Palestine is My Cause: Arabs Reaffirm Support for Palestinians, Rejection of the Occupation

By Dr Ramzy Baroud

The latest Arab Opinion Index 2022 is yet more proof that Arab societies are diverse in every possible way, from their assessment of their economic situation and living conditions to their take on immigration, state institutions and democracy. With one single exception: Palestine.

76 percent of all respondents to the poll, which is carried out annually by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Doha, said that Palestine is a cause for all Arabs, not Palestinians alone.

Three important points must be kept in mind when trying to understand this number:

First, Arabs are not merely expressing sympathy or solidarity with Palestinians. They are irrevocably stating that the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli Occupation is a collective Arab struggle.

Second, these views are the same across all sections of society throughout the entire geographic expanse of the Arab world, from the Gulf to the Maghreb regions.

Third, equally important is that the public opinions that have been examined in the poll come from countries whose governments have either full diplomatic ties with Israel or vehemently reject normalization.

The study is quite extensive, as it included 33,000 individual respondents and was carried out in the period between June to December 2022.

Once again, the Arab people collectively reject normalization with Israel, with Algeria and Mauritania topping the list at 99 percent each.

Though some might discount the detailed study by claiming that Arabs inherently hate Israel due to their deep-seated aversion to the Jews, the study breaks down the reason why Arab masses have such a low opinion of Israel.

When they were asked as to why they reject diplomatic ties between their countries and Israel, the respondents mostly “cited Israel’s colonial and expansionist policies, as well as its racism toward the Palestinians and its persistence in expropriating Palestinian land.”

Only five percent cited religious reasons behind their position and that too cannot be dismissed as mere religious zealotry, as indeed many Arabs formulate their views based on the moral values enshrined in their religions; for example, the need to oppose and speak out against injustice.

It must be stated that this is hardly new. Arabs have exhibited these views with an unmistakable consistency, since the start of the Arab Opinion Index in 2011 and one would dare argue, since the establishment of Israel atop the ruins of Palestine in 1948.

But if that is the case, why are the latest poll results deserving of a discussion?

While examining the American public view of Russia, the state of democracy in the US, or the greatest threat to national security, opinion polls often fluctuate from one year to the other. For example, 70 percent of all Americans considered Russia an ‘enemy’ to the US in March, compared to only 41 percent in January.

The massive jump in two months is not directly related to the Russian war in Ukraine, since Ukraine is not a US territory, but because of the anti-Russia media frenzy that has not ceased for a moment since the beginning of the war.

However, for Arabs, neither media shift in priorities, internal politics, class orientation or any other factor seem to alter the status of Palestine as the leading Arab priority.

In 2017 and 2022 respectively, two American presidents visited the Arab region. Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden labored to execute a major shift in the region’s political priorities.

Biden summed up his agenda in a meeting with six Arab leaders in Jeddah in July by stating, “This trip is about once again positioning America in this region for the future. We are not going to leave a vacuum in the Middle East for Russia or China to fill.”

None of these self-serving priorities seem to be paying any real dividends.

That said, the pressure to dismiss the centrality of Palestine as an Arab cause does not only come from the outside. It is also guided by the internal dynamics of the region itself. For example, some pan-Arab news networks, which put much focus on Palestine in previous years, have been relentlessly and, sometimes, purposely, ignoring Palestine as an urgent daily reality in favor of other topics that are consistent with the regional policies of host countries.

Yet, despite all of this, Palestine remains the core of Arab values, struggles and aspirations. How is this possible?

Unlike most Americans, Arabs do not necessarily formulate their views of the world based on the media agenda of the day, nor do they alter their behavior based on presidential speeches or political debates. To the contrary, their collective experiences made them particularly cynical of propaganda and fiery speeches. They formulate their views based on numerous grassroots channels of communication, whether using social media tools or listening to the Friday sermon in their local mosque.

The struggle for Palestine has been internalized in the everyday acts of the average Arab woman or man; from the names they choose for their newborn, to the quiet muttering of prayers before falling asleep. No amount of propaganda can possibly reverse this.

Arab public opinion obviously matters, even though most Arab countries do not have functioning democratic systems. In fact, they matter most because of the lack of democracy.

Every society must have a system of political legitimacy, however nominal, for it to maintain relative stability. It means that the collective Arab view in support of Palestinians and rejection of normalization without an end to Israeli Occupation would have to be taken seriously.

Though some Arab governments are listening to their people and thus condition normalization on Palestinian freedom and sovereignty, the US and Israel insist on ignoring the Arab masses, as they have done for many years. However, if Washington believes that it can simply compel the Arabs to hate Russia and China and love Israel, while the latter continues to kill Palestinians and occupy their land, it will be sorely disappointed, not only today, but for many years to come.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle.

2 February 2023

Source: countercurrents.org

Palestinians Are Not Liars: Confronting the Violence of Media Delegitimization

By Ramzy Baroud and Romana Rubeo

On January 19, during one of its raids in the Occupied West Bank, the Israeli military arrested a Palestinian journalist, Abdul Muhsen Shalaldeh, near the town of Al-Khalil (Hebron). This is just the latest of a staggering number of violations against Palestinian journalists, and  against freedom of expression.

A few days earlier, the head of the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate (PJS), Naser Abu Baker, shared some tragic numbers during a press conference in Ramallah. “Fifty-five reporters have been killed, either by Israeli fire or bombardment since 2000,” he said. Hundreds more were wounded, arrested or detained. Although shocking, much of this reality is censored in mainstream media.

The murder by Israeli occupation soldiers of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11, was an exception, partly due to the global influence of her employer, Al Jazeera Network. Still, Israel and its allies labored to hide the news, resorting to the usual tactic of smearing those who defy the Israeli narrative.

Palestinian journalists pay a heavy price for carrying out their mission of spreading the truth about the ongoing Israeli oppression of Palestinians. Their work is not only critical to good and balanced media coverage, but to the very cause of justice and freedom in Palestine.

In a recent report on January 17, PJS detailed some of the harrowing experiences of Palestinian journalists. “Dozens of journalists were targeted by the occupation forces and settlers during the last year, which (recorded) the highest number of serious attacks against Palestinian journalists.”

However, the harm inflicted on Palestinian journalists is not only physical and material. They are also constantly exposed to a very subtle, but equally dangerous, threat: the constant delegitimization of their work.

The Violence of Delegitimization

One of the writers of this piece, Romana Rubeo, attended a close meeting involving over 100 Italian journalists on January 18, which aimed at advising them on how to report accurately on Palestine. Rubeo did her best to convey some of the facts discussed in this article, which she practices daily as the Managing Editor of the Palestine Chronicle. 

However, a veteran Israeli journalist, often touted for her courageous reporting on Palestine, dropped a bombshell when she suggested that Palestinians cannot always be trusted with the little details. She communicated something to this effect: Though the truth is on the Palestinian side, they cannot be totally trusted about the little details, while the Israelis are more reliable on the little things, but they lie about the big picture.

As outrageous – let alone Orientalist – such thinking may appear, it dwarfs in comparison to the state-operated hasbara machine of the Israeli government.

But is it true that Palestinians cannot be trusted with the little details?

When Abu Akleh was killed, she was not the only journalist targeted in Jenin. Her companion, another Palestinian journalist, Ali al-Samoudi, was present and was also shot and wounded by an Israeli bullet in the back.

Naturally, al-Samoudi was the main eyewitness to what had taken place on that day. He told journalists from his hospital bed that there was no fighting in that area; that he and Shireen were wearing clearly marked press vests; that they were intentionally targeted by Israeli soldiers and that Palestinian fighters were not anywhere close to the range from which they were shot.

All of this was dismissed by Israel, and, in turn, by western mainstream media, since supposedly ‘Palestinians could not be trusted with the little details’

However, investigations by international human rights groups and, eventually a bashful Israeli admission of possible guilt, proved that al-Samoudi’s account was the most honest detailing of the truth. This episode has been repeated hundreds of times throughout the years where, from the outset, Palestinian views are dismissed as untrue or exaggerated, and the Israeli narrative is embraced as the only possible truth, only for the truth to be eventually revealed, authenticating the Palestinian side every time. Quite often, true facts are revealed too little too late.

The tragic murder of 12-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Durrah remains the most shameful episode of western media bias, to this day. The death of the boy, who was killed by Israeli occupation troops in Gaza in 2000 while sheltered by his father’s side, was essentially blamed on Palestinians, before the narrative of his murder was rewritten suggesting that he was killed in the ‘crossfire’. That version of the story eventually changed to the reluctant acceptance of the Palestinian reporting on the event. However, the story didn’t end here, as Zionist hasbara continued to push its narrative, smearing those who adopt the Palestinian version as being anti-Israel or even ‘antisemitic’.

(No) Permission to Narrate

Though Palestinian journalism has proved its effectiveness in recent years – with the Gaza wars being a prime example – thanks to the power of social media and its ability to disseminate information directly to news consumers, the challenges remain great.

Nearly four decades after the publishing of Edward Said’s essay “Permission to Narrate”, and over ten years after Rafeef Ziadah’s seminal poem “We Teach Life, Sir”, it seems that, in some media platforms and political environments, Palestinians still need to acquire permission to narrate, partly because of the anti-Palestinian racism that continues to prevail, but also because, per the judgment of a supposedly pro-Palestinian journalist, Palestinians cannot be entrusted with the little details.

However, there is much hope in this story. There is a new, empowered and courageous generation of Palestinian activists – authors, writers, journalists, bloggers, filmmakers and artists – that is more than qualified to represent Palestinians and to present a cohesive, non-factional, and universal political discourse on Palestine.

A New Generation’s Search for the Truth 

Indeed, times have changed, and Palestinians are no longer requiring filters – as in those speaking on their behalf, since Palestinians are supposedly inherently incapable of doing so.

The authors of this article have recently interviewed two representatives of this new generation of Palestinian journalists, two strong voices that advocate authentic Palestinian presence in international media: journalists and editors Ahmed Alnaouq and Fahya Shalash.

Shalash is a West Bank-based reporter, who discussed media coverage based on Palestinian priorities, counting many examples of important stories that often go unreported.  “As Palestinian women, we have a lot of obstacles in our life and they are (all) related to the Israeli Occupation because it’s very dangerous to work as a journalist. All the world saw what happened to Shireen Abu Akleh for reporting the truth on Palestine,” she said.

