‘President Bush should be criminally investigated for torture’ [RT]

After the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the US has come under intense scrutiny for its use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ that many experts have called torture. Now there are calls to bring those responsible in the US government to justice. Philippe Sands is a Professor of Law at University College, London. In his new book “Torture Team”, Sands explores the legality and ramifications of the US program of state-sponsored torture behind closed doors at Guantanamo Bay. In an RT interview, Sands discusses the possibility of one day bringing those responsible to justice.

 

U.S. Amasses Stealth-Jet Armada Near Iran [wired]

The U.S. Air Force is quietly assembling the world’s most powerful air-to-air fighting team at bases near Iran. Stealthy F-22 Raptors on their first front-line deployment have joined a potent mix of active-duty and Air National Guard F-15 Eagles, including some fitted with the latest advanced radars. The Raptor-Eagle team has been honing special tactics for clearing the air of Iranian fighters in the event of war.

 

The fighters join a growing naval armada that includes Navy carriers, submarines, cruisers and destroyers plus patrol boats and minesweepers enhanced with the latest close-in weaponry.

It’s been years since the Air Force has maintained a significant dogfighting presence in the Middle East. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq Boeing-made F-15Cs flew air patrols from Saudi Arabia, but the Iraqi air force put up no resistance and the Eagle squadrons soon departed. For the next nine years Air Force deployments to the Middle East were handled by ground-attack planes such as A-10s, F-16s and twin-seat F-15E Strike Eagles.

The 1980s-vintage F-15Cs, plagued by structural problems, stayed home in the U.S. and Japan. The brand-new F-22s, built by Lockheed Martin, suffered their own mechanical and safety problems. When they ventured from their home bases in Virginia, Alaska and New Mexico, it was only for short training exercises over the Pacific. The F-15Cs and F-22s sat out last year’s Libya war.

The Air Force fixed the F-15s and partially patched up the F-22s just in time for the escalating stand-off over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program. In March the Air Force deployed the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing, flying 20 standard F-15Cs, to an “undisclosed” air base in Southwest Asia — probably either Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates or Al Udeid in Qatar. The highly-experienced Massachusetts Guardsmen, who typically have several years more experience than their active-duty counterparts, would be ready “should Iran test the 104th,” said wing commander Col. Robert Brooks.

Read more

US drone attacks kill 29 in eastern Somalia [PressTV]

US assassination drone strikes have claimed the lives of at least 29 people in eastern Somalia, Press TV has learned.

A US assassination drone. (File Photo)

Dozens more have been injured in the attacks in the eastern town of Balad.

The attacks reportedly destroyed at least three al-Shabab militant bases. This comes a day after African Union and Somali troops captured Balad.

US assassination drones attacked the militants’ Harweyne training base in Elasha Biyaha on the outskirts of Mogadishu on Friday, leaving at least 39 dead.

Washington has carried out assassination attacks using the unmanned aircraft in other countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen. 

The United States claims the CIA-run strikes are aimed at militants. But witness reports and figures offered by local authorities indicate the attacks are taking a heavy toll on civilians.

Read more

US and Israel to hold largest ever joint military exercise []

Guess why..

Focusing on stopping ballistic missiles and featuring thousands of soldiers, the October drill will simulate simultaneous rocket fire from Syria and Iran

A US Army Patriot Missile launcher (photo credit: US Army/Wikipedia)

Israel and the US are set to hold their largest ever joint military exercise in October, featuring thousands of soldiers and advanced anti-missile defense systems, and simulating simultaneous fire from Iran and Syria.

News of the drill comes amid ongoing violence in Syria, and with Israel and the US closely discussing the means to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive. The commander of the 3rd Air Force, Lt.-Gen.Craig A. Franklin, on a recent visit to Israel, established a planning committee with representatives of the IDF to coordinate the details of the exercise, the Maariv Hebrew daily reported Monday. Some 3,000 US soldiers are to participate, alongside thousands of Israeli troops.

