US Impedes Efforts to Reconstruct War-Ravaged Syria – By Peter KORZUN -Strategic Culture Foundation

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US Impedes Efforts to Reconstruct War-Ravaged Syria
Peter KORZUN | 19.10.2018 | WORLD / Middle East

The US is officially the largest donor in the world, but does it really care about those who suffer? Not so much. The administration believes nothing should be done unless it is in pursuit of political goals. International humanitarian aid has been cut recently.  In August, the US pulled out of its role in Syria’s short-term reconstruction, suspending $230 million of relief funds.

The American foreign-assistance policy is going through drastic changes. “The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world, by far, of foreign aid. But few give anything to us,” President Trump said, addressing the UN General Assembly to announce a major review process to reform the decision-making on the allocation of foreign-aid money. “Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends,” the president explained.

So, foreign aid is only going to friends, and friends are those who do what they are told. The No Assistance for Assad Act has passed the House and is currently before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. That legislation would ensure that no US money is spent on reconstruction in government-controlled Syrian territory, either directly or through the UN, IMF, or other international bodies. 

And that’s not all. The president did not provide all the details. The new policy anticipates the creation of obstacles that will impede the reconstruction efforts that are aimed at easing the suffering of people living in war-ravaged countries such as Syria. No good deed goes unpunished.

According to UN estimates, the war in Syria has cost $388 billion. Most Western companies are steering clear of that country. Any non-US company is taking a huge risk if its transaction involves Americans or an American company. Iran has been under sanctions for many years. Syrians are looking at Russia with hope while the US is doing its best to deprive them of much-needed assistance.    

According to NBC News, the new administration’s strategy for the war in Syria is focused more on pushing Iran and its allies out of the country. On October 16, the US Department of the Treasury took action against 20 Iranian businesses providing a financial lifeline to the Basij Resistance Force, a paramilitary force that answers to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).  The second wave of anti-Iranian sanctions will take effect on Nov.4 and will deal a blow to the country’s oil exports. 

According to the new plan, the use of arms in self-defense against Iranians is permitted but priority is given to impeding reconstruction efforts in the areas of Syria where Iranian and Russian forces are present. Sanctions will be imposed on Russian and Iranian companies working on reconstruction projects. The US military will remain in Syria as long as the administration wants them to, under the pretext that, even if ISIS is completely eliminated, the danger of small pockets of resistance popping up will remain. 

Actually, this means that the forces can stay forever. The imaginary threat of an ISIS that in reality has been routed is needed because the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) covers only the groups implicated in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, plus their associates. By no stretch of the imagination could Iran be included on this list, unlike ISIS, which grew out of al-Qaeda. However, National Security Adviser John Bolton explained last month that US troops would stay “as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders.”

So, ordinary Syrians will suffer because the US does not like Iran. Refugees will not return home, thus aggravating the migration headaches for an EU that is already on the brink of dissolution. It will make Brussels more amenable to US demands, be those tariffs, gas deals, the policy on Russia, NATO expenditures, or whatever.

The announcement of a joint Russian-Turkish demilitarization zone in Idlib will push the issue of Syria’s reconstruction front and center.  If China tries to contribute, it’ll come under American sanctions as well for dealing with “Assad-allied governments and financial institutions.” Despite that,   a Chinese container ship docked on October 9 at Lebanon’s Tripoli seaport, inaugurating a Chinese-developed shipping line between Beijing and a port less than 30 km (18.5 miles) from the Syrian-Lebanese border. On October 10, China held a ceremony in Latakia, a major Syrian port, announcing its donation of 800 electrical power generators. The reconstruction of Syria’s oil facilities is underway with Russia’s help.

One might not like or support Assad’s government, but millions of Syrians cannot be left without outside aid, otherwise extremists will take advantage of the situation and we’ll see ISIS or some other extremist group take root and grow strong enough to pose a global threat. The restoration of Syria is the best way to fight terrorists — the threat the US makes a show of being so concerned about.  By impeding this process, it is shooting itself in the foot. The EU’s hopes of seeing a letup in its migration problem will be dashed. Contributing to Syria’s restoration means contributing to the solution of Europe’s most pressing problem.    The reconstruction of Syria should be depoliticized. This is the time for all international partners to join together to assist in the Syrian recovery effort.

Rank cynicism: Australian government dangled Jerusalem embassy move because it needs Jewish votes in crucial by-election – By Ryan Jones – SOTT

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scott morrison jerusalem

Dearest subjects of Her Majesty’s Crumbling English empire: be warned! One of your brethren realms – namely, the Federation of Australia – is sliding away from the beloved civilising influence of Westminster, and is headed for utter chaos! On saturday 20th October, a by-election in the Sydney electoral division of Wentworth, the seat of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, will decide the fate of current caretaker prime minister Scott Morrison (affectionately, and not-so-affectionately, known as ‘ScoMo’), whose Liberal-National Party coalition government is barely hanging on. With a single-seat majority in the House of Representatives, a failure to retain this critical piece of furniture will see the current parliament well and truly hung, thus opening the door to a (gasp!) Labour government.

But never fear; loyalists have mobilised all available reinforcements to prevent such a disastrous outcome! The by-election conveniently falls on the same day that English-American royal couple Harry and Meghan begin their promotional week-long tour of Australia for the Invictus Games (one of innumerable minor sporting events, launched by Harry himself, that has gained disproportionate media attention in recent years as part of a push to provide constant distractions from political corruption and social malaise, lest people start considering anything of actual importance).

With the royal celebrity sports circus in full swing, on Tuesday morning Morrison announced that his government is considering moving the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, overturning decades of previously-held Australian foreign policy, and potentially making Australia the second country behind Guatemala to follow the Trump administration’s lead in giving Israel ‘carte blanche’.

“Why?”, you may be asking – and rightly so. No, not “Why does Australia have an embassy in Israel?” – although you get bonus points if that was your question – but rather, “Why would such a ‘liberally democratic’ country make such a controversial ‘Trumpian’ move at the expense of alienating itself from the Neoliberal World Order?”

Well, the short answer is disappointingly crude and simple. Approximately 12.5% of the electorate in Wentworth is Jewish (for comparison, the national average is 0.5%), and the government’s candidate is former Australian ambassador to Israel David Sharma. Although the seat of Wentworth has consistently elected conservative representatives since Australia became a Federation in 1901 (Malcolm Turnbull previously held the seat with a 17% advantage in the two-party-preferred voting calculus), public anger with the way Turnbull was dispatched from office has political journos predicting a down-to-the-wire race, with recent polling results indicating a 51%-49% split.

Concurrent with this are reports of a rape threat and abusive phone calls made to the highest-profile candidate, Professor Kerryn Phelps. She is running as an independent, is the primary government challenger, is a former president of the Australian Medical Association and Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney, and is also a renowned health and civil rights advocate and media personality.

After a phone call with an understandably enthusiastic Netanyahu, prime minister Morrison faced a less-enthusiastic response from neighbouring Indonesia, with that country warning it could place a pending trade deal with Australia on ice over the possible embassy move.

Critical commentary in the media has already begun:

[Gareth] Evans, who was foreign minister from 1988 to 1996, called Morrison’s move a “shocking mistake”.

“This is unprincipled opportunism of the first order, and shifting the embassy at this stage would be a shocking mistake, and catastrophic for what is left of our international reputation outside Washington.

“Of course in any final two-state negotiation, Jerusalem would be the capital of both states, Israel in West and Palestine in East, and if serious negotiations were ever to start, accepting that shift could be a useful interim reward for significant Israeli movement on settlements or whatever. But you never, ever give something this big for nothing, and Netanyahu has given less than nothing to any peace process.” [..]

Bishop George Browning, president of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, was horrified. “I find the announcement extraordinary because it must be the first time in Australian political life that a government has tried to shore up its chances in a byelection by using foreign policy.

“The previous prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and the previous foreign minister Julie Bishop resisted this for the very good reason that to move the embassy to Jerusalem is [the same] as agreeing with the Israeli prime minister that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel.

“They’re immediately throwing out the policy of a two-state solution, which Australia has held for a very long time, decades, in order to shore up their chances in a local byelection. It’s disgraceful.”

And with Israel regularly producing incidents such as this (and worse) ever since its founding, Australia can most certainly be assured that the concerns of its critics are well-founded.

About the author

An information tech professional, Ryan Jones is a former DJ and presently an avid explorer and evolving writer, honing his storytelling kung-fu via years of blogging. His constellation of interests includes technology, geopolitics, ponerology, psychology, philosophy, history and astronomy. You can follow him via his personal blog knpr.net, on Twitter, and at Steemit.

Anti-Semitism as a Sword: As Far Right Storm Clouds Gather, False and Trivial Charges Ignore the Real Threat – By Ian Berman – MINT PRESS

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Germany Far Right AFD Chemnitz
Opinion

While far-right parties including neo-Nazis rise, the call of anti-Semitism is recklessly and maliciously misused for relatively insignificant reasons, if any reason at all.

LONDON — (Opinion) There is nothing in this series of articles to deny that anti-Semitism is a real threat. On the contrary, the point is to expose the cheap use of the anti-Semitism card in the face of a real menace to society. Overused and undeserved allegations of anti-Semitism only endanger Jews like me should the real dangers of anti-Semitism rise again.

We are seeing Neo-Nazis rise in Ukraine, the Baltics, and even Germany. Ultranationalist far-right parties demonize all who stand in their way and, if they can get away with it, have a willingness to use violence on those who oppose them. Should their rise continue, anti-Semitism will follow. A real, violent form of anti-Semitism.

This may leave a great many people to wonder why is there such intolerance of criticism of Israel when violence and oppression, most worryingly on a state level, appear to be returning. Such hate groups typically target vulnerable, minority populations in their rise to power. That is the history and the fundamental fear of anti-Semitism. Not criticism of Israel.

 

While this clear and present danger is rising, false allegations of anti-Semitism are being used to silence critics of Israel and condemn politicians who might support the victims of Israel’s oppression. Thus the misuse of charges of anti-Semitism is coming exactly at the time when threats from real and violent anti-Semites are rising.

 

Rise of far-right and Nazi parties

The threat of anti-Semitism has always been based upon a form of xenophobia — a sense that Jews are somehow outsiders, even if their countries are the only homes they have ever known. With the rise of far-right parties using refugees as a scapegoat, will anti-Semitism be far behind?

While reviewing Liz Fekete’s Europe’s Fault Lines: Racism and the Rise of the Right, the New Republic describes the disturbing trend:

Few imagined that a mere 25 years later, it would be Western Europe and the United States drifting towards the xenophobic populism that triumphed first in Hungary and Poland, before moving westward toward France, the Netherlands, and the U.K. In the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.

In Western Europe this network of mainstreamers and their sometimes violent street-level supporters are winning ever larger electoral majorities; in countries like Poland and Hungary they are already in power, and attempting to restructure education, immigration, and the judiciary in their own illiberal image.”

Noting that Fekete believes the problem reflects old racial hatreds more than dwindling economic opportunities, the New Republic further notes:

While the new right-wing movements participate in electoral politics, many of them have unofficial links with vigilante groups that patrol their country’s borders, shake down immigrant businesses, and harass women in hijabs, and small armies of thugs that wait to pick fights at rallies. These groups do not live in fear of prosecution for hate crimes: they maintain Facebook pages and websites.

Groups like the Cologne-based Hooligans Against Salafists make their racial claims on the streets of German cities, taking over public space as in an attempt to shock multiculturalism out of city life. In Greece, Golden Dawn members beat up immigrant vendors in street markets. In France, the National Front has sponsored “pork festivals” in cities its members see as being in danger of losing their French-ness, because of changing demographics.”

Ukraine Azov Nazi

The implications for Jews are significant. The U.S. openly supported Svoboda, the Neo-Nazi group that provided the muscle for Ukraine’s Maidan Square coup. As mentioned in Part 2 of this series, Israel has sold weapons to Ukraine that have landed in the avowed neo-Nazi, right-wing Azov battalion (probably not coincidentally, so has the U.S.). Ukraine is not alone, though, in its Nazi resurgence. The New Republic concludes:

Unlike in the past, when the Soviet Union commemorated the Great Patriotic War against fascism across Eastern Europe, Nazism is no longer something to hide. The extremist Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda) talks openly about following in the footsteps of the Arrow Cross, Hungary’s wartime fascist party that murdered thousands of Jews.”

With the contagion spreading, Poland passed a law forbidding the discussion of its role in the Holocaust, before yielding to international pressure to weaken it; and Nazi collaborators who killed Jews in the Baltic states are receiving a hero’s treatment. We learn that “the Council of Europe (CoE) has expressed alarm over the rise of right-wing extremism and neo-fascism in Croatia.” Then consider that in socialist Sweden, the far-right Democrats with their neo-Nazi roots “won 17.6 percent of the vote” in September, “up from 12.9 percent in the last election four years ago.” Even in Germany, the country had to move to stop the state funding of the NDP, “the country’s longest-established neo-Nazi group.”

The rise of this far-right extremism is happening in Europe and not just in isolated pockets. Across the Atlantic, the Southern Poverty Law Center identified 784 hate groups in the U.S. in 2014. In short, there seem to be a lot more serious forms of anti-Semitism rising, yet the focus of anti-Semitic allegations is on those challenging Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

For example, we will review the story of how a Canadian activist challenged two Canadian MPs for their support of Israel after the IDF had twice shot a Canadian doctor working to save lives during unarmed protests. This eventually led to another set of events during which the prime minister of Canada falsely called the activist an anti-Semite.

 

A question of loyalty in Canada

On May 14, Canadian doctor Tarek Loubani was tending to the wounded during the Gaza protests. The Israeli snipers that were firing on unarmed protestors shot Dr. Loubani not once, but twice. As Dr. Loubani described in an Electronic Intifada Podcast; he was shot without provocation while in an area that was clear and all was quiet around him:

No burning tires, no smoke, no tear gas, nobody messing around in front of the buffer zone. Just a clearly marked medical team well away from everybody else.”

Canadian Dr. Loubani says he was wearing clothes clearly marking him as medical staff when he was shot by Israeli forces. Photo | Tarek Loubani

After 62 protestors were killed and more than 2,700 were injured that day, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement on the massive bloodshed, lamenting the violence as if both sides were responsible for the massacre of Palestinians without a single casualty to the IDF:

Canada deplores and is gravely concerned by the violence in the Gaza Strip that has led to a tragic loss of life and injured countless people. We are appalled that Dr. Tarek Loubani, a Canadian citizen, is among the wounded – along with so many unarmed people, including civilians, members of the media, first responders, and children.

We are doing everything we can to assist Dr. Loubani and his family, and to determine how a Canadian citizen came to be injured. We are engaging with Israeli officials to get to the bottom of these events.

Reported use of excessive force and live ammunition is inexcusable. It is imperative we establish the facts of what is happening in Gaza. Canada calls for an immediate independent investigation to thoroughly examine the facts on the ground – including any incitement, violence, and the excessive use of force.”

In response, two Liberal MPs of the Canadian Parliament, members of Trudeau’s party, issued a joint statement distancing themselves from the prime minister’s critique of the violence while squarely placing the blame on Hamas. The statement reads:

We wish to express our profound sorrow for the tragic deaths of civilians, including children and first responders. The injury of a Canadian emergency physician is troubling, and we wish him a speedy recovery and safe journey back to Canada.

Hamas has long incited violence and intentionally used civilians, including vulnerable persons, children, and even infants as a smokescreen for its attempts to breach the Gaza-Israel border for the purpose of committing terrorist acts in Israel. Reports that Hamas itself proclaims that most of the Gazans killed were active members of Hamas demonstrate this fact.”

Let us for argument’s sake assume that the two MPs’ statement was factually correct. Even if Hamas had organized the demonstration, the fact remains that Israel used snipers beyond harm’s reach to massively kill and injure unarmed Palestinians. These two MPs appear to believe the magic word “Hamas” absolves Israel of any atrocity. Most striking though is that the MPs focus on defending Israel rather than a Canadian emergency doctor tending to the wounded.

In addition, it had been well known that the organizers of the Great March of Return specifically excluded Hamas from their organizing. Considering how pervasive membership in Hamas is in Gaza, of course, members of Hamas participated, but Hamas was not involved in organizing. So in Canada, two MPs turned against their Liberal Party, their prime minister, and a Canadian doctor to defend Israel based upon the lies of Israeli narrative. Clearly, the loyalty of the two MPs is questionable.

Keep the question of their loyalty in mind as the next series of events unfolds. For the anti-Semitism allegation is made to quash any discussion of those troubling events occurring within a democracy.

 

The anti-Semite smear

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has adopted a position in support of Palestinians. The pro-Israel organization B’nai B’rith then began to smear the CUPW. Pro-Palestinian rights groups then responded by organizing an August 29 demonstration to address the smears. The Jewish Defence League Canada (JDLC), a group that includes members who are disposed to violence, organized a counter-demonstration.

The counter-demonstration included two women who released a video after the demonstration calling for the execution of leading Liberal Party politicians. Journalist and activist Dimitri Lascaris, chair of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) and one of the organizers of the demonstration against the smears of the CUPW, addressed the calls for execution in the video with two tweets. The first read:

After @bnaibrithcanada supporters called for the death penalty to be imposed on @justintrudeau & Liberal MPs @iamIqraKhalid, @OmarAlghabra & @MaryamMonsef, we called on @LevittMichael & @AHousefather to denounce them, but shamefully, they’ve said nothing.”

In the second tweet, Lascaris observed,

Apparently, Liberal MPs Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt are more devoted to apartheid Israel than to their own Prime Minister and their own colleagues in the Liberal caucus.@AHousefather@LevittMichael#cdnpoli@justintrudeau@liberal_party#apartheidIsrael#cdnpoli

Watch | Members of the Jewish Defence League Canada call for the execution of leading Liberal Party politicians

https://videopress.com/embed/LMlC1TYr

So here we have two Liberal MPs, who have supported B’nai B’rith, refusing to condemn the calls for the execution of other Liberal MPs and the prime minister himself. In addition, two Jewish Groups — B’nai B’rith and “the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) — and Canadian politicians smeared [Lascaris for] drawing attention to the death threats.” As the CIJA tweeted,

Yesterday, @CJPME Chair @dimitrilascaris accused #Jewish MPs @AHousefather and @LevittMichael of being disloyal to #Canada. This is the literal definition of #antisemitism under the @TheIHRA definition. Will @CJPME publicly retract & apologize for this antisemitic smear?”

And there we have the infamous IHRA definition of anti-Semitism used to silence a challenge to power that defends Israel. No mention that the central issue is that B’nai B’rith supporters called for the death of leading Canadian politicians and that other Canadian politicians of the same party refused to condemn these calls. No. The anti-Zionist leader of the CJPME — who brought to light these death threats, and the failure of the Liberal MPs to condemn them — is simply and directly called an anti-Semite.

Remarkably, it gets more bizarre.

Rather than object to the calls for execution of party members including themselves, something you would think might bother sentient beings, both NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Prime Minister Trudeau accused Lascaris of anti-Semitism, even though no mention was made by him of the Liberal MPs’ Jewish faith. Singh’s tweet is much like this one from Trudeau:

Vile anti-Semitic smears like this are completely unacceptable, and should always be called out. Thank you @LevittMichael and @AHousefather for standing up to this, and for everything you do for your communities and our country.”

Rather than condemn death threats by pro-Israel supporters, the two Liberal MPs stood aside quietly. This condoning silence, the comments after the shooting of Dr. Loubani, and many other actions that Yves Engler has reviewed in Mondoweiss demonstrate the two Liberal MPs’ support for Israel over Canadians. Yet by pointing out the questionable loyalty of the MP’s for not condemning the death threats, Lascaris is at fault for being anti-Semitic! This is how power uses the label of anti-Semitism to smear and squash dissent. Dissent against Israel and those defending its atrocities.

(If readers seek more information, see Lascaris’s more detailed account of all the events here).

 

Don’t question why someone feels like they’re the victim of anti-Semitism

J.K. Rowling, famous author of the Harry Potter series, has written a book where one of the fictional characters is an Israel-hating anti-Semite. More disturbing than a fictional character that reinforces the thought that anti-Zionism is really anti-Semitism, something Rowling has insinuated by tweet previously, the article that described the book shared a Twitter exchange between Rowling and Simon Maginn, a less prominent writer. To understand the significance of Rowling’s comments, we must first review Maginn’s Twitter exchange with Simon Myerson.

As discussed in Part 1 of this series, when British pro-Israel advocates had challenged a professor after taking his ironic remarks literally, Jeremy Corbyn had suggested that the pro-Israel advocates did not understand irony. This was turned into an uproar to pillory Corbyn for saying that Jews were not quite English.

Myerson had tweeted about Corbyn’s comment and subsequent clarification of why it was not anti-Semitic:

When a witness says ‘let me make my thoughts clearer’ they mean, ‘let me alter what I said previously’.

This is a good example. It’s precisely not what Corbyn said.”

In response, Maginn challenged Myerson to “explain what you think was objectionable in what Corbyn said.” Myerson’s first response was a snide remark. Maginn then made several more attempts to elicit an answer, but Myerson refused to answer the question. Subsequently, a frustrated and infuriated Maginn sought an explanation for why Corbyn’s support of a Palestinian representative should outrage Jewish sensibilities. This last Maginn tweet stated:

Explain it to me, then. Explain your deep and wounding sense of injury. Explain the wrong that’s been done to you. Explain your patently synthetic outrage. Explain yourself. Publicly.”

Rowling subsequently responded to Maginn’s tweet by questioning his right to challenge someone else’s tweet:

How dare you tell a Jew that their outrage is ‘patently synthetic’? How dare you demand that they lay bare their pain and fear on demand, for your personal evaluation? What other minority would you speak to this way?”

Most likely, Rowling did not follow the earlier exchange of tweets and only responded to Maginn’s demand for an answer without context. While the tone of Maginn’s last tweet could create an unfavorable impression, this lack of knowledge of the complete exchange is squarely on Rowling. There is no basis for Rowling to assert that Myerson, the person Maginn was addressing, was experiencing any “pain and fear.” Even if Myerson was suffering from pain or fear, such a state of mind is essential to support the allegation of Corbyn’s anti-Semitism. For the allegation is the perception of his remarks, not any subsequent actions.

This is why after a repeated lack of response from Myerson, Maginn demanded an explanation for “[Myerson’s] deep and wounding sense of injury.” For if the allegation is unjustified, as Maginn suggests, it is a heinous smear. Further, since Myerson failed to respond to repeated inquiries, this is probably why Maginn concluded there was no justification and resorted to his over-the-top comment about “patently synthetic outrage.”

Maginn also responded to Rowling and provided the context of his comment, asking her to explain how Corbyn’s comment was anti-Semitic. Rather than address Maginn’s point, Rowling responded with quotes from Jean-Paul Sartre about anti-Semitism, apparently implying Maginn’s challenge was anti-Semitic. Further, Rowling tweeted:

How about you explain – publicly, to Twitter, to the world – why you’ve taken it upon yourself to attack a Jew, demanding that they explain themselves, when there are literally hundreds of accounts currently online explaining how British Jews currently feel?”

Rowling apparently believes that someone’s sense that Corbyn’s comments are anti-Semitic is unquestionable. Yes, others have made their views known, but Maginn was exchanging tweets with Myerson and Maginn’s demand for substantiation was directly of Myerson. Yet Rowling made it clear Maginn had no right to ask the question. When Maginn asked Rowling the same question about Corbyn’s remarks, she refused to answer that as well.

Thus, according to Rowling, the allegation of anti-Semitism and the feelings of the person making such allegations is sufficient. The allegation itself does not have to be defended. The questioner ultimately is an anti-Semite (as Rowling subsequently more directly charged) for challenging the allegation of anti-Semitism.

The result is that the leader of the Labour Party is alleged to be anti-Semitic and that he and any of his supporters shall have no right to challenge such allegations.

Under such rules of engagement, who could survive the anti-Semite allegation?

 

Don’t vote for her, she’s an anti-Semite

In the recent Democratic primary for the governor of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign falsely accused challenger Cynthia Nixon of being an anti-Semite. As Splinter News noted, as Election Day was drawing near, Cuomo’s campaign sent out a mailer that “misconstrued Nixon’s views on Israel and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It also accused Nixon of being ‘silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.’’”

Not only did the Cuomo campaign make this allegation by mailers just before the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, but it also tried as well to plant the accusation in the right-wing New York Post. The Post article stated:

The smoking-gun email, sent Friday afternoon from an official ‘andrewcuomo.com’ account, suggested that the Post publish a story about Nixon’s support of the pro-Palestinian ‘Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions’ movement against Israel.

‘Nixon has supported insidious BDS campaign, signing onto letter boycotting Israel,’ it says.

‘Obviously something you guys have reported on a lot and right before the jewish high holidays!

‘Can get you folks on the record slamming her as well,’ the aide added.”

Cynthia Nixon | anti-Semitism

As for Nixon’s background, the Post reported,

Nixon on Sunday said she opposes the BDS movement and supports a ‘two-state solution’ between Israel and Palestinians. But she said unlike Cuomo, she wouldn’t ‘blacklist’ people who support BDS. Cuomo signed an executive order barring state entities from doing business with firms that support BDS.”

In addition, Nixon said ‘I am the mother of Jewish children and I am very alarmed by the rise of anti-semitism in this country. I am frightened for my children. I am frightened for the world.’”

So now the anti-Semitism allegation is considered kosher for slimeball politics?

 

Turn it around, for there are real challenges out there

Considering the growth of far-right, nativist movements, including specifically neo-Nazi ones, there are real threats to Jews in the West. Yet the concern over “anti-Semitism” is not focused on them. It is focused on protecting Israel. So much so that the slightest hint of anti-Zionism is immediately attacked as anti-Semitism. In fact, the anti-Semitism allegation has become a dangerous weapon.

Yet wielding this weapon for marginal reasons and in anti-democratic, speech-infringing ways may well result in the broader public losing interest in protecting Jews from anti-Semitism. Let us not forget how small the Jewish population is in the West. Should the broader public decide it is no longer a reasonable concern, no movement of Jews in their home countries or in Israel could stop a rising storm.

Yet there is a reason to be hopeful, and that is Judaism itself and the culture of its members.

I saw this meme posted on Facebook with the question “Is this picture Hasbara 2.0?” Hasbara, as many already know, is the organized propaganda effort of the State of Israel.

