Articles (Oct – Dec 2011)

Repurposing Military Bases

From Chris Bystedt, “Repurposing Military Bases”
(Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, December 15, 2011)

Annual competition for architects (or anyone else) to deploy their skills for the common good – this year the challenge is to come up with alternative uses for military bases…

In former West Berlin, an artificial hill known as Devil’s Mountain rises 375 feet above the Brandenburg plain. Constructed by the Allies after World War II, the hill contains an estimated 12 million cubic meters of debris gathered from the post-war Berlin wreckage. Beneath the rubble, Albert Speer’s Nazi military-technical college lies buried and forgotten, part of Hitler’s plan to create a new Berlin. Atop the hill sits a former U.S. and British spy station, its white tower surrounded and topped by a series of matching geodesic domes. During the Cold War the NSA Field Station Teufelsberg intercepted East German and Soviet radio communication. Since 1991, it has remained abandoned.

A new battle over this site has emerged. A private developer purchased the land after the Berlin real estate boom of the 1990s, but the saturated market made construction unprofitable. Meanwhile, veterans groups that served at Teufelsberg are petitioning the U.S. Congress to create a Cold War monument. During this battle, however, the structure has descended from historic preservation through mismanaged redevelopment plans to vandalism and informal urban touring

For some, sites like Teufelsberg are eyesores of a long military presence. For others, they are a place of mysterious history and forbidden exploration. For Architecture for Humanity, an international design advocacy nonprofit based in San Francisco, these sites represent a world of creative opportunity waiting to be released.

Every other year, Architecture for Humanity’s Open Architecture Challenge brings international attention to issues in the built environment affecting the health, prosperity, and well-being of under-served communities. This year’s Open Architecture Challenge targets abandoned, closed, and decommissioned military sites and asks how they can be repurposed to publicly serve the communities surrounding them.

Unrestricted Access

The 2011 Open Architecture Challenge: [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS challenges architects and designers to partner with community groups across the world and develop innovative solutions to re-envision closed, abandoned, and decommissioned military sites. The six-month competition requires designers to work with the communities surrounding these former places of conflict to transform oftentimes hostile locations into civic spaces built for the public good.

This year marks a milestone: in the United States alone more than 235 military sites are scheduled for closure or realignment. The U.S. military was under orders to downsize 5 percent of its entire infrastructure on or before September 15, 2011 in accordance with the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) ruling. The ruling will force the relocation of more than 125,000 military personnel and their families.

It’s not just inside the United States. Dotting the global landscape, decommissioned military installations leave their mark. They are symbols of triumph, pride, pain, and the unforeseen consequences of military aggression. These abandoned structures and ghost towns can disrupt neighborhoods and split entire communities. …

Read on:

To register for the competition visit the [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS webpage.

Google Maps satellite images expose U.S. secret military base

Digital Journal
By JohnThomas Didymus; December 11, 2011

Google has been accused of compromising U.S. national security after it allowed images of a top secret U.S. military airbase at Yucca Lake, Nevada, to be viewed by the general public on Google Maps.

The secret drone airbase, according to Daily Mail, is used for testing top secret RQ-170 drones similar to the one the U.S. lost to the Iranians last week.

Investigations by a website Flight Global, shows that anyone can search for names of U.S. military bases and zoom in to inspect any airbase of his choice, including secret military airbases which house top-secret drones like the RQ-170 Sentinel.

Read on:

Unaccountable Killing Machines: The True Cost of U.S. Drones

The Atlantic
December 30, 2011

Officials often portray the global expansion of deadly drone strikes as an unequivocal success. But are we really accounting for all the consequences?

A series of articles have been published recently about the extent and, in some cases, failures of the drone program so famously expanded under President Obama’s watch. The first, a blockbuster article by the Washington Post’s Greg Miller, brings to light some truly worrying aspects …

In Yemen, for instance, the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command pursue the same adversary with nearly identical aircraft. But they alternate taking the lead on strikes to exploit their separate authorities, and they maintain separate kill lists that overlap but don’t match. CIA and military strikes this fall killed three U.S. citizens, two of whom were suspected al-Qaeda operatives…

Obama himself was “oddly passive in this world,” the former official said, tending to defer on drone policy to senior aides whose instincts often dovetailed with the institutional agendas of the CIA and JSOC.

In other words, Jaffe is describing a system in which a decentralized apparatus carries out summary executions of people we’re assured are bad and who are sometimes U.S. citizens, and the president knows about this but chooses not to exercise oversight or control of the process.

The upside to this system of drones, administration officials insist, is that al Qaeda has been crippled, and that it has created an intense strain on the ability of terrorists to carry out plots. And this is undoubtedly true — the drone war has achieved its immediate purpose of thwacking bad people. But do we really understand the true cost of this form of warfare? …

Read on:

US Navy expects to base ships in Singapore

Yahoo! News
By Shaun Tandon (AFP)
December 17, 2011

The United States, facing a rising China but a tighter budget, expects to station several combat ships in Singapore and may step up deployments to the Philippines and Thailand, a naval officer said.

The United States has been increasingly vocal about defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where tensions over territorial disputes between Beijing and Southeast Asian nations have been on the rise.

In an academic article forecasting the shape of the US Navy in 2025, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, wrote that “we will station several of our newest littoral combat ships” in Singapore.

Greenert said that the United States may also step up the periodic deployment of aircraft such as the P-8A Poseidon — which is being developed to track submarines — to regional treaty allies the Philippines and Thailand. …

Read on:

Report: High Levels Of ‘Burnout’ In U.S. Drone Pilots

by Rachel Martin
December 19, 2011

Drone pilots fight a war from the safety of bases in the U.S. but confront some of the same wartime stresses as their comrades on the battlefield.

Around 1,100 Air Force pilots fly remotely piloted aircraft, or drones. These planes soar over Iraq or Afghanistan, but the pilots sit at military bases back in the United States.

A new Pentagon study shows that almost 30 percent of drone pilots surveyed suffer from what the military calls “burnout.” It’s the first time the military has tried to measure the psychological impact of waging a “remote-controlled war.”

The report, commissioned by the U.S. Air Force, shows that 29 percent of the drone pilots surveyed said they were burned out and suffered from high levels of fatigue. The Air Force doesn’t consider this a dangerous level of stress.

However, 17 percent of active duty drone pilots surveyed are thought to be “clinically distressed.” The Air Force says this means the pilots’ stress level has crossed a threshold where it’s now affecting the pilots’ work and family. A large majority of the pilots said they’re not getting any counseling for their stress. …

Read on:

Pakistan Says U.S. Vacated Air Base Used for Drone Strikes

Wall Street Journal (India)
By Tom Wright; December 12, 2011

Pakistan’s military said Sunday that Washington has met its demand to pull U.S. equipment and personnel from an air base in the southwest of the country.

Pakistan demanded the U.S. withdraw from Shamsi air base in Baluchistan province as a retaliatory measure after a North Atlantic Treaty Organization strike late last month killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The U.S. had used Shamsi to operate drone strikes against Taliban militants sheltering in the tribal regions on the frontier with Afghanistan, according to Pakistani defense officials. …

The expulsion from Shamsi is more symbolic than a meaningful attempt to halt the drone attacks, which have killed scores of Taliban and al Qaeda militants.

