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). …
Fall of American & Nato forces
Frontier Post – By Muhammad Daheem – March 30, 2013
North Atlantic Treaty Organization has made a deal with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to move its arms and ammunition out of Afghanistan north through Central Asia and Russia. A part of equipment is expected to go through Pakistani ports and by air. It is just possible America may avoid Pakistan and select alternative transit route.
Obama’s announcement to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan shows the signs of fall of American imperialism. Nato has already announced that it is withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan in 2014. Canadian government seems to be in a hurry to exit from Afghanistan. New Zealand is also keen to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan early. Australia would withdraw all its forces from Afghanistan by 2014. It has already lost 39 soldiers in Afghanistan. Its 249 troops have been wounded. Australia and New Zealand, though non-Nato countries, also joined the invaders to defend the cause of imperialistic forces but all efforts ended in a smoke. The collective force of coalition forces of 4 continents could not defeat the freedom fighters in Afghanistan. Australia, according to Guardian, has the 10th largest military force in Afghanistan. It has announced withdrawal of two-thirds of its soldiers from Afghanistan by the end of 2013.
Majority of the contingent will be pulled out from the international military base at Tarin Kowt after its closure in Uruzgan province. According to Stephen Smith, the Australian Defense Minister, about 1,000 of the 1,550 Australian troops in Afghanistan would be withdrawn during 2013. The prolonged war is unpopular among the masses in Australia Britain has recently opened an embassy in Kyrgyzstan for the first time while it already keeps an embassy in Tajikistan. A British Ministry of Defense Study says that Afghan war is “unwinnable in military terms.” The frustrated British forces are trying to “impose an ideology” foreign to the people of that region. The stage, after the failure of the imperialistic forces in their mission, is already set for the reduction of the British troops.
Obama has unveiled plans to accelerate the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan. The United States of America would withdraw 34,000 soldiers out of 66,000 thousand from Afghanistan within a year. American objective is to withdraw almost all combat troops by the end of 2014.
Obama’s announcement to withdraw half the US force in Afghanistan shows his intention to save his skin prior to a long-term defeat. Nonetheless, the White House claims that it would continue to support puppet regime of Afghanistan.
It is presumed that war in Afghanistan will be over by the end of the next year. American and Nato forces are leaving Afghanistan after receiving severe shocks in the vast battlefield and unbelievable financial losses during last eleven years. …
American Special Ops Forces Now Operating in 71 Countries
Military madness spanning the entire planet.
AlterNet – By Laleh Khalili -March 29, 2013
The recent news of a possible shift in the operation of drones from the CIA to the Department of Defense was by and large received with a shrug. Given that the programme would likely be operated by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and under conditions of strictest secrecy, and probably launched from inaccessible ” floating bases” on especially configured naval vessels, the shift is not an indicator of a change in the US’ assassination policy. And to the putative victims of the drone strikes, it is largely an irrelevant organisational change.
The reason, however, that the shift is of relevance more broadly is that it signals the irresistible rise of the special operations community in the post-counterinsurgency era. More than a year ago, in January 2012, President Obama inaugurated the US Defense Strategic Guidance. The document was strategically significant because it announced the “pivot to Asia” alongside continued commitments to the oil sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf.
Militarily, it clearly signalled the end of large-scale invasion and occupation of troublesome or intransigent countries in favour of the kind of operations in which the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and its counterterrorism component, the JSOC, excel. This ascendancy is confirmed by the planned expansion of the SOCOM by around 7.5 percent by 2015, from 66,100 civilian and military personnel in 2011 to 71,100 by 2015.