The meme might be something purposefully posted to improve the image of Israel. Yet, even if it is Hasbara, it proves the point that, just as before Zionism started its deadly course in Palestine, people of all faiths can live together peacefully.

The meme shows that once people throw out labels of race and religion, there is a sense of caring about one another and living together in harmony. Only when leadership takes people down a path of greed and selfishness, do they create the zero-sum-game sense of entitlement of one group at another’s expense that leads to conflict. The more expansive the greed, the larger the conflict. Ethnic cleansing, land theft and occupation are as expansive as greed and supremacy can get.

Yet Israel does not have to be that way. I am hopeful that Israel and its supporters will address all that has been discussed in this series and adopt the wonderful moral principles of Judaism upon which most Jews, including myself, have been raised. The same morality and harmony to which people of all faiths and heritages aspire.

Given our own history of suffering, Jews are a compassionate people. We played a prominent role in the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. Many Jews still fight for justice today. Accordingly, I am hopeful that those who are working against this grain to maintain Jewish supremacy in Palestine can come back to the fold too.

Top Photo | Far Right activists attend a protest in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, Sept.7, 2018, after several nationalist groups called for marches protesting the killing of a German man allegedly by migrants. Jens Meyer | AP

Ian Berman is an entrepreneur and former corporate banker at leading global banks in New York City. He now focuses on financial advisory services and writing about representative government, equitable public policies and ending American militarism and Israel’s continuing colonization of Palestine. He is the Co-Founder of Palestine 365, the Ongoing Oppression and its predecessor, Palestine 365, on Facebook.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Pandering to Israel Time to cut the tie that binds – By Philip Giraldi – THE UNZ REPORT

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 BlogviewPhilip Giraldi Archive

Trump and Bibi

The ability of Israel and its powerful Lobby to control many aspects of American government while also sustaining an essentially false narrative about the alleged virtues of the Jewish State is remarkable. Politicians and journalists learned long ago that it was better to cultivate Israel’s friends than it was to support actual American interests. They also discovered to speak the truth about the Jewish State often would prove to be a death sentence career-wise, witness the experiences of Cynthia McKinney, Paul Findlay, William Fulbright, Chuck Percy, James Traficant, Pete McCloskey and Rick Sanchez.

More recently, we have seen the ascent to real political power on the part of a number of politicians whose pandering to Israel has been notorious, indicating that the path to the White House goes through Tel Aviv and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) offices on H Street in the District of Columbia. Nikki Haley, who recently resigned as United Nations Ambassador, gained national attention when she became the first state governor to sign off on laws that would punish supporters of the non-violent BDS movement. Subsequently, as ambassador, she became noted for her impassioned defense of Israel, to include complaining that “nowhere has the U.N.’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel.” She vowed that the “days of Israel bashing are over” and is now being groomed by the neocons as a possible presidential candidate for 2020. Whichever way it goes, she will be showered with money by Israel supporters as she finds her perch in the private sector, like others before her doing “work” that she does not understand while also making speeches about the importance of the Israeli relationship.

All of that said, one of the truly odd aspects of the Israeli/Jewish dominance is its ability to change the United States. Normally, a tiny client state attached to a great power would conform to its patron, but in the U.S.-Israel relationship the reverse has happened. When 9/11 occurred Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was pleased, commenting that the attack would tie the United States more closely to Israel in its war against “terrorism,” which to him meant his Islamic neighbors in the Middle East. Since that time, the bilateral “special” relationship has conformed to what Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer observed in their groundbreaking book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” namely that the United States does things in the Middle East that cannot be attributed to national interest. Rather, Washington behaves in a certain way due to the power of Israel and its lobby. There is no other way to explain it.

The emergence of Israeli practices as models to be adopted by U.S. agencies has occurred, to be sure, to include Israeli training American policemen and soldiers in their “methods,” but the odd thing is that as Israel has lurched to the right and embraced political extremism under Netanyahu, the United States has done the same thing, curtailing civil liberties with the Patriot Acts, the Military Commissions Act, and various updates of the Authorization to Use Military Force. Indefinite detention without trial and assassination of citizens overseas is now acceptable in America and criticizing Israel could soon become a criminal offense in spite of the First Amendment. In short, the United States of America has become more like Israel rather than vice versa.

With one or two exceptions, there is no one in the United States government, elected or civil service, who has anything that is not wonderful to say about Israel in spite of the numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by Netanyahu nearly daily, the unfunded costs of the wars fought in part on behalf of Israel, and the thousands of dead American soldiers plus the hundreds of thousands of dead foreigners, nearly all Muslims. Indeed, Netanyahu is treated like a conquering hero, having received 23 standing ovations from Congress in 2015 when he was in the United States complaining about an agreement with Iran made by President Barack Obama. This inside the beltway approval of Israel contrasts sharply with the general view of the rest of the world, which sees both the U.S. and Israel negatively as the two nations most likely to start a new war.

There are several recent articles that demonstrate pretty clearly the danger in allowing Israel and its friends to have the power and access that they currently enjoy purely because government and the media make no effort to tell them “no” and rein them in. One comes from New Zealand where two women wrote a letter to the pop singer Lorde, urging her to cancel an appearance in Israel due to the treatment of the Palestinians. Lorde posted the letter on twitter, agreed and the trip was canceled.

The tale would have ended there but for the fact that Israel’s parliament the Knesset has passed a law now making it illegal to support a boycott of Israel ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD [my emphasis]. Enter the group called Shurat HaDin, which is an Israeli government supported lawfare instrument, that seeks to find and sue the perceived enemies of the Jewish state, punishing them through court costs and potentially bankruptcy.

The lawsuit argued that Lorde’s response on twitter after receiving the letter showed her decision was directly influenced by the New Zealand women’s plea. Three Israeli ticket holders filed the suit, claiming the cancellation had caused emotional distress. The Israeli court awarded damages of $12,000 dollars and their lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Shurat HaDin, boasted that the verdict was “precedent-setting,” sending a message that “no one can boycott Israel without paying for it.” Israeli government agents in New Zealand are taking steps to obtain the money, even though it remains unclear whether the plaintiffs will be able to collect the cash. Darshan-Leitner explained that she will seek to enforce the judgment through “international treaties” and go after the women’s bank accounts, either in New Zealand or if they try to travel abroad. Even if she is unsuccessful, the lawsuits will have a chilling effect on any individual or group seeking to criticize Israel’s brutal behavior by endorsing what once were perfectly legal boycotts.

A second story is possibly even more bizarre. On October 10th, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “Israel is everything we want the entire Middle East to look like going forward” while asserting that the bilateral relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv is “stronger than ever.” Pompeo was keynote speaker at an award ceremony hosted by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America in Washington D.C. He also hailed Israel as “democratic and prosperous,” adding “it desires peace, it is a home to a free press and a thriving economy.”

Pompeo also mentioned Iran, condemning the latter’s “corrupt leaders [who] assault the human rights of their own people and finance terrorism in every corner of the Middle East”. He also announced to a cheering audience that he had that same day denied a $165 million transfer of aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) because of the PA’s “funding of terror.” Pompeo was referring to the PA’s refusal to comply with Washington’s demands that it end the so-called “martyr payments” to the families of those killed or imprisoned by Israeli occupation forces.

Pompeo, together with National Security Advisor John Bolton, has been the driving force behind punishing the Iranians and Palestinians. Like others in Washington, he understands that success inside the beltway is best guaranteed by binding oneself as closely to Israel as possible. Pompeo certainly knows that Israel is not democratic, does not desire peace and is itself a major source of terrorism. Its government is corrupt, witness the current trial of Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife as well as the charges pending against the prime minister himself. A number of Israeli leaders have wound up in jail in the past few years. To describe Israel as a model for the entire Middle East is absurd, but, then again, Pompeo was speaking in front of the Jewish Institute for National Security and presumably intended to suck up to his wealthy and politically powerful audience.

How does Israel maintain its control over American politicians? First of all, no politician who wants to get reelected can risk even the mildest criticism of the Jewish state. Anyone who does so will be pilloried in the media before finding him or herself confronted by an extremely well-funded opponent who will oust them from office. And anyone who even suggests that the Palestinians are human beings that are being severely punished by a powerful Israel had best watch his or her back. On October 8th Congressman Eliot Engel of New York spoke regarding liberal Democrat rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other liberals seeking congressional seats next month, all of whom have expressed sympathy for the Palestinians while also criticizing Israel’s heavy handed repression.

Engel told a New York synagogue gathering that had been organized and promoted by AIPAC that all Democrats “need to be educated” in support of Israel. “We are going to continue to work in Congress to make sure that we have overwhelming support for Israel on both sides of the aisle… I am certainly cognizant of the fact that people who are coming in as far as I’m concerned on the Democratic side, will be educated and need to be educated. But we have overwhelming support for Israel in the Congress. And… it will continue that way. We will maintain it that way.”

So, maintaining “overwhelming support” for Israel requires doing whatever is necessary, be it fair or foul, and many Jews and Jewish organizations worldwide, like Engel, are prepared to place alleged Israeli interests ahead of those of the countries where they actually reside. In America, Jewish groups and individuals have succeeded in buying politicians and using their money and control over much of the media to corrupt the entire political system to benefit Israel.

Israel should be judged by how it behaves, not by how well it buys favor among morally challenged politicians and media shills. Nor should it be seen favorably as it engages, threatens and destroys critics. When private citizens cannot write a letter to an entertainer without risk of being sued, deference to perpetual Israeli victimhood has gone way too far. When an intelligent man like Mike Pompeo finds it in his interest to say something transparently stupid in praise of Israel, something which he knows to be the reverse of the truth, the corruption of our elites becomes clear even to those who choose to remain blind to it. When a candidate for national office has to be “educated” by Jewish politicians to say the right things about Israel it smacks of Stalinism.

We Americans don’t need any more of this nonsense, which is inter alia destroying our liberties. It is largely driven by the guilt laden “holocaust hucksterism,” as Norman Finkelstein has termed it, that has been giving Israel a free pass for seventy years. It is time for a change in thinking about how we view our “good friend and ally” Israel, a country that is neither. It is time for government to do what is best for Americans, not for Israelis.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

Here’s why we should boycott Facebook, Twitter, and Google – Eric Zuesse – Strategic Culture Foundation – SOTT

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NATO – the neoconservatives, the marketeers for firms such as Lockheed Martin and BAE – has taken over the social-media giants and much of online international ‘news’-reporting, including that of virtually all independent news-sites and blogs.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google, in recent days, delivered what might be the death-blows.

NATO’s main PR agency, think-tank, and lobbying organization, is ‘non-profit’ – a legal tax-dodge that’s financed by donations from those weapons-making firms and their supporting firms and their ‘non-profits’, so that the taxes that it doesn’t pay will need to be paid instead by the general public. Billionaires know how to avoid taxes, and they hire politicians who write the laws with all the ‘right’ loopholes for them – and only for the very richest – to use. This PR agency is called “The Atlantic Council,” and it was set up in 1961, the exact same year that U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower left office warning that “the military-industrial complex” might take control of the U.S. Well, it did so, with The Atlantic Council’s help; and, now, it is finally lowering the boom against democracy itself – at least among the U.S. and its allied nations (the governments whose weapons-manufacturing firms are in, and sell to, NATO governments). The aim is to drive up the percentage of government-expenditures there that go to pay those firms, and so to reduce the percentages that go to pay everything else. The aim, in short, is the permanent-warfare-economy. After all, firms such as Lockheed Martin and BAE sell only to allied governments. They have virtually no consumers except those governments. So: their (and their ‘charities’) basic message is ‘austerity’ – except on ‘defense’ or realistically called “aggression.” This is national ‘defense’ such as against Iraq in 2003, and against Libya in 2011 – it is instead sheer aggression. George Orwell predicted “Newspeak” – well, here it is. It’s today’s norm, so normal that the public think it’s just natural, and conservatives and even many liberals think it’s the way that ‘a free market’ ought to be.

Here was Facebook’s announcement, on October 11th:

newsroom.fb.com

11 October 2018

Removing Additional Inauthentic Activity from Facebook

Today, we’re removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior. Given the activity we’ve seen – and its timing ahead of the US midterm elections – we wanted to give some details about the types of behavior that led to this action. Many were using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posted massive amounts of content across a network of Groups and Pages to drive traffic to their websites. Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was. Others were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.

Those 559 and 251 weren’t identified; none of them were. Facebook wants them to need to scream in order for them to be able to be noticed at all by the public. The announcement didn’t even say by what criteria they were measuring ‘Inauthentic Activity’ versus ‘legitimate political debate’. Their announcement did say “we look at these actors’ behavior – such as whether they’re using fake accounts or repeatedly posting spam – rather than their content when deciding which of these accounts, Pages or Groups to remove,” but unless they make public what the actual algorithms are by means of which they remove sites, no one should trust them, at all, because they can remove whatever NATO or The Atlantic Council (neither of which their announcement even mentioned) want them to remove.

The background for this act by the war-economy’s billionaires had already been reported at Mint Press on May 18th, “Facebook Partners With Hawkish Atlantic Council, a NATO Lobby Group, to ‘Protect Democracy'”, where Elliott Gabriel opened:

Facebook is hoping that a new alliance with the Atlantic Council – a leading geopolitical strategy think-tank seen as a de facto PR agency for the U.S. government and NATO military alliance – will not only solve its “fake news” and “disinformation” controversy, but will also help the social media monolith play “a positive role” in ensuring democracy on a global level.

The new partnership will effectively ensure that Atlantic Council will serve as Facebook’s “eyes and ears,” according to a company press statement. With its leadership comprised of retired military officers, former policymakers, and top figures from the U.S. National Security State and Western business elites, the Atlantic Council’s role policing the social network should be viewed as a virtual takeover of Facebook by the imperialist state and the council’s extensive list of ultra-wealthy and corporate donors.

Then, on October 12th, Mint Press’s Whitney Webb bannered “Facebook Purges US-Based Independent Media For Political Disinformation”, and reported that,

Notably, Facebook’s statement on the mass purge of pages was co-authored by Facebook Head of Cybersecurity Nathaniel Gleicher, who is a former White House National Security Council director of cybersecurity policy.

Twitter also banned many of the pages targeted for deletion by Facebook on Thursday, suggesting a coordinated censorship effort between the two most popular social media platforms.

Many of the pages banned had millions of likes, such as the Free Thought Project (3.1 million likes), Antimedia (2.1 million), Cop Block (1.7 million), and Police the Police (1.9 million). Several of the pages that were deleted on Thursday had been targeted by Facebook in recent months, both through new censorship algorithms and Facebook’s controversial team of “fact checkers.”

For instance, the Free Thought Project had been flagged earlier this year as “fake news” by Facebook “fact checking” partner organizations, including the Associated Press (AP) and Snopes. In one case, a story published by the Free Thought Project was flagged as “false” by the AP. That story, which detailed the documented case of Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) being forcibly removed from a DHS migrant detention center that had once been a Walmart, was marked false because the AP asserted that the article made the claim that Walmart was housing immigrants for DHS. However, the article does not make the claim, instead accurately noting that the facility used to be a Walmart.

Censorship algorithms had also greatly affected traffic to the recently deleted pages for much of the past year. In the case of Antimedia, its traffic dropped from around 150,000 page views per day in early June to around 12,000 by the end of that month. As a reference, in June of last year, Antimedia’s traffic stood at nearly 300,000 views per day.

Also on October 12th, heavy dot com bannered “‘Facebook Purge’: List of Some Deleted Accounts on Left & Right” and listed a few dozen sites that the article’s writer had seen online screaming about having been removed.

Meanwhile, in UK’s very mainstream Daily Mail (the second-largest-circulation of all UK’s newspapers), columnist Michael Burleigh headlined on October 13th “Putin’s taking over Libya by stealth in order to point a new weapon at the West – millions of desperate migrants” and he opened:

So bloody and extensive is President Putin’s record of aggression, not least in Syria and Ukraine, that an incursion into the empty deserts of North Africa might hardly seem worth noting.

Yet the discovery that Russia is moving troops and missiles into war-torn Libya has rightly caused alarms to sound throughout the capitals of Europe.

It is a step of huge significance, and one with potentially disastrous results for Western nations.

The discovery that Vladimir Putin, above, and his government is moving troops and missiles into war-torn Libya has rightly caused alarm. Russia – this time in the form of Rosneft, the huge oil company controlled by Putin’s sinister crony Igor Sechin – is interested in a slice of Libya’s vast oil reserves, the largest in Africa

Libya has both oil and Mediterranean ports, and Russia is hungry for both.

But was it Russia that in 2011 had invaded and destroyed Libya, or was it U.S., UK, and France, who invaded and destroyed Libya – a country that like Iraq, Syria, Yemen and others which The West has destroyed, had never threatened nor invaded any of them?

Burleigh continued:

– cause enough for concern, perhaps. Yet the real fear for European governments is this: Libya, with its porous southern borders, has become the main jumping-off point for the hundreds of thousands of African migrants now seeking to cross the Mediterranean to the shores of the EU and, in particular, Italy.

So, his own country, UK, had helped with the bombing of Libya that had caused all those ‘migrants’ (actually refugees) into Europe, but now he’s trying to blame Putin for it, as if Russia and not UK, U.S., and France were the cause of it. Doesn’t that “mislead people”?

But is the Daily Mail being strangled by Facebook, Twitter, and Google; or is it instead being done to the small-fry political sites, which aren’t owned and controlled by the aristocracies of the U.S., UK, France, and their allied aristocracies – all the aristocracies that are in NATO and promoted by The Atlantic Council?

Here is yet more from Elliott Gabriel’s excellent news-report at Mint Press on May 18th, providing background to the present purges and censorships:

The announcement, made last Thursday in a Facebook Newsroom post, explained that the social network’s security, policy and product teams will coordinate their work with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) to analyze “real-time insights and updates on emerging threats and disinformation campaigns from around the world.”

DFRLab employees include pro-war media activist Eliot Higgins (of Bellingcat fame) and Ben Nimmo – a senior fellow for information defense at the Atlantic Council, who earned infamy for his groundless accusations that actual Twitter users are Russian trolls.

Continuing, Facebook global politics and government outreach director Katie Harbath explained:

“This will help increase the number of ‘eyes and ears’ we have working to spot potential abuse on our service – enabling us to more effectively identify gaps in our systems, preempt obstacles, and ensure that Facebook plays a positive role during elections all around the world.”

“We know that tackling these problems effectively also requires the right policies and regulatory structures, so that governments and companies can help prevent abuse while also ensuring that people have a voice during elections. The Atlantic Council’s network of leaders is uniquely situated to help all of us think through the challenges we will face in the near- and long-term.”

The think-tank’s Digital Research Unit Monitoring Missions will also be tapped by the social network during elections and “other highly sensitive moments” to allow Facebook the ability to zero in on key locales and monitor alleged misinformation and foreign interference.

Who is the Atlantic Council?

The Atlantic Council was recently in the news for receiving a donation of $900,000 from the U.S. State Department for a “Peace Process Support Network” program to “promote non-violent conflict resolution” in support of Venezuela’s scattered opposition, with which the council enjoys very close ties. The council also advocates the arming of extremist militants in Syria (a “National Stabilization Force”) and a hard-line policy toward Russia.

Established in 1961 by former U.S. Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Christian Herter, the Atlantic Council of the United States was originally conceived as a means to drum up support for the Cold War-era NATO alliance, which had formed in 1949 as the basis of the Euro-Atlantic security architecture during the post-WWII competition with the Soviet Union. Dozens of similar Atlantic Councils were eventually established throughout the NATO and Partnership for Peace states.

The council is a part of the Atlantic Treaty Association, a NATO offshoot that claims to unite “political leaders, academics, military officials, journalists and diplomats in an effort to further the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty, namely: democracy, freedom, liberty, peace, security, and the rule of law.”

In general, groups such as the Atlantic Council are meant to secure the legitimacy of U.S. policies and neoliberal economics in the eyes of world audiences and academia, whether they live in the “advanced democracies” (the imperialist center) or “developing democracies” (the post-colonial and economically exploited nations).

Mint Press – a real news-operation, instead of the fake-news operations that are being boosted by Facebook, Twitter, and Google – apparently hasn’t yet been removed by Facebook, but the permanent-war-economy is only just starting to lower the boom. And, who knows what’s next, in American ‘democracy’, now?

The way to boycott Facebook, Twitter, and Google, is to NOT respond to their ads, but instead to blacklist their advertisers and all media that rely upon those giant social-media sites. There are competitors, and those need to be aggressively favored by anyone who doesn’t want to be mentally strangulated by these three giant corporations.

These media-giants want to strangle the public; so, the public needs to strangle them first.

Comment: See also: Banned Facebook pages were featured on 2016 PropOrNot ‘blacklist’

How the US Gains Enemies and Alienates Friends – Brian CLOUGHLEY – Strategic Culture Fundation

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How the US Gains Enemies and Alienates Friends

It was hardly earth-shattering news that the Pakistan Navy had withdrawn its two warships from the multi-national Combined Task Force (CTF 151) that has been operating in an anti-piracy role in the western Indian Ocean since 2009. CTF 151 is one of these little-known but important international associations that are not only successful in what they aim to achieve, but extremely effective in establishing and firming bonds between nations. For example, command of the Task Force rotates between nations (Pakistan Navy officers have commanded it five times) and over the years much trust has been forged between participating navies (which include those of Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Singapore, the UK and the US). One of the goodwill aspects of the grouping was that the US refuelled Pakistan’s ships at no cost.

No longer.

It has been reported that the value of the Pakistan rupee has sunk to an all-time low of 134 to the US dollar (it was 80, ten years ago) which is a most serious matter for the new government in Islamabad and for the entire nation, as the cost of oil keeps increasing and has to be paid in US dollars.

Unfortunately, “Pakistan’s oil import bill rose nearly 30.43 per cent year-on-year to $12.928 billion in July-May 2017-18 owing to an increase in global prices of crude oil and rising demand for petroleum products.” So Pakistan gets the double whammy of devaluation and a surge in the oil price.

So the United States ordered that the Pakistan naval vessels of Combined Task Force 151 will no longer be provided with US oil at no charge, but will have to pay for it.

Nobody can claim that this is a vast amount of money in terms of operating warships. It is probably about 2 million dollars a year. But that’s not the point. The point is that Washington has again taken the sort of nasty, malevolent, spiteful “See what I can do to you!” type of action that causes the United States to be so detested in so many regions round the world.

The background for the US action against Pakistan was Trump’s first tweet of 2018, when he told the world that “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

He ignores the facts that, as pointed out by Pakistan’s defence minister, “Pak as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16 years, but they have given us nothing but invective & mistrust. They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis.” It means nothing to Washington that since the US attack on Afghanistan and subsequent expansion of Islamic terrorist groups in the region, Pakistan has suffered 468 suicide bombing attacks, in which 7,230 of its citizens were killed. Before 2001 there was one such attack, in 1995 by a crazy Egyptian who drove a bomb-laden lorry into the Egyptian Embassy’s gates.

But the US went ahead and cut planned aid to Pakistan, which included meeting the charge for refuelling the ships of Combined Task Force 151, causing Pakistan to withdraw them. All that Trump’s Washington has achieved by its insults and punitive actions is alienation of Pakistanis who were supportive of the US, and creation of much more anti-US feeling in Pakistan. Maybe this is what was intended, but if so, it’s a very strange way of behaving.

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, visited China on October 8 to discuss North Korea and US-China relations. So before this extremely important diplomatic venture, on October 2, Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech to the Hudson Institute in which he criticized and condemned China and complained that Beijing “is meddling in America’s democracy,” on the grounds that it is using trade, its military, and diplomacy to increase its own influence around the world. This didn’t get the raucous laugh it merits, because the Hudson Institute doesn’t laugh at irony. But the Pence diatribe sent an unmistakable message to Beijing and set the scene for the Pompeo visit, which was understandably a disaster.

It isn’t surprising that the Pompeo meeting went flat and that China regards Donald Trump as a tweeting idiot.

But it went further than the President and Vice-President of the United States publicly and violently criticizing the Peoples Republic of China, and four days before Pompeo’s visit, CNN reported that “the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet has drawn up a classified proposal to carry out a global show of force as a warning to China and to demonstrate the US is prepared to deter and counter their military actions, according to several US defence officials.” In other words there was a deliberate leak to CNN of highly classified planning information. Nothing new in that, of course, because all US mainstream media are in the leaky pockets of the CIA, the Pentagon and various other agencies that vociferously condemn leaking unless they do it themselves, which they do with impunity. (The UK is exactly the same; some of the stuff that has recently been leaked by intelligence agencies would be worth a long jail sentence if a criminal case were brought.)

CNN said that “The plan suggests sailing ships and flying aircraft near China’s territorial waters in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait in freedom of navigation operations to demonstrate the right of free passage in international waters. The proposal means US ships and aircraft would operate close to Chinese forces. The [leaking] officials emphasized that there is no intention to engage in combat with the Chinese.”

But has the Pentagon asked the Chinese what their reaction will be when it indulges in its intentionally provocative actions? This is a classic approach to war.

Here we have two countries, formerly friendly Pakistan and potentially friendly China, which the US, at the highest level, has deliberately and comprehensively insulted and antagonised. Can Washington really believe that either of them could in any fashion be supportive of the US or any aspect of US international policy in the foreseeable Trumpian future?

Washington insulted Pakistan in the most grievous and needlessly spiteful fashion, and was even more abusive about China. As it happens, these countries border each other and are closely linked, economically and militarily. They couldn’t be further apart, religiously or politically, but this doesn’t matter — and the US could learn from that, because you don’t have to be religious to reflect on the wisdom of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus wisely advised that human beings should “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (And similar advice is given in the Holy Koran and the Analects of Confucius.)

By insulting their leaders and scattering threats like explosive confetti, the US Administration influences foreign nations to reconsider their attitude to cooperation. They wonder if there is there any point in trying to engage with Trump Washington. At the moment almost everything that Trump is doing is gaining enemies and alienating friends, and the Pentagon’s policies of withdrawal of financial assistance to allies and deliberate military provocation of China, Russia, Iran and Venexuela ensure that tensions around the world just keep on growing.

It’s all supposed to be part of “Make America Great Again”, but Washington and the American people are going to discover that insults and confrontation will lead to exactly the opposite result.