Shalash understands that being a Palestinian reporting on Palestine is not just a professional, but an emotional and personal experience, as well. “When I work and I am on the phone with the families of Palestinian prisoners or martyrs, sometimes I break into tears.”

Indeed, stories about the abuse and targeting of Palestinian women by Israeli soldiers are hardly a media topic. “Israel puts on the democracy mask; they pretend that they care for women’s rights, but this is not at all what happens here,” the Palestinian journalist said.

“They hit Palestinian female journalists because they are physically weaker; they curse them with very inappropriate language. I was personally detained for interrogation by Israeli forces. This affected my work. They threatened me, saying that if I continued to depict them as criminals in my work, they would have stopped me from being a journalist.”

“In Western media, they keep talking about women’s rights and gender equality, but we don’t have rights at all. We do not live like any other country,” she added.

For his part, Alnaouq, who is the head of the Palestine-based organization ‘We Are Not Numbers’, explained how mainstream media never allow Palestinian voices to be present in their coverage. Even pieces written by Palestinians are “heavily edited”.

“It is also the editors’ fault,” he said. “Sometimes they make big mistakes. When a Palestinian is killed in Gaza or in the West Bank, the editors should say who is the perpetrator, but these publications often omit this information. They do not mention Israel as the perpetrator. They have some kind of agenda that they want to impose.”

When asked how he would change the coverage of Palestine if he worked as an editor in a mainstream Western publication, Alnaouq said:

“I would just tell the truth. And this is what we want as Palestinians. We want the truth. We don’t want Western media to be biased toward us and attack Israel, we just want them to tell the truth as it should be.”

Prioritizing Palestine 

Only Palestinian voices can convey the emotions of highly charged stories about Palestine, stories that never make it to mainstream media coverage; and when they do, these stories are often missing context, prioritize Israeli views – if not outright lies – and, at times, omit Palestinians altogether. But as the work of Abu Akleh, al-Samoudi, Alnaouq and Shalash, and hundreds more, continues to demonstrate, Palestinians are qualified to produce high-quality journalism, with integrity and professionalism.

Palestinians must be the core of the Palestinian narrative in all of its manifestations. It is time to break away from the old way of thinking that saw the Palestinian as incapable of narrating, or of being a liability on his/her own story, of being secondary characters that can be replaced or substituted by those who are deemed more credible and truthful. Anything less than this can be rightfully mistaken for Orientalist thinking of a bygone era; or worse.

Palestine in International Media: Stories Never Told

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle.

Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the Managing Editor of The Palestine Chronicle.

31 January 2023

Source: countercurrents.org

NATO Seeks Closer Connection With Japan And South Korea

By Countercurrents Collective

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, in Japan as part of his East Asia tour, said “our security is closely interconnected” and called for stronger ties with Japan as Russia’s war on Ukraine raises global dangers and shows that democracies need stronger partnerships.

Stoltenberg said his visit to Japan “is a way to further strengthen the partnership between NATO and our highly valued partner Japan.”

Japan also has significantly stepped up ties with NATO recently.

Reports by AP and other agencies said:

“The war in Ukraine also demonstrates that our security is closely interconnected,” Stoltenberg said during his visit at the Iruma Air Base north of Tokyo, where he started his Japan visit Tuesday after arriving late Monday from South Korea.

“If President (Vladimir) Putin wins in Ukraine it will be a tragedy for the Ukrainians, but it will also send a very dangerous message to authoritarian leaders all over the world because then the message will be that when they use military force they can achieve their goals,” he said. “So the war in Ukraine matters for all of us.”

Japan, a close ally of the U.S., has in recent years expanded its military ties with other Indo-Pacific nations as well as with Britain, Europe and NATO amid growing security threat from China and North Korea.

Japan has been quick to join the U.S.-led economic sanctions against Russia’s war on Ukraine and provided humanitarian aid and non-combative defense equipment for the Ukrainians.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has sounded alarm that Russia’s aggression in Europe could happen in Asia, where concerns are growing over already assertive China and its escalating tension near Taiwan.

Japan issued a new national security strategy in December stating its determination to build up its military and deploy long-range missiles to preempt enemy attacks in a major break from its post-World War II principle that limited itself to self-defense. Japan also hopes to further ease restrictions on arms export to strengthen the country’s feeble defense industry.

South Korea

While in South Korea on Monday, Stoltenberg called for South Korea to provide direct military support to Ukraine to help Kyiv to fight off the prolonged Russian invasion. So far, Seoul has only provided humanitarian aid and other support, citing a long-standing policy of not supplying weapons to countries in conflict.

Stoltenberg met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Monday and discussed Seoul’s commitment to support Ukraine and NATO’s possible role in dissuading North Korea from its growing nuclear ambitions following an unprecedented number of ballistic missile tests in 2022, Yoon’s office said.

Stoltenberg on Sunday mentioned U.S. intelligence reports accusing North Korea of providing weapons to Russia to support its war in Ukraine.

North Korea

North Korea condemned his visits to South Korea and Japan, saying that NATO was trying to put its “military boots in the region” and attempting to pressure America’s Asian allies into providing weapons to Ukraine.

In a statement released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, North Korea criticized increasing cooperation between NATO and U.S. allies in Asia as a process to create an “Asian version of NATO” that would raise tensions in the region.

NATO To Strengthen Partnership With Japan, Says Stoltenberg

A Reuters report said:

NATO will continue to strengthen its partnership with Japan amid the ongoing Ukraine war, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday during a visit to Japan, where he will meet with Japanese PM Kishida.

Stoltenberg’s trip, which included a stop in South Korea, is aimed at bolstering ties with Western allies in Asia in the face of the war in Ukraine and rising competition with China.

An earlier Reuters report said:

Stoltenberg urged South Korea on Monday to increase military support to Ukraine, citing other countries that have changed their policy of not providing weapons to countries in conflict following Russia’s invasion.

Stoltenberg was speaking in Seoul, the first stop on a trip that will also include Japan and is aimed at strengthening ties with Western allies in Asia in the face of the war in Ukraine and rising competition with China.

Speaking at the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies in Seoul, he thanked South Korea for its non-lethal aid to Ukraine, but urged it to do more, adding there is an “urgent need” for ammunition.

“I urge the Republic of Korea to continue and to step up on the specific issue of military support,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s a decision for you to make, but I’ll say that several NATO allies who have had as a policy to never export weapons to countries in a conflict have changed that policy now,” he said, citing Germany, Sweden and Norway.

“If we don’t want autocracy and tyranny to win, then they (Ukrainians) need weapons, that’s the reality,” said Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister.

South Korea has signed major deals providing hundreds of tanks, aircraft and other weapons to NATO member Poland since Russia invaded Ukraine. But President Yoon Suk-yeol has said a South Korean law that forbids supplying weapons to countries engaged in conflict makes it difficult to send arms to Ukraine.

Russia calls its invasion, launched on Feb. 24, a “special operation” to ward off threats to its own security.

Stoltenberg also met with Yoon and Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup, who echoed calls for closer ties with NATO based on shared values, but did not publicly address calls for more military aid to Ukraine.

In meetings with senior South Korean officials, Stoltenberg said events in Europe and North America were interconnected with those in other regions, and that the alliance wanted to help manage global threats by increasing partnerships in Asia.

The NATO chief said it was “extremely important” that Russia doesn’t win this war, not only for the Ukrainians but also to avoid sending a wrong message to authoritarian leaders, including in Beijing, that they can get what they want by force.

Although China is not NATO’s adversary, it has become “much higher” on NATO’s agenda, he said, citing Beijing’s rising military capabilities and coercive behavior in the region.

“We believe that we should engage with China on issues like arms control, climate change and other issues,” he said. “But at the same time, we are very clear that China poses a challenge to our values, to our interests, and to our security.”

China

Responding to a question about Stoltenberg’s remarks, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on Monday that China was a partner to countries, not a challenge, and that it did not threaten any nation’s interests or security.

“We also hope that NATO will abandon its Cold War mentality and the concept of bloc confrontation, and do more for the security and stability of Europe and the world,” Mao told a regular news briefing.

A Prelude To Confrontation

In a statement carried by state media on Monday, North Korea called Stoltenberg’s visit a “prelude to confrontation and war as it brings the dark clouds of a ‘new Cold War’ to the Asia-Pacific region”.

Last year South Korea opened its first diplomatic mission to NATO, vowing to deepen cooperation on non-proliferation, cyber defence, counter-terrorism, disaster response and other security areas.

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31 January 2023

Source: countercurrents.org

Can the Military-Industrial Complex Be Tamed?

By William J Astore

Cutting the Pentagon Budget in Half Would Finally Force the Generals to Think

My name is Bill Astore and I’m a card-carrying member of the military-industrial complex (MIC).

Sure, I hung up my military uniform for the last time in 2005. Since 2007, I’ve been writing articles for TomDispatch focused largely on critiquing that same MIC and America’s permanent war economy. I’ve written against this country’s wasteful and unwise wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its costly and disastrous weapons systems, and its undemocratic embrace of warriors and militarism. Nevertheless, I remain a lieutenant colonel, if a retired one. I still have my military ID card, if only to get on bases, and I still tend to say “we” when I talk about my fellow soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen (and our “guardians,” too, now that we have a Space Force).

So, when I talk to organizations that are antiwar, that seek to downsize, dismantle, or otherwise weaken the MIC, I’m upfront about my military biases even as I add my own voice to their critiques. Of course, you don’t have to be antiwar to be highly suspicious of the U.S. military. Senior leaders in “my” military have lied so often, whether in the Vietnam War era of the last century or in this one about “progress” in Iraq and Afghanistan, that you’d have to be asleep at the wheel or ignorant not to have suspected the official story.

Yet I also urge antiwar forces to see more than mendacity or malice in “our” military. It was retired general and then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower, after all, who first warned Americans of the profound dangers of the military-industrial complex in his 1961 farewell address. Not enough Americans heeded Ike’s warning then and, judging by our near-constant state of warfare since that time, not to speak of our ever-ballooning “defense” budgets, very few have heeded his warning to this day. How to explain that?