This expansion of the force, at a time when most US government departments – including the Pentagon itself – are contemplating possible sequestrations, speaks to the increasing importance of a force which can act in the shadows, leaving a “light footprint”. …
The 12th anniversary of American cowardice
What you don’t know can hurt you
By Tom Engelhardt – March 28, 2013
It’s true that, last week, few in Congress cared to discuss, no less memorialize, the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Nonetheless, two anniversaries of American disasters and crimes abroad — the “mission accomplished” debacle of 2003 and the 45th anniversary of the My Lai massacre — were at least noted in passing in our world. In my hometown paper, the New York Times, the Iraq anniversary was memorialized with a lead op-ed by a former advisor to General David Petraeus who, amid the rubble, went in search of all-American “silver linings.”
Still, in our post-9/11 world, there are so many other anniversaries from hell whose silver linings don’t get noticed. Take this April. It will be the ninth anniversary of the widespread release of the now infamous photos of torture, abuse, and humiliation from Abu Ghraib. In case you’ve forgotten, that was Saddam Hussein’s old prison where the U.S. military taught the fallen Iraqi dictator a trick or two about the destruction of human beings. Shouldn’t there be an anniversary of some note there? I mean, how many cultures have turned dog collars (and the dogs that go with them), thumbs-up signs over dead bodies, and a mockery of the crucified Christ into screensavers?
Or to pick another not-to-be-missed anniversary that, strangely enough, goes uncelebrated here, consider the passage of the USA Patriot Act, that ten-letter acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”? This October 26th will be the 11th anniversary of the hurried congressional vote on that 363-page (essentially unread) document filled with right-wing hobbyhorses and a range of provisions meant to curtail American liberties in the name of keeping us safe from terror. “Small government” Republicans and “big government” Democrats rushed to support it back then. It passed in the Senate in record time by 98-1, with only Russ Feingold in opposition, and in the House by 357-66 — and so began the process of taking the oppressive powers of the American state into a new dimension. It would signal the launch of a world of ever-expanding American surveillance and secrecy (and it would be renewed by the Obama administration at its leisure in 2011). …
Living with No Future: Iraq, 10 Years Later
Truth Out – By Dahr Jamail (TomDispatch) – March 26, 2013
Back then, everybody was writing about Iraq, but it’s surprising how few Americans, including reporters, paid much attention to the suffering of Iraqis. Today, Iraq is in the news again. The words, the memorials, the retrospectives are pouring out, and again the suffering of Iraqis isn’t what’s on anyone’s mind. This was why I returned to that country before the recent 10th anniversary of the Bush administration’s invasion and why I feel compelled to write a few grim words about Iraqis today.
But let’s start with then. It’s April 8, 2004, to be exact, and I’m inside a makeshift medical center in the heart of Fallujah while that predominantly Sunni city is under siege by American forces. I’m alternating between scribbling brief observations in my notebook and taking photographs of the wounded and dying women and children being brought into the clinic.
A woman suddenly arrives, slapping her chest and face in grief, wailing hysterically as her husband carries in the limp body of their little boy. Blood is trickling down one of his dangling arms. In a few minutes, he’ll be dead. This sort of thing happens again and again.
Over and over, I watch speeding cars hop the curb in front of this dirty clinic with next to no medical resources and screech to a halt. Grief-stricken family members pour out, carrying bloodied relatives — women and children — gunned down by American snipers.
One of them, an 18-year-old girl has been shot through the neck by what her family swears was an American sniper. All she can manage are gurgling noises as doctors work frantically to save her from bleeding to death. Her younger brother, an undersized child of 10 with a gunshot wound in his head, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomits as doctors race to keep him alive. He later dies while being transported to a hospital in Baghdad.
According to the Bush administration at the time, the siege of Fallujah was carried out in the name of fighting something called “terrorism” and yet, from the point of view of the Iraqis I was observing at such close quarters, the terror was strictly American. …
Next Stop, a Ban on Nuclear Weapons?
Truth Out – By Tim Wright – March 26, 2013
A quiet revolution took place in Oslo earlier this month. More than 120 governments, UN agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and civil society gathered to debate the problem of nuclear weapons, not in military and geopolitical terms, as has been done for decades, but through a humanitarian lens. Never before in the 68 years of the atomic age has there been any serious discussion at a governmental level of the catastrophic harm caused by nuclear weapons, nor a concerted push by states to outlaw these weapons completely.
