Arms, Conflict, Corruption, Hillary Clinton, Law, Middle East, Military, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Scandal, Security, USA

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

As the Obama administration increased military weapons exports, Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved transfer of more than $300 billion worth of arms manufactured by US defense contractors to 20 nations that were or have since become donors of the Clinton Foundation, a major philanthropic organization run by the Clinton family. According to a review of available records of foundation donors by the International Business Times, those countries included governments that have received frequent criticism by the State Department for repressive policies.

“Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents,” IBT wrote.

‘Clinton is epitome of financial corruption’ – David Swanson

David Swanson is an author and long time political activist who is so passionate about restoring the constitutional role of the President that he actually wrote an entire book on it, “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union” and leads to this day the campaign to impeach Bush and Cheney. Mr. Swanson is not just unhappy with bad Republican behavior in the White House and we will get his views on Hillary Clinton’s decision to run for the presidency.

Algeria, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar were nations that directly donated to the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s term as secretary of state, even as they were requesting weapons shipments. The donated money represents a loophole in US law regarding political contributions.

“Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions — a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy,” IBT noted. “But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.”

The reviewed sales — both commercial and Pentagon-brokered — represent those made during “three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as secretary of state (from October 2010 to September 2012),” IBT reported. The deals made with the nations in question during this time add up to far more than arms agreements made with the same countries during the last three full fiscal years of George W. Bush’s administration, according to the report.

“The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation,” Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, told IBT. “This shows why having public officials, or even spouses of public officials, connected with these nonprofits is problematic.”

The Clinton Foundation’s donor list has come under closer examination since Hillary Clinton announced she is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016. In April, the Clintons acknowledged they have made “mistakes” regarding transparency amid increased public scrutiny concerning donations from foreign entities, especially when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, from 2009 to 2013.

Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton defended his family foundation’s donors.

“I don’t think there’s anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people in countries that are seriously involved in development to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up,” Mr. Clinton told NBC News.

The Clinton Foundation signed a foreign donor disclosure agreement just before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, yet neither the department nor the White House raised issues with potential conflicts of interest regarding the weapons agreements.

IBT reported that in 1995 President Clinton signed a presidential policy directive demanding the State Department take into account human rights abuses when considering the approval of military equipment or arms purchases from US companies. Yet Mrs Clinton’s State Department ignored this stipulation, helping the Obama administration increase weapons transfers.

The State Department, under the aegis of Clinton, hammered the Algerian government in its 2010 Human Rights Report for “restrictions on freedom of assembly and association,” allowing “arbitrary killing,” “widespread corruption,” and a “lack of judicial independence.”

“That year, the Algerian government donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation and its lobbyists met with the State Department officials who oversee enforcement of human rights policies. Clinton’s State Department the next year approved a one-year 70 percent increase in military export authorizations to the country,” IBT reported. “The increase included authorizations of almost 50,000 items classified as ‘toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents and associated equipment’ after the State Department did not authorize the export of any of such items to Algeria in the prior year.

“During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department authorized at least $2.4 billion of direct military hardware and services sales to Algeria — nearly triple such authorizations over the last full fiscal years during the Bush administration. The Clinton Foundation did not disclose Algeria’s donation until this year — a violation of the ethics agreement it entered into with the Obama administration.”

IBT also reported that major US weapons manufacturers and financial corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton lucrative speaking fees “reaching $625,000” just as arms deals they had an interest in were in the works with Mrs Clinton’s State Department.

Read more
Hillary Clinton: What to know about her recent controversies, scandals

Hillary Clinton had pledged during her Senate confirmation hearings in 2009 that “in many, if not most cases, it is likely that the Foundation or President Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.”

US weapons sales tripled in 2011 to a new yearly high of $66.3 billion, according to the New York Times, mostly driven by sales to Persian Gulf nations allied against Iran. This dollar total made up nearly 78 percent of all worldwide arms deals that year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Reuters reported in January 2013 that the State Department office that has oversight of direct commercial arms sales “was on track to receive more than 85,000 license requests in 2012, a new record.”

The boom in arms sales by the Obama administration has continued to the present day, as Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are using American-made fighter jets against Islamic State and for proxy wars in places like Yemen and Syria.

According to the Times, foreign weapons sales now represent 25 percent to 30 percent of revenue taken in by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US-based arms dealers.