The U.S. has continued the covert program, which is run by the Central Intelligence Agency, from bases in Afghanistan, despite the wind-down at Shamsi begun this summer …

Read on:

Iran says US spy drone will provide Tehran with US military technology

Global Post
By Freya Petersen; December 11, 2011

Iranian officials hail downing of an unmanned American stealth plane as a “victory” which will help Tehran improve its knowledge about US military technology.

Iran said Sunday it would not will not return a US surveillance drone that it says its armed forces captured, according to US news reports quoting a senior commander of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard.

“No nation welcomes other countries’ spy drones in its territory, and no one sends back the spying equipment and its information back to the country of origin,” said Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Armed Forces, according to the semi-official Fars news agency …

“It makes no difference where this drone originated and which group or country sent it to invade our air space,” Salami said. “This was an act of invasion and belligerence.”

Salami, speaking on state TV, warned of a “bigger” response, though he did not elaborate on what Tehran might do …

Read more:

Ron Paul says U.S. military bases create enemies!

Patriot News Network – Election 2012

Despite his recent surge in the polls, presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul won’t back away from controversial positions that have in the past caused pundits and many Republicans to dismiss him as an unelectable fringe candidate.

Speaking on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, the Texas Republican held firm to his stance that eliminating the U.S. military presence around the world is the key to both reducing the nation’s debt and easing tensions with the Muslim world.

“Those troops stationed overseas aggravate our enemies, motivate our enemies,” Paul said during a testy back-and-forth with host Bob Schieffer. “I think it’s a danger to our national defense, and we could save a lot of money cutting out the military expenditures that contribute nothing to our defense.”

Paul, known among his supporters as The Patriot Congressman, made clear that he doesn’t think Amerikan troops should be stationed anywhere in the world, including Germany, Japan, South Korea, and other international strongholds of U.S. military might. …

Read on:

Electromagnetic pulse a real threat

Washington Times
By Ilan Berman
December 15, 2011

Time to correct U.S. vulnerability is now

… “EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences. EMP will cover the wide geographic region within line of sight to the nuclear weapon. It has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures and thus to the very fabric of U.S. society, as well as to the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power.” …

America’s vulnerability to such an attack is growing. As the EMP Commission explained, our heavy – and mounting – dependence on high technology, from cellphones to laptops to GPS, makes the United States disproportionately vulnerable to the disruption that would result from an EMP event. The commission concluded its work in 2004 with a dire warning: “The current vulnerability of our critical infrastructures can both invite and reward attack if not corrected.” …

Commission Chairman William Graham, a former science adviser to President Reagan, told the House Armed Services Committee in 2008 that an EMP attack had the potential to devastate the country’s electronic infrastructure to such a degree that it would no longer be capable of sustaining the country’s population.

Such a cataclysm, however, can be prevented with the necessary investments in hardening, infrastructure protection and redundancy in key sectors (from finance to electricity to water supply). As Mr. Graham told lawmakers at the time, “Correction is feasible and well within the nation’s means and resources to accomplish.”

That the U.S. government has not yet done so amounts to a serious dereliction of duty. The next U.S. president will need to recognize this dangerous vulnerability – and move decisively to address it.

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Towards a Pre-emptive Nuclear War?

Libyan Free Press
December 9, 2011
by F. William Engdahl (GlobalResearch)

Why Moscow does not Trust Washington on Missile Defense.

Most in the civilized world are blissfully unaware that we are marching ineluctably towards an increasingly likely pre-emptive nuclear war. No, it’s not at all about Iran and Israel. It’s about the decision of Washington and the Pentagon to push Moscow up against the wall with what is euphemistically called Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD).

On November 23, a normally low-keyed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told the world in clear terms that Russia was prepared to deploy its missiles on the border to the EU between Poland and Lithuania, and possibly in the south near Georgia and NATO member Turkey to counter the advanced construction process of the US ballistic missile defense shield: “The Russian Federation will deploy in the west and the south of the country modern weapons systems that could be used to destroy the European component of the US missile defense,” he announced on Russian television. “One of these steps could be the deployment of the Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad.” Those would be theatre ballistic missile systems. The latest version of Iskander, the Iskander-K, whose details remain top secret, reportedly has a range up to 2000 km and carries cruise missiles and a target accuracy to 7 meters or less. …

The Russian President didn’t mince words: “I have ordered the armed forces to develop measures to ensure, if necessary, that we can destroy the command and control systems” of the US shield, Medvedev said. …

This time around Washington lost no time signaling it was in the developing game of thermonuclear chicken to stay. No more pretty words about “reset” in US-Russia relations. A spokesman for the Obama National Security Council declared, “we will not in any way limit or change our deployment plans for Europe.” The US Administration continues to insist on the implausible argument that the missile defense installations are aimed at a threat from a possible Iranian nuclear launch, something hardly credible. The real risk of Iranian nuclear missile attack on Europe given the reality of the global US as well as Israeli BMD installations and the reality of Iran’s nuclear delivery capabilities, is by best impartial accounts, near zero. …

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In the service of the military-industrial complex

The Voice of Russia
By Valentin Zorin
December 10, 2011

… All party differences have faded into the background after the financing of the ambitious Pentagon project of creating the F-35 fifth generation multirole fighter has come under threat. Experts describe the $385bln project as the most expensive military contract in the US history. The fighter’s manufacturer is Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, one of the pillars of the American military-industrial complex.

The Obama administration found the project too costly given the current economic crisis. This sent Congressmen lobbying the interests of the military-industrial complex into a rage. The new faction is juggling with arguments in favor of national security to secure the interests of Lockheed Martin. …

These failures must have caused President Obama to blurt out with bitterness that “the Pentagon’s current needs reflect not the country’s real needs but the needs of the military-industrial complex and its lobbyists in the corridors of power”. …

The powerful concerns that form the American military-industrial complex have turned the missile defense program started under Ronald Reagan into a gold mine. Experts say that the US has already invested 1.5 trillion dollars in it. And given that missile defense facilities in Europe promise loads of profit, America’s big corporations have no intention of waiving them. …

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The Nuclear Weapons Budget
December 15, 2011

I believe that US nuclear forces, policies and posture are mis-aligned with today’s security environment. The current budget crisis provides the best opportunity to fundamentally realign our approach to nuclear deterrence since the end of the Cold War. That simple fact — that this is a decisive moment — is why we have an intensely personal and partisan debate over the normally mundane question of how to calculate the nuclear weapons budget.

