The United States has several thousand operational nuclear missiles. It has a large fleet of strategic bombers, an enormous navy, and hundreds of thousands of soldiers and marines. The US could bomb, blockade, and invade North Korea if it chose to incur the cost. Yet North Korea is threatening to fire missiles at Guam, a US island territory in the Western Pacific where a substantial portion of the American strategic forces are now stationed. The North Koreans have been unyielding in insisting that they intend to complete a force of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles that could strike the US. This seems to be irrational behavior. But if these are the deeds of an irrational regime, how has this same regime, founded by the current leader’s grandfather, survived since 1948? It survived a devastating war, managed to stay nimble during the Sino-Soviet confrontation, and endured the fall of the Soviet Union and the transformation of China, starvation in the 1990s, and confrontation with the United States. The regime should have collapsed many times. It didn’t. If survival is a measure of rationality, and it should be, then the leadership class (and it is of course more than just one person) could not have lasted for almost 70 years if it were irrational. North Korea may have bizarre values, but its leaders have not been stupid. So the question is, what are they seeing now?
The former Soviet republic of Moldova may actually become yet another foothold for the US military in Europe. The US Naval Facilities Engineering Command Europe Africa Southwest Asia (NAVFAC EURAFSWA) plans to construct eight training facilities for military operations in urban terrain at the Bulboaca training base in Moldova. The fact that the US Navy Department is involved makes believe the facility will host American Marines. *** A total of $1.6 million has already been invested in the renovation of the Bulboaca base located near Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria or the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic. The largely Russian-speaking region broke away from Moldova following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The secession led to an armed conflict that ended in a ceasefire in July 1992. Russian troops were deployed to the conflict zone in accordance with the Agreement on the Principles for a Peaceful Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Transnistrian Region of the Republic of Moldova, signed in 1992 by the presidents of Russia and Moldova in the presence of Transnistria’s leader.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 14, 2017.
What a scary week in the Mideast. The epicenter of the world’s energy resources and the land-bridge between Asia and Africa is spinning out of control as the danger of a shooting war between the US and Russia grows daily. A U.S. F-18 warplane shot down a Syrian Air Force SU-22 ground attack aircraft over eastern Syria. This was a grave, reckless provocation clearly authorized by Washington. Russia, Syria’s ally, threatened to begin targeting its supposedly deadly S-300 missiles against U.S. warplanes over Syria. Another U.S. warplane shot down an Iranian drone over southeastern Syria as U.S. forces and U.S. mercenary Arab troops closed in on a worthless piece of ground on the Syrian-Iraq border. Russia is rushing ten more warships into the Mediterranean, though most are obsolescent or small. The U.S. Navy is challenging – or provoking – the Iranians in the Gulf. U.S. technicians and crews are keeping Saudi warplanes bombing Yemen, where half the population faces starvation. Just across the Red Sea, U.S. warplanes and special forces are attacking the Somalia nationalist resistance movement, Shebab. At least 4,000 more U.S. troops are headed for Afghanistan’s stalemated war. U.S. Marines are attacking ISIS positions near Mosul, al-Tanf and Raqaa and adding long-ranged HIMARS artillery rockets. American forces are using white phosphorus, a hideous chemical weapon, against Isis defenders. Iran may send more ‘volunteer’ troops into Syria and Iraq as U.S. warplanes probe Iran’s airspace. Turkey is reportedly moving against U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria. Some Mideast experts believe the U.S. may be set on partitioning Syria.
Authored by Peter Korzun via The Strategic Culture Foundation, Norway is executing a drastic change in its military policy, towards a far more aggressive posture. A total of 330 US Marines have been stationed for a trial period from January at the Vaernes military base east of Trondheim. The deployment marks the first time since World War II that foreign troops have been allowed to station in Norway. Last year, the Norwegian Parliament approved a one-year trial period for the US military presence, including two six-month rotations. Now it is planned to double the Marines presence in the country from 330 to 650 soldiers. Norway and the United States are now discussing the usefulness of continuing this agreement beyond 2017. The airport in Nord-Trndelag can become a major military air base. The US Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway, already stores large amounts of military equipment in caves. The caves currently hold enough to equip a fighting force of 4,600 Marines. The US military plans to enlarge the stockpile allowing it to store enough weapons and equipment for a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (up to 16, 000 servicemen). Planners are completing an analysis of the current gear cache that should wrap up in the next 12 months. There are other plans to increase US military presence in the country. Last summer, a study group from the US Navy visited both Andya and Evenes airports in northern Norway to see if they could host American P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 19, 2017.