Jihadists refuse to leave Idlib buffer zone under Russia-Turkey deal – Syria threatens to resume anti-terror op – By RFE/RL -SOTT

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National Liberation Front in Idlib Province

© Omar Haj Kadoue / AFP
Syrian rebel-fighters from the National Liberation Front in Idlib Province

Militants in Syria’s Idlib Province failed to meet an October 15 deadline for vacating a buffer zone created under a Russian-Turkish cease-fire deal, prompting a threat from the Syrian government to resume its military campaign.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said Syrian forces are ready to resume their fight to “eradicate” militants who remain in Idlib, but he said Syria would give Russia time to determine whether they complied with the deal.

The deal between Turkey and Russia, which averted what was widely expected to be a bloody battle in the last remaining Syrian rebel-held stronghold last month, set up a buffer zone about 20 kilometers long which was to be evacuated of all heavy weapons and Islamist extremists by midnight on October 14.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, said on October 15 that the militants largely failed to comply with the agreement.

“We did not document the withdrawal of any jihadist fighters from the entire demilitarized zone,” he said.

Moualem said at a press conference in Damascus that it is now up to Russia to judge whether the agreement has been fulfilled, and that may take time.

“We have to wait for the Russian reaction. Russia is monitoring and following the situation,” he said.

“Our armed forces are ready around Idlib to eradicate terrorism if the Idlib agreement is not implemented,” he said

“Idlib, as any other province, has to return to Syrian sovereignty. We prefer to have it through peaceful means, through reconciliation, but if not, there [are] other options.”

Russian officials have hinted they could accept a brief delay in carrying out the agreement if it meant the spirit of the deal was still upheld.

Tahrir al-Sham, an Islamist alliance led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate, on October 14 issued a statement lauding the cease-fire deal but pledging to continue its fight against the government.

“We value the efforts of all those striving — at home and abroad — to protect the liberated area and prevent its invasion and the perpetration of massacres in it,” but “we have not abandoned our choice of jihad and fighting towards implementing our blessed revolution,” the group said.

Tahrir al-Sham and other, more extreme Islamist groups hold over two-thirds of the buffer area, and over half of the rest of Idlib.

Comment: Yep, these are the people holding Idlib – the same terrorists the U.S. has been so hysterical about saving from Russian and Syrian bombs. Where was all their ‘humanitarian’ concern when bombing the hell out of Raqqa?

Idlib’s other main rebel faction, a Turkish-aligned alliance of groups known as the National Liberation Front, has repeatedly expressed its support for the agreement.

Moualem said the government’s next target after recovering Idlib from rebels would be the area east of the Euphrates — territory that is currently held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which are allies of the United States.

Kurdish leaders reportedly have traveled to Damascus to negotiate with the government over the future of the area they liberated last year from the Islamic State extremist group and where they have started to institute a system of self-rule with encouragement and protection from U.S. forces.

But Moualem suggested those negotiations have not produced any accord and said the Kurdish-held area remains fair game for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces — even if that means clashing with U.S. troops in the area.

His statement came as Syria reopened two key border crossings with Israel and Jordan on October 15 that had been closed for years during Syria’s seven-year civil war, which has killed over 400,000 people and displaced millions more.

The opening of the Nassib and Quneitra crossings are a major boost for Assad, showing that he is slowly reasserting control over much of Syria’s territory.

The Nassib crossing with Jordan is a gateway to the oil-rich Gulf nations and an important commercial artery that had been closed since 2015, when rebels seized control of it.

The Syrian Army recaptured it in July, as it made gains across the country with the help of Russian and Iranian forces.

THE ONLY ROGUE ACTOR IS MBS; SYRIA’S S-300 UP AND RUNNING – By ZIAD FADEL

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With SyrPer having identified clearly the way the Saudi “hit-team” dispatched poor Islamist warthog, Jamaal Khashoggi, the Saudi government is now trying to adopt our narrative to blame the botched operation on rogue elements inside the security services for the death of what King Salmaan called: “our Saudi citizen”.  You see, I have a wide smirk on my face as I’m writing this for the reason that the Saudi excuse for this mess is now an “overzealous” security agent, anxious to impress MBS with his “expertise” who was bent on capturing and repatriating Khashoggi so that MBS could torture him to death personally in the privacy of his own palace (in the style of Saddaam Hussayn).  And can you guess who the lamb of sacrifice is going to be?  His name was mentioned in our post yesterday.  Te hee hee.

Image result for ahmad asiri deputy director of Saudi Arabia general intelligence

Major General Ahmad ‘Aseeri appears, from his phenotype,  to be of mixed blood: probably African and Arabian.  His last name suggests he is from the Western coastal area of ‘Aseer which extends down into Yemen.  He also has no bloodlines to connect him to the “royal” family of Sa’ood thus making him thoroughly dispensable.  Don’t be surprised if the Clown Prince doesn’t have him beheaded for the killing of Jamaal Khashoggi.  Stalin would be proud.  If you’ve read “A Tale of Two Cities”, you know it’s going to be somebody else.  Poor Sidney Carton.

But, really, can anybody believe a rogue security agent led a group of assassins to Istanbul to bring home a personality so abhorred by the reigning Clown Prince that a successful conclusion would result in his being immortalized or promoted to head of his department?  Maybe, ‘Aseeri might yearn to be chief of the General Intelligence Service and this could have been his chance, you can never know.  Anyways, you’re going to hear this nonsense soon from the Arabian fake news media.

Look, folks, we know the consulate in Istanbul told all non-Saudi employees not to show up to work on October 2, 2018, the same day Khashoggi was killed, either intentionally or accidentally in a botched interrogation during which, as I suggested, he succumbed to a cardiac infarction. Well, somebody must have told the staff at the consulate that the Turkish workers were to be given a day off on October 2, 2018.  Who would have the authority to do that?

The natural answer is the General Consul.  But, who would alert him to the need for that?  And, why?  Clearly, the General Consul would have queried as to the purpose of this day off during a non-holiday.  And who had the authority to tell him to do exactly that?  Surely, if it were the Saudi ambassador to Ankara, he too would have to ask for what purpose “are we giving the day off to our Turk employees in Istanbul, but, not to our Turk employees in Ankara?”

To be sure, the Deputy Director of Saudi General Intelligence (talk about oxymorons) could order such an event and the General Consul would be wise to obey it.  With all Turk employees given the day off, it had to be assumed that the Saudi workers would have to remain silent about the screams they were hearing as Khashoggi was being tortured.  They would also have to be relied upon to keep their mouths shut as a squad of killers, including a well-known professional butcher/coroner, made its way into the consulate with no Turks allowed on the premises.

But, the Saudis know full well that the Turkish government keeps security agents around all diplomatic facilities in Istanbul.  They would have to suspect, even a little, that the Turks also have cameras around the consulate for security reasons, especially with a country like Saudi Arabia, so heavily involved in terrorism and systemic creepiness.

No.  This was no rogue operation.  The very presence of the forensic “expert”, Salaah Al-Tubayji, indicates planning in Saudi Arabia by a known nincompoop who fancies himself a real “systematic” genius.  Can you guess who that is?

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Photo courtesy of Pars Today

Korrekt!!  Can anybody believe Al-Tubayji, whose life has been devoted to the swift dismemberment of cadavers, the rapid analysis of deaths during the Pilgrimage at Mecca and hiding evidence from do-gooders, would simply go with ‘Aseeri to Istanbul without knowing for what reason?  Here is my impression of the mythical conversation preceding Al-Tubayji’s packing up his collection of bone saws:

‘Aseeri:  “My dear doctor.  This is ‘Aseeri.  You know, of course, who I am.”

Al-Tubayji:  “Yeah. Sure. You’re the guy who was the spokesman for the disaster in Yemen.  You’re the guy who was fired and made Deputy Director of Intelligence.  Right?”

‘Aseeri:  “Something like that…….Look, pack up your kit, or whatever you use to make carcasses itsy bitsy, and teeny weeny.  We’re going to Istanbul.  You know, (sings) Istanbul is Constantinople.  Got it?”

Al-Tubayji:  “Anybody I know?”

‘Aseeri:  “Khashoggi.”

Al-Tubayji:  “Big guy.  Lotsa work.  I might need some Gatorade for this.”

‘Aseeri:  “I’ll make sure they have some in the consulate.”

Al-Tubayji:  “Thanks, very thoughtful.  Are you going to bury him there or take him out in pieces?”

‘Aseeri:  “I thought we’d bring some freezer bags with us.”

Al-Tubayji:  “You’re going to have a lot of bags for this.  I’d say you’ll need about 13 young men.”

‘Aseeri:  “You’ve got it.  I’ll draw some from the king’s Royal Guard and some from our department.”

Al-Tubayji:  “Hey, sounds like a party.  But, does MBS know about this?”

‘Aseeri:  “Shshhhhhhhh.  It’s going to be a surprise.”

 

In truth, MBS was only surprised that his maniacal plot blew up in his face with planning so inept it makes the French tactics at Dien Bien Phu seem inspired.  But, don’t you be surprised if the Saudis try to unload this schlock on a gullible public.  I can see the CIA spooks, and the even more malignant spooks in England, working overtime to make this gangrenous narrative more palatable.

________________________________________________

DAMASCUS:

في سوريا: إنشاء نظام يوازي أفضل نظام دفاع جوي في العالم

My sources are telling me the S-300 system has been delivered and has been installed.  Syria can now electronically jam radar and other methods of target acquisition with the new equipment.  Enjoy.   

Angered By Saudi Plan to Purchase Russian S-400, Trump Admin Exploiting Khashoggi Disappearance to Force Saudis to “Buy American” – By Whitney Webb Whitney Webb @_whitneywebb – MINT PRESS

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Jamal Khashoggi Saudi Arabia

The response of the Trump administration and many U.S. politicians to Khashoggi’s disappearance is largely being guided by the military-industrial complex — in this case Lockheed Martin — but masquerading as a response motivated by “human rights.”

ISTANBUL — The disappearance and alleged murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi continues to strain relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. On Saturday, President Donald Trump warned the Saudis of “severe punishment” if the Saudi government was found to have been responsible for the journalist’s alleged murder.

The Saudi government has vocally denied any involvement even though Khashoggi disappeared within the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and responded to Trump’s threats by vowing an even “stronger” response if the Gulf monarchy is ultimately targeted by the United States. The exchange of threats caused Saudi stocks to sustain their biggest one-day loss since 2016 when trading opened and has brought the upcoming three-day Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Saudi Arabia much unwanted negative publicity.

However, there is considerable evidence pointing to the fact that the U.S.’ response to the Khashoggi affair is likely to be determined, not by any Saudi government responsibility for Khashoggi’s fate, but instead whether or not the Saudis choose to follow through with their promise to purchase the $15 billion U.S.-made THAAD missile system or it cheaper, Russia-made equivalent, the S-400. According to reports, the Saudis failed to meet the deadline for their planned THAAD purchase and had hinted in late September that they were planning to buy the S-400 from Russia instead.

 

While the U.S.’ response to the alleged murder of the Saudi journalist is being cast as a U.S. government effort to defend press freedom and finally hold the Saudi government to account for its long litany of human-rights abuses, there is every indication that the U.S. is not in fact seeking to punish the Saudis for their alleged role in Khashoggi’s apparent murder but instead to punish them for reneging on this $15 billion deal to U.S. weapons giant Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the THAAD system.

Khashoggi’s disappearance merely provided a convenient pretext for the U.S. to pressure the Saudis over abandoning the weapons deal by allowing the U.S. to frame its retaliation as a “human rights” issue. As a result, it seems likely that, if the Saudis move forward with the latter, the U.S. and the Trump administration  the Saudi government guilty of involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance while, if they move forward with the former, the media frenzy and controversy surrounding the Saudi national will likely fizzle out and, with it, Trump’s threats of “severe punishment.”

Ultimately, the response of the U.S. political class to the Khashoggi affair is just the latest example of a U.S. government policy being motivated by the military-industrial complex but masquerading as a policy motivated by concern for “human rights.”

 

Why the sudden concern over the Saudi government’s atrocious human rights record?

As the Khashoggi saga has drawn on since the Saudi journalist disappeared earlier this month, some observers have noted that the corporate media and the U.S. government’s sudden preoccupation with Saudi Arabia’s human-rights record, particularly in regards to journalists. Indeed, just last Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced that 15 Saudi journalists and bloggers had been arrested over the past year and noted that “in most cases, their arrests have never been officially confirmed and no official has ever said where they are being held or what they are charged with.”

In addition, Saudi Arabia has helped kill tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians in the war it is leading against that country, with most of those civilian casualties resulting from the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign that routinely targets civilians. The Saudi-led coalition’s blockade of food and medicine into Yemen has also brought the country to the brink of famine, with nearly 18 million now at risk of starving to death — including over 5 million children, while thousands more are dying from preventable diseases in the country.

While murdering a journalist by “hit squad” in a diplomatic compound on foreign soil — as is alleged to have Khashoggi’s fate — would certainly set a dangerous precedent, Saudi Arabia leading the genocide against the Yemeni people is arguably a much worse precedent.  However, little concern over the Saudis’ role in this atrocity in Yemen has been raised by those pushing for action to be taken against Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s “inhumane” fate. So, why the sudden concern?

Despite it being a well-known fact that the Saudi government routinely imprisons journalists and activists and is leading a genocidal war against its southern neighbor, the Trump administration has now adopted a harsh tone towards the Saudis, with concerns over Khashoggi’s disappearance serving as the “official” excuse.

Indeed, Trump told CBS’ 60 Minutes during an interview broadcast on Sunday that “there’s something really terrible and disgusting about that if that were the case [that Saudi Arabia had been involved in Khashoggi’s murder], so we’re going to have to see. We’re going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment.”

Other powerful figures in the U.S. political establishment have called for dramatic action to be taken against the Saudi government, particularly the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). For instance, John Brennan, former CIA Director under Obama and current cable news pundit, lobbied in a recent Washington Post op-ed to dethrone MBS for his alleged role in Khashoggi’s fate.

Brennan also notably called upon the U.S. to impose “immediate sanctions on all Saudis involved; a freeze on U.S. military sales to Saudi Arabia; suspension of all routine intelligence cooperation with Saudi security services; and a U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the murder.”

Another prominent figure in Washington pushing for action to be taken against the Saudis over Khashoggi’s disappearance is Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham recently stated that there would be “hell to pay” if the Saudi government was found to be responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder. Notably, the top contributor to Graham’s 2020 re-election campaign is U.S. weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

Given that human-rights concerns among the U.S. power establishment have only emerged after the disappearance of this one journalist and such concerns regarding the Saudis other grave human-rights abuses continue to go unvoiced by these same individuals, something else is likely driving Washington’s sudden concern over alleged Saudi state-sanctioned murder.

So what has protected the Saudi government from U.S. retribution over its repeated human-rights abuses in the past? Though Saudi Arabia’s vast oil wealth is an obvious answer, a recently leaked State Department memo revealed that U.S. weapon sales to the Gulf Kingdom were the main and only factor in the Trump administration ’s continued support for the Saudi-led coalition’s disastrous war in Yemen. Those lucrative weapon sales, according to the memo, led Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “rubber stamp” the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign in Yemen despite the fact that the coalition has continued to bomb civilian buses, homes and infrastructure in recent months.

If the Saudis were to back away from a major, lucrative deal with U.S. weapon manufacturers, such an act would likely result in retribution from Washington, given that weapons sales to the Gulf Kingdom are currently the driving factor behind Washington’s “concern” with the Saudi government’s poor human-rights record.

This is exactly what happened and it took place just two days before Khashoggi disappeared inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

 

The Saudis back out of a US deal and eye the rival’s wares

Last year, President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and praised its crown prince for finalizing a massive weapons deal with the United States at a value of over $110 billion. However, it emerged soon after that this “deal” was not contract-based but instead involved many “letters of interest or intent.” Over a year later, the Washington Post recently noted that many of the planned weapons deals have yet to be finalized.

One of those agreements was the planned $15 billion purchase of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD), which is manufactured by U.S. weapons giant Lockheed Martin. The deadline for the Saudis to finalize that deal passed on September 30, just two days before Khashoggi’s disappearance on October 2. However, a Saudi official told the Post that the Saudi government is still “highly interested” in the deal but “like any military purchase, there are negotiations happening which we hope will conclude in the quickest means possible.”

Yet, not only has Saudi Arabia apparently backed out of the $15 billion deal to buy Lockheed’s THAAD, it is also actively considering buying the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system instead and has also refused U.S. government requests to disavow its interest in the Russian-made system.

Indeed, on September 21, Saudi ambassador to Russia Raid bin Khalid Krimli stated:

Our cooperation with Russia continues and grows. And during King Salman’s historic visit [to Russia] we have signed 14 agreements that began to be implemented. There were four agreements in the military field; three of them began to be implemented. As for the fourth … there is discussion of the technical issues. Because the system itself is modern and complex.”

The fourth deal to which he alludes appears to be the S-400. The Saudi ambassador also stated the he hoped “nobody will impose any sanctions on us” for making the purchases with Russia — further suggesting that the system he was discussing was the S-400, given that the U.S. sanctioned China for purchasing the system soon before the Saudi ambassador’s comments.

Interestingly, soon after the Saudis’ failure to stick to the planned deal with Lockheed, Trump began to publicly criticize the Saudis for “not paying” their fair share. Speaking at a campaign rally in Mississippi on October 3 – one day after Khashoggi’s disappearance in Istanbul and three days after Saudi Arabia “missed” the Lockheed Martin deadline, Trump stated:

“I love the king [of Saudi Arabia], King Salman, but I said: ‘King, we’re protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military, you have to pay.”‘

More recently, this past Saturday, Trump told reporters that he did not want to risk the bottom line of the U.S.’ top weapons manufacturers in determining the Saudis’ “punishment:”  

I tell you what I don’t want to do. Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, all these companies. I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that [emphasis added]. And you know there are other ways of punishing, to use a word that’s a pretty harsh word, but it’s true.”

Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson participates in a signing ceremony between President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salam at the Royal Court Palace, Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP/Evan Vucci)

However, if the Saudis do follow through with the purchase of the S-400, Lockheed Martin will lose $15 billion as a result. It will also endanger some of other potential contracts contained within the $110 billion weapons contract that Trump has often publicly promoted. With Trump not wanting to “lose an order like that,” some analysts like Scott Creighton of the Nomadic Everyman blog have asserted that the Khashoggi scandal is being used as a “shakedown” aimed at pressuring the Saudis into “buying American” and to force them to disavow a future purchase of the Russian-made S-400.

Would the U.S. use such tactics against a close ally like the Saudis over their potential purchase of the Russian-made S-400? It would certainly fit with the U.S.’ recent efforts to threaten countries around the world with sanctions for purchasing that very missile defense system. For instance, in June, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell threatened Turkey with sanctions if Turkey purchased the S-400. Those threats were followed by the September decision made by the Trump administration to sanction China for its purchase of the S-400 system.

Notably, it was right after China was sanctioned for purchasing the S-400 that the Saudi ambassador to Russia told Russian media that “I hope nobody will impose any sanctions on us” for purchasing the S-400.

However, U.S. sanctions against the Saudis may now be in the works after all, with Khashoggi’s disappearance as the pretext. Indeed, as previously mentioned, former CIA director John Brennan, among other powerful figures in Washington, is calling for sanctions against the Saudi government and Trump himself stated on Saturday that “severe punishment” could soon be in the Saudis’ future.

Yet another piece of this puzzle that cannot be ignored is the fact that Khashoggi himself has ties to the CIA, as well as to Lockheed Martin through his uncle Adnan Khashoggi, one of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful weapons dealers.

 

Khashoggi’s deep connections to CIA, Saudi Intelligence suggest his “disappearance” may be something more

Following his disappearance, Khashoggi has been praised by establishment and non-establishment figures alike, from Jake Tapper to Chris Hedges, for being a “dissident” and a “courageous journalist.” However, prior to his scandalous disappearance and alleged murder, Khashoggi did not receive such accolades and was a very controversial figure.

As Federico Pieraccini recently wrote at Strategic Culture:

[Khashoggi is a] representative of the shadowy world of collaboration that sometimes exists between journalism and the intelligence agencies, in this case involving the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and the United States. It has been virtually confirmed by official circles within the Al Saud family that Khashoggi was an agent in the employ of Riyadh and the CIA during the Soviet presence in Afghanistan.”

Indeed, Khashoggi doubled as a journalist and an asset for the Saudi and U.S. intelligence services and was also an early recruit of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was also the protégé of Turki Faisal Al-Saud, the head of Saudi intelligence for 24 years, who also served as the Saudi ambassador to Washington and to the United Kingdom. Khashoggi was “media advisor” to Faisal Al-Saud during his two ambassadorships. Notably, Khashoggi became a regime “critic” only after internal power struggles broke out between former Saudi King Abdullah and Turki Faisal al-Saud.

Supporters of King Abdullah accused Khashoggi at the time of having recruited and paid several journalists on behalf of the CIA while he was editor of the leading English-language magazine in Saudi Arabia, Arab News, a post he held from 1999 to 2003.

More recently, Khashoggi strongly supported the Muslim Brotherhood during the “Arab Spring” and backed the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton regime-change efforts that spread throughout the Middle East, including the regime-change effort targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

However, under King Salman, the Muslim Brotherhood’s presence in Saudi Arabia came under threat and was suppressed. This led Khashoggi to leave and seek refuge in Turkey.

Perhaps most significantly, prior to his disappearance, Khashoggi was “working quietly with intellectuals, reformists and Islamists to launch a group called Democracy for the Arab World Now.” As Moon of Alabama notes, these projects that Khashoggi was involved in prior to his disappearance “reek of preparations for a CIA-controlled color revolution in Saudi Arabia.”

Jamal Khashoggi speaks during a press conference in Manama, Bahrain, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. Khashoggi was recently banned from reporting by the Saudi government over his public criticism of Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Not only does Khashoggi share ties to the CIA and the Saudi intelligence services (services that often collaborate), but his family is well-connected to global power structures, including Lockheed Martin.

Indeed, as previously mentioned, Khashoggi’s uncle is none other than Adnan Khashoggi, the notorious Saudi arms dealer who was an important player in the Iran-contra affair and was once Saudi Arabia’s richest man. Adnan Khashoggi was deeply connected to Lockheed Martin, as demonstrated by the fact that, between 1970 and 1975, he received $106 million in commissions from the U.S. weapons giant with his commission rate on Lockheed sales eventually rising to 15 percent. According to Lockheed’s former Vice President for International Marketing, Max Helzel, Adnan Khashoggi “became for all practical purposes a marketing arm of Lockheed. Adnan would provide not only an entry but strategy, constant advice and analysis.”

Adnan Khashoggi also had close ties to the Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan White Houses, with the latter likely explaining why he was acquitted for his role in the Iran-contra scandal. Also notable is the fact that Adnan Khashoggi sold his famed yacht to none other than Donald Trump for $30 million. Trump later called Adnan Khashoggi “a great broker and a lousy businessman.”

Given Jamal Khashoggi’s past and present connections to the CIA and his family’s connections to Lockheed Martin and powerful players in the U.S. political establishment, the possibility emerges that Khashoggi’s disappearance may have in fact been a set-up in order to place pressure on the Saudi government following its decision to renege on its plan to purchase Lockheed’s THAAD system. This theory is also somewhat supported by the fact that the U.S. intelligence community had known in advance of an alleged Saudi plot to capture Khashoggi but ignored its duty (via ICD 191) to warn Khashoggi of the apparent threat against him. Furthermore, the claims that Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul have — so far — been entirely based on claims from U.S. and Turkish intelligence and no evidence to support the now prevailing narrative of murder has been made public.

If a “set-up” were the case, Khashoggi’s CIA links and his apparent efforts at pushing a CIA-controlled “color revolution” in Saudi Arabia suggest that his disappearance could also have been intended for use as a pretext, not necessarily to punish the Saudis over the S-400, but to remove MBS from his position as crown prince and replace him with former crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was ousted by MBS last year and also holds close ties to the CIA. Such a possibility cannot be ignored.

However, the Trump administration’s willingness to cooperate with the faux outrage regarding Khashoggi is much more likely to be motivated by the weapons-deal drama given the administration’s close ties to MBS.

Of course, it is equally likely that this was not a set-up given that MBS is undeniably authoritarian and relentlessly pursues his critics and perhaps thought that his close relationship with Trump would allow him to act with impunity in targeting Khashoggi. However, MBS’ pursuits of his critics in the past were more readily accepted by the West — like the so-called “corruption crackdown” last December. Either way, the Saudi government’s role in the alleged murder of Khashoggi is being capitalized on by the CIA and other elements of the U.S. political scene and military-industrial complex for its own purposes, as these groups normally turn a blind eye to Saudi government atrocities.

 

Tracking the political typhoon

Though the U.S. tactic to strong-arm Saudi Arabia seems clear, it is a situation that could dangerously escalate as both MBS and Trump have proven over the course of their short tenure that they are stubborn and unpredictable.

Furthermore, the timing of this situation is also troubling. In early November, the Trump administration’s efforts to punish countries importing Iranian crude oil will take effect and Trump is set to lean heavily on the Saudis to prevent a dramatic oil price increase due to the supply shock the removal of Iranian oil from the market will cause. Notably, the Saudis are working closely with Russia to keep oil prices from spiking.

Is the U.S. willing to risk the dramatic jump in oil prices, which themselves could have major domestic economic consequences, in order to keep the Saudis from buying the S-400? It’s hard to say but the coming battle of wills between Trump and MBS could well have truly global consequences.

Top Photo | A security personnel looks out from the entrance of the Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Oct. 14, 2018. Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi critic, vanished after he walked into the consulate on Oct. 2. Petros Giannakouris | AP

Acknowledgment: The author of this article would like to thank Scott Creighton of the Nomadic Everyman blog for his assistance in researching aspects of this investigation.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

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Did Saudis, CIA Fear Khashoggi 9/11 Bombshell? – By Finian CUNNINGHAM – Strategic Culture Foundation

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Did Saudis, CIA Fear Khashoggi 9/11 Bombshell?

 

The macabre case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi raises the question: did Saudi rulers fear him revealing highly damaging information on their secret dealings? In particular, possible involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks on New York in 2001.

Even more intriguing are US media reports now emerging that American intelligence had snooped on and were aware of Saudi officials making plans to capture Khashoggi prior to his apparent disappearance at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. If the Americans knew the journalist’s life was in danger, why didn’t they tip him off to avoid his doom?

