The national security case against TPP, By John Adams, BG USA (Ret), The Hill, 17 Aug 16 “……..Our military is now shockingly vulnerable to major disruptions in the supply chain, including from substandard manufacturing practices, natural disasters, and price gouging by foreign nations. Poor manufacturing practices in offshore factories lead to problem-plagued products, and foreign producers—acting on the basis of their own military or economic interests—can sharply raise prices or reduce or stop sales to the United States.
Going Out’ to Hinkley Point? China’s Uncertain Future in International Energy China’s ambition to become a global energy power will have to overcome geopolitical hurdles, The Diplomat By Mykael Goodsell-SooTho August 18, 2016 “…….Recently, China has faced a number of setbacks which demonstrate several countries’ apprehension at the prospect of Chinese involvement in their energy infrastructure. Last week, the Australian government threw a wrench into the plans of China’s State Grid Corporation and Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings by preliminarily barring their bids for a controlling stake in Ausgrid, the country’s largest electricity network. This came just weeks after a similar decision by the U.K. government to postpone approval of the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor project pending a comprehensive review of the plans. In both instances, officials have cited security concerns surrounding Chinese involvement in British and Australian energy infrastructure as primary reasons for the countries’ hesitance to conclude the deals. Whether or not these worries are well-founded, they constitute a significant obstacle to Chinese energy companies’ international ambitions.
http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/romania-denies-nuclear-weapons-transfer-on-its-soil-08-18-2016 Bucharest officials have denied media reports that US nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey are being transferred to Romania after the coup attempt against the Ankara government. Marian Chiriac
BIRN Bucharest -The Romanian foreign ministry, MAE on Thursday dismissed claims that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons from Turkey to Romania amid tensions in relations between Washington and Ankara.
“The MAE firmly rejects these pieces of information,” the ministry said in a press release, without elaborating.
Defence Minister Mihnea Motoc said that such media reports were just speculation and “so far there have not been any plans or discussions [among NATO members] on this topic”.
The statements came after website Euractiv reported on Thursday morning that more than 20 B61 nuclear weapons were being moved from Turkey’s Incirlik air base to the Deveselu base in Romania.
According to one of the two anonymous sources quoted by Euractiv, “US-Turkey relations had deteriorated so much following the [recent attempted] coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara to host the weapons”.
US and Turkish officials made no immediate response to Euractiv’s request for a comment. NATO said however that US allies must ensure that “all components of NATO’s nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure, and effective”.
In Romania, analysts said they doubted whether the transfer would happen. “Such a transfer is very challenging in technical and political terms. I doubt the Alliance would run against its political commitments to cooperation with Moscow, based on the Founding Act of mutual relations and security between NATO and Russia,” said political analist Andrei Tarnea.
The Founding Act, signed in 1997, says NATO allies “have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members [such as Romania], nor any need to change any aspect of NATO’s nuclear posture or nuclear policy – and do not foresee any future need to do so”.
Jeffrey Lewis, director of non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, said in a Twitter post that Romania does not have the capacity to store the weapons. “For one thing, there are no WS3 vaults at Deveselu – or anywhere in Romania – to store the B61s,” Lewis said.
In December 2015, the US Navy formally inaugurated its new missile defence base in Deveselu in southern Romania. The base became operational in mid-May this year. It is one of two European land-based interceptor sites for a NATO missile shield, a scheme which is viewed with deep suspicion by Russia.
Russia has warned Romania to abandon the anti-missile system that the US is installing at Deveselu. Relations between Bucharest and Moscow are already rocky. Romania has been among the strongest regional backers of the package of Western sanctions imposed on Russia in connection with the crisis in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
Romania also hosts another major US military base, at Mihail Kogalniceanu airport, near the Black Sea, which became operational in 2007.
To Address Nuclear Threat, We Must Talk To North Korea http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-h-hamilton/to-address-nuclear-threat_b_11572840.html Isolated and secretive, North Korea presents the United States with a unique challenge we cannot ignore. The North Korean nuclear arsenal is becoming steadily more alarming, and it is past time for the United States to get serious about the threat.
The Obama administration has pursued a policy of “strategic patience,” which includes applying international sanctions and waiting for North Korea to move away from its nuclear program or for the government to collapse. It hasn’t been enough.