The drill will simulate missiles being fired at Israel from Iran and Syria simultaneously, with potentially tens, if not hundreds, of rockets mid-air at the same time. Israel will test its upgraded Arrow 2 defense system, while the US will deploy the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System andPAC-3 Patriot air defense platforms.

Read more

Medal of Dishonour: US veterans dump awards outraged by endless wars

About time they realize they are not fighting for their country.

Exposing Obama’s not-so-secret war [Politico]

Washington has many “secrets,” but few secrets. The Obama administration will face a test on the difference this month, in a case probing a major national security program.

The administration is defending a federal court challenge to one of its most significant operations in the war against Al Qaeda: the drone program of targeted killings. President Barack Obama’s lawyers insist the entire program is a “secret” — so it can’t even be hauled into court in the first place.

An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field. | AP Photo

We know the program exists, however — thanks to the president’s own statements. We even know a little about how it works, based on the many leaks that drove detailed coverage of the drone killings, including that big New York Times exposé on how the “kill list” is made. Whether those leaks were illegal disclosures or acceptable protocol — often a political distinction — took on a new urgency Friday, when the Justice Department announced an investigation into the administration’s endangered secrets.

To that end, Washington insiders are focused on who is leaking. Is it senior Obama aides intent on burnishing the president’s image, as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) alleged? Is it military officials seeking a strategic edge? To win its case under current law, however, the White House must do more than say it didn’t authorize the recent leaks. It must prove that no one in the administration has “officially acknowledged” the program.

In their court filings, Obama’s lawyers made two big claims that will surprise anyone who clicks through the day’s headlines.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77336.html#ixzz1xqS0qpDl

Pentagon’s Last Frontier: Battle-Hardened Troops Headed to Africa [boilingfrogspost]

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

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

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

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

africa2

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

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

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

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

Read more

Obama’s drone wars and the normalisation of extrajudicial murder [guardian.co.uk]

A Pakistani protest against US drone strikes. The latest two attacks have killed 12 people

A Pakistani protest in June 2012, after two recent US drone strikes killed 12 people. Photograph: SS Mirza/AFP/Getty

In his first campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama promised to reverse the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s approach to terrorism – such as the use of torture, the rendition of terrorist suspects to CIA-run black sites around the globe, and the denial of basic legal rights to prisoners in Guantánamo – and to develop a counterterrorism policy that was consistent with the legal and moral tradition of the United StatesIn an address at the Woodrow Wilson Center in August 2007, Obama criticized the Bush administration for putting forward a “false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand”, and swore to provide “our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our constitution and our freedom”.

As a candidate, Obama also promised to restore proper legislative and judicial oversight to counterterrorism operations. Rather than treat counterterrorism policy as an area of exception, operating without the normal safeguards that protect the rights of the accused, Obama promised that his approach “will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.”

Four years later, it is clear that President Obama has delivered a very different counterterrorism policy from that which he promised on the campaign trail. (Full disclosure: I was an adviser on the Obama campaign’s counterterrorism expert group from July 2007-November 2008.) In fairness, he has delivered on a few of his promises, including closing the CIA-run “black site” prisons abroad and ordering that interrogations of all suspects be conducted according to the US army field manual, which proscribes many of the tactics widely considered torture. And some failures were not wholly his own: Obama’s inability to close Guantánamo Bay was due more to congressional opposition and to an array of legal obstacles than to his own lack of initiative.

Read more

Obama’s virus wars: mutually assured cyber-destruction [TheGuardian]

By officially sanctioned leaks, the US brags of its cyber warfare alliance with Israel against Iran. Is this wise or safe policy?

Recent revelations about Flame, the most sophisticated cyber-worm ever created, and David Sanger’s White House-authorized leak of classified information confirming US-Israeli collaboration in creating the Stuxnet and Duqu viruses, raise the question of how committed the US is to a negotiated resolution of the nuclear impasse with Iran.

