SYRIA – MATERIAL EVIDENCE

SYRIA_CIVILWAR

Syria

The civil war in Syria is a conflict that the country cannot solve since 2011. A conflict that nearly caused a military intervention of the world community. Who “benefits” from this war? What is happening in Syria now? The events in Syria are another episode of the Arab Spring; but here it has turned the cities into ruins with a horrific number of victims and divided the society different, opposing groups. By visiting the exhibition, where each photo is a frozen reality of human misery, we can learn to understand and even experience the horror of the civil war in Syria.

SYRIA, A “NEW” LIBYA WITH VERY LITTLE TIME LEFT?

22libya-full-bleed-videoSixteenByNine3000                   Fotograph courtesy of the New York Times

 

There could be no more apt image to describe Libyan politics today than the prime minister himself, the beleaguered Mr Ali Zeidan, being kidnapped on Tuesday morning by a militia notionally allied to his own government. When he was released several hours later, he noted, with marvellous understatement, that “there are many things that need dealing with”. Indeed there are.

For one thing, Mr Zeidan’s was not the first abduction of the week. That came courtesy of American special forces, who strolled into Tripoli on Saturday to pick up Abu Anas al-Liby, a senior member of al‑Qaeda wanted for the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Uganda. The Americans then made life immeasurably harder for the Libyan government by insisting that it had known about the raid. The predictable result was uproar.

But it’s no surprise that the US felt the need to step in. Libyan forces were neither able to prevent the 2011 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, nor arrest anyone afterwards. If the US had simply put in an extradition request, the prospect of al-Liby being picked up or ever facing trial would have been vanishingly small.

In truth, the prime minister’s kidnapping and the US raid are both no more than symptoms of something that has been obvious for over a year: Libya’s post-Gaddafi state lacks the firepower to impose its will on an increasingly lawless country. The Italian consulate in Benghazi was attacked in January, the French embassy in April, the EU ambassador’s convoy in August, and Russia’s embassy last week. And those are just the foreign targets.

This is about much more than terrorist violence. The state in Libya, which Colonel Gaddafi eviscerated for his own despotic ends, is now being consumed by the same rebel groups that brought it into life back in 2011. Performing the most basic tasks of administration, such as making arrests or monitoring borders, can require a negotiation between the government and whichever militias happen to have accumulated enough guns in that particular area. It’s not just that the enfeebled police and army won’t take them on for fear of losing. It’s also that the state has decided to outsource these functions to its tormentors. Both the prime minister’s kidnapping and the attack in Benghazi were perpetrated by groups that have worked with the government and its ministries.

Why are militias challenging the government in the first place? There’s no simple answer, because there is a dizzying variety of groups with guns. Some are Islamist, others secular and nationalist. Some are formed around particular cities or provinces. Others formed in a jumbled way during the 2011 uprising, and claim a sort of Jacobin revolutionary legitimacy against what they see as a government tainted by corrupt, pro-Western stooges.

In March, a coalition of militias, with the typically self-important title of the Supreme Security Council, laid siege to the ministries of justice and foreign affairs for two weeks, insisting that parliament sign a wide-ranging law that would ban Gaddafi-era officials from serving in government. Remarkably, parliament capitulated. It had essentially been coerced into legislating at the barrel of a gun. The speaker of parliament himself was forced to resign.

Outside of Tripoli, the problem is no better. For the past two months, Libyan oil exports have plummeted to a fifth of their Gaddafi-era peak, after guards at eastern oil facilities and ports went on strike. Part of that dispute was a demand that eastern Libya, which chafes at Tripoli’s domination, be given more autonomy.

Wars, once won, tend to be forgotten. This was the fate of Afghanistan in the years after 2001, Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011. But Libya’s problems will not stay within its borders. Adding to all of these domestic concerns is the massive flow of arms across Libya’s long, porous borders. Libyan weapons, looted from Gaddafi’s armouries, have been smuggled across the region, turning up in places as diverse as Mali, the Sinai, Gaza and Syria. According to one estimate, around 3,000 shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles – capable of bringing down civilian airliners – remain missing.

The dilemma is clear: Libya’s government is too weak to fix these problems itself, but unilateral American or European steps – or assistance that is too public – risks tainting the government further in the eyes of Islamists and nationalists. A careful balance has to be struck. This government’s authority has been eroding for over a year, and it has now suffered the most grievous blow yet. Unless Mr Zeidan shows he can check the power of militias, he risks a continued slide into irrelevance.

The Attack on the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya

The American mission in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked twice on the night of Sept. 11, 2012. Below, the events that evening that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans according to the latest information available.
 
The American mission in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked twice on the night of Sept. 11, 2012. Below, the events that evening that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans according to the latest information available.
Sept. 11, 9:30 p.m. Benghazi time

Militants, firing guns and rocket-propelled grenades, attack the main compound, moving on multiple entrances at once. The main entrance is protected by three armed and four unarmed Libyan guards. No more than seven Americans are in the compound, including three civilians and four who have guns. Mr. Stevens is alone in the main building, according to guards interviewed later. The militants enter the compound, backed by truck-mounted artillery.

Libya Envoy’s Killing Was a Terrorist Attack, the White House Says

WASHINGTON — The White House is now calling the assault on the American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, a “terrorist attack.”

“It is self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack,” the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday. “Our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials.”

Until now, White House officials have not used that language in describing the assault. But with the election less than two months away and President Obama’s record on national security a campaign issue, they have come under criticism from Republican lawmakers who say the administration is playing down a threat for which it was unprepared.

Mr. Carney offered the new assessment in response to a question about remarks by Matthew G. Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, who told a Congressional committee Wednesday that J. Christopher Stevens, the United States ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans had died “in the course of a terrorist attack.”

Asked if the president drew a connection between the Libyan attack, which occurred on Sept. 11, and the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon 11 years before, Mr. Carney said, “The attack occurred on Sept 11, 2012, so we use the same calendar at the White House as you do.”

In a highly charged political atmosphere, the mere use of the term “terrorist” is loaded, not least, as one administration official acknowledged privately, because the phrase conjures up an image of America under attack, something the White House wants to avoid.

Beyond that, different government agencies have different definitions for what defines terrorism, said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism expert at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan research group.

The classic definition, Mr. Fishman said, “is an attack by a nonstate group on noncombatants with the intent to intimidate people.” He said that another reason the administration was shying from using that term is because “they really didn’t know who did it.”

And the president, campaigning in Florida on Thursday, did not use the word terrorism when asked about the attacks.

Mr. Carney maintained on Thursday that Obama administration officials still were not calling the attack preplanned.

“According to the best information we have now, we believe it was an opportunistic attack on our mission in Benghazi,” he said. “It appears that some well-armed militants seized on that attack as the events unfolded that evening. We do not have any specific intelligence that there was significant advance planning or coordination for this attack.”Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said earlier in the week that there had been no intelligence warnings that an attack was imminent.

Mrs. Clinton said that F.B.I. investigators had arrived in Tripoli and that the United States, with the Libyan authorities, would find those responsible. She did not discuss any potential ties to Al Qaeda, but blamed extremists opposed to the democratic changes in places like Libya, Tunisia and Egypt for the violence and protests around the region generally.

Mrs. Clinton announced the creation of a panel to investigate the attack. The panel, called an Accountability Review Board, will be led by Thomas R. Pickering, a veteran diplomat and former under secretary of state. The board is authorized by a 1986 law intended to strengthen security at United States diplomatic missions.

“We are concerned first and foremost with our own people and facilities,” Mrs. Clinton said in an appearance at the State Department with the Indonesian foreign minister. “But we are concerned about the internal security in these countries, because ultimately, that puts at risk the men, women and children of these societies on a daily ongoing basis if actions are not taken to try to restore security and civil order.”