Well, give the MIC credit. Its tenacity has been amazing. You might compare it to an invasive weed, a parasitic cowbird (an image I’ve used before), or even a metastasizing cancer. As a weed, it’s choking democracy; as a cowbird, it’s gobbling up most of the “food” (at least half of the federal discretionary budget) with no end in sight; as a cancer, it continues to spread, weakening our individual freedoms and liberty.

Call it what you will. The question is: How do we stop it? I’ve offered suggestions in the past; so, too, have writers for TomDispatch like retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich and retired Army Major Danny Sjursen, as well as William HartungJulia Gledhill, and Alfred McCoy among others. Despite our critiques, the MIC grows ever stronger. If Ike’s warning wasn’t eye-opening enough, enhanced by an even more powerful speech, “Beyond Vietnam,” by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967, what could I and my fellow TomDispatch writers possibly say or do to make a difference?

Maybe nothing, but that won’t stop me from trying. Since I am the MIC, so to speak, maybe I can look within for a few lessons that came to me the hard way (in the sense that I had to live them). So, what have l learned of value?

War Racketeers Enjoy Their Racket

In the 1930s, Smedley Butler, a Marine general twice decorated with the Medal of Honor, wrote a book entitled War Is a Racket. He knew better than most since, as he confessed in that volume, when he wore a military uniform, he served as “a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.” And the corporate-driven racket he helped enable almost a century ago by busting heads from the Caribbean to China was small-scale indeed compared to today’s thoroughly global one.

There’s an obvious lesson to be drawn from its striking endurance, never-ending enlargement, and distinct engorgement in our moment (even after all those lost wars it fought): the system will not reform itself.  It will always demand and take more — more money, more authority, more power.  It will never be geared for peace.  By its nature, it’s authoritarian and distinctly less than honorable, replacing patriotism with service loyalty and victory with triumphant budgetary authority.  And it always favors the darkest of scenarios, including at present a new cold war with China and Russia, because that’s the best and most expedient way for it to thrive.

Within the military-industrial complex, there are no incentives to do the right thing.  Those few who have a conscience and speak out honorably are punished, including truth-tellers in the enlisted ranks like Chelsea Manning and Daniel Hale. Even being an officer doesn’t make you immune.  For his temerity in resisting the Vietnam War, David M. Shoup, a retired Marine Corps general and Medal of Honor recipient, was typically dismissed by his peers as unbalanced and of questionable sanity.

For all the talk of “mavericks,” whether in Top Gun or elsewhere, we — there’s that “we” again (I can’t help myself!) — in the military are a hotbed of go-along-to-get-along conformity.

Recently, I was talking with a senior enlisted colleague about why so few top-ranking officers are willing to speak truth to the powerless (that’s you and me) even after they retire. He mentioned credibility. To question the system, to criticize it, to air dirty laundry in public is to risk losing credibility within the club and so to be rejected as a malcontent, disloyal, even “unbalanced.” Then, of course, that infamous revolving door between the military and giant weapons makers like Boeing and Raytheon simply won’t spin for you.  Seven-figure compensation packages, like the one current Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin gained from Raytheon after his retirement as an Army general, won’t be an option. And in America, who doesn’t want to cash in while gaining more power within the system?

Quite simply, it pays so much better to mouth untruths, or at least distinctly less-than-full-truths, in service to the powerful. And with that in mind, here, at least as I see it, are a few full truths about my old service, the Air Force, that I guarantee you I won’t be applauded for mentioning. How about this as a start: that the production of F-35s — an overpriced “Ferrari” of a fighter jet that’s both too complex and remarkably successful as an underperformer — should be canceled (savings: as much as $1 trillion over time); that the much-touted new B-21 nuclear bomber isn’t needed (savings: at least $200 billion) and neither is the new Sentinel Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (savings: another $200 billion and possibly the entire Earth from doomsday); that the KC-46 tanker is seriously flawed and should be canceled (savings: another $50 billion).

Now, tote it up. By canceling the F-35, the B-21, the Sentinel, and the KC-46, I singlehandedly saved the American taxpayer roughly $1.5 trillion without hurting America’s national defense in the least. But I’ve also just lost all credibility (assuming I had any left) with my old service.

Look, what matters to the military-industrial complex isn’t either the truth or saving your taxpayer dollars but keeping those weapons programs going and the money flowing. What matters, above all, is keeping America’s economy on a permanent wartime footing both by buying endless new (and old) weapons systems for the military and selling them globally in a bizarrely Orwellian pursuit of peace through war.

How are Americans, Ike’s “alert and knowledgeable citizenry,” supposed to end a racket like this? We certainly should know one thing by now: the MIC will never check itself and Congress, already part of it thanks to impressive campaign donations and the like by major weapons makers, won’t corral it either.  Indeed, last year, Congress shoveled $45 billion more than the Biden administration requested (more even than the Pentagon asked for) to that complex, all ostensibly in your name. Who cares that it hasn’t won a war of the faintest significance since 1945. Even “victory” in the Cold War (after the Soviet Union imploded in 1991) was thrown away. And now the complex warns us of an onrushing “new cold war” to be waged, naturally, at tremendous cost to you, the American taxpayer.

As citizens, we must be informed, willing, and able to act. And that’s precisely why the complex seeks to deny you knowledge, precisely why it seeks to isolate you from its actions in this world. So, it’s up to you — to us! — to remain alert and involved. Most of all, each of us must struggle to keep our identity and autonomy as a citizen, a rank higher than that of any general or admiral, for, as we all need to be reminded, those wearing uniforms are supposed to serve you, not vice-versa.

I know you hear otherwise. You’ve been told repeatedly in these years that it’s your job to “support our troops.” Yet, in truth, those troops should only exist to support and defend you, and of course the Constitution, the compact that binds us all together as a nation.

When misguided citizens genuflect before those troops (and then ignore everything that’s done in their name), I’m reminded yet again of Ike’s sage warning that only Americans can truly hurt this country. Military service may be necessary, but it’s not necessarily ennobling. America’s founders were profoundly skeptical of large militaries, of entangling alliances with foreign powers, and of permanent wars and threats of the same. So should we all be.

Citizens United Is the Answer

No, not that “Citizens United,” not the case in which the Supreme Court decided corporations had the same free speech rights as you and me, allowing them to coopt the legislative process by drowning us out with massive amounts of “speech,” aka dark-money-driven propaganda. We need citizens united against America’s war machine.

Understanding how that machine works — not just its waste and corruption, but also its positive attributes — is the best way to wrestle it down, to make it submit to the people’s will. Yet activists are sometimes ignorant of the most basic facts about “their” military. So what? Does the difference between a sergeant major and a major, or a chief petty officer and the chief of naval operations matter? The answer is: yes.

An antimilitary approach anchored in ignorance won’t resonate with the American people. An antiwar message anchored in knowledge could, however. It’s important, that is, to hit the proverbial nail on the head. Look, for example, at the traction Donald Trump gained in the presidential race of 2015-2016 when he did something few other politicians then dared do: dismiss the Iraq War as wasteful and stupid. His election win in 2016 was not primarily about racism, nor the result of a nefarious Russian plot. Trump won, at least in part because, despite his ignorance on so many other things, he spoke a fundamental truth — that America’s wars of this century were horrendous blunders.

Trump, of course, was anything but antimilitary. He dreamed of military parades in Washington, D.C. But I (grudgingly) give him credit for boasting that he knew more than his generals and by that I mean many more Americans need to challenge those in authority, especially those in uniform.

Yet challenging them is just a start. The only real way to wrestle the military-industrial complex to the ground is to cut its funding in half, whether gradually over years or in one fell swoop. Yes, indeed, it’s the understatement of the century to note how much easier that’s said than done. It’s not like any of us could wave a military swagger stick like a magic wand and make half the Pentagon budget disappear. But consider this: If I could do so, that military budget would still be roughly $430 billion, easily more than China’s and Russia’s combined, and more than seven times what this country spends on the State Department. As usual, you get what you pay for, which for America has meant more weapons and disastrous wars.

Join me in imagining the (almost) inconceivable — a Pentagon budget cut in half. Yes, generals and admirals would scream and Congress would squeal. But it would truly matter because, as a retired Army major general once told me, major budget cuts would force the Pentagon to think — for once. With any luck, a few sane and patriotic officers would emerge to place the defense of America first, meaning that hubristic imperial designs and forever wars would truly be reined in because there’d simply be no more money for them.

Currently, Americans are giving the Pentagon all it wants — plus some. And how’s that been working out for the rest of us? Isn’t it finally time for us to exercise real oversight, as Ike challenged us to do in 1961? Isn’t it time to force the Pentagon to pass an audit each year — it’s failed the last five! — or else cut its budget even more deeply? Isn’t it time to hold Congress truly responsible for enabling ever more war by voting out military sycophants? Isn’t it time to recognize, as America’s founders did, that sustaining a vast military establishment constitutes the slow and certain death of democracy?

Just remember one thing: the military-industrial complex won’t reform itself. It just might have no choice, however, but to respond to our demands, if we as citizens remain alert, knowledgeable, determined, and united. And if it should refuse to, if the MIC can’t be tamed, whether because of its strength or our weakness, you will know beyond doubt that this country has truly lost its way.

William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) and professor of history, is a TomDispatch regular and a senior fellow at the Eisenhower Media Network (EMN), an organization of critical veteran military and national security professionals.

1 February 2023

Source: countercurrents.org

Bursting Adani bubble exposes nexus between Crony Capitalists and ruling BJP

By Dr. Soma Marla

Forbes, world’s financial news daily declared (September, 2022), Gautam Adani as the second richest in global rich list, with a fortune estimated to be  $155.5 billion on Forbe’s Real time billionaire rankings.  Then during this week credible American financial investigating firm Hindenburg Research revealed a saga of stock manipulations and accounting frauds  of Adani empire, India’s biggest crony capitalist. As result, by 31st January morning Adani group had lost around more than Rs. 5.2 lakh crore( $65 billion) and lost  nearly 25 percent of its market value of shares of his biggest companies plummeting steeply  following the release of  the nearly 160 page long report of Hindenburg Research.

