and power by fewer individuals, corporations, and banks,] the shift in government priorities from social to military expenditures and the growing interconnections between national economies have led to increases in poverty, hunger, and despair in the human family.”  And Brant Rosen, Rabbi of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, in his Sermon for Yom Kippur 2011, “War without end,” said, “Just like all empires, our nation has positioned itself to fight war without end, and like all empires, we’re starting to buckle here at home under the weight of our own power and ambition.” Two days ago during the Counter Summit, three young Afghan Muslim women gave eloquent testimony to the young Afghans who are working for a non-violent presence in a country under NATOmilitary occupation.

[This insane concentration of economic, military and political power is catastrophic for the peoples of the non NATO/G8 countries not to mention the 99 percent.]

So let us this day recommit ourselves to working for a world without militarization and economic injustice. [Let us not forget the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza, to name but some of the people living under occupation. Martin Luther King, Jr. ended that speech at Riverside Church with words that I believe are as true today as they were forty-give years ago as we seek to stand in solidarity with the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan and Gaza, to name but a few of the oppressed peoples of the world, “Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter  – but beautiful struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons [and I add, daughters] of God, and our brothers and sisters wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost?”]

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Welcome to the Balkan Propaganda Machine

June 11, 2012 5 comments

Welcome to the Balkan Propaganda Machine
By David Gibbs

 

Some of the most salient events of the past 20 years were the NATO interventions in the Balkans, notably in Bosnia in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999. These interventions were crucial in reviving the importance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an organization that previously had been seen as a Cold War anachronism, destined to irrelevance. After the Balkan interventions, NATO gained a renewed sense of purpose and prestige. And these interventions gave a whole new rationale for U.S. military action, which is increasingly viewed as a humanitarian enterprise, aimed at stopping ethnic cleansing, atrocities, genocide, crimes against women, and the like. The Balkan interventions laid the political groundwork for later intervention, most recently in Libya.

The Balkan story has nevertheless been distorted in public discussion. Important facts have been suppressed, notably that Western intervention in Yugoslavia was a major cause of the country’s breakup and made possible all the wars that followed. Later rounds of intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo helped intensify the violence and increase the destruction, a point that is well documented even if little known. And contrary to popular belief, the Serbs were not the only ethnic group that contributed to Yugoslavia’s demise.

What I term the “Balkan propaganda machine” comprises academics, journalists, and bloggers who hold tenaciously to a simplified version of the Balkan wars as being caused almost entirely by Serbs; they view the later NATO interventions against the Serbs positively. For these activists, the Balkan conflict has become a great crusade, one that defies rational analysis. Any deviation from the prescribed narrative is considered an act of immorality, deserving of punishment. In addition, this crusade dovetails nicely with a neoconservative political agenda, which celebrates the Balkan interventions as historic achievements for US hegemony.

A key figure in this propaganda effort is Marko Attila Hoare, a reader in history at Kingston University in England and a purported Balkan specialist. His technique is intimidation, a predilection that is shared by a wider community of propagandists with whom he collaborates. Hoare openly boasts that writers who disagree with his positions are “like lambs to the slaughter” who will surely “sacrifice any reputations they might have.” He is not subtle.

My own encounter with Hoare arose from my book First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, published by Vanderbilt University Press in 2009. Clearly, Hoare did not like the book, which was critical of the interventions. On his website, Hoare soon launched a blistering attack against me titled “The Bizarre World of Genocide Denial.”

The characterization of me as a genocide denier was quickly picked up by others on the Internet. An anonymous posting to the Srebrenica Genocide Blog referred to me as “David N. Gibbs, genocide denier.” According to another posting, at the website of the Congress of North American Bosniaks: “Gibbs’ pernicious denial of genocide calls into question not only his academic credibility, but his very qualifications to hold tenure at a university at all. … [Gibbs] has made a deliberate misinterpretation of facts.”

Yet another site, Balkan Witness, placed me on their long list of “war crimes deniers.” Several of these attacks prominently featured my photograph, presumably to ensure that their readers would recognize my face.

When I first saw Hoare’s attack, I was not unduly concerned, since it was written with such sensationalist language and key points used to sustain the attack were clearly false and easily provable as such. I wrote an extended response, in which I documented the falsity of Hoare’s claims, and expected this would end the matter. After all, a purveyor of obvious falsehoods would lose credibility — right? This turned out to be a naïve assumption in the irrational world of Internet chat rooms.

After I replied, Hoare began churning out new attacks against me. He made no serious effort to refute my evidence that his earlier attacks had been false; he simply created more extravagant falsehoods, often presented at great length. One of his reviews began by strongly implying that my book was the equivalent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Nazi propaganda, along with an associated insinuation that I must be an anti-Semite. This was presented without a shred of evidence.

These incendiary references to anti-Semitism connect with the larger attack on me as a supposed genocide denier, and all this rhetoric serves to raise the emotionalism of the controversy — which is presumably Hoare’s overarching intention.

The insinuation that I am somehow an anti-Semite is ironic, given that I am a practicing Jew from a refugee background (my father was born in Berlin). I have no respect for Hoare’s manipulative use of the Holocaust to silence discussion on the Balkans, just as I have no respect for those who use the Holocaust to silence discussion on the Middle East.

In addition, Hoare repeatedly made claims about my writing that had no connection to anything I had actually written, and in several cases were the opposite of my stated views. What I present below about Hoare’s falsifications constitutes the proverbial tip of the iceberg. I could easily have provided more examples. Whether these resulted from incompetence or intentional deception is hard to say.

Particularly troubling was his repeated use of fake quotations from my work. The first example of fakery is a message that Hoare posted to an Internet discussion: “Your [Gibbs’] account of the background to the Srebrenica massacre presents the Muslims/Bosnian army as the ones principally guilty of the atrocities in the region, and of having ‘created the hatred’ there (pp. 153-154).”

Note that he attributes to me the phrase “created the hatred,” which is presented as a direct quote, with quotation marks. In reality, this phrase appears in none of my writings — not on the pages 153-154 that Hoare cites or anywhere else — and the essence of its meaning corresponds to nothing I have ever said. It is a fabrication.

At another point, Hoare attributes to me the phrase “creating the hatred,” again presented as a direct quote. The quote is once again a fabrication. And there is a third fake quote, which appears in the very title of one of Hoare’s attack reviews:“First Check Their Sources 2: The Myth that ‘Most of Bosnia Was Owned by the Serbs Before the War.’”

The first part of the title (“First Check Their Sources”) is a play on words from the title of my book, which is First Do No Harm. The embedded phrase in Hoare’s title (“Most of Bosnia Was Owned…”) is presented as a direct quote, with quotation marks. This quote is another fabrication, which falsifies both the literal wording of my book and also the substance of my stated views.

Over a period of two months, Hoare’s attacks against my work became voluminous. I found that Hoare could attack much faster than I could respond. He had a key advantage: whereas I felt a need to check the facts in my posts, Hoare seemed indifferent to whether his postings were true or false. He repeatedly contradicted himself. In the end, Hoare posted four extended attack reviews on his own website, totaling some 26 single-spaced pages when printed out. In addition, he followed up with numerous additional attacks on me in Internet chat rooms, which sparked yet further attacks by the anonymous posters who frequent such venues.

The tone became venomous, especially among the anonymous posters, some of whom clearly had emotional problems. Several of the posters reminded me of extremist figures I encounter in my home state, which I did not find reassuring. Attacks began appearing all over the Internet, each seeming to be more ludicrous than the last. A review of my book posted to BarnesAndNoble.com stated: “The author is a self-declared supporter of Serbia and Russia. … Gibbs’ friendship with KGB agent and The Guardian writer [name redacted] speak about the author.” In reality, I had never even heard of this person, whose name I have redacted to avoid repeating a slur.

The smears are having some effect. If one performs a Google search of my name, the various attack postings by Hoare and others are among the very first to emerge, and this has remained consistent over a period of many months. Thus, if anyone is interested in searching my work, “David N. Gibbs, genocide denier” is among the first hits.

This is not the first time that smear tactics have been used. If one peruses the various Balkan websites, one finds numerous attacks directed against large numbers of prominent academics, journalists, and public figures.

These smears are not just confined to the Internet. In 2005, The Guardianpublished an attack article on Noam Chomsky, which included a sensational allegation that Chomsky had denied that any massacre had occurred at Srebrenica.The Guardian’s main evidence was that Chomsky had referred to the Srebrenica massacre with quotation marks around the word “massacre.”

In reality, Chomsky had never used scare quotes to describe the Srebrenica massacre, and The Guardian’s allegation to the contrary was false (moreover, Chomsky had never denied that what happened at Srebrenica was a massacre). Because of this and other egregious flaws, The Guardian‘s editors retracted the article from their website and issued an apology. This episode proved a major embarrassment for the newspaper.

Hoare protested the editors’ decision to apologize, and he used extravagant language to make his points: the author of the Guardian attack on Chomsky had been “stabbed in the back” by the editors and subjected to “an unparalleled campaign of vilification.” In addition, Hoare insinuated that the editors were caving in to the “Milosevic lobby,” rather than responding to legitimate complaints about falsification. There was just one nagging problem: Hoare did not dispute that the article contained false information regarding Chomsky’s characterization of the Srebrenica massacre; instead, he dismissed the falsehood as “one small error of detail,” barely worthy of criticism.

This incident illustrates Hoare’s casual attitude regarding the importance of accuracy.

I have filed a complaint against Hoare with his home institution, Kingston University, requesting an apology for the multiple falsehoods in his attacks against me. Kingston’s dean of arts and social sciences, Martin McQuillan, perfunctorily acknowledged receiving my complaint over seven months ago. Apart from this, he has not responded to me.

Dean McQuillan’s failure to respond is curious. Repeatedly making up false statements and then declining to retract them — as Hoare has clearly done — seem like serious academic violations. Note that McQuillan has not denied my claims against Hoare, nor has he defended Hoare in any way; he has simply failed to respond.

Hoare probably feels protected by his association with a larger network of writers who share much of his perspective, especially among the Balkan diaspora in Britain and the U.S. Hoare is a former student of Yale professor Ivo Banac, who later became a minister in the Croatian government. He is also close to Josip Glaurdic, another former student of Banac and an up-and-coming figure among pro-Croatian academics. At various times, Hoare has been active in neoconservative political groups, notably the Henry Jackson Society, as well as the Bosnian Institute. The latter is directed by Hoare’s father (with his mother also listed on the Institute masthead as a consultant). Both organizations have been major sources of interventionist propaganda, influential on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition, Hoare has associated with academics at Oxford and Cambridge — partly through his parents’ Bosnian Institute network. His writing has appeared in David Horowitz’s FrontpageMag.com.

These connections no doubt give Hoare the confidence to undertake his attacks, which have been highly effective in intimidating free discussion.

Consider the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The basic facts of the massacre — and that the Serb forces bear the overwhelming responsibility for perpetrating it — are widely acknowledged. However, there remains debate among legal specialists about whether this massacre should be classed as a genocide or a war crime, with no clear consensus on this question. By frivolously hurling the smear phrase “genocide denier” against critics, Hoare seeks to suppress this debate, in order to preserve a simplified version of the Srebrenica massacre and of the Balkan wars more generally.

And the circumstances that led to the massacre are considerably more complicated than is popularly believed. For example, there is little doubt that the Muslim government of Alija Izetbegović allowed Srebrenica to fall to Serb militias, as part of their policy of encouraging Serb atrocities and thus shocking the Western powers into intervening against the Serbs; in doing this, the government contributed to the massacre that followed. Yet these facts remain suppressed in public discussions of the Bosnia war, which typically celebrate the virtues of the Muslim government. Once again, the intimidation campaigns have obscured vital information.

In a sense, Hoare and his colleagues have no choice but to intimidate. They cannot sustain their claims about the Balkan wars through logical arguments, because the facts do not support their case. Hence, they resort to character assassinations, which serve to distract from the facts and debase public discussion.

The widespread use of character assassination to stifle discussion is not just confined to those who write on Yugoslavia. Indeed, this tactic has become standard practice among neoconservatives generally, a point recently emphasized by Harvard’s Stephen Walt:

U.S. neoconservatives have long demonstrated [that] the best defense is sometimes a good offense. No influential political faction in America is more willing to engage in character assassination and combative politics than they are. … I’m talking about the tendency to accuse those with whom they disagree of being unpatriotic, morally bankrupt, anti-Semitic, or whatever. Their willingness to play hardball intimidates a lot of people, which in turn protects them from a full accounting for their past actions.

The Balkan propaganda machine fits perfectly into this overall pattern. And like the neocons described above, Hoare seems to view himself as above accountability, even for his use of false statements and fake quotations.

I assume Hoare will respond in his usual way, by launching ever more vitriolic attacks against me, along with renewed allegations of genocide denial, insinuations of anti-Semitism, and the like. But before doing this, he might want to explain all the falsehoods that have so marred his previous efforts, as specified in my letter to Kingston University. And perhaps the Kingston administrators can explain whether they have any standards at all with respect to academic fraud.

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Rogue Military Entity: NATO In Libya

June 11, 2012 8 comments

The Hindu
June 11, 2012

When protector turned killer
Vijay Prashad

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The scandal here is that NATO, a military alliance, refuses any civilian oversight of its actions. It operated under a U.N. mandate and yet refuses to allow a U.N. evaluation of its actions. NATO, in other words, operates as a rogue military entity, outside the bounds of the prejudices of democratic society. The various human rights reports simply underlie the necessity of a formal and independent evaluation of NATO’s actions in Libya.

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NATO has consistently blocked any attempt to scrutinise the war crimes it committed during the ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Libya

Back in January Faiz Fathi Jfara of Bani Walid asked a simple question, “I just need an answer from NATO: why did you destroy my home and kill my family?” NATO refuses to answer him.

NATO went to war in Libya to protect civilians through a U.N. mandate (Resolution 1973). Given legitimacy by the U.N. Human Rights Council and by the International Criminal Court, NATO began its ten thousand sorties. It quickly exceeded the U.N. mandate, moving for regime change using immense violence. All attempts to find a peaceful solution were blocked. The African Union’s high-level panel was prevented from entering Libya as the NATO barrage began.

Several influential countries, including Russia and China, have asked for an evaluation of Resolution 1973 since late last year. They want to know if NATO exceeded its mandate.

A report by independent Arab human rights groups in January 2012 and a report by the U.N. Human Rights Council (March 2, 2012) have been largely ignored. Both show that the proposition that Muammar Qadhafi’s forces were conducting genocide was grossly exaggerated, and both called for an open investigation of NATO’s aerial bombardment. The U.N. report found that crimes against humanity and war crimes had been committed by the Qadhafi regime and by the rebels. It also found evidence of potential war crimes by NATO.

The saviours’ kill rate

The second finding is stark. If NATO went into the conflict with its “responsibility to protect” (R2P) civilians, what was the civilian casualty rate as a result of NATO’s bombardment? Would the U.N. Security Council sanction further NATO “humanitarian interventions” if the kill rate from the saviours is higher than or equals that of the violence in the first place?

When the Human Rights Council began its investigations, NATO’s legal adviser Peter Olson wrote a sharp letter to the commission’s chair:

“We would be concerned if ‘NATO incidents’ were included in the commission’s report as on a par with those which the commission may ultimately conclude did violate law or constitute crimes. We note in this regard that the commission’s mandate is to discuss ‘the facts and circumstance of … violations [of law] and … crimes perpetrated.’ We would accordingly request that, in the event the commission elects to include a discussion of NATO actions in Libya, its report clearly state that NATO did not deliberately target civilians and did not commit war crimes in Libya.”

NATO was eager to prejudge the investigation — it would not allow the investigation to take up issues of war crimes by NATO.

On March 25, The New York Times’ C.J. Chivers wrote a strongly worded essay “NATO’s Secrecy Stance,” which revisited a story that Mr. Chivers had written about the August 8, 2011 NATO bombardment of Majer (a village between Misrata and Tripoli). It is clear that at least 34 civilians died in that attack. It is a test case for NATO’s refusal to allow any public scrutiny.

NATO claims that it has already carried out a review of this case. Mr. Chivers is right to note that this raises an issue fundamental to democratic societies, namely, civilian control over the military. If the public and the political authorities are not allowed access to the evidence and provide oversight over the NATO command, the idea of civilian control of the military is violated.

Five days later, The New York Times editorial (“NATO’s Duty”) followed Mr. Chivers, noting that NATO “has shown little interest in investigating credible independent claims of civilian fatalities.” This is strong language from an editorial board that has otherwise been quite comfortable with the idea of NATO’s “humanitarian interventions.”

The next day (March 31), NATO’s spokesperson Oana Langescu responded that NATO has already done its investigation, and if the Libyan authorities decide to open an inquiry then “NATO will cooperate.” There is no indication that the threadbare Libyan government is going to question its saviours. On May 2, the Libyan government passed Law no. 38 which gives blanket amnesty to the rebels. Such a protection implicitly extends to NATO. Seven thousand pro-Qadhafi detainees sit in Libyan prisons. They have not been afforded habeas corpus. Among them is Saif al-Islam. An International Criminal Court warrant languishes. The U.S. war crimes chief, Steven Rapp, joined the Libyans in refusing the ICC request for Qadhafi. “We certainly would like to see the Libyans provide a fair and appropriate justice at the national level,” he said on June 6. When the ICC was created in 1998, both the U.S. and Qadhafi’s Libya opposed it. During the rush to war, the ICC was very useful to build propaganda against the Qadhafi regime. Now it is to be set aside. Libya shows how “human rights” is used as a pretext for war making and is not taken seriously when conflict ends.

Failure to acknowledge

A Human Rights Watch report entitled Unacknowledged Deaths: Civilian Casualties in NATO’s Air Campaign in Libya released on May 14 revisits the theme of an investigation. When HRW was doing its work, it wrote to NATO requesting answers to some of its questions. NATO’s Richard Froh (Deputy Secretary General of Operations) responded on March 1 that NATO had already answered the U.N.’s Commission of Inquiry (which it actually had not) and that HRW should see those “detailed comments to the Commission, which we understand will be published in full as part of that report. We encourage you to consider these comments when drafting your own report.” It was a brush off. Because NATO refused to cooperate, HRW could only look at eight sites (out of ten thousand sorties). From this limited sample, HRW verified the killing of 72 civilians, with half of them under the age of 18. NATO’s silence led HRW to conclude, “NATO has failed to acknowledge these casualties or to examine how and why they occurred.”

The scandal here is that NATO, a military alliance, refuses any civilian oversight of its actions. It operated under a U.N. mandate and yet refuses to allow a U.N. evaluation of its actions. NATO, in other words, operates as a rogue military entity, outside the bounds of the prejudices of democratic society. The various human rights reports simply underlie the necessity of a formal and independent evaluation of NATO’s actions in Libya.

(Vijay Prashad, who teaches at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, is the author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter — out this month from LeftWord Books, Delhi — and a frequent contributor to Frontline.)

Categories: Uncategorized

One Step Away From Cyber Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima

June 11, 2012 2 comments

Russia & India Report
June 8, 2012

One step away from a cyber Pearl Harbor
Andrei Ilyashenko

The world’s most powerful state admitted using cyberweapons

On 1 June, the world woke up to a new era. The world’s most powerful state admitted using cyberweapons. This might be the most important arms news since the first nuclear attack on Hiroshima in the mid-twentieth century or the first ICBM launch.