No regime change in Syria? Hmmm keep your foot far from the trap…

peace_dream_by_raw75

peace_dream_by_raw75

Bizarre Kerry Claim About US Not Seeking Regime Change in Syria

Kerry made the comment during his Tuesday Moscow visit – at Washington’s request. 
Both countries are unable to square the circle on their differing views on Syria, despite their diplomatic rhetoric suggesting otherwise.
Two major issues separate both sides. Washington won’t agree to recognize certain indisputable terrorist groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate, responsible for gruesome atrocities against civilians. 
Russia justifiably maintains they all must be called what they are, nations worldwide united against them.
The second sticking point is over who should lead Syria, including its president and majority parliamentarians. Washington wants a pro-Western puppet of its choosing, supported by like minded legislators. Russia insists it’s up to Syrians alone – with clear core international law backing.
No nation may interfere in the internal affairs of any others for any reason except self-defense if attacked – even then only if Security Council authorized.
Syria threatens no one, not its neighbors, Washington or any other Western states. No Security Council resolution or Damascus permission authorized Washington and coalition allies to bomb Syrian territory and invade with small numbers of combat troops – on the phony pretext of combating ISIS.  
Assad is fighting to keep what the vast majority of Syrians want, cherish and deserve – their sovereign independence, putting them at odds with US imperial objectives.
Syria is Obama’s war, launched in March 2011, ongoing for nearly five years, along with other US imperial wars fully responsible for the severest refugee crisis since WW II – besides the millions of corpses and dismembered bodies, a stark testimony to US barbarity.
America wants its will imposed everywhere. Nations unwilling to obey its rules risk being ravaged and destroyed by its killing machine – complicit with imperial partners.
Kerry came to Moscow for another try at getting Putin to bend to America’s will, a futile mission. 
Russia’s leader wants all conflicts resolved diplomatically. He’s fundamentally anti-war, involved in Syria to combat the scourge of terrorism, not for territorial or any other gains.
Washington escalated its military operations in Syria, exclusively bombing infrastructure and government targets along with coalition allies – supporting, not opposing ISIS.
All claims otherwise are Big Lies. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mikdad blasted US-led intervention in his country, saying:
“We doubt (it’s) sincere in their fight against terrorism. They do not coordinate their actions with the Syrian Army.” 
“This makes those forces illegal in Syria’s territory. One cannot say they are fighting terrorism. (It) must be a practical task, not this advertising gig that the West is engaged in.”
Mikdad blasted Saudi Arabia for forming a pro-ISIS bloc, comprised of terrorists wanting Assad forcibly ousted. 
“Syria does not negotiate with terrorists,” Mikdad stressed. The only place we meet them is (on) the battlefield. He welcomed support from any groups dedicated to combating ISIS and other terrorist groups – at the same time praising Russia for achieving “significant successes.”
Russia’s objectives are polar opposite Washington’s – supporting nation-state sovereignty, international law and world peace.
A Final Comment
Iraqi parliamentarians want Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to request Russian aid in combating ISIS. Washington is going all-out to prevent it. 
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in Baghdad to warn him against accepting Putin’s help. He’s stopped short of asking so far – for how long remains to be seen. Iraq has no chance to defeat its scourge without it.
US-led NATO war on Libya ravaged and destroyed the country, creating a continuing cauldron of violence in a divided country.
The West recognizes the Tobruk-based regime, led Abdullah al-Thani. A rival power headed by Prime Minister Khalifa al-Ghawi operates from Tripoli, the nation’s capital.
Days earlier, both sides agreed to a UN-brokered deal to form a unity government based in Tripoli. Earlier diplomatic efforts failed – perhaps this one as well.
General Khalifa Hafter was involved in US-led NATO’s war to oust Muammar Gaddafi. He’s now al-Thani’s armed forces commander.
On Friday, he said “(w)e welcome support from Russia in fighting terrorism.” ISIS has a foothold in Libya. Hafter commented after meeting with UNSMIL (UN peacekeeping) head Martin Kobler.
“(E)very day we wait, that you wait, is a gain for Daesh in this country,” said Kobler. “(I) am very glad to see that the general agrees on the urgency of the matter.”
Whether Russia will be asked to help (and if Putin will agree) remains to be seen. Washington will exert extreme pressure to prevent it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 
 

Ukraine: Fascist Dictatorship, Deadbeat Borrower

 
Ukraine: Fascist Dictatorship, Deadbeat Borrower

Kiev’s US-installed, Nazi-infested putschist regime represents the reemergence of fascism in Europe’s heartland for the first time since WW II.

It’s run by a criminal gang of miscreants, headed by a billionaire oligarch crook and rogue prime minister. Both belong in prison, not high office.
Its regime imposed a moratorium on repaying its $3 billion eurobond debt obligation to Russia. Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk announced it at a Friday cabinet meeting – duplicitously saying:
“Considering that Russia has refused, despite our efforts, to sign an agreement on restructuring and to accept our proposals, the cabinet is imposing a moratorium on payment of the Russian debt worth $3 billion. (It’s halted) until we make restructuring proposals or a relevant court decision is made.”
Russian upper house Federation Council International Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev blasted Kiev’s decision, saying:
“According to IMF rules, a moratorium by the Ukrainian government on the $3 billion debt repayment to Russia (constitutes) a declaration of Ukraine’s default.”
On Wednesday, the IMF declared Ukraine’s Russian debt as official and sovereign, no restructuring justified.
Kiev also halted debt repayments owed Russian banks. “The government is imposing a moratorium on the $507 million debt payment to Russian banks of two Ukrainian companies Yuzhnoe and Ukravtodor. From today all payments are suspended,” Yatsenyuk blustered.
Yesterday, Ukraine’s finance ministry headed by US transplant Natalya Yaresko, a shady figure with a disreputable background, ludicrously said Kiev “remains committed to negotiating in good faith.”
Russia offered $1 billion annual repayment terms of what it’s owed for the next three years – instead of all at once as originally stipulated. It wasn’t accepted.
Putin instructed his Finance Ministry to file a lawsuit for repayment if Kiev doesn’t fulfill its financial obligation within 10 days of the December 20 deadline.
Russia bought $3 billion worth of Ukrainian bonds from the democratically elected Yanukovich government. Putschists running the regime intend to default – with full US support and encouragement.
Economist Michael Hudson explained the IMF changed its rules for Ukraine. Earlier this month, “it made a radical decision to dismantle the condition that had integrated the global financial system for the past half century,” he explained.
Nations in financial arrears to others can’t qualify for an agency loan. Ukrainian fascists are getting special treatment afforded no other countries. For sure, US dirty hands are involved.
“(T)he IMF joined the New Cold War,” said Hudson – potentially heading toward turning red hot. The agency agreed to loan money to a financial deadbeat, changing its longstanding rules – Kiev unable or unwilling to honor its debt obligations.
Illegitimate oligarch president Petro Poroshenko wants IMF funding “to step up his nation’s civil war with the Russian-speaking population in” Southeastern Donbass, Hudson explained.
The US-controlled IMF is in bed with Europe’s most extremist regime – run by fascist kleptocrats, stealing the nation blind for their own self-enrichment, waging war on their own people, wanting only to live free under democratic governance.
Hudson quoted Kiev saying it “only enforce(s) debts owed in US dollars to US allies” – Washington’s latest scheme to punish nations not subservient to its dollar hegemony.
Russia, China and other countries are increasingly freeing themselves from this bondage. According to Hudson:
“The mirror-image response would be for the new Asian Development Bank to announce that countries that joined the ruble-yuan area did not have to pay US dollar or euro-denominated debts. That is implicitly where the IMF’s break is leading.”
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 
 