​Clinton Foundation admits ‘mistakes’ amid concerns of foreign donors 20

How Russia and Germany may save Europe from war – By Pepe Escobar

 

Are the US, NATO and Russia on a mad spiral leading to war in Europe? Is it inevitable? Far from it. The US-propelled vassal Petro Poroshenko, currently starring in the oligarch dance in Ukraine this week advanced the proposition that Ukrainians in the near future, after his “reforms”, will be asked to vote on whether to join NATO. Let’s be serious here. Some of you may be familiar with the concept of “shatter belt” - territories and peoples that historically have been squeezed between the Germanic Eagle and the Russian Bear. As we stand, the whole shatter belt – apart from Ukraine and Belarus – has become NATO members. Were Ukraine to become a NATO member in – albeit remote – future, the shatter belt buffer zone would disappear. This means NATO – essentially the US – planted right on Russia’s western border. Washington has just announced that it will be pre-positioning more military vehicles in Europe, to be used in exercises or “potential military operations.” This is perfectly in tune with the relentless US “think tank-land” spin that NATO and the US will be “forced” to balance their commitment to security in Eastern Europe against potential Russian “aggression.” As Ukraine, the Baltic States and Poland persist in compounded hysteria about such “aggression,” the option of a post-MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) US-Russia nuclear war is now – casually - back on the discussion table. At least there’s a countercurrent; strands of informed Americans are wondering why the US should be paying for Europe’s defense when European GDP is larger than the US’s.

The air defense missile system “Patriot” (AFP Photo/Bernd Wustneck/Germany Out)

 

November 28, 2014

Are the US, NATO and Russia on a mad spiral leading to war in Europe? Is it inevitable? Far from it.

The US-propelled vassal Petro Poroshenko, currently starring in the oligarch dance in Ukraine this week advanced the proposition that Ukrainians in the near future, after his “reforms”, will be asked to vote on whether to join NATO.
Let’s be serious here. Some of you may be familiar with the concept of “shatter belt” – territories and peoples that historically have been squeezed between the Germanic Eagle and the Russian Bear.
As we stand, the whole shatter belt – apart from Ukraine and Belarus – has become NATO members. Were Ukraine to become a NATO member in – albeit remote – future, the shatter belt buffer zone would disappear. This means NATO – essentially the US – planted right on Russia’s western border.
Washington has just announced that it will be pre-positioning more military vehicles in Europe, to be used in exercises or “potential military operations.” This is perfectly in tune with the relentless US “think tank-land” spin that NATO and the US will be “forced” to balance their commitment to security in Eastern Europe against potential Russian “aggression.”
As Ukraine, the Baltic States and Poland persist in compounded hysteria about such “aggression,” the option of a post-MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) US-Russia nuclear war is now – casually – back on the discussion table. At least there’s a countercurrent; strands of informed Americans are wondering why the US should be paying for Europe’s defense when European GDP is larger than the US’s.

Iskander high-precision missile system in place during military exercises. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

Iskander high-precision missile system in place during military exercises. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

 Wanna play war, boy?

Now for the “threat” of nuclear war in Europe – bogus or otherwise. It’s pointless to compare the US and Russia strategic nuclear capabilities based on numbers, but not on quality.

Take the compounded GDP of US, Germany, France and England and compare it to Russia; it’s a victory by a landslide. Then examine the strategic nuclear scenario, and it’s a totally different story. GDP alone does not “win” anything.

Washington/Wall Street elites are now deep into nuclear war paranoia. A few studiesat least hint at the obvious; glaring US strategic weakness.

Consider some of the basics:

– Russian ICBMs armed with MIRVs travel at about 18 Mach; that is way faster than anything in the US arsenal. And basically they are unbeatable.

– The S-400 and S-500 double trouble; Moscow has agreed to sell the S-400 surface-to-air missile system to China; the bottom line is this will make Beijing impermeable to US air power, ICBMs and cruise missiles. Russia, for its part, is already focusing on the state of the art S-500 – which essentially makes the Patriot anti-missile system look like a V-2 from WWII.

– The Russian Iskander missile travels at Mach 7 – with a range of 400km, carrying a 700kg warhead of several varieties, and with a circular error probability of around five meters. Translation: an ultimate lethal weapon against airfields or logistic infrastructure. The Iskander can reach targets deep inside Europe.

– And then there’s the Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA.

NATO clowns dreaming of a war on Russia would have to come up with an ironclad system to knock out these Iskanders. They don’t have any. Additionally, they would have to face the S-400s, which the Russians can deploy all over the spectrum.