On that day, The New York Times published a lengthy article, with reference to unnamed sources, discussing U.S. use of cyberweapons to undermine nuclear facilities in Iran. The program of cyber attacks, begun in the Bush administration and code-named Olympic Games, has been accelerated by President Obama. The attack plan became public after the combat malware, which was later given the name Stuxnet, escaped Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility and was sent around the world on the Internet because of a programming error.

Experts tend to disagree as to the scope of the malware’s efficiency; however, it was reported that Stuxnet temporarily disabled nearly 1,000 of the 5,000 centrifuges Iran was using at the time to purify uranium. The U.S. Administration considered this a satisfactory result, because Iran’s nuclear effort was set back by 18 months to two years.

More details of the operation are available in David Sanger’s book “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power,” published on 5 June.

Technically, the United States has already acknowledged developing and using cyberweapons. For instance, in May, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the government services had hacked Al Qaeda’s Web site and made substantial changes to its content. This was the first formal acknowledgement of the U.S. government’s involvement in cyber attacks. However, essentially it was a trick worthy of a rooky hacker.

The article published by The New York Times suggests a totally different level of using computer technologies for military purposes. “It appears to be the first time the United States has repeatedly used cyberweapons to cripple another country’s infrastructure, achieving, with computer code, what until then could be accomplished only by bombing a country or sending in agents to plant explosives.”

The FBI’s investigation into the leak of classified data to The New York Times shows how serious things really are. For their part, some high-ranking republicans led by Senator John McCain accused Obama of deliberately divulging classified information to look stronger during the election campaign. According to McCain, the president “is trying to boost his re-election chances while undermining national security.” The White House has denied McCain’s claims, but not the New York Times revelations.

Incidentally, the U.S. is pondering a new computer security bill, which is necessitated by both real challenges and the fact that key infrastructure facilities in the country are privately-owned, but America’s national security depends on their stable operation. These include power grids, air carriers and, naturally, the New York Stock Exchange.

Former CIA Director and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta once said: “The next Pearl Harbor we confront could very well be a cyber attack.” This is the essence of the problem, not the election maneuvers or classified data leaks. A cyber attack might mean war.

“The United States made a statement not long ago that a cyber attack may be interpreted as an act of war against the U.S., giving sufficient reason to retaliate employing all the means it has,” Gennady Yevstafyev, retired lieutenant general of the Foreign Intelligence Service, said in a comment.

It should be noted that the notions of cyber attack and cyber war are still undefined in international law; they are still in the “grey zone.” “It is very hard to identify the source of a cyber attack, especially if we have a superpower with a huge technological potential and complete superiority over its enemy, which does not have sufficient means to find and identify the source of attacks. This situation is currently made use of by modern aggressors in cyber space,” Yevstafyev says.

In order to prevent tragic outcomes, the expert insists on beginning international discussions in order to come to an agreement on the rules of conduct in cyber space. “The sooner the international community elaborates a strategy and tactics to address these issues, the better, because the things happening now should be regarded as hostilities,” Yevstafyev says.

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Analyst Reveals Scenario For NATO War With Syria And Iran

June 11, 2012 2 comments

Voice of Russia
June 10, 2012

Syrian conflict getting worse
Andrei Smirnov

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“The rebels are hoping to secure Western air support of their armed campaign against the Syrian government. Safe havens would be established, used by the Free Syrian Army as well as fleeing civilians. The Syrian army would have to attack these FSA bases, triggering an opposition appeal to the United Nations. Russia and China, however, would certainly block any intervention motion. NATO would probably intervene on its own, launching a massive air campaign. And once started, this new NATO war would draw in Iran.”

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The Syrian conflict has taken a sharp turn for the worse, with international news agencies reporting the start of serious clashes in the capital Damascus.

According to United Nations observers, armed rebels have been firing rocket-propelled grenades, hitting apartment blocks, a power plant and at least six commuter buses. Government forces have had to use tanks to remove barricades of burning tires from the streets. The latest Damascus clashes are believed to have claimed over 50 civilian lives.

Reports from the opposition say another 35 civilians have died in a government shelling attack on rebel-held neighbourhoods in the city of Homs.

Syria has been ablaze for almost 18 months. The ceasefire effected last April in accordance with Kofi Annan’s settlement plan appears to be unraveling, and UN observers in Syria are powerless to stop this.

The United Nations estimates the fatalities in the Syrian conflict at more than 12,000. Over a quarter million people have fled their homes, and almost a million are in dire need of emergency aid.

Russia and China believe that this conflict must be resolved through a political dialogue between the warring sides. Accordingly, they have been consistently blocking Security Council motions which would pave the way for Libya-style intervention in Syria. Another Libya, however, is exactly what the armed Syrian opposition is holding in its crosshairs.

We hear about this from Russian political analyst Dr Georgi Mirsky:

“The rebels are hoping to secure Western air support of their armed campaign against the Syrian government. Safe havens would be established, used by the Free Syrian Army as well as fleeing civilians. The Syrian army would have to attack these FSA bases, triggering an opposition appeal to the United Nations. Russia and China, however, would certainly block any intervention motion. NATO would probably intervene on its own, launching a massive air campaign. And once started, this new NATO war would draw in Iran.”

In the meantime, the Syrian opposition is doing everything in its power to stir as much instability as possible.

Dr Boris Dolgov is an expert working for the Moscow-based Arab Studies Centre:

“The armed rebels are the main destabilizing force in Syria. During our January visit to that country, we found out that they do not have popular support. The majority of the Syrian people support President Assad and his reforms, which include the adoption of a new constitution and the introduction of multiparty democracy. Importantly, Syria has already held multiparty elections and formed a broad-based government. The Syrian opposition, however, is after toppling the Assad regime. It continues to stubbornly decline any dialogue with it.”

According to Iran’s FARS new agency, the Syrian rebels are going to use chemical munitions smuggled in from Libya. The goal is the same: supplying Western powers with a pretext for military intervention in Syria.

Categories: Uncategorized

China Remains Firm On Syria, Strategic Cooperation With Russia

Global Times
June 11, 2012

China has no reason to abandon Syrian stance

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China and Russia’s strategic position is moving closer as both are independent global strategic powers facing Western-dominated rules being imposed on the world. As long as the broad global strategic environment remains, the two countries will have more strategic cooperation than disagreements.

The Chinese public supports the non-intervention principle, which reflects China’s national interests. It will not help ease the West’s pressure on China even if we curry favor with the West on Syria. China’s rise is the root reason of the West’s suppression. Let’s not be under any illusion – a fawning face will not change China’s strategic relations with the West.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated several days ago that Russia would support Assad’s stepping down if the majority of Syrians requested it. The remarks have been cited by analysts as proof Russia may waver in its stance on Syria. A few pro-Western Chinese also suggested China make adjustments so to avoid being sold out by Russia.

However, Lavrov also reiterated Russia’s opposition against the UNSC passing a resolution supporting military action against Syria. This stance is in tune with China’s. The conclusion that Russia has changed its Syrian stance is very unprofessional.

Russia and China are not against Assad stepping down. What the two countries oppose is external interference in Syria’s political development. Moscow and Beijing support concerned Syrian parties in deciding the fate of Assad and his regime through negotiations.

This stance has been decided by Russian and Chinese national strategic interests and their fundamental diplomatic philosophy. It is not easily subject to change. The two countries may adjust specific policies depending on the circumstances. They both have the willingness and channels of communication for coordinating such an adjustment.

China and Russia’s strategic position is moving closer as both are independent global strategic powers facing Western-dominated rules being imposed on the world. As long as the broad global strategic environment remains, the two countries will have more strategic cooperation than disagreements.

Russia is more clear and resolute in its stance on Syrian affairs, as Moscow has a bigger stake in Syria. China can coordinate with Russia as the two sides share basic principles. This will benefit China-Russia strategic trust and is important for China to win Moscow’s support in issues such as Iran, where China has more interests.

If the Syrian situation worsens, Assad may not be able to avoid being toppled. But China cannot abandon the principle of opposing military intervention now. Even if Assad leaves power, China won’t be embarrassed for sticking to this principle.

Having said that, China should engage the Syrian opposition as the situation develops. It should also support the UN’s efforts to stabilize the Syrian situation. China recognizes Syria’s reality today and will continue to do so in the future. But the reality now is that the Assad government is the largest political force in the country and more than half of the Syrian population supports its existence.

The Chinese public supports the non-intervention principle, which reflects China’s national interests. It will not help ease the West’s pressure on China even if we curry favor with the West on Syria. China’s rise is the root reason of the West’s suppression. Let’s not be under any illusion – a fawning face will not change China’s strategic relations with the West.

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SCO: Focus Of Multi-Polar World Shifting To East

Voice of Russia
June 9, 2012

The number of SCO’s partners growing
Natalya Kovalenko

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The growing number of SCO’s partners has a geopolitical significance, political scientist Stanislav Tarasov believes.

“The focus of the multi-polar world is shifting to the east. The SCO’s expansion is one of the signs of this.”

It is necessary to mention the Declaration on missile defence as one of the important documents adopted at the summit. “Unilateral unrestricted build-up of missile defence by one country or a group of countries is capable of dealing a blow on international security and strategic stability,” the document reads.

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The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) advocates long-lasting peace and prosperity in the region. A declaration on this point was signed by the leaders of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan at the SCO summit which took place in Beijing this week. The members of the organization adopted a package of documents determining the strategy of SCO’s development and its orientation at expanding partnership.

One of the main results of the summit is the expansion of the number of SCO’s observers. Afghanistan has joined Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran in this status. “We always advocated closer cooperation of the Shanghai Six with Afghanistan,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

“We expect that the observer status will encourage our Afghan friends to make an even greater contribution to the development of regional cooperation. The SCO is an open organization advocating the extension of links with multilateral structures and governments. We welcome everyone who strives for cooperation with the SCO.”

Turkey has become SCO’s dialogue partner. Earlier, this status was granted to Belarus and Sri Lanka. The growing number of SCO’s partners has a geopolitical significance, political scientist Stanislav Tarasov believes.

“The focus of the multi-polar world is shifting to the east. The SCO’s expansion is one of the signs of this.”

At the same time, Iran, which is an SCO observer, would like to become a full member but this has not happened yet. There are objective reasons for this, Muratbek Imanaliyev, who was the SCO Secretary General before the latest summit, said in his interview with The Voice of Russia.

“There is a condition in the SCO’s statutory documents that only countries that are not subject to UN sanctions can join the organisation. The UN has imposed sanctions against Iran, but this does not mean that Iran’s application is off the SCO’s agenda for ever.”

SCO leaders expressed grave concern about the situation in Iran. They emphasized that attempts to use force so as to solve the Iranian problem could have unpredictable results. The SCO member-states also severely criticised the situation in Syria. The summit declaration reads that the SCO is against a foreign military operation and forced surrender of power in Syria.

It is necessary to mention the Declaration on missile defence as one of the important documents adopted at the summit. “Unilateral unrestricted build-up of missile defence by one country or a group of countries is capable of dealing a blow on international security and strategic stability,” the document reads. The participants in the summit agreed that if peace and stability in one SCO country were threatened, the other member-states should take political and diplomatic measures to dispel the threat. The delegates confirmed that SCO countries do not participate in unions or alliances aimed against other SCO member-states.

Ex-governor of Russia’s Irkutsk Region (Siberia) Dmitry Mezentsev has been appointed new SCO Secretary General. Prior to this, he was the head of the SCO Business Council for 6 years. Kyrgyzstan has become the new chairman of the organization and the next summit is due to be held in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek in the summer of 2013.

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U.S.-NATO Global Missile Shield Undermines World Strategic Stability

June 10, 2012 1 comment

RT
June 9, 2012

US missile shield may provide ‘false sense of security’
Robert Bridge

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“The European missile defense system is certainly designed not to defend from a mythical missile threat on the part of Iran and North Korea, but from what Western politicians believe could be a possible attack by Russian ballistic missiles. Any NATO military plans classify the Russian nuclear missile potential as posing a threat to the alliance, which envisions certain measures to neutralize (Russia’s nuclear defense forces).”

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The deployment of a global missile defense system by the United States and NATO undermines strategic stability in the world and prompts Moscow to take appropriate steps in response, says a leading Russian engineer.

Yury Zaitsev, an advisor at the Academy of Engineering Sciences, told reporters on Saturday that as long as the Americans continue to pursue a global missile defense system, the idea of strategic stability does not exist.

“While the US is planning to set up a missile defense system without any limitations, you can forget about strategic stability forever,” Zaitsev said. “Russia is going to find itself surrounded by a belt of NATO interceptor missiles along its western borders.”

In light of these developments, the specialist said that Russia’s plans to deploy tactical missile systems near the NATO borders are “absolutely justified.”

“The same thing concerns the creation of other forces and systems capable of destroying or disabling missile defense systems on the territories of neighboring states,” he added.

NATO announced at its Chicago summit in May that an interim European missile defense system is already on line, and that the alliance is determined to proceed with its expansion until it fully realizes the system’s potential.

Meanwhile, at the same time that US and NATO officials declare that the missile defense system is not targeted against Russia, their actual steps are proving the opposite, Zaitsev said.

“The European missile defense system is certainly designed not to defend from a mythical missile threat on the part of Iran and North Korea, but from what Western politicians believe could be a possible attack by Russian ballistic missiles,” he said. “Any NATO military plans classify the Russian nuclear missile potential as posing a threat to the alliance, which envisions certain measures to neutralize (Russia’s nuclear defense forces).”

The Russian specialist said that it is possible that the missile defense system may give some politicians a false sense of security, possibly resulting in potential adversaries “dictating their terms” to Russia.

“No one can guarantee that there will not be politicians with the illusion of a reliable missile shield over their heads and, being sure of their security, wanting to dictate their terms to Russia,” Zaitsev said.
In such a situation, it makes no sense to demand legal guarantees that the system will not be targeted against Russia, he stressed.

“Even if such guarantees are issued, they will only serve to lull Moscow, and then they will retract these guarantees just as easily,” Zaitsev said.

“Suffice it to recall how prominent Western politicians swore that, following Germany’s reunification, NATO would not move eastward even by an inch.”

America’s determination to build a missile defense system in former Warsaw Pact territory represents the main stumbling block in relations between Russia and the US, Zaitsev explained.

He insisted that the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which former US President George W. Bush walked away from in late 2001, maintained strategic global stability precisely because it limited the deployment and modernization of missile defense systems. At the same time, the treaty provided opportunities to negotiate the reduction of strategic offensive weapons.

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Half Of Humanity: SCO Opposes Global Military Interventions

June 9, 2012 1 comment

Xinhua News Agency
June 8, 2012

Commentary: SCO says “no” to interventionism

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The SCO summit marks the first time for the leaders of all SCO member states to stand together and speak with one voice on major international issues. With its growing economic power and unambiguous position, the multinational bloc will definitely become a key force for peace in the world.

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BEIJING: When the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states concluded their latest summit on Thursday, they unanimously rejected military intervention as a way to resolve international hotspot issues.

According to a statement that came after the summit, all SCO member countries oppose military intervention in Syria and reject the idea of a regime change in the country.

The leaders also rejected the idea of using military means to solve the Iranian nuclear dispute, instead choosing to support dialogue and other diplomatic methods.

These heads of state have ample ground to make an appeal for peace and stability and to support their request for the peaceful settlement of these problems.

Across the world, from the Middle East to north Africa, deadly conflicts and terrorist attacks are still resulting in innocent deaths, as many countries in these regions sunk into chaos last year.

Being fully aware that their own countries’ security and stability are closely associated with that of these troubled regions, the SCO leaders decided that peace can only be created through peaceful means.

It is a common experience in human history, both recent or remote, that meeting violence with violence can only beget more loss of life and spark hard-to-heal hatred.

More than a year has passed since NATO air forces began to drop bombs on Libya in order to drive its previous government out of power, but the country is still in chaos.

Additionally, over ten years have passed since the United States and its coalition partners ousted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, a country that shares borders with a number of SCO countries.

Yet as Washington drafts its plan for withdrawal, it seems that few people are optimistic about Afghanistan’s ability to stand on its own after taking its weak security forces and frequent suicide bombings into account.

Therefore, the time has come to say “no” to military intervention, as the painful experiences of the past should not be allowed to repeat themselves.

The SCO summit marks the first time for the leaders of all SCO member states to stand together and speak with one voice on major international issues. With its growing economic power and unambiguous position, the multinational bloc will definitely become a key force for peace in the world.

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Syria: Russia Denounces Foreign Intervention, Western Hypocrisy

RT
June 9, 2012

Annan plan stalled because of those who support intervention, but plan ‘only chance for peace’ – Russian FM

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Lavrov has voiced concern about “the reaction on the part of some foreign players”, who, he said, “support armed groups of the opposition and at the same time demand that the international community take decisive steps to change the regime in Syria.”

The minister said that “in order to justify a foreign intervention they keep talking about the refugees from Syria. However, nobody talks about refugees inside Syria itself.”

“This is similar to the former Yugoslavia. Does anybody think about the refugees from Serbia and Slovenia [Croatia?]?” he enquired.

“According to some estimates, there are about a million refugees from Iraq and half a million Palestinians in Syria, and I don’t think people talk much about that,” Lavrov said.

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External players provoke the opposition in Syria to continue military action; this may lead to a Libyan scenario, the Russian Foreign Minister warned.

The main reason the Annan peace plan is stalling is because those who support external intervention in Syria impede its implementation, said Sergey Lavrov.

Lavrov said the main reason why the Kofi Annan plan is not making progress is that certain parties “don’t like” the idea of the stabilization it would bring “during the initial period. They want the international community to be filled with indignation and start a full-blown intervention in Syria,” he said.

Lavrov has voiced concern about “the reaction on the part of some foreign players”, who, he said, “support armed groups of the opposition and at the same time demand that the international community take decisive steps to change the regime in Syria.”

He reiterated Russia’s position that it will “never agree to sanction the use of force in the UN Security Council”. He said that this would lead “to severe consequences for the entire Middle East region”.

Referring to the UN commissioner, Lavrov then gave some statistics, saying that the number of refugees from Syria currently stands at around 80,000. He stressed that these people all need support.

The minister said that “in order to justify a foreign intervention they keep talking about the refugees from Syria. However, nobody talks about refugees inside Syria itself.”

“This is similar to the former Yugoslavia. Does anybody think about the refugees from Serbia and Slovenia?” he enquired.

The community, he stressed, should think more helping refugees. “According to some estimates, there are about a million refugees from Iraq and half a million Palestinians in Syria, and I don’t think people talk much about that,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov said the Syrian government is responsible for people’s security and human rights, as well as for everything that is going on in the country.

Nevertheless, tragedies like Houla and the other numerous violent acts are a result of confrontation, which is increasingly actively supported by external forces. He also expressed concern over Russian experts coming under fire in Damascus on Saturday.