Turkey Dumping Refugees It Was Bribed to Accept

 
Turkey Dumping Refugees It Was Bribed to Accept
by Stephen Lendman
Turkey is a valued NATO member, a close US ally – a fascist police led by the Erdogan crime family, directly involved in Obama’s regional wars of aggression.
It was caught red-handed smuggling heavy and other weapons to ISIS and other terrorists in Syria along with supplying them with deadly sarin and other toxic agents to kill civilians, then wrongfully blame incidents on Assad.
Last month, the EU bribed Turkey with 3 billion euros and promised help to join the bloc in return for accepting refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries its member states don’t want.
EU leaders called the deal a key way to stem the tide of asylum-seekers. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said it marked a new beginning in Ankara/Brussels relations.
Given Turkey’s horrific human rights record and unsavory history, especially under Erdogan, distrust remains high.
Agreement terms call for Ankara to increase Aegean Sea patrols in areas bordering Greece and Bulgaria, crack down on human smuggling gangs, and accept refugees turned away by EU countries.
European Council President Donald Tusk said EU officials will closely monitor Turkey’s implementation of terms reached. Davutoglu wouldn’t guarantee a slowdown in the human flood seeking safe havens in Europe, Germany the most favored destination.
Turkey is the main crossing point for Syrian and other regional refugees. It’s a short distance by sea to Greece. This year, well over 700,000 asylum seekers arrived in EU countries from Turkey, according to the International Organization of Migration.
A new Amnesty International (AI) report titled “Europe’s Gatekeeper” accuses Turkey of arresting, beating, painfully shackling and otherwise abusing refugees in isolated detention centers, many then deported back to war-torn Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, their homeland countries.
AI said EU nations are “in danger of being complicit in serious human rights violations against refugees and asylum-seekers.”
They’re rounded up in large numbers, bused over 1,000km to desolate locations best described as concentration camps, grossly mistreated and held incommunicado – many then forcibly deported back from where they came.
According to AI’s Europe and Central Asia director John Dalhuisen, “(w)e have documented the arbitrary detention of some of the most vulnerable people on Turkish soil.” 
“Pressuring refugees and asylum-seekers to return to countries like Syria and Iraq is not only unconscionable, but it’s also in direct breach of international law.”
“By engaging Turkey as a gatekeeper for Europe in the refugee crisis, the EU is in danger of ignoring and now encouraging serious human rights violations. EU-Turkey migration-related cooperation should cease until such violations are investigated and ended.”
Turkey hosts the world’s largest refugee population, including about 2.2 million Syrians and 230,000 desperate people from other regional countries.
Until last September, treatment didn’t include brutalizing lawless detentions and forced deportations. Terms of the EU deal require Turkey to treat refugees humanely.
Instead, its funds are used to brutalize and expel vulnerable people deserving much better. All refugees AI representatives interviewed said they were forcibly detained, taken to Turkey’s western provinces, including Edirne and Mugla, before transported to desolate southern or eastern outposts.
They’re forcibly detained for weeks and denied outside contacts, including with lawyers and family members. Their only means of communication is through concealed cell phones.
Cases of horrific treatment included a 40-year-old Syrian man, isolated for seven days, his hands and feet painfully shackled.
“When they put a chain over your hands and legs, you feel like a slave, like you are not a human being,” he said. For many, this type horrific treatment is followed by pressure to sign a document in Turkish refugees don’t understand, then forced deportation.
Detainees said the only way they can leave detention is agreeing to return home. A three-year-old child’s fingerprints were used as evidence of his consent.
AI said it’s unknown how many refugees are being forcibly deported, but it believes it’s many, including to Afghanistan.
According to Dalhuisen, “(t)here is a total lack of transparency surrounding these cases and the real number of arbitrary detentions and unlawful deportations carried out by the Turkish authorities is unknown.” 
“This new practice must be investigated immediately to protect all refugees and asylum-seekers in Turkey.” 
So far, EU officials have done nothing to intervene responsibly. They’re complicit with Turkey and Washington – their wars causing the human flood in the first place.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 
 

Obama’s Demagogic Double Talk on Countering Terrorism

 
Obama’s Demagogic Double Talk on Countering Terrorism
by Stephen Lendman
On Thursday, Putin and Obama spoke on major world issues. What a difference between them! 
Russia’s leader held his highly anticipated annual Moscow marathon Q & A with reporters – an exercise in candor and straightforwardness like all his remarks. 
It’s why a record number of Russian and foreign journalists came to hear him. His preeminence on the world stage is indisputable – making Obama look buffoon-like in comparison.
The US president disgraces the office he holds. He’s a war criminal multiple times over, a serial liar, a moral coward, his policies polar opposite his duplicitous rhetoric.
He addressed a National Counterterrorism Center briefing in the White House Situation Room, saying “(a)s president and commander-in-chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people.”
They’ve never been less safe since the republic’s founding. US policies under both parties feature endless wars of aggression, neoliberal harshness impoverishing growing millions, responsible for a protracted Main Street Depression, and horrific police state violations of fundamental human and civil rights.
America was never beautiful. Now it’s unfit and unsafe to live in – a third world country for most of its citizens, a sham democracy, waging permanent wars on humanity at home and abroad.
Obama continued hyping phantom terrorist threats, focusing on the state-sponsored Paris and San Bernardino false flags.
He lied claiming since 9/11 (the mother of all false flags), “we’ve taken extraordinary steps to strengthen our homeland security – our borders, our ports, our airports, our aviation security, including enhanced watch lists and screening.”
Post-9/11, America was transformed into a police state. Obama continued what George Bush began with perhaps much more on the way.
Things are fast heading for full-blown tyranny, rendering remaining constitutional protections null and void, perhaps under martial law, despite nothing warranting extreme measures – convincing people they’re safer  without freedoms earlier generations cherished.
They’re disappearing in plain sight. The only terrorism Americans need fear is state-sponsored. Alleged plots Obama claimed were foiled or prevented were entirely fabricated – innocent victims wrongfully imprisoned.
“(T)he mission to protect our homeland (continues) on three main fronts,” Obama blustered.
“First, we’re…hitting ISIL harder than ever in Syria and Iraq. We are taking out their leaders. Our partners on the ground are fighting to push ISIL back, and ISIL has been losing territory.”
Fact: As explained many previous times, ISIS and other terrorist groups are US creations, used as imperial foot soldiers, supported to wage war where they’re deployed – notably in Syria and Iraq.
Fact: US military forces killed no terrorist leaders, unless perhaps by mistake.
Fact: America’s so-called “partners on the ground” include ISIS, Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups. Syrian forces are the only ones combating this scourge along with vital Russian air power.
“Second, we continue to do everything in our power to prevent terrorists from getting into the United States,” Obama trumpeted.
Fact: There is no evidence of a single, independently verifiable terrorist attack on US soil in at least the last generation or two, perhaps never.
Fact: Potential terrorists invading America are phantoms. They don’t exist. The risk of any US citizen or resident being harmed by a terrorist attack is virtually zero. An uninformed, indifferent public is easy to convince otherwise.
Additional security measures Obama said are being implemented violate constitutional protections – on top of all the post-9/11 harm already done.
“Third, we’re stepping up our efforts to prevent (terrorist) attacks here at home,” according to Obama. Why when no threats exist!
Freedom in America is on a fast-track toward disappearing altogether. A nation waging permanent wars against invented enemies for fabricated reasons threatens humanity’s survival – given the power of today’s super-weapons.
America’s rage for unchallenged dominance risks ending life on earth.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 
 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Putin’s Annual Tour de Force Press Conference

 

During the Great Depression and WW II, Franklin Roosevelt gave 30 evening radio addresses, known as fireside chats – the first time a US president communicated directly with ordinary Americans, discussing major issues of the time.

His high popularity derived from his communication skills, along with vital New Deal social programs fast disappearing today.
In December 1987, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev went out of his way to mingle briefly with ordinary Americans in Washington – after morning Soviet embassy business, including with Vice President GHW Bush.
En route to the White House to meet with Ronald Reagan, his motorcade stopped. He startled onlookers by exiting his car and began pressing the flesh. One woman marveled, saying: “The guy is a PR genius.” 
Today he’s an aging former world leader with important geopolitical thoughts when expressing them publicly.
Perhaps no other world leader currently communicates more effectively with the Russian and foreign press through unscripted annual marathon Q & A sessions than Vladimir Putin – an eagerly anticipated event because of his candor, straight talk, no double talk, demagoguery and deception like Obama.
He skipped his usual opening statement, jumped right into taking and answering questions in his customary straightforward way.
He welcomed Donald Trump’s recent statement, urging cooperative relations with Russia. He doesn’t rule out the possibility of a Saudi/US conspiracy to lower the oil price to hurt the economies of Russia, Iran and Venezuela.
“(T)hey’re might be a struggle of traditional producers of crude oil and shale oil,” he said. “The main thing for us is the overall level of prices, but if the low price is kept for too long, the companies will stop investing in new deposits.”
He urged unity among nations to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups. He called Turkey’s downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber in Syrian airspace “an enemy act…Would it not have been easier just to pick up the phone,” he stressed.
He minced no words, saying “(t)here is a problem with the Turkish leadership,” pointing fingers at Erdogan, a tinpot despot.
“This was a stab in the back,” he said. “On an inter-state level, I do not see the prospect for improving relations.” Turkey constantly violated Syrian airspace before. “Let them try now,” Putin said. Russian aircraft and S-400 defense systems control Syrian skies.
He rejected US-led international calls to oust Assad, stressing Syrians alone have the right to decide who’ll “govern them and under what standards and rules.”
He intends to keep combating terrorism in Syria as long as Russian airpower is needed.
He declined to comment on the US presidential campaign, saying only “(w)hoever (is elected), we are ready and we want to develop our relations with the United States. We are going to work with any president the American people vote for.”
A record 1,390 journalists attended Putin’s 11th annual tour de force marathon. Last year’s yearend session took place against the backdrop of conflict in Ukraine and souring East/West relations.
This year it’s Syria and combating the scourge of terrorism. The event lasted slightly over three hours, answering numerous questions from dozens of Russian and foreign journalists.
Despite economic hard times, early November polling data showed his approval rating at an all-time 89.9% high – double what Obama scored in a recent December poll.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 
 

US Phony War on ISIS Continues

 

US policy continues supporting the scourge it claims to oppose – directly aiding ISIS and other takfiri terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq, now getting a foothold in Libya and Central Asia.

