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Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

Drumpfian Leaks: The Washington Post

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Posting on his Facebook page, on 18 May 2017, the intrepid Pepe Escobar appears to reveal some inside knowledge hidden from view:

THE WAR ON TRUMP

My source “X” is furious:

The major question is who in Trump’s inner circle is the traitor leaking to the Washington Post? The Washington Post is conducting a campaign against Trump led by Trotskyite elements. The key national interest for the US is a rapprochement with Russia to avoid a nuclear war that the Russians are ready for. Trump is also trying to stop the attack on the American wage level by the .1% Trotskyite element on Wall St. who is stealing the nation’s wealth through their cash settlement manipulations, and other acts of pickpocketing. Trump must stick to his guns.”

That’s not far from the credible narrative put together by old school intel ops not totally controlled by the War Party; “The issue is not necessarily what Trump has done or said. It is that Trump cannot trust even his inner circle of advisers. Whoever leaked the information was either in the room or had access to the minutes of the meeting. That means that someone with fairly robust access was willing to risk not just his or her own career but also the effectiveness of U.S.-Russia moves against the Islamic State, as well as U.S. credibility in the world and with allies that share intelligence. It makes Trump look bad, it makes the United States look worse, and it damages U.S. credibility for as long as the Trump administration is in power”.1

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As “X” says, “The issue is not necessarily what Trump has done or said”, but rather as expressed by the well-known conservative political and cultural commentator David Brooks now more than a month ago, “Trump’s greatest achievements are in the field of ignorance”, elaborating in the next instance that “Trump’s ignorance is not just an absence; it is a rich, intricate and entirely separate universe of negative information, a sort of fertile intellectual antimatter with its own gravitational pull”.2 Brooks really explains the Drumpf in living colours: the “normal incompetent person flails and stammers and is embarrassed about it. But the true genius at incompetence like our president flails and founders and is too incompetent to recognize his own incompetence. He mistakes his catastrophes for successes and so accelerates his pace toward oblivion. Those who ignore history are condemned to retweet it”.3

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But these insights should not surprise us . . . Tony Schwartz, the actual author of the Art of the Deal, has been warning people ever since the Drumpf decided to run for president.4 And, the investigative journalist David Cay Johnston has been doing the same for years now, as he knows the man that is the Drumpf up close.5

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2 David Brooks, “The Coming Incompetence Crisis” New York Times (07 April 2017). https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/opinion/the-coming-incompetence-crisis.html.

3 David Brooks, “The Coming Incompetence Crisis”.

4 “Tony Schwartz: The Truth About Trump” The Erimtan Angle. (s.d.). http://apob.tumblr.com/post/160224262702/tony-schwartz-the-truth-about-trump.

5‘ ‘David Cay Johnston: “The Making of Donald Trump” The Erimtan Angle. (s.d.). http://apob.tumblr.com/post/160129875497/david-cay-johnston-the-making-of-donald-trump.

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Bush & Obama: Age of Terror

The Untold History of the United States

In 2012 the three-time academy award winning filmmaker, Oliver Stone, and American University Professor and Historian, Peter Kuznick, released a book and Showtime series entitled The Untold History of the United States.[1] Below is a copy of the “last episode in the series called Bush & Obama: Age of Terror. It covers the following subjects: The Project For A New American Century, a neoconservative think tank that called for a Pearl Harbor-type event to catalyze military action in the Middle East. The tyranny of neoconservatives who pushed us to war with Iraq using faulty intelligence. The rushing through of the Patriot Act, which stripped Americans of a wide variety of civil liberties while bestowing legal precedent to the new surveillance state. The national brainwashing and fear-mongering of the War on Terror. Invading Afghanistan to defeat some of the same terrorists the U.S. armed and trained two decades earlier. Unconstitutional torture and interrogation tactics at Guantanamo Bay. The mainstream media’s facilitation of war through propaganda and corporate collusion. Obama selling out to J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, General Electric, and Big Pharma. The $700 billion financial bailout paid for by workers, pensioners, homeowners, small businessmen, and students with loans. The rise of CEO compensation amid the collapse of the middle class. Obama’s failure to deliver hope, change, or transparency, his prosecution of government whistleblowers, his fortification of Bush’s national security state.[2]

 

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The retired four-star general of the United States Army who served as Director of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander put it like this: “Obviously [, Bush and Obama] come from different parties, they view things differently, but when it comes to the security of the nation and making those decisions about how to protect our nation, what we need to do to defend it, they are, ironically, very close to the same point. You would get almost the same decision from both of them on key questions about how to defend our nation from terrorists and other threats”.[3]

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[1] “Breaking the Set: The Untold History of the US | Interview with Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick” The Erimtan Angle (15 Dec 2012). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/breaking-the-set-the-untold-history-of-the-us-interview-with-oliver-stone-and-peter-kuznick/.