The good news is that the region has been relatively stable. But our policy has not changed North Korea’s behavior. Economic sanctions imposed in response to nuclear tests and missile launches are hurting, but they have not threatened the regime’s survival.
Meanwhile, North Korea’s nuclear arsenal continues to grow in defiance of United Nations resolutions; and so does its capacity to threaten its neighbors and even the U.S. It is time to revise our strategy.
For North Korea, its nuclear program is essential to its identity as a nation. It has an estimated 10 to 20 nuclear devices and is developing a new nuclear weapon every six weeks or so. It has both short- and long-range missiles and is constantly trying to improve their effectiveness. It hopes to be able to target the U.S. mainland. An underground nuclear test and unsuccessful satellite launch early this year suggest it is seriously pursuing that goal.
North Korea is the weakest power in Northeast Asia, but it has played its limited hand fairly well. With no real allies, it may well be the most isolated nation on Earth. Life for most of its citizens is unrelentingly harsh. Poverty is widespread, and the country’s per-capita GDP is among the lowest outside of Africa, according to the CIA.
Little is known about its young ruler, 32-year-old Kim Jong Un. He is mysterious, unpredictable and dangerous. He has consolidated power, purging many government officials and promoting others. He obviously wants to keep control and has continued to maintain a rigidly nationalistic and repressive state.
China has more influence with North Korea than any other country, in part because up to 90 percent of North Korea’s international trade is with China. In the U.S., we are continually urging China to get tougher with North Korea.
But while China is no fan of North Korea’s nuclear program, it does not see the country as an imminent threat. China benefits from its neighbor’s stability, fearing a collapse there would create chaos and violence on the Korean peninsula and send refugees surging across the border into China.
For the United States, North Korea’s nuclear program should be cause for alarm but not panic. We can’t do much to influence such an isolated country, but we should not ignore the options we do have. We urgently need to pursue a political process aimed at freezing North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
And like it or not, we can’t solve the problem of a nuclear-armed North Korea without talking to them. Talking with North Korea will not be popular, but it has become necessary.
Previous multi-party talks addressing North Korea’s nuclear program fell apart in the face of North Korean intransigence. Since then, the U.S. has said we will return to the negotiating table only if North Korea moves away from its nuclear weapons program, a precondition that has ensured no talks.
To continue that stance would be a mistake. We should be prepared to resume talks without preconditions. It may be that the Obama administration is moving away from such preconditions. But we have not yet sat down to talk.
None of this is to suggest that talks with North Korea would be easy or would yield prompt results. We should continue using sanctions and attempting to hold government leaders responsible for their decisions. But along with pressure, we need to add a strong political and diplomatic component to our efforts.
At the same time, the U.S. and its partners must be prepared in the event North Korea collapses. The immediate challenge for the international community would be to seize or destroy North Korea’s nuclear arsenal to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
In all of these efforts, we need to work closely with other Asian nations – especially China. We must find a way to persuade North Korea that the path to security and stability lies in moving away from isolation and secrecy, not in pursuing nuclear strength.
Lee H. Hamilton is a Distinguished Scholar, Indiana University School of Global and International Studies; Professor of Practice, IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs; and Senior Advisor, IU Center on Representative Government. He served as U.S. Representative from Indiana’s 9th Congressional District from 1965-1999.
President Reagan worked with Russia to defuse the nuclear arms race; time that President Obama did that, too
An Urgent History Lesson in Diplomacy with Russia, CounterPunch, 12 Aug 16 by RENEE PARSONS As prospects for peace appear dim in places like the Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan and now with a renewed bombing of Libya, the President of the United States (and his heiress apparent) continue to display an alarming lack of understanding of the responsibilities as the nation’s highest elected officer. As has been unsuccessfully litigated, Article II of the Constitution does not give the President right to start war; only Congress is granted that authority (See Article I, Section 8).