Obama’s claims otherwise are a Big Lie. Since America supported Mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan (today’s Taliban) against Soviet Russia, it spent countless billions of dollars recruiting, training, arming, funding and directing terrorist elements, used as proxy imperial foot soldiers where they’re deployed.
Ignore high-minded administration and Pentagon rhetoric. Nothing suggests US policy changed – nothing interfering with its longterm goal.
It wants all independent governments replaced with US-controlled vassal states – especially Russia, China and Iran, no matter the cost in human lives and misery.
Supportive major media maintain the grand deception, suppressing rogue state policies demanding daily headlines and calls for responsible officials to be prosecuted for high crimes too grave to ignore.
Instead, they air video footage of Russia’s anti-terrorism campaign, pretending strikes were carried out by US warplanes – where conducted, strictly avoiding ISIS and other takfiri targets unlike Moscow’s commitment to destroy them.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said Moscow invited foreign journalists to view its Latakia, Syria operations firsthand.
“I have to stress that no-one has ever heard of the reporters’ press-tours to the (US-led) anti-ISIS coalition’s bases…(I)nternational TV channels are often using of the footage of Russian airstrikes to illustrate the airstrikes by the anti-ISIS coalition,” Konashenkov explained.
He politely stopped short of accusing them of willfully deceiving their viewers. Last month, the US Public Broadcasting News Hour used Russian aerial strike footage, claiming they were US airstrikes, deliberately lying to viewers.
Pentagon claims about destroying ISIS targets, including trucks carrying stolen oil, are willful deception. No evidence supports them – in contrast with Russia, having photographic evidence of every strike, displaying it publicly.
US cable, broadcast and European television channels operate the same way – maintaining the fiction of US-led war on ISIS, instead of reporting accurately on what’s ongoing.
At the same time, they regurgitate state-sponsored lies, maliciously claiming precision Russian airstrikes against ISIS and other terrorist groups are indiscriminate, killing civilians and phantom “moderates.”
Konashenkov minced no words saying “(t)oday we are the only (military) in the world that has showed how we have hit terrorist targets with specified precision weapons from Russian planes and ships (surface and subsurface).”
The claimed US-led war on ISIS is pure fiction. No evidence supports Pentagon and administration reports. Syrian and Iraqi infrastructure and government targets alone are being struck – supporting, not opposing ISIS.
US intelligence knows their precise locations, including its media operations spreading online propaganda. In over a year of US-led regional airstrikes, not a single media operation was bombed – on the phony pretext of avoiding civilian casualties.
US-led NATO notoriously bombed Belgrade media in 1999, Iraqi media in 1991 and 2003, Libya media in 2011 – along with residential communities and other nonmilitary targets wherever America wages war, inflicting enormous numbers of civilian casualties, disgracefully called “collateral damage.”
US wars since the beginning of the republic killed countless tens of millions of noncombatants – a horrific record of a ruthless rogue state, disdainful of human lives, public welfare and safety.
ISIS-run media operate in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Their locations are well-known, easy to destroy with targeted airstrikes, largely eliminating their propaganda war.
Their operations disseminate radical Islamic ideology worldwide, attracting new recruits. They should be prime targets to eliminate. 
They continue operating with US support, aiding its foot soldier allies, doing nothing to combat their scourge.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 
 

Don’t miss it!

Another Anti-ISIS UN Resolution

 
Anti-ISIS lip service has been around a long time. Until Russia intervened in Syria against its forces and other terrorist groups on September 30, these elements made steady gains. 
Rhetorical Western and regional opposition did nothing to stop their advances. Resolutions declaring UN Member States’ unity in combating ISIS are one thing – commitment entirely another.
Russia alone among major powers is combating its scourge. America, Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, Israel, Canada, Australia, Gulf States and other so-called US coalition partners support what they pretend to oppose.
Security Council resolutions changed nothing on the ground in Syria and Iraq. In August 2014, SC members unanimously adopted Res. 2170 – binding under the UN Charter’s Chapter VII, permitting members to “determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression” and to take military and nonmilitary action to “restore international peace and security.”
The resolution targeted ISIS, Al Qaeda and its affiliate groups.
In February 2015, SC members unanimously adopted Res. 2199 (binding under Chapter VII) to prevent ISIS and other terrorist groups from profiting from trade in oil, antiquities, hostages and other illicit sources of income.
In November 2015, SC members unanimously passed Res. 2249, calling on all Member States “to take all necessary measures” to defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups – “to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security Council.”
On Thursday, Security Council members are scheduled to adopt the first joint US/Russian drafted resolution on combating ISIS. Its purpose is “to circle (the organization) as a separate, most vital terrorist threat.”
It stresses cutting off its funding sources. America heads the SC in December. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will chair the meeting – to be attended by finance ministers of some of the other SC members. Vitaly Churkin will represent Russia.
He said the resolution is binding under Chapter VII, as well as including “several brand new aspects.” Earlier SC resolutions “referred to (ISIS) as one of Al Qaeda’s divisions.”
“Now, the sanctions list is rebranded. The document offers expanded criteria of listing, which makes it possible to impose limitations on any individuals or corporates smudged by relations with” ISIS.
A key objective is “enforcement of the regime to reveal and stop illegal financing of (ISIS) and groups related to it by means of trade of oil, artifacts and other illegal sources.”
“The countries did have respective obligations well before this, but, unfortunately, those obligations have been observed not by all and not always.” 
Henceforth, UN monitoring and sanctioning mechanisms “will be focused clearly on eradication of those developments.”
What’s occurring on the ground and legally binding are world’s apart. Washington, rogue NATO partners, Israel, regional and other allies say one thing and do another.
SC resolutions and other legally binding measures change nothing on the ground. As long as Washington and partnered nations support ISIS and other terrorist groups, Russia alone with Syria, Iraq, Iran and Hezbollah forces will continue combating this scourge alone. 
Moscow is under no illusion otherwise, hard as it keeps trying to enlist other nations to unite responsibly against a universal threat – unable to exist without outside support.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine:
US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 
 

Trump: Unstoppable Republican Aspirant?

 
The latest Monmouth University poll has him way out in front with 41% support – besting his closest rival, Senator Ted Cruz, at 14%, by nearly three-to-one margin.
Most other Republican candidates scored in the low single digits, including party favorite Jeb Bush at 3%. According to Monmouth director Patrick Murray, “(i)t has become abundantly clear that Trump is giving his supporters exactly what they want, even if what he says causes the GOP leadership and many Republican voters to cringe” – including his Islamophobic rants, wanting Muslim immigrants banned from entering America.
Hillary Clinton remains virtually uncontested so far for the Democrat party nomination – besting Bernie Sanders by a 59% – 26% margin, better than two to one.
Demagogic self-promotion, bombast, bravado and arrogance apparently work to Trump’s advantage. Why ordinary Americans would support a billionaire unconcerned about their welfare is hard to explain.
Hillary Clinton is a war goddess, Trump a US warlord. More on this below. He dismisses Ronald Reagan’s so-called 11th Commandment about “not speak(ing) ill of any fellow Republican.”
Last August on ABC’s This Week, he blasted Jeb Bush, saying: “We need a person (in the White House) with a lot of smarts, a lot of cunning, and a lot of energy. And Jeb doesn’t have that.”
On the same program, he denigrated Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (now out of the race), calling his state “really in trouble.”
On December 13, he attacked Ted Cruz, saying he acts like “a little bit of a maniac” in the Senate. He doesn’t have “the right temperament (or) right judgment” to be president.
During Tuesday’s Republican debate, he bashed Bush again, saying “(w)ith (his) attitude, we will never be great again, that I can tell you.”
He may hyperventilate his way to the White House, complete with an endless war agenda. He’s unabashedly pro-war, pro-monied interests, anti-populist and against what matters most to ordinary Americans.
Dirty business as usual will continue on his watch. He favors expanding America’s bloated military budget. He wants US boots on the ground in Middle East war theaters and all-out support for Israel’s killing machine.
On Fox News days earlier, he said Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy as Secretary of State caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
“You look at what she did with Libya, what she did with Syria. Look at Egypt, what happened with Egypt, a total mess,” Trump ranted.
“We don’t back any of our allies…She was truly, if not the, one of the worst Secretaries of State in the history of the country. She talks about me being dangerous. She’s killed hundreds of thousands of people with her stupidity.”
“She was secretary of state. Obama was president…Look at what happened. The Middle East is a total disaster under her. She traveled back and forth, but look at all the problems.” 
“Look at, as an example, Iraq. Total disaster. They didn’t get us in, but they got us out badly. We spend $2 trillion, thousands of lives, wounded warriors all over…”
He ignored America’s bipartisan responsibility for millions of lost lives post-9/11 alone – through endless wars, related violence, diseases, starvation and overall deprivation.
Trump supports more of the same – all-out Middle East war on the pretext of combating ISIS. Last month, he said he’d “bomb those suckers. That’s right. I’d blow up the pipes. I’d blow up the refineries, every single inch. There would be nothing left.”
Trump is part of the problem, not the solution. All US administrations support endless imperial wars for unchallenged global dominance.
Each one in recent decades exceeded the worst of their predecessors, notably post-9/11. 
No Jack Kennedy exists when most needed – a warrior turned peacemaker in office, assassinated for wanting US troops out of Vietnam, abolishing nuclear weapons and rapprochement with Soviet Russia, among other reasons.
Whoever succeeds Obama may exceed his dubious record as America’s most reckless warrior president.
He continues waging endless direct and proxy imperial wars in multiple theaters, risking direct confrontation with Russia, the horrific possibility of nuclear war assuring no winners.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 
 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chavismo Against GM Seed Contamination

