This post was published at Blackstone Intelligence Network
2017 presented the world with a number of crises, among which were the continued wars in the Middle Ease and the spread of terrorism, the humanitarian crises in Africa and Asia, the rising military tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, and the militarization of both the South China Sea and eastern Europe. Throughout the past year regional and global powers have repeatedly been on the verge of open military conflict, any of which may yet still lead to large regional wars.
In the Middle East the war on ISIS, the Iran nuclear deal, the crisis in Lebanon, and Israeli-Arab tensions took center stage.
By the end of the year, the self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIS had fully collapsed in both Syria and Iraq. Thanks to the efforts of the alliance between Syria, Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, along with the Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition, this group was driven out from almost all of the areas it had held in the two countries. ISIS has lost control of such strategic locations as Mosul, al-Qaim, Raqqah, al-Tabqah, Deir Ezzor, al-Mayadin, al-Bukamal, as-Sukhna, Deir Hafer, Maskanah, and al-Resafa.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 12/30/2017.
Asked what he did during the French Revolution, Abbe Sieyes replied, ‘I survived.’
Donald Trump can make the same boast.
No other political figure has so dominated our discourse. And none, not Joe McCarthy in his heyday in the early ’50s, nor Richard Nixon in Watergate, received such intensive and intemperate coverage and commentary as has our 45th president.
Whatever one may think of Trump, he is a leader and a fighter, not a quitter. How many politicians could have sustained the beatings Trump has taken, and remained as cocky and confident?
And looking back on what may fairly be called The Year of Trump, his achievements have surprised even some of his enemies.
With the U. S. military given a freer hand by Trump, a U. S.-led coalition helped expel ISIS from its twin capitals of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, driving it back into a desert enclave on the Iraq-Syria border. The caliphate is dead, and the caliph nowhere to be found.
The economy, with the boot of Barack Obama off its neck, has been growing at 3 percent. The stock market has soared to record highs. Unemployment is down to 4 percent. And Trump and Congress just passed the largest tax cut since Ronald Reagan.
With deregulation, which conservative Republicans preached to deaf ears in the Bush I and Bush II eras, Trump and those he has put into positions of power have exceeded expectations.
Pipelines Obama blocked have been approved. Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge has been opened to exploratory drilling. We have exited a Paris climate accord that favored China over the U. S.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.
21st Century Wire says…
While military forces are fighting one enemy in the theatre of combat, another multi-front culture war is also being fought within their institutions. According to a recent report in Military.com, US military lawyers have begun speaking about how sexual assault cases are flooding the military courts – threatening to break the back of the military’s legal system, and perhaps radically alter the institutional culture.
After the release of the documentary, ‘The Invisible War,’ the issue of sexual assault in the military has again been thrust into the national spotlight, claiming that 1 in 5 U. S. female veterans have sustained some form of sexual assault.
The issue of sexual assault in the US military first rose to national prominence in 1992 with the emergence of the infamous ‘Tailhook Scandal.’
One likely reason for this new spike in reported cases could be because each military service branch has recently implemented new ‘awareness programs’ as well as ‘sexual assault prevention’ campaigns – which actively encourage female troops to report anything they might feel constitutes sexual harassment or a constitutes a sexual assault.
This post was published at 21st Century Wire on DECEMBER 29, 2017.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated on Thursday that US forces must leave all of Syria. Speaking to Interfax news agency, Lavrov stated that the UN Security Council has not approved the work of the United States and its coalition in Syria, nor has been invited by the legitimate Syrian government.
Concerning a prior statement by US Defense Secretary James Matisse voicing the intent for US troops to stay in Syria until achieving progress in a political settlement, Lavrov pointed out that such statement is ‘surprising’ because it means that Washington reserves the right to determine such progress and wants to maintain control over parts of Syrian territory in order to achieve the result it wants.
The Russian minister affirmed that according to the UNSC No.2254, which the United States supported, the decision on the future of Syria can only be taken by the Syrian people and this is what Moscow will begin with as a starting point in its contacts with the Americans later.