So for the nation’s Chief Executive Officer to willy-nilly arbitrarily decide to bomb here and bomb there and bomb everywhere in violation of the Constitution might be sufficient standard for that CEO to be regarded as a war criminal. Surely, consistently upping the stakes with a strong US/NATO military presence in the Baltics with the US Navy regularly cruising the Black and Baltic Seas, accompanied by a steady stream of confrontational language and picking a fight with a nuclear-armed Russia may not be the best way to achieve peace……
Reagan, who was ready to engage in extensive personal diplomacy, was an unlikely peacemaker yet he achieved an historic accomplishment in the nuclear arms race that is especially relevant today as NATO/US are reintroducing nuclear weapons into eastern Europe……
According to Jack Matlock who served as Reagan’s senior policy coordinator for Russia and later US Ambassador to Russia in his book, “Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended,” one of Reagan’s pre-meeting [with Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev] notes to himself read “avoid any demand for regime change.” From the beginning, one of Reagan’s goals was to establish a relationship that would be able to overcome whatever obstacles or conflicts may arise with the goal of preventing a thermonuclear war. …
After a lengthy personal, private conversation, it became obvious that the two men had struck a cord of mutual respect…. At the conclusion of Geneva, a shared trust necessary to begin sober negotiations to ban nuclear weapons had been established. Both were well aware that the consequences of nuclear war would be a devastation to mankind, the world’s greatest environmental disaster. At the end of their Geneva meeting, Reagan and Gorbachev agreed that “nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”……
In December of 1987, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in Washington DC to sign the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (including Short Range Missiles) known as the INF Treaty. The Treaty eliminated 2,611 ground launched ballistic and cruise missile systems with a range of between 500 and 5500 kilometers (310 -3,400 miles). Paris is 2,837 (1,762 miles) kilometers from Moscow.
In May 1988, the INF Treaty was ratified by the US Senate in a surprising vote of 93 – 5 (four Republicans and one Democrat opposed) and by May, 1991, all Pershing I missiles in Europe had been dismantled. Verification of Compliance of the INF Treaty, delayed because of the USSR breakup, was completed in December, 2001.
At an outdoor press briefing during their last meeting together and after the INF was implemented, Reagan put his arm around Gorbachev. A reporter asked if he still believed in the ‘evil empire’ and Reagan answered ‘no.” When asked why, he replied “I was talking about another time, another era.”……..
As the current US President and Nobel Peace Prize winner prepares to leave office with a record of a Tuesday morning kill list, unconscionable drone attacks on civilians, initiating bombing campaigns where there were none prior to his election and, of course, taunting Russian President Vladimir Putin with unsubstantiated allegations, the US-backed NATO has scheduled AEGIS anti ballistic missile shields to be constructed in Romania and Poland, challenging the integrity of INF Treaty for the first time in almost thirty years.
In what may shed new light on NATO/US build-up in eastern Europe, Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov denied US charges in June, 2015 that Russia had violated the Treaty and that the US had “failed to provide evidence of Russian breaches.” Commenting on US plans to deploy land-based missiles in Europe as a possible response to the alleged “Russian aggression” in the Ukraine, Lavrov warned that ‘‘building up militarist rhetoric is absolutely counterproductive and harmful.’ Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov suggested the United States was leveling accusations against Russia in order to justify its own military plans.
In early August, the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration authorized the final development phase (prior to actual production in 2020) of the B61-21 nuclear bomb at a cost of $350 – $450 billion. A thermonuclear weapon with the capability of reaching Europe and Moscow, the B61-21 is part of President Obama’s $1 trillion request for modernizing the US aging and outdated nuclear weapon arsenal.
Isn’t it about time for the President to do something to earn that Peace Prize? http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/12/an-urgent-history-lesson-in-diplomacy-with-russia/
Russia builds underground bunkers strong enough to survive a nuclear war, INQUISITR, Tara Dodrill 17 Aug 16 The Russians are reportedly building dozens of underground bunkers. The bunkers are not just simple underground storage units. They reportedly have been constructed in a manner that would allow them to survive a nuclear war.
A shocking report by United States intelligence officials also revealed the nuclear-proof bunkers have been under construction for several years in Russia, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
“Russia is getting ready for a big war which they assume will go nuclear, with them launching the first attacks,” former Pentagon nuclear policy official Mark Schneider said. “We are not serious about preparing for a big war, much less a nuclear war.”
Since the Cold War ended, both Russia and the United States had been working to reduce their respective nuclear arsenals. However, news of the underground bunkers and reports of enhanced missile production in the former Soviet Union have caused concern among some national security and intelligence officials.