Generous Loans and looting

During the last nine years  Modi government   has privatized and gifted away several public assets starting from sea ports, airports, highways, coal imports, power plants, cement, gas and solar projects to Adani group  at  throw away prices even with single tenders away from  any potential competetetors.  Adani was facilitated with huge funds from public institutions like SBI and LIC  to acquire these assets. These public sector banks gave away loans running in to tens and thousands of crores of rupees on mere ‘ GOOD WILL’ of Adani group, without seeking any security guarantees. This became possible on account of Adani’s closest nexus with the Indian regime.  Can we imagine the same treatment mooted to a self employed small entrepreneur or farmer seeking a petty crop loan.

The massive fraud potentially can potentially jeopardize the entire financial system of the country. According to media reports,   losses running in to thousands of crores of rupees of SBI and LIC which from  financed huge projects of  Adani group. Of the more than Rs. 2 lakh crore ‘debt’ (based on the estimate of financial year ending March 2022) of Adani, 40 percent is from Indian public sector banks and financial institutions including LIC and SBI. LIC alone had invested Rs. 77,000 crore in the inflated shares of Adani of which Rs. 23500 crore had already been lost within four days By 30th January!  State-owned banks have lent twice as much to the Adani Group as private banks. Obviously, the hard-earned savings of millions of Indian depositors are at risk. However, Adani group could not provide substantial answers to point wise charges of Hindenburg and termed them malicious aimed at thwarting rising India success story. It appears Adani is trying to sidetrack the serious fraud and loot by draping national flag under nationalism.

Nexus between Crony Capitalism and BJP regime

Adani bubble, which is based on financial speculation and stock jobbing together with the gobbling up of public wealth and bank money, was  further facilitated by his close proximity to state power over the last two decades. In 2001, Adani was a small business man compared with Ambani, whose wealth at that time was 500 times that of Adani. Since then, with patronage from Modi, Adani transformed as India’s biggest corporate and as world’s third richest billionaire. Being a college drop-out, starting his career by setting up a commodity trading business in the 1980s, it was the liberalisation-globalisation regime of the 1990s that enabled Adani to set up the Mundra port in 1995. In 2002, the total worth of the main holding company of Adani was just $70 million. But within a span of just a decade, Adani could gallop his wealth to $ 20000 million (a growth of 300 times), quite unprecedented in corporate history, according to Forbes!  In eight years of corporate-saffron regime of Modi  Adani’s wealth has reportedly grown by 800 percent. In 2019, for example, the group bought all of a batch of six airports being privatised by the government, after rule changes allowed a company with no prior experience to swiftly become one of India’s largest airport groups. Adani borrowing from banks is based on one business to finance expansion into new ones. Adani developed a port and special economic zone in Mundra, Gujarat, that was to grow into one of India’s largest and a hub of his business empire, with facilities like a coal-to-plastic factory and a copper smelter on site. Adani has pushed heavily into renewable energy, Adani Greens, aligning himself with the government’s ambitious decarbonisation goals, while remaining one of India’s biggest operators of coal-fired power plants.He is collaborating with French firm ‘ Total Energy’ to produce ‘ Green Hydrogen’ with an investment of $ 20 billions.Recently, he acquired a major share in  the leading broadcaster NDTV — a move to silence liberal journalism and further shrink freedom of free speech.A blatant act to strengthen  cronyism.

Finance Capital and Speculation

Adani, India’s biggest crony capitalist, could very fast balloon his financial corporate empire solely due to Modi regime’s far-right neoliberal policies such as  liberal tax, labour and environmental regulations that enabled him to buy up precious national assets including land, natural and mineral resources, factories and stocks  at throw-away prices while remaining mainly in the sphere of speculation. He never invested nor involved in manufacturing. All his borrowed investments were in shady companies, speculation and trading in stock markets. Unproductive capital Investments  to generate quick wealth is Adani’s  Mantra. As finance capital being unproductive is chiefly responsible for financial crises like  ‘Housing bubble’ and resulting global economic meltdown in 2007. Today, Adani’s assets are becoming “toxic” in the stock market, and are facing massive selloff.This inturn resulting in huge losses to SBI and LIC. Union government should not try to rescue collapsing Adani group by offering ‘Bail outs’ from Union exchequer. Eventually, the losses would be born by crores of small depositors. Public should strongly oppose any future bailouts to rescue crony capitalism from crisis.

Trade unions and people  should fight against neoliberal policies of present government against privatization of public assets at throw prices to crony capitalists to avert possible  financial crisises  such as present burst of Adani  finance  bubble  to protect economy and common people from resulting shocks.

Dr. Soma Marla,Principal Scientist,ICAR,Delhi

1 February 2023

Source: countercurrents.org

Israeli drones, warplanes strike Iran and Syria

By Patrick Martin

Israeli military and intelligence units carried out multiple acts of aggression over the weekend against Iran and Iranian forces in Syria. The attacks were the first offensive military operations under the ultra-right government newly installed in Israel, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A drone attack, likely staged from within Iran by Israeli operatives, hit a weapons facility in the central Iranian city of Isfahan on Saturday night. This was followed Sunday night by airstrikes against a truck convoy operated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as it crossed the Iraq-Syria border headed into Syria.

Definitive information about the scope, damage and casualties from these attacks was difficult to obtain, but the Wall Street Journal cited an unnamed US military source confirming Israeli responsibility for the drone attack in Isfahan.

There were conflicting claims from Iran and from Israeli sources about the damage in Isfahan. The Iranian Defense Ministry said they caused minor damage and no casualties, and that several of what it called “Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs)” had been shot down.

Given the small size of the drones, said to be quadricopters, and the location of Isfahan in the center of the country, hundreds of miles from the nearest border, military officials said the attack had likely been launched from within Iran by Israeli operatives. Israeli agents have carried out dozens of attacks within Iran, including assassinations, bombings and other acts of sabotage.

Iran’s principal nuclear fuel enrichment facility at Natanz is located in Isfahan province, but well away from the city, and it did not appear to be a target of the latest attacks. There is also a large air force base, an Iran Space Research Center site, and numerous smaller military-related facilities, including at least one ammunition warehouse or factory which was reportedly hit by the drone strike.

The attacks came in the wake of a visit by CIA Director William Burns to Jerusalem for talks with Israeli officials, and coinciding with the arrival of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who begins a two-day round of official meetings on Monday.

And it follows the largest-ever US-Israeli joint military exercises, held in the eastern Mediterranean and across Israeli territory, and involving more than 7,500 troops. Among the reported actions was to test systems that would be vital in the initial stages of a major war against Iran, including advance strikes to take out air defense systems and aerial refueling of warplanes.

The Jerusalem Post wrote, in a gloating tone:

“Experts noted that the US and Israel just spent an entire week conducting military exercises around attacking targets, such as Iran, so carrying out such an attack immediately after these exercises could be meant to send a message as to their seriousness. They estimated that the visit of CIA Director William Burns to Israel just before the attack was evidence of a need for a special face-to-face meeting between the CIA and Mossad chiefs preparing the attack.”

The coordination of the military strikes with Washington went beyond simply operational planning. It seems likely that the target within Iran was chosen in response to Iran’s military assistance to Russia in its proxy war with NATO in Ukraine.

Russia has been making heavy use of Iranian-built drones in the war, although Tehran maintains that the weapons were sent before the war began as part of longstanding military cooperation.

Both the US and NATO have made highly public claims of Iranian participation in the war. With the drone strike in Isfahan, the US and Israel appear to be expanding the Ukraine fighting far into the Middle East.

A top aide to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky made this connection explicitly on Twitter. “Explosive night in Iran,” Mykhailo Podolyak taunted. “Did warn you.”

Already, at his first Middle East stop in Cairo, where he met with Egyptian military dictator Abel Fattah el-Sisi, Blinken reiterated the bullying US position that “all options are available on the table to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

In the airstrike in Syria, which has not been confirmed by Israeli or US military sources—as is usual in such acts of illegal warfare—fighter-bombers attacked a group of 25 Iranian trucks at the al-Qa’im crossing on the Syria-Iraq border.

The Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya network said the trucks had crossed the border and then were hit. According to Syrian media, six refrigerated trucks were among those attacked. Syrian sources also said a meeting of Iranians was targeted in the airstrikes as well.

The details and implications of this expanding warfare will become more apparent. But behind the Israeli aggression is not only the strategic interests of US imperialism, but the deepening internal crisis within the Zionist state.

Thursday’s bloodbath in Jenin, when Israeli troops on a raiding party shot dead 10 Palestinians, produced a retaliatory act of terrorism on Friday night when a Palestinian attacked a synagogue outside Jerusalem, killing nine Israelis. This was followed by further acts of violence around Jerusalem in which both Israelis and Palestinians were killed and wounded.

The new Netanyahu government has taken office with the most sweeping assertion of the reactionary expansionist goals in the history of Israel. Its statement of principles asserts the “exclusive right” of the Jewish people to Israel and the occupied West Bank, and the coalition was formed on the basis of an agreement to formally annex the West Bank when Netanyahu chooses to do so, and to legalize the dozens of unauthorized settlements there, which are illegal even under current Israeli law.

The government has already seen the largest opposition demonstrations in recent history, in which both Jews and Arabs took part, against its threat to neuter the Supreme Court and assume effectively absolute power. This has been followed by the Jenin massacre, which has provoked near-civil war conditions in the occupied West Bank.

30 January 2023

Source: countercurrents.org

Nuclear War. “90 Seconds to Midnight”: The Pentagon’s 1945 “Doomsday Blueprint” to “Wipe the Soviet Union off the Map”

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

***

Author’s Introduction 

My  long-standing commitment is to “the value of human life”,  “the criminalization of  war” , “peaceful co-existence” between nation states and “the future of humanity” which is currently threatened by nuclear war.

I have been researching nuclear war for than more 10 years focussing on its historical, strategic and geopolitical dimensions as well as its criminal features as a means to implementing what is best described as “genocide on a massive scale”.

What is presented below is the history of nuclear war: a succession of U.S. nuclear war plans going back to the Manhattan Project and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

Unknown to the broader public, the first U.S. Doomsday Blueprint of a nuclear attack directed against the Soviet Union was formulated by the US War Department on September 15, 1945 when the US and the Soviet Union were allies.