 
Chavismo Against GM Seed Contamination
Genetically modified (GM) foods and ingredients are hazardous to human health. In America alone, virtually all processed foods contain them. Consumers don’t know what they’re eating because Congress prohibited labeling. 
The danger is clear and unequivocal. Independent studies show serious potential health problems are linked to their consumption.
They never should have been approved in the first place. They should be banned straightaway, their sales prohibited henceforth.
Instead, US and other consumers are part of an unregulated mass human experiment, the results unknown so far. When available, it’ll be too late to reverse the enormous damage done.
Science has no way to reverse contamination of over two-thirds of arable US farmland, its crops unsafe to eat.
Last year, Russia banned GMOs, urged more organic food production. China banned GMO corn. Dozens of countries require labeling.
In Venezuela, Monsanto and other Ag giants tried circumventing Hugo Chavez’s GM seed ban. A proposed 2013 seed law introduced by a ruling PSUV party member was criticized for allowing back door entry. More on this below.
A revised law entirely banned GM seeds. Chavez prevented the planting of 500,000 acres of Monsanto’s GM corn seeds alone. Venezuelan farmers overwhelming oppose all GM crops.
Article 27 of Venezuela’s Constitution states the following:
“It is the right and duty of each generation to protect and maintain the environment for its own benefit and that of the world of the future.” 
“Everyone has the right, individually and collectively, to enjoy a safe, healthful and ecologically balanced life and environment.” 
“The State shall protect the environment, biological and genetic diversity, ecological processes, national parks and natural monuments, and other areas of particular ecological importance.” 
“The genome of a living being shall not be patentable, and the field shall be regulated by the law relating to the principles of bioethics.” 
“It is a fundamental duty of the State, with the active participation of society, to ensure that the populace develops in a pollution-free environment in which air, water, soil, coasts, climate, the ozone layer and living species receive special protection, in accordance with law.”
At the same time, GM seeds weren’t specifically banned, nor the consumption of GM crops. In June 2013, PSUV National Assembly member Jose Urena introduced new seed legislation, banning transgenic crops – stating none may be used “without the corresponding certification of biological harmlessness issued by the National Seed Institute” – a glaring loophole. 
Unequivocal prohibition is needed, no exceptions allowed. GMOs are too hazardous to human health to permit – in Venezuela or anywhere else.
On June 4, 2015, the Presidential Council on Communes, representing communal councils nationwide, comprised of citizen and government members, approved new seed legislation – for submission to National Assembly members for debate.
It was approved, affirming state authorities will promote sustainable, safe to human health, agriculture. It rejects production, distribution, sale and importation of GM seeds – henceforth banned in Venezuela.
A national seed institution will be created to audit and control seed supply and use – to identify, prevent and punish GM seed violators. 
Peasant seed is protected, the result of natural cross-breeding, long part of Venezuelan culture. Post-December 6 elections, won by opposition party members, everything is uncertain going forward.
Chavismo faces its greatest challenge. Chavistas intend going all-out to protect hard-won gains, too vital to lose – including safe food to eat, free from GM contamination.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 
 

MILITARY TIMES – Russia has big ambitions, growing capabilities

MilitaryTimes2

Russia has big ambitions,
growing capabilities
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Early on the morning of Sept. 30, a Russian three-star general approached the American embassy in Baghdad, walked past a wall of well-armed Marines, to deliver face-to-face a diplomatic demarche to the United States. His statement was blunt: The Russia military would begin air strikes in neighboring Syria within the hour — and the American military should clear the area immediately.

It was a bout of brinksmanship between two nuclear-armed giants that the world has not seen in decades, and it has revived Cold War levels of suspicion, antagonism and gamesmanship.

With the launch of airstrikes in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated a proxy war with the U.S., putting those nation’s powerful militaries in support of opposing sides of the multipolar conflict. And it’s a huge gamble for Moscow, experts say. “This is really quite difficult for them. It’s logistically complex. The Russians don’t have much in the way of long-range power projection capability,” said Mark Galeotti, a Russian security expert at New York University.

Moscow’s military campaign in Syria is relying on supply lines that require air corridors through both Iranian and Iraqi air space. The only alternatives are naval supply lines running from Crimea, requiring a passage of up to 10 days round-trip. How long that can be sustained is unclear.

That and other questions about Russian military capabilities and objectives are taking center stage as Putin shows a relentless willingness to use military force in a heavy-handed foreign policy aimed at restoring his nation’s stature as a world power. In that quest, he has raised the specter of resurgent Russian military might — from Ukraine to the Baltics, from Syria to the broader Middle East.

Russia’s increasingly aggressive posture has sparked a sweeping review among U.S. defense strategists of America’s military policies and contingency plans in the event of a conflict with the former Soviet state. Indeed, the Pentagon’s senior leaders are asking questions that have been set aside for more than 20 years:

How much are the Russians truly capable of?
Where precisely might a conflict with Russia occur?
What would a war with Russia look like today?

Make no mistake: Experts agree that the U.S. military’s globe-spanning force would clobber the Russian military in any toe-to-toe conventional fight. But modern wars are not toe-to-toe conventional fights; geography, politics and terrain inevitably give one side an advantage.

Today, the U.S. spends nearly 10 times more than Russia on national defense. The U.S. operates 10 aircraft carriers; Russia has just one. And the U.S. military maintains a broad technological edge and a vastly superior ability to project power around the world.

Russia remains weak, according to many traditional criteria. But it is now developing some key technologies, new fighting tactics and a brazen geopolitical strategy that is aggressively undermining America’s 25-year claim to being the only truly global superpower. The result: Russia is unexpectedly re-emerging as America’s chief military rival.

As U.S. officials watch that unfold, they are “clearly motivated by concerns that at least locally, Russia has the potential to generate superior forces,” said David Ochmanek, a former Pentagon official who is now a defense analyst at the RAND Corp. And looming over the entire U.S.-Russian relationship are their nuclear arsenals. Russia has preserved, even modernized, its own “triad” with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, a large fleet of long-range strike aircraft and increasingly sophisticated nuclear-armed submarines.

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“The Russian defense industry is being rebuilt from ruins,” said Vadim Kozyulin, a military expert at the Moscow-based PIR Center, a think tank. “The military balance can only be ensured by Russia’s nuclear might, which isn’t as expensive to maintain as many people think.”

But while Russia’s conventional forces are less impressive than its nuclear forces, there are specific conventional areas where the Russians excel — among them aircraft, air defenses, submarines, and electronic warfare.

The Soviet-era weapons design bureaus remain prominent internationally. Russia’s aerospace industry, for example, has benefited greatly from international exports to non-Western nations, which go to Russia to buy effective fighter jets that are cheaper than their Western variants. China today spends more on defense annually than Russia, but still imports platforms and advanced weaponry from Russia.

Attempting a side-by-side comparisons of the U.S. and Russian militaries is a bit like comparing apples to oranges, many experts say; the Russians have distinctly different strategic goals, and their military structure reflects that. Russia views itself as a land-based power, exerting influence in a sphere expanding outward from its Eurasian heartland into Eastern Europe, Central Asia and possibly the Middle East and Pacific rim. It is well suited for relying on a particular set of capabilities known as “anti-access and area denial.”

“The United States and Russia are going for different things,” Galeotti said. “What the Russians are looking for is not to take on and compete on equal terms with us. It’s denial.” For example, he said, “one can look at the U.S. Navy as massively superior to the Russian navy. Most of them are legacy Soviet ships. But in a way, that doesn’t matter, because Russia does not plan to send its forces all across the world’s oceans.”

