What the North Korean “crisis” is really about…

VIA

The North Korean “crisis” is a Washington orchestration. North Korea was last at war 1950-53. N. Korea has not attacked or invaded anyone in 64 years. N. Korea lacks the military strength to attack any country, such as South Korea and Japan, that is protected by the US. Moreover, China would not permit N. Korea to start a war.

So what is the demonization of N. Korea by the presstitutes and Trump administration about?

It is about the same thing that the demonization of Iran was about. The “Iranian threat” was an orchestration that was used as cover to put US anti-ballistic missile bases on Russia’s borders. An anti-ballistic missile (ABM) is intended to intercept and destroy nuclear-armed ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) and prevent them from reaching their targets.

Washington claimed that the anti-ABM bases were not directed at Russia, but were for the protection of Europe against Iran’s nuclear ICBMs. Insouciant Americans might have believed this, but the Russians surely did not as Iran has neither ICBMs nor nuclear weapons. The Russian government has made it clear that Russia understands the US bases are directed at preventing a Russian retalliation against a Washington first strike.

The Chinese government also is not stupid. The Chinese leadership understands that the reason for the N. Korean “crisis” is to provide cover for Washington to put anti-ballistic missile sites near China’s border.

In other words, Washington is creating a shield against nuclear retalliation from both Russia and China from a US nuclear strike against both countries.

China has been more forceful in its reply to Washington’s efforts than have the Russians. China has demanded an immediate halt to the US deployment of missiles in South Korea. https://www.rt.com/news/386828-china-thaad-south-korea/

In order to keep Americans confused, Washington now calls anti-ABMs THAAD, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. China understands that THAAD has nothing whatsoever to do with N. Korea, which borders S. Korea, making it pointless for N. Korea to attack S. Korea with ICBMs.

THAAD in S. Korea is directed against China’s retaliatory forces. It is part of Washington’s preparations to nuke both Russia and China with minimal consequence to the US, although Europe would certainly be completely destroyed as THAAD or anti-ABMs are useless against Russian nuclear cruise missiles and the Russian air force.

But no Empire has ever cared about the fate of its vassals, and Washington is uninterested in Europe’s fate. Washington is interested only in its hegemony over the world.

The question is: now that Russia and China understand that Washington is preparing for a preemptive nuclear strike against them in order to remove the two constraints on Washington’s unilateral behavior, will the two countries sit there and wait for the strike?

What would you do?

Global arms sales reach post-Cold War peak…

More than half the world’s arms exports came from the U.S. and Russia alone

Large arms supply and demand rose to a new post-Cold War height last year, with the U.S. and Russia topping the chart as the biggest suppliers, according to research by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The study found that global transfers increased over the last five years to the highest volume out of any five-year period since before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Middle East region nearly doubled imports in the meantime.

According to SIPRI, between 2012 and 2016 arms deliveries rose by 8.4 percent.

More than half the world’s arms exports came from the U.S. (33 percent) and Russia (23 percent) alone. Alongside with China, France and Germany made up the five responsible for 74 percent of all major arms supplies. India and Saudi Arabia were the main importers.

India alone received 13 percent of arms transfers globally, outpacing regional military powers China and Pakistan.

Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher at SIPRI’s arms and military expenditure program said Asia was the growth region for arms sales, accounting for 43 percent of global imports since 2012.

“With no regional arms control instruments in place, states in Asia continue to expand their arsenals,” he said Monday. “Vietnam, in particular, dramatically increased imports by 202 percent, which puts it in the list of 10 largest importers compared to its hitherto position in the 29th place.”

“While China is increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remains dependent on weapons technology from many willing suppliers, including Russia, the USA, European states, Israel and South Korea,” Wezeman added.

Mainstream US media culpable for disseminating fake news…

Glenn Greenwald interview on Democracy Now! program

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, your latest article for The Intercept is headlined “WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived.” So, could you comment on what Assange said and your own findings regarding mainstream media coverage of alleged Russian cyber-attacks?