There is an element of political delusion and paranoia in the formulation of US foreign policy. The Doomsday Scenario has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon for more than 70 years.

Numerous US nuclear war plans have been formulated from the outset, leading up to “The 1956  Strategic Air Command SAC Atomic Weapons Requirements Study” (Declassified in December 2015) which consisted in targeting 1200 urban areas in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China.

Much of what is presented below is the object of media censorship. It is either trivialized (casually compared to the imminent dangers of CO2), or it goes unreported.

The use of nuclear weapons in the present context would inevitably lead to escalation and the end of humanity as we know it.

Ask yourself: is this not tantamount to the planning of genocide on an unprecedented scale not only against Russia or China but inevitably against humanity in its entirety.

Dear Readers: please forward this article to your friends and colleagues.

What is required in to break the fragile political consensus on the use of nuclear weapons. It is not a “protest movement” which is required, it is a mass movement which questions the legitimacy of the decision-makers in high office who consider that “a  nuclear war is winnable”

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, January 31, 2023

 

***

90 Seconds to Midnight according to the Doomsday Clock. The Nobel Peace Laureates are casually blaming Russia, without recalling the history of nuclear war, not to mention Joe Biden’s 1.3 trillion dollar program to develop “more usable”, “low intensity” “preemptive nuclear weapons” to be used on a “first strike basis” against both nuclear and non nuclear states as a means of “self defense”.

Let us recall the history of  the “doomsday scenario” which was part of America’s Manhattan project launched in 1939 with the participation of Britain and Canada.

The Manhattan Project was a  secret plan to develop the atomic bomb coordinated by the US War Department, headed (1941) by Lieutenant General Leslie Groves.

Prominent physicist  DrJ. Robert Oppenheimer  had been appointed by Lt General Groves to head the Los Alamos Laboratory (also known as Project Y) which was established in 1943 as a “top-secret site for designing atomic bombs under the Manhattan Project”. Oppenheimer was entrusted in recruiting and coordinating a team of prominent nuclear scientists including Italian Physicist and Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Enrico Fermi who joined the Los Alamos Laboratory in 1944.

Oppenheimer not only played a key role in coordinating the team of nuclear scientists, he was also engaged in routine consultations with the head of the Manhattan project Lieutenant General Groves, specifically with regard to the use of the first atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which resulted in more than 300,000 immediate deaths.

Below is the Transcript of an August 6, 1945 telephone conversation, declassified (Between Gen. Groves and Dr. Oppenheimer) hours after the Hiroshima bombing:

Gen. G. I am very proud of you and your people [nuclear scientists]

Dr. O. It went alright?

Gen. G. Apparently it went with a tremendous bang.

The September 15, 1945 Blueprint to “Wipe the Soviet Union off the Map”

Barely two weeks after the official end of World War II (September 2, 1945), the US War Department issued  a blueprint  (September 15, 1945) to “Wipe  the Soviet Union off the Map” (66 cities with 204 atomic bombs), when the US and the USSR were allies. This infamous project is confirmed by declassified documents. (For further details see Chossudovsky, 2017)

Below is the image of the 66 cities of the Soviet Union which had been envisaged as targets by the US War Department.

The 66 cities. Click image to enlarge 

The Hiroshima Nagasaki “Dress Rehearsal “

The preparatory documents (see below) confirm that the data pertaining to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks were being used to evaluate the viability as well as the cost of  a much larger attack against the Soviet Union. These documents were finalized 5-6 weeks after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings (6, 9 August 1945).

Note the correspondence between Major General Norstad and the head of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Groves:

On September 15, 1945 Norstad sent a memorandum to Lieutenant Leslie Groves requesting an estimate of  the “number of bombs required to ensure our national security”  ( The First Atomic Stockpile Requirements )

 

Lieutenant General Groves responded to Norstad in a Memorandum dated September 29, 1945 in which he refers to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

See section 2, subsections a, b and c.

“It is not essential to get total destruction of a city in order to destroy its effectiveness. Hiroshima no longer exists as a city even though the area of total destruction is considerably less than total.”

Read carefully. The text below confirms that Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a Dress Rehearsal.  Bear in mind the name of the country which is threatening America’s “national security” is not mentioned.

The 1949 “Dropshot Plan”: 300 Nuclear Bombs, Targeting More than 100 Soviet Cities

 

Numerous US war plans (under the Truman presidency) to attack the Soviet Union were “formulated and revised on a regular basis between 1945 and 1950”. Most of them were totally dysfunctional as outlined by J.W. Smith in his book entitled “The World’s Wasted Wealth 2”.

“The names given to these plans graphically portray their offensive purpose: Bushwhacker, Broiler, Sizzle, Shakedown, Offtackle, Dropshot, Trojan, Pincher, and Frolic. The US military knew the offensive nature of the job President Truman had ordered them to prepare for and had named their war plans accordingly”

Dr. Michio Kaku and Daniel Axelrod in their book entitled:

“To Win a Nuclear War: the Pentagon’s Secret War Plans,”

provides evidence (based on declassified documents) that the September 1945 blueprint was followed by a continuous plan by USG to bomb the Soviet Union (as well as Russia in the post-Cold War era):

“This book [preface by Ramsey Clark] compels us to re-think and re-write the history of the Cold War and the arms race… It provides a startling glimpse into secret U.S. plans to initiate a nuclear war from 1945 to the present.”

The September 1945 Blue Print (66 Cities) was followed in 1949 by another insidious project entitled the Dropshot Plan: 

According to Kaku and Axelrod, the 1949 DropShot consisted of  a plan directed against the Soviet Union to “drop at least 300 nuclear bombs and 20,000 tons of conventional bombs on 200 targets in 100 urban areas, including Moscow and Leningrad (St. Petersburg). According to the plan Washington would start the war on January 1, 1957.”

The Dropshot Plan was formulated prior to Russia’s August 1949 announcement pertaining to the testing of its nuclear bomb.

The Cold War List of 1200 Targeted Cities

The initial 1945 Blueprint to attack 66 cities, the subsequent 1949 Dropshot Plan (targeting 100 cities) were updated in the course of the Cold War. The 1956 Plan included some 1200 cities in the USSR, the Soviet block countries of Eastern Europe and China (see declassified documents below).

The bombs slated for the attack significantly more powerful in terms of explosive capacity than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (see below)

We are talking about planned genocide against the Soviet Union, China and Eastern Europe .

Excerpt from list of the 1200 cities targeted for nuclear attack in alphabetical order. National Security Archive, op. cit.

Details pertaining to the The SAC [Strategic Air Command] Atomic Weapons Requirements Study for 1959, produced in June 1956 were declassified on December 22, 2015 (Excerpts below, click to access full text).

According to the National Security Archive www.nsarchive.org, the SAC, 1956: 

“…provides the most comprehensive and detailed list of nuclear targets and target systems that has ever been declassified. As far as can be told, no comparable document has ever been declassified for any period of Cold War history.

The SAC study includes chilling details. …  the authors developed a plan for the “systematic destruction” of Soviet bloc urban-industrial targets that specifically and explicitly targeted “population” in all cities, including Beijing, Moscow, Leningrad, East Berlin, and Warsaw.  

The SAC document includes lists of more than 1100 airfields in the Soviet bloc, with a priority number assigned to each base. …

A second list was of urban-industrial areas identified for “systematic destruction.”  SAC listed over 1200 cities in the Soviet bloc, from East Germany to China, also with priorities established.  Moscow and Leningrad were priority one and two respectively.  Moscow included 179 Designated Ground Zeros (DGZs) while Leningrad had 145, including “population” targets.  … According to the study, SAC would have targeted Air Power targets with bombs ranging from 1.7 to 9 megatons. 

Exploding them at ground level, as planned, would have produced significant fallout hazards to nearby civilians.  SAC also wanted a 60 megaton weapon which it believed necessary for deterrence, but also because it would produce “significant results” in the event of a Soviet surprise attack. One megaton would be 70 times the explosive yield of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.  (emphasis added).

Read carefully:

Had this diabolical project been carried out against the Soviet Union and its allies, the death toll would be beyond description (ie. when compared to Hiroshima. 100,000 immediate deaths). The smallest nuclear bomb contemplated had an explosive yield of 1.7 megatons, 119 times more “powerful’ than a Hiroshima bomb (15 kilotons of TNT)

The 9 megaton bomb mentioned above was 630 times a Hiroshima bomb, The 60 megaton bomb:  4200 times a Hiroshima bomb. 

The Bulletin: Founded by Manhattan Project Scientists in September 1945

In a bitter irony, in the immediate wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 in Chicago by Manhattan Project scientists, who had been involved in the development of the atomic bomb.

Two years later, in 1947, The Bulletin devised the Doomsday Clock, “with an original setting of seven minutes to midnight”.

The initiative was formulated at a time when there was no arms race: There was only one nuclear weapons state, namely the USA, which was intent upon carrying out a Doomsday scenario (genocide) against the Soviet Union formulated in September 1945.

In 1947, when the Doomsday Clock was created, the “justification” which was upheld by The Bulletin was that:

“the greatest danger to humanity came … from the prospect that the United States and the Soviet Union were headed for a nuclear arms race.”

The underlying premise of this statement was to ensure that the US retain a monopoly over nuclear weapons.

While in 1947, “The Plan to Wipe the Soviet Union of the Map” was still on the drawing Board of the Pentagon, the relevant documents were declassified thirty years later in 1975. Most of the former Manhattan project scientists were not aware of the September 1945 blueprint against the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union emerged as a nuclear power in August 1949, two years after the launching of the Doomsday Clock, largely in view of applying what was later entitled “deterrence”, namely an action to discourage a nuclear attack by the US. At the height of the Cold War and the Arms Race, this concept eventually evolved into what was defined as “Mutually Assured Destruction”.

While several authors and scientists featured by The Bulletin have provided a critical perspective concerning America’s nuclear weapons program, there was no cohesive attempt to question the history nor the legitimacy of  the Manhattan Project.

The broader tendency has been to “erase history”, sustaining the “rightfulness” of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, while also casually placing the blame on Russia, as well as China and North Korea.

Nuclear War versus the “Imminent Dangers of CO2”

In the last fews years, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists “seeks to provide relevant information about nuclear weapons, climate change, and other global security issues”.