The five major nuclear powers – the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China – were understandably unhappy about this Norwegian government initiative. Just days before the conference kicked off, they issued a joint statement declaring that they would boycott it, even though a couple of them had earlier indicated that they would attend. But this was not enough to deter other governments from taking part, including many members of NATO, Australia, Japan and South Korea, all of which rely on America’s so-called “extended nuclear deterrent.”
It was a major strategic blunder on the part of the “P5″ nuclear powers not to show up. Their absence only ensured that the discussion remained focused on the horrific effects of nuclear weapons, immediate and long term, and the need for a ban. Representatives from one state after another rose to express their grave concerns over the continuing threat that nuclear weapons pose to all humanity. The Red Cross warned that no national or international response capacity exists – nor could one ever be developed – to respond effectively in the event of even a single nuclear detonation, let alone in the more likely scenario of a nuclear exchange. …
Why I’m Attending the Dedication of the Bush Lie Bury
War is a Crime.org – By David Swanson – March 17, 2013
On April 25th the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and General Rehabilitation Project will be dedicated in Dallas, Texas. It takes up 23 acres at Southern Methodist University, 23 acres that neither humanity nor any other species may ever reclaim for anything decent or good.
I’ll be there, joining in the people’s response (http://ThePeoplesResponse.org) with those who fear that this library will amount to a Lie Bury.
“The Bush Center’s surrounding native Texas landscape,” the center’s PR office says, “including trees from the Bush family’s Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas, continues President and Mrs. Bush’s longstanding commitment to land and water conservation and energy efficiency.”
Does it, now? Is that what you recall? Bush the environmentalist?
Well, maybe you and I remember things differently, but do we have a major educational institution that will effectively repeat our corrections of the Lie Bury’s claims for decades to come?
According to the Lie Bury, Bush was and is an education leader, saving our schools by turning them into test-taking factories and getting unqualified military officers to run them. This is something to be proud of, we’re told.
The Lie Bury’s annual report shows Bush with the Dalai Lama. No blood is anywhere to be seen. The Lie Bury’s website has a photo of a smiling George W. golfing for war. “The Warrior Open,” it explains, “is a competitive 36-hole golf tournament that takes place over two days every fall in the Dallas area. The event honors U.S. service members wounded in the global war on terror.” …
Obama’s Nixonian Precedent
New York Times : The Opinion Pages – By Mary L. Dudziak – March 21, 2013
On March 17, 1969, President Richard M. Nixon began a secret bombing campaign in Cambodia, sending B-52 bombers over the border from South Vietnam. This episode, largely buried in history, resurfaced recently in an unexpected place: the Obama administration’s “white paper” justifying targeted killings of Americans suspected of involvement in terrorism.
President Obama is reportedly considering moving control of the drone program from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Defense Department, as questions about the program’s legality continue to be asked. But this shift would do nothing to confer legitimacy to the drone strikes. The legitimacy problem comes from the secrecy itself — not which entity secretly does the killing. Secrecy has been used to hide presidential overreach — as the Cambodia example shows. …
Iraq War Among World’s Worst Events
Counterpunch – by David Swanson – March 18, 2013
At 10 years since the launch of Operation Iraqi Liberation (to use the original name with the appropriate acronym, OIL) and over 22 years since Operation Desert Storm, there is little evidence that any significant number of people in the United States have a realistic idea of what our government has done to the people of Iraq, or of how these actions compare to other horrors of world history. A majority of Americans believe the war since 2003 has hurt the United States but benefitted Iraq. A plurality of Americans believe, not only that Iraqis should be grateful, but that Iraqis are in fact grateful.