Jamal Khashoggi (59) had gone rogue, from the Saudi elite’s point of view. Formerly a senior editor in Saudi state media and an advisor to the royal court, he was imminently connected and versed in House of Saud affairs. As one commentator cryptically put it: “He knew where all the bodies were buried.”

For the past year, Khashoggi went into self-imposed exile, taking up residence in the US, where he began writing opinion columns for the Washington Post.

Khashoggi’s articles appeared to be taking on increasingly critical tone against the heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The 33-year-old Crown Prince, or MbS as he’s known, is de facto ruler of the oil-rich kingdom, in place of his aging father, King Salman.

While Western media and several leaders, such as Presidents Trump and Macron, have been indulging MbS as “a reformer”, Khashoggi was spoiling this Saudi public relations effort by criticizing the war in Yemen, the blockade on Qatar and the crackdown on Saudi critics back home.

However, what may have caused the Saudi royals more concern was what Khashoggi knew about darker, dirtier matters. And not just the Saudis, but American deep state actors as as well.

He was formerly a media aide to Prince Turki al Faisal, who is an eminence gris figure in Saudi intelligence, with its systematic relations to American and British counterparts. Prince Turki’s father, Faisal, was formerly the king of Saudi Arabia until his assassination in 1975 by a family rival. Faisal was a half-brother of the present king, Salman, and therefore Prince Turki is a cousin of the Crown Prince – albeit at 73 more than twice his age.

For nearly 23 years, from 1977 to 2001, Prince Turki was the director of the Mukhabarat, the Saudi state intelligence apparatus. He was instrumental in Saudi, American and British organization of the mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan to combat Soviet forces. Those militants in Afghanistan later evolved into the al Qaeda terror network, which has served as a cat’s paw in various US proxy wars across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, including Russia’s backyard in the Caucasus.

Ten days before the 9/11 terror attacks on New York City, in which some 3,000 Americans died, Prince Turki retired from his post as head of Saudi intelligence. It was an abrupt departure, well before his tenure was due to expire.

There has previously been speculation in US media that this senior Saudi figure knew in advance that something major was going down on 9/11. At least 15 of the 19 Arabs who allegedly hijacked three commercial airplanes that day were Saudi nationals.

Prince Turki has subsequently been named in a 2002 lawsuit mounted by families of 9/11 victims. There is little suggestion he was wittingly involved in organizing the terror plot. Later public comments indicated that Prince Turki was horrified by the atrocity. But the question is: did he know of the impending incident, and did he alert US intelligence, which then did not take appropriate action to prevent it?

Jamal Khashoggi had long served as a trusted media advisor to Prince Turki, before the latter resigned from public office in 2007. Following 9/11, Turki was the Saudi ambassador to both the US and Britain.

A tentative idea here is that Khashoggi, in his close dealings with Prince Turki over the years, may have gleaned highly sensitive inside information on what actually happened on 9/11. Were the Arab hijackers mere patsies used by the American CIA to facilitate an event which has since been used by American military planners to launch a global “war on terror” as a cover for illegal wars overseas? There is a huge body of evidence that the 9/11 attacks were indeed a “false flag” event orchestrated by the US deep state as a pretext for its imperialist rampages.

The apparent abduction and murder last week of Jamal Khashoggi seems such an astoundingly desperate move by the Saudi rulers. More evidence is emerging from Turkish sources that the journalist was indeed lured to the consulate in Istanbul where he was killed by a 15-member hit squad. Reports are saying that the alleged assassination was ordered at the highest level of the Saudi royal court, which implicates Crown Prince MbS.

Why would the Saudi rulers order such a heinous act, which would inevitably lead to acute political problems, as we are seeing in the fallout from governments and media coverage around the world?

Over the past year, the House of Saud had been appealing to Khashoggi to return to Riyadh and resume his services as a media advisor to the royal court. He declined, fearing that something more sinister was afoot. When Khashoggi turned up in Istanbul to collect a divorce document from the Saudi consulate on September 28, it appears that the House of Saud decided to nab him. He was told to return to the consulate on October 2. On that same day, the 15-member group arrived from Riyadh on two private Gulfstream jets for the mission to kill him.

Official Saudi claims stretch credulity. They say Khashoggi left the consulate building unharmed by a backdoor, although they won’t provide CCTV images to prove that. The Turks say their own CCTV facilities monitoring the front and back of the Saudi consulate show that Khashoggi did not leave the premises. The Turks seem confident of their claim he was murdered inside the building, his remains dismembered and removed in diplomatic vehicles. The two private jets left the same day from Istanbul with the 15 Saudis onboard to return to Riyadh, via Cairo and Dubai.

To carry out such a reckless act, the Saudis must have been alarmed by Khashoggi’s critical commentaries appearing in the Washington Post. The columns appeared to be delivering more and more damaging insights into the regime under Crown Prince MbS.

The Washington Post this week is reporting that US intelligence sources knew from telecom intercepts that the Saudis were planning to abduct Khashoggi. That implicates the House of Saud in a dastardly premeditated act of murder.

But furthermore this same disclosure could also, unwittingly, implicate US intelligence. If the latter knew of a malicious intent towards Khashoggi, why didn’t US agents warn him about going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul? Surely, he could have obtained the same personal documents from the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, a country where he was residing and would have been safer.

Jamal Khashoggi may have known too many dark secrets about US and Saudi intel collusion, primarily related to the 9/11 terror incidents. And with his increasing volubility as a critical journalist in a prominent American news outlet, it may have been time to silence him. The Saudis as hitmen, the American CIA as facilitators.

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United States Did It Again: Warplanes Use White Phosphorous Munitions in Syria – By Peter KORZUN |Strategic Culture Foundation

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United States Did It Again: Warplanes Use White Phosphorous Munitions in Syria
The US-led coalition used white phosphorus (WP) munitions delivering air strikes in the Syrian province of Deir Ez-Zor on Oct.13. The attack resulted in casualties among civilians. Last month, WP munitions were also used by two US Air Force (USAF) F-15s in an attack on the town of Hajin, Deir-ez-Zor. The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned the US-led coalition, which says the need to fight ISIS justifies its military actions while denying the fact it uses white phosphorous projectiles.

WP does not fall into the category of chemical weapons banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention but it is an incendiary weapon. As such, it cannot be used against non-combatants. Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons “prohibits the use of said incendiary weapons against civilians (already forbidden by the Geneva Conventions) or in civilian areas”. The substance ignites spontaneously upon contact with air, producing a dense white smoke. The heat could reach 800-900°C. No water will help. Severe injuries to internal organs could be caused when absorbed through skin, ingested, or inhaled. Burning particles of white phosphorus produce thermal and chemical burns if they come into contact with skin.

It’s not Syria only where the US used WP munitions. White phosphorous artillery shells were used in Iraq during the assault on Fallujah in 2004. The US admitted the fact. There have also been media reports about the WP use in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria. Last year, the Washington Post published photographs of US Marines equipped with white phosphorus projectiles to be used in the battle for Raqqa. The source offered similar pictures showing WP munitions with US Army units outside Iraqi Mosul. 

The Human Rights Watch has warned about dangers coming from the use of WP in urban areas. According to Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch, “No matter how white phosphorus is used, it poses a high risk of horrific and long-lasting harm in crowded cities like Raqqa and Mosul and any other areas with concentrations of civilians.”

In 2015, the United States used depleted uranium (DU) in Syria. DU is not banned by an international treaty but its use runs counter to the International Humanitarian Law (IHW). Article 36 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions requires to ensure that “any new weapon means or method of warfare does not contravene existing rules of international law.” It says “General principles of the laws of war/IHL prohibit weapons and means or methods of warfare that cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, have indiscriminate effects or cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment.” In 2012, the UN General Assembly tried to adopt a resolution restricting the use of DU. The move was supported by 155 states, with 27 abstaining and four, including the United States, voting against.

The American military has used cluster bombs against civilians in Yemen. The US is not one of the 102 states parties to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits the weapons that open in the air, dispersing multiple bomblets or submunitions over a wide area. Many submunitions fail to explode on initial impact, acting like landmines for years. The Pentagon refuses to give cluster munitions and American field commanders are authorized to use them at their discretion.

The US continues to run biological programs, operating more than 20 laboratories around the world in blatant violation of the UN Biological Weapons Convention. An opinion paper published on Oct. 4 in the journal Science, written by an international group of researchers claims the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is potentially developing insects as a means of delivering a “new class of biological weapon.”

In 2011, US police used tear gas and other chemical irritants against Occupy protesters. Tear gas is prohibited for use against enemy soldiers in battle by the Chemical Weapons Convention but it’s all right with America’s law enforcement agencies using the dangerous substance against their own people.

There is no justification for using WP at the time ISIS has been reduced to insignificance in Syria but Washington did it again. It violated international law after having unilaterally imposed sanctions on Russia without any evidence to support the relevant accusations. It should also be remembered that, unlike Russia, the US has so far failed to meet its obligations and destroy the chemical weapons stockpile. The use of substances to harm civilians is a serious matter that should be addressed at the ongoing 79th session on UN General Assembly. America’s non-compliance with generally accepted norms is the most acute problem on the international security agenda.

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The emperor has no clothes: Why the US military is woefully unprepared for major conventional conflict – By Brian Kalmon – South Front – SOTT

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us military conventional conflict

In the Department of Defense authored summary of the National Defense Strategy of the United States for 2018, Secretary James Mattis quite succinctly sets out the challenges and goals of the U.S. military in the immediate future. Importantly, he acknowledges that the U.S. had become far too focused on counter-insurgency over the past two decades, but he seems to miss the causation of this mission in the first place. U.S. foreign policy, and its reliance on military intervention to solve all perceived problems, regime change and imperialist adventurism, resulted in the need to occupy nations, or destroy them. This leads to the growth of insurgencies, and the strengthening of long simmering religious radicalism and anti-western sentiment in the Middle East and Central Asia. The U.S. military willfully threw itself headlong into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The United States engaged in unnecessary wars, and when these wars were easily won on the immediate battlefield, the unplanned for occupations lead to guerilla insurgencies that were not so easy for a conventional military to confront. The U.S. Army was not prepared for guerilla warfare in urban areas, nor for the brutal and immoral tactics that their new enemies were willing to engage in. They obviously had not reflected upon the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, nor the nature of their new enemies. As casualties mounted due to roadside IEDs, snipers, and suicide bombers hidden amongst civilians, the U.S. military and the defense industry were forced to find ways to protect soldiers and make vehicle less vulnerable to these types of attacks. This resulted in vehicles of every description being armored and new IED resistant vehicles being designed and fielded in large numbers. This in turn, equated to a vast amount of time, effort and money. It also focused both the U.S. military services and the defense industry away from fighting conventional wars against peer adversaries.

After a decade of fighting an insurgency in Afghanistan and almost as long in Iraq, the U.S. leadership decided to destroy the sovereign nation of Libya, and foment a war in Syria immediately afterward. There is no doubt with the knowledge of historic events today, that the CIA and State Department facilitated a foreign invasion of Syria of Islamist radicals. They funded and armed these groups, provided clandestine training, and facilitated the logistical movement of fighters and weapons into a sovereign nation to cause its disintegration. In these two examples they decided not to occupy these countries, but to destroy all semblance of ordered society and replace it with brutally violent chaos. The U.S. political and military leadership seems to have learned that their past adventurism resulted in costly occupations, yet instead of refraining from using the military option as a tool to alter geopolitical realities they did not like, they merely opted to abandon the responsibility of occupation and reconstruction all together.

Benghazi Libya

Benghazi, Libya. An example of democratic progress and stability in North Africa courtesy of U.S. led “humanitarian intervention”.

While Secretary Mattis describes the “near peer” nations China and Russia as “revisionist powers”, it was not these nations that made the irresponsible and reckless decisions that have weakened the U.S. military establishment, nor aim to revise the ill-conceived and executed catastrophes of their American “peers”. They have reached a state of military and technological parity with, and in many cases a position of superiority vis a vis the United States, because they exercised better judgement over the past two decades, invested their time, talent and treasure in developing powerful conventional and nuclear forces, and refrained from using their national defense assets to punish their perceived adversaries in such a way that more damage was caused to themselves. In many ways, the poor example of the United States and its ill-conceived military expeditions, influenced both Russia and China to advance along different paths. Now, without recognizing and acknowledging the failures of leadership and decision making that have lead the U.S. military to a weakened state, the United States has declared that it is now in a period of strategic competition with the two other strongest kids on the block.

In order to understand how Secretary Mattis has come to such a declaration, we have to look at the U.S. military decisions, actions, mistakes, and failures of leadership at the highest levels that have brought us to this point. A brief analysis of the resultant metamorphosis of the United States military from a robust and balanced conventional fighting force, backed up by a viable nuclear deterrent into a force obsessed with occupation and counterinsurgency must be conducted. This must be followed by a study of how the U.S. military has decided to invest its extensive funding, the weapons systems it has pursued, and how it envisions that it is best suited to protect the national security interests of the state. Finally, a comparison must be conducted of the capabilities of its declared strategic adversaries. A conclusion can then be made regarding the ability of the United States military to successfully engage and defeat these adversaries in a future conflict.

Imperial Expansion, Regime Change and Occupation

When the Soviet Union dissolved in December of 1991, a global power vacuum was immediately created. Regardless of the many assurances given to the Gorbachev government (which were finally revealed in the December 2017 National Security Archive releases of official NATO correspondence) that NATO would not expand and that the former Soviet federated states would be included in the established European economic and security apparatus, the United States immediately embarked on a policy of NATO expansion and economic exploitation of post-Soviet territories.

Just scant months earlier, the United States deployed military forces to Saudi Arabia as the backbone of an international coalition to confront and reverse the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. This resulted in Operation Desert Shield, the greatest deployment of combined military forces on the part of the U.S. military since the Vietnam War. By January of 1991, not even a month since the U.S.S.R. ceased to be, Operation Desert Shield transitioned to Operation Desert Storm, with the invasion of Iraq and Kuwait. The conventional military power utilized by the U.S. was greatly effective, and most combat systems worked extremely well on the battlefield. Air superiority was soon absolute, as the Iraqi Air Force largely left the skies uncontested. The great success of Operation Desert Storm largely gave the military planners of the Pentagon a false sense of superiority, which as we shall see, led to a number of wrong assumptions and poor decisions being made regarding the future development and transformation of the U.S. military.

desert storm M1A2 abrams tank platoon

M1A2 Abrams tank platoon advancing during Operation Desert Storm. The armored combat vehicles of the U.S. Army proved very effective against a far inferior opponent in this conflict, yet they proved capable and reliable. Logistical requirements; however, did prove to be a challenge.

The first post-Cold War military “humanitarian intervention” conducted by the U.S. was the Yugoslavian civil conflict interdiction of 1995. Predicated upon escalating ethnic atrocities, the NATO intervention was actually designed to make the fracturing of the former Yugoslavian Republic permanent, and to establish a number of pro-NATO, or pro-U.S.-Atlantic establishment nations on the Balkan periphery of Russia. Slovenia became a NATO member state in 2004, followed by Croatia in 2009, and then Montenegro in 2017. At the same time that a civil war was raging in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, the U.S. and its Gulf State allies fomented and aided Islamic insurgencies in the Caucasus Republics of the newly comprised Russian Federation in an attempt to further weaken and encircle it. At the conclusion of U.S. intervention in the Balkans, which included the deployment of U.S. ground forces as part of multiple NATO-led operations including Operation Joint Endeavor, Operation Joint Guard and Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Kosovo Force (KFOR), the United States would de facto create the statelet of Kosovo. As many as 43,000 NATO troops were serving as part of these operations at any given time between 1995 and 2002.

U.S. Camp Bondsteel Kosovo Serbia

U.S. Camp Bondsteel in the U.S. sponsored protectorate of Kosovo located in southwestern Serbia. The intervention in Kosovo had nothing to do with humanitarian concerns as usual, but in establishing a permanent military foothold in the Balkans.

As I have described and explained in an earlier analysis entitled “U.S. Army Armored Vehicle Developments in the 21st Century; The Future Combat System gives way to Mobile Protected Firepower“, although the U.S. military leadership was pleased with the performance of its legacy armored vehicles and weapons systems in both Operation Desert Storm and its Operation Joint Endeavor, it was not satisfied with the amount of time required to deploy large combined Arms units via available sealift and airlift capacity. The complex logistics involved in mobilizing and moving heavy armored units does not lend well to rapid deployments, especially over significant distances. Even pre-deployment of heavy armored equipment, either in host countries or loaded in sealift vessels kept on stand-by at forward deployed bases (such as Diego Garcia) or berthed at major seaports of the continental United States, present a whole host of logistical challenges.

The desire to streamline U.S. military logistics, and to create a fighting force that was more rapidly deployable, flexible and yet maintained the highest levels of lethality, and that leveraged advanced information technologies and communications systems led to the genesis of the Future Combat System (FCS). Embracing the FCS concept, the Army set very high deployment goals, which would prove to be unattainable. General Eric Shinseki, then Chief of Staff of the Army, stated that the Army would strive to attain the ability to deploy a combat brigade anywhere in the world within 96 hours, a full division within 120 hours, and no less than five divisions in 30 days. Then Secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld was a vocal supporter of the FCS concept. The U.S. Army would eventually pursue the FCS program, the largest defense acquisition program in U.S. military history with a price tag of approximately $200 billion USD. The program was eventually cancelled in 2009, yet its influence in transforming the U.S. Army have proven substantial, and have had a negative influence on the Army’s ability to fight near peer adversaries in today’s warfighting environment.

The United States military would become a force for invasion and occupation during the Neo-Con era spanning from 2000 to the present. BY 2003, the U.S. was once again invading Iraqi territory, this time during Operation Iraqi Freedom. By this time the U.S. Army had partially realized some aspects of FCS, mainly in the area of rapidly deploying combat ready forces of the Brigade size. Operation Iraqi Freedom was envisioned as a rapid invasion utilizing highly mobile, self-contained, combined-arms combat teams supported by overwhelming airpower. The Iraqi military was far weaker in 2003 than it had been in 1991. It was a shadow of its former self and had been repeatedly targeted over the intervening decade, especially its air-defense and command and control networks. A combined ground force of approximately 148,000 men was deployed and ready for offensive operations in approximately a month and a half. Ground operations of the invasion lasted from March 20th until May 1st, 2003. The initial victory was impressive, but it soon became quite obvious that there was no realistic and pragmatic plan to occupy the country and render aid to a stable and capable new government.

What followed was a time of crisis for the U.S. military. When the U.S. soldiers were not greeted as liberators, and a number of organized and ruthless anti-occupation insurgencies formed, some motivated my patriotism, some my tribal and religious factions, and still others by terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, the soldiers tasked with the occupation of Iraq were woefully unprepared for the task asked of them. U.S. troops deployed to a nation whose minimal civil infrastructure they had just destroyed, were tasked with reconstruction and nation building in a country producing a growing anti-occupation insurgency on many different levels. Convoys and patrols were increasingly the targets of ambushes by insurgents operating along key roadways and within urban centers. Light vehicles and military transports were targeted and destroyed in significant numbers, and the crews had no protection from weapons ranging from small arms and RPGs to extremely powerful improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The Bush administration at the time, who had claimed that the U.S. troops would be widely embraced as liberators, began to scramble for ways to reduce the mounting U.S. casualties. The answer was to add armored protection to all existing vehicles, whether they be HMMWVs, or the LMTVs and HEMMTs of the logistics units. Adding armor to logistical support vehicles not meant to see front line combat greatly reduced their fuel efficiency (of great importance in the logistics arm) and was only accomplished at great cost. The U.S. Army only had one armored security vehicle in active service at this time, the M1117, albeit in small numbers. The decision was made to armor the ubiquitous HMMWV and to give it the tasks of armored patrol, internal security and crowd control vehicle. The HMMWV was designed and used quite effectively as a light utility vehicle and had always performed well in such a role; however, it was never intended for the roles it was called upon to perform after 2003.

An Obsession with MRAPs

A number of different armor packages were developed for the HMMWV, mainly to increase the likelihood of crew survivability. The armored Hummer was merely a stopgap until purpose-built armored vehicles could be developed and fielded in greater numbers. Although effective against high caliber small arms, shrapnel and mines, the M1117 was fielded in very limited numbers in 2003 with military police units, mostly in security duties on U.S. military installations. Large orders of the vehicle were placed after the 2003 Iraq invasion, and the number grew from approximately 50 to over 1,800 units in active service.

HMMWVs Iraq after  2003 invasion.

M1117 at the head of a column of HMMWVs and an LMTV halted along a road in Iraq sometime after the 2003 invasion.

The U.S. military enlisted the help of both the U.S. and international defense industry to produce an armored vehicle that could better serve the needs of an army now faced with occupying not only one rebellious nation, but two. Between 2003 and 2007, the U.S. military would suffer increasing casualties in both the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres of occupation. In the case of Afghanistan, casualties would continue to increase until 2010 before decreasing over consecutive years. Most of these casualties were the result of ambushes with IEDs. Such attacks increased six fold from 2003 to 2007.

The DOD would award billions of dollars in contracts for Mine Resistant Ambushed Protected vehicles (MRAP) between 2003 and the present. The total acquisition cost of the various MRAPs ordered and put into service conservatively exceeds $45 billion USD. The U.S. military has no less than seven different types of MRAPs in service as of today, more than any other nation by far. As the U.S. has reduced its active footprint in both Afghanistan and Iraq, it has sold many of these vehicles to local security forces, and even U.S. domestic police forces, as they are of little use on a contested battlefield where the U.S. military would be fighting a conventional conflict with a powerful adversary. The following list details the main types of MRAPS in use by the U.S. military and costs associated:

M-ATV

The genesis of the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) was the desire to gain both the IED level protection of an MRAP and the mobility of a lighter all-terrain vehicle. It was realized early on that the armored M1114 HMMWV variant sacrificed much of its off road performance with the addition of heavy armor plate, yet failed to provide adequate protection. A purpose-built light MRAP was called for. Oshkosh Corporation was awarded the initial $1 billion USD contract to supply the new M-ATV to the U.S. Army, USMC, Air Force and Special Operations Command (which employs special operations elements of all the military services) in mid-2009. The initial contract order grew four fold within a few years, and total M-ATVs produced to date has approached 10,000 units of different variants. The acquisition cost not corrected for inflation likely exceeds $4 billion USD, and additional contracts have been awarded to update and refit all units retained in U.S. service. Many units have since been handed over to allied governments in the Middle East and Europe at far reduced prices. NATO recipients include both Poland and Croatia. Both the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia have made use of the M-ATV in the conflict in Yemen, and have lost a significant number in combat.

Comparative size HMMWV and M-ATV

Comparative size of the armored HMMWV and the M-ATV. The ubiquitous “Hummer” was never meant to be an armored car, and hundreds were destroyed by IEDs in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cougar

The Cougar is a much more robust vehicle than the M-ATV, resembling a heavily armored truck. It comes in a 4 x 4 and larger 6 x 6 version, with several variants based on these two platforms, depending on the intended role. The Cougar was developed by Force Protection, Inc. in 2004. The company was later acquired by General Dynamics in 2011. The Cougar was rushed into service after a very simple and rudimentary testing program in 2004, as the U.S. military wanted thousands of MRAPs for service in Iraq as soon as possible. The Cougar can trace its lineage to earlier South African designed and fielded vehicles, and was also adopted into British and Canadian service as well.

The Cougar was produced in great numbers between 2004 and 2010 for the U.S. military, with further orders filled by the British military, who have fielded the Cougar in at least 4 different variants. A number of Cougars have also be gifted to other NATO countries with contingents serving in Afghanistan. The U.S. military spent approximately $2.5-3.0 billion USD to acquire its Cougars, and additional funds have been spent to upgrade the roughly 20% of the surviving fleet selected to remain in service.

British Army 4×4  6×6 CougarMastiff and Ridgeback

British Army variants of the 4×4 and 6×6 Cougar (Mastiff and Ridgeback) in a convoy protecting military transports in Afghanistan.

Caiman

Probably the most cost effective MRAP to be developed to meet the requirements of the MRAP Vehicle Program is the Armor Holdings (since acquired by BAE Systems) Caiman. The Caiman initially shared 85% of its construction components with the Stewart & Stevenson/Oshkosh family of military tactical vehicles (FMTV). This family of light to medium trucks have been produced since the early 1980s, with over 74,000 units of varying configuration put into service. This commonality of construction reduced manufacturing, maintenance and inventory carrying costs. The total cost of the Caiman contract (including a later contract to upgrade and improve vehicles to the Multi-Terrain Vehicle standard) amounted to over $1.15 billion USD. The United States sold 1,150 Caiman MRAPs that had been put in surplus status to the U.A.E. to aid in their operations in Yemen.

MaxxPro

Manufactured by Navistar Defense, a subsidiary of the Navistar International Corporation, the MaxxPro MRAP is based on a commercial truck chassis and makes use of a bolt-on armor construction as much as possible. This reduces manufacturing cost when compared to welded construction, and allows for easier repair in the field. Approximately 9,000 MaxxPro MRAPs were built for the U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force. At an average per unit cost of $515,000 USD, the Maxxpro cost the United States military over $4.6 billion USD, not counting a number of upgrade contracts. Of the 9,000 units constructed and delivered, the U.S. military services announced in 2013 the intension of keeping only a third of these units in service beyond 2014.

Buffalo MPRC

The largest MRAP in the U.S. inventory, the Buffalo was designed as an IED and mine clearance vehicle. Manufactured by Force Protection Inc., it is based on the Casspir MRAP that has been in service with the South African Army for decades. The Buffalo in a 6×6 armored vehicle with a maximum service weight of 25,000 kgs. (56,000 lbs.). After building the first 200 units, the Buffalo was upgraded to the A2 standard in 2009, after which an additional 450 units were produced. Over 750 total Buffalos have been produced in total, with 650 of these in service with the U.S. military at a cost of over $1 billion USD.

Buffalo IED and Mine Clearance MRAP

Force Protection Buffalo IED and Mine Clearance MRAP removing an explosive devise by use of its articulated, hydraulically-operated claw.

The Buffalo’s origins are clearly a response to the dangers posed by a prolonged military occupation in an environment of active guerilla warfare. It was based on a proven design, and has been extremely effective in its intended role. The traditional vehicle for mine clearance or IED disposal would normally be an MBT fitted with mine clearance apparatus. The Buffalo is cheaper to manufacture, maintain and operate than an MBT, and is slightly more flexible in a multitude of environments. It also can accommodate 12 soldiers in addition to a normal crew of two.