Think of a hefty batch of S-400s positioned at the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad; that would turn NATO air operations deep inside Europe into an absolutely horrendous nightmare. On top of it, good ol’ NATO fighter jets cost a fortune. Imagine the effect of hundreds of destroyed fighter jets on an EU already financially devastated and austerity-plagued to death.

As if this was not enough, no one knows the exact extent of NATO’s strategic capabilities. Brussels is not talking. Extra-officially, these capabilities are not exactly a marvel. And Russian intelligence knows it.

Still assuming those NATO clowns would insist on playing war, Moscow has already made it very clear Russia would use their awesome arsenal of 5,000-plus tactical nuclear weapons – and whatever else it takes – to defend the nation against a NATO conventional attack. Moreover, a few thousand S-400 and S-500 systems are enough to block a US nuclear attack.

None of this hair-raising Apocalypse Now scenario is even taking into account the Russia-China alliance – the major, game-changing Eurasian story of the 2010s.

 

S 400 "Triumf" air defense missile systems (RIA Novosti/Alexey Kudenko)

S 400 “Triumf” air defense missile systems (RIA Novosti/Alexey Kudenko)

 

Just in case the “pivoting to Asia” gang starts harboring funny ideas about the Middle Kingdom as well, China is massively investing in bouncing lasers off satellites; satellite-hitting missiles; silent submarines that surface beside US aircraft carriers without detection; and a made in China anti-missile missile that can hit a reentering satellite moving faster than any ICBM.

In a nutshell; Beijing knows the US surface fleet is obsolete – and undefendable. And needless to add, all of these Chinese modernizing developments are proceeding way faster than anything in the US.

A modest proposal

The spin in the US has been relentless; Russia is expanding towards a 21st century empire.

Here, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explains in detail how this is undiluted rubbish. What has actually happened is that Moscow deftly called the Brzezinski-inspired bluff in Ukraine – with all its overtones. No wonder the Empire of Chaos is furious.

And yet there is a solution to defuse the current, hysterical rush to war logic. Here I have examined in some detail how Washington is playing Russian roulette. Now it’s time to advance a modest proposal – as it has been discussed by a few concerned analysts from the US, Europe and Asia.

Essentially, it’s very simple. It’s up to Germany. And it’s all about undoing Stalin.

Stalin, at the outset of WWII, took East Prussia from Germany and moved the eastern part of Poland into Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine was originally from Russia; it is part of Russia and was given by Lenin to Ukraine.

So let’s have East Prussia returned to Germany; the eastern part of Poland returned to Poland; and eastern Ukraine as well as Crimea – which Khrushchev gave to Ukraine – returned to Russia.

Everyone get its share. No more Stalin. No more arbitrary borders. That’s what the Chinese would define as a “triple win” situation. Of course the Empire of Chaos would fight it to death; there would be no more chaos manipulated to justify a crusade against bogus Russian “aggression”.

The ball is in Germany’s court. Now it’s up to East Prussians to present the facts to Angela Merkel. Let’s see if she’s able to get the message.

Follow Pepe Escobar on Facebook.

 

Chomsky to RT: US and its NATO intervention force may spark nuclear war

     Home /     News / Chomsky to RT: US and its NATO intervention force may spark nuclear war Published time: November 07, 2014 13:20 Get short URL US linguist, philosopher and political activist, Noam Chomsky (AFP Photo DDP / Sascha Schuermann) GERMANY OUT US linguist, philosopher and political activist, Noam Chomsky (AFP Photo DDP / Sascha Schuermann) GERMANY OUT


US linguist, philosopher and political activist, Noam Chomsky (AFP Photo DDP / Sascha Schuermann) GERMANY OUT 

Published November 7, 2014

How dangerous is the current confrontation between Russia and the West? Noam Chomsky believes that NATO expansion and US quest for hegemony has put the world in a situation so unstable where any accidental interaction could result in a nuclear war.

‘New NATO aims to control the world’

The “new NATO” that emerged after the Soviet Union collapsed is basically a US-run intervention force, with a completely different mission as compared to the original, Chomsky tells RT’s Sophie&Co.

“In fact, one might ask why NATO even continued to exist,” he said. “The official justification for NATO was that its purpose was to defend Western Europe from Russian hordes who might attack Western Europe.”