A number of U.S. academics have advanced the dubious claim that war making is declining around the world. Misinterpreting what has happened in Iraq is central to their argument. As documented in the full report, by the most scientifically respected measures available, Iraq lost 1.4 million lives as a result of OIL, saw 4.2 million additional people injured, and 4.5 million people become refugees. The 1.4 million dead was 5% of the population. That compares to 2.5% lost in the U.S. Civil War, or 3 to 4% in Japan in World War II, 1% in France and Italy in World War II, less than 1% in the U.K. and 0.3% in the United States in World War II. The 1.4 million dead is higher as an absolute number as well as a percentage of population than these other horrific losses. U.S. deaths in Iraq since 2003 have been 0.3% of the dead, even if they’ve taken up the vast majority of the news coverage, preventing U.S. news consumers from understanding the extent of Iraqi suffering.
In a very American parallel, the U.S. government has only been willing to value the life of an Iraqi at that same 0.3% of the financial value it assigns to the life of a U.S. citizen. …
‘US should stop war games simulating invasion of North Korea and lift sanctions’
RT – March 8, 2013
The situation on the Korean Peninsula is currently very tense, and even a small incident may lead to a full-scale war even if none of the parties want it. And the US should better try to normalize relations, anti-war activist Brian Becker told RT.
The activist from the ANSWER Coalition believes the North Korean nuclear program is purely defensive, and following US sanctions on the country, compares the American policies on the peninsula with those in Iraq and Libya – not the road to peace, but to an invasion.
RT: Prior to the sanctions being announced, North Korea threatened to use a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US. How likely is that to happen?
Brian Becker: No, it’s not likely to happen. North Koreans realize that the US, with 3,000 operational and 7,000 nuclear weapons overall, would, as Colin Powell said in 1995 when he was threatening North Korea, turn their country into a charcoal briquette. In other words, the overwhelming power of the American nuclear machine is great indeed. But I think we have to step back and see what’s really going on because the North Koreans realize that the United States’ strategy with the right-wing government in South Korea in pressuring China, North Korea’s traditional ally, to go along with the program because I think China fears, after the Asia pivot, that there’s growing danger of an actual war in the Pacific to isolate North Korea.
But what has North Korea done? North Korea has carried out a nuclear test, the third. But they’re responding to the major, massive US military exercises that are conducted in a way to stage a mock invasion and bombing of their country – the country that was indeed invaded. Twenty years ago – in fact, exactly 20 years ago – the US strategic command said, “We’re reorienting US hydrogen bombs away from the Soviet Union” – this was after the demise of the USSR – and are now targeting North Korea. And that’s when the DPRK withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and began building with earnestness its own nuclear capacity. …
How much military spending is enough?
U-T San Diego – By Jeanette Steele – March 2, 2013
Sequestration forces defense experts to examine hardware expenses, escalating costs of troop pay and benefits
The U.S. defense budget was $297 billion in 2001. By 2012, the base budget had increased 79 percent to $531 billion, not including the cost of fighting the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
What the nation got for its treasure was a better-paid military and a new generation of high-tech but pricey hardware, including a few failures.
Now, with the two wars ended or nearly over, the battle over the across-the-board sequestration budget cuts is prompting the question: How much should the United States spend on defense in peacetime?
After World War II, military spending dropped 38 percent, according to Pentagon figures. After Vietnam, it was 30 percent; after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 32 percent.
During the past decade, the peak year for overall military spending was 2010, when the total bill — including $162 billion for the wars — was $691 billion.
From that high, a 30 percent correction would mean a defense budget of $484 billion. A 35 percent correction would drop it to $449 billion.
Those are the kind of numbers that military officials are warning against. …
“Homeland Security”: The Trillion-Dollar Concept That No One Can Define
TruthOut.org – By Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer, TomDispatch – February 28, 2013
Imagine a labyrinthine government department so bloated that few have any clear idea of just what its countless pieces do. Imagine that tens of billions of tax dollars are disappearing into it annually, black hole-style, since it can’t pass a congressionally mandated audit.