Nyala RG-31/33

Manufactured by Land Systems OMC (BAE Land Systems) of South Africa and FNSS of Turkey, the RG-31/33 Nyala MRAP is produced in a 4×4 (RG-31) and 6×6 (RG-33) version to meet the requirements of the Mine Resistant Ambushed Protected Vehicle Program. Although used by the U.S. military in the highest numbers (almost 2,000 vehicles), ten other nations use this MRAP to some degree. The USMC ordered 1,385 of the Mark 5E variant, and operate more RG-31s than any other military service. The total cost of RG-31/33 acquisition is easily in excess of $2.7 billion USD.

JLTV

The most ambitious of all of the MRAP programs, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is meant to replace the HMMWV in use by all of the U.S. military branches. Although the design of the new vehicle is meant to allow it to exceed at a number of military tasks, it is at its core a mine resistant, ambush protected vehicle. The JLTV is suited to take over the tasks of light armored reconnaissance, armored security, special operations, utility and convoy protection. The JLTV is meant to be flexible enough to perform all of these tasks and its very design allows for the upgrading or downgrading of armor and weapons systems tailored to the task required.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated in 2015 that the total acquisition cost of the JLTV across all services would likely be $53.5 billion USD, with a total of 5,500 units for the UMC and 49,099 for the U.S. Army requested. In 2016, the Department of Defense claimed that the total cost of the program would be reduced due to revised unit costs and corrected “cost estimate methodologies”; however, past experience has proven that the Pentagon is usually quite bad when it comes to managing finances. The procurement timetable proposed has the first JLTVs being delivered beginning in 2018, and not being completed until 2040 for the U.S. Army. The 5,500 units requested by the USMC should be delivered between 2018 and 2022.

The JLTV program clearly embodies the U.S. military’s fixation on its experiences in both Iraq and Afghanistan with occupation and the resultant insurgencies motivated by inevitable anti-U.S. and anti-Western sentiments. Invaders are never seen as liberators, but always as subjugators and occupiers. Occupiers are never safe, as the frontline is everywhere. The U.S. military reacted to protect itself by armoring everything. Light utility vehicles and logistics transport of all categories were armored for protection. Only a nation that plans to invade and occupy other countries, and that will find itself always in a hostile environment will require so many MRAPs and armored transports. No other major military in the world has decided to follow this new U.S. model. Perhaps that is due to the fact that the main duty of their armed forces is to fight defensively in defending their own territory. Armies of national defense have no need to prepare themselves to fight a hostile native population.

unarmored HMMWV and  armored JLTV

A side-by-side comparison of an unarmored HMMWV and an armored JLTV. The new vehicle is twice as heavy as the standard HMMWV.

The JLTV is an armored, all-terrain monster that can carry a payload between 1,600 and 2,300 kgs. (3,500 – 5,100 lbs.), weapons as large as the SHORAD (Short Range Air Defense variant of the Hellfire missile) or the 30mm M230LF automatic cannon, and provide crew survivability in most IED attacks. The DOD has decided to replace both MRAPs and the HMMWV family of utility vehicles with the new JLTV platform. The JLTV is equipped with a 6.6 liter diesel V8 which can generate at least 300 horse power. The vehicle weighs in at between 14,000 and 15,639lbs. depending on the variant. By comparison, the unarmored HMMWV weighed in at 7,700 lbs. fully loaded and made use of a diesel V8 (some models used a turbo diesel) generating a maximum 190 hp. Even considering greater efficiencies achieved through modern internal combustion engine technology, a vehicle that weighs twice as much and requires greater horsepower will lead to higher fuel consumption and require higher levels of maintenance.

Counter Insurgency

Not only did the U.S. military experience with occupation and counterinsurgency shape the armored vehicle procurement projects and design priorities of future armored vehicle acquisitions, but it also resulted in an over-focusing of resources toward a traditionally elite, limited and specialized subset of conventional fighting forces; special operations. All effective modern national defense forces operate a small cadre of special operations units. These units are made up of highly motivated, highly trained and highly skilled soldiers who can perform any number of military tasks, but are specifically focused on asymmetrical, hybrid and very specialized warfare subsets. They complement and enhance conventional fighting forces, and often act as significant force multipliers in any conflict.

Prior to the U.S. wars of occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States operated a robust special operations force comprising of units from all services. The considerable investment in these highly selective forces, the high standards demanded, and the extremely difficult training requirements have always kept these forces small; however this has changed a great deal over the past 17 years. The need for soldiers with a skill set specific to counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan lead to increased focus and demand on special operations. From 2001 to the present, the special operations forces under the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) have expanded from 42,800 to approximately 63,500 today. Special operations specific funding has grown four fold in the same time period, from $3.1 billion USD to $12.3 billion USD. According to SOCOM, an average of 8,300 special operators are deployed in missions in as many as 149 nations across the globe on a weekly basis, and 70 nations on any given day.

U.S. Special Operations Command

U.S. Special Operations Command has access to uniquely qualified units from across all branches of the U.S. military.

There is little doubt that the Pentagon’s over-focus on counterinsurgency (the State Department is guilty here as well) has lead to U.S. military adventurism involving it in the internal conflicts of 75% of the countries of the world. Does this clandestine military involvement in the civil or regional strife of most of the planet really have anything to do with U.S. national security? Does it make the U.S. any safer, or is it only creating more enemies? SOCOM has even deployed assets to clandestinely train amongst the civilian population of the United States itself, a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.

This disproportional over-emphasis on special operations has resulted in an atrophying of more traditional martial structures and establishments. While the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have stayed at the forefront of modern armor and artillery development, and have advanced the related tactics, the United States has fallen far behind. Even the Peoples Liberation Army has made great strides in these conventional warfare realms in comparison to the United States. The United States surely has the economic resources, and the technical capability to close the gap, but the focus of the military needs to be realigned toward conventional warfighting.

Secretary Mattis has obviously recognized the need to focus higher procurement towards conventional forces, as well as fund R&D efforts into better field artillery, rocket artillery, armored fighting vehicles such as the AMPV, and a new main battle tank (MBT). In identifying near peer adversaries as the greatest national security threat, Secretary Mattis realizes that the U.S. must waste no time in closing the technological and quality gap that now exists between the conventional fighting forces of the United States and Russia and China respectively.

A Navy in Disarray

While the ground forces of the United States have suffered from two decades of occupation and counterinsurgency, which has morphed them from a balanced, combined arms conventional fighting force, into a force obsessed with IEDs, insurgents and guerilla warfare, the U.S. Navy seems to have lost any idea of its national security role. After two decades of enjoying uncontested control of the seas and the ability to use aircraft carrier-borne airstrikes to pummel inferior adversaries, none of which possessed a viable navy or air force, nor a modern air defense network or shore-based anti-naval capability, the U.S. Navy has seemed determined to sail further into the realm of irrelevancy in any future conflict. Unless it intends to engage in battle against significantly weaker opponents, the U.S. Navy will not possess an advantage over its two most powerful possible adversaries, Russia and China.

The United States Navy has not engaged in a major naval engagement with a major adversary since the closing days of World War Two. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union largely kept one another at bay, with very close competition leading to significant advancements in naval warfare. They did not engage in any verified hostile actions. Although the U.S. Navy engaged in combat with Libyan military forces in 1986 in the Gulf of Sidra, as well as sunk a small force of Iraqi Navy vessels of small displacement at the “Battle of Bubiyan” (not really much of a battle at all and UK Navy helicopters did most of the fighting), these engagements were largely one-sided and no one could ever say that the outcomes were a surprise. Regardless, the U.S. Navy apparently has decided that it is an indomitable force that can go wherever it pleases and no one can stand in its way. Such hubris and arrogance are one of the reasons why it is in such poor shape today. The other reason must surely be attributed to a military industrial complex that has sold the service on an expensive pipe dream of wonder weapons that have failed to live up to their hype. All to the tune of huge profits. The following are the most egregious examples:

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)

Based on a flawed concept from the start, of a small surface combatant that could make use of modularity to tailor it to specific tasks as opposed to a traditional multi-purpose design, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) was largely doomed for a number of reasons. Two different designs were awarded contracts, the trimaran Independence Class designed by General Dynamics, and the mono-hull Freedom Class designed by Lockheed Martin. The decision to produce two different designs to meet the needs of a single class should have been seen as problematic. Here the Navy accepted the responsibility and costs associated with maintaining two different platforms, with separate maintenance needs and schedules, not to mention two separate training programs for LCS crews.

The concept of the LCS was also divergent in many respects, and quite frankly, too much was expected of a ship that was smaller in size than a conventional frigate. The U.S. Navy expected the vessels to marry significant striking power, with modularity tailored to just about every form of modern naval warfare, and new networking and information technologies that would reduce the required crew to a minimum. What resulted was what those serving in the force would begrudgingly coin the “Little Crappy Ship”. The aluminum and composite (Independence Class) and lightweight steel (Freedom Class) hulls of the ships provide little armored protection, offensive striking power is far from adequate for either surface warfare or fire support for forces deployed inland, the platform has yet to meet anti-submarine requirements, and the reduced crew size has been determined to be unmanageable.

construction of USS Independence LCS-2

This image of the construction of USS Independence LCS-2, clearly illustrates the aluminum structure of the hull. Aluminum offers little armored protection, burns vigorously at high temperature, and led to increased corrosion of steal propulsion components in areas where the dissimilar metals were in close proximity below the waterline.

As a result of its overwhelming failure to meet the expectations of the U.S. Navy or Congressional oversight, the total fleet size of LCS vessels has been reduced from the original 50 planned down to 32. Project cost overruns, a number of high profile system failures, and the smaller fleet size have resulted in a total cost of $12.4 billion USD for the first 26 vessels. The U.S. Congress capped the per-unit cost at $480 million per ship, bringing the theoretical total cost to $15.5 billion USD. All for a ship that has a minimal chance of surviving most modern naval combat scenarios. There is little wonder why the U.S. Navy has decided to start building a multi-purpose frigate, dubbed the FFG(X), to pick up where the LCS has failed.

DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class

If the LCS was not a huge and unequivocal disappointment, then the much vaunted stealth destroyer, the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class was a total embarrassment and unmitigated failure. Envisioned as a high-tech game changer, the DDG-1000 was supposed to make use of powerful new technologies, overwhelming firepower, and massive power generation, all wrapped in stealth that would render it invisible. Although designed as a multi-mission surface combatant, added emphasis was put on naval surface fire support (NSFS) while operating in littoral waters. Due to a number of factors, mostly the exorbitant cost of the program, the Navy is now trying to find a role for the Zumwalt class vessels.

Originally, the Navy intended to build 32 of these stealth destroyers, yet the exorbitant initial cost plus huge cost overruns led the Navy and the U.S. Congress to reduce the fleet to 24, then 16, then 7, and finally to only 3 vessels. Correspondingly, the cost per vessel increased tremendously, as did the cost of all class-specific systems including weapons systems, power generation and propulsion systems. Cost per vessel stands at over $7.5 billion USD.

The 155mm Mark 51 advanced gun system (AGS) deck guns designed specifically for the DDG 1000s were made to fire guided rounds over a range in excess of 80 nautical miles, with a circular error probable (CEP) of just 50 meters (160ft.). Each DDG 1000 is equipped with two AGS on the forward deck. These guns were designed to strike shore targets accurately from coastal waters in support of allied ground forces and amphibious landing forces. Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems developed the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) for use in the AGS, but due to the now 3 vessel fleet, the per unit cost of each LRLAP had risen to over $800,000 USD. The Navy had already procured 90 rounds before the decision was made to cease purchasing the rounds due to the prohibitive costs.

The DDG-1000 utilizes the same MT-30 Rolls Royce gas turbine engines as the Freedom Class LCS vessels; however, in the case of the destroyers the gas turbine is linked to a massive electrical grid that not only powers the electric motors that propel the vessel, but just about every other system onboard, including the weapons systems. The arrangement is proving problematic, as the first two vessels in class have both experienced main engine failures and damages. The USS Michael Monsoor DDG-1001 suffered damage to the turbine blades of one of its main engines during sea trials in February of this year. The MT-30 engine will have to be replaced at the cost of $20 million USD. The USS Zumwalt DDG-1000 famously broke down during its transit from Maine to San Diego and had to be towed from the Panama Canal to its new home port.

The U.S. Navy is now struggling to find a new niche for the DDG-1000s. Now that its NSFS mission is a non-starter, it is being adapted as a platform to strike inland targets with land-attack cruise missiles (LACM) and engage other surface ships with an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) that has yet to be accepted into the service. The DDG-1000s lack a strong anti-air warfare (AAW) capability, and would thus be tied to other fleet components such as the Arleigh Burke Class DDG-51s and Ticonderoga Class CGs which have strong AAW capabilities. In an attempt to utilize the USS Zumwalt, the Navy has added legacy weapons systems, radars and communications antennas to the stealthy superstructure, undoubtedly negating its minimal radar signature. It remains to be seen what munitions will be provided for the two AGS turrets, as no munitions other than the cost prohibitive LRLAP exist.

latest revision DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class

The latest revision of the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class lead vessel’s once smooth and unblemished superstructure is now marred by various external sensory and communications arrays. Two rear deck guns for close-in defense have also been added.

CVN-78 Gerald R. Ford Class

As if the U.S. Navy was not content with wasting $38 billion USD on the failed LCS and DDG-1000 programs, an even more grandiose undertaking was envisioned for the service that would revolutionize the all too important and largely obsolete “super carrier”. It is a widely accepted fact that the U.S. Navy has been obsessed with the aircraft carrier since World War II and the pivotal naval battles between the U.S. Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy. This obsession is alive and well to this day, seemingly immune to the realities of modern missile technology, especially in regard to guidance, speed, range, and the advent of armed and semi-autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) of increasing lethality.

The U.S. Navy embarked on a program to replace the existing Nimitz Class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers currently comprising the central component of the aircraft carrier strike groups (ASG), of which the service operates 10 (with the additional CVN-65 Enterprise in reserve), in 2005 with the advanced construction of CVN-78. In 2008 the U.S. Navy signed a contract with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding worth approximately $5.1 billion USD to build the first in a series of four such carriers. The goal is to build each carrier in four year periods under the current funding schedule. The Gerald R. Ford Class was supposed to take advantage of a number of new technologies and experience significantly improved efficiencies in aircraft carrier operations over the preceding Nimitz Class.

While the initial cost estimate for CVN-78 was around $10 billion USD (U.S. Congress had caped it at $10.5 billion USD in 2007), the total cost for the vessel has exceeded $13 billion USD as of May of this year when it was revealed that the Advanced Weapons Elevator and a main thrust bearing had suffered damage in sea trials and required repair. The CVN-78 is by far the most expensive warship ever constructed. In a controversial move, it was decided to try and incorporate a number of new, unproven systems in the new design. In retrospect, this decision was bound to result in cost overruns and a more problematic breaking-in period. New systems integrated into the Gerald R. Ford include an electro-magnetic launching system (EMALS), advanced aircraft arresting system, advanced weapons elevator system, dual band radar (DBR), and a more powerful nuclear reactor.

There was much discussion in the Navy regarding the wisdom of introducing so many new technologies in a single platform. Many senior officers argued that there were bound to be serious delays in working through both the foreseeable and unforeseeable problems associated with rendering so many new technologies operational. This opinion turned out to be of merit, as the Gerald R. Ford immediately experienced problems with just about all of its new systems. The vessel has experienced two main propulsion malfunctions over the past year, the advanced arresting gear has proven unreliable, and the EMALS (as well as other “critical systems”) has displayed “poor or unknown reliability” according to the Navy Operational and Test Evaluation Force. In early testing, the EMALS was unable to launch F-18 strike aircraft at weights even close to a full combat load. All of these problems or shortcomings were revealed during sea trials and the vessel returned to shipyard in Newport News, Virginian on July 15th, 2018 to undergo extensive repairs and improvements.

In should have been of little surprise to most naval architects, engineers, and naval line officers who have held vessel commands, that the above mentioned problems were inevitable. The big question is why the leadership of the Navy decided upon such a platform at all. What is the point of investing so much money and effort into such a large and advanced vessel, regardless of the unproven nature of many of the critical systems, when aircraft carriers have become so vulnerable to modern anti-ship missiles? Of even greater significance, why invest so much in a new carrier and not invest in increasing the range and striking power of the carrier air wing? An aircraft carrier is worthless without a powerful and flexible air wing element.

Carrier Air Wing Vulnerabilities

As much as President Trump and various administration officials and Senators tout the power of the U.S. military, often citing an increasing defense budget as an indicator of strength, efficiency and effectiveness, there is little doubt that U.S. naval aviation has atrophied over decades of misuse, neglect and poor decision making at the highest levels. U.S. naval aviation is arguably in its worse state since the opening days of the Pacific Theatre of operations during the Second World War. Not only is it in disrepair, but it is ill-equipped for a fight against a peer adversary.

Let us address the first issue, the ever shrinking air wing with its shrinking range. In the last decade of Cold War naval competition between The U.S. and the U.S.S.R., the Nimitz Class aircraft carriers deployed with nine, or even ten squadrons of fixed-wing aircraft. Today, that has been reduced to six. Of greater importance, the only aircraft utilized for combat operations is the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet with all of its inherent shortcomings, most importantly its limited operational range of 370 nautical miles (full strike combat weapons load and fuel). The aircraft it replaced, the A-7 Corsair II and A-4 Skyhawk in the Navy and the F-4 Phantom in the USMC, all had much longer operational ranges and all but the A-4 had greater weapons payload capacity. The F/A-18 is a jack of all trades and a master of none. In an attempt to lower costs (although few combat aircraft has ever operated at lower cost than the A-4 Skyhawk) by using one airframes for all roles, the U.S. Navy has put all of its eggs in one basket, and that basket is not up to the task. This is not to say that the F/A-18 Hornet and F-/A-18E/F Super Hornet are poor aircraft. The plane merely cannot do all of the things asked of it as well as many other aircraft. What has resulted, is an aircraft carrier air wing that is less capable in all respects, and cannot compete and excel in a future conflict with a peer adversary.

A-4 Skyhawk

This image clearly illustrates the ordinance payload capacity of the A-4 Skyhawk. It could carry 9,900lbs. of munitions on 5 external hardpoints. It had an effective combat radius from an aircraft carrier of over 700 miles, and a maximum range of 2,000 miles.

Although the improved F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is significantly larger than its predecessor, and gains about 100 nautical miles in range due to larger internal fuel capacity, it still lacks the required range needed to protect its carrier. Not surprisingly, even though there was a better option, the Navy decided to use F/A-18s for aerial refueling duties as well. The S-3 Viking had been kept in service as a carrier borne aerial tanker, having given up its original role as an ASW aircraft, and was superior to the F/A-18 in this respect. Although most S-3s in service still have approximately 12,000 hours of service life left on their airframes, the Navy pushed ahead with their retirement in 2009. With a much greater range than the F/A-18 and a fuel capacity of 16,000 lbs., the S-3 was a better and far cheaper solution. The fact that it was a far cheaper option was probably its downfall. Profit drives the U.S. military industrial complex, not efficiency or performance.

The only fixed wing aircraft that operate from U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, F/A-18 Hornet, F/A-18E Super Hornet, E-2C and E2-D Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft.

The only fixed wing aircraft that operate from U.S. Navy aircraft carriers today are the F/A-18 Hornet, F/A-18E Super Hornet and E-2C and E2-D Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft.

The second issue, which is perhaps more damning, is the fact that the F/A-18 squadrons that the Navy relies on to conduct almost all carrier air wing duties including attack/strike missions, air superiority, fleet defense, buddy refueling, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and surveillance, are in an alarming state of disrepair. The Navy announced in February of 2017, that two thirds, or 62% of all F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets were unserviceable due to maintenance issues. Twenty-seven percent of these aircraft were undergoing major maintenance depot work, not minor or preventive maintenance. Of the 542 total F/A-18 and E/F-18 Hornets, only 170 were mission capable. Fast forward one year and a new and increased defense budget, and the Navy is still a long way from solving the shortfall in available replacement parts just to meet normal maintenance requirements. The decision was also made to take 140 of the oldest single seat Hornets (A/C variants) in the Navy and either cannibalize them for parts or transfer them to USMC squadrons that are experiencing similar maintenance issues. In the case of the USMC, they have been waiting so long for new F-35Bs that their legacy F-18s are falling into disrepair.

Maintenance crews performing repairs F/A-18

Maintenance crews performing repairs on an F/A-18 aboard a carrier. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps must address the maintenance crisis plaguing the services, yet the problem cannot be remedied at this level. Only a reduction in the tempo of deployments, flight operations or the provision of added funding will alleviate the issue which will be determined by the White House and Congress.

Has anyone asked the question, “What good is an advanced, gigantic aircraft carrier with an air wing that is limited in range and capability?” If the U.S. Navy does manage to get the first three Gerald R. Ford Class carriers in service, how many F/A-18E Super Hornets will be mission capable to fly from them? Will the F-35C and F35B Joint Strike Fighters meant to complete the complement of strike and fighter aircraft going to finally be available for deployment? Seeing that the F-35 does not close the “missile gap” that threatens U.S. aircraft carriers in general, is the Navy soliciting the defense industry to produce a carrier-borne aircraft, whether manned or unmanned, to correct this obvious weakness? Russian and Chinese anti-ship ballistic missiles and hypersonic cruise missiles can strike U.S. CSGs long before their aircraft can get within range of striking the territories of either of these near peer adversaries. This “missile gap” will not be rectified anytime soon.

The One-Size-Fits-All Fighter Aircraft

After a short review of the Navy’s decision to settle on a single airframe to fill all of the roles of the carrier air wing, it should come of little surprise that the Pentagon would come to a similar decision on a much broader scale. A cursory study of combat aviation history has proven that there is no one-size- fits-all solution to the many combat functions performed by military aviation. It appears that the decision to introduce a multi-role fighter making use of many new technologies and heavily reliant on stealth to be effective in modern aerial warfare for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and USMC was more about making huge profits for the defense industry and providing jobs to American workers than it was about providing the U.S. military with a superior tool.

The story of the development of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is a cautionary tale of a weapons development program that was ill conceived and soon spiraled out of control. Perhaps the most controversial and scandalous of any such program, the JSF is the costliest weapons program in world history. Newly revised estimates from the Pentagon put the cost of development and procurement of the 2,056 fighters that the DOD wants at $406.1 billion USD. The total cost to procure these aircraft and maintain them over the 20 year life span of the aircraft exceeds $1.5 trillion USD.

While the F-35A first flew in 2006, the only U.S. military branch to declare the F-35 operation and to use it in combat is the USMC. The F-35 was developed from the outset for export to allied nations, and Israel has used the F-35 for strikes against targets in Syria. It is important to note that Israel has relied heavily on its decades old squadrons of F-15 and F-16 multi-role aircraft to bear the brunt of most combat missions. Approximately 300 units of all versions have been produced so far for both the U.S. military and foreign militaries, yet only Israel and the USMC have declared the aircraft combat ready. A major issue facing the program is the fact that aircraft manufacturing began years before the plane was deemed fit for operational deployment, largely because so many deficiencies have been identified and have had to be rectified. This was the result of concurrency, a procurement process that allowed for production of the aircraft prior to final approval of the design. It was agreed that all deficiencies identified would eventually be addressed and rectified in airframes already manufactured at a later date in order to bring them up to the latest standard.

Not only has the F-35 not attained wide operational status seventeen years after its first flight, but it has pulled an exorbitant amount of funding from existing, combat proven aircraft. What could have been done to maintain and improve existing squadrons of F-15 Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, and F/A-18 Hornets currently in varying states of disrepair and serviceability? The idea of replacing all of these front line aircraft with the F-35 is laughable. What kind of imperial hubris and institutional tunnel vision could have led to such an ill-advised decision? The answer is the institutionalized corruption and waste of the U.S. military industrial complex. It continues to leave the United States less protected, and sends American soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen into combat with increasingly less capable weapons.

Atrophy and Exhaustion

The U.S. military has been engaged in counterinsurgency warfare in Afghanistan for over seventeen years. The disastrous invasion of Iraq, the destruction of Libya, and counterinsurgency operations in a host of nations including, but not limited to Yemen, Somalia, Niger and Nigeria, have all taken a toll on the U.S. military. Not only has a great deal of military hardware been destroyed, but a great deal of equipment has been worn out and essentially must be retired from service. More importantly, the constant deployments have undermined the personnel needs of all services, with thousands of men having been killed or physically and psychologically maimed for life. Tens of thousands of the most skilled commissioned and non-commissioned officers have left the services, many of them having served multiple combat deployments.

The fact that 62% of U.S. Navy’s F-18s are not mission capable is not an anomaly. In 2017, approximately 72% of all U.S. Air Force aircraft were not flight worthy. Many of the airframes are quite old, yet well within their engineered service life, but most are in need of maintenance. Both the Navy and Air Force claim that there is not enough money in their respective budgets to procure the needed spare parts to keep these aircraft flying. One would wonder that if this is the case, why tens of billions of dollars are being poured into new aircraft when existing fleets are being left in disrepair. The decisions being made in the upper echelon of the DOD are quite perplexing for the thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen struggling to keep weapons and vehicles ready for action.

The U.S. Army finds itself looking for buyers of surplus MRAPs, vehicles of little utility in a major conventional war with a peer adversary, while at the same time lacking spare parts and munitions for armored vehicles and artillery systems. While the Army has made some progress in procuring the first of the 49,099 JLTVs it wants, it is far behind in all other armored vehicle procurement and development programs. BAE has delivered the first batch of 29 AMPVs to the U.S. Army for extensive testing before the decision can be made to start low rate initial production (LRIP). Once the LRIP begins, it is estimated that BAE will be able to produce approximately 262 units annually, unless the company’s main manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania is expanded. The initial contract is worth $1.6 billion USD. The Army wants at least 3,000 AMPVs of six different main variants to replace the thousands of M113 armored vehicles still in service. The M113 first saw service in 1962 and a replacement for the venerable vehicle has been required for decades.