GLENN GREENWALD: So let’s focus on the extraordinary behavior of The Washington Post for the moment. They have produced two of the most humiliating debacles in American journalism over the last several years. And these two humiliations have taken place just within the last six weeks, both of which were about completely fictitious and fabricated claims about the threat posed by Vladimir Putin and Russia.

The first was on November 24th, when they claimed, based on a newly formed anonymous group, that there has been a very widespread, successful effort to implant Kremlin propaganda in the American discourse. And they accomplish this by giving credence to this secret list that this anonymous group of cowards had created in which they claim that a whole range of American media outlets and websites, such as the Drudge Report and other libertarian critics of Hillary Clinton on the right and long-standing left-wing critics of the Democratic Party, like Naked Capitalism and Truthout and Truthdig on the left—they decree them to be tools of Kremlin propaganda. And The Washington Post created this huge story, that went all over the place, based upon giving credence to this list and saying that Russian propaganda had been viewed more than 200 million times in the United States. Journalists all over Twitter, throughout the American media, mindlessly spread it, aggressively endorsed it. It became a huge story. And over the course of the next two weeks, the story completely collapsed, and there’s now a major editor’s note at the top of the article disclaiming the key source, saying that they did not intend to in any way vouch for the validity of the findings of the source on which the entire story was based.

But even more embarrassing was this weekend, when the Post trumpeted this story on Friday night that Vladimir Putin and Russia had hacked into the electric grid of the United States through a Vermont utility, which caused Vermont officials like the governor and Senator Pat Leahy to issue statements saying Vladimir Putin is trying to endanger the safety and the welfare of Vermonters by stealing their heat in the winter. The whole story, from start to finish, turned out to be a complete fabrication. There was no invasion of the American electric grid. The malware that was found on one laptop had nothing to do with Russia. The story was completely false. And again, the American media, in this hysteria, kept spreading and endorsing it.

And in both cases, the retractions were barely noted. So you have millions of people being misled into this hysteria, into this view that Russia is this grave threat, and when the story journalistically collapses, they barely hear about it. And it happened over and over through the election, with Slate saying that a secret server had been found between Donald Trump and a Russian bank, which turned out to be completely false. The Post aired allegations that Putin had poisoned Hillary Clinton on the day that she collapsed on 9/11. And so, it’s not really just dishonesty. It’s the kind of behavior we saw in 2002, where American media outlets are willing to publish anything that the U.S. government tells them to publish, to inflate and expand the threat posed by Russia, to raise fear levels to the highest possible degree. And it’s an incredibly irresponsible and dangerous form of behavior that media outlets, led by The Washington Post, are engaging in.

AMY GOODMAN: And you talk about how retractions obviously don’t get anything like the play of the story, that also has to do with what’s tweeted by the publication, even when they retract, and what isn’t, Glenn.

GLENN GREENWALD: Right. So let me just give you two examples of just the corruption that’s at play here. So, when the Post unveiled their huge story about Russia fake news based on this McCarthyite list that has been proven to be a fraud, they had Marty Baron, the executive editor, the widely respected executive editor of the paper, go onto Twitter and announce this huge exposé. And predictably, it got tweeted and retweeted and shared thousands and thousands of times by all of the biggest journalists with the biggest social media followings. When the story collapsed over the next two weeks and they appended this huge editor’s note, The Washington Post did nothing to bring anyone’s attention to the fact that the key claims of the story have been gutted. Marty Baron refused to answer any questions over that two weeks about what the paper did, and he uttered not one syllable on Twitter or anywhere else to tell all the followers that he alerted to this story that the story had collapsed.

With the story that I just talked about over the weekend of the—of how Putin had wanted to steal the heat from Vermonters to make them suffer in the winter, Brent Staples, who works for The New York Times editorial page, went on Twitter and said, “Our friend Putin has invaded the U.S. electric grid.” And when that story collapsed and The Washington Post retracted it, he did something even worse: He just went and quietly deleted his tweet a day later, as though it never happened, and also failed to tell his 30,000 followers that what he had just told them the day before, that caused them to run around and share with all their friends on Facebook and Twitter that this has happened, was in fact a complete fiction.