Some people are bitching and moaning about the Ploughshares estimate of $700 billion in spending “on nuclear weapons and related programs during the next ten years.” Many of them are only upset because they are losing the debate over US nuclear weapons policy. In particular, some of the same people screaming about $700 billion are the same people suggesting China might have 3,000 nuclear weapons. We’re aren’t exactly arguing with Socrates, here. …

One Man’s “Related Programs” is Another Man’s … oh, you get the idea

Ploughshares included missile defense and other activities like environmental cleanup for nuclear activities. One can argue about whether these things ought to be included — some of them certainly are included in MFP1 (missile defense) and Atomic Energy Defense Activities (environmental clean-up). GAO used to argue with the Defense Department over whether to create a “virtual” Major Force Program for the “New Triad” that would include missile defenses and conventional strike, as well as command-and-control. That was before the budget crisis when everyone started pleading poverty. I am not particularly bothered by a “nuclear weapons and so forth” approach to accounting as long as one is explicit about the “so forth.” That’s about $270 billion of the $700 billion figure. Let’s set that aside, since reasonable people can disagree, as long they are consistent and transparent about including those sorts of costs. …

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70 Years of Lying About Pearl Harbor

War is a
By David Swanson
December 4, 2011

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s fervent hope for years was that Japan would attack the United States. This would permit the United States (not legally, but politically) to fully enter World War II in Europe, as its president wanted to do, as opposed to merely providing weaponry and assisting in targeting of submarines as it had been doing. Of course, Germany’s declaration of war, which followed Pearl Harbor and the immediate U.S. declaration of war on Japan, helped as well, but it was Pearl Harbor that radically converted the American people from opposition to support for war.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had tried lying to the American people about U.S. ships including the Greer and the Kerny, which had been helping British planes track German submarines, but which Roosevelt pretended had been innocently attacked. Roosevelt also lied that he had in his possession a secret Nazi map planning the conquest of South America, as well as a secret Nazi plan for replacing all religions with Nazism. And yet, the people of the United States didn’t buy the idea of going into another war until Pearl Harbor, by which point Roosevelt had already instituted the draft, activated the National Guard, created a huge Navy in two oceans, traded old destroyers to England in exchange for the lease of its bases in the Caribbean and Bermuda, and — just 11 days before the “unexpected” attack — he had secretly ordered the creation of a list of every Japanese and Japanese-American person in the United States.

On April 28, 1941, Churchill wrote a secret directive to his war cabinet:

“It may be taken as almost certain that the entry of Japan into the war would be followed by the immediate entry of the United States on our side.” …

Read on:

A ‘New START’ to an arms race between the US and Russia?

Alaska Dispatch
By Yousaf Butt
December 1, 2011

Judging by the sound and fury coming from Russia lately, the United States might be witnessing the slow-motion destruction of President Obama’s foreign policy crown jewel, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

But no big surprise there, really: It was only a matter of time before the time bomb attached to the treaty – European missile defense – blew it up. Not only is Russia figuratively up in arms, but it has actually upped its nuclear arms lately, possibly re-igniting a cold-war-style arms race.

Under New START, which entered into force in February, Moscow and Washington agreed to reduce their deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 each by 2018. This strict balance or “parity” in strategic warhead numbers is a central tenet of the treaty.

The problem with European missile defense is that while it’s designed to counter Iran, the faster interceptors due to come online in 2018 will also be able to engage Russian warheads, upsetting this all-important perception of parity. Indeed, this interplay between strategic offense and defense was explicitly recognized in the preamble to the treaty.

For more than a year, Moscow and Washington have been negotiating on possible ways to cooperate on missile defense. The Russians would like to set up a joint European missile defense network with NATO, to make sure that the elements of the system – in a number of NATO countries, including Turkey – will not neutralize Russia’s nuclear warheads.

NATO, in contrast, has proposed the creation of two entirely separate systems that would exchange information. But the discussions have gone nowhere, and on Nov. 23, President Dmitry Medvedev finally threw in the towel, announcing the end of negotiations on missile defense cooperation. …

Read on:

The Price of Empire
By Justin Raimondo
November 28, 2011

Have US policymakers gone crazy?

Is there a single region of the world where the United States government isn’t scheming to grab more control, more influence, and have more of a military presence?

In Pakistan, a memo has been unearthed from “President” Zardari to Admiral Mike Mullen, head of the joint chiefs of staff, proposing a coup d’etat in which the military and intelligence chiefs would be replaced – with US “political and military support” – in favor of individuals more compliant with the American agenda. Also in Pakistan: an outright attack by US and Afghan forces on a Pakistani military base, a “mistake” in which 28 Pakistani soldiers were killed.

Is the United States government actively trying to destabilize Pakistan – in order to be able to pull off a “coup” and move in with US troops in support of “democracy”? Are we, in effect, at war with Pakistan? Sure seems like it.

In Iran, we’re running a terrorist operation that strikes at both military and civilian targets, and we’ve just announced a new round of sanctions. Not content with a campaign of economic strangulation, prominent US lawmakers and former top national security officials are harboring, succoring, and defending a known terrorist organization whose goal is “regime change” in Iran. Hardly a day goes by without a threat of military action emanating from Washington.

In Syria, we are supporting armed “protesters” whose goal is the overthrow of the Syrian government. In Libya, our proxies recently succeeded in doing the same. In Egypt, we are reprising our record of support for mobs demanding the ouster of the government – while in Bahrain, we take the side of the reigning king as angry mobs gather in the public square.

In Eastasia, we are intervening in a regional dispute, claiming to be a “resident Pacific power,” and scheming to make the South China Sea (of all places!) an American lake. The much-vaunted “Pacific pivot” has us setting up a new military base in Australia and sending 2,500 US troops to man it. Is this because China is planning to send the Peoples Liberation Army Down Under – or because the Americans are looking to expand the string of major military bases that allows them to project power (and impose their will) all over the globe? Of course it’s just a coincidence that, in tandem with our Asian offensive, we’re about to announce an agreement to base US warships in Singapore, right on China’s doorstep.

Our ambitions, however, are hardly limited to Eastasia. In Central Asia, aside from our decade-long campaign to subjugate Afghanistan, we’re spending tens of millions of US taxpayer dollars to prop up some of the most repressive regimes on earth. The idea is to encircle both Russia and China: toward this end we are courting the dictators of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan, and haggling with the newly-elected government of Kyrgyzstan to retain our basing rights.

In Europe, we are intervening massively – via the Federal Reserve, this time – in order to shore up insolvent banks, support the Euro, and prop up the decadent welfare states of the EU. On a more militaristic note, via NATO we’re intervening – again! – in Kosovo, Serbia’s lost province, where rebellious Serbs are defying the gangster “government” in Pristina and defending their autonomy: naturally, we aim to crush them. Since the Obama administration has come into office, new bases have sprung up in Poland, Bulgaria and Romania. And if the long reach of Uncle Sam into the very heart of Europe isn’t evident in the legal troubles of Julian Assange, then one is wearing blinders.

In Africa we are invading Somalia, sending the Marines to Uganda, and scheming with Kenya and Ethiopia to pacify great swathes of the continent. This is being done in the name of the “war on terrorism,” but in reality it is a response to Chinese economic penetration of the dark continent, which the US sees as a threat. A ring of new military bases is being set up in Yemen, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and the Seychelles from which to run our ongoing “drone war” against alleged “terrorist” outposts in Somalia and the Arabian peninsula. This is not to mention the “secret” bases reportedly operating in “Israel, Kuwait, the Philippines and many other places,” as Catherine Lutz points out in an excellent overview of what the late Chalmers Johnson called our “empire of bases.”