The Foreign Minister also touched on media coverage of the events in Syria, saying that “blocking Syrian government and private channels from broadcasting” does not “square well with freedom of speech.” He recalled the airstrikes on TV centers in Serbia’s Belgrade and Libya’s Tripoli. “We should all be on the same page regarding freedom of speech and how it should be respected by the international community to ensure access to information – no matter what kind of information it is,” Lavrov said.

Conference in Moscow to help implement Annan’s plan

Moscow has proposed an international conference on the Syrian crisis with all key international players taking part.

Russia has expressed hope that all the parties that can influence the issue will take part, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following a UN session where the Secretary General announced that Syrian president Bashar al Assad had lost his legitimacy.

“The conference should come under the UN umbrella,” said Lavrov, adding that the global discussion would not be a one-off event.

With some western countries calling to ban Iran from the international conference on Syria, Lavrov said to dismiss Tehran “would be thoughtless at the very least”.

Russia is seriously concerned about the increasing activity of international terrorists and extremist elements, Lavrov said.

The FM listed Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, the League of Arab States, the EU and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation among the “integral parts” to the process.

Also on Thursday Lavrov told journalists he guarantees that “there’ll be no mandate by the UN Security Council for a foreign intervention.”

The Russian Foreign Minister is currently speaking on Syria. More details are to follow.

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Interview: Rebel Groups In Syria Backed By NATO?

Voice of Russia
June 9, 2012

 

Rebel groups in Syria backed by NATO?
John Robles

 

Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager and the owner of the STOP NATO website and mailing list, and a regular contributor to the Voice of Russia.

Recorded on June 1, 2012
AUDIO: Download

 

Correction: For Operation Phoenix read Operation Cyclone

 

What correlations do you see between the situation going on in Syria and Kosovo? What do you know about rebel groups in Syria being funded and backed by NATO?

I mean, we all have heard, and it’s a matter of substantiating it, but I think we have enough proof already to establish the fact that…The parallel you Kosovo you draw is remarkable given what occurred early yesterday, where NATO troops and armored personnel carriers – vehicles – faced off against ethnic protesters in the north of Kosovo, firing live ammunition at them as well as deploying helicopters, gunships and so forth and what is currently going on in Syria.

As a matter of fact, the parallels are so striking at times as to suggest that the Western governments, those backing the so-called Free Syrian Army armed rebel forces inside Syria are playing from the same script as they did in Yugoslavia 13 years ago in support of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army there.

And there are direct connections between the two of them. For example, last month, a self-proclaimed rebel leader or opposition leader, Syrian-born, one Ammar Abdulhamid, who has been living in Washington and was a former visiting fellow, visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution until recently, came to the United States as head of a delegation of opposition figures from Syria to visit with U.S. officials, government officials. And immediately afterwards he flew into Pristine, the capital of Kosovo, to meet with leaders of the government, who are former KLA fighters, such as Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and others, and quite bluntly told Associated Press in May that he was studying the Kosovo example to be replicated in Syria, even stating that he was particularly impressed with how the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army was able to integrate various armed groups – for which we can understand in many instances nothing more than criminal underworld militias – into a fighting force, which was then coordinated with the United States and NATO during the bombing war against Yugoslavia in 1999.

So we have a direct connection there. And we can also base what’s going on in Syria with reports that fighters in Libya have joined rebel groups inside Syria, so that we have an international network of extremist fighters that first earned their stripes, if you will, in Afghanistan during the CIA Operation Cyclone against the government of Afghanistan and their Soviet backers in the 1980s.

And I am thinking particularly of the commander of the Libyan rebel forces last year, Abdelhakim Belhadj, who had fought in Afghanistan with the Afghan mujahideen, who was rumored to have met with and collaborated with Mullah Omar of al-Qaeda, was subsequently interned as part of the extraordinary rendition program by the United States and returned to Libya, where he was a head of something called the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and then became the leader, became the top commander, of the Libyan rebels last year. And that forces loyal to him that had fought under his command are now in Syria is I think is a distinct possibility. So, we see the connections emerging, really of 30 years of the United States…

So, you are saying he was recruited and now his people are in Syria doing the U.S. government’s bidding?

There have been reports for several months that Libyan fighters, those who fought on behalf of the Transitional National Council and in coordination with both the NATO bombing campaign against Libya for six months last year but also with reports of British, French, Italian and other special operations troops as well as those from Arab Gulf states like Qatar and United Arab Emirates fighting in Libya, this would seem to be a model that can be exported to other countries and there have certainly been reports that Libyan and other foreign fighters have crossed the borders from Iraq and Lebanon into Syria to fight with the so-called Free Syrian Army.

Now with this massacre in Houla, the UN’s own observer said it was not the fault of Syrian forces. Despite that Hillary Clinton has been making comments and it seems like the U.S. in continuing with their own narrative.

I mean you’re correct that the West, the U.S. in the first instance, and its Western European allies as well as Australia and Japan, which for all intents and purposes are a part of the West, have withdrawn their ambassadors or have expelled, rather, the Syrian ambassadors from their capitals.

And this is a concentrated effort to present the tragedy in Houla – and it is a tragedy that over 100 human lives were lost – as not only the work of the Syrian government, exclusively the work of the Syrian government, whereas Russia, China, Cuba and other countries have urged a methodical, dispassionate investigation into the events, as terrible as they are, to determine the actual cause and the actual perpetrators. So, nobody has a definitive answer to what occurred in Houla and until there is one…This is again evocative of what the U.S. did with Yugoslavia in January of 1999 around the so-called Racak massacre in Kosovo where the bodies of several dozen young ethnic Albanian men were identified as having been massacred by Serbian and Yugoslav security forces even though there are contradictory reports and the Serbian government’s position was these were KLA fighters who had been killed in action.

And the Russian Foreign Ministry a few weeks ago, perhaps less than that, maybe two and a half weeks ago, when the report surfaced of the Syrian delegation going to Kosovo that we spoke about a moment ago, denounced that, saying that in fact what the delegation was going there for was to study the example or receive actual military training for their fighters inside Kosovo with even the observation that some of the topographical similarities between the two countries would make Kosovo an ideal place to study the sort of guerrilla warfare that the KLA conducted in conjunction with NATO during the bombing of Yugoslavia 13 years ago.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that the Houla massacre would not have been possible if the perpetrators had not received arms and funding from abroad, meaning from the West.

That’s self-evident. We know the Free Syrian Army, so-called, is harbored, is not only given refuge but presumably training and arms inside Turkey. A report of several months ago in the Daily Telegraph of Britain cited a member of the Syrian opposition boasting of having 15,000 fighters inside Turkey, which is a breach of interstate relations.

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Southeast Asia: U.S. Revives And Expands Cold War Military Alliances Against China

June 9, 2012 1 comment

Stop NATO
June 8, 2012

Southeast Asia: U.S. Revives And Expands Cold War Military Alliances Against China
Rick Rozoff

On May 30 the two officials most in charge of the U.S.’s formidible global military machine, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, visited Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii to launch multi-nation tours of the Asia-Pacific region and formally commence the announced shift of American military concentration and assets to the area.

The two, General Dempsey by way of the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, arrived in Singapore for the eleventh annual Shangri-La Dialogue defense forum, where they met with their counterparts from 26 Asia-Pacific nations. Afterwards each went his own way: Panetta to Vietnam and India, the most significant new U.S. Asian military partners in the entire post-Cold War period, and Dempsey to the Philippines and Thailand, two long-standing military allies.

While in Singapore, Panetta announced that Washington would increase the percentage of U.S. naval forces in the Asia-Pacific – aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, littoral combat ships and submarines – from 50 to 60 percent and strengthen and expand military alliances with nations throughout the region, especially those in Southeast Asia which are embroiled in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea. As General Dempsey put it following the Shangri-La Dialogue, “This means that as the rebalance evolves, we’ll make available our most advanced ships, our fifth-generation aircraft and the very best of our missile defense technology as we work with our partners.”

Defense Secretary Panetta stressed an intensification of military collaboration with the six Asia-Pacific countries with which the U.S. has defense treaties (signed during the height of the Cold War and at the time aimed against China) – Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand – as well as broadening and deepening existing partnerships with nations like Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and India. Panetta additionally spoke of forging military ties with Myanmar, which like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (along with Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam).

Dempsey pursued the same design with fellow military chiefs at the Shangri-La conference.

After leaving Singapore, Panetta arrived at a U.S. ship docked in Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay, a year after the U.S. and Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding to promote military cooperation in five areas and two years after the USS John S. McCain guided missile destroyer visited Da Nang to engage in a joint exercise in the South China Sea. He was the first major American official to visit the former U.S. military base after the end of the Vietnam War.

Following Panetta’s eight-day Asia-Pacific trip to, in the words of the Defense Department’s press service, “promote President Barack Obama’s new ‘pivot to Asia’ in foreign policy,” the Pentagon’s website reported his two main themes to be that “Washington is putting a greater policy emphasis on Asia and the Pacific, as opposed to Europe and the Middle East” and “the United States intends to increase its military activities in that region, with more joint exercises involving more countries, including Australia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, and with more equipment, including at least 40 new ships.”

While the American defense chief was consolidating a strategically important partnership with China’s rival on the western shore of the South China Sea, General Dempsey was on the eastern end, in the Philippines, doing the same with the nation that is most directly at loggerheads with China in the sea at the moment.

Two weeks after the USS Caroline nuclear attack submarine spent a week at the former U.S. naval base in Subic Bay, Dempsey visited the headquarters of the Special Operations Task Force Philippines in Mindanao where as many as 600 American service members are deployed for counterinsurgency operations. Later he met with his Philippine counterpart General Jessie Dellosa in Manila.

During the American military chief’s visit the nation’s foreign secretary, Albert del Rosario, announced that “We can anticipate a greater number of port calls [by U.S. warships]” and asserted “the increased presence of the US is consistent with its strategic guidance for the Asia-Pacific.”

On June 5 the Philippine Star disclosed that “American troops, warships and aircraft can once again use their former naval and air facilities in Subic, Zambales and in Clark Field in Pampanga,” citing Undersecretary for Defense Affairs Honorio Azcueta after he had met with Dempsey. (The U.S. has supplied the Philippines with two warships since last year. In November Philippine Navy Chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama referred to the acquisitions as symbolizing “the revival of the Philippine Navy.”)
 
When asked by a reporter “if American troops as well as their warships and their fighter planes will be allowed access to their former US Naval Base in Subic,” Azcueta confirmed that they would, stating “That’s what we want…increases in exercises and interoperability.”

Like Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay, the Subic naval base and its airfield were used for major operations during the Vietnam War.

As was the U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield 90 miles southeast of Bangkok. After leaving the Philippines, General Dempsey visited Thailand where he met with the country’s defense minister, chief of defense forces and heads of the army, air force and navy.

Among other matters dealt with, Dempsey secured the use of the U-Tapao base for American operations, ostensibly solely humanitarian in nature but, as Xinhua News Agency pointed out, “some skeptics are saying that the naval airfield would eventually be used for military operations.”

The base was used by the U.S. for its war in Vietnam and is currently employed for joint U.S.-Thai Cobra Gold military exercises, the largest U.S.-led multinational military drills in the Asia-Pacific region. This year’s Cobra Gold also included the participation of Indonesian, Japanese, Malaysian, Singaporean and South Korean military forces.

The Pentagon’s news agency paraphrased Dempsey as stating, “Geostrategic location and global commitment, paired with a maturing military and a growing economy, make longtime U.S. ally Thailand an attractive prospect for even greater bilateral cooperation,” and quoted him directly as saying “They’re in an extraordinarily key location.”

The news source described that strategic position as vital in that Thailand borders Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar, “with Vietnam, India and China not much further away” and has “an eastern coastline on the Gulf of Thailand – opening into the South China Sea – and a west coast on the Andaman Sea, also known as the Burma Sea.”

Dempsey announced that the U.S. and Thai militaries “are examining concepts for a center of excellence in Thailand devoted to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief” which “may begin as a bilateral U.S.-Thai effort, or it could involve additional nations from the beginning,” according to the Pentagon’s website.

Panetta’s overture to Myanmar has been mentioned. Discussing the increasingly wider range of new military partnerships in Southeast Asia, particularly the role of the U.S. in upgrading the militaries of its partners, the Pentagon chief stated in Singapore on June 2, “We will encourage that kind of relationship with every nation that we deal with in this region, including Myanmar.”

Until the U.S. successfully courted it last year, Myanmar was one of China’s few dependable allies in Asia.

On June 2 Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen assured Defense Secretary Panetta of his government’s willingness to host four American littoral combat ships as an obligation entailed by the Strategic Framework Agreement signed by Washington and Singapore in 2005. The two defense chiefs also pledged to further implement the agreement and increase the scope of joint military exercises; for example, adding a naval to the existing air force component of annual Commando Sling exercises.

Panetta and his counterpart also discussed using the Murai Urban Training Facility for bilateral exercises involving U.S. Marines and the Singaporean armed forces beginning next year.

Regarding the rotation of U.S. warships to Singapore, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff head Dempsey said that “The littoral combat ships that will soon begin rotational deployment to Singapore are an example of the increased military engagement called for under the U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy.”

The Asian nation rests on the southeastern end of the Strait of Malacca that connects the Indian Ocean with the South China Sea and through which oil flows from the Persian Gulf to the oil-hungry East Asian economies of China, South Korea and Japan. 

By forming military partnerships with the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations the U.S. is building the foundation for an Asian analogue of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As the first has been expanded to enclose, contain and ultimately confront Russia, so the new alliance is intended to achieve the same objective in regard to China.

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Stop NATO Digest: June 2-7

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SCO Wants Nuclear-Free Zone, Opposes Space Weapons, Missile Shield

Xinhua News Agency
June 7, 2012

SCO calls for nuclear-weapon-free zone, space security

BEIJING: Member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) called for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in central Asia in a declaration released after the conclusion of the group’s Beijing summit on Thursday.

The SCO calls on all nuclear weapon states to sign relevant protocols to the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia and take real steps to move forward the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the region, according to the declaration on Building a Region of Lasting Peace and Common Prosperity.

All member states stand for ensuring outer space security, the peaceful use of outer space and the prevention of the weaponization of outer space, said the declaration of the heads of state of the member states of the SCO.

Member states will work to build a peaceful, secure, fair and open information space, on the basis of the principles of respect for state sovereignty and non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, according to the declaration.

The member states oppose using information and telecommunication technologies in a way that “endangers their political, economic and social security” and will work to prevent the Internet from being used to promote terrorism, extremism and separatism, it said.

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Xinhua News Agency
June 7, 2012

Unrestrained increasing missile defense harms int’l security: SCO heads of state

BEIJING: The heads of state of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) uphold that the strengthening of missile defense by a country or group of countries in a unilateral and unrestrained manner in disregard of the legitimate interests of other countries will cause harm to international security and global strategic stability.

The leaders expressed the agreement in a press communique released here Thursday after the SCO summit in Beijing.

The communique said the relevant issue “must be addressed by all countries concerned through political and diplomatic efforts.”

The two-day summit groups Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tajikistan’s President Emomalii Rahmon and Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov.

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U.S. Seeks Militarization of Strategic Asian Waterways

Global Research TV
June 7. 2012

US Seeks Militarization of Strategic Asian Waterways

As the United States is preparing to shift its military focus to Asia in a few years time, a university professor says he believes America is pursuing the “militarization of strategic waterways” in the region.

In an interview with the U.S. Desk on Saturday, Michel Chossudovsky, director of the Centre for Research on Globalization‏ and professor of economics at the University of Ottawa, said that east Asia is a strategic region for the U.S. and the military shift towards Asia “is essentially directed against China.”

The United States will move the majority of its warships to the Asia-Pacific in coming years and keep six aircraft carriers in the region, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Saturday in Singapore, giving the first details of a new U.S. military strategy.

Chinese officials have been critical of the U.S. shift of military emphasis to Asia, seeing it as an attempt to fence in the country and frustrate Beijing’s territorial claims.

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With New Partners, SCO To Be Force For Security, Stability, Development

June 7, 2012 2 comments

China Daily
June 8, 2012

SCO will be ‘fortress of security and stability’

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The participation of Afghanistan and Turkey enlarges the region that the SCO covers geographically and increases the bloc’s global influence…

Leaders and officials from the four SCO observer countries, Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and India, as well as Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, also delivered speeches at the meeting.

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The Shanghai Cooperation Organization granted Afghanistan observer status on Thursday as President Hu Jintao said the bloc aimed to become a “fortress of regional security and stability and a driving force of regional economic development”.

The current summit of the organization in Beijing, which witnessed the signing of agreements covering security, politics and the economies of the members, will be a landmark in the bloc’s history as it set out a clear vision of its direction, analysts said.

By granting observer status to Afghanistan, the SCO, which groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, consolidated ties with the war-torn country ahead of the pullout of most foreign troops by the end of 2014.

The organization also announced that Turkey, a NATO member, will join Sri Lanka and Belarus as a dialogue partner.

Observer status will strengthen “political, economic and civilian cooperation between the SCO states and Afghanistan,” Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheng Guoping said after the summit.

Central Asia’s stability is a pressing issue for the regional bloc, analysts said, especially considering the turmoil in the Middle East and the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Chen Yurong, a researcher of regional affairs with the Institute of International Studies, said as the security situation in Central Asia has changed, the SCO must revise security policies.

The participation of Afghanistan and Turkey enlarges the region that the SCO covers geographically and increases the bloc’s global influence, Chen said. But some analysts suggested that the SCO should be cautious about more participants, as it could undermine the bloc’s capability given the sharp economic and historical differences between some countries.

The SCO on Thursday also recommitted itself to closer security ties by adopting a 2013-15 anti-terrorism plan and establishing a swift response mechanism.

The mechanism allows SCO members to request the help of other members to handle domestic emergencies.

It “will considerably boost the SCO’s ability to prevent and tackle emergencies”, a diplomatic source said.

Hu told the summit that “we should establish and improve a system of security cooperation”.

He also said that the members must tackle terrorism, separatism and extremism, as well as drug traffickers and other organized cross-border criminal activity.

Development blueprint

Analysts said that the Beijing summit will be a milestone as it gives impetus to the development of the bloc, founded in 2001.

The member countries issued a joint declaration to adopt the Strategic Plan for the Medium-Term Development of the SCO and vowed to build the region into an area of secure and lasting peace and shared prosperity.

“It is no exaggeration to say the adoption of the strategic plan will have a far-reaching influence on the SCO’s development,” Vice-Foreign Minister Cheng said.

Xing Guangcheng, executive director of the SCO Research Center, said the declaration and strategic plan not only show the openness of the SCO, but also highlight the sustainability and stamina of the organization’s future development.

Hu said the summit is pivotal for the future development of the SCO, especially as the international and regional situation has been more complex and volatile.

Only after SCO members enhance cooperation and act in unison can they effectively cope with emerging challenges, safeguard regional peace and achieve development, he said.

Hu also said China will offer a loan of $10 billion to support economic cooperation within the bloc, and the loan will also be used to aid the development of SCO member states.

He also said China will help train 1,500 experts from other member countries over the next three years. It is also going to provide 30,000 government scholarships and invite 10,000 Confucius Institute teachers and students to come to China for research and study over the next decade.

