JAKARTA (Reuters) – A knife-wielding attacker wounded four church-goers in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta on Sunday, officials said, before being shot by police who could not yet confirm if it was a terror-related incident.
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In its latest Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the American Pentagon declares at one point in the document that the Cold War is long over. Apart from that fleeting mention, however, one would think from reading the entire review that the Cold War, for Washington, has never been so palpable.
It is a fear-laden document, relentlessly portraying the world as fraught with existential danger to US national security.
Russia and China, as with two other recent strategic policy papers out of Washington, are again painted as adversaries who must be confronted with ever-greater US military power.
The latest NPR asserts that since the last such review in 2010, “America confronts an international security situation that is more complex and demanding than any since the end of the Cold War.”
It is clear from reading the 74-page document that Russia and China are the main source of security concern for the Pentagon – albeit the reasons for the concern are far from convincing. Indeed one might say downright alarmist.
Washington accuses Russia and China of pursuing nuclear weapons development which is threatening. It accuses Russia in particular of violating arms controls treaties and threatening American allies with its nuclear arsenal. There are several other such unsubstantiated claims made by the Pentagon in the document.
Russia and China responded by condemning the aggressive nature of the Pentagon’s latest doctrine, as they have done with regard to two other recent strategic papers published by the Trump administration.
It is deplorable that Washington seems to go out of its way to portray the world in such bellicose terms. The corollary of this attitude is the repudiation of diplomacy and multilateralism.
Washington, it seems, is a hostage to its own imperative need to generate a world of hostile relations in order to justify its rampant militarism, which is, in turn, fundamental to its capitalist economy.
The lamentable, even criminal, danger of this strategy is that it foments unnecessary tensions and animosity in world relations. Russia and China have repeatedly called for normal, multilateral relations. Yet, remorselessly, Washington demonizes the two military powers in ways that are retrograde and reckless.
The Pentagon’s latest nuclear doctrine goes even further in its provocations. Based on dubious accusations of Russia’s threatening behavior (“annexation of Crimea”, “aggression in Ukraine”), the Pentagon has declared it will rely more on nuclear force for “deterrence”.
That can be taken as a warning that Washington is, in effect, lowering its threshold for deploying nuclear weapons. It overtly states that it will consider use of nuclear weapons to defend American interests and allies from “nuclear and conventional threats”. The language is chilling. It talks about inflicting “incalculable” and “intolerable” costs on “adversaries”. This is nothing short of Washington terrorizing the rest of the world into conforming to its geopolitical demands.
Another sinister development is that Washington has now declared that it will be acquiring “low-yield” nuclear weapons. These so-called “mini-nukes” will again lower the threshold for possible deployment of nuclear warheads in the misplaced belief that such deployment will not escalate to strategic weapons.
What’s disturbing is that the US is evidently moving toward a policy of greater reliance on nuclear force to underpin its international power objectives. It is also broadening, in a provocative and reckless way, what it considers “aggression” by other adversaries, principally Russia. Taken together, Washington is increasingly setting itself on a more hostile course.
Some 57 years ago, in 1961, then US President Dwight Eisenhower gave a farewell address to the nation in which he issued a grave forewarning about the growing control of the “military-industrial complex” over American life. Back then, the American military-industrial complex could disguise its insatiable appetite with the pretext of the Cold War and the “Soviet enemy”.
Today, the American federal government spends about $700 billion a year on military – over half its discretionary budget. The US spends more on military than at any time during the Cold War – in constant dollar terms.
The US military-industrial complex has become a voracious monster way beyond anything that Eisenhower may have feared. It is no longer a threat merely to American life. It is a threat to the life of the entire planet.
Objectively, the US has no foreign enemy endangering its existence; neither Russia nor China. Not even North Korea, despite its anti-American rhetoric, poses a direct threat to the US.
The Pentagon – on behalf of the military-industrial complex – is stretching credulity when it depicts the world as a more threatening place. Fingering Russia and China is absurd.