According to Mary Robinson, Chair of The Doomsday Clock Elders and former President of the Republic of Ireland (2023 statement):

The Doomsday Clock is sounding an alarm for the whole of humanity. We are on the brink of a precipice. … From cutting carbon emissions to strengthening arms control treaties and investing in pandemic preparedness, we know what needs to be done. … We are facing multiple, existential crises. Leaders need a crisis mindset. (emphasis added)

CO2 is casually put forth as a danger to humanity comparable to nuclear war.

The Doomsday Clock is now said to “represent threats to humanity from a variety of sources” according to a collective of Nobel Prize Laureates.

What nonsense.

2023  January Statement, ScreenShot from WP

Presenting C02 or Covid as a danger comparable to nuclear war is an outright lie. Its intent is to mislead public opinion. It is part of a rather unsubtle propaganda campaign which provides legitimacy to the US doctrine of first strike “preemptive nuclear war”, i.e. nuclear war as a means of “self-defense”.

What is of concern is that U.S. decision makers including Joe Biden believe in their own propaganda, that a preemptive first strike nuclear war against Russia is “winnable”. And that tactical nuclear weapons are “instruments of peace”.

Meanwhile history is erased. America’s persistent role in developing “a Doomsday Agenda” (aka genocide) since the onslaught of the Manhattan Project in 1939 is simply not mentioned.

What is of concern is that there is a continuous history of numerous projects and WWIII scenarios consisting in “Wiping Russia off the Map” and triggering  a Third World War.

Nuclear war against Russia has been embedded in US military doctrine since 1945.

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

2 February 2023

Source: globalresearch.ca

Burkina Faso Ejects French Troops

By Vijay Prashad

25 Jan 2023 – On 18 Jan 2023, the government of Burkina Faso made a decision to ask the French military forces to depart from the country within a month. This decision was made by the government of Captain Ibrahim Traoré, who staged the second coup of 2022 in Burkina Faso in September to remove Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who had seized power in a coup d’état in January. Traoré, now the interim president of Burkina Faso, said that Damiba, who is in exile in Togo, had not fulfilled the objectives of the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration, the name of their military group. Traoré’s government accused Damiba of not being able to stem the insurgency in the country’s north and of colluding with the French (alleging that Damiba had taken refuge in the French military base at Kamboinsin to launch a strike against the coup within a coup).

France entered the Sahel region in 2013 to prevent the southern movement of jihadist elements strengthened by the war in Libya, prosecuted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In the past few years, anti-French sentiment has deepened in North Africa and the Sahel. It was this sentiment that provoked the coups in Mali (August 2020 and May 2021), Guinea (September 2021), and then in Burkina Faso (January 2022 and September 2022). In February 2022, Mali’s government ejected the French military, accusing French forces of committing atrocities against civilians and colluding with jihadi insurgents. Burkina Faso has now joined Mali.

The ejection of France does not mean that there will be no NATO countries in the region. Both the United States and Britain have a large footprint from Morocco to Niger, with the United States trying to draw African countries into its contest against China and Russia. Regular trips by U.S. military leaders—such as U.S. Marine Corps General Michael Langley (commander of U.S. Africa Command) to Gabon in mid-January – and by U.S. civilian leaders—like Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia—are part of a full-court press to ensure that African states forge closer ties with the United States and its allies over China. The designation of Russia’s Wagner Group—which is said to be operating in the Sahel—as a “transnational criminal organization ” by the United States and the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, held in mid-December, are both attempts to draw African states into a new cold war.

Almost half of the Burkinabé population lives below the poverty line, and “more than 630,000 people are on the brink of starvation,” in the country, according to the UN. The country is, however, not poor with its gold export reaching $7.19 billion in 2020. These gains do not go to the Burkinabé people but go to the large mining companies. Ejection of the French military will not be the answer to these deep-seated problems faced by Burkina Faso.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist.

30 January 2023

Source: transcend.org

US Constantly Provoking China

By Caitlin Johnstone

“Chinese Aggression” Sure Looks an Awful Lot like US Aggression

24 Jan 2023 – The way the U.S. has been positioning its war machinery around China would have sparked a third world war had the roles been reversed. Nonetheless, talk inside the U.S. empire is all about Chinese “aggression.”

Punchbowl News reports that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is planning a trip to Taiwan, which will be yet another incendiary provocation against Beijing if it occurs. The previous House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, sparked a significant escalation in hostilities with her visit last year, the consequences of which are still reverberating today.

Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp explains:

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was viewed in Beijing as a major provocation, and it sparked the largest-ever Chinese military drills around the island. The exercises included China firing missiles over Taiwan and simulating a blockade of the island, both unprecedented actions.

China has kept up the military pressure on Taiwan since Pelosi’s visit, and its warplanes regularly now cross the median line, an informal barrier that divides the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Before Pelosi’s trip, China barely crossed the line. Now, it’s an almost-daily occurrence.

Beijing views the US House speaker visiting Taiwan as an affront to the one-China policy and the understanding the US and China reached in 1979, when Washington severed formal relations with Taipei.

US-led provocations and escalations against China are becoming a regular occurrence, both from the US itself and from its imperial assets like Australia and Taiwan. Yet according to the western political/media class, the urgent threat of our day is “Chinese aggression”.

After the House of Representatives voted to approve the new Select Committee on China — a Republican initiative designed to increase internal pressure in the US government to ramp up the new cold war — the committee’s chairman Mike Gallagher put out a statement saying that it is “time to push back against the Chinese Communist Party’s aggression in bipartisan fashion.”

Gallagher is a particularly noxious warmonger who says urgent efforts must be made to stop China from “destroying the capitalist system led by the United States in order to make way for the triumph of world socialism with Chinese characteristics.” He advocates the “selective decoupling” from specific sectors of the Chinese economy and says the US is in “the early stages of a new cold war” against China. He advocates pouring weapons into Taiwan in much the same way the US did in the lead-up to its proxy war in Ukraine, and asserts that the US needs to be preparing for a direct hot war with China in the near future.

Gallagher’s hawkishness on China is quickly becoming the mainstream consensus position in the western political/media class as the US-centralized empire ramps up aggressions while continually complaining about Chinese aggression.

The US empire has been increasingly positioning its war machinery around China since the Obama administration’s “Pivot to Asia” in ways that would have led to an immediate third world war if the roles were reversed, and its aggressions have escalated with each subsequent administration. Just in the last couple of months we’ve had news that the US is planning on returning to its Subic Bay base in the Philippines as part of its encirclement campaign against China, and also intends to station missile-armed marines along Japan’s Okinawa islands. The US is also reportedly working on building a network of missile systems on a chain of islands near the Chinese mainland, explicitly for the goal of countering China. The US and its allies have dramatically increased their naval presence in disputed waters near China, viewed as acts of aggression by Beijing.

None of this would be tolerated by the United States if China were openly moving its war machinery into adjacent areas with the stated goal of “countering the US”. If China were doing this, it would be a near-unanimous consensus throughout the western world that China was engaged in hostile provocations and was clearly the aggressor. Nobody would listen to China if it claimed it was militarily encircling the US for defensive purposes.

But that’s exactly what happens with US aggressions against China. It’s just taken as matter of fact when the US says it’s moving more and more war machinery into the waters around China as a defensive precaution to deter Chinese aggression. Because the narrative is coming from the most effective propaganda machine ever devised, we hear “No bro, the US is militarily encircling its number one geopolitical rival on the other side of the planet defensively. Because like what if China tries to do something aggressive?”

In a surprisingly decent Foreign Affairs article titled “The Problem With Primacy,” Van Jackson argues that the US is behaving in such a transparently aggressive manner toward China that it can’t possibly claim to be acting in the interests of preserving peace and stability in the region.

“This is not the rationale of a country that is simply balancing Chinese power or trying to stop Beijing from creating a sphere of influence,” writes Jackson of the recent US semiconductor export ban against China. “It is not the strategy of a state trying to decouple from the Chinese economy. It is containment in all but name.”

“The Pentagon has promised that 2023 will be ‘the most transformative year in US force posture in the region in a generation,’ a line likely meant to be reassuring but that comes off as ominous,” Jackson writes. “The Department of Defense is making good on this promise by modernizing its large traditional presence in Northeast Asia while increasing its footprint in the Pacific Islands and Australia—areas that the Chinese military cannot seriously contest.”

Jackson argues that Washington’s efforts to halt China’s rise will likely achieve nothing besides provoking China into militarizing against it, saying, “There is no reason to believe that spending over a trillion dollars modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal or selling submarines to Australia will cause China to do anything but continue arming itself as quickly as possible.”

This aligns with the warnings of an anonymous US official cited in a November article by Bloomberg, who said that “the hawkish tone in DC has contributed to a cycle where the US makes the first move, interprets Chinese reactions as a provocation, and then escalates further.”

It’s the US making the first move every time.

Taiwan is an odd case because empire apologists will openly tell you that Beijing must never control the island as it’s a geostrategically crucial location with essential semiconductor manufacturing, and then turn around and still try to tell you that Washington’s interest in Taiwan is because it wants to protect freedom and democracy. It’s even more transparent than when they were pretending to yearn for the liberation of nations that just so happened to sit on a lot of oil.

I don’t know if Beijing will ever launch an attack on Taiwan or some other future flashpoint, but if it does it seems a safe bet that it will be because the US empire kept ramping up aggressions and provocations until it got to the point that China felt it was losing more from inaction than it would from action. And then empire apologists will spend all day shrieking at anyone who tries to talk about those provocations.

Because that’s the rule now, if you weren’t aware. As of February 2022 we’re all meant to pretend that the concept of provocation is not a commonplace idea that everyone understands and learns about as children, but that “provocation” is rather a nonsensical propaganda word that was invented by Vladimir Putin last year. It is now no longer permissible for you to talk about the aggressions that led up to a nation going to war; we must all pretend that history began the day their troops crossed the border.

History is being re-written with Ukraine, and if war erupts over Taiwan it will probably be re-written there as well. But note to the future: the road to war was paved by mountains of US aggression.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.