With no more “Russian threat”, the natural conclusion in the 90s would be to disband the alliance, but instead the opposite happened – against all agreements NATO expanded all the way towards the Russian borders.

“Its mission changed. The official mission of NATO became to control the international, the global energy system, pipelines. That means, to control the world.”

‘World ominously close to nuclear war’

In the worst case scenario the current international instability, especially with tensions between US and Russia resembling a new cold war, could result in a nuclear war, in which all parties that initiate it would be eliminated.

“And it’s come ominously close several times in the past, dramatically close. And it could happen again, but not planned, but just by the accidental interactions that take place,” Chomsky said. “There have been many cases, not that serious, but pretty close, where human intervention with a few-minutes choice has prevented a nuclear war. You can’t guarantee that’s going to continue.”

 

1

“It may not be a high probability each time, but when you play a game like that, with low probability risks of disaster over and over again, you’re going to lose. And now, especially in the crisis over Ukraine, and so-called missile-defense systems near the borders of Russia, it’s a threatening situation.”

‘West can’t isolate Russia, will drive it to the East’

With its efforts to isolate Russia through confrontation and sanctions, the West instead pushes Moscow closer to the East, towards closer relations with China.

“Current Western policies are driving Russia towards closer interaction with the Chinese-based system. In this interaction Russia is actually the weaker partner, so it’s making concessions, but the US is openly creating a system of power, which could significantly diminish US domination in the world.”

“There is a Trans-Pacific Partnership, so-called, a huge commercial treaty, designed to incorporate the Asian countries, not China, but the other Asian countries, crucially not China,” Chomsky said. “But that’s the plan and it’s the kind of economic counterpart to the military pivot to Asia, and the sanctions on Russia are helping to create a counter-course based on Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or an extension of it, which would include Russia, and may begin to move across Eurasia, the whole Eurasian region.”

Reuters / Jorge Dan

Reuters / Jorge Dan

The peak of American power in history was around 1945, Chomsky says, when the United States owned half of the world’s wealth and American leaders were designing and organizing a world system that would benefit the US corporate system.

“The origins of multi-national corporations began to develop at that time… And there were detailed plans for assigning to every part of the world, what was called, a function within the global system,” he says, although adding that plan began to collapse very quickly.

“In 1949 there was a serious blow to the US global hegemony – China’s independence,” he said. “There’s a name for that in US history and Western history. It is called ‘the loss of China’. Just think about this phrase for a minute. I can only lose what I own. And the assumption, the tacit assumption is – we own China, we own the world.”

‘US-led anti-ISIS coalition meaningless, apart from being illegal’

US actions in the Middle East region, including the invasion in Iraq, have created the circumstances, under which ISIS emerged, Chomsky believes. “What happened is the US basically hit Iraq with a kind of sledgehammer,” instituting a governmental structure, which was sectarian in nature.

“All of this came together to create sectarian conflicts, which had not existed before… That has since expanded, and now it’s tearing the whole region apart. Syria is one element of it.”

3

 

Reuters / Majed Jaber

READ MORE: US knocks down ballistic, cruise missile targets in complex Aegis system test

“It may not be a high probability each time, but when you play a game like that, with low probability risks of disaster over and over again, you’re going to lose. And now, especially in the crisis over Ukraine, and so-called missile-defense systems near the borders of Russia, it’s a threatening situation.”

‘West can’t isolate Russia, will drive it to the East’

With its efforts to isolate Russia through confrontation and sanctions, the West instead pushes Moscow closer to the East, towards closer relations with China.

“Current Western policies are driving Russia towards closer interaction with the Chinese-based system. In this interaction Russia is actually the weaker partner, so it’s making concessions, but the US is openly creating a system of power, which could significantly diminish US domination in the world.”

“There is a Trans-Pacific Partnership, so-called, a huge commercial treaty, designed to incorporate the Asian countries, not China, but the other Asian countries, crucially not China,” Chomsky said. “But that’s the plan and it’s the kind of economic counterpart to the military pivot to Asia, and the sanctions on Russia are helping to create a counter-course based on Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or an extension of it, which would include Russia, and may begin to move across Eurasia, the whole Eurasian region.”

Reuters / Jorge Dan

Reuters / Jorge Dan

The peak of American power in history was around 1945, Chomsky says, when the United States owned half of the world’s wealth and American leaders were designing and organizing a world system that would benefit the US corporate system.

“The origins of multi-national corporations began to develop at that time… And there were detailed plans for assigning to every part of the world, what was called, a function within the global system,” he says, although adding that plan began to collapse very quickly.