The crimes committed by the US forces by bombing units of the Syrian Arab Army that were advancing to liberate the Al-Tanf crossing on the border with Iraq, and before it in Al-Thardah Mountain in Deir Al-Zour, and then Al-Shaerat Airport were not random or coincidental. They were, as in the case of the war crimes committed by US aircrafts against the Syrian people and Syrian infrastructure, calculated, and are part of the general geopolitical scheme to divide the region. The truth is that any connection between Syria and Iraq has been forbidden since the two countries’ independence in the middle of the 20th century. The Baghdad Pact of 1955, which included Britain, Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan was meant contain the Arab national tide on the one hand, and to counter what then was called Soviet influence in the region on the other hand. Although this alliance fell in 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared a set principles in a private letter to Congress, which became known as the Eisenhower Doctrine. According to these principles, any country could request US economic aid or aid of the US armed forces if subjected to threats from another country. This was what Camille Chamoun did in 1958, when the nationalists in Lebanon rebelled to pursue the Arab national line and against Chamoun’s attempt to rig elections. Eisenhower responded to Chamoun’s request and sent the Marines to Beirut to preserve the ‘neutrality’ of Lebanon’s foreign policy, despite its ‘sympathy’ with Arab issues. After Sadat signed the Sinai 2 Agreement, and later the Camp David Accords, President Hafez al-Assad tried to compensate for the Arabs’ loss of Egypt by establishing a Levantine Front. He went to Iraq, Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization in Beirut.
Army just arrived at Parliament. @standardnews pic.twitter.com/c1liGDTD4i — Kate Proctor (@KateProctorES) May 24, 2017
This week Theresa May has taken Britain closer towards martial law. According to British Home Secretary Amber Rudd, the government has begun an initial deployment of 1,000 British troops onto the streets of the UK in order to help the police after the alleged ‘ISIS attack’ in Manchester on Monday evening. Total number of troops expected to join the deployment will be 4,000, including some Royal Marines and RAF Police.
Authored by Carey Wedler via TheAntiMedia.org, Only one lawyer who prosecuted the Nuremberg trials is still alive today, and he has an important message for the world: war is not the answer. 60 Minutes recently interviewed Ben Ferencz, a son of Romanian Jewish immigrants who found refuge in the United States. His father worked as a janitor, and Ben was the first person in his family to go to college. After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, he was driven to enlist in the military. Due to his short stature, the Air Force rejected him, as did the Marines. He eventually finished his education at Harvard and went on to join the Army, landing at Normandy and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. Because of his legal training, Ferencz was transferred to a new unit in General Patton’s Third Army, where he was tasked with gathering evidence from concentration camps as the U. S. Army liberated them. That information was going to be used to prosecute war crimes. He says he is still haunted by what he saw and the stories he heard, remembering the story of a son whose father had hidden bread for him under his arm every night so other prisoners couldn’t steal it. Though he returned home to the United States, he has soon summoned again. General Telford Taylor, who was in charge of the Nuremberg trials, requested Ferencz’ legal expertise, sending him multiple binders of top secret documents from the Nazi regime.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 10, 2017.
Authored by Paul Atwood via The Strategic Culture Foundation, A few months ago I received a message from a professor at the Khomeini Institute for Education and Research in Tehran, Iran, informing me that my 2010 book ‘War and Empire: The American Way of Life’ (London, Pluto Press) had been translated into Farsi. He requested that I write an Introduction for Iranian readers. What follows is that Introduction. Two years ago the Xinhua Peoples’ Press in Beijing, China also published a translation in Mandarin. In the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s 1991 attempt to annex Kuwait the U. S. deliberately destroyed much of Iraq’s water and sewer infrastructure. The Pentagon even admitted on its website that these acts would lead to mass outbreaks of disease. These were certifiable war crimes under international law. After Saddam’s defeat the U. S. also imposed widespread sanctions on his regime that included preventing necessary medicines from reaching Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens perished as a result. In an infamous interview in 1996 Madeleine Albright, then the Secretary of State, was asked to justify the deaths of 500,000 children. She defended these atrocities by saying ‘I think this is a very hard choice but we think the price is worth it.’ Twenty-one years have elapsed since Albright uttered her rationalization of this vicious barbarity and it has been virtually ‘disappeared’ from the collective memory of Americans. But it is far from being the only one. Today much the same is being visited upon the children of Mosul, Syria and Yemen. Fifty thousand more marines are slated for deployment to Afghanistan and the new Defense Secretary’s bellicose rhetoric threatens Iran.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 7, 2017.