In South and Central America, the American military presence is rapidly expanding, with seven new bases in Colombia since 2008, two new naval bases in Panama – and those are just the ones we know about. What we don’t know is the extent of Washington’s covert operations south of the border, including supplying arms to Mexican drug cartels – a truly shocking scandal which is being steadfastly ignored by the openly pro-Obama “mainstream” media.

The pace of US intervention across the globe is picking up speed, even as the world-wide economic crisis threatens to bring down the Empire – and the response to this accelerated imperialism drives a growing global backlash.

It used to be that the US was considered a relatively benign force, internationally, and our “foreign aid” program took on an aura of humanitarian sanctimony. This was dramatized in the 1955 satiric novel, The Mouse That Roared, which imagined a bankrupt mini-state of “Freedonia” declaring war against the US in order to be defeated so that they could then get on the foreign aid gravy train. (Spoiler: the plot is foiled when Freedonia wins the war!).

Read the rest here:

UK military steps up plans for Iran attack amid fresh nuclear fears

British officials consider contingency options to back up a possible US action as fears mount over Tehran’s capability

The Guardian – by Nick Hopkins – November 2, 2011

Britain’s armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran’s nuclear enrichment programme, the Guardian has learned.

The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.

In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.

They also believe the US would ask permission to launch attacks from Diego Garcia, the British Indian ocean territory, which the Americans have used previously for conflicts in the Middle East.

Read on:

A New Era of Gunboat Diplomacy

New York Times
By Mark Landler
November 12, 2011

IT may seem strange in an era of cyberwarfare and drone attacks, but the newest front in the rivalry between the United States and China is a tropical sea, where the drive to tap rich offshore oil and gas reserves has set off a conflict akin to the gunboat diplomacy of the 19th century.

The Obama administration first waded into the treacherous waters of the South China Sea last year when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared, at a tense meeting of Asian countries in Hanoi, that the United States would join Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries in resisting Beijing’s efforts to dominate the sea. China, predictably, was enraged by what it viewed as American meddling.

For all its echoes of the 1800s, not to mention the cold war, the showdown in the South China Sea augurs a new type of maritime conflict — one that is playing out from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arctic Ocean, where fuel-hungry economic powers, newly accessible undersea energy riches and even changes in the earth’s climate are conspiring to create a 21st-century contest for the seas. …

As countries race to erect drilling rigs and send oil exploration vessels to comb the seabed, conflicting maritime claims are helping to fuel a naval arms race. It is no coincidence that the countries with the fastest-growing navies are those with stakes in these energy zones. …

Obama shifting military focus to Asia-Pacific

The Hill
By John T. Bennett
October 31, 2011

Pentagon could shift focus to Asia-Pacific

The Pentagon is considering investing more of its funding in military platforms for the Asia-Pacific region and less on tools for counterinsurgency, defense sources say.

The change in thinking is being spurred by a soup-to-nuts strategy review at the Pentagon that was initiated last spring to help the Defense Department navigate budget cuts.

Several defense insiders said the review has led officials to downgrade the importance of conducting large-scale stability operations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The review’s early findings are the latest signal that the Obama administration is recalibrating its foreign and national security policy from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific.

The evolving shift will place a premium on military capabilities like ships and long-range aircraft, defense sources told The Hill, and make armored vehicles and lightly armored ships less important. …

Read on:

Syria-Iran-Turkey: New war scenarios in the Middle East
November 24, 2011

While there were good connections and relations between Syria and Turkey only a year ago, today we began to talk different scenarios about the NATO intervention led by Turkey against Syria.

Although the Turkish position is being portrayed as a defender of oppressed Syrian people in the world media, there are some questions which cannot be answered independently of war scenarios led by the U.S. against Iran.

Today, we will try to look at the roots of Turkey’s position on events in Syria and its connection with the plans of global actors on the Middle East and new war scenarios in the region. …

“Turkey and Iran are Syria’s key foreign allies, but they have very different relationships with Damascus — Tehran’s being a long-established strategic alliance, while Ankara’s is based on having lately emerged as the key source of trade and investment critical to Syria’s prospects — and very different ideas on how the Assad regime should deal with the political crisis.”

Today, we know that Iran feels discomfort Turkey’s hurtful policies on the Middle East. Whilst Iran was satisfied from Turkey, what has changed? According to the Economist, “Turkey’s mollycoddling of the mullahs has angered America, most recently when Mr Erdogan’s government voted against imposing further sanctions on Iran at the United Nations last year. Turkey has since sought to make amends. It has agreed to NATO plans for a nuclear-defence missile shield that is clearly aimed at Iran. And after some dithering, it is co-operating with the alliance’s military operations in Libya.”

Because of this reality, Iran warns Turkey regularly. Assoc. Prof. Mehmet Sahin categorizes Iranian authorities’ criticism for us:

According to the Iranian authorities;

1- Turkey wants to give an explicit message to Iran and Russian Federation by letting the deployment of NATO’s missile shield with early warning radar system on her territories.

2- The fact that Turkey suggests countries such as; Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya a new regime model, based on a ‘secular system’, is an unexpected and unbearable situation, as the people in the region are Muslim.

3- Turkey which is under the pressure of the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia, has been making its third strategic mistake by trying to liven up the protest demonstrations in Syria. …

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Russian, U.S. Foreign Policy Chiefs Discuss Missile Defense

Global Security Newswire
November 21, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on Saturday held talks that touched on missile defense, ITAR-Tass reported.

“As for the missile defense, we will continue discussions with a view of finding mutually acceptable solutions,” Lavrov said on Friday of the impending meeting, which took place on the margins of a regional summit in Indonesia.

The United States and Russia have been engaged in antimissile discussions for roughly a year, though with scant results. Moscow fears that a U.S. plan to field increasingly advanced sea- and land-based missile interceptors around Europe over the next decade could undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrent. Washington maintains that the antimissile systems are focused on thwarting any ballistic missile attack from the Middle East. …

“It’s no secret that at the official level the dialogue between the U.S. and Russia on the deployment in Europe of the U.S. missile defense system is at a standstill,” said retired Col. Gen. Victor Yesin, former chief of staff of the nation’s Strategic Missile Forces. “We have proposed creating a joint group of nongovernmental experts, which would be searching for ways out of this problem”. …

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The Curiosity Mission – Nukes in Space

November 9, 2011
by Karl Grossman

NASA intends in coming weeks to launch a rover to be deployed on Mars fueled with 10.6 pounds of plutonium. Opponents of the launch in Florida, concerned about an accident releasing deadly plutonium, such as the explosion of the rocket that’s to loft the rover, have created a Facebook page warning people not to visit Disney theme parks in Orlando during the November 25-to-December 15 launch window. “Don’t Do Disney brought to you by NASA,” the Facebook page is titled. Other actions are planned.

Indeed, NASA’s Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Mars Science Laboratory Mission says a launch accident discharging plutonium has a 1-in-420 chance of happening and could “release material into the regional area defined…to be within…62 miles of the launch pad,” That’s an area including Orlando.

The EIS says “overall” on the mission, the likelihood of plutonium being released is just 1-in-220. This could affect a major portion of Earth in an accident which vaporizes and disperses plutonium from the rover, called Curiosity, as the Atlas 5 rocket carrying it up gains altitude.