A former senior Israeli government minister has told us that, just as Sanger confirmed Stuxnet was created in partnership with the IDF’s Unit 8200 cyber warfare unit, Flame was created by similar figures in Israel. Stuxnet’s main purpose was to sabotage Iran’s uranium enrichment program. A Flame variant appears to have wiped out the hard drives of specific Iranian officials and damaged the National Iranian Oil Company’s computer network last month, forcing some oil terminals to go offline.

Flame has even broader goals and capabilities. It targets specific computers and surveils the entire system, takes screenshots of instant messaging (IM) activity, and can turn on a microphone to monitor audio activity as well. Computers in a number of Arab countries deemed hostile to Israel (mostly Iran, but also Egypt, Jordan, Palestine and Russia) have been infected.

Our source also confirms that Flame is the first cyber weapon used by Israeli intelligence to target its own citizens also. For example, Haaretz reports (Hebrew) on the gargantuan power struggle between the former IDF chief of staff Gaby Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, which involved charges of spying, counter-spying and forged memos investigated by the security services. Our Israeli source tells us that the Shin Bet installed Flame on the computer of Barak’s chief of staff after Ashkenazi complained the former was spying on him.

Sanger, meanwhile, writes that the Obama administration saw cyber warfare as an inexpensive, non-lethal method of covert war against Iran that would keep Israel on a leash, preventing it from attacking Iran militarily. The US president judged a military strike as being a worse evil than computer sabotage.

But there are major problems with cyber warfare as a tool of national policy. First, if the US really does want to reduce Iran’s perceived nuclear threat through negotiations, covert acts of sabotage only hinder such diplomatic efforts. The fiercely nationalist Iranians will not take kindly to such acts, particularly in light of cyber warfare being part of a broader and sometimes lethal campaign widely attributed to the Mossad of Israeland Iranian dissident forces, which has also included the assassination of key Iranian nuclear scientists. Given that oil is vital to Iran’s economy, might not that nation consider the type of strategic sabotage described above as an act of war?

 

Read more

Colin Powell: Another War Criminal Cashes In

From http://truth-out.org/

One could be forgiven for thinking there’s anything honorable or honest about Colin Powell. For more than two decades now the Washington media has portrayed the former Secretary of State as something of a real life action hero, a reluctant warrior whose greatest fault – should they deign to mention any – was just being too darn loyal to a guy named George and his buddy Dick. What you might have missed is that Powell is a war criminal in his own right, one who in more than four decades of “public service” helped kill people from Vietnam to Panama to Iraq who never posed a threat to America. But don’t just take some anti-war activists’ word for it: Powell will proudly tell you as much, so long as he can make a buck from doing it in a book.

Powell’s latest $27.99 account of his legendary life is billed as a “powerful portrait of a leader who is reflective, self-effacing, and grateful for the contributions of everyone he works with.” But the title, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, could very well refer to Powell’s own careerist ambitions: saying and doing whatever served the interests of power – as a young officer in Vietnam, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the illegal invasion of Panama, as Secretary of State under George W. Bush – has worked out tremendously well for the man, if not so much for those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of his public service.

Though billed as a self-effacing, humble leader prepared to admit mistakes, the real Colin Powell is not the one advertised by the P.R. department at HarperCollins. His book makes that clear enough when he discusses his now infamous 2003 presentation before the United Nations on Iraq’s alleged stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction. Nearly every line in that speech has since proven to be false – indeed, much of his presentation was known to be false at the time – but you won’t find Powell owning up to that.

“There is nothing worse than a leader believing he has accurate information when folks who know he doesn’t don’t tell him that he doesn’t,” Powell writes. “I found myself in trouble on more than one occasion because people kept silent when they should have spoken up. My infamous speech at the U.N. in 2003 about Iraqi WMD programs was not based on facts, though I thought it was.”