Russia built similar underground bunkers during the peak of the Cold War, the Daily Mail reports. The bunkers were reportedly built underground in both Moscow and in the Ural Mountains.
Designed to sustain an atomic blast, the underground bunkers are also reportedly being built in Moscow. A report from the state-run media in Russia maintains the project is part of a “new national security strategy.”
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Vladimir Putin vowed to possess both the largest and best-equipped military in the world by 2020…….
The Russian bunkers are reportedly costing the nation billions. According to the Daily Mail, some are wondering if Putin is using aid funds from the United States to help cover the construction costs. Military and intelligence experts are predicting American officials will respond to the stunning turn of events by creating new deep-penetrating nuclear weapons that are capable of reaching and destroying the underground bunkers……http://www.inquisitr.com/3423417/russia-builds-underground-bunkers-strong-enough-to-survive-a-nuclear-war/
NAYANIMA BASU NEW DELHI, 16 AUGUST: The ratification of India-Japan Civil Nuclear deal is likely to be delayed further.
“It is unlikely that the Diet (wich is likely to meet for a special session end of next month) will take up the India-Japan Civil Nuclear deal for ratification. There are still some issues that need to be discussed,” a top official, involved in the talks, told BusinessLine.
The Diet had its session last in June. However, this year it will be meeting once again, which is also known as an extraordinary session from September 26.
However, like last time, it seems even in this session the nuclear deal with India will not go through due to “domestic pressure and compulsions”, according to the official. Once the Diet ratifies the deal, the deal will be officially signed.
According to sources, Japan has not been able to build a support for the deal within its political sections, as there are apprehensions that export of Japanese nuclear technology might get routed for military purposes.
There are also “strong concerns” on the Japanese side regarding nuclear cooperation because India is still not a signatory to nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The India-Japan Civil Nuclear deal had been under discussion for over six years now………
Meanwhile, India is also concerned with the fact that technical negotiations on the deal might take a backseat as the Japanese Cabinet has undergone a major reshuffle. Japan now has a new Defence Minister Tomomi Inada, who is known to be having anti-nuclear agenda……http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/ratification-of-india-japan-civil-nuclear-deal-may-face-further-delay/article8995337.ece
- The NZ public overwhelmingly supports its anti-nuclear stance
- The US suspended its ANZUS obligations to NZ after its destroyer was denied access in 1985
- Peace protests expected when non-nuclear ships visit NZ in November
When the NZ Navy celebrates its 75th birthday in November, US warships will be there. It will be the first time any American military ship has entered a New Zealand port since the country’s controversial anti-nuclear legislation was passed in 1987.
“What this means is that any ship that comes here will be coming on New Zealand’s terms,” says investigative journalist Nicky Hager, a key figure in the anti-nuclear movement at the time.
“Our terms were set 30 years ago with the nuclear-free policy.”
Peace campaigner and former Green MP, Keith Locke, agrees. “It is recognition that most of the New Zealand public does not want nuclear ships and the US cannot get around that,” he says.
Anti-nuclear stance strains relationship with US
The stand taken by the comparatively tiny nation caused a rift between the allies which has lasted three decades, and has been likened to a mouse that roared.
New Zealand’s anti-nuclear movement was spurred to action when France tested nuclear weapons at Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia in the 1960s. More than 80,000 New Zealanders signed a petition calling for a nuclear-free Southern Hemisphere.
“It was the biggest petition anywhere since the Suffragettes’ campaign of the 1890s,” Mr Locke says.
The anti-nuclear mood gripped the nation. Visiting US warships powered by small nuclear reactors sparked massive protests in the 1970s and 1980s, drawing thousands onto the streets…….
The nuclear ship ban has been a central pillar of New Zealand’s foreign policy ever since.
Warships from other nuclear-weapons states, such as the UK and China, have docked in New Zealand ports because they were prepared to declare their vessels “nuclear-free”.
However, the US stuck rigidly to its policy of “neither confirming nor denying” if a ship was nuclear-armed or powered. And that has kept American naval vessels out…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-13/new-zealand-celebrates-anti-nuclear-victory-over-united-states/7731644
Hinkley Point near melt-down as French socialist party calls for freeze, Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard 9 AUGUST 2016 Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear project is close to unravelling after France’s ruling socialist party threw its support behind dissident trade union leaders and called for a fundamental review of the high-cost venture.