30 January 2023

Source: transcend.org

The Nightmare of NATO Equipment Being Sent to Ukraine

By Scott Ritter

24 Jan 2023 – The West’s recent approval of more military assistance for Kiev risks nuclear nightmare, fails Ukrainian expectations, and rebukes the WWII history enshrined in a prominent Soviet war memorial in Berlin. Today the White House decided that it would send about 30 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, a political cover for Germany that decided to ship 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev.

Early on the morning of May 2, 1945, General Vasily Chuikov, the commander of the Soviet 8thGuards Army, accepted the surrender of the German garrison of Berlin.

Two days prior, soldiers from the 150th Rifle Division, part of the Soviet 5th Shock Army, had raised the victory banner of the Red Army over the Reichstag. An hour after the banner went up, Adolf Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun, committed suicide in his study inside the Furhrerbunker.

Chuikov, the hero of Stalingrad whose battered 62nd Army was renamed the 8th Guards Army in honor of their victory in holding that city in the face of a massive German onslaught, had led his troops into the heart of the Nazi capital, battling stubborn Nazi resistance in the Tiergarten district of Berlin, where the den of the Nazi beast was located. The Soviet general was rewarded for the courage and sacrifice of his soldiers by being in position to accept the German surrender.

In honor of this accomplishment, and the sacrifice it entailed, the Soviet Army inaugurated, in November 1945, a commemorative monument along the Tiergarten. Constructed from red marble and granite stripped away from the ruins of Adolf Hitler’s Neue Reichskanzlei (New Imperial Chancellery), the monument, consisting of a concave colonnade of six joined axes flanked by Red Army artillery and a pair of T-34 tanks, with a giant bronze statue of a victorious Red Army soldier standing watch from the center pylon.

From 1945 until 1993, when the Russian Army withdrew from Berlin, Soviet guards stood guard over the monument. Since that time, the monument has been maintained according to the terms of the German Reunification Treaty of 1990, which brought West and East Germany together in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Carved into the granite of the monument, in Cyrillic letters, is an inscription that reads “Eternal glory to the heroes who fell in battle with the German fascist occupiers for the freedom and independence of the Soviet Union.”

In a turn of events which must have Vasily Chuikov and the Soviet heroes to whom the Tiergarten war memorial was dedicated turning in their graves, the forces of fascism have once again reared their odious heads, this time manifested in a Ukrainian government motivated by the neo-Nazi ultra-nationalistic ideology of Stepan Bandera and his ilk.

Bandera and his murderous movement had been physically defeated by Soviet forces in the decade following the end of the Second World War. However, its ideology survived in a western Ukrainian diaspora formed from the survivors of that movement who found safe haven in West Germany (where Bandera himself settled until assassinated by the Soviet KGB in 1959); Canada (where Chrystia Freeland, the granddaughter of a former publisher of pro-Bandera propaganda, currently serves as deputy prime minister), and the United States (where the followers of Stepan Bandera have constructed a “heroes park” outside Ellenville, New York, including a bust of Bandera and other neo-Nazi Ukrainian ultra-nationalists.)

The ideology also survived in the shadows of the western Ukrainian districts that had been absorbed by the Soviet Union following the dismemberment of Poland in 1939, and later, after the reoccupation of these territories by Soviet forces in 1945.

CIA-Funded Political Underground

Here, beginning in 1956, (following the de-Stalinization policies instituted by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in the aftermath of his “secret speech” to members of the Communist Party), thousands of members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)/Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Bandera (OUN-B), who had been arrested and convicted by Soviet authorities, were released from the Gulag and returned to their homes, ostensibly to be reintegrated into Soviet society. This reintegration never materialized, however.

Instead, Ukrainian fascists, funded by the C.I.A., operated as a political underground, running sabotage operations and fomenting anti-Soviet/anti-Russian ideology amongst a population where the precepts of Ukrainian nationalist ideology ran strong.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, at the end of 1991, these Ukrainian nationalists emerged from the shadows and began organizing into political parties backed by gangs of violence-prone extremists who promulgated, through physical intimidation, a cult of personality built around the person of Stepan Bandera.

Political parties such as Svoboda (“Freedom”) and the Right Sector came into being. Although lacking support among the majority of the Ukrainian population, these groups were able to leverage their penchant for organization and violence into a dominant role in the riots that broke out in Maidan Square in Kiev, in early 2014, that led to the ouster of democratically-elected Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and his replacement by a government of people hand-picked by the United States, including the future prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

An intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, which took place in the days prior to the ouster of Yanukovych in February 2014, had Nuland positioning Yatsenyuk as the future leader of Ukraine and, in this context, was actively encouraging Yatsenyuk to coordinate with Oleh Tyahnybok, the head of Svoboda, who was being openly backed by armed radicals from the Right Sector.

The close coordination between the new post-Maidan government of Ukraine and the pro-Bandera Svoboda and Right Sector political parties manifested in these organizations having an oversized role in Ukrainian security affairs.

By way of example, Dmytro Yarosh, the former head of Right Sector, became an adviser to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi. In that role, Yarosh oversaw the incorporation of numerous volunteer units of the Right Sector into the regular armed forces of Ukraine.

One of the units created because of this reorganization is the 67th Separate Mechanized Brigade, which since November 2022 has been undergoing training in the United Kingdom.

The fact that NATO members, such as the United Kingdom, are actively involved in the training of Ukrainian forces is well-established. In July 2022 the British Defense Ministry announced that it would begin training approximately 10,000 Ukrainian troops every four months.

That they are playing an active role in providing combat training to ardent neo-Nazi military formations is something Western media outlets appear to eschew.

Ukraine Defense Contact Group

The issue, however, is far more complex — and controversial — than simply providing basic military training to a few thousand adherents of Stepan Bandera’s hate-filled ideology.

The 67th Separate Mechanized Brigade is likely to be one of three Ukrainian brigade-sized formations that will be trained and equipped using billions of dollars of military assistance recently approved during the eighth session of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

The contact group was first convened at the sprawling U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany, in April 2022, and has served as the primary mechanism of coordination between the armed forces of Ukraine and NATO regarding the provision of training and material support to the Ukrainian military.

The most recent convocation of the Ramstein Contact Group took place in the shadow of an interview given by the commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, to The Economist, in December 2022. According to Zaluzhnyi, the primary problem facing Ukraine was the need “to hold this line [i.e., the Soledar-Bakhmut defensive belt] and not lose any more ground.”

Since that interview, Soledar has fallen to the Russians, and Bakhmut is threatened with being surrounded. Moreover, Russian forces are on the offensive north and south of the Bakhmut front, in some instances advancing up to seven kilometers per day.

Zaluzhnyi also stated that the second priority for Ukraine was

“to get ready for this war which can happen in February [2023]. To be able to wage a war with fresh forces and reserves. Our troops are all tied up in battles now, they are bleeding. They are bleeding and are being held together solely by courage, heroism, and the ability of their commanders to keep the situation under control.”

The Ukrainian commander noted that the February “war” would have Ukraine resuming the attack:

“We have made all the calculations — how many tanks, artillery we need and so on and so on. This is what everyone needs to concentrate on right now. May the soldiers in the trenches forgive me, it’s more important to focus on the accumulation of resources right now for the more protracted and heavier battles that may begin next year.”

The goal of this offensive, Zaluzhnyi said, was to push Russia back to the borders that existed on Feb. 23, 2022, the start of the Russian invasion. He also indicated that the liberation of Crimea was an objective.

“In order to reach the borders of Crimea, as of today we need to cover a distance of 84 km to Melitopol [a strategic city in the south of the Donetsk Republic]. By the way, this is enough for us, because Melitopol would give us a full fire control of the land corridor, because from Melitopol we can already fire at the Crimean Isthmus.”

Zaluzhnyi exuded confidence. “I know that I can beat this enemy,” he said. “But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 IFV’s [infantry fighting vehicles], 500 Howitzers. Then, I think it is completely realistic to get to the lines of February 23rd.”

Zaluzhnyi spoke of an upcoming meeting with U.S. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I will tell him [Milley] how much it is worth, how much it costs. If we don’t get it, of course we will fight to the end. But as a movie character said, ‘I don’t vouch for the consequences.’ The consequences are not hard to foresee. This is what we have to do.”

In short, Zaluzhnyi was saying he could win the war with Russia if he received the requested amount of military equipment. Otherwise, Ukraine would likely lose the conflict.

The Eighth Session

The eighth session of the Ramstein Contact Group convened on Jan. 20 and the Ukrainians pressed hard for their Western allies to provide the material support Zaluzhnyi had requested.

Defense ministers from more than 50 countries participated, including Ukraine’s Oleksii Reznikov who, speaking at the Davos World Economic Forum a few days before the Ramstein meeting, declared that “We [Ukraine] are carrying out NATO’s mission today. They aren’t shedding their blood. We’re shedding ours. That’s why they’re required to supply us with weapons.”

The Contact Group took the Ukrainian demand for material support under consideration, and by the end of the meeting had committed to providing Ukraine with a multi-billion dollar support package, including air defense weapons, artillery ammunition, support vehicle, and (perhaps most importantly) approximately 240 of the 500 infantry fighting vehicles it had requested, broken down roughly into one battalion (59 vehicles) of U.S.-made M-2 Bradleys, two battalions (90 vehicles) of M-1126s, one battalion (40 vehicles) of German Marders and one battalion (approximately 50 vehicles) of Swedish-made CV90s.

The Ramstein Contact Group also promised delivery of four self-propelled artillery battalions, consisting of 19 Swedish-made Archer’s, 18 British-made AS-90’s, 18 U.S.-made M-109 Paladin’s, and a dozen French-made CEASAR’s. When added to the 24 towed FH-70 pieces, the total of artillery pieces being sent to Ukraine amounts to just under 100 artillery pieces, a far cry from the 500 requested by Zaluzhnyi.

Missing from the Ramstein Contact Group list was anything remotely resembling the 300 tanks Zaluzhnyi had requested; the best Ukraine’s European allies could muster [until Tuesday] was a promise from the United Kingdom to supply a company’s worth (14) of Challenger 2 main battle tanks.

Zaluzhnyi, in his interview with The Economist, had indicated that he could not accomplish his planned offensive with anything less than the three armored and three mechanized brigade-equivalents he had requested.