Perhaps it is time to shift attention away from the “rally around the flag” diversion that is North Korea and pay some attention to China, which delighted by the ongoing geopolitical distractions is currently building the world’s largest submarine facility, which will be able to produce as many as four ultramodern nuclear submarines at a time. Starting later this year, China’s new submarine factory on the Yellow Sea will churn out nuclear-powered attack submarines (or SSNs) ensuring that the sub program of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will soon be a deadly global force. Once fully operational, the assembly line will enable China to at least match USN SSN production. Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industrial Corporation (BSHIC) is putting the finishing touches on its new facility, which as profiled by Popsci, will start production this year. BSHIC, based in Huludao, Liaoning Province, is China’s only builder of nuclear submarines. It previously built the Type 091, 093 nuclear attack submarines (SSN) and Type 092 and 094 nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 21, 2017.
The Trump administration has stopped disclosing material information about the size and nature of the U. S. commitment to military action in Iraq and Syria, including the number of U. S. troops deployed in either country, in a bid to “surprise” the Islamic State with the number of US troops in the region the LA Times reports. *** Earlier this month, the Pentagon quietly dispatched 400 Marines to northern Syria to operate artillery in support of Syrian militias that are cooperating in the fight against Islamic State, according to U. S. officials. That was the first use of U. S. Marines in that country since its long civil war began. In Iraq, nearly 300 Army paratroopers were deployed recently to help the Iraqi military in their six-month assault on the city of Mosul, according to U. S. officials. The decision appears to be making good on Trump’s promise as a candidate to insist on more of an ‘element of surprise’ in battle tactics. ‘In order to maintain tactical surprise, ensure operational security and force protection, the coalition will not routinely announce or confirm information about the capabilities, force numbers, locations, or movement of forces in or out of Iraq and Syria,’ said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 2, 2017.
The War of Terror on Syria is, seemingly, approaching a clear and visible end, though like everything with the conflict so far, it doesn’t look pretty. Far from the ideal scenario of the Syrian Arab Army liberating every square inch of their civilization-state, an internal partition looks more likely than it ever has before, though it’s still NOT inevitable. The insertion of hundreds of conventional American troops (Marines) into the battlespace has severely complicated efforts to bring the PYD-YPG ethno-supremacist gang to heel in any post-Daesh scenario, and it’s clear that Washington and Tel Aviv are working hard to see to it that their proxies are ‘rewarded’ for their ‘anti-terrorist’ victories, especially in the event they that successfully defeat the terrorists in Raqqa. It’s ‘politically inconvenient’ to admit, but what legally amounts to the American invasion of Syria wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for an implicit agreement with Russia, most likely codified during the early-March Antalya meeting between the Russian, American, and Turkish Chiefs of Staff. The same can be said for Turkey’s conventional military involvement in northern Syria through ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’. It’s unclear whether Moscow’s tacit approval of either of these two milestones was coordinated with Damascus, but listening to the Syrian government’s rhetoric about how ‘all uninvited foreign troops are invaders’, the only reasonable conclusion is that there may have been a breakdown in communication.
As I noted above, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has recently moved the Doomsday Clock forward to ‘two and a half minutes to midnight.’ The Bulletin gave the following reasons for this latest, extraordinary increase in their estimate of world destruction: North Korea conducted two more nuclear weapons tests, the second, in September, yielding about twice the explosive power of the first, in January. Pyongyang also relentlessly tested missiles, achieving a rate of about two launches per month in 2016. In his 2017 New Year’s statement, Kim Jong-un declared he would soon test a missile with an intercontinental range. The UN Security Council passed new sanctions against North Korea in November 2016 in an effort to further limit the country’s access to cash, but there is no guarantee those sanctions will succeed where others have failed. Meanwhile, Russia is building new silo-based missiles, the new Borei class of nuclear ballistic missile submarines, and new rail-mobile missiles as it revamps other intercontinental ballistic missiles. The United States forges ahead with plans to modernize each part of its triad (bombers, land-based missiles, and missile-carrying submarines), adding new capabilities, such as cruise missiles with increased ranges. As it improves the survivability of its own nuclear forces, China is helping Pakistan build submarine platforms. And Pakistan and India continue to expand the number of weapons in and the sophistication of their nuclear arsenals.
