‘We’ve got a male-on-male problem here’
A recent military report on sexual assault in the military shocked many in Washington and around the nation, but a leading expert on military personnel revealed the prevalence of men assaulting other men is one of the major headlines in this study.
The extended analysis of the report first appeared in Monday’s edition of the the Washington Times.
The Defense Department survey of sexual assault in the military during fiscal 2012 estimated 26,000 assaults took place in the armed forces. Nearly 3,000 of them were formally reported. Just more than 6 percent of women reported being victims of assault and 1.2 percent of men said the same. Given the much larger number of men in the military, those numbers suggest 14,000 of the assaults in the Pentagon study happened to men.
Among the assaults formally reported, 88 percent of reports came from women and 12 percent from men. The numbers are getting dramatically worse.
“The number of reports of sexual assaults among military personnel have actually increased by 129 percent since 2004,” said Center for Military Readiness President Elaine Donnelly, who pointed out the number of formal reports of sexual assault jumped from 1,275 to 2,949 in just eight years.
She told WND when factoring in civilians working for or around the military, the increase in that time is 98 percent.
Women are identified as the attacker in just two percent of all assaults, meaning most men who suffer assault are targeted by other men.
“So we’ve got a male-on-male problem here. The Department of Defense doesn’t want to comment on this. They know that the numbers are there. They say that they care, but all the attention is usually given to the female members of the military who are subjected to sexual assault,” Donnelly said.
The Washington Times article also includes analysis from Aaron Belkin, who heads The Palm Center. He said the rise in male-on-male sexual assault does not reflect the increase of homosexuals in the military but, rather, those assaults are ”somewhat similar to prison rape.”
“Well, that’s a great slogan to use for recruiting young men into the military, isn’t it? It’s outrageous. And yet, the Department of Defense doesn’t quite know what to do with these figures, and so they just sort of put them in there and hope nobody notices,” said Donnelly, who points out The Palm Center is a homosexual activist organization.
While Donnelly fiercely opposed repealing the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military, she said it’s important to keep monitoring the numbers to determine how much that policy change specifically contributes to the problem. She said the increase in sexual assaults against female service members should not be diminished, either. Donnelly said a lot of work lies ahead to reverse this trend, but the military and the federal government are kidding themselves if they don’t think some major policy decisions aren’t contributing to the rise in sexual violence.
“I think we have to start with the basics, and that means basic training. Back in 1998, unanimously, the Kassebaum-Baker Commission came out with recommendation to separate basic training for Army, Air Force and Navy trainers, (to) do it like the Marines do. The Marines train basic training separately, male and female at Parris Island. That’s a good thing to do. It’s a good first start,” Donnelly said.
“Second, they should stop pretending that sexuality does not matter. You cannot solve a problem by extending it into the combat arms. The big push is for women in combat, this argument that we have to have women in the infantry so they’ll be respected more and they won’t be assaulted,” said Donnelly, who noted that the strategy for women in combat that started more than a generation ago from then-Rep. Pat Schroeder, D-Colo., has been thoroughly discredited.
“Respect for women in the military today is higher than ever, but the sexual assault numbers keep climbing up,” she said. “I think before we start implementing a theory that’s been discredited. The members of the Pentagon and the people who make policy in Congress as well, they need to stop. They need to assess where we are, what has happened in the last two decades and they need to stop pretending that a lot of sensitivity training or highly paid consultants, that that is going to make a difference in the sex problems we’re seeing right now,” said Donnelly.
In 2012, Donnelly told WND that the statistics showed a more than 20 percent increase in reported sexual assaults on males.SOURCE
Russia Conducts Topol ICBM Drills
(RIA Novosti) – Topol (SS-25 Sickle) intercontinental ballistic missiles will be put on full alert in the course of ongoing drills at the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) Tagil Division in the Urals region, SMF spokesman Col. Igor Yegorov said on Tuesday.
The drills, which started on Monday and will last through Saturday, will test the interoperability and teamwork of the division’s subunits, the efficiency of command and control, and the performance of combat training assignments under any circumstances, Yegorov said.
The Tagil Division is also being inspected by a special SMF commission that will test the personnel’s morale, combat skills, the ability to perform regular alert duty and to counter terrorism, the spokesman said.
At present the SMF reportedly operates at least 58 silo-based SS-18 Satan ballistic missiles, 160 road-mobile Topol (SS-25 Sickle) missile systems, 50 silo-based and 18 road-mobile Topol-M (SS-27 Sickle B) systems and 18 RS-24 Yars systems.
Bolivian President Says “Almost Certain” Chavez was Poisoned
– Bolivian President Evo Morales said Saturday he was “almost certain” that “the empire” (the United States) had poisoned his political ally, late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, regional media reported.
President Chavez, who led Venezuela for 14 years, died Tuesday at the age of 58 after a two-year-long fight against cancer.
Nicolas Maduro, who had been vice president under Chavez and was sworn in as acting president Friday, earlier accused Venezuela’s enemies of causing cancer in Chavez, saying the issue would be investigated by a special commission.
According to a major Venezuelan newspaper, Morales, who traveled to Caracas to attend Chavez’s state funeral Friday, said he had always been aware of Chavez’s disease although he never revealed any details.
The newspaper, El Universal, reported that Morales recalled he had once offered Chavez some coffee, but the Venezuelan leader’s security guards objected.
“Brother Chavez said [to his body guards]: ‘How can you think that Evo will poison me?’ and then he had coffee,” the Bolivian leader said.
The swearing-in ceremony for Maduro was held hours after Chavez’s state funeral on Friday, which was attended by over 30 heads of state and government.
Venezuela will hold a presidential election to elect a successor to Chavez on April 14, the country’s electoral council said following an extraordinary meeting.SOURCE
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accuses the West of destroying Iran’s rain clouds
By Robert Tait
The Iranian president made the assertions in a speech on Monday addressing the problems caused by low rainfall trends, which experts say is threatening Iran’s agriculture.
“Today our country is moving towards drought, which is partly unintentional due to industry and partly intentional, as a result of the enemy destroying the clouds moving towards our country and this is a war that Iran is going to overcome,” Mr Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the Caspian Sea city of Gonbad-e Kavus to mark its registration as a Unesco World Heritage site.
Although Iran is recognised as having one of the world’s driest climates, the comments were the latest in a series of allegations by officials of a Western conspiracy to turn its water shortage into a major crisis.
In July, Hassan Mousavi, head of Iran’s cultural heritage organisation and one of Mr Ahmadinejad’s vice-presidents, urged meteorological experts to investigate the possibility that the west was engineering a draught in southern Iran, traditionally one of the country’s most parched regions.
“I feel that the world arrogance and colonisation (Iranian official code language for the US and its allies) by using their technologies, are affecting the environmental situation in Iran,” he said.
Specialists have recently warned that low rainfall has reached “undesirable levels”, producing officially-designated draught conditions in more than three-quarters of the country.
Previously, Mr Ahmadinejad has accused European nations of deliberately emptying clouds to produce torrential storms in their own countries that would lead in turn to rain shortages in the Middle East. He said Iran would pursue the matter through international legal channels.
Earlier this year, the Iranian leader accused Western states of creating the HIV to weaken the developing world and create a market for pharmaceuticals.
The Safest City In The US And The Most Dangerous City In The World Are Only 300 Feet Apart
The Santa Fe bridge links Juarez (bottom) and El Paso (top).
El Paso, Texas was the safest city in the U.S. in 2010.
Juarez, Mexico, across the Rio Grande river, has the highest murder rate in the world.
This incredible division emerged thanks to a confluence of global forces, according to Michael Casey’s new book, “The Unfair Trade.” These include the rise of Chinese manufacturing and subsequent decline of Mexican manufacturing; the rise of violent drug cartels to fill the void; and U.S. drug and immigration policies that have set Mexico on fire.