READ MORE: US-backed TPP to be ineffective without Russia, China – Putin

“In 1949 there was a serious blow to the US global hegemony – China’s independence,” he said. “There’s a name for that in US history and Western history. It is called ‘the loss of China’. Just think about this phrase for a minute. I can only lose what I own. And the assumption, the tacit assumption is – we own China, we own the world.”

‘US-led anti-ISIS coalition meaningless, apart from being illegal’

US actions in the Middle East region, including the invasion in Iraq, have created the circumstances, under which ISIS emerged, Chomsky believes. “What happened is the US basically hit Iraq with a kind of sledgehammer,” instituting a governmental structure, which was sectarian in nature.

“All of this came together to create sectarian conflicts, which had not existed before… That has since expanded, and now it’s tearing the whole region apart. Syria is one element of it.”

3

And to solve the mess, the US again decided to act against the international law, building an anti-ISIS coalition that is “meaningless, apart from being illegal.”

“A law-abiding state would go to the Security Council, ask for a declaration by the Security Council of a threat to peace, and request the Security Council to organize direct response to it. And that could be done. The US could then participate in it, but so could Iran,” which is a major military force and would probably wipe out ISIS in no time, if it was allowed to join the fight on the ground, Chomsky believes.

‘States are very resistant to interference with their powers’

The US is far and away the technologically most advanced country in the world, so the spying is “more extensive in the United States.” Although Edward Snowden made a major contribution by exposing NSA methods to the world, there’s a long way to go, Chomsky said.

“States are very resistant to interference with their powers… It hasn’t stopped, now in fact it’s expanding. It’s a real major attack on human rights,” he said. “But it’s duplicated in China, Britain, Russia, no doubt, other countries.”

“The major threat is if it becomes sort of passively accepted, because of the fact that it’s not stopped, this is just going to go on, go on to the point where there are literally tiny drones, fly-size drones, that can be on the ceiling of your living room, listening to what you’re saying and sending it back to the central government office. There are no limits to this.”

“There has to be a citizen reaction, which would put an end to this practice.”

 

 

 

Missouri gov. declares state of emergency ahead of Ferguson verdict

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (Reuters / Kenny Baht)

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (Reuters / Kenny Baht)

The governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency on Monday ahead of the anticipated grand jury decision surrounding Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson and the potential protests the verdict may bring to that city and others.

Citing what he called the “possibility of expanded unrest” ahead of the impending verdict, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said in a declaration on Monday that the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will operate as a Unified Command “to protect civil rights and ensure public safety in the City of Ferguson and the St. Louis region”.

A grand jury is expected to announce any day if they will charge Wilson with the August killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager.

“In the days immediately following Michael Brown’s death, peaceful protests were marred by senseless acts of violence and destruction,” Gov. Nixon said last week.”That ugliness was not representative of Missouri, and it cannot be repeated.”

In addition to declaring a state of emergency, Nixon issued an executive order which in turn has activated the Missouri National Guard to assist local law enforcement.

Due to the periods of unrest that Ferguson and the St. Louis region have experienced in the wake of Brown’s death, Nixon said the state of Missouri will be prepared to respond “appropriately” in order to protect citizens and local businesses from “violence and damage.”

“I further order that the Unified Command may exercise operational authority in such other jurisdictions it deems necessary to protect civil rights and ensure public safety and that other law enforcement agencies shall assist the Unified Command when so requested and shall cooperate with operational directives of the Unified Command,” the governor wrote in the executive order.

The move follows Nixon’s decision to put the National Guard on standby in order to ensure it can support police officers and rapidly respond to any reports of violence. Elaborating on where the Guard fits into the governor’s latest action, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay suggested on Monday that it will not be the primary force at any protest.

“The way we view this, the Guard is not going to be confronting the protesters and will not be on the front line, interacting directly with the demonstrators,” the mayor said.

Nixon, meanwhile, said the executive order was needed to provide for an orderly and effective response to whatever decision the grand jury announces.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to plan and be prepared for any contingency, it is necessary to have these resources in place in advance of any announcement of the grand jury’s decision,” the governor said in a news release, according to local KSHB News. “These additional resources will support law enforcement’s efforts to maintain peace and protect those exercising their right to free speech.”

Last week, the governor said it was necessary for the state to avoid the kind of confrontation that occurred following Brown’s death.