In order to try to shore up its scare-mongering with a semblance of credibility, the Pentagon is escalating the rhetoric about nuclear weapons and the need to deploy them. There is no objective justification for this nuclear posturing by the US, only as a way to dramatize alleged national security fears, in order to keep the military-industrial racket going.
The despicable danger from this retrograde Cold War strategy is that the US is recklessly pushing the world toward war and possibly nuclear catastrophe.
Fortunately, Russia and China have highly developed military defenses to keep American insanity in check. Nevertheless, American belligerence is pushing the world to combustible tensions.
The problem is that American rulers have become a rogue state. The American people need to somehow sack their rogue rulers and their military madness, and return the nation to a democratic function.
Until then, Russia and the rest of the world must be on guard.
According to Breitbart Texas, the federal government of Mexico recently deployed thousands of Mexican soldiers, Marines, and police officers to the Gulf region of the Mexico-United States border, as drug cartel violence spirals out of control.
Rival factions of the Gulf Cartel are in an all-out war against each other for the control of drug trafficking and human smuggling routes into Texas. Breitbart Texas describes how drug cartels are using military weapons in daily skirmishes in the border region.
During a series of recent military operations by the Mexican Army, soldiers honed in on various rural areas near the Rio Grande. According to exclusive information provided to Breitbart Texas via the Mexican Army, soldiers found a “series of weapons caches that had been buried”– leading to the arrest of three suspects.
What the soldiers found next is mind-numbing. According to Breitbart Texas, “soldiers unearthed two Claymores, a grenade launcher, two Barrett .50 caliber rifles, 17 AK-47 rifles, ballistic plates, ammunition, and magazines.”
It has been reported that the Gulf Cartel and other Mexican organized crime units have used Russian-made assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades in past battles, this appears to be the first case of a U.S. military-grade directional anti-personnel mine found near the border.
Special Operations.com explains the deadly power behind the M18A1 Claymore mine:
Unlike traditional land mines, which direct their explosive upward, the Claymore is what is called a “directional mine.” This means that the user points the mine by using a crude sight on top, and steadies it with twin scissor-like anchors which can be pressed into the ground, or stand free on their own. A wire is then unfurled a safe distance back to the user’s position were a detonator in the form of a clacker is squeezed to initiate the explosion. Since the Claymore has a curved rectangular shape, once fired, plastic explosive hurls 700 steel balls out in a 60° radius. Anything exposed within a 50 yard distance is bound to become a casualty. This only increases by magnitude the closer to the detonation. The function is rather like dozens of shotguns going off at once. There is nothing like it on the battlefield.
Watch the destructive force of the M18A1 Claymore mine destroying a truck body…
Last month, we reported that the U.S. State Department warned all U.S. citizens and U.S. government employees to exercise increased caution while traveling in Mexico, and even restricted some regions from access because of “violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery.”
Exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory. Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico as U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to these areas. U.S. government employees are prohibited from intercity travel after dark in many areas of Mexico. U.S. government employees are also not permitted to drive from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior parts of Mexico with the exception of daytime travel on Highway 15 between Nogales and Hermosillo.
U.S. State Department discouraged all travel to 31 Mexican states and even issued five states to Level 4, otherwise known as a war-zone like some countries in the Middle East.
The U.S. State Department defines Level 4 as :
Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
For example in Colima, the U.S. State Department warns:
U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to Tecoman or within 12 miles of the Colima-Michoacán border and on Route 110 between La Tecomaca and the Jalisco border.
Do not travel due to crime. Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers.
Do not travel due to crime. Violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, is common. Gang activity, including gun battles, is widespread. Armed criminal groups target public and private passenger buses traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. Local law enforcement has limited capability to respond to violence in many parts of the state.
Perhaps, President Trump’s border wall is a good idea as drug cartels on the Mexico-United States border are stockpiling military grade weapons.