The whole saga has now become freighted with politics and misunderstandings in a three-way jostle between France, Britain, and China, with no outcome in sight that can please everybody.
The French socialists warned that Hinkley threatens the financial viability of EDF, the state-owned energy giant responsible for two thirds of the £18bn funding and for limitless liabilities if it all goes wrong.
“The socialist party judges that a project of such importance, that involves the solidity and survival of the national energy group, makes it imperative to ask every question and raise every reserve before going any further,” it said.
It endorsed a furious complaint by the six trade union members on the EDF board, who said the final go-ahead for the project was rammed through in late July without full disclosure in a “governance scandal”, and that the decision is now “null and void”.
Brexit has further changed the landscape and brought matters to a head. “The whole relationship with Britain, whether political or economic, must be reviewed in light of its withdrawal from the EU, and a project as important as Hinkley Point cannot reasonably be exempted,” said the party………
Nuclear power cannot easily be switched on and off. It is ill-adapted for use as a back-up source to cover lulls in renewable power. “In a world moving towards cheaper, flexible, decentralized power systems, investing in eye-wateringly expensive, always-on ‘base-load’ plants increasingly looks like a 20th Century solution for a 21stCentury problem,” said Richard Black from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.
If the chief reason for continuing the project is to preserve good relations with France and China, the whole story is a textbook example of why it is hazardous to strike commercial deals with foreign state-owned companies. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/08/09/hinkley-point-near-melt-down-as-french-socialist-party-calls-for/
That’s not sitting well with China.
“Right now, the China-U.K. relationship is at a crucial historical juncture,” China’s ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, wrote in an article for the Financial Times.
“I hope the U.K. will keep its door open to China and that the British government will continue to support Hinkley Point — and come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed smoothly,” he added.His warning comes at a delicate time for the U.K. economy. The Bank of England last week forecast lost growth and higher unemployment as it cut interest rates in response to the decision to leave the European Union.
Having thrown the future of its relationship with its biggest trading partner up in the air, Britain is looking to boost trade and investment ties with the rest of the world.
Liu pointed out in his article that Chinese companies have invested more in the U.K. over the past five years than in France, Germany and Italy combined. China also accounted for just over 3% of U.K. exports last year.
Under the deal announced in October, China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) would have a 33.5% stake in the power plant. France’s EDF (ECIFY) will hold the rest.
The bigger prize for China, though, is a related deal to build another nuclear power plant some 60 miles northeast of London, using its own reactor technology. It would have 66.5% of that venture.
May hasn’t given much away about her reasons for delaying the decision on Hinkley Point.
But the deal was controversial from the start, with critics warning that giving China access to vital infrastructure could compromise national security. The plan has also come under fire for guaranteeing an electricity price way above market levels……… http://money.cnn.com/2016/08/09/news/companies/china-uk-nuclear-power-plant-hinkley/
Chinese firm with military ties invited to bid for role in UK’s nuclear future,
China National Nuclear Corporation on government list of preferred bidders for development funding for next-generation modular reactors, Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 8 Aug 16, A controversial Chinese company has been selected to bid for millions of pounds of public money in a UK government competition to develop mini nuclear power stations.
The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) features twice in a government list of 33 projects and companies deemed eligible to compete for a share in up to £250m to develop so-called small modular reactors (SMR).
The involvement of a different Chinese company in the high-profile Hinkley Point C project in Somerset was widely believed to have prompted the government’s decision to pause the deal at the 11th hour last month.
Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s co-chief of staff, has previously expressed alarm at the prospect of CNNC having such close access to the UK’s energy infrastructure because it would give the state-owned firm the potential ability to build weaknesses into computer systems.
The company was formerly China’s Ministry of Nuclear Industry and developed the country’s atomic bomb and nuclear submarines, as well as being a key player in its nuclear power industry.
“For those who believe that such an eventuality [shutting down UK energy at will] is unlikely, the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation – one of the state-owned companies involved in the plans for the British nuclear plants – says on its website that it is responsible not just for ‘increasing the value of state assets and developing the society’ but the ‘building of national defence’,” he wrote.