Casey describes the juxtaposition:
The economic outlook for small-business owners in [Juarez] is gloomy. According to the Juárez Restaurants Association, half of all dining establishments closed in the three years leading up to 2011, many shifting operations to El Paso. In a bitter irony, the neighboring Texas city boasts the lowest crime rate in the United States, a natural marketing advantage with which the newly relocated restaurants appeal to those Juárez residents who are free to travel to the United States and prepared to put up with a long wait at the border. Not so long ago, the flow went the other way. The Mexican city, where the margarita cocktail was invented in 1942, was an entertainment mecca, home to countless restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, bars, and hotels. In the mid-2000s, American teenagers would still wander across the International Bridge spanning the Rio Grande to visit watering holes on the Juárez side, where the drinking age was lower and where the scene was far more lively than in El Paso. But the bars on the street next to the bridge have all since closed, replaced by businesses catering to northbound travelers such as moneychangers and travel accessory stores. Meanwhile, those restaurants that still operate in other parts of Juárez now typically serve breakfast and lunch but rarely do dinner, because at night patrons are scared of being the target of a kidnapping or hit with a barrage of bullets.
Casey’s book describes how the global financial system dominated by China and the U.S. is also causing trouble in Australia and Indonesia and among the U.S. middle class.
Read more: SOURCE
Congress Seeks To Establish Ministry of Truth!
Editor’s note: Sometimes when researching a topic, we come across information and articles that are so important that we need to share them with as many people as possible. Please visit Ms. Hall’s site where you will find a vast number of well researched, well written articles on numerous topics. This particular article should give you a clear idea of how corrupt the federal government has become. Marti
by KrisAnne Hall
Once again, the National Defense Authorization Act is used as a Trojan horse to unload a dangerous threat on America. This time it is offered up in an amendment sponsored by Representative Thornberry from Texas and its called Dissemination of Information Abroad. This bill has also been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as a separate bill titled HR 5736, The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012. This bill will overturn a prohibition that has been in place since 1948 and make it possible for the US Government to fund the dissemination of propaganda to influence American citizens.
Immediately, the question comes up, why should we care? Isn’t domestic propaganda something that this administration has been engaging since 2008? Would any of us disagree that the mainstream media is a tool of this administration? Read on and see just why there should be national outrage over this bill.
Woodrow Wilson established the Committee on Public Information through an executive order with the purpose of influencing American public opinion toward supporting the US involvement in World War I. The man appointed to be the chairman over this committee was George Creel, a well renowned investigative journalist and editor of the Rocky Mountain News.
In 1942, FDR established the United States Office of War Information by executive order to “truthfully inform” the American people about the government’s efforts in World War II. FDR appointed Elmer Davis, a well-known CBS News analyst, as director of OWI. Davis’ job was to coordinate information from the military and mobilize public support of the war. OWI was to create an avenue for the government to develop and disseminate the information that they believed people needed to know about the war.
“Our job at home is to give the American people the fullest possible understanding of what this war is about …not only to tell the American people how the war is going, but where it is going and where it came from.” Elmer Davis. AP/Wide World
In 1946 Rep. Sol Bloom (D-NY) introduced a bill that would grant the Secretary of State the power to give monetary, service, or property grants to nonprofit public and private corporations to prepare and disseminate informational materials. Although this act was intended to disseminate information abroad, there were no limitations to keep it from being used upon the American people and opposition began to form. After having lived through two regimes of government propaganda and having seen the effects of such government propaganda machines as Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Congress decided this was not something they wanted to engage in.
An AP Press Release stated “government cannot engage in news casting without creating the fear of propaganda which necessarily would reflect the objectivity of the news services from which such news casts are prepared.”
The Bloom Bill passed the house, but failed in the Senate. In 1948, the Smith-Mundt Act was passed with three key limitations on the government. The first and most well-known restriction was originally a prohibition on domestic dissemination of materials intended for foreign audiences by the State Department. This restriction has been supported by the courts even in the face of freedom of information act challenges. In November 1996 the federal District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the material under the Smith-Mundt Act is not to be available, applying the Freedom of Information Act’s Exemption 3 to block access.
The Smith-Mundt Act is now found in 22 USC 1461-1a titled, Ban on domestic activities by United States Information Agency. The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 is set to change all of that. This act does several very destructive things. First, it puts the President’s Board of Broadcasting Governors on the same level of authority as the Secretary of State. The Board of Broadcasting Governors is an independent government agency whose members are appointed by the President and whose sole function is to create American propaganda and disseminate this propaganda abroad.
The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 created a limitation for propaganda to be released in the United States. If such propaganda was requested, the information could not be released until 12 years after its publication. This was an additional protection established so that this government created information could not be used to influence current public opinion. Thornberry’s HR 5736, The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, would preserve that 12 year limitation for all propaganda created prior to the adoption of this act but would remove the limitation for everything created after. Therefore, you have to wait 12 years to obtain propaganda created in 2010, but propaganda created in 2013 would be immediately available for dissemination domestically.
Finally, although I am sure supporters of this legislation will attempt to tell you that this act has protections built in to prevent the use of propaganda to influence Americans; make no mistake this act fails to ensure that result. It is true the Act maintains the original prohibition for domestic use.
(a) In General- No funds authorized to be appropriated to the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors shall be used to influence public opinion in the United States. This section shall apply only to programs carried out pursuant to the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.), the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.), the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act (22 U.S.C. 1465 et seq.), and the Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act (22 U.S.C. 1465aa et seq.). This section shall not prohibit or delay the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from providing information about its operations, policies, programs, or program material, or making such available, to the media, public, or Congress, in accordance with other applicable law.
However, this new Act adds new language that completely nullifies that prohibition through a couple rather clever loopholes.
The original Act does not include “program material” in the list of items that must be provided. This is how the courts could decide that the propaganda material was covered under the Freedom Information Act’s section 3 limitations. The addition of “program material” will now require the actual propaganda to be available through a FOIA request.
As if that was not bad enough, the new Act adds a section“b” that will create the most effective loophole to nullify the prohibition in section (a).
(b) Rule of Construction- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from engaging in any medium or form of communication, either directly or indirectly, because a United States domestic audience is or may be thereby exposed to program material, or based on a presumption of such exposure. Such material may be made available within the United States and disseminated, when appropriate, pursuant to sections 502 and 1005 of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. 1462 and 1437), except that nothing in this section may be construed to authorize the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors to disseminate within the United States any program material prepared for dissemination abroad on or before the effective date of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012.
Section (b) tells the Secretary of State and the Board of Broadcasting Governors that they do not have to worry about the limitation of section (a). They are to go about business as usual in spite of the fact that this information will be immediately available for domestic distribution. This creates a loophole the size of the Grand Canyon for these agencies to create propaganda that they know will be distributed domestically and will be used to influence Americans.
So, why should we care? We should care, because this crime against the American people is not being perpetrated by a Socialist President through executive order. It is CONGRESS authorizing this manipulation. It is coming from alleged CONSERVATIVE CONGRESSMEN. This act will not only legitimize the heinous manipulation of mainstream media, but will allow Congress to FUND IT with TAX PAYER DOLLARS.
Are you Tyrannized Enough Already? CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSMEN NOW.
Leaked: Bin Laden not buried at sea, body moved on CIA plane to US
The body of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was not buried at sea, according to leaked emails of intelligence firm Stratfor, as revealed by WikiLeaks.
Stratfor’s vice-president for intelligence, Fred Burton, believes the body was “bound for Dover, [Delaware] on [a] CIA plane” and then “onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda [Maryland],” an email says.