[2] “Oliver Stone’s The Untold History of The US .. Bush & Obama Age of Terror” Before it’s News (23 Sep 2015). http://beforeitsnews.com/politics/2015/09/oliver-stones-the-untold-history-of-the-us-bush-obama-age-of-terror-2744352.html.

[3] Glenn Greenwald, “Keith Alexander Unplugged” The Intercept (08 May 2014) .https://theintercept.com/2014/05/08/keith-alexander-unplugged-bushobama-matters/.

Making Sense of the Syria “Ceasefire” with Pepe Escobar

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‘Stop the presses, everyone! The US and Russia have announced a ceasefire in Syria!…Again. But this time it’s going to work. Except for that whole sticky question about whom the ceasefire applies to and under what conditions. Confused? Today Pepe Escobar of Newsbud.com joins us to untangle the confusing mess of the Syria ceasefire and tell us what it really means. Published on Feb 24, 2016′.

 

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Missile Defence Waste: Accountability Office Report

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‘The US is incapable of protecting itself from ballistic missile strikes launched by North Korea and Iran, despite spending billions to develop a defense system which remains unfinished, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. Published on Feb 18, 2016’.

The DOD has a dedicated website for its missile daydreams, proclaiming that the “Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) mission is to develop, test, and field an integrated, layered, ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) to defend the United States, its deployed forces, allies, and friends against all ranges of enemy ballistic missiles in all phases of flight”. [1] And continuing as follows: “As we develop, test, and field an integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), the MDA works closely with the combatant commands (e.g. Pacific Command, Northern Command, etc.) who will rely on the system to protect the United States, our forward deployed forces, and our friends and allies from hostile ballistic missile attack. We work with the combatant commanders to ensure that we develop a robust BMDS technology and development program to address the challenges of an evolving threat. We are also steadily increasing our international cooperation by supporting mutual security interests in missile defense. The MDA is committed to maximizing the mission assurance and cost effectiveness of our management and operations through continuous process improvement”.[2] In spite of these assurances though, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has now issued a damning report: “Missile Defense: Assessment of DOD’s Reports on Status of Efforts and Options for Improving Homeland Missile Defense”, published on 17 February 2016.[3]

US-GovernmentAccountabilityOffice-Logo_svg_The report does not mince its words: “Although DOD’s reports described the benefits of MDA’s ongoing efforts to improve homeland missile defense, we found that MDA faces risks and challenges pursuing these efforts. For example, DOD’s reports stated that the U.S. homeland is currently protected from a limited ballistic missile attack from North Korea and Iran. MDA has demonstrated some of this capability but several other key aspects necessary to prove it can defend the U.S. homeland against the current ballistic missile threat have not been demonstrated. DOD’s reports also described ongoing efforts to meet a directive from the Secretary of Defense to field 44 GMD interceptors by the end of 2017. However, we found that, although MDA has made progress towards achieving the fielding goal, MDA is relying on a highly optimistic, aggressive schedule that overlaps development and testing with production activities, compromises reliability, extends risk to the warfighter, and risks the efficacy of flight testing. In addition, DOD’s report described the potential benefits of MDA’s approach for acquiring the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV), including aligning production decisions with flight testing and including margin in its development schedule. However, MDA may encounter challenges with the RKV’s contract strategy, industry collaboration efforts, and schedule because MDA has not yet negotiated the terms of the RKV modification with the prime contractor, is relying on potential industry competitors to collaborate on developing the RKV, and may need additional time to develop some components for their use in the RKV”.[4] In the following pages of the report, the following sub-heading leaves no doubt about the verdict: “DOD’s Reports Described Progress but MDA Has Not Proven GMD [or Ground-based Midcourse Defense] Can Defend the Homeland and May Experience Challenges Improving the System”.[5] All in all, it seems that the Missile Defense Agency is yet another U.S. government agency mired in corruption and inefficiency.

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[1] “MDA MISSION” MDA. http://www.mda.mil/.