In other words, according to Powell, the fact that he lied to the American public as well as the international community on the eve of a disastrous war is not his fault – heavens no – but the fault of his anonymous underlings, the allegedly timid State Department staffers who lacked the courage to speak truth to their courageous boss. Like much of Powell’s anecdotes, it’s a tidy little story about leadership that’s about as truthful as his U.N. speech.

The reality is Powell, like most powerful men in Washington, is a well-documented liar. In fact, those State Department employees Powell blames for his repeating thinly sourced lies before the international community did in fact speak up. Powell just ignored them since what they had to say wasn’t convenient to the task at hand: selling an unjust war against a third-rate military power.

As writer Jonathan Schwarz notes, State Department staff actually went through all the claims Powell was to make in his U.N. speech – and they found most of them wanting. But Powell ignored them, boasting that “every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”

Let’s look at a few of those definitely-not-just-assertions. In an effort to dismiss the value of the U.N. weapons inspectors who were on the ground – and not finding anything – Powell declared that the Iraqis had in fact replaced actual scientists in at least one facility with “Iraqi intelligence agents who were to deceive inspectors about the work that was being done there.” However, in a memo prepared by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), that assertion was characterized as “weak” and “not credible.”

It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, by Colin Powell.

Read more

28% of Federal Contract Funds Go to Just 10 Companies…All Make Weapons Systems [allgov.com]

 

If this is the age of budget cutbacks and government austerity, someone ought to tell the Pentagon and its weapons contractors, because they haven’t gotten the memo about shared sacrifice. According to a summary of the top federal contractors produced by the Federal Procurement Data System, the Defense Department gave out $372.8 billion (70%) of the $532.6 billion in government contract spending in fiscal year 2011, with just 10 arms makers accounting for 28% of all contracting dollars, up from 25% a year before, and the top 5 accounting for 20.8%.
This top heavy pattern, in which companies that have fattened themselves for years on the government teat push and shove to crowd out the runts, is even more egregious when one examines the top five providers of military hardware. Lockheed-Martin, which has been the largest government contractor every year since 1995, collected $42.9 billion, an increase of $7.1 billion over 2010 and almost double the haul of Boeing ($22.1 billion), and far ahead of General Dynamics ($19 billion), Raytheon ($14.4 billion) and Northrop Grumman($12.8 billion). Put another way, Lockheed-Martin got 11.5% of defense contract dollars and 8% of all contract funds. Boeing also saw an increase of $2.7 billion.

Pentagon to deploy pint-sized but lethal Switchblade drones

 

Seeking to reduce civilian casualties and collateral damage, the Pentagon will soon deploy a new generation of drones the size of model planes, packing tiny explosive warheads that can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy.

Errant drone strikes have been blamed for killing and injuring scores of civilians throughout Pakistan and Afghanistan, giving the U.S. government a black eye as it targets elusive terrorist groups. The Predator and Reaper drones deployed in these regions typically carry 100-pound laser-guided Hellfire missiles or 500-pound GPS-guided smart bombs that can reduce buildings to smoldering rubble.

The new Switchblade drone, by comparison, weighs less than 6 pounds and can take out a sniper on a rooftop without blasting the building to bits. It also enables soldiers in the field to identify and destroy targets much more quickly by eliminating the need to call in a strike from large drones that may be hundreds of miles away.

“This is a precision strike weapon that causes as minimal collateral damage as possible,” said William I. Nichols, who led the Army’s testing effort of the Switchblades at Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala.

The 2-foot-long Switchblade is so named because its wings fold into the fuselage for transport and spring out after launch. It is designed to fit into a soldier’s rucksack and is fired from a mortar-like tube. Once airborne, it begins sending back live video and GPS coordinates to a hand-held control set clutched by the soldier who launched it.

When soldiers identify and lock on a target, they send a command for the drone to nose-dive into it and detonate on impact. Because of the way it operates, the Switchblade has been dubbed the “kamikaze drone.”