And you see this over and over and over again. And remember, these are the people who keep saying that fake news is a huge problem, that Facebook has to suppress it. And yet it’s America’s leading journalistic outlets that are doing more to disseminate false and deceitful stories than Macedonian teenagers by a huge amount. And when they do it and it turns out that the stories are discredited, they take very little to no steps to alert the people that they’ve misled about the fact that the stories were false. And it’s incredibly reckless journalistically. And these are the same people pretending to be crusaders against fake news, who are themselves disseminating it more aggressively than anyone else.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Glenn Greenwald, let me ask you about the possible use of Twitter for the dissemination of other kinds of possibly fake information. You’ve repeatedly emphasized, as you just did, the role of Twitter in spreading false news by news media outlets. But this may be the first time in global history that a head of state, and that, too, of the most powerful state in the world, seems likely to use precisely this medium as one of his principal modes of communication. Do you think there are similar risks involved with official pronouncement conveyed through Twitter as you say and have explained are with journalistic use of this medium?

GLENN GREENWALD: So I think there are two sides to this. One is, there’s a potential—a potential virtue to having politicians being able to communicate directly to their constituents and the people they represent without having to be mediated by American media outlets, especially ones that have proven to be untrustworthy. So, in some sense, I actually think it’s positive, under the right circumstances, for a political leader—not Donald Trump, but just for political officials generally—to have a means to communicate directly to the people who they’re supposed to be representing and who can then hear feedback back from those people. I mean, in theory, that would be a good model.

The problem with Donald Trump using this is twofold. One is that when you’re the actual president of the world’s largest superpower with a massive nuclear arsenal, using Twitter is an extremely dangerous venue because it inherently has all kinds of ambiguities and possibilities for being misunderstood and for misleading people into what your actual intentions are. And that has happened over and over, where so many of his tweets are not even susceptible to reasoned discourse, where you don’t even know what he means. And when a president is issuing those kinds of ambiguous statements, those are the kinds of things that can ratchet up tensions unintentionally and even spark wars.

But I think there’s another sort of more pernicious aspect to it, which is what Trump is doing is he’s trying to discredit every single source of information other than Donald Trump. So, he’s telling his followers, “Don’t listen to the American media, because they’re liars.” He’s telling them, “Don’t listen to the intelligence community, because they defrauded you with Iraq.” He’s telling them, “Don’t listen to experts, because these experts are all corrupted and they’re part of the D.C. swamp,” that he wants to drain. “The only truth that you should trust comes from me, Donald Trump.” And that is a very dangerous framework. It’s pure authoritarianism when a political leader also becomes the only source of information that the population trusts. But, unfortunately, his biggest allies in that are media outlets who have done the kinds of things that I just explained The Washington Post having done and journalists having helped them. They’re the reason why people are losing faith in American media outlets. And that’s what gives space to a demagogue like Donald Trump to say, “I’m the only person who you can trust.” And his use of Twitter is really a weapon, a powerful weapon, in achieving that dangerous state of affairs.

AMY GOODMAN: China’s state news agency Xinhua said, “Twitter should not become an instrument of foreign policy,” warning President-elect Trump. But, Glenn, as we wrap up, your concerns right now? In the headline, we just said that Donald Trump says he’s going to overhaul the intelligence agencies, which many might think is a good thing, cutting back Virginia, the headquarters, less computer internet surveillance, more human surveillance, getting more spies out on the streets. Where is this country going now, Glenn? Your perspective, from outside now, though as an American?