“In the days immediately following Michael Brown’s death, peaceful protests were marred by senseless acts of violence and destruction,” he said. “That ugliness was not representative of Missouri, and it cannot be repeated.”

It’s unclear how exactly the grand jury will rule, as competing accounts of the fatal incident have surfaced. Some witnesses say Brown was surrendering to Wilson when he was shot, while others, including Wilson, say Brown had confronted the officer and went for his gun.

It’s unclear how exactly the grand jury will rule, as competing accounts of the fatal incident have surfaced. Some witnesses say Brown was surrendering to Wilson when he was shot, while others – including Wilson – say Brown had confronted the officer and went for his gun.

Even with no decision, some demonstrators have taken to the streets. A crowd of protesters staged a peaceful rally in St. Louis on Sunday, marking 100 days since the tragedy. Protesters laid down on chalk outlines representing shooting victims, pretending they had been killed.

NATO has no money, capability to buy out Russia-bound Mistral warships – source

RIA Novosti/Alexey Filippov

RIA Novosti/Alexey Filippov

NATO doesn’t have the necessary funds to meet the demands of US lawmakers and purchase French-built Mistral warships in order to prevent Russia from getting the vessels, a military source said.

“NATO’s budget is too small to not only purchase Russia-ordered Mistral helicopter carriers, but to even compensate France half of the penalties in accordance with the contract,” a military source in Brussels, Belgium told TASS news agency.

NATO’s military and civilian budget for 2014 amounts $ 1.6 billion, while the penalty for non-delivery of the two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia could reach $ 3 billion, the source explained.

“Moreover, NATO simply doesn’t have a structure that that could receive the ships. The Alliance has almost no military equipment of its own. So there would be no use in the helicopter carriers even if the money to purchase them is found,” the source said.

The idea of buying the Mistral vessels is “absurd from a military point of view” because the ships are “custom-built in accordance with Russian standards, which makes their use by NATO highly problematic and will require additional, expensive refitting,” he stressed.

The source has called the proposal by the US senators “a purely political project, in which NATO as an organization is physically unable to participate.”

“The main irony in this situation” is that even if several NATO member states will be able to allocate the necessary funds and purchase the ships – it’s not France, but Russia, which will get the money, he said.

“The contract has been paid and the redemption price will go to Moscow,” which today is “probably” more interested in money than in Mistral and “does not look too concerned” about the problem with delivery.

“The fact that this logic isn’t obvious to the US congressmen may only cause disappointment among allies and laughter among the Russians,” he concluded.

The comment comes in response to Friday news that eight US lawmakers forwarded a letter to NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, urging the Alliance to purchase the Mistral vessels.

An aerial view shows the Mistral-class helicopter carrier Vladivostok constructed for Russia at the STX Les Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard site in the port of Montoir-de-Bretagne near Saint Nazaire

Reuters/Stephane Mahe

 

“Sensitive to the financial burden that France may incur should it rightly refuse to transfer these warships to Russia, we renew our call that NATO purchase or lease the warships as a common naval asset,” the letter said as quoted by The Hill website.

“Such a decisive move by NATO isn’t without precedent and would show President Putin that our rhetorical resolve is matched by our actual resolve and that this Alliance will not tolerate or abet his dangerous actions in Europe,” it added.

NATO headquarters confirmed that it received letter, but provided no official comments on the possibility of the purchase of the ships.

Russia and France signed a €1.12 billion ($1.6 billion) contract for building two Mistral-type ships in June 2011.

Under the deal, Russia was supposed to receive the first of the two warships, the Vladivostok, in October this year.

However, the delivery has been postponed due the pressure on France by the US and EU, which imposed several waves of sanctions against Moscow over its accession of Crime and the crisis in Ukraine.

The second Mistral-class helicopter carrier, the Sevastopol, is scheduled to be handed over to Russia in 2015.

Mistral deal: France says delivery of warships to Russia still on hold

The French Navy’s Tonnere multi-purpose amphibious assault ship of the Mistral class at the Toulon seaport. (RIA Novosti/Alexander Vilf)

The French Navy’s Tonnere multi-purpose amphibious assault ship of the Mistral class at the Toulon seaport. (RIA Novosti/Alexander Vilf)

The Mistral-type helicopter carriers can accommodate up to 30 light helicopters in its hangar and on deck, although Russia plans to arm the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol with 16 heavy aircraft.