Defense Secretary James Mattis made it crystal clear in his National Defense Strategy that the U.S. must rebuild its conventional warfare capabilities. The U.S. Army’s proposed 2019 budget lays bare the new priorities of a service facing a major transition in priorities. Procurement of tracked combat vehicles, as well as artillery rounds, rockets and missiles account for much of this latest budget request. Procurement is up by 18.4% over the previous year, with procurement of weapons and tracked vehicles up 84% over the previous year. Although upgrading of the M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzer to the M109A7 level is down by 56% compared to 2018, procurement of 155mm artillery rounds is up a whopping 800%.

Army procurement by category

The percentage of total procurement directed toward weapons and tracked combat vehicles in the 2019 proposed budget denotes that the U.S. Army recognizes its weakness in conventional warfighting capability.

US military budget request 2019 conventional weapons

This chart clearly shows the desire on the part of the U.S. Army to upgrade and rearm conventional capabilities. 155mm artillery rounds and Army Tactical Missile System upgrades to the M207 MLRS are at the top of the list, followed by MBT upgrades and acquisition of new AMPV vehicles.

As the U.S. Army attempts to rebuild its aged and depleted armored brigade combat teams and conventional and rocket artillery, the U.S. Navy and Air Force are facing their own challenges. The Navy finds itself in a position that is far from enviable, but was very easy to predict. Having dumped $38 billion USD into two failed new classes of warships and a further $13 billion into a new aircraft carrier that will likely not become operational until 2022, the service is currently in the process of realigning its priorities. The service is struggling to procure the new Virginia Class SSN and Columbia Class SSBNs that are required to ensure the viability of the nation’s nuclear deterrent triad well into the foreseeable future. These defensive weapons programs, which are integral to U.S. national security, could have benefitted greatly from the $50 billion wasted on the LCS, DDG-1000 and Gerald R. Ford programs. Russia and China have spent the same time wasted by the U.S. Navy on updating and modernizing their own submarine forces, chiefly their ballistic missile submarines.

Institutional Corruption

If one had to identify the main reason behind the utter failure of the U.S. political establishment and military leadership, both civilian and in uniform, to identify and prioritize weapons programs and procurement that was truly in line with the national defense needs of the country, it would be the institutional corruption of the U.S. military industrial complex. This is not a fault of one party, but is the inevitable outcome of a thoroughly corrupted system that both generates and wastes great wealth at the expense of the many for the benefit of the few.

Massive defense budgets do not lead to powerful military forces nor sound national defense strategy. The United States is the most glaring example of how a nation’s treasure can be wasted, its citizens robbed for generations, and its political processes undermined by an industry bent on maximizing profitability by encouraging and exacerbating conflict. At this point it is questionable that the United States’ could remain economically viable without war, so much of its GDP is connected in some way to the pursuit of conflict.

There is no doubt that the War Department was renamed the Department of Defense in an Orwellian sleight of hand in 1947, just a few years after end of World War II. The military industrial complex grew into a monolith during the war, and the only way to justify the expansion of the complex, was by finding a new enemy to justify the new reality of a massive standing military, something that the U.S. Constitution expressly forbids. This unlawful state of affairs has persisted and expanded into a rotten, bloated edifice of waste. Wasted effort, wasted wealth and the wasted lives of millions of people spanning every corner of the planet. Tens of thousands of brave men and women in uniform, and millions of civilians of so many nations, have been tossed into the blades of this immoral meat grinder for generations.

President Donald Trump was very proud to announce the largest U.S. military budget in the nation’s history last year. The United States spent (or more accurately, borrowed from generations yet to come) no less than $874.4 billion USD. The declared base budget for 2017 was $523.2 billion USD, yet there are also the Overseas Contingency Operations and Support budgets that have to be considered in determining the total cost. The total DOD annual costs have doubled from 2003 to the present. Yet, what has the DOD really accomplished with so much money and effort? Very little of benefit to the U.S. tax payer for sure, and paradoxically the exorbitant waste of the past fifteen years have left every branch of the U.S. military weaker.

The U.S. Congress has the duty and responsibility of reigning in the military adventurism of the executive branch. They have the sole authority to declare war, but more importantly, the sole authority to approve the budget requests of the military. It is laughable to think that the U.S. Congress will do anything to reign in military spending. The Congress and the Senate are as equally guilty as the Executive in promoting and benefitting from the military industrial complex. Envisioned as a bulwark against executive power, the U.S. Congress has become an integral component of that complex. No Senator or Representative would dare to go against the industry that employs so many constituents within their state, or pass up on the benefits afforded them through the legalized insider-trading exclusive to them, or the lucrative jobs that await them in the defense industry and the many think tanks that promote continued prosecution of war.

Possible Reforms

It would be quite simple for the U.S. Department of Defense to rectify the current endemic problems that have rendered it weaker and less prepared for a major conventional conflict with a peer adversary. The greater challenge is transforming the relationship between the federal and state governments back to the constitutionally intended one, and to dissolve the powers of the now allied executive, legislative and judicial branches of the federal government. This would undermine the ability of the military industrial complex to coerce the nation into working against the interests of the states and the citizenry. The military industrial complex and the Deep State that serves it can only exist when power is greatly concentrated in a federal system.

For the sake of argument, if the political will could be found to work against the military industrial complex in the interests of true national defense and fiscal responsibility, the following steps could be taken immediately to rectify the many problems facing the military services of the United States:

The U.S. Army

Abandon the obsession with counterinsurgency and occupation and realign the focus of the Army on the defense of the homeland and a handful of historical allies. Rebuild the Army as a lean and well-equipped conventional fighting force. The most highly trained and experienced cadres of special operations forces should be retained, with other members dispersed to more conventional infantry, airborne and reconnaissance units. Most of these men would be moved to reserve status. Personnel should be cut by at least 25%, the majority retained moved to reserve status, and many overseas bases and operations ceased. The focus should be on defense of the nation’s own territories, while also safeguarding the economic interests and maritime trade lanes that are the lifeblood of any nation.

All legacy systems that have proven capable and efficient on the modern battlefield should be refurbished and upgraded to the most modern standard. The M2 Bradley modernization program should be continued, and the AMPV program given increased priority so that the thousands of M113 vehicles can finally end their 56 year tour of duty. MRAP inventories should be reduced to the very minimum and all surplus units sold off to recoup some of the expense incurred in their procurement and the money directed into offsetting procurement costs of new AMPVs and JLTVs.

The JLTV platform is a modular, easily upgradable light tactical vehicle that can be tailored to fit the mission. Although most units should be the basic utility variant, many will need to be acquired to fill the roles of light armored reconnaissance, armored security, convoy security, and light special operations vehicles. An air-droppable airborne armored fighting vehicle should be developed based on the JLTV. The U.S. airborne forces have lacked any real armored fighting vehicle that can accompany them in parachute operations since the M551 was retired in 1996. An up-armored JLTV equipped with a 30mm autocannon would serve as a good stopgap until a purpose built tracked vehicle could be designed. The venerable and ubiquitous HMMWV should maintain its utility role in all non-combat formations, as well as the basis for the Avenger light anti-aircraft missile system for years to come.

Of greatest importance is the rejuvenation of the armored and mechanized units of the U.S. Army. The M1126 Stryker family of wheeled armored vehicles cannot bear the weight of a conventional conflict with either Russia or China. The M1A2SepV3 MBT upgrade, including the addition of the Trophy APS should be afforded adequate funding, yet the greatest need of the Army is the replacement of the M113 in combat units. The U.S. Army’s proposed 3,000 unit procurement of AMPVs is a good start.

The artillery arm of the U.S. Army must gain the attention it has lacked since the dissolving of the Soviet Union and the success of Operation Desert Storm. U.S. military planners and the leadership of the DOD must realize the continued importance of both conventional and rocket artillery on the modern battlefield. The U.S. Army only operates two self-propelled artillery systems, the M109 Paladin and M270 MLRS. This is not necessarily a bad thing as long as both systems are maintained, upgraded and fielded in sufficient number. The M109A7 upgrade program must gain greater funding in the immediate future.

The U.S. Navy

The LCS and DDG-1000 programs are a national disgrace and should be declared as such. The two existing DDG-1000s should be used as test beds for future engineering and weapons systems. The third vessel should be cancelled immediately. As for the LCS, the existing fleet should be used for littoral patrol duties, and all units currently under construction or planned should be cancelled. Enough money has been wasted on these horribly conceived and even more horribly manifested examples of the monumental corruption and waste so integral to the U.S. defense industry.

Freedom Class LCS (background) and Independence Class LCS (foreground)

Freedom Class LCS (background) and Independence Class LCS (foreground). Arguably two of the most monumental failures of warship design in modern history. A cautionary tale of waste and ineptitude.

The FFG(X) program to design a modern yet conventional multi-purpose frigate for the U.S. Navy should be fully embraced. The new frigate should adhere to the traditional naval warfare duties of a frigate and should be designed to sufficiently fulfill a balance of AAW, ASW, and surface warfare missions. In conjunction, priority should be given to procurement of the new DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Flight III. The Arleigh Burke has been the backbone of the U.S. Navy since it entered service. It is a well-designed, balanced, flexible and powerful naval combatant of significant displacement. It puts the LCS and the Zumwalt to shame in every respect, and has existed as a symbol of U.S. Navy power and presence across the length and breadth of the globe since 1991.

It is almost unconscionable that with the richest and most accomplished history of aircraft carrier aviation under its belt, that the U.S. Navy could not come up with a better design for the next generation of CVNs than the Gerald R. Ford Class. Perhaps the namesake of the lead vessel in the class was well chosen, as President Ford was far from a memorable performer; however, the wisdom of the entire program from its very inception must be questioned. The U.S. Navy must outgrow the “super carrier” fixation. There is a future for aircraft carriers, yet on a far different pattern than what the U.S. Navy has operated for the past 50 years.

The greatest area of concern for the U.S. Navy is the weakness of the carrier air wing, a weakness that will not be fundamentally corrected by the introduction of the F-35 in U.S. Navy and USMC service aboard U.S. carriers. A new, longer range fleet defense aircraft akin to a modern F-14 Tomcat must be developed. In addition, a new attack aircraft must be developed with a range that exceeds that of the F-18 Super Hornet by a factor of 100%. It is hard to believe that the F-4 Skyhawk had an operational combat radius exceeding 700 miles (2,000 mile maximum range), twice that of a Super Hornet. Additionally, the S-3 Viking must be re-tasked as a carrier borne aerial tanker, and the many airframes now mothballed, yet with thousands of hours of use left, need to be repurposed to this task. The current carrier air wing as it stands, even with the introduction of the F-35, is of little utility against a peer adversary such as Russia or China.

S-3 Viking carrier refueling tanker.

S-3 Viking in use as a carrier borne aerial refueling tanker. Even without significant modification, this stout little aircraft can carry 16,000 lbs. of fuel. The US Navy has 108 of these aircraft sitting in storage at a military aircraft storage facility in Arizona.

The United States must acquire both an SSN and SSBN to replace the Los Angeles and Ohio Class vessels that are approaching the end of their service lives. There is no greater defensive role for the U.S. Navy in ensuring the security of the nation than the continued operation of its attack and ballistic missile submarine forces. Both Russia and China understand this, and have greatly modernized their own submarine forces. Much of the success they have achieved in pushing the envelope of submarine design was due to their intense competition with a U.S. Navy submarine force that was always at the cutting edge of sub-surface warfare.

Conclusion

The United States stands at a crossroads in many respects, and the nation’s military equally so. All empires experience a period of over-expansion, military, economic and political over-reach and imbalance. The United States has followed in the wake of the many imperialist endeavors before it, with apparently little lessons having been learned. Imperialism is the inevitable result of power devoid of wisdom and humility. A nation borne out of a revolution against empire and absolutism has itself devolved into a much more dangerous and immoral avatar of its former oppressor. This must change.

While Defense Secretary Mattis clearly acknowledged the need to transform the U.S. military and realign it in a direction more focused on fighting and winning a conventional conflict with the near peer adversaries he identified as Russia and China, one can only hope that he realizes how the U.S. military that he served in for decades, got to the deplorable state that it now finds itself in. The greatest enemy that the U.S. military has fought for the past seventy years is undoubtedly the military industrial complex that it is an integral component of. The Soviet Union, North Korea, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and Syria were never as much of a threat to the U.S. Armed Services as the corrupt military industrial complex and the Deep State that serves as its guardian.

The United States military is in the weakest state of material strength and readiness since the conclusion of the Cold War. The conventional ground forces of the Army have been transformed into a force bent on occupation and counterinsurgency. Its heavy armored formations are in a state of disrepair and material inferiority vis-a-vis its most capable theoretical adversaries. The cornerstone of American power projection and intimidation, the aircraft carrier strike groups, are a sad shadow of their former self. The carrier air wing, the entire reason that an aircraft carrier exists in the first place, has devolved into a tool of increasingly limited utility, with an ever diminishing reach.

The corrupt military industrial system that permeates every facet of American economic, political and even cultural life has sucked the very lifeblood from the nation, eroded its morality, bankrupt its economic future, and stolen a generation of its most patriotic and selfless sons and daughters. While James Mattis acknowledges the challenges facing the national security of the United States, he clearly misattributes the blame and misidentifies the very real adversary. Russia and China are not existential threats to the continued welfare of the American state. James Mattis need only look in the mirror to see the real threat, for he has come to represent the cabal of special interests that enslaves the nation and constitution he has pledged to serve, and holds the remainder of the world equally hostage.

There is very little chance that the reforms mentioned in this analysis will be adopted, or that the United States will move in a direction that brings it back to its inception as a constitutional republic. The interests of the military industrial complex in promoting conflict, and maximizing financial profit will continue to steer the United States military, and the nation as a whole, on an unsustainable and self-destructive path. There is little doubt that if the Deep State pushes the nation to war against Russia or China, and likely an alliance of the two, that the United States military has ever been in a weaker position. Such a conflict would be of no benefit to any of the nations concerned, yet many potential flash points exist that could lead to a conflict, including the South China Sea, Syria or Ukraine. As the United States plays catch-up after decades of military adventurism, China and Russia have spent that same time patiently and judiciously gathering their strength. The scenario of a one-sided victory in favor of the United States is pure fantasy, existing only in the daydreams of the emperor who wears no clothes.

THE FIFTEEN SAMURAI; THE MAGNIFICENT FIFTEEN KIBOSHNIKS; ALL THE KING’S HORSES AND ALL THE KING’S MEN – By ZIAD FADEL

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HUMPTY DUMPTY SAT ON A WALL,

HUMPTY DUMPTY HAD A GREAT FALL;

ALL THE KING’S HORSES AND ALL THE KING’S MEN

COULDN’T PUT HUMPTY TOGETHER AGAIN.

 

Image result for jamal khashoggi

JAMAL KHASHOGGI during happier times

Despite warnings from his closest friends, Jamal Khashoggi, took a chance and entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 and never left on his own two feet.  The prevailing wisdom is that he was murdered by Saudi assassins sent to Turkey to specifically target him.  Killing him on Saudi diplomatic soil would conceal the crime and carrying diplomatic passports would facilitate the transport of his dismembered body to two private jets.

Turkey is taking a surprisingly aggressive position on this matter.  Turkey is very tight with Qatar,  a country the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is trying to destroy on the laughable grounds that Doha supports terrorism.  Since both the Ameer of Qatar and the Turk president, Erdoghan, support the Muslim Brotherhood as an Islamic alternative to Western concepts of democracy and majority rule, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear such tumultuous invective from Ankara.  However, the Turks have muted some of their pronouncements out of fear of economic repercussions.

Image result for Sabah Turkish newspaper Khashoggi

Photos were first released by the pro-Erdoghan rag, Sabah, showing  the hit team arriving at the airport.

There can be no doubt that the Turks installed eavesdropping devices inside the Saudi Consulate.  They also had closed-circuit cameras outside the building housing the consulate both at the front door and in a preschool facing the rear door. If, as the Saudis claim, Khashoggi left from the rear door, his departure would have been picked up by camera.  But, he did not leave from the rear door.

Moreover, if he did leave by the rear door,  why would he not have circled around to hop into his wife’s car waiting at the front?  Hatice Cengiz, his Turkish wife, waited for half an hour after normal closing time for her husband.  If one takes the Saudi story seriously, Mr. Khashoggi is still in the consulate in the style of Julian Assange.

The Turks are promoting the story that Khashoggi recorded his own execution on his Apple watch.  I believe, like so many others, that that is only to camouflage Turkish access to spying devices inside the consulate.  The Turks are convinced Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured, killed and dismembered inside the consulate.  They also believe that a hit team made up of several military officers from the Royal Guard, a grouping of security agents and one so-called “forensic expert” were dispatched in order to accomplish the singular goal of killing Khashoggi.  I do not agree.  I believe the team was sent to kidnap him and return him to Saudi Arabia to face the fury of the reigning clown prince, Muhammad bin Salmaan (or MBS).

My theory is not based on the superficial notion that the Saudis would not assassinate anyone for moral reasons.  That would be laughable.  Instead, I believe that Khashoggi died from a heart attack inside the consulate after being interrogated by security officials who used extreme methods to extract information from him.  The Turks were hearing his screams and they have, reportedly, turned over the tapes to the U.S. and Britain.  The Turkish agents could not intervene without disclosing the embarrassing fact that they had installed listening devices and cameras inside the consulate, a major breach of diplomatic decorum, law and tradition which the U.S. regularly violates and at which the Turks methodically scoff.

This is Salaah Al-Tubayji, Saudi Arabia’s premier expert on forensics who accompanied the hit team to the consulate and who was tasked with covering up the abduction of Jamaal Khashoggi.

Given the warming relations between the Saudi Arabian kingdom and the Zionist Apartheid State, one cannot help but wonder if the Zionists did not plan this operation for their new-found friends.  After all, they have done this sort of thing before with Adolph Eichmann and Mordechai Vanunu.  The only margin for error, would be the Saudi penchant for screwing up everything.  I mean, folks, Akira Kurosawa wrote and produced a movie called the “Seven Samurai”.  It was later remade by Hollywood as the “Magnificent Sevenw”  with that iconic opening theme that was also used to hawk Marlboro cigarettes.  Clown Prince MBS must have seen the movies and had an epiphany:  “What about sending 7 Saudis for the job?.  Nah, 7 Saudis couldn’t plug in a refrigerator.  We’re gonna need at least 15.”  And so, the team was cobbled together and sent to Istanbul.  Besides the forensic expert whose job was to cover up the kidnapping,  there was also the Deputy Director of the Kingdom’s General Security Agency, Ahmad ‘Aseeri.

Once Al-Tubayji realized that Khashoggi was dead from the heart attack, he began the unenviable task of cutting him up like a chicken so that his fellow geniuses could carry him out in plastic bags for transport to another safe area.  I believe that Khashoggi is now buried in Saudi Arabia’s laureled “Empty Quarter” where the absence of bacteria will insure that he mummifies smoothly like beef jerky – another Saudi screw-up, by the way.  Another theory is that he is now buried at the home of the Saudi General Consul, a few blocks away but still under diplomatic protection.

Once a reader realizes that the Saudis wanted to abduct him and not ignite a furor over his assassination, he is relieved of the perception that Khashoggi was a martyr for Arabia.  His visit to the consulate for the mundane aim of securing documents proving he was divorced, (not a big deal in Saudi Arabia where some men have over 100 wives and an untold number of concubines), was treated accordingly by Khashoggi.  The video of his entry through the front door evidenced no apprehension on his part.  He walked in confidently like a man who simply wanted proof of his divorce.

There is a Mercedes van that is filmed driving around the consulate.  I believe that van was to spirit Khashoggi to the airport where his drugged body would be carried on to the private jets waiting for the hit men and their valuable load.  But, I don’t believe the team decided to carry his corpse back.  They had to worry about the possibility of disclosure to Turk authorities.  So, the only way to safely get his carcass back to the jets was to carve it up into small pieces which could be carried like so much hamburger meat from a supermarket.  Or, that was the only safe way to carry the remnants to the consul’s home.  In any case, the presence of the coroner/forensic expert was the only enlightened part of the operation.

There is a lot of breast-beating today around the world.  Trump has threatened Saudi Arabia with “really bad things”.  Britain, never a slouch when it comes to assassinating people, has warned of dire consequences.  Germany has pleaded with the KSA to cooperate in the investigation even if the Saudis perpetrated the crime – you see, the Germans do, after all, have a sense of humor.  American senators have bellowed menacingly about stopping all weapons sales to KSA while the ever-moral Donald Trump argues that the Saudis are spending a lot of money on U.S.-made weapons in order to exterminate the people of Yemen.  He claims that American jobs would be lost if the U.S. did not sell these arms to Arabia.  And, he continues, the Arabs would just go to Russia or China to buy the same thing.  So much for the ethics in this White House.

MBS really pulled a boner on this one.  The entire plan was designed to fail from the get-go.  Whether the hit team wanted to kill Khashoggi or abduct him, makes no difference; the operation was not carried out by professionals and was botched at the rear door of the consulate.

______________________________________________

NEWS AND COMMENT:

Federico Pieraccini sent me this article about the missing Saudi journalist:

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/10/12/killing-saudi-journalist-khashoggi-could-spell-end-for-mohammad-bin-salman.html

More on the Saudi assassination squad:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/photos-emerge-alleged-assassination-squad-102249784.html

The BBC has gone bonkers.  They have actually filed a competent report:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/why-fight-alongside-assads-forces-200348417.html

 

The Self-Defeating US Empire – Editorial – Strategic Culture Foundation

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The Self-Defeating US Empire
EDITORIAL | 12.10.2018 | WORLD / Americas

Trump is trying to square a globalized world through a national-based American capitalism. It won’t work.

Former President Teddy Roosevelt (1901-09) described the essence of US foreign policy as “speaking softly while carrying a big stick”. Under the incumbent president, Donald Trump, it seems to be all about “speaking loudly”.

What Trump is carrying in reserve is a moot question.

The difference comes down to a question of credibility. A century ago, America was a formidable military, diplomatic and economic power. Hence, Roosevelt could afford to speak softly because there were other indisputable means at his disposal to reinforce US power.

Today, the US is still a formidable military power, that’s for sure. But as for its economy and the role of the American dollar as a global payment mechanism the evidence suggests that it has lost much of its former dominance.

President Trump seems to be trying to compensate for the decline in US power overall by way of adopting more bellicose and foghorn rhetoric for others to comply with American demands.

This week saw a record fall in the American stock market. That suggests that the supposed strength of the US economy is not what it has been cracked up to be under Trump. A major factor in the collapse of the US stock market is reported to be the uncertainty prompted by the growing US trade war with China.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin lamented the US policy of imposing sanctions against other nations and its over-reliance on the dollar as the main global currency exchange tool. Putin said the US was making a “strategic mistake” by using the dollar as a weapon with which to punish other nations to comply with Washington’s diktats.

“This is a typical mistake of any empire,” he said at the Russian Energy Week Conference, in Moscow.

Implicit in Putin’s comments was that the US is acting like a failing empire. Unsure of its former dominance, the US is resorting to brute force to shore up its otherwise declining power. But in doing so, America is acting above its credibility and thereby compelling others to seek ways around Washington’s overextended writ.

When the dollar replaced gold as the global financial standard in the early 1970s, the American currency assumed a privileged position in international trade. But with such a privilege comes the responsibility to be a universally respected banker, which entails a certain apolitical character of the dollar.

America’s loss of national economic power has resulted in the US abusing the global dollar system for its own selfish interests. That in turn results in loss of confidence by other nations. Washington is politicizing the dollar system in order to pursue its national interests.

The over-reliance by Washington on economic sanctions against other nations is forcing them to seek ways of circumventing the US-dominated global system of trade and commerce.

We see this in the European Union setting up a non-dollar system to continue trade relations with Iran after Trump abandoned the international nuclear accord with Tehran. We see it in the way Russia and China are setting up a payment system for oil and other commodities which obviates the use of dollars.

So much for “free-market capitalism” for which America is supposed to be the global exponent. If America doesn’t get its way over markets then sanctions are imposed to “correct” the way. The gas energy supply from Russia to Europe is a classic example. Russian-suppled gas is commercially viable to meet European demand. Yet the US wants to supplant that market with its own more expensive gas, and the only way it can do that is to slap sanctions on Russia and European companies. That is not market economics. It is imperialist hegemonic diktat. That undermines the US dollar and principles of supposed American capitalism.

Slowly but surely the world is moving away from the dollar as a universal currency. Because of Washington’s abuse of the dollar and its preeminence in banking as a political weapon to exert its national objectives.

Putin said that US sanctions policy towards many countries and abuse of the dollar as global reserve currency is a “strategic error” committed by a waning empire. As more countries increasingly drop the dollar to circumvent US sanctions, the result will be a continual undermining of international standing of the US currency and banking system. A classic case of over-reach by Washington leading eventually to its own economic demise.

If history tells us one thing it is that every empire has its day. Imperial over-reach is the sign of a declining empire.

President Trump is clashing loudly over trade with China and almost every other nation, including the Europeans and Canada. Trump is shouting about “unfair” trade because he doesn’t have a big stick in reserve in terms of inherent American strength. The dollar is no longer the only show in town.

Russia is “de-dollarizing” its economy, meaning it is moving towards trade with other nations in bilateral currency exchange. The same goes for China and other nations. The upshot is the dollar is losing its international power, and, with that, the US economy is losing its former standing. The empire is waning. And the only one to blame for that is the US itself from its abuse of power.

The ominous resort is the only stick left to Washington – military power. That is why the world is facing a dangerous situation. If America doesn’t get its way, it seems to be pushing the world to war.

It could be all be very different of course. If the US were to stop trying to assert itself as a unipolar power and begin to engage with others on the basis of a multipolar world.

Trump is trying to square a globalized world through a national-based American capitalism. It won’t work. And the more the US government tries to achieve that the more the dollar and American power falls into decline. Which makes US militarism a greater compensatory danger.

Tags: US 

Meet Ten Corporate Giants Helping Israel Massacre Gaza Protesters – By Joe Catron @jncatron – MINT PRESS

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Palestine Israel Protest
Palestine/Israel

 

“The Israeli military relies on a network of international companies, supplying everything from sniper rifles to tear gas, to carry out its massacres of protesters in Gaza. These companies are knowingly supporting war crimes, and are complicit in state-orchestrated murder.” — Tom Anderson, researcher for Corporate Occupation

NEW YORK — As Israeli soldiers gun down unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in the Great March of Return, their lethal operations depend on an array of contractors and suppliers, many of them companies based outside Israel.