The EIS says an accident releasing plutonium in the troposphere, the atmosphere five to nine miles high, is “assumed to potentially affect persons living within a latitude band from approximately 23-degrees north to 30-degrees north.” That’s a swath through the Caribbean, across North Africa and the Middle East, then parts of India and China, Hawaii and other Pacific islands, Mexico, and south Texas.

If there’s an accident resulting in plutonium fallout which occurs above that and before the rocket breaks through Earth’s gravitational field, people could be affected “anywhere between 28-degrees north and 28-degrees south latitude,” says the EIS. That’s a band around the mid-section of the Earth which includes much of South America, Africa and Australia.

The EIS says the cost of decontamination of areas affected by the plutonium would be $267 million for each square mile of farmland, $478 million for each square mile of forests and $1.5 billion for each square mile of “mixed-use urban areas.”

The mission itself has a cost of $2.5 billion. …

Read on:

US to use S. Korean base to project power against China?

RT – November 9, 2011

Residents on the South Korean Island of Jeju are continuing to resist the siting of a huge naval base there. Critics fear it will be used not as a shield against North Korea, but as a base for the US to target rising world power, China. …

Matthew Hoey, an international co-ordinator of the Campaign to Save Jeju Island, told RT that the activists were peacefully protesting outside a hotel where the 10th Annual South Korea-UN Disarmament Conference, known as the Jeju process, was taking place. His friends were among those arrested.

According to Hoey, 94 per cent of residents in Gangjeong village voted against the construction plans. Those opposed to the base are mainly concerned about environmental issues and fear it could harm South Korean-Chinese relations. …

Hoey worries that the villagers have run out of legal options in their non-violent campaign against the base. …

Hoey says the base is going to become one of the largest naval military bases in the world.

“The capacity of this base is 20 large destroyers, two aircraft carriers, two subs and it would be outfitted with the Aegis ballistic missile defense system,” he explained. …

Ambassador Bleich looks to critical period ahead

ABC Online
November 7, 2011
By Ali Moore

US ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich says the region is facing a critical time for security and humanitarian concerns and will need cooperation between all countries.

“The US president Barack Obama arrives in Australia next week and defence is at the top of the agenda.

It’s expected there’ll be an announcement of a further strengthening of US-Australia military ties, and in particular, increased US access to Australian military bases.” …

Watch the interview / Read a transcript here:

U.S. military official: We are concerned Israel will not warn us before Iran attack

Senior U.S. military official tells CNN U.S. ‘increasingly vigilant’ over military developments in Iran and Israel, says ‘absolutely’ concerned Israel may attack Iran nuclear facilities.
November 5, 2011

U.S. officials are concerned that Israel will not warn them before taking military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities, a senior U.S. military official said Friday.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, told the CNN network that although in the past, U.S. officials thought they would receive warning from Israel if it did take military action against Iran, “now that doesn’t seem so ironclad.”

The U.S. is “absolutley” concerned that Israel is preparing an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and this concern is increasing …

U.S. Releases New START Nuke Data

Global Security Newswire – October 26, 2011

The United States as of last month officially had 1,790 deployed strategic nuclear warheads, while Russia had fielded 1,566 long-range weapons, according to details from a semiannual information swap mandated under a strategic nuclear arms control treaty between the two countries.

The United States had 822 ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and nuclear bombers deployed at the time of the exchange, the State Department said in a fact sheet released last week. Russia wielded 516 such launch-ready delivery vehicles.

The count of U.S. bombers and ballistic missile firing platforms totaled 1,043, including fielded and reserve systems. Russia reported holding 871 bombers and missile firing platforms.

The New START pact, which entered into force on February 5, requires the sides to each reduce deployment of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from a cap of 2,200 mandated by next year under an older treaty. It also limits the number of fielded warhead delivery platforms to 700, with an additional 100 strategic systems permitted in reserve. The treaty calls for the nations to regularly share quantities, siting and schematics of armament equipment and sites.

Russia in an earlier accounting had come in under the 1,550 cap the nations are required to meet within seven years. The nation is now back over that maximum level, the Federation of American Scientists said on Monday in an analysis of the released data. Moscow has deployed 29 additional warheads on its ballistic missiles, placing it 16 weapons over the threshold. …

The United States, meanwhile, now has 10 fewer deployed warheads than in February, for a new total of 1,790, the expert said. The count of fielded delivery systems has dropped from 882 to 822, which he said “probably reflects the removal of nuclear-capable equipment from so-called ‘phantom’ bombers. These bombers are counted under the treaty even though they are not actually assigned nuclear missions. The U.S. has not disclosed the number, but another 24, or so, ‘phantom’ bombers probably need to be denuclearized. Stripping these aircraft of their leftover equipment reduces the number of nuclear delivery vehicles counted by the treaty, although it doesn’t actually reduce the nuclear force.” …

“Russia essentially has seven and half years to offload 16 warheads from its force to be in compliance with New START by 2018. Not an impressive arms control standard. Instead, the task for Russian planners will be how to phase out old missiles and phase in new missiles. There will be no real constraint on the Russian force.”

The new information also highlights the United States’ significant edge over its former Cold War rival on strategic nuclear delivery systems, according to Kristensen. “Even as Russia deploys the RS-24 ICBM and Bulava SLBM in the coming years, the gradual retirement of the SS-18, SS-19, SS-25 and SS-N-18 could reduce the total number of delivery vehicles to perhaps 400 by the time the New START treaty enters into force in 2018.”

Meanwhile, Washington today plans to keep 700 nuclear-weapon carriers through 2018, meaning at the next decade its force could be twice as large as Russia’s. “Indeed, the U.S. ICBM force alone could at that time include as many delivery vehicles as the entire Russian triad,” the expert noted.

“The U.S. force will retain a huge upload capability with several thousand nondeployed nuclear warheads that can double the number of warheads on deployed ballistic missiles if necessary,” he wrote. “Russia’s ballistic missile force, which is already loaded to capacity, does not have such an upload capability. …

In full:

NATO ‘fig leaf’ for U.S. missile defense shield – Russian envoy

RIA Novosti
November 1, 2011

NATO’s only role in the proposed missile defense shield for Europe is the cover it provides the U.S., Russia’s NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday.

NATO is the fig leaf for “a missile defense umbrella that says ‘Made in USA,’” Rogozin said.

“European NATO members will have neither a button to push nor a finger to push it with,” the envoy said, adding that Russia continues to insist on guarantees – from the United States – that the shield is not directed against Russia.

“We would like to receive clear and long-term assurances that there will be no actions on NATO’s part that would lead to the use of this system against Russia’s deterrent capability,” Rogozin said.

Russia and NATO agreed to cooperate on the so-called European missile defense system at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010. NATO insists there should be two independent systems that exchange information, while Russia favors a joint system with full-scale interoperability. …

Read on:

Occupy the Future

November 1, 2011
by: Noam Chomsky

(This article is adapted from Noam Chomsky’s talk at the Occupy Boston encampment on Dewey Square on Oct. 22. He spoke as part of the Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series held by Occupy Boston’s on-site Free University. Zinn was a historian, activist and author of “A People’s History of the United States.”)

Delivering a Howard Zinn lecture is a bittersweet experience for me. I regret that he’s not here to take part in and invigorate a movement that would have been the dream of his life. Indeed, he laid a lot of the groundwork for it.