Former Goldman president, and current White House chief economic advisor – as well as the person who supposedly is engaged in a bitter fued with Peter Navarro over the shape of future US trade policy – Gary Cohn appeared on Fox News Sunday, and spoke at length to Chris Wallace about some of the key economic policy changes to be implemented. First, he touched on Obamacare repeal, saying that the administration will do “whatever it takes” to get the bill passed, setting a high bar for expectations from Trump who is still expected to meet significant challenges from House and Senate republicans. Cohn then touched on Trump’s vision to protect the country, saying the Obama administration under-invested in the military the past eight years. “Unfortunately, we have no alternative but to reinvest in our military and make ourselves a military power once again,” Cohn said. Cohn said Trump met over the last several weeks with generals from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to talk about the military’s preparedness. He said it has been disappointing to hear what these generals have had to say. Cohn conceded that if funds are used to reinvest in the military, cuts need to be made elsewhere in order ensure a balanced budget without creating a further deficit.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 12, 2017.
With the Trump administration rapidly shifting its foreign policy stance in recent weeks as the Goldman-led group inside the White House steamrolls all opposition, in the process dashing hopes of a detente between DC and Moscow which now appear set to continue the “cold war” diplomatic ways set under Obama and Hillary Clinton, another foreign leader who is losing faith that Trump will bring any notable change is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who in an interview with Chinese TV station Phoenix said U. S. forces in Syria were “invaders” and that he had yet to see “anything concrete” emerge from U. S. President Donald Trump’s vow to prioritize the fight against Islamic State. Quoted by Reuters, Assad said he initially saw promise in Trump’s vows to battle the Islamic State in Syria, where U. S. policy under President Barack Obama had mostly backed rebels fighting Assad and shunned him as an illegitimate leader. That promise, however, has now faded, especially after Trump recently stated he would boost US troops in Syria in an attempt to create “safe zones” in the nation, in the process likely further escalating the 6 year old proxy war in Syria. “We haven’t seen anything concrete yet regarding this rhetoric,” Assad said in an interview with Chinese TV station Phoenix. “We have hopes that this administration in the United States is going to implement what we have heard,” he said. Well, so do millions of Americans who are hoping that Trump will end Obamacare, not to mention all those still expecting Trump to unveil the “tremendous” tax plan. Maybe get in line. In Syria, the US is currently working with an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias and its biggest focus at this moment is to encircle and ultimately capture the ISIS capital of Raqqa. This week, the U. S.-led coalition announced that around 400 additional U. S. forces had deployed to Syria to help with the Raqqa campaign and to prevent any clash between Turkey and Washington-allied Syrian militias that Ankara sees as a threat. Around 500 U. S. forces are already in Syria in support of the campaign against Islamic State, which this week added several hundred, marines who were recently caught on video as they prepare for the Raqqa offensive.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 11, 2017.
While the Trump administration waits to decide if it will send 1,000 troops to Kuwait to fight ISIS, overnight the Washington Post reported that the US has sent several hundred Marines to Syria to support an allied local force aiming to capture the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. Defence officials said they would establish an outpost from which they could fire artillery at IS positions some 32km (20 miles) away. US special forces are already on the ground, “advising” the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance according to the BBC. The defence officials told the Washington Post that the Marines were from the San Diego-based 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and that they had flown to northern Syria via Djibouti and Kuwait. They are to set up an artillery battery that could fire powerful 155mm shells from M777 howitzers, the officials said. Another marine expeditionary unit carried out a similar mission at the start of the Iraqi government’s operation to recapture the city of Mosul from IS last year. Under former President Barack Obama, US special operations forces were deployed to recruit, train and advise the SDF’s Arab and Kurdish fighters. However, their numbers were limited to 500. The Marines’ deployment is considered temporary, so it is not affected by the cap. The western alliance is expected to launch an assault on Raqqa in the coming weeks, which virtually assures that hundreds more will be shipped in shortly.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 9, 2017.
Update: North Korea warned Monday that U. S.-South Korean military exercises, which it called “the most undisguised nuclear war maneuvers,” are driving the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia toward “nuclear disaster.” The North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, Ja Song Nam, said in a letter to the U. N. Security Council that the U. S. is using nuclear-propelled aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, nuclear strategic bombers and stealth fighters in the joint exercises that began Wednesday. “It may go over to an actual war,” Ja warned of the military drills, “and, consequently, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is again inching to the brink of a nuclear war.” “Involved in the drill were Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force tasked to strike the bases of the U. S. imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said. “In the hearts of artillerymen … there was burning desire to mercilessly retaliate against the warmongers going ahead with their joint war exercises,” KCNA said.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 6, 2017.
