Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Today's Links

At dawn they came and took you away.
You were my dead: I walked behind.
In the dark room children cried,
the holy candle gasped for air.
Your lips were chill from the ikon's kiss,
sweat bloomed on your brow–those deathly flowers!
Like the wives of Peter's troopers in Red Square
I'll stand and howl under the Kremlin towers

Anna Akhmatova, Requiem




1-- Washington knows what's best for Korea, right?


There is something more that may make Graham, McCain, Trump and the 130 million Americans who elected them even happier: the destruction of a thriving multi-trillion dollar Asian economy that is eclipsing the West in unprecedented ways....

The War on Terror now appears like a botched US-Saudi plot to control the flow of fossil fuel to an energy-dependent Asia. (Strategic denial?) Yet, instead of allowing its destinies to be controlled, Asian nations launched a series of strategic fuel and grain reserve programs since the 9/11 terror attacks. Asia can no longer be held to joint US-Saudi petrol blackmail as long as Iran, Russia and Venezuela continue to pump and export oil and gas to the rest of the world. The demonization of these nations, therefore, should not come as a surprise.

From a geostrategic viewpoint, it is not the Westward contours of Middle Eastern pipelines that may have worried Washington and its hordes but rather the unfettered flow of Iranian and Russian oil to an ascendant Asia. Syria alone would have done well with untold millions levied on pipelines traversing its territory. Alternative motives behind the Arab Spring and Maidan coup should re-considered in the light of an Asian contagion that may be sparked off in the Korean peninsula.

2--Lavrov warns of consequences in deploying US global missile defense system


The unilateral deployment of the European segment of the US global missile system changing balance of forces in the sphere of offensive weapons is a serious obstacle on the way of consolidation of political stability," Lavrov said at the Moscow Conference on International Security.
"The anti-missile umbrella may increase the illusion of invulnerability and impunity and lead to temptation of taking unilateral steps in the resolution of global and regional problems, including the reduction of threshold of nuclear weapons use," the minister said.


3--Watchdog sounds alarm over media freedom worldwide


The report criticized the “new era of post-truth, disinformation, and fake news” substituting factual news in countries where democracies are giving way to totalitarianism.
Media freedom is being undermined by the rise in surveillance and of authoritarian strongmen across the globe, the group said.

“Attacks on the media have become commonplace and strongmen are on the rise. We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms — especially in democracies,” the report said.

“Media freedom has retreated wherever the authoritarian strongman model has triumphed,” it warned.
The United States, Britain, Poland, and Turkey were cited as examples where democracy was losing to authoritarianism

4--Iraq --already partitioned and oil stolen


What was to become of Iraq?  Its “government” was imposed by the United States in the wake of the 2003 invasion. Its oil revenues run to something around $50 billion/year. Before invasion and occupation, oil extraction was a state monopoly. Now it is extracted exclusively by foreign companies on terms they set themselves. Marketing is managed by SOMO, the State Organization for Marketing Oil. Thus the oil companies are not in view at time of sale. [10]
Iraq’s domestic economy is going nowhere. Unemployment and poverty are at very high levels. The oil companies make no special effort to hire Iraqis. Making matters even worse, the country is effectively partitioned into three regions. The northwest region has never been subdued by the conquest....

The same questions apply to Afghanistan. The United States invaded and occupied the country in 2001, supposedly as part of the “war on terror.” A stubborn national resistance has fought the occupation ever since.
The occupation “government” controls little territory outside of the capital city of Kabul. Currently there are 8400 regular U.S. troops stationed there, plus hired soldiers.  Of them, 2100 are on combat duty. The reason they remain is obvious.

Aerial surveys are reported to have found Afghanistan “may hold 60 million tons of copper, 2.2 billion tons of iron ore, 1.4 million tons of rare earth elements such as lanthanum, cerium and neodymium, and lodes of aluminum, gold, silver, zinc, mercury and lithium. For instance, the Khanneshin carbonatite deposit in Afghanistan’s Helmand province is valued at $89 billion, full as it is with rare earth elements.”  [13]
Poppy cultivation was almost completely eliminated under the Taliban, the indigenous former government. Under the occupation it has come back to generate a multibillion dollar per year export business in opium and heroin. The trade is virtually the only functioning sector of the economy.....

the war in Syria has never been a civil war. The armed opposition is principally non-Syrian terrorists. They have been recruited and funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar with the knowledge and complicity of the Obama administration. ...

As a candidate Donald Trump had repeatedly said it would have been better to have left Saddam Hussein in place in Iraq, and Muammar Qaddafi in place in Libya. He said, “Iraq is Harvard for terrorism.”  It was a big departure from the usual campaign script, all the more so because it is true.
In a January 26 joint statement issued in Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May said, “The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over.” In other words, the policy of “regime change” would be ended. ...