He also expressed his satisfaction that cooperation with the US in Syria is possible if the Americans’ goal is to fight terrorism.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Thu, 12/28/2017 –.
Reuters has revealed a rather disturbing Orwellian tale of Communist-ruled Vietnam marching towards a complete censorship of the internet.
Government officials have announced a new, 10,000-strong military cyber warfare unit used to combat ‘fake news’, amid a much larger crackdown on critics of the state.
The announcement came in a speech on Christmas Day given by Lieutenant General Nguyen Trong Nghia, a deputy head of the military’s political department. According to state-run media, Lt Gen Nguyen revealed the 10,000-strong army of state-owned hackers called ‘Force 47’, will be targeting enemies of the Communist party who ‘create chaos’ online.
Lt Gen Nguyen further said, ‘in every hour, minute, and second, we must be ready to fight proactively against the wrong views.’
‘Force 47’ could be compared to the so-called 50-cent army, employed by Communist China, who are paid 50 cents for every website that is censored. Communist-ruled Vietnam has certainly escalated this latest attempt to control the internet, especially the ability to censor political dissidents on social media.
Bloomberg reports, the disclosure of the unit is the government’s effort to put more pressure on YouTube Inc. and Facebook Inc. to remove accounts promoting anti-party views.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Thu, 12/28/2017 –.
Russia’s defense ministry has announced it is now in the process of establishing two permanent military bases in war-torn Syria after President Putin authorized prior deals with the Syrian government to move forward. Though Russia maintains merely up to ten military bases on foreign soil, the installations in Tartus and Khmeimim will be the most strategically located, allowing for a growing and permanent Russian presence on the Mediterranean, something which has already raised eyebrows in the West.
Though Putin formally announced the planned withdrawal of Russian forces from active operations in Syria in early December, there were parallel plans going back to at least early summer to maintain a smaller permanent presence based on an agreement with the Damascus government to host Russian forces for at least 49 more years, which includes the option of being prolonged further. Personnel and military hardware will be stationed at permanent Russian bases in Tartus and Khmeimim – both of which are on or near the Mediterranean.
According to Russian media reports, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu stated at a ministry meeting on Tuesday, ‘We have started the process of formation of our permanent forces [in Syria].” Though Tartus has operated as a Russian naval port since 1971 (referred to as a Material-Technical Support Point and not a “base”) and was until recently minimally staffed mostly by civilian contractors, it will reportedly undergo a massive transformation and expansion, which is to include the capability of hosting nuclear-powered ships.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.
That may sound like a misguided question. But let’s look at Tom DeLonge’s company, currently acting as a conduit for new UFO revelations.
DeLonge, a famous musician (Blink-182, Angels and Airwaves) has surrounded himself with high-level spooks from the CIA and the military, in his new venture, To the Stars Academy.
One of his lead collaborators is Luis Elizondo, who was the Pentagon chief of a secret program (2007-2012) to study and explore UFO activity. Elizondo is now the point man for media, explaining the breaking news about a 2004 US military sighting of a UFO, and subsequent failed attempts to analyze materials from UFOs. He’s also hinting that alien UFOs are a potential threat to our safety, a threat we can’t ignore.
Every major press outlet in the world, starting with the NY Times, is covering this story.
This post was published at Jon Rappoport on December 26, 2017.
Authore by Leonid Brershidky via Bloomberg.com,
During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference on Thursday, a friendly journalist asked Putin whether the escalating tension in relations with the U. S. and the crumbling of arms control treaties would draw Russia into an unsustainable arms race. “We will ensure our security without engaging in an arms race,” the president replied, citing widely diverging dollar numbers for the U. S. and Russian defense budgets.
That’s a simplistic answer from a politician starting an election campaign (of sorts: Putin is headed for re-election in March without giving anyone else a chance). The more pointed question that should be asked is this: How, with a relatively small and decreasing military budget — 2.77 trillion rubles ($42.3 billion) for 2018, down from some 3.05 trillion rubles this year — is Russia is still a formidable military rival to the U. S., with its enormous and increasing budget of almost $692.1 billion in 2018, up from $583 billion this year?
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 26, 2017.