The official version is that the body of Al-Qaeda’s top man, who was killed by a US raid in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, was buried at an undisclosed location at sea in a proper Muslim ceremony.
“If body dumped at sea, which I doubt, the touch is very Adolph Eichman like. The Tribe did the same thing with the Nazi’s ashes,” Burton commented in another email. Eichman was one of the masterminds of the Holocaust by Nazi Germany. He was captured by Mossad agents in Argentina and, tried in Israel, found guilty and executed in 1962. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea over the Mediterranean.
“Eichmann was seen alive for many months on trial before being sentenced to death and executed. No one wanted a monument to him so they cremated him. But i dont know anyone who claimed he wasnt eicjhman [sic]. No comparison with suddenly burying him at sea without any chance to view him which i doubt happened [sic],” Stratfor CEO George Friedman replied.
“The US Govt needs to make body pics available like the MX’s do, with OBL’s pants pulled down, to shout down the lunatics like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck,” Burton says in another message.
In another missive Burton says Osama’s body “is a crime scene and I don’t see the FBI nor DOJ letting that happen.”
WikiLeaks began publishing Stratfor emails in late February. The archive was obtained by the hacker group Anonymous, which successfully attacked one of the firm’s servers. More than 5 million emails were apparently stolen.
Stratfor is a US-based intelligence firm called the “shadow CIA” by some media. Among its clients are several US agencies and many big companies. The company relies on paid tips from informants placed in high circles of business, government and security all around the world.
Massive U.S. Military Buildup Reported Around Iran; Up to 100,000 Troops Ready By March
While President Obama’s supporters hailed his withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq as the end of the war in the middle east, behind the scenes the Pentagon has been quietly massing troops and armaments on two islands located just south of the Strait of Hormuz, and within easy striking distance of Iran.
In addition to some 50,000 U.S. troops currently in the region waiting for orders (apparently they won’t be home by this past Christmas as was originally promised), Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama is deploying an additional 50,000 soldiers to be ready for ‘any contingency’ by March:
President Barack Obama is reported exclusively by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military and Washington sources to have secretly ordered US air, naval and marine forces to build up heavy concentrations on two strategic islands – Socotra, which is part of a Yemeni archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and the Omani island of Masirah at the southern exit of the Strait of Hormuz.
Since 2010, the US has been quietly building giant air force and naval bases on Socotra with facilities for submarines, intelligence command centers and take-off pads for flying stealth drones, as part of a linked chain of strategic US military facilities in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf.
The Socotra facilities are so secret that they are never mentioned in any catalogue listing US military facilities in this part of the world, which include Jebel Ali and Al Dahfra in the United Arab Emirates; Arifjan in Kuwait; and Al Udeid in Qatar – all within short flying distances from Iran.
Additional US forces are also being poured into Camp Justice on the barren, 70-kilometer long Omani island of Masirah, just south of the Hormuz entry point to the Gulf of Oman from the Arabian Sea.
Western military sources familiar with the American buildup on the two strategic islands tell DEBKA-Net-Weekly that, although they cannot cite precise figures, they are witnessing the heaviest American concentration of might in the region since the US invaded Iraq in 2003.
Then, 100,000 American troops were massed in Kuwait ahead of the invasion. Today, those sources estimate from the current pace of arrivals on the two island bases, that 50,000 US troops will have accumulated on Socotra and Masirah by mid-February. They will top up the 50,000 military already present in the Persian Gulf region, so that in less than a month, Washington will have some 100,000 military personnel on the spot and available for any contingency.
US air transports are described as making almost daily landings on Socotra and Masirah. They fly in from the US naval base of Diego Garcia, one of America’s biggest military facilities, just over 3,000 kilometers away. The US military presence in the region will further expand in the first week of March when three US aircraft carriers and their strike groups plus a French carrier arrive in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea: They are theUSS Abraham Lincoln, USS Carl Vinson, USS Enterprise and the Charles de Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
A fourth US carrier will be standing by in the Pacific Ocean, a few days’ sailing time from the water off Iran’s coast.
Still holding out hope that we won’t go to war with Iran?
There’s already reason enough for the powers-to-be to invade Iran based on the accusations that they are in the process of manufacturing nuclear weapons. Whether true or not makes no difference, as we saw with weapons of mass destruction that have yet to be found in Iraq.
Similarly, like Saddam Hussein before them, Iran’s leadership is attempting to trade their oil without going through the proper channels – in essence attempting to bypass the United States and Europe by striking deals with China, India, and Russia that will not require the exchange of oil for US dollars, but rather, Yuan, Rupees and Gold.
It may very well be that nuclear weapons, like WMD in Iraq, are simply the pretext, rather than the real reason, that will be used to crush those who oppose the financiers, politicians and influencers behind the new world order paradigm.
Make no mistake: this is serious business. They will kill as many as is needed (on our side and theirs) in order to push the agenda forward.
This is what happens when you mess with the men behind the curtains:
*Warning Graphic Video*
Hat tip Steve Quayle, Stan Deyo
Author: Mac Slavo
Date: January 30th, 2012
Copyright Information: Copyright SHTFplan and Mac Slavo. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.shtfplan.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.
Charles Taylor ‘worked’ for CIA in Liberia
US authorities say former Liberian leader Charles Taylor worked for its intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the Boston Globe reports.
The revelation comes in response to a Freedom of Information request by the newspaper.
A Globe reporter told the BBC this is the first official confirmation of long-held reports of a relationship between US intelligence and Mr Taylor.
Mr Taylor is awaiting a verdict on his trial for alleged war crimes.
Rumours of CIA ties were fuelled in July 2009 when Mr Taylor himself told his trial, at the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in the Hague, that US agents had helped him escape from a maximum security prison in Boston in 1985.
The CIA at the time denied such claims as “completely absurd”.
But now the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s spy arm, has disclosed that its agents – and those of the CIA – did later use Mr Taylor as an informant, the Globe reports.
Globe reporter Bryan Bender told the BBC’s Network Africa programme that Pentagon officials refused to give details on exactly what role Mr Taylor played, citing national security.
But they did confirm that Mr Taylor first started working with US intelligence in the 1980s, the period when he rose to become one of the world’s most notorious warlords, Mr Bender says.
Mr Taylor was later elected Liberia’s president.
He has been accused of arming and controlling the RUF rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone during a 10-year campaign of terror conducted largely against civilians.
If convicted, Mr Taylor would serve a prison sentence in the UK.
He denies charges of murder, rape and using child soldiers.
Top 10 buyers of Iran’s oil
Top 10 buyers of Iran’s oil –
Iran produces about 3.5 million barrels a day of crude with another 500,000 bpd of condensate, exporting about 2.6 million bpd of which 50,000 bpd is refined products, the International Energy Agency estimates.
OPEC’s second largest producer Iran sells large volumes of oil to China, India, South Korea, Japan and Italy. But Turkey, South Africa and Sri Lanka rely most heavily on Iranian oil as a percentage of imports.
U.S. sanctions already forbid imports of Iranian oil. France is pressing the European Union to consider a ban on Iranian oil to discourage Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Iran produces about 3.5 million barrels a day of crude with another 500,000 bpd of condensate, exporting about 2.6 million bpd of which 50,000 bpd is refined products, the International
Energy Agency estimates.
The top ten buyers of Iranian crude are as follows. Data is for the second quarter 2011 from the IEA with the exception of China, India and Sri Lanka which are not IEA members. Data for
those countries is for first half 2011 from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Country Imports k/bpd Percent Imports
1. China 543,000 10
2. India 341,000 11
3. Japan 251,000 5.9
4. Italy 249,000 13.3
5. South Korea 239,000 7.4
6. Turkey 217,000 30.6
7. Spain 149,000 9.6
8. Greece 111,000 34.7
9. South Africa 98,000 25
10.France 78,000 4.4
In addition Sri Lanka imported 39,000 bpd in the first half of the year. It is completely reliant on Iranian oil.