The president also called for the establishment of a development bank, a food security mechanism, and for the promotion of trade and investment.

The 2013 SCO summit will be held in Kyrgyzstan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Uzbek President Islam Karimov also addressed the summit on Thursday.

Leaders and officials from the four SCO observer countries, Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and India, as well as Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, also delivered speeches at the meeting.

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Xinhua News Agency
June 8, 2012

SCO accepts Afghanistan as observer, Turkey as dialogue partner

BEIJING: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has decided to grant Afghanistan observer status and accept Turkey as a dialogue partner, President Hu Jintao said Thursday.

Hu announced the decision made by SCO member states at a press conference held after the SCO Beijing summit, which ran from Wednesday to Thursday. China currently serves as SCO president.

While announcing the inclusion, Hu also elaborated on the agreements that have been reached by SCO member states over the past two days.

Member states have vowed to facilitate trade and investment in a bid to tap economic potential within the bloc, Hu said.

Hu said SCO member states have agreed to enhance cooperation in the finance,transportation, energy, telecommunications and agriculture sectors.

To advance regional economic development, the organization will continue to make efforts to establish a special account and development bank, Hu said.

The SCO’s development over the next decade will weigh heavily on the peace and development of its member states, the region and the world, Hu said.

He explained that member states have approved a mid-term development strategic plan and agreed to build the SCO into a “harmonious community.”

With terrorism, separatism, extremism and transnational crime on the rise, SCO member states have agreed to enhance their capacity to warn about and handle emergencies, as well as make the organization a reliable guarantor of regional security, Hu said.

SCO member states believe it is necessary to promote cultural and educational exchanges and expand their channels for people-to-people exchanges and social interaction, Hu said.

The SCO will strengthen cooperation with its observer states and dialogue partners, the United Nations and its affiliated organizations, as well as other international and regional organizations, Hu said.

Kyrgyzstan will fill the SCO’s rotating presidency after the two-day Beijing summit, Hu said.

China will continue to support the SCO’s development and provide aid within its capacity to other member states, according to Hu.

At the end of the summit, SCO member states adopted 10 new agreements, including the Declaration on Building a Region with Lasting Peace and Common Prosperity, the Strategic Plan for the Medium-Term Development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and regulations concerning the SCO’s method of response to regional security threats.

While addressing the 12th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the SCO Thursday morning, Hu called for the SCO to be built into an effective platform for increasing international exchange and influence.

“We should enhance consultations with international and regional organizations through the platform to safeguard peace, promote development and boost world multipolarization and democratization of international relations,” Hu said.

The SCO was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001 and currently has six full members — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Prior to Thursday’s inclusion, the SCO had four observer states (Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and India) and two dialogue partners (Belarus and Sri Lanka).

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Voice of Russia
June 7, 2012

Shanghai Organization’s summit: diplomacy is the only solution
Svetlana Andreeva and Konstantin Garibov

A summit between the leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member countries ended in Beijing on Thursday.

The Shanghai Organization is an alliance between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which was formed to promote cooperation between its members in economic and other spheres, as well as joint efforts to fight against terrorism.

The amendments signed at the summit outline a new strategy of development for the Shanghai Organization – in particular, the procedure for accepting new members to the organization.

One of the agreements signed at the summit is entitled “A Declaration on Building a Region with Lasting Peace and Common Prosperity”. All of the presidents attending the summit called for Central Asia to become a nuclear-free zone. They also declared that no outside interference in the affairs of the region would be acceptable. The declaration also says that the concrete mechanisms of preserving security within the borders of the alliance should only be determined by its member countries. At the same time, the alliance does not aim at challenging any other countries.

One of the main outcomes of the SCO summit was the granting of observer status to Afghanistan. The countries that already had this status are Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran.

“The Shanghai Organization has always stood for closer cooperation with Afghanistan,” Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said at the summit.

“We hope that the observer status in the Shanghai Organization will allow Afghanistan to promote closer ties with Asian countries. The Shanghai Organization is open for cooperation with other countries or international organizations. If a country wants to establish closer ties with the SCO, such moves would only be welcomed.”

The summit also granted Turkey’s request to give it the status of dialogue partner in the Shanghai Organization. The other countries that already had this status are Belarus and Sri Lanka.

“The global influence of the Shanghai Organization is obviously growing,” Russian political analyst Stanislav Tarasov says. “In fact, we are seeing the emergence of another strong “pole” in a multi-polar world. Today, one can hardly deny that the influence of the East in the world is increasing.”

The members of the Shanghai Organization have a common approach to one of the most burning problems of today – the civil wars engulfing the countries of North Africa and the Middle East. They believe that no foreign power has the right to interfere in these conflicts by force.

Summit participants issued a statement expressing support for the efforts made by the UN Security Council to end the Syrian conflict. They believe there could only be one way to settle this conflict: when both the Syrian government and all the opposition groups agree to lay down arms and engage in a dialogue.

The summit’s participants also expressed concern about the situation around Iran, which holds an SCO observer status. They believe that any attempt to solve the Iranian problem by force could have unpredictable consequences, which could threaten security in the entire region.

Unlike some other countries, members of the Shanghai Organization believe that Iran fully realizes its responsibility as a member of the international community and can be trusted. The summit praised the efforts of international mediators to settle the Iranian problem through diplomacy.

Summit participants supported the proposal made by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to appoint Dmitry Medvedev as Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Mr. Medvedev has headed the organization’s Business Council for about 6 years.

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Xinhau News Agency
June 7, 2012

Use of force to solve Iran issue unacceptable: SCO

BEIJING: Any attempts to resolve the Iranian issue by force are unacceptable, said the heads of state of the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Thursday.

Such attempts will produce unpredictable and serious consequences threatening stability and security of the region and even the world, said the leaders in the Declaration on Building a Region with Lasting Peace and Common Prosperity.

The declaration was adopted at the end of the SCO Beijing summit on Thursday.

The SCO currently has six full members – China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Iran is one of its observer states.

In the declaration, the SCO leaders express “deep concern over the developments surrounding Iran” and “call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and avoid remarks or actions which might further escalate confrontation.”

“All countries should abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter as well as the basic norms governing international relations,” the SCO leaders agreed, adding that they “stand for strict implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions.”

The member states support the P5+1 and Iran in opening sustainable dialogue process and efforts to find a political and diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue through dialogue and talks between relevant parties, says the declaration.

The declaration also says that the member states expect Iran “to play an important role in maintaining peace and prosperity” as a responsible member of the international community.

Iran currently was in nuclear talks with the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany, known as P5+1.

The next round of talks between Iran and the six countries is scheduled to be held in Moscow from June 18-19.

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Report: U.S. To Regain Use of Philippine Air and Naval Bases

June 7, 2012 2 comments

Stars and Stripes
June 7, 2012

Philippine government gives OK for US to use old bases, newspaper reports
By Travis J. Tritten

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The United States began talks with the Philippines late last year in hopes of expanding military ties.

During that time, the U.S. has struck a deal with Australia to rotate thousands of Marines through bases at Darwin, outlined a plan to forward deploy warships in Singapore, and unveiled a new agreement with Japan to realign the controversial Marine Corps presence on Okinawa.

The Philippines has been embroiled in a heated dispute with China over ownership of the Spratly Islands, a conflict that could draw in the United States due to its mutual defense treaty.

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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa: The Philippine government said this week that the United States military is again welcome to use Subic Bay and the sprawling Clark Air Base, two decades after the installations were abandoned due to political friction with Manila, according to media reports.

Philippine Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta said U.S. troops, ships and aircraft can make use of the old bases, as long as prior approval is granted by the government. Azcueta made the comments following a meeting with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, who traveled to the country as part of a regional trip to generate support for a military pivot toward Asia, according to the Philippine Star newspaper.

The United States had key bases in the Philippines for decades after World War II, but relations broke down in the early 1990s, and the facilities were returned.

The announcement of an expanded military relationship this week comes after months of talks between Washington and Manila, and appears to be another step forward in the U.S. plan to bolster forces in the Asia-Pacific region.

“They can come here provided they have prior coordination from the government,” Azcueta said following the meeting at the Philippine military headquarters of Camp Aguinaldo in Manila, according to the Philippine Star newspaper. “That’s what we want … increase in exercises and interoperability.”

The United States has a 60-year-old mutual defense treaty with the Philippines and participates in annual exercises with its military. There are also roughly 500 U.S. Special Forces troops that have been advising the Philippine military in its fight against Islamic terrorist groups in the southern portion of the county since 2001.

However, it was unclear Thursday how useful the Clark and Subic bases might now be to the United States because much of the land has been privately developed over the past 20 years.

The former Navy base at Subic Bay still has an airfield that can accommodate military aircraft and also can provide a safe haven for ships during cyclones, according to the Philippine Star.

The United States began talks with the Philippines late last year in hopes of expanding military ties.

During that time, the U.S. has struck a deal with Australia to rotate thousands of Marines through bases at Darwin, outlined a plan to forward deploy warships in Singapore, and unveiled a new agreement with Japan to realign the controversial Marine Corps presence on Okinawa.

Dempsey met with Philippine leaders this week as top U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, traveled through the region in hopes of building more support among allies for a vastly increased military presence, which will stretch in an arc across the Pacific and Asia from Hawaii to Singapore. Panetta has said the United States plans to shift military forces from a 50/50 split between the Pacific and Atlantic to a 60/40 split that will focus more on the Pacific.

In an interview this week with the Department of Defense press service, Dempsey downplayed the size of the increase in military forces, saying some countries were concerned it could spark confrontation with China.

The Philippines has been embroiled in a heated dispute with China over ownership of the Spratly Islands, a conflict that could draw in the United States due to its mutual defense treaty.

“That’s not the intent” of the Asia pivot, to challenge China or cause confrontation, Dempsey told the press service. “The intent is to increase the quality of our engagement [with allies], the quality of our relationship-building, the quality of our thinking, the quality of our leaders.”

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Pentagon Chief Admits U.S. Is At War In Pakistan

June 7, 2012 2 comments

RT
June 7, 2012

Panetta admits that US is at war in Pakistan

Hold the phone, anti-war activists. President Obama says that American troops are done with Operation Iraqi Freedom and their episode in Afghanistan is almost over. Now, though, it looks like the US is calling its operation in Pakistan an actual war.

­Only one day after American officials announced that US troops executed an alleged al-Qaeda higher-up with a drone strike in Pakistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters on Wednesday that America’s fair-weather ally is indeed serving as a battlefront in the War on Terror.

“We are fighting a war in the FATA, we are fighting a war against terrorism,” Secretary Panetta said this week. Panetta was referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a region in northwest Pakistan that is currently the scene of American airstrikes.

Since well before the top-secret raid and execution of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden brought US troops into Pakistan, the American military has tried time and time again to sugarcoat its activities overseas. Despite being an at-one-time top ally of the United States, Pakistani officials have continuously condemned the US over Uncle Sam’s continuing air strikes with unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. Now after years of trying to re-develop those deteriorating ties with Pakistan, the United States’ top military man flatly called his country’s operations in FATA an actual war.

To put it simply, this might not be good news for anyone.

While Panetta’s comment came only a day after the Pentagon confirmed that al-Qaeda’s “number-two in command,” Abu Yahya al-Libi, was executed with a drone strike in the FATA region, it also coincides — coincidently — with a statement made by another former CIA official. Robert Greiner, the one-time head of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, tells reporters this week that America’s mishandling of drone attacks is creating a safe haven for terrorists.

In a report published this week by the UK’s Guardian, Greiner says that ongoing attacks that target a broad and often unspecific range of targets is causing anti-American sentiments to increase faster than the US can actually combat terror. After the US has increased its air strikes in locales such as Pakistan and Yemen, says Greiner, insurgency has only become more rampant.

Because the Obama administration has gone on the record to say that all military-age men in strike zone are considered combatants, Greiner believes that unrest with the US is adding up at a rate that repeated strikes won’t help.

“We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield. We are already there with regards to Pakistan and Afghanistan,” says Greiner.

“That brings you to a place where young men, who are typically armed, are in the same area and may hold these militants in a certain form of high regard. If you strike them indiscriminately you are running the risk of creating a terrific amount of popular anger. They have tribes and clans and large families. Now all of a sudden you have a big problem … I am very concerned about the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven in Yemen.”

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SCO Opposes U.S.-NATO Missiles, Middle East Military Intervention

Voice of Russia
June 7, 2012

SCO opposes military intervention in MidEast

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Beijing has resulted in the signing of 10 agreements, including a joint program of cooperation against terrorism, separatism and extremism, and a plan for the SCO development for the coming years.

The declaration voices concern over the US-NATO plans to unilaterally deploy anti-missile defense elements in Europe.

The delegations at the SCO summit also confirmed their disapproval of a possible military operation in Syria and urged for a diplomatic solution to the issue.

They also condemned the attempts to settle the Iranian nuclear issue by force.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin offered the SCO member states to set up an all-purpose centre to counteract terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.

The SCO was founded in 2001 and comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

The SCO summit opposes Syria intervention

Leaders of a grouping led by Russia and China on Thursday issued a statement opposing military intervention in the Middle East, a day after opposition claims that Syrian forces had killed 100 people.

“Member states are against military intervention into this region’s affairs, forcing a ‘handover of power’ or using unilateral sanctions,” said a statement signed at the end of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Beijing.

Use of force to solve Iran problem ‘unacceptable’ – SCO

Leaders of a regional grouping led by Russia and China issued a statement in Beijing Thursday opposing any use of force in Iran, saying this could threaten global security.

“Any attempts to solve the Iranian problem with force are unacceptable and could lead to unpredictable circumstances that threaten stability and security in the region and the entire world,” said the statement signed at the end of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit that was attended by Iran’s leader.

TASS, Vesti.ru, AFP

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Clinton Pledges Increased Military Assistance To Georgia For New Conflicts

June 7, 2012 2 comments

Stop NATO
June 7, 2012

Clinton Pledges Increased Military Assistance to Georgia for New Conflicts
Rick Rozoff

In the middle of her three-nation tour of the South Caucasus, on June 5 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with fellow short-term New Yorker Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia. The latter is a preeminent, a greatly favored, a nonpareil American satrap, for whom the doors of the White House and the op-ed pages of the major U.S. dailies are always open. For eight and a half years he has been president of his nation after winning 96 percent of the vote on January 6, 2004 in a spurious election following standing head of state Eduard Shevardnadze being manhandled and deposed in the so-called Rose Revolution of the preceding November. The sort of election the State Department is always willing to endorse if the result advances American geostrategic interests.

Clinton was in the country both to meet with Saakashvili and to attend the third annual plenary session of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission, which was created five months after the five-day war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008.

During a joint press conference in Batumi, the capital of Adjara, subjugated by the Saakashvili regime shortly after it came to power, the Georgian head of state greeted Clinton with these words:

“Madam Secretary, I will speak in English. They have heard me already speak in Georgian many times.” Columbia University graduate Saakashvili and former carpetbagging senator from New York Clinton speak a common language in more than one sense.

Never one to shy away from fawning on his American financial and military sponsors, from George W. Bush and Barack Obama to Condoleezza Rice and the current secretary of state, the erratic Georgian strongman laid on his characteristic cloying praise particularly thick in regard to last month’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in the town Clinton was born in:

“I want to thank you, Madam Secretary, for your Administration’s leadership and your personal leadership of the decided question of our integration into Euro-Atlantic alliance. The last summit in Chicago was an important step forward toward that process for Georgia. The language of the communiqué, the meeting of the 28 allies with the four aspirant countries that put Georgia in the same group as the three Balkan states, and the words you pronounced during the meetings on enlargement perspectives and talking to them at length about Georgia’s continued reform and progress and success showed to everybody that Georgia was closer than ever to fulfill its Euro-Atlantic aspirations.”

In the earlier meeting of the Strategic Partnership Commission, Clinton was accompanied by Joseph McMillan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, in which capacity he is described by the Pentagon as “oversee[ing] the formulation, coordination, and implementation of strategy and policy involving Africa, Europe and NATO, the Middle East, and most of the former Soviet Union.” The two met with a Georgian contingent headed by Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia.

During the event with Saakashvili, Clinton thanked the American client regime for committing 1,700 troops to NATO’s ten-and-half-year armed conflict in Afghanistan. Georgian troop strength will increase notwithstanding claims that NATO is “drawing down” forces from the war-plagued South Asian nation. In Clinton’s words, “Georgia is already the largest per capita contributor of troops to our efforts in Afghanistan, and we thank you for sending a second battalion which will make you the largest non-NATO contributor.”

She also pledged U.S. support for several new military assistance initiatives, including training and material aid for Georgia’s armed forces “to better monitor your coasts and your skies”, upgrading its helicopter fleet and “helping Georgia give its officers the 21st century training they need for today’s changing missions.”

With increased assistance from the Pentagon, Clinton added, “Georgia will be a stronger international partner with an improved capacity for self-defense.”

“Self-defense” is a reference to Russia, which will defend South Ossetia and Abkhazia against any new acts of aggression perpetrated by Georgia.   

To make the above point patently unambiguous, America’s top diplomat regurgitated claims that Russia is “occupying” the two new nations and reiterated the U.S. demand that Russian troops leave Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where they were reinforced after Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia four years ago, affirming that “the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.”

Fielding questions from the local media, Clinton was even more explicit:

“As we stated at the Chicago NATO summit, the United States and all NATO allies support Georgia’s aspirations for NATO membership, and we reaffirmed the Bucharest decision and all subsequent decisions. We continue to work closely with Georgia both bilaterally and through the NATO-Georgia Commission to support the goals that Georgia has set for itself in its annual national program. And we remain committed to supporting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The NATO-Georgia Commission is an initiative established the month after the Georgian-Russian war of 2008 and the Annual National Program was launched two months later under its auspices to promote Georgia’s full integration into NATO by circumventing the traditional Membership Action Plan.

Russia was not long in reacting to Clinton’s pronouncements.

The following day Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich accused the U.S. of “fueling the revanchist aspirations of Tbilisi,” demonstrating that Washington had “failed to learn lessons from the August, 2008 events in the Caucasus.”

In regard to Clinton’s announcement that the U.S. was stepping up training of the Georgian military, the U.S. Marines Corps has been training the country’s armed forces since 2003. Two months ago 300 U.S. Marines were in Georgia to lead the two-week Agile Spirit 2012 military exercise. In July of 2008 1,000 U.S. Marines led the Immediate Response 2008 exercise in Georgia, which ended on July 31, a week before Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia. American troops and equipment remained in Georgia during the ensuing war with Russia and U.S. military aircraft flew 2,000 Georgian troops back from Iraq to join the hostilities.

In reference to the above, the Russian Foreign Ministry statement added:

“It was the active encouragement from the U.S. and other Western states, commitments about accepting Georgia into NATO and the massive supply of armaments from abroad that formed a sense of all-permissiveness and impunity for Mikheil Saakashvili, which pushed him to commit a criminal adventure in South Ossetia. At the time we had to bring the aggressor to his senses.

“There is a sense of deja vu today. High-ranking U.S. officials are again making loud statements about supporting Saakashvili, repeating verbatim false theses of his propaganda about ‘Russian occupation of Georgia’.”