The Obama administration, notably the CIA, has long been lambasted by critics for its use of combat drones and carelessly killing civilians in targeted strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia. In 2010, a United Nations official said the CIA in Pakistan had made the United States “the most prolific user of targeted killings” in the world.

Read more

Pentagon Sanitizes Movies To Make Americans More Warlike [Alt-market]

A perfect example of this process of public manipulation by the Department Of Defense is the movie ‘Act Of Valor’ which was released this year.  The project actually started out as a high budget MILITARY RECRUITMENT FILM, and then morphed into a concept for a full length movie which features real life special-ops personnel and unprecedented access to military technology and machinery.  Though the DoD claims it did not directly fund the film in any way, it did provide nearly every set piece that was essential to the movie’s creation, including the actors!  The storyline of the flick was mediocre at its best, and shameless propaganda at its worst.  So voracious is its one sided portrayal of the establishment war machine I believe it would make the likes of Goebells blush.  If you have ever seen those BMW featurettes starring famous actors doing superhuman things in BMW vehicles, that is essentially what most Hollywood films about the U.S. military are now; multi-million dollar commercials designed to sell you on a candy-coated image of the military industrial complex.

Read more

Afghanistan: Karzai Condemns NATO Airstrike And Civilian Victims [eurasiareview]

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai returned early from a visit to China, saying that a NATO airstrike that yesterday left 18 civilians dead “can in no way be justifiable”.

Coalition planes targeted an area in the Logar province, in central Afghanistan, also killing four children. NATO referred it is investigating the case, claiming that it conducted a “precision operation” against a group of rebels.

Various local and international sources however confirmed numerous civilian casualties. Karzai, who was in Beijing to attend a regional security summit, stated that “operations that inflict human and material losses to civilians can in no way be justifiable, acceptable and tolerable”.

Read more

Last warning? Panetta threatens Pakistan [RT]

From rt.com

Only days after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted that American troops are engaged in a war in rural northwest Pakistan, the Pentagon’s top-dog says that the United States is losing patience with their once amiable ally.

Secretary Panetta tells reporters and military leaders from Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday that the United States’ relationship with Pakistan is being put to the test because he feels like officials there are all too willing to take in insurgents from neighboring Afghanistan.

“It is difficult to achieve peace in Afghanistan as long as there is safe haven for terrorists in Pakistan,” Panetta says Thursday.

“It is very important for Pakistan to take steps. It is an increasing concern, the issue of safe haven, and we are reaching the limits of our patience,” Panetta adds in his Thursday briefing.

It’s been more than a decade since the United States military began an occupation in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda, a mission that has necessitated a cooperative relationship between the US and Pakistan. As tensions worsen between those countries, though, Panetta suggests that the United States might soon hit a snapping point. Particularly, Panetta is at odds over Pakistan’s own handling with America’s enemies.

Just one day before his latest address, Panetta said during an intelligence briefing on Wednesday“We are fighting a war in the FATA, we are fighting a war against terrorism,” referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a region in northwest Pakistan. The US has long urged Pakistani officials to patrol the region themselves but that request has regularly been ignored by authorities who fear any state intervention can spur a civil war. Panetta’s citing of America’s own endeavors there as a “war” is believed to be the first time that a top-ranking defense official has declared the lengthy military operations in Pakistan as such. America’s interest in that war is not being aided sufficiently but its host country, however, because Panetta has now twice in one week had harsh words for Pakistan.

Read more

Panetta admits that US is at war in Pakistan [RT]

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

Leon Panetta (AFP Photo / Pool / Jim Watson)

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

40 Years Later: Nothing Has Changed Except The Images [Dollarvigilante]

From http://www.dollarvigilante.com

[Editors note: the following post is by Jim Karger, TDV Legal Correspondent]

The photo above was taken in Vietnam 40 years ago this month.

I remember it as if it was yesterday.

I was 20 years old, had just graduated from college, and was waiting to be reclassified “1A” by the U.S. Selective Service, at which time I would be drafted and sent to Vietnam to witness, and be expected to participate in, the murder and mayhem that was and remains the foundation of American foreign policy.