Now, imagine that there are two such departments, both gigantic, and you’re beginning to grasp the new, twenty-first century American security paradigm.
For decades, the Department of Defense has met this definition to a T. Since 2003, however, it hasn’t been alone. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which celebrates its 10th birthday this March, has grown into a miniature Pentagon. It’s supposed to be the actual “defense” department — since the Pentagon is essentially a Department of Offense — and it’s rife with all the same issues and defects that critics of the military-industrial complex have decried for decades. In other words, “homeland security” has become another obese boondoggle.
But here’s the strange thing: unlike the Pentagon, this monstrosity draws no attention whatsoever — even though, by our calculations, this country has spent a jaw-dropping $791 billion on “homeland security” since 9/11. To give you a sense of just how big that is, Washington spent an inflation-adjusted $500 billion on the entire New Deal. …
Michael Moore | How Oscar Nominee Emad Burnat Was Held at LAX
TruthOut.org – By Michael Moore – February 21, 2013
… last night, as an elected Governor of the Documentary Branch, I and my fellow Governors – Michael Apted and Rob Epstein – were co-hosting the nominee dinner for the documentary filmmakers. But one of the nominated directors was not there – Emad Burnat, the co-director of the Oscar-nominated ’5 Broken Cameras.’ This exceptional, award-winning movie about how Emad’s village in the West Bank used non-violence to oppose the Israeli’s government’s decision to build a wall straight through their farms and village – only to see (and capture on camera) Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed Palestinian civilians – had become the first Palestinian documentary ever to be nominated by the Academy.
While we awaited Emad’s arrival from the airport – he and his family had already spent nearly six hours at an Israeli checkpoint as he was attempting to drive to Amman to catch their plane – I received an urgent text from Emad, written to me from a holding pen at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). …
Here is what it said, in somewhat broken English:
“Urgent – I am in the air port la they need more information why I come here
Invitation or some thing
Can you help they will send us back
If you late
I quickly texted him back and told him that help was on the way. He wrote back to say Immigration and Customs was holding him, his wife, Soraya, and their 8-year old son (and “star” of the movie) Gibreel in a detention room at LAX. He said they would not believe him when he told them he was an Oscar-nominated director on his way to this Sunday’s Oscars and to the events in LA leading up to the ceremony. He is also a Palestinian. And a olive farmer. Apparently that was too much for Homeland Security to wrap its head around.
“They are saying they are going to put us on the next plane back to Amman,” he told me. …
How US military plans to carry out Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia’
The Christian Science Monitor – By Anna Mulrine – February 18, 2013
A US policy shift toward Asia means a greater role for the Navy. Even pre-’pivot to Asia,’ it already stationed half its ships in the region, and it is developing a new ‘afloat forward staging base’ in the Pacific.
The Pentagon’s No. 2 official, Ashton Carter, picked a telling time to discuss the US military’s plans for its new strategic focus on the Asia-Pacific.
At Europe’s premier security conference in Munich, Germany, this month, Mr. Carter took the opportunity to reassure concerned NATO allies, among others, that America’s focus on Asia would not mean its abandonment of Europe. Some US partners have been concerned that even the phrase “pivot to Asia” implies that the United States would be turning its back on Europe.
“Asia has no NATO, has not had a NATO, has had no way of knitting together countries and healing the wounds of the Second World War,” he said, making the case for the shift. “Europe is a source of security and not a consumer of security in today’s world, fortunately,” Carter said. While Asia has prospered for 70 years, “it’s not automatic,” he added. “And I think a central reason for that peace and prosperity has been the pivotal role of American military power in that part of the world.”
