“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Obama’s terrorism speech: seeing what you want to see
The Guardian – By Glenn Greenwald – May 27, 2013
Some eager-to-believe progressives heralded the speech as a momentous change, but Obama’s actions are often quite different than his rhetoric.
The hallmark of a skilled politician is the ability to speak to a group of people holding widely disparate views, and have all of them walk away believing they heard what they wanted to hear. Other than Bill Clinton, I’ve personally never seen a politician even in the same league as Barack Obama when it comes to that ability. His most consequential speeches are shaped by their simultaneous affirmation of conflicting values and even antithetical beliefs, allowing listeners with irreconcilable positions to conclude that Obama agrees with them.
The highly touted speech Obama delivered last week on US terrorism policy was a master class in that technique. If one longed to hear that the end of the “war on terror” is imminent, there are several good passages that will be quite satisfactory. If one wanted to hear that the war will continue indefinitely, perhaps even in expanded form, one could easily have found that. And if one wanted to know that the president who has spent almost five years killing people in multiple countries around the world feels personal “anguish” and moral conflict as he does it, because these issues are so very complicated, this speech will be like a gourmet meal.
But whatever else is true, what should be beyond dispute at this point is that Obama’s speeches have very little to do with Obama’s actions, except to the extent that they often signal what he intends not to do. How many times does Obama have to deliver a speech embracing a set of values and polices, only to watch as he then proceeds to do the opposite, before one ceases to view his public proclamations as predictive of his future choices? Speeches, especially presidential ones, can be significant unto themselves in shaping public perceptions and setting the terms of the debate, so Obama’s explicit discussion of the “ultimate” ending of the war on terror can be reasonably viewed as positive. …
Read on: www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/27/obama-war-on-terror-speech
Missile Defense Obstructs Nuclear Forces Cuts – General
RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, May 23, 2013
The United States’ insistence on pursuing a missile defense system in Europe is standing in the way of further cuts to Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces, Russia’s top general said on Thursday at an international security conference in Moscow.
“Russia will cut its strategic attack force only when it is certain that the United States’ development of global missile defense will not undermine its nuclear deterrent potential,” Chief of the General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov said at the start of the two-day Military and Political Aspects of European Security conference.
The event brings together senior defense officials from Russia, the EU, the United States and Canada, as well as independent military and political experts.
Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov reiterated Russia’s position on missile defense, stressing Moscow does not seek an advantage, merely legal guarantees regarding its current and future security.
In an opening address to participants read by Sergei Ivanov, President Putin expressed his confidence that, despite differences over issues such as missile defense, the international community is in a good position to build and strengthen collective defense and security strategies.
“The necessary prerequisites are in place: the lack of any fundamental ideological differences, mutually intertwined economies, and developing cultural, scientific and business contacts between people,” Putin’s message said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the lack of trust between Russia and the West, which he described as a “cold war relic,” is a key problem in European security, and stressed that “Russia and NATO have agreed not to view each other as enemies.” …
Bum Rap: The U.S. Role in Guatemalan Genocide
FAIR Blog – By Peter Hart – May 20, 2013
I was struck by this May 17 headline in the New York Times:
“Trial on Guatemalan Civil War Carnage Leaves Out U.S. Role”
Reporter Elisabeth Malkin provides a pretty thorough accounting of U.S. support for Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. The “long history” of U.S. support for the brutal military went back to a CIA-backed coup in 1954, Malkin reported. She added:
When General Ríos Montt was installed in a coup in March 1982, Reagan administration officials were eager to embrace him as an ally. Embassy officials trekked up to the scene of massacres and reported back the army’s line that the guerrillas were doing the killing
The U.S. role in facilitating genocide was not central to the trial of Ríos Montt, but the fact remains that U.S. aid helped fuel the military, and Reagan-era officials like Elliott Abrams brushed off concerns about atrocities against indigenous villages. As Malkin put it, “For some in Guatemala, the virtual invisibility of the American role in the trial was disturbing.”
This kind of report raises at least one obvious question: How much has U.S. coverage of the Ríos Montt trial talked about U.S. support for genocide?
According to a search of the Nexis news database, some prominent outlets haven’t just ignored the U.S. role–they’ve ignored the story altogether. On the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), there have been no references to Guatemala genocide trial at all over the past two months. The Washington Post ran one brief item (5/12/13) about Ríos Montt’s conviction . …
Under Nixon, Reagan or the Bushes, We Wouldn’t Have Tolerated Obama’s Surveillance State
TruthOut/Buzzflash.com – Mark karlin – May 20, 2013
Exhilirated by the promise of transparency, accountability and change, it is painful for progressives and those who believe in the guaranteed rights of the Constitution to find themselves in the midst of a Kafkaesque attack on the public’s right to know, legal inimidation of journalistic investigation of the government, increased prosecution of whistleblowers and unaccountable executive branch censorship.
It is almost incomprehensible to fathom how a president who is a constitutional lawyer has exceeded all his Republican predecessors when it comes to prosecuting and punishing whistleblowers, expanding executive branch secrecy, declaring the most basic information classifed, and bullying and surveilling journalists. One can be grateful that the Tea Party has not yet won the White House, but the use of police powers, prosecution and surveillance state measures being implemented with President Obama’s approval are nothing short of creeping fascism. That is not an exaggeration. …
The Weaponisation of Space
Stratcom Strives to Build Coalitions for Space Operations
U.S. Department of Defense – By Donna Miles (American Forces Press Service) – May 14, 2013
Recognizing the value of multinational coalitions for operations in the land, maritime and air domains, officials at U.S. Strategic Command here hope to forge a coalition that shares assets and capabilities in space.