“The Israeli military relies on a network of international companies, supplying everything from sniper rifles to tear gas, to carry out its massacres of protesters in Gaza,” Tom Anderson, a researcher for Corporate Occupation, told MintPress News. “These companies are knowingly supporting war crimes, and are complicit in state-orchestrated murder.”

Since the mobilization began on March 30, Israeli forces have killed 205 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory reported on October 4.

 

There have been 21,288 injured, including 5,345 from live ammunition, resulting in 11,180 hospitalizations. Thirty-eight of the dead and 4,250 of the wounded were children.

A press release accompanying a September 25 report by the World Bank warned, “The economy in Gaza is collapsing,” adding that “the decade-long blockade is the core issue.”

Corporate Occupation and the American Friends Service Committee, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, and Who Profits maintain comprehensive lists of corporations enabling Israel’s crimes against Palestinians.

Here are a few of them:

Caterpillar, Inc.

Caterpillar is known internationally for Israel’s use of its bulldozers to demolish Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and inside Israel itself, as well as for its role in the killing of Rachel Corrie, an International Solidarity Movement activist from the United States, who was crushed to death by one of the company’s Israel-operated machines in the southern Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003. In Gaza, Caterpillar is notorious for Israel’s deployment of its equipment to reinforce a military barrier around the Strip, as well as to level Palestinian farmland inside it. These leveling operations both destroy Palestinian agriculture, keeping Gaza a captive market for Israeli producers, and maintain a clear line of fire for Israeli soldiers to shoot Palestinians.

Israel Palestine Caterpillar

Combined Systems, Inc.

Combined Systems — a Jamestown, Pennsylvania-based manufacturer owned by Point Lookout Capital and the Carlyle Group — supplies light weaponry and security equipment, such as tear gas and flash grenades, to repressive governments worldwide. In May, Corporate Occupation researchers spotted an Israeli vehicle, with police markings but obviously intended for military use, equipped with the company’s ‘Venom’ tear gas launcher next to the Gaza barrier.

Ford Motor Company

While other manufacturers, like General Motors, also provide vehicles used by the Israeli army to deploy its soldiers along the Gaza barrier, Ford’s are distinctive for their creative use. In 2003, Israeli vehicle manufacturer Hatehof began retrofitting Ford F550 trucks as armored personnel carriers. By 2016, Israel had moved on to F350s, modified by Israeli military electronics company Elbit Systems as autonomous unmanned vehicles capable of remotely controlled fire.

Israel Police Ford

Monsanto

Along with herbicides from the Dow Chemical Company and ADAMA Agricultural Solutions, an Israeli unit of China’s state-owned National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina), Israel sprays Bayer subsidiary Monsanto’s notorious Glyphosate (marketed as Roundup), a known human carcinogen, on Palestinian fields across its military barrier with Gaza several times annually. As does its deployment of Caterpillar bulldozers to level the same fields, the aerial application, conducted by two civilian Israeli companies under contract to the army, serves both Israeli economic and military interests — preventing Palestinian self-sufficiency in agriculture, while allowing its forces to easily detect and fire upon Palestinian farmers and other civilians using their own land.

G4S plc

Formerly one of Israel’s biggest occupation contractors, G4S sold its major Israeli subsidiary, G4S Israel, in 2016, but kept a stake in the construction and operation of Policity, Israel’s privatized national police academy. Israel claims that its police enjoy civilian status, but routinely deploys them in military operations against Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including their use of both Combined System’s ‘Venon’ tear-gas launcher and weaponized drones to repress the Great March of Return.

G4S protest

Hewlett Packard

Now three companies with interlocking operations — HP Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and DXC Technology — HP equips the Israeli military with computers and has undertaken contracts to “virtualize” IDF operations, starting in 2007 with a pilot program for the Israeli navy, which enforces the blockade of Gaza.

HSBC Bank plc

HSBC provides extensive financing to some of the most notorious military manufacturers in the world, several of them Israeli.

“HSBC holds over £800m worth of shares in, and is involved in syndicated loans worth over £19b to, companies that sell weapons and military equipment to the Israeli government,” Huda Ammori, campaigns officer for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told MintPress. “These investments include Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest private security firm, which markets its weapons as ‘field-tested,’ due to them being tested on Palestinian civilians in Gaza.”

A leading drone manufacturer, Elbit has played a key role in aerial attacks on the Great March of Return.

Motorola Solutions Inc.

Motorola provides the encrypted smartphones the Israeli military uses to deploy soldiers, as well as radio and communications services for the Israeli police.

Remington

Among casualties of the Great March of Return, Amnesty International reports, some “wounds bear the hallmarks of U.S.-manufactured M24 Remington sniper rifles shooting 7.62mm hunting ammunition, which expand and mushroom inside the body,” along with others indicative of Israel Weapon Industries’ Tavor rifles. “In the United States this is sold as a hunting rifle to kill deer,” Brian Castner, a weapons specialist for the human-rights organization, said in April.

Protesters wave Palestinians flags in front of Israeli solders on Gaza's border with Israel, east of Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, Wednesday, April 4, 2018. A leading Israel human rights group urged Israeli forces in a rare step Wednesday to disobey open-fire orders unless Gaza protesters pose an imminent threat to soldiers' lives. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Sabra Dipping Company, LLC

The White Plains, New York-based food manufacturer, co-owned by PepsiCo and Israeli foodmaker Strauss, has donated food packages to the Israeli Army’s Golani Brigade, notorious for its human-rights abuses in both Gaza and the West Bank.

 

“We must channel our rage”

As the Great March of Return, now in its 29th week, continues, participants and supporters say targeting firms complicit in its repression is one of the most effective means of solidarity.

“We must channel our rage at Israel’s atrocities into effective actions to hold Israel accountable,” the BDS National Committee said in a statement on April 12. “Together, we can escalate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns.”

“Israel is meeting the Palestinian protesters with live fire, massacring over 190 Palestinians to date,” Ammori told MintPress. “Israel’s racist discrimination and brutal violence is evident, and the campaign to end complicity is vital.”

Top Photo | Relatives of Palestinian Muhammed al-Sadiq, 21, mourn at the family home during his funeral in Gaza City, Sept. 25, 2018. Al-sadiq was killed and at least 10 others wounded by Israeli soldiers during a protest near in Gaza. Khalil Hamra | AP

Joe Catron is a MintPress News journalist covering Palestine and Israel. He is also a solidarity activist and freelance reporter, recently returned to New York from Gaza, Palestine, where he lived for three and a half years. He has written frequently for Electronic Intifada and Middle East Eye, and co-edited The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, an anthology of accounts by detainees freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange.

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

Facebook, Twitter Purge More Dissident Media Pages In Latest Escalation – UPDATE – By Caitlin Johnstone /caitlinjohnstone.com- SOTT

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Free Thought Project banned

Facebook has purged more dissident political media pages today, this time under the pretense of protecting its users from “inauthentic activity”. In a statement co-authored by Facebook Head of Cybersecurity Nathaniel Gleicher (who also happens to be the former White House National Security Council Director of Cybersecurity Policy), the massive social media platform explained that it has removed “559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

This “inauthentic behavior”, according to Facebook, consists of using “sensational political content – regardless of its political slant – to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites,” which is the same as saying they write about controversial things, and posting those political articles “in dozens of Facebook Groups, often hundreds of times in a short period, to drum up traffic for their websites.”

In other words, the pages were removed for publishing controversial political content and trying to get people to read it. Not for writing “fake news”, but for doing what they could to get legitimate indie media news stories viewed by people who might want to view it. The practice of sharing your material around in Facebook groups is common practice for most independent media content creators; I did it myself a lot in late 2016 and early 2017, and pretty much all my indie media peers at the time did too.

“For those of you who read what I write, you know that I did not violate any standards,” writes Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, whose personal profile and Facebook page for her political blog NoisyRoom.net were both deleted. “In fact, I don’t send out most of what I write. I send on big news links and a few memes. It was enough to get me banned and the pages are simply gone.”

“Facebook took down my page with nearly 70,000 followers, labeling it as ‘spam,’ when I have spent 4 years working to build that page up and using it to post the articles I wrote and videos of my reporting,” tweeted RT America’s Rachel Blevins. “This is so incredibly wrong and is affecting hundreds of similar pages.”

“And just like that 5 + years of hard work promoting ideas of peace and freedom have been erased,” wrote a Facebook user called John Liberty, who lost multiple pages about police accountability, cannabis legalization and libertarianism.

Two of the most high-profile pages which were shut down have probably been seen at some point by any political dissident who uses Facebook; the Free Thought Project, which had 3.1 million followers, and Anti-Media, which had 2.1 million. I’ve found useful information on both sites before, and despite disagreeing with them ideologically in some areas have found them both vastly more legitimate than anything you’ll find on Google News.

As if that wasn’t creepy enough, some of the accounts purged by Facebook appear to be getting censored on Twitter as well, bringing back memories of the August cross-platform coordinated silencing of Alex Jones. The aforementioned Anti-Media has now been suspended from Twitter just hours after tweeting about being removed from Facebook, along with one of its top writers Carey Wedler, and a Unicorn Riot activist named Patti Beers who had more than 30,000 Twitter followers has just been removed from both sites as well.

I have said it before and I will say it again: in a corporatist system, wherein there is no clear line between corporate power and government power, corporate censorship is government censorship. You can’t have a system wherein corporate lobbying and campaign finance amount to legalized bribery of elected officials, wherein massive Silicon Valley corporations form extensive ties with secretive government agencies in order to eclipse their competition, and then claim this is a matter of private corporations enforcing their own rules on their own private property. This is just what totalitarian government censorship looks like in a corporatist oligarchy.

Do you want a few Silicon Valley plutocrats determining what political speech constitutes “inauthentic activity” for you? Do you want a world in which the masses are herded into massive government-allied social media stables which are then regularly brought before the US Senate to pledge more iron-fisted censorship of problematic political speech? Do you want a world in which social media corporations are forced to make alliances with existing power structures in order to be allowed to grow? Do you want a world in which venues of political discourse are increasingly sterilized to favor the agendas of the ruling class? If not, the time to act is now.

Regardless of where you’re at on the political spectrum, if you oppose the status quo then opposing internet censorship of any political speech is now a matter of simple self defense. If this wasn’t obvious to you when they shut down Alex Jones, it should damn well be obvious to you now. If you want to change the existing system in any way which takes power away from those currently in power, your voice is next on the chopping block. They’re locking all the doors down as fast as they can to keep us trapped in this Orwellian oligarchy until they get us all killed by war or ecocide. If they shut down the public’s ability to share dissident information, they’ll have locked the final door. Don’t let them.

UPDATE: Free Thought Project has, like Anti-Media, now been removed from Twitter as well as Facebook. There definitely appears to be some kind of coordination or overlap between Twitter and Facebook censors.

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal,buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

Comment: It appears another wave in the ongoing social media purge has just hit the shore. The fact that this is another multi-platform event, like the Alex Jones fiasco back in August, should scream loud and clear that this is coming from higher up than the individual social media companies themselves. This is the controllers silencing dissident voices, plain and simple. See also:

Update: De-platformed sites hit back. RT reports:

Alternative voices online are incensed after Facebook and Twitter closed down hundreds of political media pages ahead of November’s crucial midterm elections. Facebook says they broke its spam rules, they say it’s censorship.

Some 800 pages spanning the political spectrum, from left-leaning organizations like The Anti Media, to flag-waving opinion sites like Right Wing News and Nation in Distress, were shut down. Other pages banned include those belonging to police brutality watchdog groups Filming Cops and Policing the Police. Even RT America’s Rachel Blevins found her own page banned for posts that were allegedly “misleading users.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald hit out at those on the left who cheered Facebook and Twitter’s coordinated ‘deplatforming’ of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in August. “Those who demanded Facebook & other Silicon Valley giants censor political content…are finding that content that they themselves support & like end up being repressed,” he wrote. “That’s what has happened to every censorship advocate in history.”

Facebook claims that the accounts were shut down for “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” and, disturbingly, the company said in a blog post that it is working hard to root out pages, groups and accounts “created to stir up political debate.”

In America, Conservatives were the first to complain about unfair treatment by left-leaning Silicon Valley tech giants. However, leftist sites have increasingly become targets in what Blumenthal calls “a wider war on dissident narratives in online media.” In identifying enemies in this “war,” Facebook has partnered up with the Digital Forensics Lab, an offshoot of NATO-sponsored think tank the Atlantic Council. The DFL has promised to be Facebook’s “eyes and ears” in the fight against disinformation (read: alternative viewpoints).

With the Atlantic Council funded by a plethora of private donors, state institutions, and arms manufacturers, it is little wonder that some commenters on Twitter saw the group’s fingerprints all over the latest round of bans.

For now, Facebook and Twitter have been free to censor with impunity. This places alternative journalists and news outlets at the companies’ mercy: no viable competitors to Facebook and Twitter exist, save for twitter-clone Gab.ai, which has been slammed by mainstream media as a breeding ground for far-right extremism.

Citizen journalist Lee Stranahan called for a stockholder lawsuit against Facebook, arguing that repeated terms-of-service changes are killing the company’s business. However, until that happens, users will have to accept censorship as just another one of these terms.

An Open Letter to Australia’s Politicians in Opposition to the Proposed Metadata Retention Laws March 17, 2015 – Written by: Rob Marsh

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An Open Letter to Australia’s Politicians in Opposition to the Proposed Metadata Retention Laws

I recently wrote a rather long article on the potential dangers of new metadata retention laws to the fabric of our society and the functioning of our democracy. There is no issue I feel more passionate about in our society today, as it affects literally every one of us. We are witnessing the creation of the greatest weapon of oppression in the history of man, to quote Edward Snowden, and as individuals, citizens of a democracy, and human beings, we owe it to ourselves and each other to do what little we can to stall and hopefully stop this legislation from passing into law.

To that end, I’ve prepared an open letter to the politicians of this country outlining the failings of the legislation and other relevant information around metadata collection and the relation thereof to human rights.

Please send this to as many members of parliament as you can, and please share this template on your social media walls and any political groups you may be a part of. The more people that know that this is happening and that recognise that they are personally implicated in it, the more chance we have of stopping this draconian imposition on the freedoms of all Australians, rich and poor, powerless and powerful, male and female, old and young.

With your help, I sincerely believe we can make a positive difference.



An Open Letter to the Politicians of Australia on the Potential Adverse Effects of Proposed Metadata Retention Legislation on Human Rights and the Functioning of Our Democracy

This letter contains many references to the Report of the Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation, where there is a number or text enclosed in brackets like so: (5.17), refer to the appropriate section of the report.

[Politician’s name],

I am writing to you to express my deep and sincere concern with regards to the proposed Metadata Retention legislation that the government wishes to pass by the 27th of March 2015.

This legislation represents, contrary to the claims of those with vested interests in seeing the legislation pass, a grave threat to the right to privacy, freedom of speech and association that is fundamental to a well-functioning democracy.

You may not be aware of what the legislation addresses, or what the “telecommunications data” it refers to actually entails.

Nicola Roxon, in a statement to the Attorney General, describes telecommunications data as: “Telecommunications data is information about the process of communication, as distinct from its content. It includes information about the identity of the sending and receiving parties and related subscriber details, account identifying information collected by the telecommunications carrier or ISP to establish the account, and information such as the time and date of the communication, its duration, location and type of communication. (5.7)

The proposed legislation, based on the definitions above, would give the Australian government unprecedented access to nearly every aspect of the online activity of it’s citizens, and the ability to infer a disturbingly accurate “pattern of life” from the collected data.

For example, you may have your cellphone’s GPS services enabled to use Google Maps. That data, in conjunction with your phone records and timestamps on the above data could clue in a security agency as to your most likely whereabouts on any given day. This poses an enormous risk to freedom of the press, as governments could use these capabilities to track journalists and their sources to frequented meeting places, limiting concerned parties’ abilities to bring sensitive information to the public for democratic review.

“The database will contain every page they accessed – every article they’ve read on a newspaper site, any online political activity, any purchases on ebay, books bought from amazon, Facebook pages visited etc.” – Ian Quick

In the words of former NSA/CIA Director Michael Hayden:

“We kill people based on metadata.”

Fears about the above stated powers and the implications thereof have been echoed by several EU countries.

The Romanian Court, with regards to local metadata retention, held that a “continuous legal obligation” to retain all traffic data for six months was incompatible with the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. (5.26)

In Germany, the Constitutional Court described metadata retention as a “serious restriction of the right to privacy” and stated that a “retention period of six months [was] at the upper limit of what should be considered proportionate”. (5.27)

The Czech Constitutional Court, in analogous statements, described misgivings about the potential abuses of these powers: “Individual citizens had insufficient guarantees against possible abuses of power by public authorities.” (5.28)

The EU Court of Justice found that the 2006 European Data Retention Directive violated citizens “fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data”.

With such strident international condemnation, it seems to go without saying that any committee responsible for review of similar legislation would be given express access to details of the proposed changes and sufficient resources to complete a sincere and detailed examination of the material. Oddly enough, these criteria were not met: “Having commenced the inquiry at the beginning of July 2012, the Committee was asked to report if at all possible by the end of the calendar year. This afforded the Committee a highly compressed and unachievable time frame of less than six months to examine what is an extensive list of potential reforms, some of which are far reaching.” (Introduction, Page 3)

It seems that the government also failed to provide the committee with the relevant draft legislation, leaving those involved to rely on speculation and inference rather than an appraisal of the raw data: “The Government sought the Committee’s views on a mandatory data retention regime. The Committee did not have access to draft legislation. Furthermore, the inadequate description of data retention in the terms of reference and discussion paper also impaired both the public discussion and the Committee’s consideration of the data retention issue.” (1.29)

The question of how efficacious metadata retention is in solving and preventing crime is a raging debate.

Electronic Freedom Australia noted that it was “highly questionable” whether data retention would aid in the investigation of terrorism, organised crime or other serious illegal activities:

“It is worth noting that determined criminals will have little difficulty disguising or anonymising their communications. There are many relatively simple and effective tools available that allow for the protection of communications from surveillance.” (5.167)

This is an excellent point. The proposed legislation is no secret. Those in the criminal world will have no doubt heard of the potential for their activities to be monitored and have likely already taken steps to anonymise their online behaviour. Even in the event that the scope of the metadata retention reforms is so broad that it includes tools for opening encrypted chats and messaging services, it is not unlikely that tech savvy individuals on the wrong side of the law will be developing tools to combat this unwanted intrusion, rendering the legislation effectively useless in dealing with its raison d’être: combating terrorism and serious crime.

An unintended consequence of the introduction of metadata retention could be the opposite of what it is designed to achieve: a progressive opacification of the internet, with more and more users turning to encrypted browsing and communication, thereby shrinking the usable pool of data.

“Why do we imagine that the criminals of the greatest concern to our security agencies will not be able to use any of numerous available means to anonymise their communications or indeed choose new services that are not captured by legislated data retention rules?”

This quote from Communications Minister Macolm Turnbull, in addition to his recently revealed use of the messaging app Wickr, which provides a platform for anyone to send and receive self-deleting encrypted messages, seems to indicate that the reforms are likely to bring about little change in the positive ability of law enforcement agencies to stop criminal activity.

Add to this comments made by Blueprints for Free Speech, indicating that “there is no evidence to suggest data retention would assist with the prevention of crime or terrorism. A 2011 study of Germany’s Data Retention Directive found it had no impact on either the effectiveness of criminal investigation or the crime rate. Further, the study specifically found that countries without data retention laws are not more vulnerable to crime.”

Make no bones about it, metadata retention is mass surveillance. It can be used to form a dataset, a pattern of life indicating your movements, interests, affiliations and beliefs. You will be paying for this intrusion of privacy through rises in service bills, a kind of “tele screen tax” if you will. You will be at a higher risk of identity theft through the creation of ‘honeypots’ of data, irresistible to organised criminals and foreign actors. Your basic rights to privacy, to freedom of speech, to live as a dignified human person, are being infringed upon in ways that do not preclude a broadening of the scope of these abuses.

Even the supporters of the legislation don’t buy into their own rhetoric, with members of the Liberal party using Wickr on a daily basis, showing the world that privacy is of the utmost importance even to those who adamantly maintain that it isn’t.

With unanimous condemnation from leading human rights groups around the world, with a public backlash on a scale almost never witnessed, with the potential for so much to go horribly wrong, we simply must put a stop to this.

Tony Abbott has made statements that he wants a parliamentary inquiry into the legislation to be scrapped. I think it’s our responsibility as members of our democracy to ask why anyone would want a piece of legislation with so many potential avenues for abuse to pass without appropriate scrutiny.

I implore you, with the utmost sincerity and urgency, to do whatever is within your power to oppose this legislation at the very least until it is put before an independent NGO and reviewed in depth, with all the aspects of the legislation made available for public review and scrutiny.

Thank you for your time and your consideration, I hope that we, together, can make history and bring our society forward into an age of social egalitarianism, where the ideals of freedom of speech and thought, freedom of association and transparency of government are enshrined as they once were, as the foundations of a working democracy.

Sincerely,

______

For more information on the legislation you can refer to the Report of the Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation, which you can find here: http://www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committees/house_of_representatives_committees?url=pjcis/nsl2012/report.htm

An independent summary/opinion piece on the legislation can be found here: https://wideeyedandhopefullywild.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/metadata-and-you/

——

For the sender of this email: you can find the contact addresses of your parliamentarians at these links:

http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members

http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/03%20Senators%20and%20Members/32%20Members/Lists/MemList.pdf

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The Pentagon Realised What It Has Done – the Chinese Put the US Army on Its Knees 21150 Views Nove – By By Ivan Danilov Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard – SAKER

CHINATROOPS AGAINSTISIL

By Ivan Danilov
Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard

cross posted with http://www.stalkerzone.org/ivan-danilov-the-pentagon-realised-what-it-has-done-the-chinese-put-the-us-army-on-its-knees/
source: https://ria.ru/analytics/20181104/1532106144.html

In the system of national defense of the US a gaping vulnerability was found that is very difficult to close. The reaction of the Pentagon is reminiscent of badly hidden panic, and journalists who examined the results of the research of American experts, who thoroughly studied the condition of the American army and defensive industry, admit that there is iron logic in the recent “strange” actions of president Trump — he wants to save America from transforming into a cardboard tiger with paper claws.

The essence of the problem, according to the retelling of the columnist of the Reuters agency Andy Home, who obtained a copy of the September report of the US Department of Defence on the situation concerning key deliveries necessary for the American army, is reduced to one important figure. More than 300 (!) key elements necessary for the normal functioning of the US Armed Forces and defensive industry are under threat: American producers are either on the verge of bankruptcy or were already replaced by suppliers from China or other countries because of the deindustrialisation of national economy and the relocation of production to the countries of Southeast Asia.

Mr. Home gives as a striking and clear example the amusing (of course, if you are not a US military man) fact from the report: it turns out that the last American producer of the synthetic threads necessary for the production of army tents “died” quite recently. This means that in the event that the US will fall under such a “textile embargo”, for some American soldiers they will seriously face the prospect of sleeping in the open-air. It is difficult not to notice that such a prospect looks slightly humiliating for an army that claims to be the most hi-tech on the planet.

The situation could be considered as funny if it didn’t affect such a wide range of requirements of the American army and military-industrial complex. In the declassified part of the research of the American Department of Defence it is mentioned that in the US there are difficulties with future deliveries of the power switches that nearly all American missiles are equipped with. As officials of the Pentagon report, the producer of these switches was closed down, but the highest military ranks learned about it only after it became clear that the power switches ended. And there is nowhere to take new ones from, because the producer disappeared into thin air a whole 2 years ago. One more striking example: the country’s only producer of solid rocket motors for “air-to-air” missiles, as the American officials write, “encountered technical production issues”, the reasons for which couldn’t be found even after government and military experts were involved. Attempts to restart production failed, and the Pentagon was obliged to employ a Norwegian company to ensure uninterrupted deliveries. Obviously, this indicates a certain technical degradation of the entire American system, because only the loss of some key competencies can explain a situation in which production cannot be restored and the problem cannot even be determined.

Whilst becoming acquainted with the complaints of the leadership of the American army it is difficult to rid oneself of the impression that it isn’t a document of the US Department of Defence dated September, 2018 that is in front of your eyes, but a description of the problems of the Russian army from the era of the dashing 90’s. Literally there is no direction in which there would be no serious or very serious problems, and often they even can’t be solved at the expense of the bottomless military budget.

In the section on nuclear weapon problems the Pentagon complains that in the US there isn’t the necessary number of engineers and technicians who would have the corresponding education, training, and US citizenship that are necessary for working with army nuclear objects. The mention of nationality is of importance, because American higher education institutions produce enough engineers, physicists, and representatives of other technical specialties and exact sciences, however a disproportionately large number of these graduates are foreigners, most often from the People’s Republic of China.

Americans can’t find not only the necessary engineers, but also the necessary microelectronics for nuclear weapons. And they complain that they no longer have the right to trust suppliers of electronic components – after all, “the supply chain is globalised”. In translation from American bureaucratese into colloquial Russian it means: “the microelectronics for our nuclear missiles are made in China, and we don’t know what the Chinese have stuffed in it”. There are serious difficulties even concerning issues that should be solved very easily in the conditions of hi-tech American economy. For example, the Pentagon complains about a lack of tools for the development of software, as well as the management of data and production, that could be trusted. The situation is exacerbated by “poor cybersecurity practices by many key software vendors”. This, when translated from American bureaucratese into colloquial Russian, means: “concerning cybersecurity, our vendors are so bad that we don’t know what the Chinese and Russian hackers cram into the software that our military use”.

Main conclusion of the report: “China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials deemed strategic and critical to U.S. national security. <…> Areas of concern to America’s manufacturing and defense industrial base include a growing number of both widely used and specialized metals, alloys and other materials, including rare earths and permanent magnets”. In general everything is bad, starting with aluminium and ending with cybersecurity, from power switches for missiles to engineers and drill operators, and from computer numerical control machines to synthetic fabric for military tents. The greed of American business, the ideology of globalisation, and the iron belief that history, as Fukuyama predicted, is about to end collectively caused such damage to the defense capability of the US that the geopolitical opponents couldn’t even dream of. It is precisely by understanding this fact that explains Donald Trump’s attempts to carry out the reindustrialisation of America almost by force.