Iran holds around 137 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, or nearly 10 percent of the world total, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2011. Despite sitting on the world’s second largest reserves of gas, Iran’s growing appetite for its own gas, combined with tightening international sanctions that have throttled its fledgling liquefied natural gas (LNG) programme, have made it a net gas importer for most of the last decade. Natural gas accounts for 54 percent of Iran’s total domestic energy consumption, while most of the remainder of energy consumption is attributable to oil, according to the EIA.
(Complied by Daniel Fineren and Emma Farge; editing by William
Obama Raises The Military Stakes
Confrontation On The Frontiers Of China And Russia
By James Petras
I See Your Missile Shipment and Raise you an Air Base
After suffering major military and political defeats in bloody ground wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, failing to buttress long-standing clients in Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia and witnessing the disintegration of puppet regimes in Somalia and South Sudan, the Obama regime has learned nothing: Instead he has turned toward greater military confrontation with global powers, namely Russia and China. Obama has adopted a provocative offensive military strategy right on the frontiers of both China and Russia.
After going from defeat to defeat on the periphery of world power and not satisfied with running treasury-busting deficits in pursuit of empire building against economically weak countries, Obama has embraced a policy of encirclement and provocations against China, the world’s second largest economy and the US’s most important creditor, and Russia, the European Union’s principle oil and gas provider and the world’s second most powerful nuclear weapons power.
This paper addresses the Obama regime’s highly irrational and world-threatening escalation of imperial militarism. We examine the global military, economic and domestic political context that gives rise to these policies. We then examine the multiple points of conflict and intervention in which Washington is engaged, from Pakistan, Iran, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba and beyond. We will then analyze the rationale for military escalation against Russia and China as part of a new offensive moving beyond the Arab world (Syria, Libya) and in the face of the declining economic position of the EU and the US in the global economy. We will then outline the strategies of a declining empire, nurtured on perpetual wars, facing global economic decline, domestic discredit and a working population reeling from the long-term, large-scale dismantling of its basic social programs.
The Turn from Militarism in the Periphery to Global Military Confrontation
November 2011 is a moment of great historical import: Obama declared two major policy positions, both having tremendous strategic consequences affecting competing world powers.
Obama pronounced a policy of military encirclement of China based on stationing a maritime and aerial armada facing the Chinese coast an overt policy designed to weaken and disrupt China’s access to raw materials and commercial and financial ties in Asia. Obama’s declaration that Asia is the priority region for US military expansion, base-building and economic alliances was directed against China, challenging Beijing in its own backyard. Obama’s iron fist policy statement, addressed to the Australian Parliament, was crystal clear in defining US imperial goals.
“Our enduring interests in the region [Asia Pacific] demands our enduring presence in this region The United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay As we end today’s wars [i.e. the defeats and retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan]… I have directed my national security team to make our presence and missions in the Asia Pacific a top priority As a result, reduction in US defense spending will not come at the expense of the Asia Pacific” (CNN.com, Nov. 16, 2011).
The precise nature of what Obama called our “presence and mission” was underlined by the new military agreement with Australia to dispatch warships, warplanes and 2500 marines to the northern most city of Australia (Darwin) directed at China. Secretary of State Clinton has spent the better part of 2011 making highly provocative overtures to Asian countries that have maritime border conflicts with China. Clinton has forcibly injected the US into these disputes, encouraging and exacerbating the demands of Vietnam, Philippines, and Brunei in the South China Sea. Even more seriously, Washington is bolstering its military ties and sales with Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, as well as increasing the presence of battleships, nuclear submarines and over flights of war planes along China’s coastal waters. In line with the policy of military encirclement and provocation, the Obama-Clinton regime is promoting Asian multi-lateral trade agreements that exclude China and privilege US multi-national corporations, bankers and exporters, dubbed the “Trans-Pacific Partnership”. It currently includes mostly smaller countries, but Obama has hopes of enticing Japan and Canada to join
Obama’s presence at the APEC meeting of East Asian leader and his visit to Indonesia in November 2011 all revolve around efforts to secure US hegemony. Obama-Clinton hope to counter the relative decline of US economic links in the face of the geometrical growth of trade and investment ties between East Asia and China.
A most recent example of Obama-Clinton’s delusional, but destructive, efforts to deliberately disrupt China’s economic ties in Asia, is taking place in Myanmar (Burma). Clinton’s December 2011 visit to Myanmar was preceded by a decision by the Thein Sein regime to suspend a China Power Investment-funded dam project in the north of the country. According to official confidential documents released by WilkiLeaks the “Burmese NGO’s, which organized and led the campaign against the dam, were heavily funded by the US government”(Financial Times, Dec. 2, 2011, p. 2). This and other provocative activity and Clinton’s speeches condemning Chinese “tied aid” pale in comparison with the long-term, large-scale interests which link Myanmar with China. China is Myanmar’s biggest trading partner and investor, including six other dam projects.
Chinese companies are building new highways and rail lines across the country, opening southwestern China up for Burmese products and China is constructing oil pipelines and ports. There is a powerful dynamic of mutual economic interests that will not be disturbed by one dispute (FT, December 2, 2011, p.2). Clinton’s critique of China’s billion-dollar investments in Myanmar’s infrastructure is one of the most bizarre in world history, coming in the aftermath of Washington’s brutal eight-year military presence in Iraq which destroyed $500 billion dollars of Iraqi infrastructure, according to Baghdad official estimates. Only a delusional administration could imagine that rhetorical flourishes, a three day visit and the bankrolling of an NGO is an adequate counter-weight to deep economic ties linking Myanmar to China. The same delusional posture underlies the entire repertoire of policies informing the Obama regime’s efforts to displace China’s predominant role in Asia.
While any one policy adopted by the Obama regime does not, in itself, present an immediate threat to peace, the cumulative impact of all these policy pronouncements and the projections of military power add up to an all out comprehensive effort to isolate, intimidate and degrade China’s rise as a regional and global power. Military encirclement and alliances, exclusion of China in proposed regional economic associations, partisan intervention in regional maritime disputes and positioning technologically advanced warplanes, are all aimed to undermine China’s competitiveness and to compensate for US economic inferiority via closed political and economic networks.
Clearly White House military and economic moves and US Congressional anti-China demagogy are aimed at weakening China’s trading position and forcing its business-minded leaders into privileging US banking and business interests over and above their own enterprises. Pushed to its limits, Obama’s prioritizing a big military push could lead to a catastrophic rupture in US-Chinese economic relations. This would result in dire consequences, especially but not exclusively, on the US economy and particularly its financial system. China holds over $1.5 trillion dollars in US debt, mainly Treasury Notes, and each year purchases from $200 to $300 billion in new issues, a vital source in financing the US deficit.
If Obama provokes a serious threat to China’s security interests and Beijing is forced to respond, it will not be military but economic retaliation: the sell-off of a few hundred billion dollars in T-notes and the curtailment of new purchases of US debt. The US deficit will skyrocket, its credit ratings will descend to ‘junk‘, and the financial system will ‘tremble onto collapse’. Interest rates to attract new buyers of US debt will approach double digits. Chinese exports to the US will suffer and losses will incur due to the devaluation of the T-notes in Chinese hands. China has been diversifying its markets around the world and its huge domestic market could probably absorb most of what China loses abroad in the course of a pull-back from the US market.