The collective West had responded with barely two brigade’s worth of equipment.

These two, when added to a third mechanized brigade that had previously been formed and was undergoing training in Poland, gave the Ukrainian general half of what he claimed he needed to launch a successful offensive against Russia.

For U.S. General Milley, the equipment shortfall wasn’t the issue — training was. Prior to arriving at Ramstein, Milley toured the sprawling Grafenwoehr training grounds in Germany. There the U.S. Army is in the process of training some 600 Ukrainian soldiers to effectively move and coordinate their company-and battalion-size units in battle, using combined artillery, armor and ground forces.

Speaking to reporters, General Milley said such training was critical in helping Ukraine recapture territory lost to Russia last year.  The goal of this training, Milley said, is for incoming weapons and equipment to be delivered to Ukraine so the newly trained forces will be able to use it “sometime before the spring rains show up. That would be ideal.”

What the West is Giving 

Operational training, no matter how competently delivered and absorbed, does not paint an accurate picture of the true combat capability being turned over to Ukraine by the West. The reality is most of this equipment won’t last a month under combat conditions; even if the Russians don’t destroy them, maintenance issues will.

Take, for instance, the 59 M-2 Bradley vehicles being supplied by the United States. According to anecdotal information obtained from Reddit, the Bradley is, to quote, “a maintenance NIGHTMARE.”

“I can’t even begin to commiserate how f***ing awful maintenance on a Bradley is,” the author, a self-described U.S. Army veteran who served in a Bradley unit in Iraq, declared.

“Two experienced crews MIGHT be able to change one Brad’s track in 3 or 4 hours, if nothing goes wrong (something always goes wrong). Then you got the track adjuster arms, the shock arms, the roadwheels, the sprocket itself, that all need maintained and replaced as needed. I haven’t even started talking about the engine/transmission pack yet. When you do services on that, it’s not like you just raise the engine deck lid. You got to take the armor OFF the Bradley so an M88 Wrecker vehicle can use its crane to LIFT the engine/tranny out of the hull.”

The Stryker isn’t any better. According to a recent article in Responsible Statecraft, U.S. soldiers who used the vehicle in both Iraq and Afghanistan called the Stryker “a very good combat vehicle, so long as it traveled on roads, it wasn’t raining — and didn’t have to fight.”

The Stryker is also a difficult system to maintain properly. One of the critical features of the Stryker is the “height management system,” or HMS. In short, it is what keeps the hull from riding on the tires. A failure to constantly maintain and monitor the HMS system will result in the hull rubbing up against the tires, causing tire failure and a non-operable vehicle.

The HMS is complex, and a failure to maintain or operate one component will result in the failure of the entire system. The likelihood of the future Ukrainian operators of the Stryker properly maintaining the HMS under combat conditions is near-zero — they will lack the training as well as the “logistical support” necessary (such as spare parts).

The German Marder IFV appears to represent a similar maintenance headache for the Ukrainians: according to a 2021 article in The National Interest, “The vehicle was considered unreliable from the outset: Tracks rapidly wore out, transmissions often failed, and soldiers could not easily remove the vehicle’s engine for field maintenance.”

While Germany is preparing to invest a significant amount of money to upgrade the Marder, this hasn’t yet been done. Ukraine is inheriting an old weapons system that brings with it a considerable maintenance problem Ukraine is not prepared to properly handle.

The Swedish CV 90 saw some limited combat in Afghanistan when deployed with the Norwegian Army. While there is not enough publicly available data about the maintainability of this system, one only needs to note that even if the SV 90 proves easy to maintain, it represents a completely different maintenance problem from that of the Bradly, Stryker, or Marder.

In short, to properly operate the five battalion-equivalents of infantry fighting vehicles being supplied their NATO partners, Ukraine will need to train its maintenance troops on four completely different systems, each with its own unique set of problems and separate logistical/spare part support requirements.

It is, literally, a logistical nightmare that will ultimately prove to be the Achilles heel of the Ramstein tranche of heavy equipment.

But even here, neither NATO nor Ukraine seems able to see the forest for the trees. Rather than acknowledging that the material being provided is inadequate to the task of empowering Ukraine to carry out large-scale offensive operations against Russia, the two sides began haranguing each other over the issue of tanks, namely the failure of Germany to step up to the plate in Ramstein and clear the way for the provision to Ukraine of hundreds of modern Leopard 2 main battle tanks.

German History & Optics

The Ramstein meeting was hampered by concern within the German Parliament over the optics associated with Germany providing tanks which would be used to fight Russians in Ukraine.

This angst was perhaps best captured by Petr Bystron of the right-wing Alternative for Germany party. “German tanks [fighting] against Russia in Ukraine,” Bystron challenged his colleagues, “remember, your grandfathers tried to do the same trick, together with [Ukrainian nationalists] Melnik, Bandera and their supporters.

“The result was immense suffering, millions of casualties on both sides and, eventually, Russian tanks came here, to Berlin. Two of those tanks remain on permanent display nearby, and you must keep this in mind when you pass them by every morning,” Bystron said, referring to the two Soviet T-34 tanks at the Tiergarten memorial to fallen Soviet soldiers.

The issue of Leopard tanks, however, was more political than technical, with Poland threatening to ignore Germany’s refusal to allow the tanks to be sent to Ukraine, announcing that it was prepared to dispatch 14 of its own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in the near future. When combined with the 14 Challenger 2 tanks being promised by the British, Ukraine was getting 28 of the 300 tanks it said it needed for any future offensive. [Now roughly 58 with the U.S. Abrams.]

The numerical disparities and maintenance difficulties aside, NATO politicians seem quite pleased with what was accomplished at Ramstein. According to British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, in an address to Parliament,

“The international community recognizes that equipping Ukraine to push Russia out of its territory is as important as equipping them to defend what they already have. Today’s package is an important increase in Ukraine’s capabilities. It means they can go from resisting to expelling Russian forces from Ukrainian soil.”

Wallace seems to ignore that by empowering Ukraine to expel Russian troops from what are — following the annexation of the four former Ukrainian territories (Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson) last September — permanently part of the Russian Federation, NATO would be potentially creating the conditions under which Russia would be able to doctrinally employ nuclear weapons. Those conditions would be to defend against the accumulation of conventional military power capable of threatening the existential survival of Russia.

Russia, however, has not ignored this. Speaking after the Ramstein Contact Group finished its meeting, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters “Potentially, this is extremely dangerous, it will mean bringing the conflict to a whole new level, which, of course, will not bode well from the point of view of global and pan-European security.”

Senior Russian officials chimed in on social media. Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, declared on his Telegram channel that:

“It should be clear for everyone — we will destroy any weapons supplied to the Zelensky’s regime by either the United States or NATO. That is true now as it was true during the Great Patriotic War. The emergence of tanks, bearing Nazi insignia, on the former Soviet soil unequivocally makes us aim at toppling the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine and creating normal conditions so that the neighboring peoples in the region could live peacefully like in the old days.”

Dmitri Medvedev, a former Russian president and close adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, added on Twitter that those who promote a Russian defeat risk unleashing global ruin. “None of them gets it that a nuclear power’s loss of a conventional war can lead to a nuclear one. Nuclear powers haven’t been defeated in major conflicts crucial for their destiny.”

The Consequences for Ukraine

The reality is, however, that the consequences of the Ramstein Contact Group’s work will be far more detrimental to Ukraine than Russia.

Under pressure from the West to carry out a major offensive designed to expel Russian forces from the territories captured last year, General Zaluzhnyi will be compelled to sacrifice whatever reserves he would be able to assemble in the aftermath of Ramstein for the purpose of engaging in fruitless attacks against a Russian opponent that is far different from the one Ukraine faced in September and October of last year.

Then, a reconstituted Ukrainian army, bolstered by tens of billions of dollars of NATO equipment, training and operational support, was able to take advantage of over-extended Russian forces to recapture large swaths of territory in Kharkov and Kherson.

Today, Russia’s military presence in Ukraine is a far cry from what it was in the autumn of 2022. In the aftermath of Putin’s September 2022 decision to mobilize 300,000 reservists, Russia has not only consolidated the frontline in eastern Ukraine, assuming a more defensible posture, but also reinforced its forces with some 80,000 mobilized troops, allowing for Russia to sustain offensive operations in the Donetsk regions while solidifying its defenses in Kherson and Lugansk.

From Feb. 24 through the autumn of 2022, Russia deviated significantly from how it doctrinally prosecutes armed conflict. Moving forward, Russia will be waging war by the book. Defensive positions will be laid in a manner designed to defeat concerted NATO attack, both in terms of troop density along the frontline, but also in depth (something lacking in the Kharkov offensive in September 2022) and with sufficient dedicated fire support (again, lacking in September 2022).

By General Zaluzhnyi’s own admission, Ukraine has insufficient forces for the task. Even if Ukraine were able to concentrate all three brigades’ worth of men and material that are in the pipeline following the Ramstein Contact Group meeting at one place at the same time, the 20,000 or so troops this represents would be unable to breach a Russian defensive position laid out in doctrinal fashion.

Ukraine and NATO should heed the history lesson that Petr Bystron presented to his fellow German parliamentarians — German tanks do not historically fare well against Russian tanks on Ukrainian soil.

And Ben Wallace and Mark Milley should pay attention to the order of battle of the Russian forces opposing the Ukrainian Army, especially around the critical battlefields in and around the strategic city of Bakhmut. There, Russian soldiers belonging to the 8th Guards Army are poised to continue in the tradition of Vasily Chuikov’s heroes of Stalingrad and Berlin, destroying the forces of fascism on the field of battle.

While the modern-day soldiers of the 8th Guards Army may not be mounting a new generation of tanks on display in the Berlin Tiergarten, rest assured they know fully well their historical legacy and what is expected of them.

This, more than anything else, is the true expression of the Ramstein effect, a cause-effect relationship that the West does not seem either able or willing to discern before it is too late for the tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers whose lives are about to be sacrificed on an altar of national hubris and ignorance.

Scott Ritter was a US Marine Corps intelligence officer for 12 years. As a chief weapons inspector for the UN Special Commission in Iraq, he was labeled a hero by some, a maverick by others and a spy by the Iraqi government.

30 January 2023

Source: transcend.org