The day after Clinton’s departure from Georgia, Deputy Secretary of the National Security Council of Georgia Batu Kutelia said that the decision to expand military cooperation between the U.S. and his nation was reached at the one-on-one meeting of presidents Obama and Saakashvili in the Oval Office of the White House in January of this year.

Emphasizing that Pentagon experts and advisers were involved in what he listed, Kutelia said:

“The main objective is to modernize the armed forces up to modern standards so that they can cope with the challenges we face. Defenses on the principles of territorial defense will be developed with the help of the U.S. side. Clinton noted several components. First of all, air and sea control, which is one of the main challenges for us, the war with Russia in 2008 clearly demonstrated it. Modernization of the fleet of helicopters is also important, because it will increase the mobility of our armed forces and will be one of the most important elements in ensuring the principle of territorial defense. The preparation of our officers and the armed forces to the standards of the 21st century was also noted, and she mentioned this particular phrase.”

On the same day Deputy Defense Minister Nodar Kharshiladze told journalists that “The U.S. will provide assistance to Georgia to improve [its] defense capability, which implies such areas as control of air space, development of helicopter flight capacity, development of engineering capabilities and training of Georgian units to conduct defensive operations.”

The Georgian – and American – definition of defense has already been commented upon and is evidenced by the war against South Ossetia and the deployment of U.S. Marines Corps-trained Georgian troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.

In recent months speculation has been rife, including a statement to the effect by former Georgian president Shevardnadze, that Washington intends to employ military assets in Georgia for an attack against Iran. Adding to the Saakashvili regime’s arsenal and emboldening the reckless American client with carte blanche backing will threaten peace even beyond the Caucasus.   

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SCO Beijing Summit To Set Tone For Next Decade

Xinhua News Agency
June 6, 2012

SCO Beijing Summit to set tone for new decade
By Wu Liming

BEIJING: The 12th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), to be held here Wednesday and Thursday, is expected to set the tone for the development of the six-member bloc over the next decade.

Clearly, the founding of the SCO in June 2001 was a major international event that has reshaped the global strategic landscape and reshifted the balance of power.

This year marks the beginning of the second decade for the development of the SCO, so the Beijing summit will take on the historic task of mapping out a new blueprint for the increasingly important global players.

The Beijing summit will further identify the direction of the SCO’s development and major tasks for the next decade and will adopt the Strategic Plan for the Medium-Term Development of the SCO.

“It is no exaggeration to say the adoption of this document will have far-reaching influence on the SCO’s development,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said.

Security and economic cooperation are the two key fields within the SCO.

Over the past decade, the SCO has scored remarkable achievements in security cooperation, such as jointly fighting terrorists, separatists, drug and arms traffickers, and staging joint anti-terrorism military exercises. The efforts have helped ensure peace and stability in the region.

It is reported that the Beijing summit will adopt the amendments to the SCO Regulations on Political and Diplomatic Measures and Mechanism of Response to Events Jeopardizing Regional Peace, Security and Stability. The move will considerably boost the SCO’s ability to prevent and tackle emergencies.

As regards the economy, the SCO has established an effective platform for deepening cooperation, which has led to a rapid increase in trade volume among the SCO members. A case in point: China’s annual trade with the rest of the SCO members grew from 12.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2001 to around 90 billion dollars in 2011.

Comparatively speaking, economic cooperation has lagged behind security cooperation within the SCO. It is expected that China, the host of the Beijing summit, will present further proposals to boost economic cooperation within the SCO.

Also, the summit will try to reach consensus on establishing multilateral financing guarantee mechanisms and speeding up transportation facilitation.

Expansion will be another issue at the Beijing summit. As more and more countries are expressing interest in joining the intergovernmental bloc, the summit is set to deliberate observer status and dialogue partnership for certain countries.

Numerous scholars suggest that the SCO should be cautious about granting membership, as any hasty decision in that regard could undermine the bloc’s capability given the sharp economic and historical differences between the individual countries.

All in all, it is widely believed that the Beijing summit will be a milestone in the SCO’ history, and is sure to give new impetus to the development of the six-member bloc.

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Interfax
June 6, 2012

Kyrgyzstan proposes creation of SCO Development Bank – Atambayev

BEIJING: Kyrgyzstan intends to propose more intensive discussion of the issue of creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Development Bank at the SCO summit opening on Wednesday.

“We in SCO propose to emphasize the economics, the creation of the SCO Development Bank, an open credit account. It’s important to us,” Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev said in Beijing on Wednesday.

Kyrgyzstan needs funding for development, he said. “We need to get on our feet as quickly as possible using the organizations and the assistance provided,” Atambayev said.

Atambayev said he is not scheduled to have bilateral meetings with the heads of the SCO countries at the SCO summit opening in Beijing on Wednesday, but is expected to have a bilateral meeting with the president of Iran, which will take place at the request of the Iranian leader.

SCO comprises Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

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Itar-Tass
June 6, 2012

Syria intervention would make matters worse – Putin, Hu

       
In a statement issued after their Beijing summit held on Tuesday and Wednesday, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao said that any outside military intervention aimed at bringing about a regime change in Syria would destroy peace in the Middle East and must therefore be opposed. They argued that the Syrian crisis must be resolved peacefully through a political dialogue.

The two leaders also pledged their continued support of the Syria mission led by international mediator Kofi Annan.

They said their countries would continue to block motions at the UN Security Council to oust legitimate governments anywhere in the world.

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RosBusinessConsulting
June 6, 2012

   
Russia and China join forces to implement Syria peace plan

Moscow: Russia and China have joined forces to implement the UN-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is visiting Beijing and has said that “We have confirmed that we will coordinate efforts for Syria.” The minister attended a number of meetings and also added, “the main objective is to implement Annan’s peace plan and the UN Security Council’s resolution.”

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RT
June 6, 2012

Russia and China pull together to counter US Asia drive

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia will cement its military alliance with China, including an increase in joint exercises in the Asia-Pacific.

The move follows a US pledge to step up its naval presence in Asia in a bid to extend its influence.

“Recently joint navy exercises were held in the Yellow Sea, and they were the first of such exercises. We have agreed with Chairman Hu that we will continue such cooperation,” Putin said following a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in Beijing.

The Russian leader said that security in the Asia-Pacific region was a top priority for both countries and they will work together to further develop ties.

“We favor the formation of an open and equal-minded security and cooperation architecture in the region, based on the principles of international law,” Putin said.

Russian and Chinese naval forces recently held six days of military drills in the Yellow Sea. The first drills of their kind, they included anti-submarine exercises and hijacked vessel rescue operations.

Russia deployed four warships from its Pacific fleet for the drills with 16 Chinese ships and two submarines.

The strengthening of Sino-Russian relations also serves to counterbalance US influence in Asia.

US defense minister Leon Panetta announced on Saturday that the US plans to step up its naval presence in the Pacific as part of the so-called “Asia re-balancing” initiative.

Panetta has also announced that the US intends to cement military ties with India.

The American government plans to maneuver 60 per cent of its battleships into the Asia-Pacific region by 2020. It currently has around 50 per cent of its fleet stationed there.

China views an increased US military presence in the Asia-Pacific as a challenge to its own sovereignty and an attempt by America to curtail the country’s rise.

“China is Russia’s strategic partner. We enjoy mutually beneficial, mutually trusting, open cooperation in all fields,” said Putin.

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Xinhua News Agency
June 6, 2012

China, Russia agree to enhance strategic partnership
   

• China and Russia have agreed to enhance their comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination.
• The statement was released during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s three-day state visit to China.
• China and Russia pledged to respect each other’s interests and rights of choosing own social systems.

BEIJING: China and Russia have agreed to enhance their comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, according to a joint statement issued Wednesday.

The statement was released during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s three-day state visit to China, where he will also attend the 12th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization being held in Beijing on Wednesday and Thursday.

Besides his talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Putin also met with other Chinese leaders, including Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress; Premier Wen Jiabao; Vice President Xi Jinping and Vice Premier Li Keqiang.

“The two sides will continue their commitment to enhancing the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination characterized by equality and trust, mutual support, common prosperity and long-lasting friendship,” said the statement.

In the document, China and Russia pledged to respect each other’s interests as well as rights of choosing their own social systems and development paths.

The two sides will firmly adhere to the principles of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, mutual support for each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and other issues of core interests, win-win reciprocity and non-confrontation, according to the statement.

It continued by saying that the nations have agreed to continue their close high-level interactions, enhance communication and coordination on regional and global issues and deepen pragmatic cooperation in various areas.

They are to make joint efforts to hit their target of bilateral trade reaching 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 and 200 billion dollars in 2020. In 2011, bilateral trade volume reached 80 billion U.S. dollars, a record high showing a 42.7-percent year-on-year rise.

According to the statement, China and Russia will boost their cooperation in investment, energy resources, high technology, the aviation and space industry, trans-border infrastructures and other areas.

They will also focus on strategic and large-scale projects and expand cooperation at local levels and enterprise-to-enterprise exchanges.

The two sides will also further enhance bilateral military ties and boost cooperation on security and law enforcement as well as advance cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

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Xinhua News Agency
June 6, 2012

China’s Xi meets Putin, underlines strategic cooperation against global change

BEIJING: Vice President Xi Jinping underlined the necessity for China and Russia to strengthen their strategic cooperation while meeting with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing on Wednesday.

Xi said it is necessary to safeguard the two neighbors’ common interests against the backdrop of a world that has witnessed unprecedented and profound changes.

Putin said he is in full agreement with Xi’s view on Russia-China relations. Russia and China should further strengthen pragmatic cooperation in various sectors that reflect the strategic level of Russia-China relations, he said.

Russia highly values its relations with China and is confident about the development of Russia-China relations, said Putin, who kicked off his three-day China visit on Tuesday, his first to Asia since starting his third term last month.

Putin is scheduled to attend the 12th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization running from Wednesday to Thursday in Beijing.

On Tuesday, Putin and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao held two-hour-long talks, during which they agreed on boosting the comprehensive partnership of strategic coordination between the two countries and reaffirmed the commitment to safeguarding world peace, security and stability.

China is willing to work with Russia to complete the new tasks set forward by the heads of states of both countries, and consolidate the basis of Sino-Russia relations and improve bilateral relations, Xi noted.

As two important emerging economies, both China and Russia have emphasized economic development as a priority, he said.

Both countries are undergoing economic restructuring and committed to innovation-driven development and opening up, which provide important new opportunities for the two countries to carry out pragmatic cooperation, Xi said.

Xi congratulated Putin on his victory in the Russian presidential election. Putin’s visit, about a month after his inauguration, shows the importance both Russia and the Russian president attach to Sino-Russia relations, Xi said.

Xi said high-level exchanges have been a trait of Sino-Russia relations, which have demonstrated mutual political trust between the two countries and served to guarantee the advancement of bilateral relations and cooperation in various sectors.

It is hoped that both countries would make use of their respective advantages to strengthen pragmatic cooperation so as to bring their economic interests more closely together, Xi said.

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RosBusinessConsulting
June 6, 2012

Putin touts technological alliance with China

“I believe we should aim for a true technological alliance of both countries. We should create production and innovative chains that will link our scientific and design bureaus, and engineering centers, and tap the markets of other countries,” Putin wrote in article published in the Chinese newspaper People’s Daily ahead of his visit today to China and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Beijing.

Russia intends to actively promote large-scale joint projects with China in aircraft building, aerospace, and other high-tech industries, as well as to develop technology parks, industrial clusters, and special economic zones on the territories of both countries.

He also announced the goal of increasing bilateral trade to $100bn by 2015 and $200bn by 2020 from $83.5bn in 2011, adding that the current trend suggests that this target could be reached earlier.

The quality of bilateral trade should be enhanced by raising the share of value-added products in it. “There are objective prerequisites for this, since national markets of both countries have huge capacities, demand for modern goods and services is on the rise, while our countries hold strong positions in education, science, and technologies,” the president pointed out.

He also called for up-to-date financial infrastructure for bilateral business relations and transition to bilateral payments in national currencies in order to stave off currency risks and boost the ruble and the yuan.

Categories: Uncategorized

NATO Air Strike Kills At Least 18 Afghan Civilians

June 6, 2012 2 comments

Pajhwok Afghan News
June 6, 2012

17 civilians dead in NATO airstrike
By Abdul Maqsud Azizion

PUL-I-ALAM: A pre-dawn airstrike by NATO-led forces killed at least 18 civilians, including women and children, and seven insurgents, in central Logar province, officials said on Wednesday.

The air raid that caused the latest civilian casualties was conducted at 1:00 am in the Sajawand area on the periphery of Baraki Barak district, said the provincial deputy police chief.

Raees Khan Sadeq told Pajhwok Afghan News some insurgents who gathered at a residence opened fire on foreign soldiers. As a result, the soldiers retaliated with an airstrike that led to death of civilians and fighters.

He said a Taliban commander – Qari Sardari – was staying at the tribal elder’s house at the time of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) strike.

He confirmed the death of 18 civilians, including seven children, five women and six men, besides acknowledging death of seven rebels.

He added the residences belonged to two area tribal elders – Bashir Akhundzada and Qayyum Akhundzada – who were also killed along with all their family members.

The governor’s spokesman Din Mohammad Darwiash, denying insurgents’ deaths, said 15 civilians – mostly children – were killed in the NATO raid.

Dr. Abdul Wali Wakil, head of the provincial council, confirmed the incident, saying Akhundzada was among 16 civilians killed in the ISAF raid.

He added the locals protested in front of the governor’s office in Pul-i-Alam, carrying the dead bodies to prove the victims were ordinary residents and not insurgents.

The Taliban denied their commander was hiding in the tribal elder’s residence. Their spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said all the victims were civilians.

At the same time, residents demonstrated in Logar’s capital to condemn the killings, but security personnel opened fire at them, injuring one protestor.

The protestors chanted anti-US and anti-Afghan government slogans, saying “death to America, death to the Afghan government, death to Hamid Karzai and death to Barak Obama.”

Habib Rahman, one of the area residents, said Bashir was arranging a wedding party for his son, to be held in the next three days, and had invited some of his relatives to his house.

Meanwhile, ISAF media office in Kabul denied the civilians fatalities, saying they conducted the operation jointly with Afghan forces to nab an insurgent commander in the area.

During the operation, the insurgents attacked the security force, which returned fire and requested a precision airstrike, said a statement from the multinational force.

It added during a follow-on assessment, security forces discovered two women with non-life-threatening injuries. However, it did not mention civilian deaths in the attack.

Categories: Uncategorized

U.S. Boosts Ties With Georgia As Syria And Iran Are Targeted

Voice of Russia
June 5, 2012

The U.S. steps up activity in Georgia
Ilya Kharlamov

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Moscow is particularly concerned over intensified military cooperation between Washington and Tbilisi. It`s no secret that before invading Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008 the Georgian army had been trained and equipped by the U.S.

“Americans are not giving up the idea of using Georgia to undermine stability in the Caucasus. The 2008 scenario is likely to repeat…”

There is one more reason why Washington has stepped up its presence in Georgia: in case the West invades Iran and Syria, Georgia could become a springboard for attacks.

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The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Georgia on June 5. Apart from making traditional remarks about democratic reforms in the country, Mrs. Clinton made some political statements proving that Washington plans to increase its presence in Georgia and keep on supporting the Saakashvili regime.

Mrs. Clinton said that to become a full member of the Euro-Atlantic community Georgia should bet on competitive parliamentary elections and strong democratic reforms. Actually, these are nothing but standard phrases US officials traditionally use with respect to those countries whose political circles rely on financial assistance from Washington.

“The U.S. has presidential elections within months. So each foreign visit paid by a U.S. official has not only strategic but purely political reasons,” says Andrei Kortunov, the president of the New Eurasia foundation. “Since his very first days in office Barack Obama was accused of betraying Georgia’s interests and bothering too much about relations with Moscow. And this has become one of the episodes of the ongoing presidential campaign. In view of this, the Democrats have to prove that the U.S policy has not changed and that the country keeps on abiding to traditional principles, being loyal to its allies in the Southern Caucasus. This visit could be used by President Saakashvili to strengthen his influence in the country amid the increased activity of the opposition forces. The regime is no longer that stable.”

It appears that Washington and Moscow are now experiencing new difficulties in relations, and not only about the European missile defense. Otherwise how could one interpret Mrs. Clinton’s remarks that the U.S. opposes the Russian occupation of the Georgian territory, obviously implying Abkhazia and South Ossetia as if there were no evidence of Tbilisi’s aggression against these countries in 2008 as well as crimes against humanity committed by the Georgian army. Russia’s response to the aggression and the subsequent recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s independence by Russia and other states were just a necessary step to protect the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia but not ‘occupation.’

Certainly, Mrs. Clinton again voiced support to Georgia over its NATO membership bid, which caused a cordial response from local politicians who thanked the U.S. for its overwhelming political, financial and military support.

Meanwhile, Moscow is particularly concerned over intensified military cooperation between Washington and Tbilisi. It`s no secret that before invading Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008 the Georgian army had been trained and equipped by the U.S. “In early 2012 Presidents Obama and Saakashvili agreed to deepen defense cooperation, which could result in a new outbreak of violence in the region,” says Valery Korovin who runs the Centre for Geopolitical Expertise.

“Americans are not giving up the idea of using Georgia to undermine stability in the Caucasus. The 2008 scenario is likely to repeat. Rearming the Georgian army won`t be a challenging task for the U.S. More emphasis is being placed on strategic training and the use of the media. The Americans are persistently trying to achieve what they failed to four years ago.”

There is one more reason why Washington has stepped up its presence in Georgia: in case the West invades Iran and Syria, Georgia could become a springboard for attacks.

Categories: Uncategorized

SCO Can Free Pakistan From West’s Stranglehold

Express Tribune
June 4, 2012

China and Russia can free us of the US
Farooq Yousaf

Pakistan is looking to the East for help. We are pinning our hopes on regional cooperation through blocs such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). This bloc boasts support from two major regional powers – Russia and China.

Why should we support this alliance, one might ask.

To them, I would like to state simply, we need this to free ourselves from the stranglehold of the US.

We have numerous reasons to support this alliance. For instance, despite all cooperation and the consequent suffering, Pakistan continues to face immense pressure from America. The recent episode of this series of pressures came when Pakistan suspended the Nato supply lines as a backlash to the Salala checkpost attack on November 26, 2011. This suspension led to threats of slashing civil military aid to the country from the US Congressmen and policy makers.

This scared Pakistan, because the US is our life-line. It provides us with much-needed money, and we remain at their beck and call due to this unfortunate reality.

There is increasing pressure on Pakistan by the United States and several other countries towards combating terrorism, as well as in terms of the settlement of the Afghan crisis.

Washington uses financial instruments, mainly financial aid, and military threats in the form of drone attacks to keep us dancing to their tune. It has even launched a mass media campaign against Islamabad, accusing Pakistan of supporting terror.

Pakistan’s possible membership in the SCO presents a rewarding opportunity for us to finally obtain freedom from this mounting pressure. Partnership with super-powers like China and Russia can reduce Pakistan’s dependence on the US and its Western allies. Furthermore, increased cooperation with these aforementioned regional powers can also help to lower our dependency on US financial aid – a tool used to keep Pakistan within the clutches of the US.