While Obama strays across the Pacific to announce his military threats to China and strives to economically isolate China from the rest of Asia, the US economic presence is fast fading in what used to be its “backyard”: Quoting one Financial Times journalist, “China is the only show [in town] for Latin America” (Financial Times, Nov. 23, 2011, p.6). China has displaced the US and the EU as Latin America’s principle trading partner; Beijing has poured billions in new investments and provides low interest loans.
China’s trade with India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan and Vietnam is increasing at a far faster rate than that of the US. The US effort to build an imperial-centered security alliance in Asia is based on fragile economic foundations. Even Australia, the anchor and linchpin of the US military thrust in Asia, is heavily dependent on mineral exports to China. Any military interruption would send the Australian economy into a tailspin.
The US economy is in no condition to replace China as a market for Asian or Australian commodity and manufacturing exports. The Asian countries must be acutely aware that there is no future advantage in tying themselves to a declining, highly militarized, empire. Obama and Clinton deceive themselves if they think they can entice Asia into a long-term alliance. The Asian’s are simply using the Obama regime’s friendly overtures as a ‘tactical device’, a negotiating ploy, to leverage better terms in securing maritime and territorial boundaries with China.
Washington is delusional if it believes that it can convince Asia to break long-term large-scale lucrative economic ties to China in order to join an exclusive economic association with such dubious prospects. Any ‘reorientation’ of Asia, from China to the US, would require more than the presence of an American naval and airborne armada pointed at China. It would require the total restructuring of the Asian countries’ economies, class structure and political and military elite. The most powerful economic entrepreneurial groups in Asia have deep and growing ties with China/Hong Kong, especially among the dynamic transnational Chinese business elites in the region. A turn toward Washington entails a massive counter-revolution, which substitutes colonial ‘traders’ (compradors) for established entrepreneurs. A turn to the US would require a dictatorial elite willing to cut strategic trading and investment linkages, displacing millions of workers and professionals. As much as some US-trained Asian military officers , economists and former Wall Street financiers and billionaires might seek to ‘balance’ a US military presence with Chinese economic power, they must realize that ultimately advantage resides in working out an Asian solution.
The age of Asian “comprador capitalists”, willing to sell out national industry and sovereignty in exchange for privileged access to US markets, is ancient history. Whatever the boundless enthusiasm for conspicuous consumerism and Western lifestyles, which Asia and China’s new rich mindlessly celebrate, whatever the embrace of inequalities and savage capitalist exploitation of labor, there is recognition that the past history of US and European dominance precluded the growth and enrichment of an indigenous bourgeoisie and middle class. The speeches and pronouncements of Obama and Clinton reek of nostalgia for a past of neo-colonial overseers and comprador collaborators a mindless delusion. Their attempts at political realism, in finally recognizing Asia as the economic pivot of the present world order, takes a bizarre turn in imagining that military posturing and projections of armed force will reduce China to a marginal player in the region.
Obama’s Escalation of Confrontation with Russia
The Obama regime has launched a major frontal military thrust on Russia’s borders. The US has moved forward missile sites and Air Force bases in Poland, Rumania, Turkey, Spain, Czech Republic and Bulgaria: Patriot PAC-3 anti-aircraft missile complexes in Poland; advanced radar AN/TPY-2 in Turkey; and several missile (SM-3 IA) loaded warships in Spain are among the prominent weapons encircling Russia, most only minutes away from it strategic heartland. Secondly, the Obama regime has mounted an all-out effort to secure and expand US military bases in Central Asia among former Soviet republics. Thirdly, Washington, via NATO, has launched major economic and military operations against Russia’s major trading partners in North Africa and the Middle East. The NATO war against Libya, which ousted the Gadhafi regime, has paralyzed or nullified multi-billion dollar Russian oil and gas investments, arms sales and substituted a NATO puppet for the former Russia-friendly regime.
The UN-NATO economic sanctions and US-Israeli clandestine terrorist activity aimed at Iran has undermined Russia’s lucrative billion-dollar nuclear trade and joint oil ventures. NATO, including Turkey, backed by the Gulf monarchical dictatorships, has implemented harsh sanctions and funded terrorist assaults on Syria, Russia’s last remaining ally in the region and where it has a sole naval facility (Tartus) on the Mediterranean Sea. Russia’s previous collaboration with NATO in weakening its own economic and security position is a product of the monumental misreading of NATO and especially Obama’s imperial policies. Russian President Medvedev and his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mistakenly assumed (like Gorbachev and Yeltsin before them) that backing US-NATO policies against Russia’s trading partners would result in some sort of “reciprocity”: US dismantling its offensive “missile shield” on its frontiers and support for Russia’s admission into the World Trade Organization.
Medvedev, following his liberal pro-western illusions, fell into line and backed US-Israeli sanctions against Iran, believing the tales of a “nuclear weapons programs”. Then Lavrov fell for the NATO line of “no fly zones to protect Libyan civilian lives” and voted in favor, only to feebly “protest“, much too late, that NATO was “exceeding its mandate” by bombing Libya into the Middle Ages and installing a pro-NATO puppet regime of rogues and fundamentalists. Finally when the US aimed a cleaver at Russia’s heartland by pushing ahead with an all-out effort to install missile launch sites 5 minutes by air from Moscow while organizing mass and armed assaults on Syria, did the Medvedev-Lavrov duet awake from its stupor and oppose UN sanctions. Medvedev threatened to abandon the nuclear missile reduction treaty (START) and to place medium-range missiles with 5 minute launch-time from Berlin, Paris and London.
Medvedev-Lavrov’s policy of consolidation and co-operation based on Obama’s rhetoric of “resetting relations” invited aggressive empire building: Each capitulation led to a further aggression. As a result, Russia is surrounded by missiles on its western frontier; it has suffered losses among its major trading partners in the Middle East and faces US bases in southwest and Central Asia.
Belatedly Russian officials have moved to replace the delusional Medvedev for the realist Putin, as next President. This shift to a political realist has predictably evoked a wave of hostility toward Putin in all the Western media. Obama’s aggressive policy to isolate Russia by undermining independent regimes has, however, not affected Russia’s status as a nuclear weapons power. It has only heightened tensions in Europe and perhaps ended any future chance of peaceful nuclear weapons reduction or efforts to secure a UN Security Council consensus on issues of peaceful conflict resolution. Washington, under Obama-Clinton, has turned Russia from a pliant client to a major adversary.
Putin looks to deepening and expanding ties with the East, namely China, in the face of threats from the West. The combination of Russian advanced weapons technology and energy resources and Chinese dynamic manufacturing and industrial growth are more than a match for crisis-ridden EU-USA economies wallowing in stagnation.
Obama’s military confrontation toward Russia will greatly prejudice access to Russian raw materials and definitively foreclose any long-term strategic security agreement, which would be useful in lowering the deficit and reviving the US economy.
Between Realism and Delusion: Obama’s Strategic Realignment
Obama’s recognition that the present and future center of political and economic power is moving inexorably to Asia, was a flash of political realism. After a lost decade of pouring hundreds of billions of dollars in military adventures on the margins and periphery of world politics, Washington has finally discovered that is not where the fate of nations, especially Great Powers, will be decided, except in a negative sense of bleeding resources over lost causes. Obama’s new realism and priorities apparently are now focused on Southeast and Northeast Asia, where dynamic economies flourish, markets are growing at a double digit rate, investors are ploughing tens of billions in productive activity and trade is expanding at three times the rate of the US and the EU.
But Obama’s ‘New Realism’ is blighted by entirely delusional assumptions, which undermine any serious effort to realign US policy.
In the first place Obama’s effort to ‘enter‘ into Asia is via a military build-up and not through a sharpening and upgrading of US economic competitiveness. What does the US produce for the Asian countries that will enhance its market share? Apart from arms, airplanes and agriculture, the US has few competitive industries. The US would have to comprehensively re-orient its economy, upgrade skilled labor, and transfer billions from “security” and militarism to applied innovations. But Obama works within the current military-Zionist-financial complex: He knows no other and is incapable of breaking with it.