Then, on April 4, an estimated 70 persons, including civilians, were killed by a chemical attack in Idlib Province. Immediately and on no investigation Trump said, “My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much … You’re now talking about a whole different level.”....

5--Russian ground forces in Syria? - TTG


I also get the feeling there is nothing we would like more than for the IS jihadis to overrun Deir ez-Zor. That would leave the path open for a jihadi safe area extending from the entire Euphrates valley to the Iraqi border. The only thing standing in our way is that bull of a Druze General and his boys holding Deir ez-Zor. The offensive to relieve that pocket is damned important. In light of the developing coalition effort to carve out a safe area, I now think the relief and/or reinforcement of the Deir ez-Zor pocket is at least as important to the survival of Syria as the the reduction of the jihadis in Idlib...

Maybe it’s time for Vlad to send his own clear and unmistakable message. Something like the deployment of the 106th Guards Airborne Division and the 45th Spetsnaz Brigade along with a substantial Russian Aerospace Force support package to rapidly and decisively address some of the R+6’s most pressing military challenges...

there are rumors that Russia would “respond favorably to an expected SAG request for Russian ground troops.”  This is just a guess, but I think the Russians are concerned by the uptick in the US-led coalition efforts to destroy the Assad government and Syria. I'm convinced that the US and the Saudis are hell bent on creating their safe areas for anti-Assad forces both in SDF controlled areas and along the southern border with Jordan. Looks like Trump's first foreign visit will be with his Saudi friends. He’ll probably be discussing one of the few foreign policy points that our agonizingly inconsistent President has been consistent on -  safe areas in Syria in conjunction with the Saudis.


7--America is trying to block the path of the “Shiite crescent” from Syria and is preparing the ground for a “new Middle East”.


The Trump intention to create “buffer zones” to justify the occupation of Syrian territories does not fall on deaf ears in Israel and the Gulf countries, eager to see the fall of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its relationship with Iran and Hezbollah at the gates of Damascus.
The visit of US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis to the Middle East last week raised questions about what Washington could be preparing for the Middle East. Trump is following in the footsteps of Barack Obama, with regard to the Syrian file, but went even beyond his predecessor by overtly declaring his hostility towards Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

8--Washington's provocation of North Korea is really about THAAD

These military plans include the early deployment of the “Kill Chain,” a system designed to launch pre-emptive attacks on North Korea, and the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) shield, similar to the US’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery currently being deployed to South Korea amid widespread protests.

Moon has abandoned attempts to posture as an opponent of THAAD, describing it on April 11 as a card in dealing with Pyongyang. It was “just one idea for responding to the North Korean nuclear issue, and it’s a weapon for defensive purposes,” he said, adding: “If North Korea continues engaging in provocations like a sixth nuclear test and advancing its nuclear capabilities, the THAAD deployment may be unavoidable.”

There is nothing defensive about THAAD. It is bound up with Washington’s war plans against China and Russia. Since 1988, the US has been working to develop and dispatch THAAD batteries to the region, including the X-band radar system. Beijing is concerned that the latter will be used to spy deep into its territory. In the event of a pre-emptive attack on China, US anti-missile systems would knock out any retaliation Beijing managed to launch.


9--THAAD is at the heart of the NK Flap


we must mention in the final minutes that we have that standing against this hope that you’re outlining, is the fact that we’ve got this deployment, this speeded up deployment, of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, THAAD. And this is a forward fighting tool that makes everybody in the freaking region nervous. And China is on the edge on this one, as well.

: Absolutely. Well, first of all, it’s a missile defense system that everybody is questioning its feasibility. And so, this is a Lockheed Martin product that I think costs $15 million to produce. And that’s our tax dollars, yours and mine and everybody else listening. And so many experts, from South Korea to MIT here in the United States, have said, “This will do nothing to deter low-range North Korean missiles.” And that’s what South Korea would need some kind of defense from. And so it’s just been sold, and forced down the throat of the South Korean people. And [former South Korean president] Park Geun-hye, at the time last summer, she just agreed to it without any public debate, without any presidential approval. And so the leading contenders in the South Korean presidential race have said “Let’s wait for the next president, to try to determine whether this is beneficial for the people of South Korea.”
But instead, in this political vacuum, the U.S… when General Mattis went to South Korea, that was like top on his list, “We’re deploying THAAD.” And so, the South Korean people, unfortunately, have been caught in this growing stand-off between the U.S. and China...

we interviewed a bunch of South Korean women who have been organizing against this THAAD missile defense system. And they say “They are taking us so far away from building trust, and rapport, and reconciliation with North Korea. We don’t want this.” And, unfortunately, who’s benefitting? And it’s the military contractors. And so, we have to push back. We want a genuine alliance, I think, for the people. We can do that. It doesn’t have to be a military alliance that just sends its military contractors. We have to think a different way. And, unfortunately, we have our big fight here against the Trump administration, but hopefully the silver lining is there is a progressive president in South Korea that’s going to have to shift.

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