Each ship can also carry up to 450 combat troops (or 900 for short missions) in addition to the crew, complete with amphibious transports, armor and a command center.

Conditions have not yet been met for France to hand over the Mistral-class warship to Russia. According to the contract, it is due to be delivered on November 14, Paris said.

“The conditions today are not met to deliver the Mistral,”French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told RTL radio in an interview.

He added that the conditions the French government wants to see are “that in Ukraine the situation becomes more normal, and things cool down.”

The Russian agency responsible for foreign arms trade said on Thursday that France so far hasn’t sent any official notice that the Mistral contract may not be fulfilled.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said France had invited a new group of Russian Navy seamen and officers for training courses on handling Mistral-class warships, a move indicating that despite its ambivalent rhetoric France is continuing to fulfill the terms of the contract.

Launching the stern of the first Russian Mistral type dock assault helicopter carrier "Vladivostok" at the Baltic Shipyard. (RIA Novosti/Igor Russak)

Launching the stern of the first Russian Mistral type dock assault helicopter carrier “Vladivostok” at the Baltic Shipyard. (RIA Novosti/Igor Russak)

France may hand over the first of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia on November 14, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said. He announced that Moscow had received an invitation to take delivery at France’s Saint-Nazaire shipyards.

“Rosoboronexport [Russia’s state owned arms exporter] has received an invitation to arrive in Saint-Nazaire on November 14, where 360 Russian sailors and 60 specialist trainers are already,” Rogozin said.

On that day, Vladivostok – the first of two Mistral-class helicopter carrier ships – should be handed over to Russia. The Deputy PM also assumed the second carrier, the Sevastopol, would also be in dock.

“We act from the fact that France must protect its own reputation as a reliable partner, including on issues of military cooperation,” he said. France has always stressed that for them this would be “the litmus test of their national pride and sovereignty,” the Deputy PM added.

On Tuesday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that France will decide on delivery of the Mistral-type helicopter carriers to Russia only in November.

“The French president stated earlier that if the political situation does not improve, he will not permit delivery of the helicopter carriers,” Le Drian said. “The president will make a decision by November.”

Launching the stern section of a Mistral-class amphibious assault ship at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg. The ship will be christened the Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

Launching the stern section of a Mistral-class amphibious assault ship at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg. The ship will be christened the Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

Rogozin emphasized that so far everything is proceeding according to plan.

French shipbuilders in the Saint Nazaire shipyard have said, according to RIA Novosti, that the helicopter carriers are ready for delivery.

There has been no official statement from the French authorities yet.

Russia and France signed a €1.12 billion ($1.6 billion) contract for building two Mistral-type ships in June 2011.
Under the deal, Russia was supposed to receive the first of the two warships, the Vladivostok, in October this year.

However, delivery has been postponed due to the conflict in Ukraine, the impetus behind the international community’s pressure on France to cancel the contract.

Western allies have been pushing Paris for months, saying that France has to make sacrifices to meet its commitment to oppose Moscow through sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.

The second Mistral-class helicopter carrier, the Sevastopol, is expected to be handed over to Russia next year.

The Mistral-type helicopter carriers can accommodate up to 30 light helicopters in its hangar and on deck, although Russia plans to arm the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol with 16 heavy aircraft. The ship can also carry up to 450 combat troops (or 900 for short missions) in addition to the crew, complete with amphibious transports, armor and a command center.

Noam Chomsky calls US ‘world’s leading terrorist state’

U.S. linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky (Reuters/Jorge Dan)

U.S. linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky (Reuters/Jorge Dan)

 

RT news

The United States is the “world’s leading terrorist state,” based on its deadly, CIA-run operations in the likes of Nicaragua and Cuba, according to new op-ed by historian and social philosopher Noam Chomsky.

In a new piece posted at Truthout.org, Chomsky pointed to the Central Intelligence Agency’s classified review of its own efforts to arm insurgencies across the globe in its 67-year history. As RT previously reported, the CIA conducted the effectiveness analyses while the Obama administration contemplated arming rebels fighting against President Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria.

The New York Times was the first to uncover the story and Chomsky opened by suggesting the Times’ own headline for it should have been titled, “It’s official: The U.S. is the world’s leading terrorist state, and proud of it,” rather than “CIA Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels.”