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Iran has called reports that they sent a UAV into Israeli airspace “ridiculous,” while an Iranian commander warns that they could unleash “hell” on the “Zionist regime” by destroying all US bases in the area.
“The claim about the flight of an Iranian drone and Iran’s involvement in the downing of a Zionist fighter jet is so ridiculous that it does not merit a comment,” said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi, while claiming that Iranian officials are only advising the Syrians “at the request of the… legitimate and lawful government.”
Moreover, any “aggressive actions” by Israel would trigger a serious response by Iran, creating “hell for the Zionists” according to Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards. His statement below:
The Zionist regime in the Muslim world was shaped by the will of the United States and Britain, and they built a cemetery from the Islamic world. You have heard the story of the domination of the world of arrogance after World War II, the tragic story of Muslim slaughter in the wars that Britain has launched and know the role of the United States and Britain in the formation of the Zionist regime, or aware of the defeats of the Arab armies of the Zionist regime by American support.
The United States was banning us and wanted to be paralyzed, but we advanced, and today, from this point on, today we can destroy all American bases in the region and create hell for Zionists.
Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran is more powerful than ever. We trust in God; this was a confession two years ago when we seized the American Marines and the American inability to confront us. –Gen. Hossein Salami via Tasnim News (translated)
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Israeli Prime Minister Benajamin Netanyahu in a Saturday phone call to avoid an escalation of the situation in Syria, reports Reuters, while Netanyahu asserted Israel’s right to “defend against aggression.”
“They discussed the situation around the actions of the Israeli air force, which carried our missile strikes on targets in Syria,” Interfax quoted the Kremlin as saying.
The phone conversation took place less than two weeks after a face-to-face meeting between the Israeli and Russian leaders in Moscow, the duo’s seventh face to face meeting in two years, in which the two leaders who are currently reshaping the middle east in the power vacuum left by the US, were said to have discussed military cooperation on Syria and Iran’s influence in the region. It is unclear whether today’s events were part of the talking points.
Netanyahu also spoke with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday where he reiterated Israel’s stance. Tillerson is about to embark this weekend on a five-nation tour of the Middle East, visiting Turkey, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon.
“Our policy is clear,” said Netanyahu. “Israel will defend itself against any aggression and any attempt to violate its sovereignty,” adding “Iran undertook such attempt today. It violated our sovereignty, and infiltrated its drone into Israeli airspace from Syria.”
This morning Iran brazenly violated Israel’s sovereignty. They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel. Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today’s aggression pic.twitter.com/UNuz81VQQM
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) February 10, 2018
As we reported earlier, Anti-aircraft fire downed an Israeli F-16 returning from a bombing raid on an Iranian UAV facility early Saturday.
US forces have attacked the Syrian military, reporting over a hundred deaths. The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is calling the air strike a massacre, a war crime, and a crime against humanity.
The US is an invading, occupying force that is in Syria without the permission of its government, yet it is claiming that the air strike was an act of “self-defense” against an “unprovoked attack” upon the US-backed SDF, a mostly Kurdish militia which had occupied an area of Syrian land. No Americans suffered any injuries or deaths in the attack. The SDF suffered a single reported injury.
It’s a bit like saying you broke into someone’s house and strangled them from behind with a garotte in self-defense.
Believe it or not, it appears very likely that the US military’s latest act of butchery waged upon Middle Easterners on their own land was not about self-defense at all, but about oil. The always insightful Moon of Alabamamakes a compelling case that not only is America’s version of events full of plot holes, but that the whole thing could very well have been “a trap” to sabotage a local deal that had been made for the SDF to turn over an oil and gas field to the Syrian government in the near future.
This would fit in perfectly with comments Professor Joshua Landis made about the attack, saying that America’s plan is to keep Syria weak, poor and divided in order to disadvantage US/Israel/Saudi rivals Iran and Russia. It would also clarify US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assertion a few weeks ago that thousands of American troops are being kept in Syria to prevent Assad from regaining control of areas that have been liberated from ISIS.