That’s reflected in the fact that Russia maintains a lone aircraft carrier while the U.S. Navy’s 10-carrier fleet operates on a continuing global deployment cycle. Instead of carriers designed for offensive power projection at sea, the Russians are investing in an expanding fleet of submarines that can supplement their nuclear force and, conventionally, threaten an enemy surface fleet in nearby waters such as the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea or the Mediterranean Sea.

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Its airspace also is heavily fortified. The quality of Russia’s stealth aircraft is far weaker than those of the U.S., but Russia has cutting-edge anti-stealth systems, and also has invested heavily in robust surface-to-air missile systems and arrayed its forces domestically to protect its border regions. “The static airpower picture would favor the Russians because they have a lot of capability in terms of air defense and a variety of tactical and cruise and ballistic missiles,” said Paul Schwartz, a Russian military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Russia’s electronic warfare capability is also daunting to Pentagon military planners; left unclear is the extent to which Russia could jam the radars and signals intelligence that forms the foundation of the U.S.’s advanced air power. Any attempt by the U.S. and its allies to infiltrate Russian air space “would not necessarily be easy,” Schwartz said. “It would be a contested environment. But over time I think we would be able to degrade it. The problem is, with a nuclear power, you try to avoid a full-scale fighting.”

Meanwhile, the Russian army, still predominantly a conscripted force, is being transitioned to an American-style professional force. In effect, Russia has two armies: About two thirds of the roughly 800,000-man force remains filled with unmotivated and poorly trained draftees, but about one third is not — and those are the units outfitted with top-notch gear, including the Armata T-14 Main Battle Tanks.

In sum, the Russian military is not the equal of the U.S. military. But the gap has narrowed in recent years.

Forward Operating Base Syria

Russia’s swift creation of a forward operating base in Syria has stunned many U.S. officials. In just a few weeks, its military erected a potentially permanent base at Latakia, on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. They’ve deployed dozens of combat aircraft, fortified the installation with tanks and assembled housing for hundreds of troops.

The Russians recently announced plans for a naval exercise in the eastern Mediterranean this fall, but did not specify exactly when ships would deploy to the region. The exercise will feature the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship, the guided missile cruiser Moskva, as well as several smaller escort vessels and large amphibious assault and landing ships, Russia’s TASS news agency reported. Some military officials question whether the exercise is a cover for shipping more troops and gear to the Syrian coast.
Smoke rises over Talbiseh, a city in western Syria’s

Smoke rises over Talbiseh, a city in western Syria’s Homs province, on Sept. 30, marking Russian first airstrikes in the region.
(Photo: Homs Media Centre via AP)

The new forward operating base will give Russia the capability to fly combat air sorties, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance missions and drones across the Middle East. That could include Iraq, the leadership of which has invited the Russians to assist in the fight against the Islamic State in that country.

The base will help secure Russia’s longtime naval support facility at the Syrian port of Tarus, a key to the Russian military’s ability to maintain and project power into the Mediterranean. Russia reportedly is expanding its footprint at the Tarus facility.

More broadly, Moscow is signaling a long-term interest in extending its umbrella of anti-access area denial capabilities into the Middle East. The Russians reportedly are shipping some of their most advanced surface-to-air missile systems into Latakia, raising concerns inside the Pentagon because that move runs counter to Russia’s claims of limiting the focus of its military activities to Syrian rebel groups like the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Russia has deployed a number of Su-30 fighters to Syria,

Russia has deployed a number of Su-30 fighters to Syria, aircraft that are capable of striking ground targets as well as those in the air.
(Photo: Pavel Golovkin/AP)

“We see some very sophisticated air defenses going into those airfields, we see some very sophisticated air-to-air aircraft going into these airfields,” Gen. Phillip Breedlove, chief of the U.S. European Command and also the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, said Sept. 28. “I have not seen ISIL flying any airplanes that require SA-15s or SA-22s [Russian missiles]. I have not seen ISIL flying any airplanes that require sophisticated air-to-air capabilities. These very sophisticated air defense capabilities are not about ISIL … they’re about something else.”

In effect, the Russians could challenge the air superiority maintained — even taken for granted — by the U.S. over large swaths the Middle East for more than 20 years. A crucial factor in this equation is Russia’s alliance with Iran, another key Syrian ally. Russia depends on Iranian airspace for its flight corridors into Syria, and reportedly is prepared to support Iranian ground troops aligned with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Experts inside Russia believe the incursion into Syria, along with Putin’s aggressive speech at the United Nations on Sept. 28, signal his long-term interest in becoming a key player in the region.

“It became clear that Russia is going to exercise a more ambitious policy in the Middle East. The Russian President made it clear that the western model of democracy and its way of dealing with conflicts in the region is not working,” said Yury Barmin, a Moscow-based Russian expert on Mideast politics and Russian foreign policy. However, Barmin said, “it is doubtful that Russia has the capacity to emerge as a leading power in [the Middle East] in the near future because its presence in the region is limited if you compare it to that of the United States.”

Yet some see Putin’s maneuvers in Syria as some broader geopolitical gambit that aims to secure a deal on Ukraine. Russia currently occupies parts of Ukraine, but the U.S. still considers Moscow’s March 2014 invasion illegal and its control there illegitimate. “It’s much more about the U.S. than it is about Syria and Assad,” Galeotti said. “Let’s be honest, if Washington indicated that some deal could be struck where they tacitly accept the Russians’ position in Crimea and parts of Donbas, they are not going to fight a war for Assad.”

In Ukraine, a new brand of ‘hybrid warfare’

The conflict in Ukraine and the American training mission there is giving the Pentagon fresh insight on an enemy they might fight elsewhere in the not-too-distant future. But critics say America’s timid response to Russian aggression — both in Crimea and the the Donetsk and Luhansk regions — has done little to deter Moscow. In Ukraine Russia has revealed a new brand of “hybrid warfare,” one that mixes non-state proxy fighters, heavy armor and artillery, drones, electronic warfare and aggressive information operations to achieve battlefield victories.
Ukrainian servicemen patrol near the chemical plant

Ukrainian servicemen patrol near the chemical plant in Avdeevka, a town just north of the city of Donetsk, on June 20. Ukrainian troops face threats from insurgents and conventionally trained forces.
(Photo: Aleskey Chernyshev/AFP)

“It is good for us to be aware how they fight,” said Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, in an interview with Military Times on Sept. 10. “We have not fought wars the way they do in kind of an urban, mixed urban and nonurban setting with UAVs, with electronic jamming.”

Farkas is stepping down from her post at the end of October, after five years at the Defense Department. It’s unclear who will take her place as the Pentagon’s key policy maker for Russia-related issues.

For the small cadre of U.S. military professionals who’ve been working alongside Ukrainian government forces, the fight against Russian-backed rebels is a major change from their recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’ve got a ton of experience in low-intensity warfare, counterinsurgency warfare, whereas a bulk of the Ukraine experience is facing a 21st-century, near-peer adversary,” said Army Lt. Col. Michael Kloepper, commander of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, which recently began its third rotation into Ukraine to train that nation’s military forces.

The Army deployments are part of a broader U.S. military effort to reassure NATO allies rattled by Russia’s actions. Yet the Obama administration has been reluctant to provide more robust support, determined, it seems, to avoid the potential for a proxy war with the Russians.
Since its annexation of Crimea in early 2014, Russia

Since its annexation of Crimea in early 2014, Russia has steadily expanded its military presence in the region. In response, the U.S. and its NATO allies are working to build, train and equip Ukrainian forces.
(Photo: John Bretschneider/Staff)

Russian has lined thousands of troops and large tank and artillery units along its Ukrainian border. Those Russian troops routinely shell the border towns and make incursions into Ukraine to fight alongside the rebels in the contested areas. So far, the administration has pledged only “nonlethal aid” for training and gear such as Humvees, small drones and radar.

Washington has placed economic sanctions on Russia, sent U.S. troops to help train Ukrainian forces and has ramped up military exercises across Eastern Europe. But it has not yet provided any offensive weaponry and ammunition, and it has not threatened military action against Russia. Since March 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine, the U.S. has contributed $244 million in nonlethal security assistance and training. For comparison, that amount would pay for about three weeks of operations in Iraq and Syria.

Ukrainian officials in Kiev have made repeated pleas for more. “We need anti-tank Javelin systems, intelligence and combat drones, … fighter jets, helicopters, electronic and signal intelligence systems, radars and sound intelligence systems” to counter Russian military equipment used by Moscow-backed separatists on the eastern front, said Colonel General Victor Muzhenko, the Ukrainian military’s top officer. They’ve also asked for anti-aircraft guns and more equipment to neutralize enemy snipers, he told Military Times.
Ukrainian troops man an anti-aircraft weapon at a checkpoint

Ukrainian troops man an anti-aircraft weapon at a checkpoint outside the town of Amvrosiivka, close to the Russian border. Kiev says it’s desperate for more weaponry, but so far Washington has shown willingness to provide only nonlethal equipment.
(Photo: Vadim Ghirda/AP)

There are between 30,000 and 35,000 Russian-backed fighters in Eastern Ukraine, about 9,000 of whom are coming solely from the Russian front, Muzhenko estimates. They’re using sophisticated electronic warfare systems to jam the Ukrainians’ communications, radar, GPS and early warning-detection equipment, said Ihor Dolhov, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister for European integration.