It’s a role that is slated to grow in the near term (even if John Kerry raised some questions during his Senate hearing to become secretary of State). Indeed, the US military is aiming both to strengthen relationships with rising economic partners in the region and to increasingly act as a counter to rivals for power – most notably, China. …
Ten Urgent Reasons to Reject Nuclear Power Now
TruthOut – By Jim McCluskey – February 17, 2013
Many citizens do not want nuclear power. They know it is both far too dangerous and far too expensive. UK governments have largely supported nuclear power as well as nuclear weapons. Many citizens do not want nuclear weapons because they know they are insanely dangerous, and they want to live without the constant threat of sudden and complete annihilation hanging over them and their children. …
Here are 10 reasons we should reject nuclear power now. …
- Nuclear Power Stations are Prohibitively Dangerous. …
- Nuclear Power Stations are Prohibitively Expensive. …
- The Same Technology is Used for Power and Weapons. …
- Nuclear Waste is Dangerous for Thousands of Years. …
- Plants and Waste Storage are Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack. …
- They Epitomize the Centralization of Power. …
- Poor countries are made dependent on rich ones. …
- These plants draw funds away from the development of sustainable energy. …
- Uranium will become increasingly scarce. …
- Government supports nuclear power against the will of the people. …
All ten reasons explained in detail: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/14461-ten-urgent-reasons-to-reject-nuclear
The hawks were wrong: Iraq is worse off now
Huffington Post – By Mehdi Hasan – February 14, 2013
Saddam is gone – but at what cost?
On Saturday 15 February 2003, more than a million of us – students, toddlers, Christians, Muslims, nuns, Telegraph readers – gathered in Hyde Park for the biggest public demonstration in British history. “Not in my name,” we chanted, as a series of speakers – from Charles Kennedy to Jesse Jackson – lined up to denounce the impending invasion of Iraq.
In Glasgow, a sombre yet defiant prime minister delivered a speech to Labour Party activists. Responding to the march in London, Tony Blair declaimed: “The moral case against war has a moral answer: it is the moral case for removing Saddam.” He continued, “It is not the reason we act. That must be according to the United Nations mandate on weapons of mass destruction. But it is the reason, frankly, why if we do have to act, we should do so with a clear conscience.”
Whether or not Blair’s conscience remains “clear” is, as he once pointed out, between him and God. But a decade on from the debate about dodgy dossiers, WMDs, 45-minute warnings and various clauses and subclauses of UN Resolution 1441, those of us who marched against the war stand vindicated. We were right; the hawks were wrong.
It isn’t the size of our demonstration that those of us against the war should be proud of, it is our judgement. Our arguments and predictions turned out to be correct and those of our belligerent opponents were discredited. Remember the rhetoric? There was “no doubt” that the invaders would “find the clearest possible evidence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction” (Blair) as well as evidence of how Iraq had “provided training in these weapons [of mass destruction] to al-Qaeda” (Colin Powell); the foreign troops would be “greeted as liberators” (Dick Cheney); “the establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East” would be “a watershed event in the global democratic revolution” (George W Bush).
It was a farrago of lies and half-truths, of delusion and doublethink. Aside from the viewers of Fox News, most people are now aware that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, no ties between secular Saddam and Islamist Osama. The fall of the Ba’athist dictatorship failed to usher in a democratic or human-rights revolution. Every argument advanced by the hawks proved to be utterly false.
The Iraq war was a strategic disaster – or, as the Tory minister Kenneth Clarke put it in a recent BBC radio discussion, “the most disastrous foreign policy decision of my lifetime… worse than Suez”. …
Why Every Liberal Should Be Ashamed of President Obama’s Foreign Policy
Policymic – By Areej Elahi-Siddiqui – February 12, 2013
As drone attacks and the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) come under fire by Republicans and Democrats alike for undermining and eroding civil liberties, President Obama is unsurprisingly facing backlash for his national security policy, which happens to be even more extreme and conservative than that of former President George W. Bush. In fact, when it comes to national security policy, President Obama’s first and second terms have essentially been Bush’s third and fourth.
