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Russia Calls Trump’s Missile Deployments in Poland and Romania a Violation of Nuclear Treaty

April 30th, 2017 - by admin

AntiWar.com & AAP & The Express – 2017-04-30 23:59:35

Russia: US Missile Deployments in Poland, Romania Violate Arms Treaty

Russia: US Missile Deployments
In Poland, Romania Violate Arms Treaty

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(April 30, 2017) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry has issued a statement this weekend warning that US deployments of $800 million worth of missile defense system into Poland and Romania amount to a “gross violation” of the Intermediate Forces Nuclear Treaty, which the US and Soviet Union reached in the 19800s.

The US has long tried to dismiss this complaint by insisting that the missile defense system wasn’t targeting Russia, long presenting it as aimed at Iran, despite being wholly outside of the range of even Iran’s most advanced missiles. Russian officials say the letter of the treaty is very clear, and the deployments amount to an attempt to weaken the Russian arsenal.

The US has accused Russia of violating the treaty with its own deployments of missiles in recent years, though as yet it appears unclear if the Russian missiles are nuclear-armed, and some have indicated that Russia has attempted to stay just barely within the terms of the treaty, while trying to counterbalance the US deployments.

This has been a recurring problem with modernizing the nuclear treaties, as the territory split in Europe is vastly different than it was during the Cold War, and the US has sought to outright avoid any deal, which puts the missile defense systems explicitly within the treaties’ attempts to ensure a balance of force.

Russia Says US Missiles Violate Treaty

(April 30, 2017) — A US deployment of ballistic missile defense systems in Romania and plans to place more defense systems in Poland violate an existing arms treaty, Russia’s foreign ministry says.

The US switched on an $800 million ($A1.1 billion) missile shield in Romania nearly a year ago and was planning to create another site in Poland, seeing it as vital to defend itself and Europe from so-called rogue states.

In 2016, the Kremlin said it was aimed at blunting its own nuclear arsenal.

The foreign ministry said on Saturday the plans violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INFT), signed by Washington and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s in an attempt to eliminate nuclear and conventional short-and intermediate range missiles.

“The undeniable fact is that this is a gross violation of the INFT obligations,” the ministry said on its website.

Russia Accuse Trump of ‘Violating Arms Treaty’
With US Missile Systems in Romania and Poland

Aletha Adu / The Express

LONDON (April 30, 2017) — Moscow claims the US has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INFT) signed by Washington and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.

The treaty was initiated to eliminate nuclear and conventional short-and-intermediate range missiles and was believed to be a turning point in relations between Russia and the US.

However, the former soviet state said America’s deployment of the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile system in Romania and their plans to place more defence systems in Poland would violate it.

In a statement, the Russian foreign ministry said: “Washington is providing deliberately false information about its ‘fulfilment’ of obligations under the INF treaty. For years, the United States has been simply ignoring Russia’s serious concerns.”

The US switched on a £61.7million ($800 million) missile shield in Romania nearly a year ago and was planning to create another site in Poland.

Washington believes the system is vital to defend itself and Europe from so-called rogue states. In response, last year the Kremlin said it was aimed at blunting its own nuclear arsenal.

Russia’s Foreign ministry statement added: “The undeniable fact is that this is a gross violation of the INFT obligations.

The accusations come months after the US accused the former soviet state of deploying a cruise missile in violation of the INFT.

The US Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman General Paul Selva said Russia’s move posed a “risk to most of our [America’s] facilities in Europe”.

But on Friday, tensions soared as one of Vladimir Putin’s top defence ministers, Frants Klintsevich, said Russia will provide an explosive response if the US decides to use any of its nuclear weapons.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Exxon Fined $20 Million for Polluting our Air: Sanders Has a Bill to Protect Our Air

April 30th, 2017 - by admin

Alexandra Jacobo / Nation of Change – 2017-04-30 23:13:07

Exxon to pay $20 million for violating Clean Air Act 16,386 times

People’s Climate March in Chicago

Exxon to Pay $20 Million
For Violating Clean Air Act 16,386 Times

Alexandra Jacobo / Nation of Change

(April 29, 2017) — A Texas judge has ordered ExxonMobil to pay nearly $20 million in fines after finding that one of the company’s chemical plants released millions of pounds of pollutants into the environment.

The ruling was part of a suit brought against the mega-corporation by Environment Texas and the Sierra Club in 2010. The groups argued that Exxon failed to implement technology to curb emissions at its facility in Baytown, Texas. Between the years of 2005 and 2013 Exxon gained more than $14 million in benefits by failing to follow provisions of the Clean Air Act.

Judge David Hittner sided with the environmental groups. His findings include the fact that Exxon illegally released more than 10 million pounds of pollutants between 2005 and 2013.