Secondly, Obama-Clinton operate under the delusion that the US can exclude China or minimize its role in Asia, a policy that is undercut by the huge and growing investment and presence of all the major US multi-national corporations in China , who use it as an export platform to Asia and the rest of the world.
The US military build-up and policy of intimidation will only force China to downgrade its role as creditor financing the US debt, a policy China can pursue because the US market, while still important, is declining, as China expands its presence in its domestic, Asian, Latin American and European markets.
What once appeared to be New Realism is now revealed to be the recycling of Old Delusions: The notion that the US can return to being the supreme Pacific Power it was after World War Two. The US attempts to return to Pacific dominance under Obama-Clinton with a crippled economy, with the overhang of an over-militarized economy, and with major strategic handicaps: Over the past decade the United States foreign policy has been at the beck and call of Israel’s fifth column (the Israel “lobby”). The entire US political class is devoid of common, practical sense and national purpose. They are immersed in troglodyte debates over “indefinite detentions” and “mass immigrant expulsions”. Worse, all are on the payrolls of private corporations who sell in the US and invest in China.
Why would Obama abjure costly wars in the unprofitable periphery and then promote the same military metaphysics at the dynamic center of the world economic universe? Does Barack Obama and his advisers believe he is the Second Coming of Admiral Commodore Perry, whose 19th century warships and blockades forced Asia open to Western trade? Does he believe that military alliances will be the first stage to a subsequent period of privileged economic entry?
Does Obama believe that his regime can blockade China, as Washington did to Japan in the lead up to World War Two? It’s too late. China is much more central to the world economy, too vital even to the financing of the US debt, too bonded up with the Forbes Five Hundred multi-national corporations. To provoke China, to even fantasize about economic “exclusion” to bring down China, is to pursue policies that will totally disrupt the world economy, first and foremost the US economy!
Obama’s ‘crackpot realism‘, his shift from wars in the Muslim world to military confrontation in Asia, has no intrinsic worth and poses extraordinary extrinsic costs. The military methods and economic goals are totally incompatible and beyond the capacity of the US, as it is currently constituted. Washington’s policies will not ‘weaken’ Russia or China, even less intimidate them. Instead it will encourage both to adopt more adversarial positions, making it less likely that they lend a hand to Obama’s sequential wars on behalf of Israel. Already Russia has sent warships to its Syrian port, refused to support an arms embargo against Syria and Iran and (in retrospect) criticized the NATO war against Libya. China and Russia have far too many strategic ties with the world economy to suffer any great losses from a series of US military outposts and “exclusive” alliances. Russia can aim just as many deadly nuclear missiles at the West as the US can mount from its bases in Eastern Europe.
In other words, Obama’s military escalation will not change the nuclear balance of power, but will bring Russia and China into a closer and deeper alliance. Gone are the days of Kissinger-Nixon’s “divide and conquer” strategy pitting US-Chinese trade agreements against Russian arms. Washington has a totally exaggerated significance of the current maritime spats between China and its neighbors. What unites them in economic terms is far more important in the medium and long-run. China’s Asian economic ties will erode any tenuous military links to the US.
Obama’s “crackpot realism”, views the world market through military lenses. Military arrogance toward Asia has led to a rupture with Pakistan, its most compliant client regime in South Asia. NATO deliberately slaughtered 24 Pakistani soldiers and thumbed their nose at the Pakistani generals, while China and Russia condemned the attack and gained influence.
In the end, the military and exclusionary posture to China will fail. Washington will overplay its hand and frighten its business-oriented erstwhile Asian partners, who only want to play-off a US military presence to gain tactical economic advantage. They certainly do not want a new US instigated ‘Cold War’ dividing and weakening the dynamic intra-Asian trade and investment. Obama and his minions will quickly learn that Asia’s current leaders do not have permanent allies – only permanent interests. In the final analysis, China figures prominently in configuring a new Asia-centric world economy. Washington may claim to have a ‘permanent Pacific presence’ but until it demonstrates it can take care of its “basic business at home”, like arranging its own finances and balancing its current account deficits, the US Naval command may end up renting its naval facilities to Asian exporters and shippers, transporting goods for them, and protecting them by pursuing pirates, contrabandists and narco-traffickers. Come to think about it, Obama might reduce the US trade deficit with Asia by renting out the Seventh Fleet to patrol the Straits, instead of wasting US taxpayer money bullying successful Asian economic powers.
James Petras latest book is: “The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack”
NATO Conceals Preparations for Military Action against Syria
by Vadim Trukhachev
The United States has decided to disengage itself from certain obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE). In particular, the USA will no longer inform Russia about plans connected with the redeployment of its forces. Those restrictions are not touching upon any other country.
“Today the United States announced in Vienna, Austria, that it would cease carrying out certain obligations under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty with regard to Russia. This announcement in the CFE Treaty’s implementation group comes after the United States and NATO Allies have tried over the past 4 years to find a diplomatic solution following Russia’s decision in 2007 to cease implementation with respect to all other 29 CFE States. Since then, Russia has refused to accept inspections and ceased to provide information to other CFE Treaty parties on its military forces as required by the Treaty,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday.
The remarks from the US diplomat look like another attempt to turn everything upside down again. It is worth mentioning here that the first version of the CFE Treaty was signed in 1990, during the existence of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The document stipulated a reduction of the number of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery (larger than 100 mm in caliber), combat planes and helicopters, as well as information exchange.
A renewed variant of the treaty was signed in 1999. The new edition reflected such changes in Europe as the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the expansion of NATO. However, only Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan ratified the new treaty. Russia moved a big part of its arms behind the Ural mountains, but the Western countries did not even want to execute it. The expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance continued, and NATO neared Russian borders.
At the end of 2007, Vladimir Putin decided to suspend Russia’s participation in the CFE until the USA and its European allies ratified the renewed variant of the treaty. The Americans did not want to make any moves in that direction. Now they have decided not to inform Russia about the redeployment of its forces. This is obviously another violation of the treaty which the United States committed.
What consequences may Russia face as a result of the US decision? Pravda.Ru asked an expert opinion from the director of the Center for Military Forecasts, Anatoly Tsyganok.
“The USA will stop informing Russia about military redeployments. The Americans can technically send their troops to Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia, which did not sign the treaty. Will the Baltic states turn into an uncontrollable military center near Russia’s borders?”
“When Russia suspended its participation in the CFE Treaty, she had the right to say that some NATO’s newcomers, such as the Baltic states and Slovenia, had never signed the treaty. Now NATO eyes Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania and all other former members of the Warsaw Pact.
“When they were deciding on the unification of Germany in 1990, Germany and France said in the appendix to the agreement that NATO would not move beyond the Oder River (the river separates Germany and Poland – ed.). However, the West does not take this appendix into consideration. They only follow the agreement itself, which does not say a word about the non-expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance. It just so happens that the USA and its allies played a trick on Russia.
“Why did it take the United States four years to decide not to inform Russia about military redeployments?”
“Apparently, it is connected with the situation in the Mediterranean Sea. One may assume that NATO will create a military group near Russia’s southern borders to strike Syria. They will most likely raise this issue at a NATO meeting in December. They will try to analyze Syria’s actions in case NATO conducts a military operation against the country, like it already happened in Libya.”
“Is Russia a big obstacle for conducting NATO’s operation against Syria? Does the USA have anything to conceal from us at this point?”
“Russia is an obstacle, yes. We have a naval base in Syria’s Tartus. The base is protected with air defense complexes, so the chances for aggression from NATO or Israel from the sea are slim. If they decide to attack, it will most likely happen from the side of Saudi Arabia. So the USA has something to conceal.