Domestically, President Obama has made strides in pursuing a liberal policy when it comes to issues such as repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, endorsing same-sex marriage, and passing health care reform. But Obama’s extreme anti-terror tactics that have dominated both his foreign policy and national security policy have not followed the same pattern of liberal policy. In fact, they have shown him to be perhaps an even greater neocon than most Republicans.
A prime example of this is the NDAA, a piece of legislation that essentially grants the president the power to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge. This followed in suit with Obama’s four-year extension of the Patriot Act in 2011, continuing the post-9/11 powers to search records and conduct wiretaps and surveillance on civilians with no confirmed ties to terrorism in pursuit of terrorists. (Surprisingly, the only true voice of dissent against extending the legislation was Republican senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who saw it as a gross abuse of privacy rights.) …
For all of his liberal stances at home, Obama has proven to be worse than most neocons – and far worse than his predecessor, Bush – when it comes to national security and foreign policy.
The Shooting Gallery: Obama and the Vanishing Point of Democracy
By Henry A Giroux
February 12 ,2013
We live at a time in the United States when the notion of political enemies has become a euphemism for dismantling prohibitions against targeted assassinations, torture, abductions and indefinite detention. Under the elastic notion of permanent war and the use of Orwellian labels like terrorists, enemy combatants, enemies of the state or the all-encompassing “evil-doers,” the United States has tortured prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo for more than a decade. It also kidnapped suspected terrorists, held them in CIA “black sites,” and subjected them to extraordinary rendition – “the practice [of] taking detainees to and from US custody without a legal process … and often … handing [them] over to countries that practiced torture.” As a new report from the Open Society Foundation, “Globalizing Torture,” points out, since 9/11 the CIA has illegally kidnapped and tortured more than 136 people and was aided in its abhorrent endeavors by 54 countries. All of this was done in secrecy and when it was eventually exposed, the Obama administration refused to press criminal charges against those government officials who committed atrocious human rights abuses, signalling to the military and various intelligence agencies that they would not be held accountable for engaging in such egregious and illegal behavior. The notion that torture, kidnapping and the killing of Americans without due process is an illegitimate function of any state, including the United States, has overtly suffered the fate of the Geneva Conventions, apparently too quaint and antiquated to be operative. …
John Brennan’s Tenet-Like Testimony
By Ray McGovern, Consortium News
February 10, 2013
CIA Director-designate John Brennan’s assertion to the Senate Intelligence Committee that Iran is “bent on pursuing nuclear weapons” is precisely the kind of dangerous “mistake” made by his mentor, former CIA Director George Tenet, who made many such “mistakes” a decade ago in greasing the skids for war on Iraq.
Of course, the appropriate word is not “mistake” but “fraud.” And perhaps what should disqualify Brennan as much as anything is his intimate connection to the lies and abuses perpetrated by the thoroughly discredited Tenet. As one of Tenet’s former protégés, Brennan could not even bring himself to admit on Thursday that waterboarding was torture.
Brennan also engaged in other Tenet-like hairsplitting as he displayed the worst of his Jesuit education. Brennan, like me a Fordham graduate, seems to have absorbed the style of “jesuitical” argument that is defined as “practicing casuistry or equivocation, using subtle or over-subtle reasoning; crafty; sly; intriguing.”
Brennan’s misleading statement on Iran was both “sly” and “intriguing.” It also did not come as an off-the-cuff answer to a question, but rather was embedded in the written text of his “Opening Statement for the Record” for his confirmation hearing. His disingenuousness on this neuralgic issue is another reason to reject his nomination to be CIA director. …
U.S. Air Force releases new ‘vision’ document
U.S. Air Force
by Master Sgt. Jess Harvey
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
January 11, 2013
“Focused on ‘Airmen, Mission, and Innovation,’ I believe this short document captures what today’s Air Force is all about and where I think we ought to focus on for tomorrow,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III in an email to all Airmen.