This is what the new imperialism looks like.
When the Russian Federation annexed Crimea in 2014, everyone lost their minds. Countries don’t just annex territory from other countries anymore! It’s so barbaric! It’s so… 20th century.
That’s simply not how we do things in the modern world. We don’t expand our geopolitical power by blatant land grabs, we expand it with treaties, alliances, intelligence/surveillance deals, trade agreements, corporate contracts, secret pacts, and occupations of key strategic locations under the pretense of fighting terrorism. Like civilized people.
In the old days, an empire would expand itself by invading a weaker territory, killing its people until they gave up, and planting its flag there. We’d change the maps so that everyone could see that the region was now under the control of Rome or the British Crown or Napoleon or whomever, and the power structures would align themselves accordingly. It was all relatively simple and transparent.
The new imperialism doesn’t do that.
You will never see Syria made into the 51st state.
Since the end of the second World War it has been increasingly taboo for a government to overtly invade a country and add it to that government’s official territory, and many international laws were locked into place to reflect that. And yet world power has arguably never been more consolidated than it is right now. The US, the UK, the EU, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Canada, Australia and many other nations tend to march more or less in lockstep with one another on a vast array of subjects ranging from neoliberalism to surveillance to which “regime” is in need of more crushing sanctions on a given day. The alignment isn’t perfect, but it’s too close to perfect to deny.
Here in Australia we joke about being America’s 51st state, but, like Syria, we never will be. We don’t need to be. We’re already answerable to the same corporatist powers which control the US, so we trot right along into every US war, every US trade deal, and operate as a US intelligence asset just the same as we would if they’d planted the stars and stripes on our capitol buildings and called us Wisconsota. Through military alliance, intelligence alliance, corporatist agreements, and a good old-fashioned coup staged by the CIA and MI6, we transitioned smoothly from subservience under the old form of imperialism to subservience under the new. A whole continent full of McDonald’s-eating sheep.
In the new imperialism, countries keep their borders, keep their names, and on paper keep their own sovereign governments as well. Australia remains Australia, Syria remains Syria. But the power dynamics are all bent to funnel toward the favor of the same vast power conglomerate.
You can’t see the new empire on a map, so people assume that it isn’t there, but the only reason you can’t see it on the maps we were trained to read in school is because the new empire isn’t in any way limited by geography. It is unconcerned with the little lines drawn between the countries on our plastic classroom globes, or the different colors their manufacturers painted the different nations with. The nationless band of plutocrats who use governments as tools and weapons are not limited by those things. They don’t think in those terms. They don’t care about land and governments, they care about money, power, and influence. And none of those things are geographically confined.
So they’re content to control a few strategic locations in Syria to wage a disruption campaign against rivals of the empire. They don’t need to annex Syria in order to do that, or even oust Assad. They’re not interested in the country, they’re interested in the nonlocalized new empire. They’ll control a few oil fields, secure a few shady alliances, unleash a few terrorist armies, all to funnel more and more power into the new empire, one contract at a time. Corporations and banks are not limited by national borders, and neither are the oligarchs who own them.
Nations and governments don’t exist anymore. Not in the sense that they used to, anyway. The notion of meaningfully separate, sovereign governments is at this time a fairy tale told to the masses to keep us from realizing that we’re all being thrown into the gears of an exploitative threshing machine that only exists to feed the avaricious agendas of a few ruling elites.
This has all been made possible by an ongoing war on the societal concept of sovereignty. Our concept of sovereignty is now so weakened that a powerful government can get away with invading another country and claiming “self defense” when it kills the people there, so weakened that constant domestic surveillance by secretive and unaccountable intelligence agencies is now considered normal, so weakened that the public will ferociously defend a police officer that guns down a civilian who reached for his wallet a little too fast.
If society found some way to restore sovereignty to nations, governments, and above all to human beings, the ecocidal, omnicidal new empire which depends upon blurred lines and ignored boundaries would be unable to survive. And that would be great, in my opinion.
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