“There is another aspect to this. There are approximately 120,000 Russian citizens living in Syria. Presumably, a lot are Russian women who married local men. Russia can use this detail to interfere into the events in Syria.
In addition, 20 percent of the Russian defense complex will simply tip off the perch in case Russia loses the Syrian market. It is not ruled out that they are regrouping NATO forces to get ready for a war against Syria, and they don’t want to notify Russia of that.”Stop NATO e-mail list home page with archives and search engine:
British draw up plans to protect citizens across Europe from mass-rioting if Euro collapses
As the Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warned that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible. Diplomats are preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis. The Treasury confirmed earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way. A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time. “It’s in our interests that they keep playing for time because that gives us more time to prepare,” the minister told the Daily Telegraph. Recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office instructions to embassies and consulates request contingency planning for extreme scenarios including rioting and social unrest. Greece has seen several outbreaks of civil disorder as its government struggles with its huge debts. British officials think similar scenes cannot be ruled out in other nations if the euro collapses. Diplomats have also been told to prepare to help tens of thousands of British citizens in eurozone countries with the consequences of a financial collapse that would leave them unable to access bank accounts or even withdraw cash. Fuelling the fears of financial markets for the euro, reports in Madrid yesterday suggested that the new Popular Party government could seek a bail-out from either the European Union rescue fund or the International Monetary Fund. There are also growing fears for Italy, whose new government was forced to pay record interest rates on new bonds issued yesterday. The yield on new six-month loans was 6.5 per cent, nearly double last month’s rate. And the yield on outstanding two-year loans was 7.8 per cent, well above the level considered unsustainable. Italy’s new government will have to sell more than EURO 30 billion of new bonds by the end of January to refinance its debts. Analysts say there is no guarantee that investors will buy all of those bonds, which could force Italy to default. -Telegraph
In an interview, former Dutch politician Frits Bolkestein predicted the “inevitable” breakdown of the Euro. He says Eurobonds would be a “disastrous” idea, saying…”That means that the Netherlands must pay more interest. I have calculated that thing up to seven billion euros per year. Each year, we already have problems to eighteen billion cut in four years.” And he says he would not “shed a tear” if Italy left. Ultimately he sees the emergency of a “Neuro” comprise of Germany and other Northern European economies. –Business Insider
Will World War III be between the U.S. and China?
By Max Hastings
China’s vast military machine grows by the day. America’s sending troops to Australia in response. As tension between the two superpowers escalates, Max Hastings warns of a terrifying threat to world peace.
On the evening of November 1, 1950, 22-year-old Private Carl Simon of the U.S. 8th Cavalry lay shivering with his comrades in the icy mountains of North Korea.
A patrol had just reported itself ‘under attack from unidentified troops’, which bemused and dismayed the Americans, because their campaign to occupy North Korea seemed all but complete.
Suddenly, through the darkness came sounds of bugle calls, gunfire, shouts in a language that the 8th Cavalry’s Korean interpreters could not understand. A few minutes later, waves of attackers charged into the American positions, screaming, firing and throwing grenades.
‘There was just mass hysteria,’ Simon told me long afterwards. ‘It was every man for himself. I didn’t know which way to go. In the end, I just ran with the crowd. We ran and ran until the bugles grew fainter.’
This was the moment, of course, when the armies of Mao Tse-tung stunned the world by intervening in the Korean War. It had begun in June, when Communist North Korean forces invaded the South.
U.S. and British forces repelled the communists, fighting in the name of the United Nations, then pushed deep into North Korea. Seeing their ally on the brink of defeat, the Chinese determined to take a hand.
In barren mountains just a few miles south of their own border, in the winter of 1950 their troops achieved a stunning surprise. The Chinese drove the American interlopers hundreds of miles south before they themselves were pushed back. Eventually a front was stabilised and the situation sank into stalemate.
Three years later, the United States was thankful to get out of its unwanted war with China by accepting a compromise peace, along the armistice line which still divides the two Koreas today.
For most of the succeeding 58 years the U.S., even while suffering defeat in Vietnam, has sustained strategic dominance of the Indo-Pacific region, home to half the world’s population.
Yet suddenly, everything is changing. China’s new economic power is being matched by a military build-up which deeply alarms its Asian neighbours, and Washington. The spectre of armed conflict between the superpowers, unknown since the Korean War ended in 1953, looms once more.
American strategy guru Paul Stares says: ‘If past experience is any guide, the United States and China will find themselves embroiled in a serious crisis at some point in the future.’
The Chinese navy is growing fast, acquiring aircraft-carriers and sophisticated missile systems. Beijing makes no secret of its determination to rule the oil-rich South China Sea, heedless of the claims of others such as Vietnam and the Philippines.
The Chinese foreign minister recently gave a speech in which he reminded the nations of South-East Asia that they are small, while China is very big.
Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute described these remarks as the diplomatic equivalent of the town bully saying to the neighbours: ‘We really hope nothing happens to your nice new car.’
This year, China has refused stormbound U.S. Navy vessels admission to its ports, and in January chose the occasion of a visit from the U.S. defence secretary to show off its new, sophisticated J-20 stealth combat aircraft.
Michael Auslin, like many other Americans, is infuriated by the brutishness with which the dragon is now flexing its military muscles: ‘We have a China that is undermining the global system that allowed it to get rich and powerful, a China that now feels a sense of grievance every time it is called to account for its disruptive behaviour.’
Washington was angered by Beijing’s careless response to North Korea’s unprovoked sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan a year ago, followed by its shelling of Yeonpyeong island, a South Korean archipelago.
When the U.S. Navy deployed warships in the Yellow Sea in a show of support for the South Korean government, Beijing denounced America, blandly denying North Korea’s guilt. The Chinese claimed that they were merely displaying even-handedness and restraint, but an exasperated President Obama said: ‘There’s a difference between restraint and wilful blindness to consistent problems.’
Washington is increasingly sensitive to the fact that its bases in the western Pacific have become vulnerable to Chinese missiles. This is one reason why last week the U.S. made a historic agreement with Australia to station up to 2,500 U.S. Marines in the north of the country.
Beijing denounced the deal, saying it was not ‘appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interests of countries within this region’.
Even within Australia, the agreement for the U.S. base has provoked controversy.
Hugh White of the Australian National University calls it ‘a potentially risky move’. He argues that, in the new world, America should gracefully back down from its claims to exercise Indo-Pacific hegemony, ‘relinquish primacy in the region and share power with China and others’.
But Richard Haas, chairman of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, says: ‘U.S. policy must create a climate in which a rising China is never tempted to use its growing power coercively within or outside the region.’
To put the matter more bluntly, leading Americans fear that once the current big expansion of Chinese armed forces reaches maturity, within a decade or so, Beijing will have no bourgeois scruples about using force to get its way in the world — unless America and its allies are militarily strong enough to deter them.
Meanwhile, in Beijing’s corridors of power there is a fissure between the political and financial leadership, and the generals and admirals.
On the one hand, Chinese economic bosses are appalled by the current turmoil in the West’s financial system, which threatens the buying power of their biggest customers.
On the other, Chinese military chiefs gloat without embarrassment at the spectacle of weakened Western nations.
As America announces its intention to cut back defence spending, the Chinese armed forces see historic opportunities beckon. Ever since Mao Tse-tung gained control of his country in 1949, China has been striving to escape from what it sees as American containment.
The issue of Taiwan is a permanent open sore: the U.S. is absolutely committed to protecting its independence and freedom. Taiwan broke away from mainland China in 1949, when the rump of the defeated Nationalists under their leader Chiang Kai-shek fled to the island, and established their own government under an American security blanket.