It was Vietnam and it’s images that dispelled me of the notion of American exceptionalism.  It was the first time I wanted to escape America, but not the last.

Fast forward to today.

The murder, the mayhem, continues unabated.

Now, instead of napalm, there are drones that silently and anonymously maim and kill the innocent and the guilty without differentiation, without declared war, without due process or trial.

The difference between then and now?   Today, there are no pictures, no images, no guilt associated with supporting a corrupt government and military-industrial complex and mainstream press that have become one.

Without photos, we are expected to believe that only “militants” are killed in drone strikes, as we were expected then to believe that napalm only burned, scarred, disfigured and killed the Vietcong in Vietnam.  And many, perhaps most, Americans believed it until inconvenient photos like this showed up in newspapers all over the country and turned the nation against that war.

Read more

Dronetopia

New stealth destroyer really sucks – China mocks America’s $7 billion Navy acquisition [RT]

The US Navy is readying a $7 billion boat that can launch attacks faster than the speed of sound and is practically invisible to detection. Even with that hefty cost, however, China says it will only take a few fishing boats to blow up the DDG-1000.

The chief of US naval operations says that the DDG-1000 super-stealth destroyer warship is the “future” of America’s on-the-water weaponry, and at that price tag it better be. Right now the ship is costing taxpayers around $3.1 billion but the price of research and development is likely to bring the tally to more than double. The ship is several years in the making and the first of its kind is expected to be ready by 2014, but critics in China — the very place Uncle Sam plans to send his up and coming fleet — are laughing at America’s latest endeavor.

“It would be a goner,” Rear Adm. Zhang Zhaozhong of China’s National Defense University tells the nation’s CCTV military channel.

The US intends on sending its newest ship towards China’s Pacific Coast where it will be able to monitor activity in the budding region without being easily detected. The boat’s wave-piercing hull will leave almost no wake in the water, reports the Associated Press, and upgrades to the ship will eventually equip it with electromagnetic railguns that can shoot projectiles by using an electric current and magnetic field to fire at enemy targets. Zhaozhong warns, however, that where the US invests in unnecessary weaponry and sleek, stealth technology, it fails to properly outfit the ship with the material to keep it from going kerplunk.

According to the AP, Zhaozhong claims that the DDG-1000’s impressive design could be easily overwhelmed by a mere fleet of fishing boats that are laden with explosives. If enough of those boats could be mobilized around the stealth ship, says Zhaozhong, its high-tech hull could be blown apart sending the boat straight to the bottom of the sea.

Read more

Getting Closer to New Theaters of War [boilingfrogspost.com]

From http://www.boilingfrogspost.com

Ahead of, during and after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 25th summit in Chicago on May 20-21, the Pentagon has continued expanding its permanent military presence in the former Yugoslavia and the rest of the Balkan region.

The military bloc’s two-day conclave in Chicago formalized, among several other initiatives including the initial activation of its U.S.-dominated interceptor missile system and Global Hawk-equipped Alliance Ground Surveillance operations, a new category of what NATO calls aspirant countries next in line for full Alliance membership. Three of them are former Yugoslav federal republics – Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro – and the fourth is Georgia, conflicts involving which could be the most immediate cause of a confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear powers.

This year new NATO partnership formats have sprung up like poisonous toadstools after a summer rain: Aspirants countries, the Partnership Cooperation Menu, the Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme, the Connected Forces Initiative and partners across the globe among them.

The military bloc’s inauguration as an active, aggressive military force in Bosnia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s laid the groundwork for the U.S.’s already unmatched military to move troops, hardware and bases into Southeast Europe for actions there and to points east and south: The Middle East, the Caucasus, North Africa and Central and South Asia.

pent2

Since 2004 several nations in the east and west Balkans – Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia and Albania – have been incorporated into the alliance as full members and the remainder – Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and the generally unrecognized Republic of Kosovo – have in the first four instances joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and in the last had its nascent armed forces, the Kosovo Security Force, built from scratch by the leading alliance powers.