GLENN GREENWALD: I mean, I think it really remains to be seen, but there are definitely fundamental changes taking place. If you look, for example, at recent polling, what you find is that the CIA is now one of the most admired and defended institutions among Democrats, while Republicans don’t like the CIA and actually prefer Vladimir Putin even to Barack Obama. You have radical shifts taking place in coalitions, in alliances, in alignments, and it can—it’s very unpredictable how it can play out. Sometimes instability could produce positive outcomes. Trump abrogated the TPP. He wants to limit Boeing and Lockheed and the amount of money that’s spent on them. He wants to bring jobs back to the U.S. But it can also have very dangerous outcomes, as well, because of its unpredictability. And so, I think it’s a very dangerous time for the United States, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m hoping Democrats find their footing and become a lot more focused and reasoned and stop sort of wallowing in these radical conspiracy theories that make them appear unhinged, because Donald Trump needs a cohesive and focused and effective opposition.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there, Glenn Greenwald. Thanks so much for being with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept. We’ll link to your pieces, most recently, “WashPost Is Richly Rewarded for False News About Russia Threat While Public Is Deceived.”

Defense contractors say Russian ‘threat’ is great for business…

DJ Blendz note: Anyone’s notice the anti-Russia hysteria lately? Time to take a look at what’s behind it
—————————————————————————————–

The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.

Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian’s annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget.

In particular, the arms industry — both directly and through its arsenal of hired-gun, think-tank experts and lobbyists – is actively pressuring NATO member nations to hike defense spending in line with the NATO goal for member states to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

Retired Army Gen. Richard Cody, a vice president at L-3 Communications, the seventh largest U.S. defense contractor, explained to shareholders in December that the industry was faced with a historic opportunity. Following the end of the Cold War, Cody said, peace had “pretty much broken out all over the world,” with Russia in decline and NATO nations celebrating. “The Wall came down,” he said, and “all defense budgets went south.”

Now, Cody argued, Russia “is resurgent” around the world, putting pressure on U.S. allies. “Nations that belong to NATO are supposed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks. “We know that uptick is coming and so we postured ourselves for it.”

Speaking to investors at a conference hosted by Credit Suisse in June, Stuart Bradie, the chief executive of KBR, a military contractor, discussed “opportunities in Europe,” highlighting the increase in defense spending by NATO countries in response to “what’s happening with Russia and the Ukraine.”

The National Defense Industrial Association, a lobby group for the industry, has called on Congress to make it easier for U.S. contractors to sell arms abroad to allies in response to the threat from Russia. Recent articles in National Defense, NDIA’s magazine, discuss the need for NATO allies to boost maritime military spending, spending on Arctic systems, and missile defense, to counter Russia.

Many experts are unconvinced that Russia poses a direct military threat. The Soviet Union’s military once stood at over 4 million soldiers, but today Russia has less than 1 million. NATO’s combined military budget vastly outranks Russia’s — with the U.S. alone outspending Russia on its military by $609 billion to less than $85 billion.

And yet, the Aerospace Industries Association, a lobby group for Lockheed Martin, Textron, Raytheon, and other defense contractors, argued in February that the Pentagon is not spending enough to counter “Russian aggression on NATO’s doorstep.”

Think tanks with major funding from defense contractors, including the Lexington Institute and the Atlantic Council, have similarly demanded higher defense spending to counter Russia.

Stephen Hadley, the former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush now serving on the board of Raytheon, a firm competing for major NATO military contracts, has argued forcefully for hiking defense budgets and providing lethal aid to Ukraine. Hadley said in a speech last summer that the U.S. must “raise the cost for what Russia is doing in Ukraine,” adding that “even President Putin is sensitive to body bags.”

The business press has noticed the development. The Washington Business Journal noted that “if anyone is benefiting from the unease between Russia and the rest of the world, it would have to be Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp,” noting that the firm won a major contract from Poland, which is revamping its military in response to Russia. Roman Schweizer, an analyst for the defense industry with Guggenheim Securities, predicted last year that U.S. arms sales would continue to rise, particularly because “eastern NATO countries will increase procurements in the wake of continued Russian activity in Ukraine.”

At the Defence Security Exposition International, an arms dealer conference held in London last fall, contractors were quick to use Russia and rising defense budgets to hawk their products. “The tank threat is … much, much more closer to you today because Putin is doing something” in eastern Ukraine, a shoulder-fired-rocket touting representative from Saab told Defense One.

“Companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have pledged to increase the share of exports in their overall revenues, and they have been seeking major deals in East and Central Europe since the 1990s, when NATO expansion began,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy. Hartung noted that as some nations ramp up spending, U.S. firms will be “knocking at the door, looking to sell everything from fighter planes to missile defense systems.”

“Russian saber-rattling has additional benefits for weapons makers because it has become a standard part of the argument for higher Pentagon spending — even though the Pentagon already has more than enough money to address any actual threat to the United States,” he said.

“We’ve been repeating like a mantra that we will be forced to respond… Nobody wants to hear us. Nobody wants to conduct negotiations with us”

Russia’s President on America’s missile “shield” on Russia’s backyard

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday warned Romania and Poland they could find themselves in the sights of Russian rockets because they are hosting elements of a U.S. missile shield that Moscow considers a threat to its security.

Putin issued his starkest warning yet over the missile shield, saying that Moscow had stated repeatedly that it would have to take retaliatory steps but that Washington and its allies had ignored the warnings.

Earlier this month the U.S. military — which says the shield is needed to protect from Iran, not threaten Russia — switched on the Romanian part of the shield. Work is going ahead on another part of the shield, in Poland.

“If yesterday in those areas of Romania people simply did not know what it means to be in the cross-hairs, then today we will be forced to carry out certain measures to ensure our security,” Putin told a joint news conference in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“It will be the same case with Poland,” he said.

Putin did not specify what actions Russia would take, but he insisted that it was not making the first step, only responding to moves by Washington. “We won’t take any action until we see rockets in areas that neighbour us.”

He said the argument that the project was needed to defend against Iran made no sense because an international deal had been reached to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme. The missiles that will form the shield can easily reach Russian cities, he said.

“How can that not create a threat for us?” Putin asked.

He voiced frustration that Russia’s complaints about the missile shield had not been heeded.

“We’ve been repeating like a mantra that we will be forced to respond… Nobody wants to hear us. Nobody wants to conduct negotiations with us.”

How ‘obscure’ bureaucrats cause wars…

nuland-ukraine-2-7-14

Looking behind the curtain

History isn’t just made by impersonal forces and “great men” or “great women.” Sometimes relatively obscure men and women acting in key bureaucratic posts make a real difference.

Thus, the international crisis in Syria traces back in part to the decision of President Barack Obama’s first ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, to reject peaceful rapprochement with the Damascus regime in favor of “radically redesign[ing] his mission” to promote anti-government protests that triggered the civil war in 2011.

In much the same way, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland did her best to foment the Feb. 22, 2014 putsch against the democratically elected Ukrainian government of President Viktor Yanukovych, “while convincing the ever-gullible U.S. mainstream media that the coup wasn’t really a coup but a victory for ‘democracy,’” as journalist Robert Parry wrote last July.

Nuland, a former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and wife of neoconservative luminary Robert Kagan, helped achieve in Ukraine the kind of “regime change” that her husband had long promoted in the Middle East through the Project for a New American Century.

Nuland now has a new counterpart in the Department of Defense who bears close watching for signs of whether the Obama administration will keep escalating military confrontation with Russia over Eastern Europe, or look for opportunities to find common ground and ease tensions.

On Dec. 14, Dr. Michael Carpenter started work at the Pentagon as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, with added responsibilities for the Western Balkans and Conventional Arms Control. He replaced Evelyn Farkas, who stepped down in October.

Farkas was a firebrand who accused Russia of “shredding international law and conventions that have held firm for decades.” In a call to arms straight out of the early Cold War, she wrote recently, “Russia’s challenge is so fundamental to the international system, to democracy and free market capitalism that we cannot allow the Kremlin’s policy to succeed in Syria or elsewhere.”

In a remarkable display of “projection” — ascribing to others one’s own motives and actions — she declared that “Russia has invaded neighboring countries, occupied their territory, and funded NGOs and political parties not only in its periphery but also in NATO countries.” Its goal, she asserted, was nothing less than “breaking NATO, the European Union and transatlantic unity.”