The United States and its allies are discussing details for the first agreement of its kind promoting combined space operations, Air Force Brig. Gen. David D. Thompson, Stratcom’s deputy director of global operations, told American Forces Press Service.
The agreement could spell out specific areas in which the participating nations will work together, and what each will contribute to those efforts, Thompson said.
The agreement will formalize an arrangement tested last year during a period discovery. Based on the findings, the U.S. and its allies agreed in September to continue working toward closer combined space operations.
Thompson said he hopes the agreement will be the first step in forging international military-to-military cooperation in space that is essential to all. The Stratcom staff already is promoting the concept with what is hoped to be the next wave of nations to join the coalition.
“Our intent with combined space operations is to mirror some of the partnerships we have in other mission areas that are long-term and enduring,” Thompson said.
Space is vital to military operations, providing an array of capabilities that give space-faring nations’ forces a military advantage, he said. These include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that enhance warfighters’ situational awareness, space-based communications that provide them instant, global communications, and global positioning systems that deliver highly accurate navigation and targeting positions.
“This gives them an awareness and understanding that enhances their capabilities to conduct operations the way no other armed forces can today,” Thompson said. “That’s why it’s vitally important to our military forces.”
However, as more nations, organizations and commercial companies vie to take advantage of space-based capabilities, the once-pristine space domain is becoming increasingly congested and competitive, Thompson said. …
Wing adopts new space surveillance mission
Spacewar.com – By Steve Brady – April 9, 2013
The 21st Operations Group assumed the Cobra Dane Radar mission at Eareckson Air Station, Shemya Island, Alaska, April 1. Eareckson AS is located on the western tip of Alaska’s Aleutian islands. The radar has the ability to detect objects about 2,000 miles away, and provides data for the Space Surveillance Network and the Ballistic Missile Defense System. Cobra Dane will continue to be operated by a contract workforce, and no military personnel will be assigned to the unit at Eareckson AS. (U.S. Air Force photo).
The 21st Operations Group assumed the Cobra Dane radar mission at Eareckson Air Station, Shemya Island, Alaska, April 1, and takes responsibility for contract and program management Oct. 1.
Eareckson Air Station is located on the western tip of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands near the larger island of Attu, and is approximately 1,500 miles southwest of Anchorage. The airport lies on the south side of the two-mile by four-mile island.
The radar is about 120 feet tall, the face is about 95 feet in diameter, and with its ability to detect objects about 2,000 miles away, it provides data for the Space Surveillance Network and the Ballistic Missile Defense System. …
George W. Bush: ‘No Need to Defend Myself’
commondreams.org – By Jon Queally – April 22, 2013
Former US president says that history will be his judge
Ahead of the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center later this week on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the controversial former president says that the library and museum dedicated to his two terms in office will be a place “to lay out facts” but not—as USA Today phrased it—a place that will seek to “explain” or “defend” his policies.
“There’s no need to defend myself,” Bush said in a phone interview with the newspaper. “I did what I did and ultimately history will judge.”
Though the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that initiated under Bush still linger for millions of people, the former president describes how he is enjoying his new painting hobby and his life outside the “limelight”. Recent estimates of the financial cost of the two wars are now between $4 and $6 trillion.
“My life is obviously much simpler than it was in the past, but in many ways the simplicity creates contentment,” he said to USA Today in an interview that asked no tough questions about the significant loss of innocent life in Iraq, which many experts on human rights and international law agree was an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign state.
According to the Costs of War project at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, at least 134,000 innocent Iraqis lost their lives as a direct result of the US-led war that began in March of 2003. For numerous reasons, the groups says, this number could well “double” before a complete count is reached. …
Can Antimissile Tech Protect the US?
Discovery News – April 11, 2013
In the wake of threats from the North Korean government, the United States is sending batteries of missiles to Guam and a warship (the USS John S. McCain) that can shoot down rockets fired from North Korea. As powerful as these defenses are, their effectiveness may lie more in their symbolic value than in how well they would stop missiles.
“The real value as a deterrent is to show we’re interested in the region,” Philip Coyle III, a former associate director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology, said in an email. …
“The Administration felt they had to do something to respond to the latest DPRK (North Korea) sword rattling, especially after North Korean officials mentioned Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo, Guam, among potential targets.”
That isn’t to say that the U.S. can’t stop North Korean missiles. But missile defense is different depending on whether one is trying to stop a single ballistic missile or a barrage of them fired by North Korea.
How To Take Out A Missile
Modern missile defense is nothing like the “Missile Command” video game, in which players defend cities from incoming ballistic missiles by blowing them up just before they strike their targets. In real life, targeting incoming missiles is a lot harder, and missiles still need to be pretty close to their targets to destroy them, and they don’t always manage to do that. The systems that the U.S. sent to the waters off South Korea and to Guam (a U.S. territory) are “kinetic kill” designs, which means the missile is fired and actually hits another missile, ensuring complete destruction of the warhead.
There are two ways to take out missiles: close to the target when they are in the “descent” or “terminal” phase of their trajectories, and farther off during launch or before the missiles re-enter the atmosphere. (Any ballistic missile going more than about 200 miles traces a high, arcing path that takes it out into space, albeit briefly). …
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