Tom Burke, chairman of the environment thinktank E3G and a former British government adviser, said there were legitimate concerns over the company. “I don’t fuss very much about the Chinese owning a nuclear power station [China General Nuclear in the case of Hinkley]. But I would be much more concerned about bringing in CNNC because they are known to be much more closely involved with the military and Chinese nuclear weapons programmes,” he said.
CNNC was not involved in the original Hinkley deal but it was reported on Sunday that the company has agreed in principle to buy half of China’s 33% stake in the £24bn project if it goes ahead…….. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/07/chinese-firm-with-military-ties-invited-to-bid-for-role-in-uks-nuclear-future
Israel minister admits Iran has respected nuclear deal, Yahoo 7 News, AFP on August 7, 2016 Jerusalem Israel’s energy minister on Sunday criticised a landmark nuclear accord between the Jewish state’s arch-foe Iran and world powers but said Tehran had so far respected the deal.
The agreement, which was signed in July 2015 and came into force in January, saw Tehran accept curbs to its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of economic sanctions by world powers.
“It’s a bad deal but it’s an accomplished fact and during the first year we spotted no significant breach from the Iranians,” said Youval Steinitz, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“But it’s still too early to conclude that this 12-year deal is a success,” he told public radio.
Steinitz’s comments came after US President Barack Obama on Thursday defended the accord…..https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/32262076/israel-minister-admits-iran-has-respected-nuclear-deal/#page1
North Korea accuses US of planning nuclear strike, 9 News, 8 Aug 16 North Korea has accused Washington of planning a pre-emptive nuclear strike, after the US announced it would deploy its B-1 bomber in the Pacific for the first time in a decade.
The strategic aircraft were to be deployed on Saturday on the US island of Guam, the US military said last month, describing the operation as a routine rotation with the B-52 bomber.
Tensions have been running high since North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a barrage of missile launches that this month reached Japanese waters directly for the first time.
On July 29, the US Air Force said it would upgrade its hardware on Guam, a US territory in the western Pacific, by sending the B-1 for the first time since April 2006.
“The B-1 will provide US Pacific Command and its regional allies and partners with a credible, strategic power projection platform,” it said in a statement…….. http://www.9news.com.au/world/2016/08/07/11/43/north-korea-accuses-us-of-planning-nuclear-strike#MmhgdfqtXxMPWwiv.99
The Danger of Excessive Trump Bashing http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/38405-the-danger-of-excessive-trump-bashing , Consortium News 04 August 16
The prospect of Donald Trump in the White House alarms many people but bashing him over his contrarian views on NATO and U.S.-Russian relations could set the stage for disasters under President Hillary Clinton, writes Robert Parry. Widespread disdain for Donald Trump and the fear of what his presidency might mean have led to an abandonment of any sense of objectivity by many Trump opponents and, most notably, the mainstream U.S. news media. If Trump is for something, it must be bad and must be transformed into one more club to use for hobbling his candidacy.
While that attitude may be understandable given Trump’s frequently feckless and often offensive behavior – he seems not to know basic facts and insults large swaths of the world’s population – this Trump bashing also has dangerous implications because some of his ideas deserve serious debate rather than blanket dismissal.
Amid his incoherence and insults, Trump has raised valid points on several important questions, such as the risks involved in the voracious expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders and the wisdom of demonizing Russia and its internally popular President Vladimir Putin.
Over the past several years, Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment has pushed a stunning policy of destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia in pursuit of a “regime change” in Moscow. This existentially risky strategy has taken shape with minimal substantive debate behind a “group think” driven by anti-Russian and anti-Putin propaganda. (All we hear is what’s wrong with Putin and Russia: He doesn’t wear a shirt! He’s the new Hitler! Putin and Trump have a bro-mance! Russian aggression! Their athletes cheat!)
Much as happened in the run-up to the disastrous Iraq War in 2002-2003, the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies bully from the public square anyone who doesn’t share these views. Any effort to put Russia’s behavior in context makes you a “Putin apologist,” just like questioning the Iraq-WMD certainty of last decade made you a “Saddam apologist.”