However, there is every reason to believe that, taking into account the present economic difficulties, it’s unlikely that Trump’s administration will be able to fix what its predecessors broke 20 years. And we [Russians – ed] and our Chinese partners need, on the one hand, not to repeat the mistakes of Americans, and on the other hand — to make the most of these mistakes. Judging by what is happening now on the world stage, this is exactly what Moscow and Beijing are doing.

‘Humanities Hijacked by Ideologues’: Jordan Peterson Excoriates Western Academia – By CC BY-SA 2.0 / Gage Skidmore / Jordan Peterson Opinion – SPUTNIK

Jordan Peterson

‘Humanities Hijacked by Ideologues’: Jordan Peterson Excoriates Western Academia

CC BY-SA 2.0 / Gage Skidmore / Jordan Peterson
Opinion

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James Joshua Pennington
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In her efforts to trade punches with the popular intellectual, the GQ journalist bit off more than she could chew, leaving with her tail between her legs.

For nearly two hours, University of Toronto Professor of Psychology and bestselling author Jordan Peterson sat down with New Statesman journalist and feminist writer Helen Lewis with the intention of discussing his rise to prominence, his book 12 Rules for Life, and his thoughts on gender, feminism, and the concept of patriarchy. In reality, despite her seemingly welcoming and professional attitude, what took place was Lewis’s absolute intellectual meltdown.

From the outset it is clear that she has a singular goal in mind: to break the powerful intellect before her and catch him in a contradiction. This would surely be the big “public” win left-leaning intellectuals needed.

Prior attempts have seen Peterson simply chew up and spit out his ideologically-driven opponents, almost invariably leading to him being slandered as a racist, a bigot, and a “little white man” from the likes of liberal hack and frequent CNN guest Michael Eric Dyson (during one debate). He’s been called right-wing by the Guardian, even to an appalling degree by intentional mischaracterization during an NBC Nightly News piece (all posted on Youtube). Most recently, he has endured more harsh words from Swedish feminists, only to be immediately vindicated by the Swedish public.In the GQ interview posted on Youtube (soon to hit 3 million views), Lewis attempts on several occasions to outwit Peterson, yet ends up worse for wear, as one Youtube user gratisversus puts it in the comment section below the video: “[Lewis] is a great example of how a highly articulate, conventionally intelligent and educated person can be completely ignorant.”

While this may seem harsh (good old anonymity to blame!), after sitting through the video (and we commiserate with Peterson along the way) it is easy to understand the sentiment.

Here is a journalist who has read English at St. Peter’s College and received a post-graduate degree in newspaper journalism from London’s City University. We can give her the benefit of doubt of being bright. However, while spending the entire time trying to “out-articulate” (a new sport among the left it seems) her opponent (this is surely how she perceived him), she fails in offering any substance to her argument other than “the patriarchy is tyrannical”, as it “holds women back”.

READ MORE: Left-Wing Slant, #MeToo Scare Swedish Men Away From Feminism

Peterson fires back at Lewis by reminding her that “equality of opportunity and equality of outcome are two very different things […] There are a lot of people in the world who are sick and tired of their desire to move forward in the world and to achieve something, to take their place as adults, males, let’s say, who are under the weight of accusations that their ambition and forthrightness are a manifestation of something that’s fundamentally tyrannical […] It’s not doing anyone any good. And it’s also not true. It’s really a terrible thing to do to young men […] That’s why they are bailing out of universities like mad. There won’t be a man left in the social sciences in 10 years. It’s an inhospitable place, precisely because of this doctrine.”

I just got goosebumps.

Further, Lewis says she believes consistency in thinking is a positive thing that an ideology can bring to a person’s life and criticizes Peterson for having seemingly contradictory beliefs: “I don’t see how your belief in God tessellates with your insistence on pure science.” Peterson once again admonishes Lewis for setting up a straw man: “What insistence on pure science? […] I don’t say anything about the scientific status of God […] There is a realm of values and a realm of facts, and in the realm of facts, science reigns supreme. In the realm of values, it does not. So you have to look elsewhere. That is what the Humanities were for… before they got hijacked by ideologues.”

Finally, unable to play the polite gentlemen under attack any longer, Peterson lets loose: “You were talking about needing to have consistency in ideology. But I’m not hearing what you think; but how you are able to represent the ideology you were taught. And it’s not that interesting, because I don’t know anything about you. I could replace you with someone else who thinks the same way. And that means, you’re not here.”

Ouch.

The deep political division in the West is like a crack in the sidewalk, and every now and then we see a blade of grass sprout up. In remarkable fashion, this noble outlier in academia uses his training in psychology as a foundation, his decades-long experience as a clinical psychologist and university professor, and his profoundly clear thinking, to elaborate a worldview that puts humans squarely back in the objective realm of the animal kingdom, i.e. where biology reigns supreme. He even makes a point to remind us that we are so connected to the animal kingdom that anti-depressants work the same way on lobsters as they do in humans, with the key link being an uptake in serotonin.

However, he believes what separates us most from our crustacean counterparts (other than just their beady eyes and huge pincers, roll eyes here) is our governments and institutions, which symbolize the order that we have created out of our primordial chaos. He stresses that these systems arose in large part thanks to our innate sense of compassion and justice. But yes, this does include Darwinian hierarchies of the strongest and smartest (a sticking point of the many feminist and otherwise liberal critics who attack Peterson for his opposition to the dangerous socialist notion of equality of outcome, which at its most extreme estimates has led to more than 50 million deaths in the Soviet Union and over 100 million in China).But shouldn’t the best and brightest be successful in this world? Shouldn’t these people be at the heads of institutions? That seems just, right? Everyone should get a fair shake in life; but the scapegoating and victimization tactics of the left don’t even warrant the pat on the back they so desperately seek.

Peterson also places our inalienable rights, most importantly the protection of freedom of speech and expression, on the highest pedestal. That means absolutely no compelled speech, which is what got Peterson in hot water in the first place with the Canadian Human Rights’ Tribunal, as he refused to adhere to the University of Toronto’s policy on discrimination which compels the usage of LBGTQ pronouns (and has now unsurprisingly spread to US academia).

Peterson underscores that there is no scientific backing behind gender fluidity and that such compelled subjectivity is dangerously indicative of an ideologically driven state apparatus. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be nice and respect one another. But you shouldn’t lose your job for being “rude”; or worse, end up being branded a bigot or a misogynist and be blacklisted from your profession altogether.

Always underscoring the need to take comfort in our humanity in the face of such frustrating conflict, Peterson charmingly advises us in his book 12 Rules for Life to seek out a stray animal and pet it: “And maybe when you are going for a walk and your head is spinning a cat will show up and if you pay attention to it then you will get a reminder for just fifteen seconds that the wonder of Being might make up for the ineradicable suffering that accompanies it. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.”

Unmistakably the words of a monster.

Peterson is clearly a man with a heart but also a mission — and that is to better his fellow human. He has helped 100’s if not 1000’s of people overcome their worst fears and obstacles in life with his psychiatric counsel. In a time of increasingly incompetent, ideologically driven mainstream media (with the likes of the Michael E. Dysons and Helen Lewises of the world), our youth (and unfortunately many of our elders) should heed a voice like Peterson’s, one not able to be bought off by politicians or silenced with threats. He is hated equally on both political extremes, yet millions upon millions continue to watch his videos and buy his books. Why is this?

Simply put: Peterson’s rational compassion continues to be a brave beacon in the increasingly dim, irrational night sky of humanity.

James Joshua Pennington, PhD

The views and opinions expressed by the contributor do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Related:

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‘US is Determined to Block Freedom of Speech in Form of WikiLeaks’ – Lawyer
Tags:
feminism, freedom of expression, psychology, freedom of speech, Helen Lewis, Jordan Peterson, Canada, Toronto

US Pressure Fails to Affect Russia’s Growing Arms Exports – By Arkady SAVITSKY – Strategic Culture Foundation

US Pressure Fails to Affect Russia’s Growing Arms Exports

On November 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Commission for Military Technology Cooperation with Foreign States. He noted that “Our capabilities in the military technical sphere must be used to modernize and upgrade all our industries, to support our science and to create a powerful technological potential for the country’s dynamic development.” The president called for “renewed efforts, not only, in preserving, but also, in strengthening Russia’s leading position on the global arms market, primarily in the high-tech sector, amid tough competition.”

The US efforts to press other countries into suspending military cooperation with Russia are inefficient. The number of customers, especially in the Middle East and Africa, is growing. The demand for Russia’s military production is especially high in the Asia-Pacific Region, accounting for almost 70% of all arms sales, including India (35%), China (12%) and Vietnam (10%).Today, Russia’s overall military exports are equal to around $15 billion, with the global order book of $55 billion. According to Alexander Mikheev, the head of Rosoboronexport, the sole state intermediary agency for Russia’s defense exports / imports, Russia has already exported arms to over 40 countries, signing 1,100 contracts worth about $19 billion in 2018 – a 25% increase compared to the last year.

The president’s speech coincided with the opening ceremony of Airshow China 2018 (Nov. 6-11), one of the five largest aerospace exhibitions in the world, Russian manufacturers scored a big success. 14 defense producers displayed over 200 units of hardware.

China has defied US threats to go through with the large deal to buy S-400 air defense systems and Su-35 multifunctional fighters (ten jets already delivered). The joint programs, such as the development of a heavy AHL helicopter and a long-range powerful aircraft, are in force. The order book of China’s imports exceeds $7 billion, growing from 5% to 14-15%. The two nations are involved in a joint project to produce diesel-electric submarines Amur-1650 (export version of Lada Project 677). This is a $2 billion deal. China confirmed the plan to purchase six Mi-171A2Y “Ansat” helicopters, which will make a 5,000 km long demonstration tour across Southeast Asia, including stops at Hanoi (Vietnam), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Bangkok (Thailand) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).

VKO concern “Almaz-Antey” used the Airshow China 2018 event to introduce the Viking – the export version of the Buk-M3 anti-aircraft missile system. Viking boasts the range of 65 km. 36 targets can be tracked and engaged simultaneously. It has the capability of striking tactical ballistic and cruise missiles as well as sea and ground targets. The Radioelectronic Technologies Company (KRET) presented over 40 exhibits, including the multipurpose airborne multipurpose radar with AFAR “Beetle-AME” designed to  detect and track aerial, surface and ground targets at the same time. The Russian-Chinese long-overhaul CR929 jet attracted public attention at the air show. Its basic version will carry 280 passengers over a distance of 12,000 km.

India has also defied the US pressure and will start receiving receive S-400s in the fall of 2020. The $5 billion deal was signed in October during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi. Russia and Vietnam have signed a $4.5 billion package of deals, including the $1 billion purchase of a batch of Russian Su-30 MK2 fighters and a $2 billion agreement on the sale of six Russian diesel-electric Project 636.1 Varshavyanka (Kilo) submarines. A Mi-35M attack helicopters deal with to Bangladesh is expected to be inked soon. In February, Russia signed a $ 1.14 deal with Indonesia to supply 11 Su-35 4++ generation fighters.

2018 is rich in international defense shows. As of November 12, Russia has taken part in about 20 international exhibitions and forums, such as the Eurasian Air Show in Turkey’s Antalya, International Far Eastern Maritime Show in Vladivostok and ADAS-2018 defense exhibition in the Philippines (for the first time). It intends to attend some more large ones till the end of the year.

Russia has also taken part in the Indo Defense 2018 show (Nov.7-10) to display over 200 systems and equipment units. There were two weapons presented for the first time ever in Jakarta: the 122 mm projectile for Tornado-G MLRS and 140 mm projectile for ship-based Ogon flame throwing launcher.

There will be the IDEAS-2018  exhibition in Pakistan in late November, EDEX-2018 will be held in Egypt in mid-December, and Chile will host the EXPONAVAL – 2018 naval exhibition in early December. Russia will take an active part in all of them though its presence at Le Bourget Paris air show in June was very limited and it decided to take no part in Farnborough – 2018 air show in July. Moscow prefers the shows where it has more potential customers. This year, some new systems were offered to potential buyers, such the Viking and Tor-E2 anti-aircraft missile systems, Sprut-SDM1 light floating tank, Karakut and Sarsar vesselsIl-78MK-90A aerial tanker and Il-76MD-90A (E) military cargo aircraft. The Sprut-SDM1 light tank is a special case. The airborne light amphibious tank with firepower of MBT has no rivals in the world.

The US-imposed sanctions have failed to reduce the demand for Russian weapons. China, India as well as many other countries refuse to bow. New ways to pay for the deals without dollars are sought. For instance, India will pay for S-400s in Russian rubles. The talks to get around dollars are underway with China. Some deals may be temporarily postponed, some talks frozen, but all in all, the US policy of using sanctions to reduce Russia arms exports and thus weaken the competitor has failed. The most important agreements, including the S400 deal with Turkey, a NATO country, have not been affected. This agreement will also skirt dollar payments. The Russian arms sales are on the rise. 

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Why “Veterans Day” is really “Palestinian Genocide Day” – By Kevin Barrett – VT

Laurent Guyénot and Gideon Polya remind us what to remember

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By Kevin Barrett, Veterans Today Editor

What we call “Veterans Day” in the USA is known as “Remembrance Day” in Australia. Whatever they’re remembering, we’ve apparently forgotten. The end of the “war to end all wars” ?  Maybe. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 was supposed to usher in permanent peace…but somehow instead it led to Orwellian dictatorship under an empire of permanent war.  Maybe all those 11s were Satanic illuminati signposts pointing down the road to dystopia?

Read “11 Questions for Veterans Day“

Something else to “remember” (if you ever knew it at all): The “victory” that ended World War I was a Zionist victory. Everybody else lost. As Laurent Guyénot writes in From Yahweh to Zion:

Laurent Guyénot’s From Yahweh to Zion may be the best book ever written on “the Jewish question”

After the defeat of Germany, the great powers met in Paris for the peace conference that began in January 1919 and closed in August 1920. The Treaty of Versailles, under the headline of “Minority Treaties,” placed Palestine under the provisional authority of the British, whose “mandate” included the terms of the Balfour Declaration, namely the creation of a “Jewish national home.” Making clear to the world that this was only the first stone of a much more ambitious edifice, Chaim Weizmann declared before the conference: “The Bible is our mandate.” Emile Joseph Dillon, author of The Inside Story of the Peace Conference (1920) wrote: “Of all the collectivities whose interests were furthered at the Conference, the Jews had perhaps the most resourceful and certainly the most influential exponents. There were Jews from Palestine, from Poland, Russia, the Ukraine, Rumania, Greece, Britain, Holland, and Belgium; but the largest and most brilliant contingent was sent by the United States.” Among the many Jewish advisers representing the United States was Bernard Baruch, a member of the Supreme Economic Council. Another was Lucien Wolf, of whom Israel Zangwill wrote: “The Minority Treaties were the touchstone of the League of Nations, that essentially Jewish aspiration. And the man behind the Minority Treaties was Lucien Wolf.”

Down under, where they celebrate Remembrance Day but probably don’t remember much of what World War I was really about, my favorite Jewish truth jihadi Aussie, Dr. Gideon Polya, just sent out the following. Time for me to shut up and give him the last word.

Dear fellow humanitarian,

WW1 ended on 11 November 1918 but there is relentless continuation of the Palestinian Genocide that commenced with the WW1 British invasion of Palestine (since then there have been 2.3 million Palestinian deaths from violence, 0.1 million, or imposed deprivation, 2.2 million). Violent killing of Palestinians commenced with the Surafend Massacre on 10 December 1918 in which about 100 Palestinian villagers were massacred  by Australian soldiers. There is a huge irony associated with Remembrance Day observance in Australia that commemorates those brave Australians who mistakenly fought for the genocidally racist British Empire in WW1. Thus on Remembrance Day 1975 reformist Australian Labor   Prime Minister  Gough Whitlam, a WW2 air force veteran who was opposed to the Vietnam War and ended Australia’s involvement in that atrocity, was removed from office in a US CIA-backed Coup.  Eminent expatriate Australian journalist  John Pilger has described the 1975 Coup as “The forgotten coup – how America and Britain crushed the government of their “ally” Australia”.

11 November 2018 (Remembrance Day) marks the centenary of the signing of the Armistice that brought the carnage of WW1 to an end. This important  centenary will be commemorated in countries that were former British allies in WW1  (UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgiumand Russia) and in the opposing countries  of  Germany and of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Prominent in the  commemorations will be the modern equivalents of the mendacious politicians,  journalists and jingoists who were criminally responsible for WW1 (20 million killed), the so-called war to end all wars, that inexorably led to WW2 (100 million killed) and the post-WW2  US world war on humanity that in the 21st century has focused into a US War on Muslims (over 32 million dead from violence, 5 million, or from deprivation, 28 million, since 9-11) (see Gideon Polya, “ Jingoistic Perversion Of 1918 WW1 Armistice Centenary – Humanity Ignored Yields Genocidal History Repeated”, Countercurrents, 10 November 2018“).

 Yours sincerely, Dr Gideon Polya, Melbourne, Australia.

 

New Powerful Defense Alliance Changes European Security Landscape – By Alex GORKA – Strategic Culture Foundation

New Powerful Defense Alliance Changes European Security Landscape
Alex GORKA | 11.11.2018 | WORLD / Europe

Ten European states have created a new defense coalition. It was launched on June 25 and held its first historic meeting in Paris on Nov.7 to start thrashing out details of how the force will operate and welcome Finland as the tenth participant. All founding nations are EU members, including Great Britain, which is to leave the bloc in March, 2019. Led by France, the European Initiative Intervention (EII) comprises the UK, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Finland to cooperate in the planning, analysis of new military and humanitarian crises, and possible joint activities in response to contingencies. It is planned to have a common budget.

In a nutshell, the EII members will maintain readiness to carry out missions together independently from the United States, the EU or NATO. A streamlined decision-making process will permit a quick reaction time while the smaller number of members will give more flexibility in comparison with the North Atlantic Alliance, where the process is based on consensus among 29 nations, or the EU, which has failed to deploy the four multinational military battle groups created as far back as 2007.

French President Macron said he wanted a “real European army” because “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.” “When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s Euromissile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security,” he told Europe 1 in his first radio interview since becoming president. Emmanuel Macron believes that “Europe can ensure its own protection against Russia and even, under an unpredictable President Donald Trump.” That’s how the US is viewed in Europe now. Not a defender but rather a threat.

“The goal: that our armed forces learn get to know each other and act together,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly tweeted on the occasion of launching the EII. “Thanks to exchanges between staff and joint exercises, we will create a European strategic culture. We will be ready to anticipate crises and respond quickly and effectively,” he commented on the final goal.

According to Stratfor, “the EI2’s membership reveals that France is willing to go beyond the European Union in its quest for partners (as the United Kingdom will leave the bloc in 2019) and also outside of NATO (as Finland is not a member of the Atlantic alliance).”

The EU defense integration moves ahead at frustratingly slow pace. The 2017 “Permanent Structured Cooperation” (PESCO) defense agreement brought together 25 of the 28 armed forces. The UK, Denmark and Malta have decided to opt out of the voluntary system. Focused mainly on industrial cooperation, PESCO is not a great thing in real terms. It only offers a relatively small special fund to finance operations. It does not provide the EU with real joint fighting forces but rather offers a gradual integration at slow pace. The agreement has no provision on defense expenditure hike. The EU budget does not allocate money for creation of “European Army.” Besides, there are deep divisions between EU members states with different groups formed inside the Union. What sounds good on paper, may have little relation to real life. New smaller alliances are gradually being formed inside NATO and the EU – the blocs facing the threat of partition.

This and US President Trump overturning the treaties and putting into question the invocation of Article 5 prompted the formation of the new European defense alliance that is supposed to have real teeth and operate outside the EII’s control. The French-led initiative uniting EU and non-EU countries is especially attractive for Great Britain, which seeks a potential vehicle for post-Brexit defense cooperation outside the EU framework.

An independent military bloc will weaken NATO and reduce the Europe’s dependence on the United States. From this point of view, it will benefit Europe because its interests often do not coincide with that of the US. For instance, America cares little about the immigration, which is a far-flung problem for Washington, but keeping new migrants waves away is a matter of make it or break it for EU. In their turn, Europeans have nothing to do in Iraq and Afghanistan and have sent forces there only to demonstrate the transatlantic solidarity.

As one can see, Finland has found the EII preferable to NATO. But having joined the officially inaugurated new military alliance, it won’t be a neutral state anymore. It has become a member of the military organization, which openly says that Russia, its neighbor, is a threat to counter. This is a very significant change in the country’s foreign policy. Actually, the launching of the EII has attracted little media attention and undeservedly so, but the Finland’s EII membership has not gone unnoticed in Russia. Last year, Finland along with Sweden joined the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). It has allowed to use NATO forces use its territory during exercises, such as Trident Juncture-2018 – the largest NATO training event since the cold War.

The UK has always opposed the plans to create a European defense alliance, fearing it would be detrimental for NATO. Now it has done an about-face. It can continue to maintain special ties with US being a part of the new European defense alliance.

The formation of the EII shows how deep are the rifts dividing NATO and the EU into groups pursuing their own interests. These large organizations appear to have seen better days. They have become too large to be really united and strong. Like the empire of Alexander the Great, such large organizations have short lives. NATO and EU expansions were mistakes. It may never be said officially but the ten European nations have delivered a heavy blow against the US-led NATO. If the project does not gradually die away with all the ideas and initiatives swept under the rug being entangled in red tape, President Emmanuel Macron will go down in history as the architect of new large and powerful defense alliance to change the European security landscape.

The tensions and divisions between Europe and Russia are not forever and the EII and Russia don’t have to be adversaries, looking at each other through crosshairs. After all, they face common security threats. Sooner or later, cooperation in the field of security will be back on the agenda.

New waves of asylum seekers from Libya are a potential danger for Europe. Russia has influence in that country- it can help to prevent it. Joining together to restore Syria is another potential area of cooperation. The deployment of intermediate range weapons in Europe could be prevented with the INF Treaty not in force anymore if certain agreements were reached at Russia-Europe level even without US participation. The military activities can be discussed to ease the tensions. While the United States is preoccupied with the promotion of “America First” concept, the EII and Russia can talk. They could use the OSCE framework for it.

In August, President Macron called for strategic partnership with Russia. According to him, “I think that on matters like cybersecurity, defense, strategic relationships, we could envisage the outlines of a new relationship between Russia and the EU which is coherent with the direction Europe is headed in.” No improvement in the Russia-EU, Russia-NATO relationships is looming but it could be different regarding the ties between the EII and Russia. The options are a dialog and confrontation. Which of them will prevail? You never know. President Macron has said he prefers the first. 

SYRIAN ARMY RESCUES KIDNAPPED DRUZE FROM THE CLUTCHES OF ISIS; THE DETAILS – By ZIAD FADEL

قائد ميداني يروي تفاصيل عملية تحرير مختطفي السويداء

All eight terrorist slugs lie awaiting the hungry vultures who will devour their carcasses and leave their droppings to dry in the sun awaiting the inevitable dung beetles who shall further process their toxic atoms.

الجيش السوري يحرر جميع المختطفات من مدينة السويداء

Here is a snapshot of the rescued civilians who were subject to an infinity of horror amidst the psychopathic tormentors of ISIS.

Just in case one photograph of the eight rodents did not satisfy your blood lust, here’s another from a different angle. Stop salivating.   Let the buzzards do that for you.  

Some of the weapons seized from the dead rodents after liberating the hostages. 

http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=34.880298&lon=39.018459&z=14&m=w&search=humaima

On Thursday, November 8, in the dark of night, a team of Syrian Army commandos landed outside the lazy ghost town of Hameema which, due to its abandonment, hardly appears on any map.  It is, however, close to an artesian well called Artuwaaziyat Al-Naqsh northeast of the city of Palmyra.  Their mission was to free 19 Druze women and children who were abducted by the ISIS hyenas 3 months ago.  There was a genuine fear that the terrorists were going to kill them due to a stalemate in negotiations between the Russian Reconciliation Group operating out of Humaymeem Airbase and representatives of ISIS.

The intelligence was crucial to this operation which, if it had failed, would have resulted in the mass execution of all the civilian hostages.  As a note, my source in Damascus told me that their deaths would have been particularly dreadful since the spokes-rat for the terrorists made it very clear to the Russians that the terrorist group considered the Druze a hostile and impious population who deserved nothing better than being burned to death.

Overhead, Russian surveillance aircraft hovered over Hameema collecting information which was relayed quickly to the Syrian Army commandos below.  All the commandos were trained in Semferopol by Speznaz Special Forces and all spoke Russian.  One of the difficulties in tracking the hostages was the exasperating habit of the terrorists in moving them frequently between Iraqi territory and Syrian territory.  The terrorists knew that one of these days, the Syrian Army was going to go for broke.

Nine (9) rodents were assigned to the hostages.  Each was armed with either M-16 or Kalashnikovs.  Some also carried RPGs along with Turkish communications equipment.  The plan was to first surround the terrorists and try to pick them off using night-vision equipment provided by the Russian military.  Once the terrorists heard gunfire, it was expected that they would try to kill the hostages.  To prevent that, several Syrian commandos were dispatched into the center of the area where the hostages were held at the artesian well where they mixed with the hostages, encouraging them to leave in a northwesterly direction on foot.  This was a very dangerous undertaking because bullets were flying everywhere.

Wael tells me that the operation went surprisingly well.  Much of that had to do with the fact that the terrorists had no night-vision equipment and were essentially sitting ducks.  The Syrian Special Forces unit showed no mercy and killed 8 tarantulas leaving only, the youngest, who cried deliriously in an effort to save his miserable skin.  He was taken prisoner and is now warbling like a sparrow.in Homs as a guest of the Air Force Intelligence Directorate.  Most of the terrorists had code names indicating origins in Idlib.  Two of the dead terrorists were foreigners who have yet to identified.  But, my source tells me that the foreigners were fluent in Arabic.

The SAA has to be credited with the superhuman ability to patiently collect Intel and use it with remarkable precision.  It was not easy to constantly follow the movements of these rats back and forth from Iraq to Syria.

The SAA commandos seized 3 flatbeds containing a mother lode of information about the ISIS criminal organization.

This morning, on Saturday, the hostages were repatriated to a tumultuous reception during which all the attendees expressed their gratitude to the great Syrian Army.

_____________________________________________

NEWS AND COMMENT:

John Esq. sends this one about how the Iraqis are trying to please the Americans by distancing themselves from Syrian commercial aircraft.

https://southfront.org/iraq-imposes-sanctions-on-two-syrian-airline-companies/

 

 

 

 

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