If the bonds and associations being established in these remarkable events can be sustained through a long, hard period ahead, victories don’t come quickly, the Occupy protests could mark a significant moment in American history.

I’ve never seen anything quite like the Occupy movement in scale and character, here and worldwide. The Occupy outposts are trying to create cooperative communities that just might be the basis for the kinds of lasting organizations necessary to overcome the barriers ahead and the backlash that’s already coming.

That the Occupy movement is unprecedented seems appropriate because this is an unprecedented era, not just at this moment but since the 1970s.

The 1970s marked a turning point for the United States. Since the country began, it had been a developing society, not always in very pretty ways, but with general progress toward industrialization and wealth.

Even in dark times, the expectation was that the progress would continue. I’m just old enough to remember the Great Depression. By the mid-1930s, even though the situation was objectively much harsher than today, the spirit was quite different.

A militant labor movement was organizing, the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) and others, and workers were staging sit-down strikes, just one step from taking over the factories and running them themselves.

Under popular pressure, New Deal legislation was passed. The prevailing sense was that we would get out of the hard times.

Now there’s a sense of hopelessness, sometimes despair. This is quite new in our history. During the 1930s, working people could anticipate that the jobs would come back. Today, if you’re a worker in manufacturing, with unemployment practically at Depression levels, you know that those jobs may be gone forever if current policies persist.

That change in the American outlook has evolved since the 1970s. In a reversal, several centuries of industrialization turned to de-industrialization. Of course manufacturing continued, but overseas, very profitable, though harmful to the workforce.

The economy shifted to financialization. Financial institutions expanded enormously. A vicious cycle between finance and politics accelerated. Increasingly, wealth concentrated in the financial sector. Politicians, faced with the rising cost of campaigns, were driven ever deeper into the pockets of wealthy backers.

And the politicians rewarded them with policies favorable to Wall Street: deregulation, tax changes, relaxation of rules of corporate governance, which intensified the vicious cycle. Collapse was inevitable. In 2008, the government once again came to the rescue of Wall Street firms presumably too big to fail, with leaders too big to jail.

Today, for the one-tenth of 1 percent of the population who benefited most from these decades of greed and deceit, everything is fine.

In 2005, Citigroup, which, by the way, has repeatedly been saved by government bailouts, saw the wealthy as a growth opportunity. The bank released a brochure for investors that urged them to put their money into something called the Plutonomy Index, which identified stocks in companies that cater to the luxury market.

“The world is dividing into two blocs, the plutonomy and the rest,” Citigroup summarized. “The U.S., U.K. and Canada are the key plutonomies, economies powered by the wealthy.”

As for the non-rich, they’re sometimes called the precariat, people who live a precarious existence at the periphery of society. The “periphery” however, has become a substantial proportion of the population in the U.S. and elsewhere.

So we have the plutonomy and the precariat: the 1 percent and the 99 percent, as Occupy sees it, not literal numbers, but the right picture.

The historic reversal in people’s confidence about the future is a reflection of tendencies that could become irreversible. The Occupy protests are the first major popular reaction that could change the dynamic.

I’ve kept to domestic issues. But two dangerous developments in the international arena overshadow everything else.

For the first time in human history, there are real threats to the survival of the human species. Since 1945 we have had nuclear weapons, and it seems a miracle we have survived them. But policies of the Obama administration and its allies are encouraging escalation.

The other threat, of course, is environmental catastrophe. Practically every country in the world is taking at least halting steps to do something about it. The United States is taking steps backward. A propaganda system, openly acknowledged by the business community, declares that climate change is all a liberal hoax: Why pay attention to these scientists?

If this intransigence continues in the richest, most powerful country in the world, the catastrophe won’t be averted.

Something must be done in a disciplined, sustained way, and soon. It won’t be easy to proceed. There will be hardships and failures, it’s inevitable. But unless the process that’s taking place here and elsewhere in the country and around the world continues to grow and becomes a major force in society and politics, the chances for a decent future are bleak.

You can’t achieve significant initiatives without a large, active, popular base. It’s necessary to get out into the country and help people understand what the Occupy movement is about, what they themselves can do, and what the consequences are of not doing anything.

Organizing such a base involves education and activism. Education doesn’t mean telling people what to believe, it means learning from them and with them.

Karl Marx said, “The task is not just to understand the world but to change it.” A variant to keep in mind is that if you want to change the world you’d better try to understand it. That doesn’t mean listening to a talk or reading a book, though that’s helpful sometimes. You learn from participating. You learn from others. You learn from the people you’re trying to organize. We all have to gain the understanding and the experience to formulate and implement ideas.

The most exciting aspect of the Occupy movement is the construction of the linkages that are taking place all over. If they can be sustained and expanded, Occupy can lead to dedicated efforts to set society on a more humane course.

© 2011 Noam Chomsky

Pentagon could shift focus to Asia-Pacific

The Hill
By John T. Bennett
October 31, 2011

The Pentagon is considering investing more of its funding in military platforms for the Asia-Pacific region and less on tools for counterinsurgency, defense sources say.

The change in thinking is being spurred by a soup-to-nuts strategy review at the Pentagon that was initiated last spring to help the Defense Department navigate budget cuts.

Several defense insiders said the review has led officials to downgrade the importance of conducting large-scale stability operations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The review’s early findings are the latest signal that the Obama administration is recalibrating its foreign and national security policy from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific. …

The review means weapon programs like a new Air Force long-range bomber and the Navy’s new nuclear-powered submarine should survive the $400 billion in cuts the military must make under the August debt deal, defense sources said.

But the strategy review might not produce all good news for the Navy, with several sources saying a ship designed for conflict in shallow waters might fall under the budget knife.

“Programs that are not suitable for the Western Pacific environment, such as heavy armor and the lightly armored Littoral Combat Ship,” said Lexington Institute analyst and industry consultant Loren Thompson, “are getting a close look as possible sacrificial lambs in the push for savings.”

Sources also said the strategic assessment will confirm fears about cyber threats to military networks — especially from China — driving monies toward defensive and offensive cyber tools. …

Read in full:

What are the lessons for the U.S. military following Gaddafi’s death (blog), By Mark Thompson, October 20, 2011

Moammar Gaddafi’s death makes for an interesting punctuation mark in the ever-evolving U.S. approach to war. The key choice: should it be an exclamation point (“We got him! And not a single American died!) or a question mark (“Did we just get lucky? Is this a template for how the U.S. should wage future wars?”).

We shouldn’t over-learn whatever lessons there are to be gleaned by Gaddafi’s demise and the joyful crowds gathering in Tripoli and other Libyan cities. But neither should we be shy about exploring what they might be.

When Operation Odyssey Dawn began seven months ago Wednesday — with the U.S. taking the lead, its B-1 and B-2 bombers attacking Libyan targets from bases inside the U.S. — it marked a humanitarian response to Gaddafi’s threat to kill rebels in the city of Benghazi like “rats”. After two weeks, the U.S. handed off the mission — renamed Operation Unified Protector — to NATO, which, in fits and starts, ground down Gaddafi’s forces.