But this new mindlessness – now justified in part to block Trump’s path to the White House – could very well set the stage for a catastrophic escalation of big-power tensions under a Hillary Clinton presidency. Former Secretary of State Clinton has already surrounded herself with neocons and liberal hawks who favor expanding the war against Syria’s government, want to ratchet up tensions with Iran, and favor shipping arms to the right-wing and virulently anti-Russian regime in Ukraine, which came to power in a 2014 coup supported by U.S. policymakers and money.
By lumping Trump’s few reasonable points together with his nonsensical comments – and making anti-Russian propaganda the only basis for any public debate – Democrats and the anti-Trump press are pushing the United States toward a conflict with Russia.
And, for a U.S. press corps that prides itself on its “objectivity,” this blatantly biased approach toward a nominee of a major political party is remarkably unprofessional. But the principle of objectivity has been long since abandoned as the mainstream U.S. media transformed itself into little more than an outlet for U.S. government foreign-policy narratives, no matter how dishonest or implausible.
To conform with the neocon-driven narratives, much recent history has been lost. For instance, few Americans realize that some of President Barack Obama’s most notable foreign policy achievements resulted from cooperation with Putin and Russia, arguably more so than any other “friendly” leader or “allied” nation.
For instance, in summer 2013, Obama was under intense neocon/liberal-hawk pressure to bomb the Syrian military supposedly for crossing his “red line” against the use of chemical weapons after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2103.
Yet, hearing doubts from the U.S. intelligence community about the Assad regime’s guilt, Obama balked at a military strike that – we now know – would have played into the hands of Syrian jihadists who some intelligence analysts believe were the ones behind the false-flag sarin attack to trick the United States into directly intervening in the civil war on their side.
But Obama still needed a path out of the corner that he had painted himself into and it was provided by Putin and Russia pressuring Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons, a clear victory for Obama regardless of who was behind the sarin attack.
Putin and Russia helped Obama again in convincing Iran to accept tight restraints on its nuclear program, an agreement that may mark Obama’s most significant foreign policy success. Those negotiations came to life in 2013 (not coincidentally after Secretary of State Clinton, who allied herself more with the bomb-bomb-bomb Iran faction led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had resigned and was replaced by John Kerry).
As the negotiating process evolved, Russia played a key role in bringing Iran along, offering ways for Iran to rid itself of its processed nuclear stockpiles and get the medical research materials it needed. Without the assistance of Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the landmark Iranian nuclear deal might never have happened.
Obama recognized the value of this Russian help but he also understood the political price that he would pay if he were closely associated with Putin, who was already undergoing a thorough demonization in the U.S. and European mainstream media. So, Obama mostly worked with Putin under the table while joining in the ostracism of Putin above the table.
But Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment – and its allied mainstream media – check-mated Obama’s double-talking game in 2013 by aggressively supporting a regime-change strategy in Ukraine where pro-Russian elected President Viktor Yanukovych was under mounting pressure from western Ukrainians who wanted closer ties to Europe and who hated Russia.
Leading neocon thinkers unveiled their new Ukraine strategy shortly after Putin helped scuttle their dreams for a major bombing campaign against Assad’s regime in Syria. Since the 1990s, the neocons had targeted the Assad dynasty – along with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq and the Shiite-controlled government in Iran – for “regime change.” The neocons got their way in Iraq in 2003 but their program stalled because of the disastrous Iraq War.
However, in 2013, the neocons saw their path forward open again in Syria, especially after the sarin attack, which killed hundreds of civilians and was blamed on Assad in a media-driven rush to judgment. Obama’s hesitancy to strike and then Putin’s assistance in giving Obama a way out left the neocons furious. They began to recognize the need to remove Putin if they were to proceed with their Mideast “regime change” dreams.
In late September 2013 – a month after Obama ditched the plans to bomb Syria – neocon National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman wrote in The Washington Post that Ukraine was now “the biggest prize” but also was a steppingstone toward the even bigger “regime change” prize in Moscow. Gershman, whose NED is funded by Congress, wrote:
“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”
By late 2013 and early 2014, with Gershman’s NED financing Ukraine’s anti-government activists and journalists and with the open encouragement of neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain, the prospects for “regime change” in Ukraine were brightening. With neo-Nazi and other Ukrainian ultra-nationalists firebombing police, the political crisis in Kiev deepened.
Meanwhile, Putin was focused on the Sochi Winter Olympics and the threat that the games could be disrupted by terrorism. So, with the Kremlin distracted, Ukraine’s Yanukovych tried to fend off his political crisis while limiting the violence.