[2] “Agency in Brief” MDA. http://www.mda.mil/about/about.html.

[3] “Missile Defense: Assessment of DOD’s Reports on Status of Efforts and Options for Improving Homeland Missile Defense” GAO (16 Feb 2016). http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/675263.pdf.

[4] “Missile Defense: Assessment of DOD’s Reports on Status of Efforts and Options for Improving Homeland Missile Defense”, pp. 2-3.

[5] “Missile Defense: Assessment of DOD’s Reports on Status of Efforts and Options for Improving Homeland Missile Defense”, p. 6.

WikiLeaks: Operation Sophia

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On the WikiLeaks website the following announcement can be read: “Today, [Wednesday, ] 17 February 2016, WikiLeaks is releasing the classified report about the first six month of Operation SOPHIA, the EU military intervention against ‘refugee boats’ in Libya and the Mediterranean”.[i] And next, explaining that “[t]he report, dated 29 January 2016, is written by the Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino of the Italian Navy, for the European Union Military Committee and the Political and Security Committee of the EU. It gives refugee flow statistics and outlines the performed and planned operation phases (1, 2A, 2B and 3), the corresponding activities of the joint EU forces operating in the Mediterranean and the future strategies for the operation. One of the main elements within the report is the planned, but still pending transition from Phase 2A (operating in High Seas) to Phase 2B (operating in Libyan Territorial Waters) due to the volatile government situation in Libya, where the building of a ‘Government of National Accord’ (GNA) is still under way. The report presses the responsible EU bodies to help speed up the process of forming a ‘reliable’ government in Libya that in return is expected to ‘invite’ EU forces to operate within their Territorial Waters (Phase 2B) and later even give permission to extend the EU military operations onshore (phase 3). In the last month there have been half a dozen high level meetings between EU and US officials (including with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome) as it is claimed by the US military that up to 5,000 Islamic State fighters have taken control over parts of the Libyan coast. Serious pressure has been placed on Libya’s major power groupings to speed up the completion of the GNA and ‘invite’ Western forces. A GNA invitation was expected in January. Libyan press has reported that US, UK and French special forces have already arrived (there is no public admission by the Western countries). Within Europe, Italy and the UK have been the driving forces behind the military intervention”.[2]

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In the report, Admiral Credendino declares that “[i]rregular migration across the Mediterranean Sea is continuing at a significant rate, with over 929,000 migrants arriving in Europe this year. However, since September [2015] we have seen two significant changes in the flow. Firstly there has been a reduction in the proportion of migrants using the central Mediterranean route as opposed to the eastern route. Prior to the start of the operation there was an even split between the people using the central route and the eastern route, whereas now 16% migrants use the central route, with almost 83% of migrants using the eastern route. Secondly, since September, for the first time in 3 years, we have seen a 9% reduction in the migrant flow using the central route. This is an encouraging decrease in the flow and should continue to be driven down through EUNAVFOR MED’s continued efforts. In October [2015], we successfully transitioned to phase 2A (High Seas), therefore for the first time having an effect on the smuggler and traffickers’ business model. For the autumn surge I had 16 assets (ships and air assets) under my command which were used to successfully provide a higher degree of deterrence against the smuggler and traffickers’ activities in international waters. Since the start of the operation, our actions have contributed to the arrest of 46 suspected smugglers and the disposal of 67 boats. Due to the effectiveness of phase 2A (High Seas), smugglers can no longer operate with impunity in international waters. They have to stay within Libyan Territorial Waters, as they otherwise would be apprehended by EUNAVFOR Med operation SOPHIA assets. My outreach activities have successfully contributed to an improved understanding and acceptance of the operation within the International Community. Since the start of the mission, I have met with very senior representatives from 6 different countries, 9 different EU organisations, 14 different international organisations, including the United Nations, the International Organisation for Migration, the ICRC and both the African Union and Arab League. During this reporting period I have consolidated my relationships with key interlocutors and I have seen a demonstrable improvement in their view of the operation. Moving forward, from a military perspective, I am ready to move to phase 2B in Libyan Territorial Waters, but there are a number of political and legal challenges that must be addressed before I can recommend such a transition. These include the legal finish in terms of our powers to apprehend suspected smugglers in Territorial Waters and who will prosecute any suspected smugglers detained there. We will also need to cooperate with and deconflict our activities with those of any other international missions that might operate within Libya once a Government of National Accord has been established. Critical to our exit strategy is a capable and well-resourced Libyan Coastguard who can protect their own borders and therefore prevent irregular migration taking place from their shores. Indeed, through the capability and capacity building of the Libyan Navy and Coastguard we will be able to give the Libyan authorities something in exchange for their cooperation in tackling the irregular migration issue. This collaboration could represent one of the elements of the EU comprehensive approach to help secure their invitation to operate inside their territory during Phase 2 activities. Moreover, training together during phase 2 could also be a key enabler to build confidence and facilitate the conduct of Phase 3 operations jointly with the Libyan authorities. Also, to avoid coordination problems within the AOO and prevent the risk of incidents, it is highly desirable that one single mission should be assigned the training task of the Libyan Navy and Coast Guard. In my view, EUNAVFOR MED could have an important role to play in this domain. This would of course, should the Member States agree to it, imply an amendment to the OPLAN. In conclusion, while still much needs to be done to disrupt the smugglers’ business model, EUNAVFOR MED has nonetheless achieved significant results in its first 6 months of its life. In this respect the main message to the International Community is that the EU is capable of launching a military operation in record time, displaying a strong resolve and remarkable unity of intent, as demonstrated by the 22 Member States participating in the operation “.[3]