Finally — after the allies insisted they were not targeting the Libyan strongman — NATO air power apparently played a key role in his capture, wounding and subsequent death Thursday. Alliance warplanes reportedly attacked a convoy in which he was fleeing his hometown of Sirte. …

Read on:

US threatens tough measures against Iran

The Voice of Russia. By Natalya Kovalenko – October 14, 2011

The United States is considering any kinds of options with regard to Iran, President Barack Obama told a White House news conference. Washington accuses Tehran of terrorist activities and is going to secure support of the world community for the toughest possible measures against the republic. …

The United States is considering any kinds of options with regard to Iran, President Barack Obama told a White House news conference. Washington accuses Tehran of terrorist activities and is going to secure support of the world community for the toughest possible measures against the republic.

Although the US head of state failed to specify any particular options he referred to in his speech, it is crystal clear that Washington considers punitive actions up to a power strike, says expert of the Institute for Oriental Studies Vladimir Isayev.

“Barack Obama’s statements sound more than serious. With the president of the world’s strongest military power saying that all options are being considered, one should not rule out even a military campaign,” Vladimir Isayev explains.

Especially given that Washington is no stranger to taking up arms when tackling foreign policy issues. The last decades alone saw this happen in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. According to president of the Middle East Institute Yevgeny Satanovsky, America has been long since nursing similar plans against Iran as well.

“Some of the options were considered under George W. Bush. One of them envisaged the destruction of Iran’s nuclear complex and air defense means, another one – the elimination of its key military facilities, including those belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), missile systems and nuclear complex. The third one was aimed at making Iran cease to be an industrial state after losing everything related to the energy and military spheres, as well as roads and airports,” Yevgeny Satanovsky says.

Any of these scenarios can be easily implemented by the United States as part of the so-called “non-contact warfare”, without even invading the republic. To obtain the necessary UN sanctions, Washington will have to provide cogent evidence of Iran’s guilt. The latter denies all the accusations, whereas the US claims to possess facts pointing to the Iranian government’s plot to assassinate Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir. …

Read in full:

New Report: Russia Concerned as U.S. Moves Forward With Unreliable NATO Missile Defense Shield

Federation of American Scientists

Missile defense is still one issue that enjoys bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. The Obama administration’s proposed defensive system is supposed to contain Iran, while strengthening ties with Russia. Unfortunately, missile defense could instead lead to more nuclear weapons and a more dangerous world.

Dr. Yousaf Butt, Scientific Consultant to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), and Dr. Theodore Postol, Professor of Science, Technology and National Security Policy in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published a new technical assessment about the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) missile defense system proposed by NATO and the United States. In the report, “Upsetting the Reset: The Technical Basis of Russian Concern Over NATO Missile Defense,” they analyzed whether the Russian Federation has a legitimate concern over the proposed NATO-U.S. missile defense system.

Missile defense meant to show US ‘still in the game’

With parts of the American missile defense shield set to be deployed in Poland by 2018, some in Poland are saying the system is meant to help Washington keep its imperial presence in the world.


US drones bombed Libya more than Pakistan

October 20, 2011

While Obama insists that the “hostilities” that have erupted between Gaddafi’s regime and rebels necessitated US response with weapons of war in conjunction with NATO — but is by no means a war — American drones have come down hard in Libya.

President Obama will tell you that America’s involvement in the Libyan conflict does not constitute an act of war. In the meantime, however, US drones have conducted nearly triple the amount of airstrikes in Libya than they have in Pakistan, despite lacking congressional approval.

Now with the reported death of Gaddafi, the numbers are coming in regarding how much of a war Obama’s non-war has become. Between April 21 and this morning, robotic, unmanned Predator drones have conducted 145 airstrikes in Libya, reveals Pentagon spokesman George Little.

In Pakistan, however, where drone surveillance and strikes have become practically commonplace and have caused concern not just from locals but concerned Americans upset over the massive civilian deaths caused by the crafts, the number of drone strikes is but a fraction. This year the US has launched only 57 drone strikes in Pakistan, where the American military aims to take down terrorists from neighboring Afghanistan who, like former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin laden, have taken refuge.

Even after Libyan rebels … ousted Gaddafi in late August, US drones dropped 52 additionally missiles on the capital city of Tripoli. …

Read on:

America’s Secret Empire of Drone Bases

OzHouse Alt News, By Nick Turse, October 19, 2011

They increasingly dot the planet. There’s a facility outside Las Vegas where “pilots” work in climate-controlled trailers, another at a dusty camp in Africa formerly used by the French Foreign Legion, a third at a big air base in Afghanistan where Air Force personnel sit in front of multiple computer screens, and a fourth that almost no one talks about at an air base in the United Arab Emirates.

And that leaves at least 56 more such facilities to mention in an expanding American empire of unmanned drone bases being set up worldwide. Despite frequent news reports on the drone assassination campaign launched in support of America’s ever-widening undeclared wars and a spate of stories on drone bases in Africa and the Middle East, most of these facilities have remained unnoted, uncounted, and remarkably anonymous — until now.

Run by the military, the Central Intelligence Agency, and their proxies, these bases — some little more than desolate airstrips, others sophisticated command and control centers filled with computer screens and high-tech electronic equipment — are the backbone of a new American robotic way of war. They are also the latest development in a long-evolving saga of American power projection abroad — in this case, remote-controlled strikes anywhere on the planet with a minimal foreign “footprint” and little accountability. …

Read on:

How the US gets military intelligence and where it goes
by Calvin Woodward and Kimberly Dozier

U.S. intelligence in the struggle against terrorism comes in many forms, maddeningly general, improbably precise, a game of sorts with vast consequences for winner and loser.

It’s a satellite image showing tribesmen gathering in a remote area where none should be — the photograph so clear you can see the caliber of ammunition they are carrying.

It’s a snatched bit of conversation between two terrorist leaders, overheard by a trusted source the terrorists don’t realize is listening.

It’s a stolen diplomatic cable. That’s right, we steal.

Each of these sources and a multitude of others can become the tips that put an entire nation on alert, as a single tip has done from a single source just before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. …

Q: What rules do U.S. intelligence-gatherers have to play by?

A: Looser rules than for most people. The CIA operates under the U.S. law known as Title 50 — literally a license to break laws in foreign countries, by committing espionage, persuading a local official to commit treason, or in extreme circumstances, to go into a foreign country and target an al-Qaida suspect for killing or capture. Title 50 operations are covert, meaning the U.S. never intends to acknowledge them. Other intelligence agencies, such as the eavesdropping National Security Agency and the new Cyber Command, routinely operate under Title 50 as well.

Read more questions and answers about the gathering and use of intelligence:

Title 50 – US Code: Download and read:

This is a link to a useful document by the Congressional Research Service on ALL Status of Forces Agreements with the U.S. The sources in notes and the lists of SOFAs at end of the document are especially useful:

(Thank you to John Lindsay-Poland – Research and Advocacy Director Fellowship of Reconciliation – – USA

Of Bases and Budgets

FPIF (Foreign Policy in Focus)
By Christine Ahn and Hyun Lee
October 6, 2011

At 4 am on September 24, an intoxicated U.S. soldier based at Camp Casey in South Korea broke into the dorm of a high school student, threatened her with a weapon and repeatedly sexually assaulted her. Due to the extraterritoriality of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the South Korean and U.S. governments, Seoul must issue an arrest warrant to the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK) to transfer the soldier to face Korea’s criminal system.