However, on Feb. 20, 2014, snipers fired on both police and protesters in the Maidan square and the Western media jumped to the conclusion that Yanukovych was responsible (even though later investigations have indicated that the sniper attack was more likely carried out by neo-Nazi groups to provoke the chaos that followed).
A Successful Coup
On Feb. 21, a shaken Yanukovych agreed to a European-brokered deal in which he surrendered some of his powers and agreed to early elections. He also succumbed to Western pressure that he pull back his police. However, on Feb. 22, the neo-Nazis and other militants seized on that opening to take over government buildings and force Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives.
The U.S. State Department and its Western allies quickly recognized the coup regime as the “legitimate” government of Ukraine. But the coup provoked resistance from the ethnic Russian populations in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, political uprisings that the new Kiev regime denounced as “terrorist” and countered with an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” or ATO.
When Russian troops – already in Crimea as part of the Sevastopol naval basing agreement – protected the people on the peninsula from attacks by the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, the intervention was denounced in the West as a “Russian invasion.” Crimean authorities also organized a referendum in which more than 80 percent of the voters participated and favored leaving Ukraine and rejoining Russia by a 96 percent margin. When Moscow agreed, that became “Russian aggression.”
Although the Kremlin refused appeals from eastern Ukraine for a similar arrangement, Russia provided some assistance to the rebels resisting the new authorities in Ukraine. Those rebels then declared their own autonomous republics.
Although this historical reality – if understood by the American people – would put the Ukrainian crisis in a very different context, it has been effectively blacked out of what the American public is allowed to hear. All the mainstream media talks about is “Russian aggression” and how Putin provoked the Ukraine crisis as part of some Hitlerian plan to conquer Europe.
Trump, in his bumbling way, tries to reference the real history to explain his contrarian views regarding Russia, Ukraine and NATO, but he is confronted by a solid wall of “group think” asserting only one acceptable way to see this complex crisis. Rather than allow a serious debate on these very serious issues, the mainstream U.S. media simply laughs at Trump’s supposed ignorance.
The grave danger from this media behavior is that it will empower the neocons and liberal hawks already nesting inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign to prepare for a new series of geopolitical provocations once Clinton takes office. By opportunistically buying into this neocon pro-war narrative now, Democrats may find themselves with buyer’s remorse as they become the war party of 2017.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
How Safe Are US Nuclear Weapons in Turkey?, VOA, Sharon Behn 5 Aug 16, U.S. B61 nuclear bombs are equipped with “permissive action links” or PALs, which prevent arming and using the weapon without an authorization code. They are kept on special racks, inside secure underground vaults, inside protected aircraft shelters, inside a heavily guarded area, surrounded by two layers of fencing, lighting, cameras and intrusion detection devices, on protected airbases.
But this particular airbase, Incirlik, is in southern Turkey. The Turkish commander of the base recently was frog-marched off in handcuffs after being accused of involvement in last month’s failed coup against the government.
And that is the problem, says nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis of theMiddlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterrey, California.
“I think in the near term they are very safe,” Lewis said of the bombs in an interview with VOA. “But there are no security measures that would be sufficient against a host state that is trying to seize them, so generally speaking, it is not a good idea to have nuclear weapons in a politically unstable country.”
Although the July 15 military-led coup failed to unseat the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the authoritarian leader retaliated with a massive purge of the country’s military, judiciary, media and educational institutions.
World leaders have reacted with unease.
And so have experts in nuclear weapons policy. “There are a lot of tough barriers, but incidents and accidents have a nasty way of happening,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Federation of American Scientists‘ nuclear information project.
According to Amy Woolf, a specialist in nuclear weapons policy at theCongressional Research Service, the U.S. has around 200 B61 bombs located around Europe……..Up to 50 of those bombs are believed to be in Incirlik………
Kristensen said, given the political situation in Turkey and the fact that the base is less than 100 miles from the war zone in Syria, it might be time to consider moving the weapons.
“You only get so many warnings before something goes terribly wrong, and there are plenty of warnings in the region now,” Kristensen said. http://www.voanews.com/content/how-safe-are-the-us-nuclear-weapons-in-turkey/3451193.html
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