Macedonia, which would have become a full member in 2009 except for the lingering name dispute with Greece, and Montenegro have been granted the Membership Action Plan, the final stage before full accession, and Bosnia will be accorded the same once the quasi-autonomous Republika Srpska is deemed properly stripped of the last vestige of self-governance.

Read more

World not safe, needs US military – Romney [RT]

The world is a dangerous place and needs a dominant US army to keep it in check, presidential candidate Mitt Romney has decreed. If elected, he promised to maintain military might with “no comparable power anywhere in the world.”

The Republican candidate addressed a 5,000-strong San Diego crowd at a Memorial Day event to honor those who died serving in the US military.

He warned Americans of the perils of a shrinking military, citing the growing threats of Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia.

“I wish I could tell you that the world is a safe place. It’s not,” Romney said to the gathered crowd.

Although he did not refer to his electoral rival by name, Romney’s policies contradicted those planned by President Obama.

The Obama administration intends to scale down the US military and withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 2014.

“We have two courses we can follow: One is to follow the pathway of Europe. To shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs. And they of course rely on the strength of America and they hope for the best,”
 said Romney.

He added that America should maintain its dominance as the strongest military in the world so that the nation could not only win wars, but also prevent them.

Romney was later joined by US Senator John McCain who praised the republican candidate, lauding him as “fully qualified to be commander in chief.”

“He believes in American exceptionalism,”
 McCain said. “He believes the 21st century will also be an American century.”

Romney’s pro-military sentiment was received with cheers and applause by the war veterans who had gathered for Memorial Day. San Diego is home to the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet and boasts the largest such military community on the US’s West coast.

Romney has consistently criticized the Obama administration’s military policy, targeting planned budget cuts and the president policy to the crisis in Syria. The presidential hopeful said the US’s current strategy to the conflict only gives embattled Syrian President Bashar al Assad more time to crackdown on protestors.

Read more

Why the US Wants Regime Change in Syria [open.salon.com]

From http://open.salon.com FEBRUARY 16, 2012

(This is the second of two blogs about the covert US war against Syria. The case Obama is making for sanctions and “humanitarian” intervention in Syria is a total fabrication. The US goal in Syria is regime change. The people Assad is attacking aren’t unarmed protestors. They are Islamic militants that the US and NATO have been funding and training for at least ten months.)

iranmap

The People of Syria Support Assad

According to John R Bradley, author of After the Arab Revolution and the only analyst to predict the Egyptian revolution, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also providing arms and funding to the Free Syrian Army. In an interview withRussia Today, Bradley supports the prevailing view of Assad as a ruthless despot. However he also points out that Syria’s president is one of the last secular Arab leaders in the most ethnically diverse nation in the Middle East. At the moment, he enjoys wide popular support because many Syrians view him as the last bastion between them and a fundamentalist Islamic government, like the one just installed in Libya.

Recent callers from Homs (the Syrian city under siege) to the February 10, 2012 BBC Have Your Say seem to support this perspective. While none are big Assad fans, the growing strength of the Islamic resistance worries them. Moreover they see Assad’s secular administration as far preferable to Sharia Law.

The US Military Agenda in the Middle East

Michel Chossudovksy, who has also been writing for months on the covert US war in Syria, is more alarmed about its significance in the context of broader American objectives in the Middle East. He explains that the US has targeted Syria, both because of its strategic alliance with Iran and because of Pentagon’s underlying strategy of isolating and encircling Iran as a prelude to toppling its current government. In a recent interview on Guns and Butter, he describes how the US has systematically occupied and/or militarized nearly all the countries that border Iran. First you have US-occupied Afghanistan and Pakistan (the target of a second undeclared US war) on Iran’s eastern border. Then you have Iraq, which is still partially occupied, Kuwait (where the US deployed 15,000 troops in December), and Turkey, with its US airbases, on Iran’s western border. Finally you have Saudi Arabia (also host to major US military bases) and Qatar to the south. According to Chossudovksy, US military intervention in Syria will spill over and involve the Hezbollah in Lebanon, effectively neutralizing Iran’s last remaining allies.