With little active US presence in the region (see latest naval map below), on Sunday Iran launched a massive naval drill at the mouth of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Ships, submarines and helicopters will take part in the drills across an area of about 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles) and marines will showcase their skills along Iran’s southeastern coast, the state news agency IRNA said even as tensions with the United States continue to build after U. S President Donald Trump put Tehran “on notice”. Iran’s annual exercises will be held in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman, the Bab el-Mandab and northern parts of the Indian Ocean, to train in the fight against terrorism and piracy, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said, quoted by Reuters. Today’s drill marks the last phase of war games that started in 2016, Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported. The exercise, codenamed ‘Velayat 95′, kicked off in Iran’s south following an order from Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari. Apart from the main drills, Iran’s Navy commando units are conducting special operations in the southeastern Makran region. Last June, Sayyari said that Tehran was planning to carry out 20 military drills before March 2017. Iranian officials insist that the war games do not violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the nuclear deal between Iran and the Group 5 1 signed in January of 2016.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 26, 2017.
From the Bab al-Mandab to the strait of Malacca, from the strait of Hormuz to the strait of Lombok, all the way to the key logistical hub of Diego Garcia 2,500 miles southeast of Hormuz, the question pops up: How will the unpredictable new normal in Washington – which is not exactly China-friendly – affect the wider Indian Ocean? At play are way more than key chokepoints in an area that straddles naval supply chains and through which also flows almost 40% of the oil that powers Asian-Pacific economies. This is about the future of the Maritime Silk Road, a key component of the Chinese One Belt, One Road (OBOR), and thus about how Big Power politics will unfold in a key realm of the Rimland. India imports almost 80% of its energy from the Middle East via the Indian Ocean. Thus, for Delhi, protection of supply chains must be the norm, as in the current drive to develop three carrier battle groups and at least 160 naval vessels, including submarines, before 2022. That also implies boosting a cooperation agreement with the nations bordering the strait of Malacca – Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – and developing military infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. China for its part advances a relentless economic / infrastructural drive from Myanmar to Pakistan, from Bangladesh to the Maldives, from Sri Lanka to Djibouti – a counterbalance to the impossibility of fully implementing ‘escape from Malacca’, the complex, multi-pronged Beijing strategy for diversifying energy supplies. The privileged infrastructure connectivity hub remains the megaport of Gwadar in the Arabian Sea – which will be controlled for the next 40 years by a Chinese company. Gwadar is the naval destination of the US$46 billion (and counting) China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) originating in Xinjiang, which will be the economic New Silk Roads game-changer in South Asia.
Some troubling observations from the last leader of the USSR, first posted in Time. The world today is overwhelmed with problems. Policymakers seem to be confused and at a loss. But no problem is more urgent today than the militarization of politics and the new arms race. Stopping and reversing this ruinous race must be our top priority. The current situation is too dangerous. More troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers are being brought to Europe. NATO and Russian forces and weapons that used to be deployed at a distance are now placed closer to each other, as if to shoot point-blank. While state budgets are struggling to fund people’s essential social needs, military spending is growing. Money is easily found for sophisticated weapons whose destructive power is comparable to that of the weapons of mass destruction; for submarines whose single salvo is capable of devastating half a continent; for missile defense systems that undermine strategic stability. Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities are joining the bellicose chorus. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 27, 2017.
Just one week after thousands of US troops arrived in Poland to “support NATO’s Anti-Russian buildup” across Eastern Europe, 300 U. S. Marines from Camp Lejeune landed in Norway on Monday for a six-month deployment, marking the first time since World War II that foreign troops have been allowed to be stationed there, in a deployment breaking with decades of tradition by Norway not to host foreign forces, and angering Norway’s Arctic neighbor Russia, according to Reuters. After leaving North Carolina aboard a chartered 747 on Sunday evening, the troops landed at 10am CET on Monday with their luggage and weapons at the Vaernes airport near Trondheim, Norway’s third-largest city, television footage showed. The Marines will be hosted at the Vaernes base of the Norwegian Home Guards near Trondheim, Norway’s third-largest city. The US soldiers, which will stay in Norway for a year with the current batch of Marines being replaced after their six-month tour is complete. Until now, the US has had large quantities of military materiel pre-positioned in tunnels dug into Norway’s mountains, but no troops.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 16, 2017.