It’s a unique battlespace, and the Americans who have provided training to Ukrainian forces are eager to collect intelligence about the Russians’ new mode of combat. “It has been interesting to hear what they have learned,” Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, told Defense News, a sister publication of Military Times. “No Americans have been under Russian artillery or rocket fire or been on the receiving end of significant Russian electronic warfare, the jamming and collecting, for example, not at tactical levels.”

The future of the Ukraine conflict is unclear. In late September, all sides agreed to withdraw tanks and heavy artillery from Ukraine’s eastern front. A ceasefire in eastern Ukraine also appears to be holding, although each side remains wary, and local parliamentary elections set to take place Oct. 25 may be upended by pro-Russian separatists, who aim to hold their own elections.

For now, Obama shows no signs of conceding to Russian control the regions Ukraine has controlled for decades. “We cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated,” Obama told the U.N. General Assembly in a major speech on Sept. 28. “That’s the basis of the sanctions that the United States and our partners imposed on Russia. It’s not a desire to return to the Cold War.”

Predicting the next flashpoint

For more than a year, the U.S. and its European allies have been reassessing the military balance along NATO’s eastern border, which is lined with former Soviet satellite states. The result has been Operation Atlantic Resolve, an expanded rotational presence of U.S troops in NATO’s easternmost countries like Poland, the Baltics, Romania and Bulgaria.

Putin and his military have menaced the Baltic countries, who are among the newest and weakest NATO partners. Russia has repeatedly sent military aircraft into Baltic airspace, patrolled submarines in the Baltic Sea and allegedly mounted cyber-attacks. And Russian officials have voiced support for Russian-speaking minorities, raising the specter of future agitation.
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Muzzy, an observer-controller

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Muzzy, an observer-controller from Company A, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, works with an Estonian soldier during a training exercise in Germany. Some see NATO’s newest members, like Estonia, as particularly vulnerable to Russia aggression.
(Photo: Sgt. Christina Dion/Army)

The aggression in the Baltics, especially Estonia, which has a large Russian-speaking minority, has been more ambiguous than Moscow’s overt operations in Ukraine and Syria. The argument goes that Putin would employ a type of hybrid warfare perfected in Ukraine to rally ethnic Russian populations in the Baltic states to rise up in support with special operations forces — the so-called “little green men.”

That has sparked concern in the West that Putin’s ultimate goal is to break NATO with force, if intimidation fails. NATO is struggling to figure out how to respond, with member nations holding differing perspectives on when Russian behavior crosses a red line. It’s about “working out at what point a military response is the correct response,” said Nick de Larrinaga, a London-based analyst for IHS Jane’s Defense and Security Group. “Hybrid warfare casts doubts about when there should be a military response, or whether this is a civilian issue that should be taken care of by local law enforcement,” he said.
Russia claims to have some 750 tanks in its western

Russia claims to have some 750 tanks in its western military region, though its unclear how much of that equipment is legitimately combat-ready.
(Photo: Andrey Kronberg/AFP/Getty Images)

Another option for Russia, of course, is to shift to a conventional fight. A review of the military balance in the immediate Baltic theater would seem to give Russia an initial advantage in an aerial campaign against NATO, if Moscow’s political objective was to push NATO out of the Baltics.

According to a recent report by international think tank Chatham House, Russia’s military strength in its Western Military District stands at 65,000 ground troops, 850 pieces of artillery, 750 tanks, and 320 combat aircraft. Other estimates are much higher, but in general there is a high degree of uncertainty about how much of those forces exist only on paper, and how many are truly prepared for combat.

Another aspect of the Russian military that gets overhyped is its Baltic Fleet, the smallest of Russia’s main fleets and truly a shadow of its former self. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the coastal infrastructure that stretched from Kalingrad to Leningrad was lost to the newly independent Baltic states.

Today, the fleet is split between Kalingrad and St. Petersburg, making it difficult to support a larger fleet. The Baltic Fleet’s assets today include only two small Kilo-class diesel powered submarines, one of which is used mostly for training, along with a handful of Sovremenny-class destroyers, a frigate, four corvettes, and a smattering of support ships.

For a conventional operation, Russia also could bring assets from its Northern Fleet, which frequently patrols the North Atlantic, into the Baltic theater to support a larger action.

That threat could become a powerful one if Russia’s true goal in the Baltics is to force NATO into showing that it won’t honor Article V, the key element of the alliance treaty that holds an attack on one member nation will be met with a swift and unified response from all member nations.

Defense News’ Russia correspondent, Matthew Bodner, contributed to this report from Moscow.

© 2015 http://www.militarytimes.com. All rights reserved.

Unruly Hearts with WordPress thanks Military Times for this excellent article.

Syrian jihadists feud & bomb each other over funds as Russian jets destroy supply lines

RT NEWS

Russian attack jets have hit 51 Islamic State targets in Syria in the past 24 hours, including four command posts, six arms depots, a mortar battery, two underground bunkers, 32 field camps and six outposts.

The strikes took place in the Latakia, Aleppo, Hama and Damascus provinces.

The damage the Russian SU-34 jets caused to the underground bunkers was especially significant, Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said.

Fueling a Russian Su-34 strike fighter before a mission at the Khmeimim airbase in Syria. © Dmitriy Vinogradov

Уничтожение подземного бункера боевиков в провинции ХАМА

https://youtu.be/8yFz9SCB9UU

 

They hit the terrorists’ underground infrastructure in Homs, which had allowed the militants to move undetected and increase their effectiveness in combat.

The well-funded Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has been hiding whole weapons caches underground, which included explosive devices for carrying out terrorist attacks.

A small missile factory was among the objects destroyed. However, these underground bases and conduits are believed to be widespread across Syria, so more work needs to be done, Konashenkov says.

READ MORE: ‘Weak and short-sighted’ – Russian PM slams White House for failure to sync ISIS bombing campaign

 

A frontline supply junction for transporting fuel, arms and food supply lines was also hit in the Damascus province.

The entire command infrastructure of one of the terrorist groups operating in the Hama province was disrupted by the strikes, sending the militants fleeing from the area, the Defense Ministry added.

According to information from the Russian armed forces, desertions on a massive scale are occurring amongst IS ranks in the north and north-east of the country. In the Raqqa province, IS has started a mobilization of everyone aged 14 and over.

Уничтожение опорhttps:

https://youtu.be/8yFz9SCB9UU

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s).  Unruly Hearts will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. 

BREAKING: Over 1,000 ISIS and Al Nusra Militants Surrender To Syrian Army In Last 24 Hours

 

 

The development came after President Bashar al-Assad in a televised address in July pardoned all soldiers who have fled the army, saying that his words served as a general decree to relevant officials.

Hundreds of gunmen have been laying down their weapons and turning themselves in to authorities in areas across the country.

This number seems to be on the rise as the army has been making steady gains in the battlefield against the terrorist groups, recapturing an increasing number of regions, including strategic sites, which helped cut off many of the militants’ supply routes and forced them to surrender or run away.

Also in the past 24 hours, the Syrian air raids destroyed concentration centers of the ISIL, al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups in Hama and Idlib.

The Syrian warplanes conducted airstrikes against positions of ISIL and the so-called Jeish al-Fath terrorists in the countryside of Hama and Idlib.

The airstrikes hit positions of the ISIL terrorists in al-Rahjan village, 50 km to the Northeast of Hama City, destroying a number of terrorists’ vehicles with all arms, ammunition and equipment on board.

The airstrikes also hit positions of al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups in Aqrab village in the Southwestern countryside of Hama, killing scores of terrorists.

A number of vehicles belonging to Jeish al-Fath terrorists were also destroyed in airstrikes in Abdin village in the countryside of Ma’aret al-Nu’aman in Idlib countryside.

Meantime, the Syrian fighter jets pounded hideouts of the Takfiri militants in the countryside of Homs.

The Syrian air raids destroyed Takfiri terrorists’ hideouts and vehicles in al-Qaryatain, al-Sa’an, and in the vicinity of al-Sha’er field in Homs countryside.

The Russian air group in Syria is using Kh-29L air-to-surface missiles to conduct airstrikes against the ISIL militants, the Russian military said Sunday.