Eastern cooperation can pave the way for opening numerous corridors of progress for Pakistan as well as other South Asian states – mainly India and Afghanistan. The alliance can open ways for exporting energy from energy-rich countries such as Russia, Turkmenistan and Iran to energy-scarce states such as Pakistan and India.

Energy-deficient countries can greatly benefit from this increased regional cooperation. One such example is the trans-Afghan pipeline, or TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India), which surely can help in overcoming some part of the energy shortfall in Pakistan and India.

In order to achieve these goals and gain a dividend from the SCO, Pakistan needs to participate actively in the activities of the SCO in the areas of combating terrorism, drug trafficking and the Afghan settlement. Drug trafficking has been a major area of concern for Moscow. It claims that it is the negligence of coalition forces in tackling the issue which has led to more drugs seeping into Russia. Thus, participation and cooperation will help to expedite the process of obtaining full membership in the organisation for Pakistan.

Interaction with the SCO will create real preconditions for countries to engage in large-scale regional development programmes, particularly in the energy, transport and information spheres. This will eventually lead to an improvement in areas of the economy and the country’s security, strengthening its impact in the region.

Russia and the Central Asian countries have supported Pakistan’s desire to become a full member of the organisation, while China has refrained from doing so. Sergei Lavrov, the acting Russian Foreign Minister, in a recent SCO meeting pushed for India’s and Pakistan’s membership in the SCO, coupled with more involvement in the Afghan security situation in a post-Nato withdrawal scenario.

Pakistan must convince Beijing that Islamabad’s full participation in the organisation will be useful in addressing major regional issues. Pakistan must seize the moment and exploit regional energy resources by partnering with Russia, China and India for energy and commercial trade.

Let’s free ourselves from the hold of the West by embracing our friends in the East.

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News Network International
June 3, 2012

SCO ballast for regional peace, stability: Masood Khan

BEIJING: The Pakistani Ambassador to China sang the praises of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), saying the organization works as a ballast for peace, security and stability in the region.

Masood Khan was speaking ahead of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to China, where he will attend the SCO leaders’ summit, next week.

“It is not a security organization in the traditional sense and has no military arm,” Khan said. However, the SCO has worked hard to ensure security and fight against transnational crime, and the “three evil forces” of terrorism, separatism and extremism by tackling the root causes through promoting economic development, economic cooperation, infrastructure development, and raising the people’s standard of living collectively, he said.

Khan added that the performance of the SCO over the past decade has been “outstanding” and has become a new paradigm and a new model for regional cooperation.

Speaking of his country’s role within the SCO, Khan explained that Pakistan has been an observer state since 2005 and has been actively participating in various conferences and events organized by the body.

He also promised Pakistan would play a “very constructive and effective” role in the organization and would devote all its energy to building peace. He said Pakistan has expressed its strong desire to become a full member and submitted the application.

The ambassador also talked about Pakistan’s relationship with China and described China as Pakistan’s “trusted strategic partner.”

Pakistan is satisfied with the continued flow of high-level exchanges between the two countries, and will try to further its economic cooperation with China in areas such as energy, infrastructure and agriculture, according to Khan.

He also urged the two nations to step up their people-to-people exchanges, especially among the younger generation to promote mutual understanding between the two countries. He said that learning Chinese is becoming very popular in Pakistan, where there is also growing demand for more Confucius Institutes.

“Recently, China’s ministry of education has approved setting up a Confucius Institute in Karachi University… I hope there will be more of such institutes to promote understanding of Chinese culture and help people learn the Chinese language,” he added.

The SCO was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, and currently has six full members including China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Mongolia, Iran, Pakistan and India are its four observer states.

Categories: Uncategorized

NATO: From the North Atlantic to the South Pacific

June 5, 2012 2 comments

Stop NATO
June 5, 2012

NATO: From the North Atlantic to the South Pacific
Rick Rozoff

On June 4 NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key signed a partnership agreement at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

As the Western military bloc reported, the Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme conferred on the South Pacific nation “formalised ties between the two sides after almost two decades of increased cooperation.”

After meeting with Prime Minister Key, Rasmussen said, “Partnerships are essential to NATO’s success and we want to be even more closely connected with countries that are willing to contribute to global security where we all have a stake.“

The increasing use of the word global by the U.S.-dominated military alliance – New Zealand was recently announced to be a member of its newest partnership category, partners across the globe – leaves no room for doubt regarding the emergence of NATO as a self-designated international military force, history’s first, and its intention to assume so-called out-of-area missions much farther from the territory of its member states than previous military campaigns and operations in the Balkans, South Asia, North Africa and the Indian Ocean.

New Zealand has supplied troops for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan since 2003. Speaking on the June 4th accord, the NATO chief affirmed, “This arrangement is a move to capitalise on this engagement, and formalise the current, more substantive relationship that exists between NATO and New Zealand.”

He also claimed: “We may be far away geographically, but we are linked by common values and commitment. NATO looks forward to building on this important partnership in the years to come.”

Rasmussen mentioned that areas of joint cooperation, in addition to the ongoing war in Afghanistan, will include cyber-defence, disaster relief, crisis management and joint education and training. That is, NATO training the New Zealand Defence Force.

The common values alluded to comprise much more than the parliamentary system of government, which exists most everywhere in the world, and instead are a veiled reference to the fact that NATO is what it has always been: A military alliance of the former colonial powers in Europe and Britain’s past outposts in North America – the U.S. and Canada – now to be complemented by those in the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia.

On the same day that he met with New Zealand’s Key, the NATO secretary general announced that he was paying his first visit to nearby Australia, in the words of an earlier report from the Sydney Morning Herald, to sign “a high level political declaration” to consolidate military ties with that nation.

Prime Minister Key and his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard attended the NATO summit in Chicago last month and were among 13 “partner countries from across the globe” (NATO’s term) that the heads of state and government of the alliance’s 28 member states met with there, the others being Austria, Finland, Georgia, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates. Japan has been mentioned as the next focus of NATO’s attention after Australia and New Zealand.

In regard to New Zealand’s new Individual Partnership Cooperation Programme, the NATO website reported that the bloc “has similar partnership programmes with Switzerland and Sweden among others.” Mongolia was granted what NATO at the time called an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme in March.

Rasmussen’s visit to Australia will be the latest, and most pronounced, step in the solidification of military ties between NATO and Canberra that began with Rasmussen’s predecessor, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, paying the first-ever visit by a NATO chief to the country in 2005. Rasmussen’s trip will also follow President Barack Obama’s visit to Australia last November during which he announced the deployment of 2,500 U.S. Marines to the north of the nation, as NATO’s new partnership with New Zealand follows the recent renewal of military relations between that country and the U.S. after a 25-year hiatus.

This January Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister and at the time foreign minister, visited NATO Headquarters to accredit his country’s first ambassador to NATO, Dr. Brendan Nelson. On January 20 Rudd’s website announced that “Dr Nelson’s appointment as Ambassador represents a deepening of Australia’s engagement with NATO.”

Australia has provided NATO with troops for campaigns in the Balkans and in Afghanistan, where with 1,550 soldiers it is the largest non-NATO force contributor, and participates in NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield naval mission off the coast of Somalia.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is indeed what is has frequently been characterized as being: the military arm of the policy of the West versus the rest, with West defined as consisting of “common values and commitment,” however “far away geographically” its 28 members and over 40 partners may be.

Categories: Uncategorized

Asia-Pacific: American Exceptionalism to the Rescue

June 5, 2012 4 comments

Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
June 4, 2012

 

Asia-Pacific: American Exceptionalism to the Rescue
By Bruce Gagnon

 

U.S. Secretary of War Leon Panetta is making a tour of the Asia-Pacific where he is pumping up the next military conflict.  Yesterday I heard he was in Vietnam trying to close a deal to allow the U.S. Navy to once again have access to the base at Cam Ranh Bay.

Before leaving on this trip Panetta made the speaking rounds back home to consolidate U.S. media and build public support for Obama’s “pivot” into the Asia-Pacific.  “One of the key projects that your generation will have to face is sustaining and enhancing American strength across the great maritime region of the Pacific,” he told graduates of U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland last week.

“China’s military is growing and modernizing.  We must be vigilant.  We must be strong.  We must be prepared to confront any challenge,” Panetta said.

While in Singapore Panetta stated, “By 2020, the Navy will re-posture its forces from today’s roughly 50/50 percent split between the Pacific and the Atlantic to about a 60/40 split between those oceans.  That will include six aircraft carriers in this region, a majority of our cruisers, destroyers, littoral combat ships, and submarines….to project power and operate in the Asia-Pacific.”

He told an audience of Asian military officials that the U.S. planned new investments in capabilities needed “to project power and operate in the Asia-Pacific,” including radar-evading fighter jets, a new long-distance bomber, electronic warfare and missile defenses.  The message to them is essentially – play along with us and we will share a piece of the action with you.

The Pentagon has a name for this new strategy – its called the AirSea Battle fighting “concept”.

This strategy is our course the primary reason that the South Korean Navy, at the behest of the Pentagon,  is building the Navy base on Jeju Island.  The U.S. Navy needs more ports to dock their warships.

Not everyone though is getting on-board this dangerous, provocative, and expensive Obama plan. “AirSea Battle is demonizing China,” retired Gen. James Cartwright, former vice-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said last week. “That’s not in anybody’s interest.”

While Panetta was speaking at the U.S. Naval Academy, Obama was at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado (also home of the Air Force Space Command).  He was explaining the “pivot” to the future leaders of the Air Force.

V-P Joseph Biden got the West Point gig and he told the Army cadets that the U.S. would now “rebalance” its foreign policy with greater emphasis on the Asia-Pacific.

The Obama team is making the rounds to sell this new policy.  They know the American people are “war weary” so they must begin to create the fear of a growing new threat in the Asia-Pacific – namely China.

Panetta put the name to it when he spoke to the Naval cadets in Annapolis.  He called this new mission a “great challenge” and a “security burden to advance peace”.

It’s the old white man’s burden stuff once again.  American exceptionalism to the rescue.

Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
globalnet@mindspring.com
www.space4peace.org
http://space4peace.blogspot.com/  (blog)
Categories: Uncategorized

Reconstructing Regional Stability: Afghanistan and the SCO

June 4, 2012 1 comment

China Daily
June 4, 2012

Reconstructing regional stability

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The clearer the West’s intention was to impose on Kabul its political, economic and other standards, the stronger the SCO documents stressed the fruitlessness of resolving the conflict solely through military means and the overriding importance of respecting the historical and ethnic reality of Afghanistan, as well as the traditional and religious values of its people.

The Afghan government strongly believes in establishing a modern Silk Road. This would unify Eurasia with a trade and transport system that would enhance prosperity and security for all involved.

A lasting peace can only be realized through agreements among the various political powers in Afghanistan. Compared with an “imported peace” imposed by the US, a “domestically made peace” would be more reliable.

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Editor’s note: With the withdrawal of NATO combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, what kind of role can the Shanghai Cooperation Organization play to help maintain stability and promote development in the country?

Chinese and foreign scholars shared their views on the topic at a forum hosted by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations on May 30 and 31 in Beijing. Here are some excerpts:

From the moment it was founded, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has been supportive of its members’ efforts to implement economic reconstruction projects in Afghanistan.

At the international conference on Afghanistan held in Bonn late last year, heads of delegations from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states confirmed their willingness to contribute to the revival of Afghanistan, and pointed out the significance of strengthening the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

With the withdrawal of NATO troops scheduled for the end of 2014 and the transfer of security responsibilities to the national law enforcement authorities, the active stance of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is of special significance, as the member states, being Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors, are concerned about the future security situation in the country.

The clearer the West’s intention was to impose on Kabul its political, economic and other standards, the stronger the SCO documents stressed the fruitlessness of resolving the conflict solely through military means and the overriding importance of respecting the historical and ethnic reality of Afghanistan, as well as the traditional and religious values of its people.

In this regard, the more coordinated and dynamic the response of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to future challenges in Afghanistan, the more it will be able to position itself as a powerful and irreplaceable mechanism for peace and stability in Southwest and Central Asia.

Mikhail A. Konarovskiy, deputy secretary-general of Shanghai Cooperation Organization

A stable, secure and developed Afghanistan is a necessity if the region is to achieve security and meaningful economic integration.

The Afghan government strongly believes in establishing a modern Silk Road. This would unify Eurasia with a trade and transport system that would enhance prosperity and security for all involved. It would cement the relationship between the establishment of the Northern Distribution Network and the much wider vision for the future of Afghanistan and Eurasia. As highlighted in the Afghan national development strategy, Afghanistan’s future vision and prosperity will be part of a Eurasian trading and transport network.

The international efforts in Afghanistan over the last decade represent a unique engagement. We are delighted to see the international community’s commitment to Afghanistan lasting beyond transition.

Abdul Ghafoor Poya Faryabi, director-general of the Center for Strategic Studies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Afghanistan

The United States started withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July 2011. Where the country is heading after the withdrawal of all NATO troops in 2014 is still uncertain.

If different military forces cannot reach an agreement before the US pulls its troops out of the country, there could be a civil war. Or, realizing their inability to win a total war, Pashtun-dominant Taliban forces might even seek to establish a Pashtun state in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan, thus dividing the country.

Even if war can be prevented the different ethnic groups within the country might establish their own areas, making it a loose confederation.

Of course what people should pursue is integration, a universal agreement that includes various political forces in propelling the country forward.

To strive for the best results, we need to employ both internal and external resources in a mechanism where both regional and world powers can contribute. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization as the biggest organization of regional cooperation can offer the basis for such a mechanism, by maintaining dialogues with Western countries and assisting Afghanistan with its domestic problems.

So we hope the Shanghai Cooperation Organization can accept Afghanistan as an observer and extend a cooperation regime, so that the political cooperation process can begin sooner.

Hu Shisheng, director of Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies CICIR

To the US and Afghan governments, war with the Taliban can end in three ways: by defeating it, being defeated by it, or reaching an agreement.
Having realized the impossibility of the first two, both the Afghan government and the US are seeking negotiations with the Taliban, but with little success.

Actually even if the US and the Taliban did reach an agreement that would only be sharing political power, which is far from ethnic reconciliation. So the future of Afghanistan remains in doubt.

A lasting peace can only be realized through agreements among the various political powers in Afghanistan. Compared with an “imported peace” imposed by the US, a “domestically made peace” would be more reliable.

However, a domestic peace will only grow in fertile soil. The various political forces are now accustomed to violence. It is the responsibility of the international community to provide assistance, and guidance if necessary, so that the different forces lay down their arms and a true, lasting peace can be realized, not only in Afghanistan, but also in the whole of central Asia.

Zhao Huasheng, director of the Russia Research Center, Fudan University
We should not assume that regional or international actors can solve all of Afghanistan’s problems – history is full of examples of the negative outcomes that result from other nations thinking they can control or change Afghanistan. The reality is, long-term and sustainable change in Afghanistan can only be achieved by Afghanistan itself.

The only way forward is to integrate Afghanistan into the region through an effective economic structure. This will require strengthening Afghanistan’s regional transport links as well as its government.

Improved economic structures and the linking of the Afghan economy to the regional and international economy offer the hope of creating long-term stability and decreasing the radicalization of the Afghan state and its neighbors. Short-term gains for different forces will need to be overseen, and rivals will have to cooperate to attain security benefits.

What is needed is more effective coordination, which could be initiated with an international conference that would aim to organize future efforts. It will be necessary to look at the development side first and then slowly move on to the political issues.

Niklas Swanstrom, director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Sweden

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International Relations at Turning Point: Russia, China and Expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

June 3, 2012 1 comment

Itar-Tass
June 3, 2012

SCO enlargement to give fresh boost to organization

MOSCOW: Moscow stands for the enlargement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which will give it a fresh boost, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Xinhua ahead of the SCO Beijing summit.

“Obviously, regional security threats may be deterred efficiency with collective efforts only,” he said, referring to the SCO summit consideration of the observer status of Afghanistan and the partner status of Turkey. “In this context there is no alternative to the enlargement of the SCO, an interest in which is growing steadily inside and outside of the region. We are confident that the admission of such countries as India and Pakistan, which have observer status at present, will strengthen the SCO potential and international authority. The ‘fresh blood’ will give a boost to the organization and promote its modernization.”

“SCO enlargement aspects are under consideration. Financial, legal and administrative terms of the admission of new members are being coordinated. That is the mandatory homework any international organization must do while preparing for its enlargement,” the minister said.

“Meanwhile, observers and partners already have wide opportunities for contributing to SCO activity. We welcome the official appeals of Afghanistan for observer status and of Turkey for partner status. Hopefully, the chiefs of SCO states will support these appeals at the Beijing summit,” Lavrov said.

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Itar-Tass
June 3, 2012

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has great plans for future

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“International relations are at a turning point,” the Russian minister stated. “Changes in these relations are accompanied by rising turbulence at the global and regional levels. The dangerous unbalancing of the entire system of global administration takes place before our own eyes.”

“Aftermaths of the financial and economic crisis have not been overcome up to the end; negative factors in the world economy which can bring about its second wave continue piling up,” the minister stressed. “The conflict potential persists, and threats to security multiply.”

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MOSCOW: The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has great plans for future, sad on Sunday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an interview with the Xinhua news agency on the eve of the SCO summit in Beijing next week.

“International relations are at a turning point,” the Russian minister stated. “Changes in these relations are accompanied by rising turbulence at the global and regional levels. The dangerous unbalancing of the entire system of global administration takes place before our own eyes.”

“Aftermaths of the financial and economic crisis have not been overcome up to the end; negative factors in the world economy which can bring about its second wave continue piling up,” the minister stressed. “The conflict potential persists, and threats to security multiply.”

“Under these conditions, the SCO priority task remains regional security and stability, consolidation of the potential of responding to various threats and countering terrorism, separatism, extremism, illicit drug trafficking and transborder organized crime,” Lavrov emphasized.

In the minister’s words, the upcoming meeting of the SCO heads of state in Beijing on June 6-7 “will be an important stage of consolidating cooperation in tackling problems the Organisation faces”. “The leaders of our countries will have to sign a Declaration on building a region of a lasting peace and joint prosperity,” the minister informed.

“A serious conceptual document is submitted for the consideration of the heads of state: Guidelines of a SCO development strategy for a mid-term perspective, formulating the key benchmarks for further development of our association.”

“Of great importance will be the approval of a new wording of the Regulations on political and diplomatic measures and mechanisms for responding to situations, putting into jeopardy peace, security and stability in the region, drafted with an account for experience and lessons of the dynamically changing international situation,” Lavrov continued.

“Struggle against the drug threat also assumes top importance for security of our region.”

“The SCO now is a closely-knit group of like-minded people, firmly bent on developing actively a trustworthy political dialogue, equal and mutually advantageous economic and humanitarian cooperation as well as on expanding international relations,” the minister said in conclusion.

“I’m sure that our Organisation has good prospects and great future.”
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Xinhua News Agency
June 3, 2012

Russia-China relations at “unprecedented high”: Russian FM

MOSCOW: Relations between Russia and China have reached unprecedented high levels, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says in an interview ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s upcoming visit to China.