 

A rebel fighter from the Free Syrian Army holds a position with a Belgium made FAL rifle at a front line in the Salah al-Din neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo (AFP Photo)

A rebel fighter from the Free Syrian Army holds a position with a Belgium made FAL rifle at a front line in the Salah al-Din neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo (AFP Photo)

The longtime MIT professor went on to detail some of the instances assessed in the CIA’s review and why they amount to an American regime – “the world champion in generating terror” – bent on antagonizing its opposition around the world.

“The first paragraph of the Times article cites three major examples of ‘covert aid’: Angola, Nicaragua and Cuba. In fact, each case was a major terrorist operation conducted by the US,” Chomsky wrote.

He added that it was the US, in the 1980s, that supported Apartheid-era South Africa as it invaded Angola to protect itself “from one of the world’s ‘more notorious terrorist groups,” according to Washington: “Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.”

“Washington joined South Africa in providing crucial support for Jonas Savimbi’s terrorist Unita army in Angola,” wrote Chomsky.

Unita army (AFP Photo)

Unita army (AFP Photo)

“The consequences were horrendous. A 1989 U.N. inquiry estimated that South African depredations led to 1.5 million deaths in neighboring countries, let alone what was happening within South Africa itself.”

Chomsky also mentioned the decades-long “murderous and destructive campaign” the US aimed at Cuba, including the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and a harsh embargo that continues to this day.

“The toll of the long terrorist war was amplified by a crushing embargo, which continues even today in defiance of the world. On Oct. 28, the UN, for the 23rd time, endorsed ‘the necessity of ending the economic, commercial, financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba,’” he wrote.

Chomsky mentioned the dirty wars the US brought to opposition in Central America in the 1980s and current airstrikes in Syria and Iraq aimed at Islamic State, a jihadist group, like others, compiled and strengthened through American interventions in the Middle East, namely the recent Iraq war, he wrote.

 

AFP Photo/U.S. Air Force

AFP Photo/U.S. Air Force

He ended with a note on President Barack Obama’s unmanned drone regime patrolling the skies in the likes of Pakistan and Yemen.

“To this we may add the world’s greatest terrorist campaign: Obama’s global project of assassination of ‘terrorists.’ The ‘resentment-generating impact’ of those drone and special-forces strikes should be too well known to require further comment,” he wrote.

“This is a record to be contemplated with some awe.”

China ‘close to buying $4 bln worth’ of Russian top interceptors

Sukhoi Su-35 fighter (image from http://nikultsev.livejournal.com/)

Sukhoi Su-35 fighter (image from http://nikultsev.livejournal.com/)

Russia and China are close to signing a US$4 billion arms contract, according to a media report. Beijing wants to purchase 48 Sukhoi Su-35 super-maneuverable multi-role interceptors, which are among most advanced Russian combat aircraft.

Most of the terms of the prospective contract, which may become the biggest arms deal between Russia and China in a decade, are already agreed upon, reports Kommersant daily citing sources close to the talks. The price for the jets will be around $85 million apiece, but may yet change.

China’s interest in Su-35s was first hinted in 2008 during the Air Show China exhibition. Insider information that talks on such a deal may start surfaced in 2010, but only in February 2011 was it confirmed officially. Back then Aleksandr Fomin, deputy director for the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said the offer to buy the aircraft was put on table in 2011.

Kommersant says the biggest obstacle to sealing the deal now is Russia’s insistence on a legal guarantee that China would not try to reverse-engineer the technology used in the aircraft. China already did this with Su-27, Su-30 and Mig-29, making them into domestic analogues called J-10, J-11 and FC-1 respectively. They also used a test version of Su-33 obtained through Ukraine to create their J-15 jet. The latest such incident is the copycatting of Su-30MK2 into the J-16 aircraft, the newspaper says.

The Sukhoi Su-35 is a 4++ generation long-range interceptor jet. It has maximum speed of 2,390 km/h and range of 3,400 kilometers. It is armed with 30mm cannon and has 12 wing and fuselage stations for up to 8,000 kg of ordinance, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, rockets, and bombs.

China’s imports of Russian arms have been decreasing over the years, as the country developed its own defense industry. Moscow is concerned that Beijing could soon become a major competitor in the traditional markets like Middle East and Latin America.

Chinese copies of the Russian aircraft may be technically inferior, but are sold several times cheaper than the originals. For instance, in a 2009 tender from Myanmar, Russia offered Mig-29s for $35 million apiece, while China offered FC-1s at $10 million. The contract however went to Russia, but the trend cannot but worry Moscow.