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Rather than offering a lasting solution to the current migrant crisis, the EU’s reaction called Operation Sophia primarily appears to be an exercise in containment, aimed at the ruthless individuals and gangs who have built up a viable “business model” to exploit desperate people fleeing either war and/or economic deprivation and ruin. The EU is now apparently cooperating closely with the U.S. in order to stem the flow yet unwilling to put a stop to the basically imperialist military and economic policies at the very root of the problem.

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In fact, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union constituted by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg released a press statement last year, which explained the rationale behind the whole operation: “[t]he EU naval operation against human smugglers in the Mediterranean will be able to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking on the high seas, in line with international law. The Political and Security Committee also agreed that EU NAVFOR Med should be renamed “Sophia” after the name given to the baby born on the ship of the operation which rescued her mother on 22 August 2015 off the coast of Libya. The new name of the operation will be formally adopted by the Council at the earliest opportunity. The decision by the Political and Security Committee to launch the first step of phase 2 of the operation follows an assessment by the Council on 14 September that the conditions to move to this stage have been met. The Operation Commander Rear Admiral Credendino has judged the transition possible as member states provided the assets needed for this more active phase in the force generation conference of 16 September 2015 . . . The operation is aimed at disrupting the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean and to prevent the further loss of life at sea. It is part of a wider EU comprehensive approach to migration, tackling both the symptoms and root causes such as conflict, poverty, climate change and persecution”.[4]

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[1] “EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA” – Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015″ WikiLeaks (17 Feb 2016). https://wikileaks.org/eu-military-refugees/.

[2] EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA” – Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015″.

[3] “Executive Summary. EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015” WikiLeaks release: (17 Feb 2016), pp. 3-4. https://wikileaks.org/eu-military-refugees/EEAS/EEAS-2016-126.pdf.

[4] “EUNAVFOR Med – EU agrees to start the active phase of the operation against human smugglers and to rename it ‘Operation Sophia'” Presidency of the Council of the European Union (28 September 2015). http://www.eu2015lu.eu/en/actualites/communiques/2015/09/29-eunavfor-med/index.html..

Noam Chomsky on Trump

‘Noam Chomsky weighed in on U.S. presidential politics in a speech Saturday at The New School in New York. In addressing a question about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Chomsky assessed the political landscape: “Today’s Democrats are what used to be called moderate Republicans. The Republicans have just drifted off the spectrum. They’re so committed to extreme wealth and power that they cannot get votes … So what has happened is that they’ve mobilized sectors of the population that have been around for a long time. … Trump may be comic relief, but it’s not that different from the mainstream, which I think is more important.” Published on Sep 22, 2015’.

Het grote conflict gaat over mensbeelden

Jan Blommaert: “Een korte reflectie op de rampenzomer van 2015. Het mensbeeld dat ik hier centraal stel vind je vanaf de radicale Verlichting bij zowat elke gelijkheidsdenker, en dus ook (en wellicht in de meest heldere formulering) bij Marx. Het is ook het mensbeeld van de antislavernij beweging, van de vakbonden en van zowat alle echte bevrijdings- en emancipatiebewegingen”. (29 augustus 2015).