Top leaders of the two countries are expected to discuss the expansion of bilateral cooperation in various fields during Putin’s state visit to China on June 5-7, Lavrov said.

Since Russia and China signed the Treaty on Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation in 2001, the two countries have witnessed many breakthroughs in the development of their relations, Lavrov told Xinhua in a written interview.

He listed some of the achievements, including an overall settlement of the border issues, a record high of 80 billion U.S. dollars in bilateral trade in 2011, the strategic cooperation in the energy sector, the launches of reciprocal National Years and Years of Languages, and close coordination in international affairs.

“During Putin’s visit, officials from both Russia and China are going to sign a joint communique on relations and their entrepreneurs will sign a number of agreements,” Lavrov said.

The two countries will also explore ways of further promoting their trade and economic relations, including how to optimize their bilateral trade structure, ensure rational use and protection of cross-border water resources, and conducting joint border inspections, he added.

Since the leaders of the two countries decided to upgrade their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination based on equality, mutual trust and support, common prosperity and lasting friendship, the countries have made concerted efforts to further their relations, Lavrov said.

On the political front, the two sides have agreed to continue enhancing mutual trust, promoting high-level exchanges and providing mutual support in efforts to safeguard their own sovereignty, state unity, and territorial integrity; On the economic front, the two countries have set a goal for bilateral trade to reach 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 and 200 billion dollars in 2020, Lavrov said.

Besides, both Russia and China have strived to boost people-to-people and cultural exchanges and deepen their military cooperation, he said.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Beijing have carried out close cooperation in global and regional organizations, such as the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Group of 20 (G20) and the BRICS, he said.

The two sides have also actively coordinated with each other on the world’s hot-spots, including the situation in West Asia and North Africa and the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, he added.

“Russia-China cooperation at all levels in international affairs has set a good example for other countries to harmonize their positions and solve the most complicated global problems,” Lavrov said.

Sharing similar positions on many international issues, the two countries have conducted close coordination in response to the fundamental changes of global geopolitics and economy, the Russian foreign minister said.

“Russia and China have common core interests. They hold similar stances on the ongoing profound changes in the world and similar approaches to new challenges,” Lavrov said.

“Russia and China support building a multi-polar world, establishing a more just and democratic global political and economic system, and enhancing the UN’s central role in coordinating and resolving hot international issues,” he said.

Russia-China cooperation on the international arena has “facilitated global peace and stability,” he said.

With regard to the upcoming 12th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the SCO which Putin will attend, Lavrov said the meeting is of great significance to consolidating cooperation among SCO member states.

According to Lavrov, the leaders are expected to endorse a number of documents during their meeting and review the proposal to accept Afghanistan as an observer state and Turkey as a dialogue partner.

Only through joint efforts can countries counter the threats to regional security, Lavrov said, adding that the SCO is becoming a key factor in safeguarding regional security and stability.

The expansion of the SCO “would strengthen the organization’s potential and raise its international prestige. New blood would bring extra energy to the SCO,” he said.

Established on 15 June, 2001 in Shanghai, the SCO is an intergovernmental international organization which groups Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its observer states include India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan, while its dialogue partners are Belarus and Sri Lanka.

The 12th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the SCO will be held in Beijing on June 6-7.

Categories: Uncategorized

Pentagon Prepares for Confrontation in the Asia-Pacific

June 2, 2012 3 comments

Stop NATO
June 2, 2012

Pentagon Prepares for Confrontation in the Asia-Pacific
Rick Rozoff

In January of this year the three officials in charge of U.S. global military strategy and operations – commander-in-chief President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey – unveiled the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, entitled “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” which officially confirmed American plans to increase its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region to counter China, now the world’s second-largest economy.

Alternately referred to as rebalancing, reemphasis, refocusing and a pivot away from Europe and toward the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, the new doctrine reflects the past twenty years’ consolidation of U.S. military and political control of Europe through the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the subjugation of North Africa and the Middle East except for, at least for the present, Syria and Iran through the creation of U.S. Africa Command, NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative military partnerships and its ten-and-a-half-year-old Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean, and the wars against Iraq and Libya.

Having not so much neutralized opposition – there were no effective challengers to U.S. geopolitical hegemony in the indicated areas – as eliminated remaining pockets of independence and nonalignment (Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya), the Pentagon and its allies are free to move against China, having already surrounded Russia through NATO expansion and partnerships from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, the South Caucasus to Central Asia, the Arctic Ocean to Mongolia.

On June 1 Pentagon chief Panetta spoke at the eleventh annual Shangri-La Dialogue defense summit in Singapore, where the U.S. has recently gained basing rights for its warships, and reiterated plans to expand, tighten and integrate its alliances with defense treaty partners in the Asia-Pacific: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand. (Taiwan is practically if not formally in that category.)

As the Defense Department’s news agency, American Forces Press Service, reported, Panetta emphasized that “Defense policy in the region calls for the U.S. military to expand military-to-military relationships well beyond the traditional treaty allies.” The allusion is to the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand) not already included in bilateral military alliances with Washington as well as new partners like Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Tonga and others supplying troops or transit bases for the U.S.-NATO war in Afghanistan. An old ally, Pakistan, and newly acquired ones, India and Bangladesh, are also within the Pentagon’s purview.

In the past few years the U.S. has pulled Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam into its political-military orbit and expanded partnerships with Malaysia and Singapore, which have troops serving under NATO command in Afghanistan along with Australia, Mongolia, New Zealand, South Korea and Tonga.

Panetta’s comments in Singapore included the following: “By 2020, the Navy will reposture its forces from today’s roughly 50/50 split between the Atlantic and Pacific to about a 60/40 split between those oceans – including six aircraft carriers, a majority of our cruisers, destroyers, littoral combat ships and submarines.”

To appreciate the scale of what that redeployment portends, it’s worth noting the unprecedented and unparalleled military capacity the U.S. has built from the end of World War II to the present, in the process establishing the first and only global military force.

The U.S. has eleven aircraft carriers with attached strike groups; all the world’s supercarriers and all but one of its twelve nuclear-powered carriers. (France has the other.) The eleven American supercarriers are the largest warships ever built.

It has 61 guided missile destroyers and 22 guided missile cruisers, all of which are part of or can be upgraded to join the Aegis Combat System, thereby being capable of participating in Washington’s worldwide interceptor missile program.

The U.S. Navy also possesses 72 submarines, 18 ballistic and 53 attack models, and 24 frigates, nine amphibious assault ships, seven amphibious transport docks, 12 dock landing ships, four littoral combat ships and scores of other vessels.

Washington has pledged to deploy 60 percent of the above to the Asia-Pacific region in the imminent future.

Ahead of his trip to Singapore, Panetta visited the headquarters of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) in Honolulu, Hawaii and American Forces Press Service reported that “There are 330,000 U.S. service members in the Pacific Command area now, and Panetta anticipates the proportion of the total military in the region will rise.”

The same source added: “The American military also wants to strengthen power projection capabilities in the region. Panetta said there will be new platforms and capabilities for troops in the area.”   

U.S. military chief Martin Dempsey is also attending the three-day Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore and his meetings in the Southeast Asian nation indicate one component of the Pentagon’s  “power projection” strategy for the Asia-Pacific area. He met with the host country’s defense minister, chief of defense and heads of its army, air force and navy and toured the Sembawang Air Base and other military facilities. 

His discussions included topics like the regular Commando Sling joint U.S.-Singapore air combat exercises and the imminent deployment of U.S. littoral combat ships to Singapore agreed upon late last year.

Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen visited the Pentagon in April, during which Panetta announced the doubling of the number of U.S. warships to be “forward deployed” to Singapore, from two to four, for exercises and operations near the strategic Strait of Malacca.

In the same month the U.S. deployed the first 200 of 2,500 Marines to northern Australia as part of a military buildup which will also include aircraft, warships and drones.

The Philippines is the third Asia-Pacific nation where the Pentagon is securing new bases to contain and ultimately confront China.

In April the U.S. and the Philippines conducted the latest Balikatan military maneuvers with 4,500 American Marines and 2,500 Philippine troops which included an amphibious assault at Ulugan Bay on Palawan Island to rehearse the “recapture” of an island near the Spratly Islands contested by the Philippines and China.

Most of the Asia-Pacific is in the area of responsibility of U.S. Pacific Command, one of six Unified Combatant Commands the Pentagon employs to maintain control of and pre-position for potential military actions throughout the world. It consists of U.S. Army Pacific, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific, U.S. Pacific Fleet and U.S. Pacific Air Forces.

PACOM’s website boasts that its geographical reach “encompasses about half the earth’s surface, stretching from the waters off the west coast of the U.S. to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole.”

Its area of responsibility takes in 36 nations and over half of the world’s population.

The website also itemizes American military assets already deployed to the Asia-Pacific:

Some 350,000 military personnel, one-fifth of total U.S. forces.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet, assigned to PACOM, includes six of eleven aircraft carrier strike groups, approximately 180 ships, 1,500 aircraft and 100,000 service members.

U.S. Marine Forces Pacific consists of two-thirds of U.S. Marine Corps combat troops, two Marine Expeditionary Forces and 85,000 personnel.

U.S. Pacific Air Forces has over 40,000 airman and more than 300 aircraft, with an additional 100 aircraft based in Guam.

U.S. Army Pacific has over 60,000 service members and five Stryker combat vehicle brigades.

There are also an estimated 1,200 Special Operations troops assigned to PACOM.

Components of U.S. Pacific Fleet, the U.S. Third Fleet is home-based in California and the Seventh Fleet in Japan. The Seventh Fleet, the largest forward-deployed naval force in the world, has 50 to 60 ships, 350 aircraft and 60,000 Marines and sailors.

U.S. Pacific Air Forces includes the Fifth Air Force in Japan, Seventh Air Force in South Korea, Eleventh Air Force in Alaska and Thirteenth Air Force in Hawaii.

PACOM has three subordinate unified commands: U.S. Forces Japan, U.S. Forces Korea and Alaskan Command.

Pacific Command has in recent years been making inroads into Asian nations that were off-limits during the Cold War period and for the first decade and a half afterward.

PACOM has been running annual Khaan Quest military exercises in Mongolia since 2003, mainly to train Mongolian troops for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Pacific conducts annual Angkor Sentinel exercises in Cambodia, as with those in Mongolia including troops from American NATO and from other Asia-Pacific allies.

PACOM and its service affiliates also hold regular military exercises elsewhere throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

In January the U.S. and Japan held the latest Keen Edge command post exercise in Japan and Hawaii.

From January 15-February 17 of this year 7,000 U.S, troops and 3,000 from Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea participated in the Cobra Gold 2012 war games in Thailand.

The U.S. and South Korea held their joint Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises from February 28 to April 30 (February 28-March 9 and March 1-April 30, respectively) with 11,000 American and over 200,000 South Korean troops.

In March the air forces of the U.S., Thailand and Singapore participated in the Cope Tiger exercise at the Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base.

At the end of the month the three-week U.S.-led Commando Sling air combat exercises in Singapore were begun.

In April the U.S. and India engaged in this year’s Malabar naval exercise, the latest in a series of annual drills with that codename, in the Bay of Bengal. The ten-day Malabar 2012 exercise was led by the U.S. Seventh Fleet and included aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, guided missile destroyer USS Halsey and American aircraft and a submarine.

In the same month the 7,000-troop U.S.-Philippine Balikatan 2012 exercise was held in the South China Sea.

On May 30 the U.S. began the 18th annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) in Indonesia. The nine-day exercise included a U.S. Navy Task Group and Marine landing force.

Other regular U.S.-led military exercises in the Asia-Pacific include the biennial U.S.-Australia Talisman Sabre and the biennial Rim of the Pacific exercises, the second the largest multinational naval maneuvers in the world. This year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise in and near Hawaii will run from June 29 to August 3 and include 24 nations, 42 ships, six submarines, over 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel.

Having vanquished most all islands of resistance and neutrality in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the Pentagon is moving its global military machine into the Asia-Pacific for a showdown with China.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stop NATO: Digest for May 28-June 1

Stop NATO: Digest for May 28-June 1

“Humanitarian Intervention” May Cause Bigger Disaster In Syria

Politicizing humanitarian crises is a dangerous tendency. The so-called humanitarian intervention in a country’s domestic crisis has often resulted in a bigger or a real humanitarian disaster.

On the one hand, many military interventions carried out by Western powers were based on false facts and ambiguous statements…Wars based on ambiguous, fragmented truth will only further trample on international justice.

For example, before NATO launched the “humanitarian intervention” war in Libya, domestic conflicts in Libya caused only hundreds of deaths, but the Libya war caused tens of thousands of deaths.

*****

Norway: U.S. Missile Radar Targets Russia

[The] radar was once named Have Stare and stationed in the town of Vandenberg in California, being part of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative or “Star Wars” program. The same newspaper cites an Internet report by Raytheon, a California-based corporation, which says that radars of that class are used in missile defense to obtain data about ballistic and cruise missiles.

Once, in 2000, a strong wind tore off the radar’s dome. Beneath was a large parabolic antenna directed towards Russia. A local newspaper editor joked back then that although he wasn’t an expert, he had always been sure that space was somewhere up in the sky. Norway called the incident a sheer coincidence, to which Leonid Ivashov, then chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s international military cooperation department, retorted that Russia had targeted its tactical nuclear missiles at Vardø, frightening the townsfolk who, up to now, are equally fearful of a potential attack and the harmful effects of radar beams on their health.

*****

NATO Summit Highlights Neo-Con/Neo-Liberal Overlap

Once in office…Obama’s policies showed far more continuity than change when compared to Bush’s – a pattern that’s only grown more pronounced over time, as the NATO summit clearly underscored.

Allies may find the neo-liberals more pleasant and less unpredictable to work with, but it’s all the same empire in the end. Neither the neo-cons nor the neo-liberals have any intention to realistically face up to the facts of imperial decline or the damage America’s empire does to its own democracy, much less anyone else’s. And neither group has any clue about how to build a sustainable economy with broad prosperity for all.

[T]he shifting focus from ground troops to drone warfare, while continuing Reagan’s Star Wars missile defence fantasy, betrays a much stronger commitment on Obama’s part than Bush’s to the long-term neo-con endeavour of transforming America’s military into a highly agile, post-modern, cyber-age fighting force, what the neo-cons called “transform[ing] US Forces to exploit the ‘revolution in military affairs’” [RMD] – one of “four core missions” identified in the Project for a New America’s September 2000 campaign document, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses“.

*****

Ambassador: Russia Alarmed Over Greater Albania Project

“It’s a very dangerous project for the entire Southeastern Europe region, and it would represent a precedent,” the top Russian diplomat in Serbia said late on Thursday, adding that his country will “strongly oppose attempts to form a Greater Albania.”

Konuzin also revealed that Russia supported Serbia as a militarily neutral country, “and statements from Belgrade on that subject”.

*****

Gallup: NATO Intervention In Libya Unpopular In Arab World

Gallup data from 2012 show pluralities in the Arab world opposed NATO’s intervention in Libya in 2011, suggesting that similar moves in Syria could meet with considerable disapproval in the region.

At least a plurality in all nine Arab countries surveyed and the region of Somaliland opposed NATO intervention in Libya. Residents in several North African countries, including Morocco (12%), Egypt (13%), and Algeria (14%) were the least likely to say they were in favor of NATO intervention.

*****

U.S. NATO Troops Open Fire On Serbs In Northern Kosovo

Members of American KFOR did not allow injured to be taken to the emergency room of Kosovska Mitrovica according to reports. Witnesses, the media and Mayor Milović said KFOR Lieutenant Joseph Lynch did not allow the passage of injured to the emergency room or the passing of local government representatives.

Armoured machinery of KFOR removes a concrete barricade on the bridge in Rudaru. Prior to removing the roadblocks tear gas was fired at about 500 citizens gathered around the bridge reports a KiM radio reporter from the scene who also said they used rubber bullets and live ammunition.

*****

Kosovo: NATO Fires On Serb Protesters

Local authorities said there was reason to believe KFOR troops had fired live bullets.

KFOR troops threw teargas at Serbs who were trying to get to the barricade in the village of Dudin Krš.

KFOR helicopters are flying over the area and a KFOR transporter is parked at a bridge in Malo Rudare.

[T]here were around 1,000 people near the barricade and…KFOR would start shooting as soon as they saw someone approaching the barricade.

*****

Missile Shield To Middle East Mayhem: U.S. Planning Broad Conflict?

Today, it does not seem too far-fetched to suggest that Barack Obama was foisted upon the world stage to rebrand America’s foreign policy, which had lost most of its credibility and legitimacy under Bush. Ironically, however, with the benefit of hindsight, Obama has turned out to be far more dangerous than his reckless predecessor.

America’s hyperactive impetuousness when it comes to getting its military invested around the world, combined with its determination to build a European missile defense shield, lends itself to the theory that something sinister is afoot.

Reminiscent of the US attack on Iraq in 2003, America seems to be gearing up for a military move on Syria…

[W]hen the Middle East situation is viewed according to the sum of its parts, which include the US missile defense shield over the fence from Russia’s backyard, it looks as if the US, Israel and NATO may be pushing hard for a broad military offensive in the Middle East.

*****

U.S. Ready To Attack Syria Outside UN?

“Ambassador Rice is basically telling Russia and China and other members of the Security Council that if they do not go along with Western plans for more stringent sanctions and other actions against Syria, the US and its NATO allies reserve the right to act outside the Security Council as they did with Yugoslavia 13 years ago and launch military actions against Syria.”

*****

Europe Replaces U.S. As Cheerleader For Military Expansion

[B]esides the Russian nuclear potential (still a problem in the eyes of the U.S., since it is the only deterrent to their global ambitions), Americans and Europeans also plan to render defenseless those countries in the Middle East which dare disagree with the Western policies.

“What is interesting is the fact that the perspective of a new missile shield did not move West European nations even an inch closer to abandoning their nuclear deterrents.”

*****

Obama: Judge, Jury And Executioner

Most of the people targeted for such strikes are foreign nationals, but occasionally there are American citizens among them, who are “brought to justice” in this extrajudicial procedure. And commentators say that Barack Obama is the first U.S. president who has acquired the right to single-handedly decide to be “judge, jury, and executioner”.

“Innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,” said one of the officials. Therefore they reject all talk about collateral deaths as the militants’ propaganda.

Well, following such logic, all the Pashto population in the area on both sides of the Afghan–Pakistani border may be eliminated. They travel to and from the border quite frequently, and bearing guns is their usual habit (guaranteed, by the way, by the Second Amendment for every American citizen as well).

In December 2009, less than a year in his presidential capacity, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – regarded by most observers as a prize for just being “anti-Bush”, rather than accomplishing anything significant on the global arena.

But even by that time he had authorized more drone strikes than George W. Bush had approved during his entire presidency.

*****

China, Russia Offset West’s Actions In Syria

If a country is allowed to intervene in another country’s domestic affairs at will, our world will be plagued by a long series of wars driven by subversions of regimes. No matter how history judges them, it will be a nightmare for people of this age.

The West has not really tasted any victory in the post-Cold War era. Although it managed to overthrow a few powerless regimes, the gains were only short-lived, as resentment against the West still exists in these countries. Afghanistan and Iraq are left with no solutions, while Egypt and Libya’s futures hang in the air.