“A Kh-29L surface-to-air missile is equipped with a semi-active laser guidance system. When the launch is conducted, a pilot illuminates a target with a laser sight. At the same time an aircraft can continue the flight,” Aerospace Forces Spokesman Colonel Igor Klimov said.

Also, the Syrian army conducted military operations against the foreign-backed Takfiri militants in Aleppo province, leaving hundreds of them killed and injured.

Hundreds of terrorists were killed or wounded in Aleppo City and its countryside in the past 24 hours, a military source said.

Elsewhere, at least 28 militant fighters of the ISIL terrorist group were killed during clashes with the Kurdish forces in the Northeastern Syrian province of Hasaka.

“The YPG forces besieged the ISIL militants near Mount Abdulaziz and killed dozens of terrorists and destroyed several vehicles,” a spokesman for the YPG Media Center told ARA News.

Also, gunmen from the Jeish al-Fath coalition of extremist groups are pulling out their forces from Idlib and other towns in Northwestern Syria.

The radical group started moving towards the Turkish border on Saturday after having experienced “the efficiency of the Russian aerospace forces’ strikes,” the As-Safir Arabic-language daily reported.

The coalition is led by al-Nusra terrorist group, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, which is sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. The group seized the Idlib province this spring.

The report said field commanders fear at any moment the attack of Syrian forces supported by Russian warplanes on the key town of Jisr al-Shugour, on the Lattakia-Aleppo highway.

Putin’s Blitz Leaves Washington Rankled and Confused

Posted by Ainhoa Aristizabal

Global Research, October 01, 2015
Mike Whitney, CounterPunch, 2015
Region: Middle East & North Africa, Russia and FSU, USA
Theme: US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: SYRIA: NATO’S NEXT WAR?

obama-putin-510x383-400x300On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a blistering critique of US foreign policy to the UN General Assembly.

On Tuesday, Barack Obama shoved a knife in Putin’s back. This is from Reuters:

“France will discuss with its partners in the coming days a proposal by Turkey and members of the Syrian opposition for a no-fly zone in northern Syria, French President Francois Hollande said on Monday…

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius “in the coming days will look at what the demarcation would be, how this zone could be secured and what our partners think,” Hollande told reporters on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly…

Hollande said such a proposal could eventually be rubber-stamped with a U.N. Security Council resolution that “would give international legitimacy to what’s happening in this zone.”…(France, partners to discuss northern Syria ‘safe zone’: Hollande, Reuters)

Hollande is a liar and a puppet. He knows the Security Council will never approve a no-fly zone. Russia and China have already said so. And they’ve explained why they are opposed to it, too. It’s because they don’t want another failed state on their hands like Libya, which is what happened last time the US and NATO imposed a no-fly zone.

But that’s beside the point. The real reason the no-fly zone issue has resurfaced is because it was one of the concessions Obama made to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the use of Incirlik airbase. Washington has kept the terms of that deal secret, but Hollande has let the cat out of the bag.

So who put sock-puppet Hollande up to this no-fly zone nonsense?

Why the Obama administration, of course. Does anyone seriously believe that Hollande is conducting his own independent policy in Syria? Of course not. Hollande is just doing what he’s been told to do, just like he did when he was told to scotch the Mistral deal that cost France a whopping $1.2 billion. Washington and NATO didn’t like the idea that France was selling state-of-the-art helicopter carriers to arch-rival Putin, so they ordered Hollande to put the kibosh on the deal. Which he did, because that’s what puppets do; they obey their masters. Now he’s providing cover for Obama so the real details of the Incirlik agreement remain off the public’s radar. That’s why we say, Obama shoved a knife in Putin’s back, because, ultimately, the no-fly zone damages Russia’s interests in Syria.

The significance of the Reuters article cannot be overstated. It suggests that there was a quid pro quo for the use of Incirlik, and that Turkey’s demands were accepted. Why is that important?

Because Turkey had three demands:

1–Safe zones in north Syria (which means that Turkey would basically annex a good portion of Syrian sovereign territory.)
2–A no-fly zone (which would allow either Turkish troops, US Special Forces or US-backed jihadi militants to conduct their military operations with the support of US air cover.)
3–A commitment from the US that it will help Turkey remove Assad.

Did Obama agree to all three of these demands before Erdogan agreed to let the USAF use Incirlik?

Yes, at least I think he did, which is why I think we are at the beginning of Phase 2 of the US aggression against Syria. Incirlik changes everything. US bombers, drones and fighters can enter Syrian airspace in just 15 minutes instead of 3 to 4 hours from Bahrain. That means more sorties, more surveillance drones, and more air-cover for US-backed militias and Special Forces on the ground. It means the US can impose a de facto no-fly zone over most of Syria that will expose and weaken Syrian forces tipping the odds decisively in favor of Obama’s jihadi army. Incirlik is a game-changer, the cornerstone of US policy in Syria. With access to Incirlik, victory is within Washington’s reach. That’s how important Incirlik is.

And that’s why the normally-cautious Putin decided to deploy his warplanes, troops and weaponry so soon after the Incirlik deal was signed. He could see the handwriting on the wall. He knew he had to either act fast and turn the tide or accept the fact that the US and Turkey were going to topple Assad sometime after Turkey’s snap elections on November 1. That was his timeline for action. So he did the right thing and joined the fighting.

But what does Putin do now?

On Wednesday, just two days after Putin announced to the UN General Assembly: “We can no longer tolerate the current state of affairs in the world,” Putin ordered the bombing of targets in Homs, an ISIS stronghold in West Syria. The attacks, which were unanimously approved by the Russian parliament earlier in the day, and which are entirely legal under international law (Putin was invited by Syria’s sitting president, Assad, to carry out the airstrikes), have put US policy in a tailspin. While the Russian military is maintaining an open channel to the Pentagon and reporting when-and-where it is carrying out its airstrikes, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the US plans to “continue to fly missions over Iraq and Syria” increasing the possibility of an unintended clash that could lead to a confrontation between the US and Russia.

Is that what Washington wants, a violent incident that pits one nuclear-armed adversary against the other?

Let’s consider one probable scenario: Let’s say an F-16 is shot down over Syria while providing air cover for Obama’s militants on the ground. Now that Russia is conducting air raids over Syria, there’s a good chance that Putin would be blamed for the incident like he was when the Malaysian airliner was downed over East Ukraine.

So what happens next?

Judging by similar incidents in the past, the media would swing into full-propaganda mode exhorting the administration to launch retaliatory attacks on Russian military sites while calling for a broader US-NATO mobilization. That, in turn, would force Putin to either fight back and up-the-ante or back-down and face disgrace. Either way, Putin loses and the US gets one step closer to its objective of toppling Bashar al Assad.

Putin knows all this. He understands the risks of military involvement which is why he has only reluctantly committed to the present campaign. That said; we should expect him to act in much the same way as he did when Georgian troops invaded South Ossetia in 2007. Putin immediately deployed the tanks to push the invading troops back over the border into Georgia and then quickly ended the hostilities. He was lambasted by critics on the right for not invading Georgia and removing their leader, Mikheil Saakashvili, in the Capital. But as it turned out, Putin’s restraint spared Russia the unnecessary hardship of occupation which can drain resources and erode public support. Putin was right and his critics were wrong.

Will his actions in Syria mirror those in South Ossetia?

It’s hard to say, but it’s clear that the Obama crew is thunderstruck by the speed of the intervention. Check this out from the UK Guardian: “Back at the White House, spokesperson Josh Earnest suggests that Vladimir Putin did not give Barack Obama warning about his intentions to begin air strikes in Syria.

“We have long said we would welcome constructive Russian coordination,” Earnest says, before qualifying that the talks between US and Russian militaries will be purely tactical: “to ensure that our military activities and the military activities of coalition partners would be safely conducted.” (The Guardian)

What does Earnest’s statement mean? It means the entire US political class was caught off-guard by Putin’s blitz and has not yet settled on an appropriate response. They know that Putin is undoing years of work by rolling up proxy-units that were supposed to achieve US objectives, but there is no agreement among ruling elites about what should be done. And making a decision of that magnitude could take time, which means that Putin should be able to obliterate a fair number of the terrorist hideouts and restore control of large parts of the country to Assad before the US ever agrees to a strategy. In fact, if he moves fast, he might even be able to force the US and their Gulf allies to the bargaining table where a political solution could be reached.

It’s a long-shot, but it’s a much better option than waiting around for the US to impose a no-fly zone that would collapse the central government and reduce Syria to Libya-type anarchy. There’s no future in that at all.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Copyright © Mike Whitney, CounterPunch, 2015