This tragic incident presents a critical opportunity to question why, after 66 years, 28,500 U.S. troops still remain on 87 bases and installations on the Korean peninsula and whose security they are safeguarding. The same questions are being raised in Okinawa and Guam, islands in the Asia Pacific with large U.S. bases.

Although the economic crisis facing America has called into question the bloated military budget, it is the first time in U.S. history that Congress is discussing the prohibitive costs of U.S. bases. Given growing popular opposition throughout the Asia Pacific to the ongoing presence of U.S. bases, the time is now to seize this rare political window to close down U.S. bases worldwide.

High Cost of U.S. Bases to People of Asia Pacific

As in the past, the USFK will attempt to call the rape another case of a bad apple, when in fact U.S. troops in Korea have a long history of committing heinous crimes against Korea’s civilian population.

In 1994, South Korean civil society began to mobilize after U.S. soldier Kenneth Markle brutally murdered 27-year old Yoon Keum E. whose bloody body covered with white laundry detergent was found dead with an umbrella shoved up her anus and two beer bottles in her womb. This unspeakable violence forced the Korean people to question the so-called protection provided by the U.S. military and the unequal SOFA arrangements, which enables soldiers to act in impunity.

According to the National Campaign for the Eradication of Crimes by U.S. Troops in Korea, U.S. soldiers have committed tens of thousands of crimes against South Korean civilians since the beginning of its military occupation in 1945. According to South Korean National Assembly member Kim Tae-won, 377 U.S. soldiers were arrested for committing crimes in 2011 alone. Since 2008, the number of rapes doubled, and thefts and assaults tripled. …

Read on:

War With China: How It Could Happen

Atlanic Sentinel
By Nick Ottens
October 14, 2011

A rising China is natural competitor for the United States in the Pacific. Although the prospects for war are limited, they are real and may prove difficult to minimize.
In a recent study (PDF), the RAND Corporation, a public policy think tank, examines not so much the likelihood of a direct confrontation with China rather how and where a crisis can develop that could escalate into war.
If it chose, RAND observes, China could become a more formidable threat to the United States than Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were at the height of their power. China doesn’t appear to seek territorial expansion nor ideological aggrandizement at the expense of other countries and the United States are likely to remain militarily superior but in its immediate neighborhood, China could achieve hegemony. “In consequence, the direct defense of contested assets in that region will become progressively more difficult, eventually approaching impossible,” according to the RAND Corporation. …
The Korean Peninsula is one such contested asset. A crisis could emanate from an economic collapse there, a contested power transition after the death of Kim Jong-Il, or defeat in a war with the South. Whatever the scenario, the immediate operational concern for South Korea and the United States would be to secure ballistic missile launch and nuclear sites as well long range artillery that could threaten the capital of Seoul. …
Read in full:

Asia: Questions Around US Bases And Budgets

Eurasia Review
October 9, 2011
By Christine Ahn and Hyun Lee

At 4 am on September 24, an intoxicated U.S. soldier based at Camp Casey in South Korea broke into the dorm of a high school student, threatened her with a weapon and repeatedly sexually assaulted her. Due to the extraterritoriality of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the South Korean and U.S. governments, Seoul must issue an arrest warrant to the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK) to transfer the soldier to face Korea’s criminal system.

This tragic incident presents a critical opportunity to question why, after 66 years, 28,500 U.S. troops still remain on 87 bases and installations on the Korean peninsula and whose security they are safeguarding. The same questions are being raised in Okinawa and Guam, islands in the Asia Pacific with large U.S. bases.

Although the economic crisis facing America has called into question the bloated military budget, it is the first time in U.S. history that Congress is discussing the prohibitive costs of U.S. bases. Given growing popular opposition throughout the Asia Pacific to the ongoing presence of U.S. bases, the time is now to seize this rare political window to close down U.S. bases worldwide. …

According to the National Campaign for the Eradication of Crimes by U.S. Troops in Korea, U.S. soldiers have committed tens of thousands of crimes against South Korean civilians since the beginning of its military occupation in 1945. According to South Korean National Assembly member Kim Tae-won, 377 U.S. soldiers were arrested for committing crimes in 2011 alone. …

Read in full:

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is requesting an $8.626 billion funding level for 2012

MDA is requesting $8.626 billion in Fiscal Year 2012. These resources and planned funding across the period of the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) will complete initial fielding of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system for homeland defense and enhance initial regional defenses to provide at least two intercept opportunities by two interceptors against short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs, MRBMs and IRBMs, respectively). In developing our FY 2012 request, we assumed the eventual approval of funding near the FY 2011 requested level of $8.416 billion for the Agency’s programs…

Download and read the MDA Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Outline (pdf)

The end of Pax Americana?

October 6, 2011
By Patrick J. Buchanan

… But if defense cuts are unavoidable, where should they come? What should our future defense posture be? Which principles should apply?

Clearly, the first principle should be that the United States must retain a sufficiency, indeed, a surplus of power to defend all of its vital interests and vital allies, though the defense of those allies must be first and foremost their own responsibility. They have to replace U.S. troops as first responders.

During the Cold War, America was committed to go to war on behalf of a dozen NATO nations from Norway to Turkey. Eastern Europe under Moscow’s boot was not considered vital.

Thus we resisted the Berlin Blockade, but peacefully. We did nothing to rescue the Hungarian revolution in 1956, or the Prague Spring in 1968, or the Polish Solidarity movement in 1981, when all three were crushed.

Now that the Red Army has gone home, Eastern Europe is free, and the Soviet Union no longer exists, what is the argument for maintaining U.S. Air Force, Army and naval bases and thousands of U.S. troops in Europe?

Close the bases, and bring the troops home.

The same with South Korea and Japan. Now that Mao is dead and gone and China is capitalist, Seoul and Tokyo trade more with Beijing than they do with us.

South Korea has 40 times the economy and twice the population of North Korea. Japan’s economy is almost as large as China’s. Why cannot these two powerful and prosperous nations provide the troops, planes, ships and missiles to defend themselves? We can sell them whatever they need.

Why is their defense still our responsibility? …

Read in full:

Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy View Attacked

ABC News
By Jason M. Volack
October 1, 2011

Rep. Ron Paul’s non-interventionist foreign policy came under fire Friday at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, where many of his views were met with open grumbling from the audience.

He has called for the United States to withdraw from all foreign wars and has also suggested that most U.S. military bases overseas be closed, calling the price tag “unsustainable.”

Paul’s view that a withdrawal of U.S. troops would decrease the incentive for terrorists to attack the United States had one woman at an assisted living center in Concord question his sanity.

“If we bring all the troops home some people think the terrorists will say, ‘America isn’t so bad after all and we are not going to try to kill civilians anyone,’” one woman said. “Anyone who thinks that is off his rocker.”

Paul paused, took a few steps back, and said that his view was that of the 9/11 commission whose task it was to investigate the causes of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“All empires end and we are an Empire,” he told her. …

Read on:

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