In a disturbing article entitled When War Games Go Live , Chossoduvsky quotes from retired General Wesley Clark’s 2003 book Winning Modern Wars regarding the role of military intervention against Syria and Iran in the Pentagon’s grand Middle East strategy. According to Clark, the Pentagon has been making preparation to attack both countries since the mid-nineties. On page 130 of Winning Modern Wars, Clark states

“As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.”

Read more

Protesters shouted phrases such as “warmonger” and “war criminal” during Blair’s speech. Tell the truth => Got arrested

WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) — A handful of protesters briefly interrupted a Maine college graduation speech by British Prime Minister Tony Blair calling for world unity.

Blair addressed more than 400 Colby College graduates and their guests Sunday morning at the school’s 191st commencement in Waterville.

Police say the protesters shouted phrases such as “warmonger” and “war criminal” during Blair’s speech. One person was arrested.

In his address, Blair appealed for international cooperation and for people to try to understand other cultures.

The 59-year-old Blair, the Labor Party’s longest-serving prime minister, served from 1997 to 2007. Since then, he has served as the envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, representing the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations in working with Palestinians to prepare for statehood.

 

One Simple Rule To Stop Unnecessary Wars [azizonomics.com]

I’m sick of war.

Officially the cost of the war on terror has been $1.3 trillion. And military spending — especially the interest on debt to pay for past wars — keeps growing year on year:

As General Eisenhower noted:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

The cost in life was been ever steeper; over a million Iraqis died.

But it’s more than cost; this a problem of responsibility. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney live a comfortable life of wealth and leisure, four years after leaving office having started two destructive, costly and ineffective wars of choice. They didn’t fight. None of their children fought. But lots of American and British soldiers and innocent Arabs got their limbs and heads blown off.

Read more

Pentagon encircles Iran: Victory would take 3 weeks [RT]

As the US beefs up its military presence in the Persian Gulf region, Pentagon strategists estimate that they would need less than a month to defeat Iranian forces should a military conflict take place.

US Central Command (CENTCOM) believes it can destroy or significantly degrade Iran’s conventional armed forces in about three weeks using air and sea strikes, a defense source told The Washington Post.

“We plan for any eventuality we can and provide options to the president,” Army Lt. Col. T.G. Taylor, a spokesman at CENTCOM told the newspaper. “We take our guidance from the secretary of defense and from our civilian bosses in [Washington] DC. So any kind of guidance they give us, that’s what we go off of [sic].”

The American military has been building up its presence in the region amid rising tension in the area.

The US Navy currently has two aircraft carriers deployed near Iran and is upgrading mine-detection and removal capabilities.

The US Air Force recently dispatched a number of F-22 Raptor strike fighters to a base in the United Arab Emirates. The move caused backlash from Tehran, which said Wednesday it threatened regional stability.

Deploying a “floating base” in the Persian Gulf – a converted transport ship that would serve as a semi-stationary base of operations for the US military – is also on the table. USS Ponce is expected to host mine-sweeping helicopters, speed boats and probably commando teams.

The Pentagon has also intensified training of elite troops of its allies in the region. The members of the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Gulf Cooperation Council commando team, who serve as instructors, may be ordered to go into the field as well, should such a need arise.

The measures are taken as contingency for possible attack by Iran on US troops or blocking of the Strait of Hormuz, the vital oil transit route, the US says.

CENTCOM says there are about 125,000 US troops in close proximity to Iran. The majority of them – 90,000 – are deployed in or around Afghanistan. Some 20,000 soldiers are ashore elsewhere in the Near East region; and a variable 15,000 to 20,000 serve on naval vessels.

Read more

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,931 other followers