China has never wavered in its view that the island was ‘stolen’ by the capitalists, and is determined to get it back.
Beijing was infuriated by America’s recent £4??billion arms deal with Taiwan which includes the sale of 114 Patriot anti-ballistic missiles, 60 Blackhawk helicopters and two minesweepers.
When I last visited China, I was struck by how strongly ordinary Chinese feel about Taiwan. They argue that the West’s refusal to acknowledge their sovereignty reflects a wider lack of recognition of their country’s new status in the world.
A young Beijinger named David Zhang says: ‘The most important thing for Americans to do is to stop being arrogant and talk with their counterparts in China on a basis of mutual respect.’ That is how many of his contemporaries feel, as citizens of the proud, assertive new China.
But how is the West supposed to do business with an Asian giant that is not merely utterly heedless of its own citizens’ human rights, but also supports some of the vilest regimes in the world, for its own commercial purposes?
Burma’s tyrannical military rulers would have been toppled years ago, but for the backing of the Chinese, who have huge investments there.
A million Chinese in Africa promote their country’s massive commercial offensive, designed to secure an armlock on the continent’s natural resources. To that end, following its declared policy of ‘non-interference’, China backs bloody tyrannies, foremost among them that of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
China, like Russia, refuses to endorse more stringent sanctions against Iran, in response to its nuclear weapons-building programme, because Beijing wants Iranian oil. Indeed, Chinese foreign policy is bleakly consistent: it dismisses pleas from the world’s democracies that, as a new global force, it should play a part in sustaining world order.
If Chinese leaders — or indeed citizens — were speaking frankly, they would reply to their country’s critics: ‘The West has exploited the world order for centuries to suit itself. Now it is our turn to exploit it to suit ourselves.’
A friend of ours has recently been working closely with Chinese leaders in Hong Kong. I said to his wife that I could not withhold a touch of sympathy for a rising nation which, in the past, was mercilessly bullied by the West.
She responded: ‘Maybe, but when they are on top I don’t think they will be very kind.’ I fear that she is right. It seems hard to overstate the ruthlessness with which China is pursuing its purposes at home and abroad.
The country imprisons Nobel prizewinners such as the political activist and writer Liu Xiaobo, steals intellectual property and technological know-how from every nation with which it does business and strives to deny its people access to information through internet censorship.
The people of Tibet suffer relentless persecution from their Chinese occupiers, while Western leaders who meet the Dalai Lama are snubbed in consequence.
Other Asian nations are appalled by China’s campaign to dominate the Western Pacific. Japan’s fears of Chinese-North Korean behaviour are becoming so acute that the country might even abandon decades of eschewing nuclear weapons, to create a deterrent.
A few months ago, the Chinese party-controlled newspaper Global Times carried a harshly bellicose editorial, warning other nations not to frustrate Beijing’s ambitions in the South China Sea — Vietnam, for example, is building schools and roads to assert its sovereignty on a series of disputed islands also claimed by China.
The Beijing newspaper wrote: ‘If Vietnam continues to provoke China, China will .?.?. if necessary strike back with naval forces. If Vietnam wants to start a war, China has the confidence to destroy invading Vietnam battleships.’
This sort of violent language was familiar in the era of Mao Tse-tung, but jars painfully on Western susceptibilities in the 21st century. China’s official press has urged the government to boycott American companies that sell arms to Taiwan.
The Global Times, again, demands retaliation against the United States: ‘Let the Chinese people have the last word.’
Beyond mere sabre-rattling, China is conducting increasingly sophisticated cyber-warfare penetration of American corporate, military and government computer systems. For now, their purpose seems exploratory rather than destructive.
But the next time China and the United States find themselves in confrontation, a cyber-conflict seems highly likely. The potential impact of such action is devastating, in an era when computers control almost everything.
It would be extravagant to suggest that the United States and China are about to pick up a shooting war where they left off in November 1950, when Private Carl Simon suffered the shock of his young life on a North Korean hillside.
But we should be in no doubt, that China and the United States are squaring off for a historic Indo-Pacific confrontation.
Even if, for obvious economic reasons, China does not want outright war, few military men of any nationality doubt that the Pacific region is now the most plausible place in the world for a great power clash.
Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute declares resoundingly: ‘America’s economic health and global leadership in the next generation depend on maintaining our role in the world’s most dynamic region.’
But the Chinese fiercely dissent from this view. It is hard to exaggerate the threat which this clash of wills poses for peace in Asia, and for us all, in the coming decades.
Panetta Warns Israel on Consequences of Iran Military Strike
By Jennifer Griffin
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said ahead of a meeting Friday with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak that he would warn his Israeli counterpart about the global economic consequences of a military strike on Iran’s nuclear program, adding that he still favors sanctions and diplomacy over a strike.
“To go beyond (sanctions and diplomacy) raises our concerns about the unintended consequences that could result. … There are going to be economic consequences to that, that could impact not just on our economy but the world economy,” Panetta told those travelling with him to Halifax, Canada.
Some Republican lawmakers are complaining the Obama administration is sending a schizophrenic message to Iran and the region. On one hand, it is projecting that the Pentagon now has 30,000-pound bunker-buster bombs capable of striking an underground WMD program and selling smaller bunker busters to Iran’s neighbors such as the United Arab Emirates.
Yet officials are warning about the dire implications of a military strike.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, however, said Friday that the military option is not off the table. “I don’t choose to talk about our discussions with our Israeli partners, but I will tell you we are on a dual- track approach, economic and diplomatic, with never taking the military option off the table. And I think that’s the right place to be,” he said, when asked what the message to Israel would be regarding a potential military strike on Iran’s nuclear program.
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois is sponsoring legislation, which was introduced Friday, to sanction Iran’s Central Bank, but says he is frustrated that the U.S. Treasury is not pushing harder to tighten sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank.
“I’m worried that the Obama administration policy on Iran is one becoming aggressive weakness,” Kirk said. “They are not taking any real action against the Central Bank of Iran or other parts of the nuclear program of the Islamic Republic of Iran and then telling everyone else that they shouldn’t do anything either.”
Adam Szubin, director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said at a House hearing Tuesday that the Central Bank sanctions could actually benefit Iran while hurting the U.S. and global economies by causing oil prices to spike.
“If there is a hike in the price of oil, Iran gains. If there is a spike in the price of oil … there could be profound harm to the global economic recovery and a windfall to Iran,” he said.
A Treasury source said Friday that the department is “eager” to work with Congress on new ways to pressure Iran, “but it is critically important that the steps we take do not destabilize the U.S. and global economy while potentially benefiting Iran.”
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he thinks both the U.S. and Israel are torn over how to approach Iran.
“I think the Israeli government is divided in some respects like our own over the right approach to take,” Gates said, in an exclusive interview set to air Saturday on Fox Business Network’s “Tom Sullivan Show.“ “The former heard of Mossad has been out saying what a terrible mistake a military strike would be. Others cite the existential threat … a nuclear-armed Iran poses for Israel. So I think there are both sides of the issue.”
Gates said he thinks “we have a little more time” to “squeeze the regime.”
Meanwhile, the White House welcomed a resolution from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors Friday chastising Iran for its continued alleged efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said it will increase pressure on Iran to abandon its drive for a nuclear bomb — but did not specify how it would do so.
Kirk said the White House won’t take action against Iran next year because of fears that the oil markets could be disrupted. About 40 percent of the world’s oil goes through the Strait of Hormuz next to Iran.
The administration is “afraid of any instability and oil markets, and therefore wants to take no decisive action,” Kirk said. “They’ll give some pretty good speeches against Iran, but they will not take decisive economic action. That may be because they don’t want disruption in Western economies, worried about prospects for the campaign.”
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