“We are the greatest air force in the world because of our Airmen–Active, Reserve, Guard, and Civilian–to remain the greatest, we must make our team even stronger,” the Vision states.
The Vision discusses the Air Force’s enduring contributions of air and space superiority; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; rapid global mobility; global strike; and command and control and the need to strengthen them.
“We already combine our air, space, and cyber forces to maximize these enduring contributions, but the way we execute these five calling cards must continually evolve as we strive to increase our asymmetric advantage,” the Vision says. “Our Airmen’s ability to rethink the battle while incorporating new technologies will improve the varied ways our Air Force accomplishes its missions.
“Every Airman should constantly look for smarter ways to do business. The person closest to the problem is often the one with the best solution. Leaders should empower Airmen to think creatively, find new solutions, and make decisions,” according to the Vision.
The Vision concludes with a call to action for all Airmen to tell their story, being proud of who they are, what they do, and how well they accomplish the mission.
To view the vision documnet click here (11MB pdf)
Powder Keg in the Pacific
Will China-Japan-U.S. Tensions in the Pacific Ignite a Conflict and Sink the Global Economy?
by Michael T. Klare
January 22, 2013
Don’t look now, but conditions are deteriorating in the western Pacific. Things are turning ugly, with consequences that could prove deadly and spell catastrophe for the global economy.
In Washington, it is widely assumed that a showdown with Iran over its nuclear ambitions will be the first major crisis to engulf the next secretary of defense — whether it be former Senator Chuck Hagel, as President Obama desires, or someone else if he fails to win Senate confirmation. With few signs of an imminent breakthrough in talks aimed at peacefully resolving the Iranian nuclear issue, many analysts believe that military action — if not by Israel, than by the United States — could be on this year’s agenda.
Lurking just behind the Iranian imbroglio, however, is a potential crisis of far greater magnitude, and potentially far more imminent than most of us imagine. China’s determination to assert control over disputed islands in the potentially energy-rich waters of the East and South China Seas, in the face of stiffening resistance from Japan and the Philippines along with greater regional assertiveness by the United States, spells trouble not just regionally, but potentially globally. …
Noam Chomsky: The Gravest Threat to World Peace
By Naom Chomsky
January 4, 2013
Reporting on the final U.S. presidential campaign debate, on foreign policy, The Wall Street Journal observed that “the only country mentioned more (than Israel) was Iran, which is seen by most nations in the Middle East as the gravest security threat to the region.”
The two candidates agreed that a nuclear Iran is the gravest threat to the region, if not the world, as Romney explicitly maintained, reiterating a conventional view.
On Israel, the candidates vied in declaring their devotion to it, but Israeli officials were nevertheless unsatisfied. They had “hoped for more ‘aggressive’ language from Mr. Romney,” according to the reporters. It was not enough that Romney demanded that Iran not be permitted to “reach a point of nuclear capability.”
Arabs were dissatisfied too, because Arab fears about Iran were “debated through the lens of Israeli security instead of the region’s,” while Arab concerns were largely ignored – again the conventional treatment.
The Journal article, like countless others on Iran, leaves critical questions unanswered, among them: Who exactly sees Iran as the gravest security threat? And what do Arabs (and most of the world) think can be done about the threat, whatever they take it to be?
The first question is easily answered. The “Iranian threat” is overwhelmingly a Western obsession, shared by Arab dictators, though not Arab populations.
As numerous polls have shown, although citizens of Arab countries generally dislike Iran, they do not regard it as a very serious threat. Rather, they perceive the threat to be Israel and the United States; and many, sometimes considerable majorities, regard Iranian nuclear weapons as a counter to these threats.
In high places in the U.S., some concur with the Arab populations’ perception, among them Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the Strategic Command. In 1998 he said, “It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East,” one nation, Israel, should have a powerful nuclear weapons arsenal, which “inspires other nations to do so.” …
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