Farkas declared that the United States must continue its military buildup to deter Russia; provide “lethal assistance” to countries on Russia’s periphery, including Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova; and step up economic sanctions “to pressure Russia . . . so that U.S. national security interests and objectives prevail.”

With people like that helping to shape official policy over the past three years, it’s no wonder U.S.-Russia relations have hit such a low point. Might her replacement, Michael Carpenter, take a less confrontational approach?

Carpenter moved to the Pentagon from the office of Vice President Joe Biden, where he was special adviser for Europe and Eurasia. Previously he ran the Russia desk at the National Security Council and spent several years in the Foreign Service.

Carpenter has kept a low public profile, with few publications or speeches to his name. One of his few quasi-public appearances was this April at a symposium on “Baltic Defense & Security After Ukraine: New Challenges, New Threats,” sponsored by The Jamestown Foundation.

His prepared remarks were off the record, but they were greeted warmly — “you’ve hit it right on the head” — by discussant Kurt Volker, former NATO ambassador under President George W. Bush and foreign policy adviser to Sen. John McCain. McCain has demanded that the United States arm Ukraine to fight Russia and he helped inflame the Ukraine crisis by meeting with the anti-Semitic leader of the country’s right-wing nationalist party for photo-ops in 2013.

During a short Q&A session at the symposium, captured on video, Carpenter declared that “Russia has completely shredded the NATO-Russian Founding Act,” a choice of words strikingly reminiscent of Farkas’s denunciation of Russia for “shredding international law.” He accused Russia of “pursuing a neo-imperial revanchist policy” in Eastern Europe, inflammatory words that Sen. McCain lifted for an op-ed column in the Washington Post a couple of months later. Carpenter also indicated that he would personally favor permanent NATO bases in the Baltic states if such an escalation would not fragment the alliance.

The fact that Carpenter chose to make one of his few appearances at the The Jamestown Foundation is itself highly telling. According to IPS Right Web, which tracks conservative think tanks, the foundation’s president, Glen Howard, “is the former executive director of the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, a largely neoconservative-led campaign aimed at undermining Russia by bolstering U.S. support for militant nationalist and Islamist movements in the North Caucasus.” Howard has also been a consultant to the Pentagon and to “major oil companies operating in Central Asia and the Middle East.”

The foundation was formed in 1984 by “a leading Cold Warrior close to the Reagan administration,” with the blessing of CIA Director William Casey, to provide extra funding for Soviet bloc defectors to supplement meager stipends offered by the CIA. Its board members today include former CIA Director Michael Hayden, and previous board members included Dick Cheney and former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, a prominent neoconservative activist.

All this matters hugely for several reasons. Increased confrontation with Russia, particularly along its highly sensitive Western border, will continue to poison relationships with Moscow that are crucial for achieving U.S. interests ranging from Afghanistan to Iran to Syria. Ratcheting up a new Cold War will divert tens or hundreds of billions of dollars into military spending at the expense of domestic priorities.

Most important, the action-reaction cycle between NATO and Russia in Eastern Europe is dramatically increasing chances for an unwanted, unneeded and disastrous war involving the world’s great nuclear powers. Ian Kearns, director of the European Leadership Network, noted in a recent commentary for the Arms Control Association:

“Despite protestations by both sides that the exercises are aimed at no particular adversary, it is clear that each side is exercising with the most likely war plans of the other in mind. The Russian military is preparing for a confrontation with NATO, and NATO is preparing for a confrontation with Russia. This does not mean either side has the political intent to start a war, but it does mean that both believe a war is no longer unthinkable. . . .

“Too few appear to recognize that the current cocktail of incidents, mistrust, changed military posture, and nuclear signaling is creating the conditions in which a single event or combination of events could result in a NATO-Russian war, even if neither side intends it.”

In such a way, the actions of relatively minor figures in history – if their provocations are not reined in – can lead the world to cataclysm.