*****

Pentagon Consolidates Control Over Balkans

The military bloc’s inauguration as an active, aggressive military force in Bosnia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s laid the groundwork for the U.S.’s already unmatched military to move troops, hardware and bases into Southeast Europe for actions there and to points east and south: The Middle East, the Caucasus, North Africa and Central and South Asia.

Each NATO military operation over the past 17 years, in Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya, has provided the alliance with bases, centers, troops and logistics for later and for future wars. Air bases in Bulgaria and Romania were employed for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and, as noted above, every Balkan nation but Serbia has supplied troops for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pentagon and NATO military personnel, aircraft, ships and radar in Southeast Europe can be used in attacks on Syria and Iran and in any new armed conflict in the South Caucasus, such as the five-day war between Georgia and Russia four years ago.

The U.S. and its NATO allies are expanding their military presence and infrastructure ever closer to new theaters of war.

*****

Chicago: NATO Protests Bring Back Memories Of 1968

Many protesters were there to actually oppose the so-called global military arm, NATO, whom my dad says, “just spreads the U.S. agenda by giving us an excuse to ship out troops for the implementation of Western influence.”

“All I know is that it doesn’t stop…[it] didn’t stop in the ’60s, got lost in the ’70s with consumerism and technology, but now it’s back: ‘Why are you sending people to kill other people?’”

*****

Video: Occupy Wall Street on NATO summit and protests

VIDEO

*****

Madeleine Albright And The Iraqi Genocide

Soaring rates of cancer among children in Iraq and deformities at birth linked to the weapons used in the 1991 US bombing of the country, and then in 12 years of further bombing and the 2003 war, have exacerbated and compounded an enormous tragedy. Others accused of crimes against humanity end up at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, though only, it seems, if eastern European or African. Meanwhile, Albright has been gathering a bizarre collection of “humanitarian” awards.

A year later, the 1999 razing of much of the Balkans became known as “Madeleine’s war”. The largely unrecognised state of Kosova, carved out of that decimation, is now rated as one of the most corrupt and lawless countries in the region and high in the world ranking, according to December 2011 findings by the NGO Transparency International.

Talking after the virtual destruction of Iraq as a state, its archives and government institutions bombed, looted, or stolen, she told US journalist Jim Lehrer in September 2003 that “I think we actually kept him [former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein] in a strategic box. We bombed very much, if you remember all the maps, always in terms of north and south, covering a great portion of Iraq. I think we had him in the box.”

No mention here that both the bombing and the boxing in were illegal.

As ever, the majority of the bombing victims consisted of Iraq’s children, for whom Albright’s contempt was seemingly boundless: shepherds and goat herders tending the family flocks with no place to hide.

*****

Afghanistan: Civilian Deaths Continue Unchecked

The war in Afghanistan has already lasted for more than 10 years (2001–present) and killed tens of thousands of Afghan civilians directly as well as the deaths of tens of thousands more indirectly as a consequence of displacement, starvation, disease, exposure, lack of medical treatment, crime and lawlessness resulting from the war.

*****

Karl Kraus: The evolution of humanitarian bombing

Schalek: …You are a combatant, and I’d like to find out how its feels. Most of all: how do you feel afterward?

Lieutenant: Well, it is strange. I feel like a king who has suddenly become a beggar. You know, it almost feels like being a king, so high above the enemy city. There they are below – helpless. No one can run away, no one can save himself or hide. You have power over them all. It’s majestic – all else becomes insignificant.

Schalek: I can identify with that feeling. Did you ever bomb Venice?…What, you have scruples? Well, I’ll tell you something. Venice is a problem worth thinking about. We entered the war filled with romantic ideas…

Lieutenant: Who did?

*****

NATO Summit: Desperate Efforts To Maintain Western Hegemony

The just-concluded North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Chicago proved that the West is desperately trying to maintain its hegemony in the world. The 25th Summit was the largest summit and was attended by about 60 countries and organizations, including the 28 NATO members.

Countries such as China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela have all refused to follow the Western pattern and are following their own pattern. Similarly, the West is now aligning itself with the extreme and dogmatic Islamists against liberal Islamic leaders such as Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad. The West is also inciting the Sunnis against the Shias, and is lining up with the Saudis against the forces in the Arab world who want more democratic rights for their people.

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“Humanitarian Intervention” May Cause Bigger Disaster In Syria

June 1, 2012 2 comments

People’s Daily
June 1, 2012

‘Humanitarian intervention’ may cause bigger disaster
By Tian Wenlin

Eight Western nations, including the United States and the United Kingdom, expelled Syrian diplomats Tuesday in response to a massacre of civilians in the Syrian town of Houla on May 25. The new French president even stated that he would not rule out international military intervention in Syria.

Western powers have long been intervening in other countries’ domestic affairs under the banner of “preventing humanitarian catastrophes.” The Houla massacre has undoubtedly offered them a perfect excuse to intervene in Syria’s domestic affairs. It is easy to imagine that they will impose harsher sanctions on the violence-riddled country, and may even launch a military intervention.

Without truth, there can be no justice. The top priority right now is to find out the truth behind the massacre. As Syria’s opposing parties are all shifting the blame, we can guess that whoever benefits the most from the massacre is the mastermind.

Previously, the Bashar al-Assad-led Syrian government had started a political transition by holding a constitutional referendum and parliamentary elections, and the country’s political situation was heading in the right direction as the government expected. Furthermore, the mediation by U.N.-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan created a favorable international environment for a “political soft landing” in Syria.

In such a context, the Syrian government was more than willing to maintain the status quo. The massacre occurred at a time when the United Nations was sending more monitors to Syria, and during Annan’s visit to the country. It would not make any sense for the Syrian government to cause trouble for itself and to offer Western powers an excuse to intervene. Therefore, the Syrian government is the most unlikely suspect for the massacre.

Those who want to oust Assad and fish in troubled waters are more likely suspects.

The Syrian government has vowed to find the truth. All parties concerned should have refrained from taking reckless action before the truth comes out. However, certain Western nations have hastily criticized the Assad regime, and imposed diplomatic sanctions on Syria. The Houla massacre is being “politicized” by Western powers seeking to increase pressure on the Syrian government.

Politicizing humanitarian crises is a dangerous tendency. The so-called humanitarian intervention in a country’s domestic crisis has often resulted in a bigger or a real humanitarian disaster.

On the one hand, many military interventions carried out by Western powers were based on false facts and ambiguous statements. For instance, Western powers launched a war on Iraq in 2003 because of Saddam Hussein’s regime’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction. The allegation was later proved totally unfounded. Wars based on ambiguous, fragmented truth will only further trample on international justice.

On the other hand, this kind of military intervention usually leads to real humanitarian disasters. For example, before the NATO launched the “humanitarian intervention” war in Libya, domestic conflicts in Libya caused only hundreds of deaths, but the Libya war caused tens of thousands of deaths.

Currently, signs showing that the “humanitarian intervention” will lead to larger humanitarian disasters have already appeared in Syria. If Western countries did not always suppress the Bashar administration and financially support the opposition, the turbulence of the Syrian situation would not have lasted to today and the Houla incident would not have happened. In this sense, Western countries should be held responsible for this slaughter.

More dangerously, if the West insists on making use of the “Houla incident” to overthrow the Bashar administration, it will intensify contradictions among the different denominations of Syria and lead to real humanitarian disasters that are severer and much more tragic than the Houla incident. It is not that the Western countries cannot see this prospect, they just do not care. Their “humanitarian intervention” is hypocritical actually.

Currently, the Houla incident has pushed Syria to the top of the wave once again. Syria is facing two roads and two prospects. First, various denominations of Syria base their considerations on the overall national interest of Syria and the welfare of the Syrian people, and learn a lesson from the past and choose the road of political reconciliation. This road will have a bright future. Second, various denominations of Syria continue intensifying their confrontations. It will make the political situation of Syria more turbulent and even lead to a result like the result of Libya: The current administration will be overthrown by them and the West and larger humanitarian disasters will occur. This road will have a dark prospect.

All peace-loving political forces must learn a lesson from the past and make up their minds to make the political situation of Syria have a “soft landing.”

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Norway: U.S. Missile Radar Targets Russia

June 1, 2012 4 comments

Voice of Russia
June 1, 2012

Radar keeps an eye on Russia
Grigory Milenin

Meeting in Chicago last Month, NATO leaders looked at all aspects of the potential Iranian threat and how to unravel the Afghan knot, and once again they assured Moscow that a missile defense shield that is currently being deployed in Europe is not directed against Russia.

Quite peace-loving statements, only sometimes out of tune with reality.

Far north of the Arctic Circle, the tiny windblown Norwegian town of Vardø on the Barents Sea has for years been home to the Globe-2 radar. The United States and Norway have reportedly been using it to track satellite and space junk in low-Earth orbits.

A few years ago, however, Norwegian journalist Inge Sellevag found out that NASA had no such radar in its space surveillance network.

According to the Bergens Tidende, Norway’s fourth largest newspaper, the above radar was once named Have Stare and stationed in the town of Vandenberg in California, being part of the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative or “Star Wars” program. The same newspaper cites an Internet report by Raytheon, a California-based corporation, which says that radars of that class are used in missile defense to obtain data about ballistic and cruise missiles.

That’s true, said Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, head of the Center for Geopolitical Studies in Moscow.

“The radar’s deployment coincided with Bill Clinton’s policy of withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty. So, Americans simply dismantled their radar in California and moved it over to Vardø in Norway. We immediately suspected what was later confirmed by the intelligence, namely that that radar was for other purposes than the ones declared by Norwegians and Americans.”

As for tracking space junk that may vary from a screw to a rocket stage, Vardø is the last place in the world for this task. Its location makes quality surveillance impossible. You just won’t see most of the space junk from Vardø. Better do it at somewhere closer to the equator. Whereas, in terms of tracking Russian ballistic or cruise missile tests from Plesetsk to the Kura launch pad on Kamchatka, Vardø is just ideal.

Once, in 2000, a strong wind tore off the radar’s dome. Beneath was a large parabolic antenna directed towards Russia. A local newspaper editor joked back then that although he wasn’t an expert, he had always been sure that space was somewhere up in the sky. Norway called the incident a sheer coincidence, to which Leonid Ivashov, then chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s international military cooperation department, retorted that Russia had targeted its tactical nuclear missiles at Vardø, frightening the townsfolk who, up to now, are equally fearful of a potential attack and the harmful effects of radar beams on their health.

ANNOUNCER: A report from Grigory Milenin.

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NATO Summit Highlights Neo-Con/Neo-Liberal Overlap

June 1, 2012 2 comments

Al Jazeera
June 1, 2012

 

NATO summit highlights neo-con/neo-liberal overlap
More similar than different, both of America’s recent imperial ideologies have failed
By Paul Rosenberg

 

San Pedro, CA – As the general election phase of the American presidential election gets underway, the recent NATO summit serves as a potent reminder of just how little difference there ultimately is between the neo-con extremists who dominated US foreign policy under George W Bush, and the neo-liberals who run just about everything in the Obama administration.

Most notably, dozens of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans returned their medals in a mass action that recalledOperation Dewey Canyon III, in April, 1971, when more than a thousand members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War held five days of marches and demonstrations against the Vietnam War in Washington, DC, including a memorial service near the Tomb of the Unknown and a ceremony on the Capitol steps where more than 800 veterans returned their combat medals.

Sgt Alejandro Villatoro introduced the other veterans at the NATO protests:

“At this time, one by one, veterans of the wars of NATO will walk up on stage. They will tell us why they chose to return their medals to NATO. I urge you to honour them by listening to their stories. Nowhere else will you hear from so many who fought these wars about their journey from fighting a war to demanding peace. Some of us killed innocents. Some of us helped in continuing these wars from home. Some of us watched our friends die. Some of us are not here, because we took our own lives. We did not get the care promised to us by our government. All of us watched failed policies turn into bloodshed.”

Two sides of the same coin

http://www.aljazeera.com/AJEPlayer/player-licensed-viral.swf
 Anti-war protesters clash with police at NATO summit

Like their Vietnam-era forebearers, these anti-war veterans have broad, though often unacknowledged support among the American people. In the most recent poll, support for the Afghanistan War is down to 27 per cent, with 66 per cent opposed – levels similar to the Vietnam War in 1971, with support down dramatically, 20 per cent lower than just two years ago. Yet, President Obama recently signed a 10-year security pact with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a surprise trip to Aghanistan. There are virtually no traces of al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan, but our continued involvement there may continue creating enemies for decades to come.

This is not how most people expected things to be. Obama had, after all, given an anti-war speech in October 2002, hadn’t he? And that was a major reason netroots activists gave him a decisive advantage in the 2008 Democratic primary. He was the candidate people trusted to end Bush’s wars, and set out a new direction. Once in office, however, Obama’s policies showed far more continuity than change when compared to Bush’s – a pattern that’s only grown more pronounced over time, as the NATO summit clearly underscored.

This isn’t to say there aren’t some important differences between neo-cons and neo-liberals. Two in particular stand out: First off, the neo-cons only represent one faction of the conservative ideological kaleidescope, with their focus and influence limited largely to foreign affairs. In contrast, neo-liberals represent an integrated economic, military/foreign policy, social issues policy framework, applying naïve faith in market-based solutions to anything that moves. Second, the neo-cons are stupendously reckless, impulsive, undisciplined and dangerous, and could easily plunge the world into any number of military disasters, while the calmer, more methodical neo-liberals are far more prone toward drifting, or bumbling into disaster, rather than enthusiastically plunging in head first. These temperamental differences also lead the neo-liberals to be more multi-lateralist.

In the long run, however, the end results tend to be depressingly similar. Allies may find the neo-liberals more pleasant and less unpredictable to work with, but it’s all the same empire in the end. Neither the neo-cons nor the neo-liberals have any intention to realistically face up to the facts of imperial decline or the damage America’s empire does to its own democracy, much less anyone else’s. And neither group has any clue about how to build a sustainable economy with broad prosperity for all.

Obama was elected president largely based on the illusion his policies would not substantially overlap with the neo-con thrust of Bush’s policies, but would constitute a fundamental repudiation of them. Instead, Obama’s finally managed to “rationalise” Bush’s policies – in both a managerial and a propaganda sense – far more effectively than Bush ever dreamed of. Yes, the term “global war on terror” is gone, but the concept lives on, more unquestionable than ever by virtue of not even being named. Torture is out, but assassination by drone is in. More dissenters than ever have been prosecuted, or are under investigation, with far less vigorous public dissent than Bush ever faced. War criminals walk free under the rubric of “looking forward, not back”, while whistleblowers like Bradley Manning are prosecuted for aiding the terrorists. If Obama were still a state senator, he might even be morally outraged.

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 NATO summit discusses Afghanistan withdrawal

Return of the Project for a New America

Meanwhile, the shifting focus from ground troops to drone warfare, while continuing Reagan’s Star Wars missile defence fantasy, betrays a much stronger commitment on Obama’s part than Bush’s to the long-term neo-con endeavour of transforming America’s military into a highly agile, post-modern, cyber-age fighting force, what the neo-cons called “transform[ing] US Forces to exploit the ‘revolution in military affairs'” [RMD] – one of “four core missions” identified in the Project for a New America’s September 2000 campaign document, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses“. The report cited two defining aspects of RMD: “global missile defences” and “control of space and cyberspace”, but the shift to a central focus on information technology – heralded by the use of GPS technology in the first Gulf War – has ripple effects that profoundly impact plans for every service branch of America’s military.

Although the document was largely overlooked at the time, and Bush proved singularly inept at fulfilling the first “core mission” to “defend the American homeland”, in many ways “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” was eerily prophetic of America’s military response to 9/11 – despite the fact that the report barely even mentioned terrorists themselves, except for the possibility they might take over a communications satellite. At one point, the report frankly noted, “While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” Elsewhere, it said, “The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.” 9/11 was just such an event – and yet, for all their bluster, and all their enthusiasm, when all was said and done, the neo-cons were simply not up for the job.

It’s worth noting here that the other two “core missions” identified were:

  • fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars;
  • perform the “constabulary” duties associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions

On the first point, the neo-cons typical lack of impulse control not only drew them to the idea of multiple simultaneous wars in principle, but also in practice, invading Iraq while leaving Afghanistan not just unfinished, but deteriorating – yet another indication of their inability to execute their own fantasies. Obama’s firm commitment to multi-lateralism draws jeers – and worse – from the neo-con crowd, but ultimately it translates into a more realistic way of fighting multiple wars at once. On the second point, Obama’s neoliberal efficiency has manifested itself in a much more thorough and extensive attention to “fighting terrorism” in a wider range of countries than the neo-cons ever managed. Which brings us to the recent NATO summit, and the accompanying “No NATO” demonstrations.

Climbing the NATO summit

While America’s corporate media routinely downplayed the demonstrations, the range of issues and contradictions they highlighted was simply overwhelming, the organisers themselves implicitly admitted, when they moved the scheduled G8 meeting to Camp David, as private a locale as such a conference can have. In Maryland, the Occupy G8 Peoples Summit convened to discuss a radically different economic vision, reflecting the bottom-up perspective of the Occupy movement and similarly-minded movements in Greece, Spain, Britain and the Arab world.

That vision might seem hopelessly utopian, but every aspect of the modern welfare state once seemed equally utopian, from universal education, to minimum wage laws, to retirement insurance – and every aspect of the modern welfare state is now threatened by unaccountable elites who seem all too eager to destroy it. Neo-liberals like Obama may oppose the extremist austerity measures embodied in proposals like the Ryan Budget (even Romney has now admitted they would lead to renewed recession), but even if Obama were to win resoundingly in November, he’s still on record as favouring a multi-trillion-dollar “grand bargain” that would drastically slash core welfare state programmes like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

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 Inside Story Americas – Can NATO survive?

Chicago saw a much wider array of activities spanning a full week, most prominently, a demonstration led by the National Nurses Union calling for a 0.5 per cent “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions, and the already-mentioned joint anti-war march and demonstration led by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and Afghans for Peace. Many NNU members and their supporters showed up wearing red shorts and green felt Robin Hood-style hats.

NNU co-president Karen Higgins said the nurses want to fund healthcare instead of warfare. “We pay sales tax. It is time for Wall Street to start paying back what they owe the rest of the country and they need to pay sales tax.” Other countries have such a tax, as did the US from 1914 through 1966. It could raise up to $350 billion a year, according to the NNU.

Doing this would at least start to shift us back toward the sort of tax structure that helped produce the decades-long robust economic success of the early post-WWII years from 1946 through 1968.

Of course, those years were far from perfect – women and minorities were limited to second-class citizen status, at best. But the basic promise of broadly-shared prosperity for all is not something easily forgotten, once glimpsed – even tasted. And if possible for virtually all white men, then why not for everyone?

This is the question that haunts America – and the world – today. It is a question that neither neo-cons nor neo-liberals can possibly ever answer. And that is why, sooner or later, their failed ideologies must fall.

Paul Rosenberg is the Senior Editor of Random Lengths News, a bi-weekly alternative community newspaper.

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