The final ruling found Exxon violated the Clean Air Act 16,386 times, with each violation carrying a fine of up to $37,500 per day. Judge Hittner fined the company $1.4 million for the pollution and $19.9 million for penalties, an amount that was proposed by the two plaintiffs.

Neil Carman, clean air program director for the Sierra Club released a statement saying:

“Today’s decision sends a resounding message that it will not pay to pollute Texas. We will not stand idly by when polluters put our health and safety at risk.”

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, stated that he believes the ruling is “the largest penalty resulting from a citizen suit in U.S. history” and “It means that private citizens victimized by the world’s biggest polluters can get justice in the American court system, even when government regulators look the other way.”

Of course Exxon disagrees with the ruling and may appeal. The company told Reuters in a statement:

“We disagree with the court’s decision and the award of any penalty. As the court expressed in its decision, ExxonMobil’s full compliance history and good faith efforts to comply weigh against assessing any penalty.”

ACTION ALERT: Bernie and the 100 by 50 Bill!
Bernie Sanders Launches Clean Energy Bill
To Phase Out Fossil Fuels by 2050

Alexandra Jacobo / Nation of Change

“The impacts of #climatechange are upon us. We cannot afford to take small, incremental steps. We need a bold vision to #ActOnClimate now.”
— Senator Jeff Merkley

“Donald Trump is wrong about a lot of things, but there is no area where he is more wrong than on the issue of climate change.”
— Senator Bernie Sanders

(April 28, 2017) — Senators Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey, along with climate movement leaders responsible for this weekend’s People’s Climate March, announced new legislation that would call for 100% clean energy by 2050.

The impacts of #climatechange are upon us. We cannot afford to take small, incremental steps. We need a bold vision to #ActOnClimate now.

The piece of legislation, called the “100 by ’50 Act” calls for a complete removal of dependence on fossil fuels, while creating a plan to support workers and low income communities, especially those that rely on the fossil fuel industry for jobs, in a transition to clean energy sources. It also plans to end new fossil fuel investments, increase clean energy-based grid storage and create more “green” jobs.

They are calling the bill “the most ambitious piece of climate legislation Congress has ever seen.”

“Mr. President, your job is to listen to the scientific community, which is virtually unanimous in telling us that we have got to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” Bernie Sanders said.

The legislation has also been sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) as well as 12 different climate concern groups, including the Sierra Club and the hosts of this weekend’s People’s Climate march, the League of Conservation Voters.

The “100 by ’50 Act” would stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, such as the famous Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines. Instead, funding would go to new clean energy projects, which would include four million jobs.

Of course the bill’s supporters aren’t fooling themselves. As Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, stated: “This bill won’t pass Congress immediately — the fossil fuel industry will see to that — but it will change the debate in fundamental ways.”

This bill is unlikely to pass during the Trump administration, but it is a great step forward, as well as a good foundation for state and local government to build on.

“Donald Trump is wrong about a lot of things,” Sanders said, “but there is no area where he is more wrong than on the issue of climate change.”

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Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Monkey Wrenching the Sky: The Age of Geoengineering

April 29th, 2017 - by admin

Ian Baldwin / The Vermont Independent – 2017-04-29 23:51:04


Monkey Wrenching Vermont’s Night Sky
Ian Baldwin / The Vermont Independent

Our Geoengineering Age, Introduction

Publisher’s Note: Earth Day 2017 marks the beginning of our series on geoengineering, the most important and underreported global environmental phenomenon of our time, researched and written by Chelsea Green co-founder Ian Baldwin. Read installment #2 – “Beyond Global Climate Talks – below.

(April 21, 2017) — I grew up in the 1940s in the country, an hour’s drive north of the George Washington Bridge and New York City. When I was about seven years old, my grandfather, my mother’s father, discovered I liked birds. An avid birdwatcher who had suffered the loss of his hearing acuity, Grandpa invited me to be his ears on long early morning bird walks whenever my family visited.

He taught me the pleasure of being in the woods, out of the range of human voices and the noise of traffic. I learned to identify birds by their sounds, and he taught me their names. Without realizing it, I was imbued with conservationist values from my earliest years, and later, during the 1970s, when I wrote grant proposals for a number of activist national environmental organizations, I became more knowingly committed to those values.

As a watcher of birds I became too a watcher of the sky above me, first for signs of hawks and vultures; later, for the pleasure of watching clouds.

When a friend spoke to me a decade or so ago about what he called “chemtrails,” I held up my hands reflexively, palms out, signaling him to cease and desist. I didn’t want to hear about it. Then something happened. In retrospect I think of it as my first encounter with the geoengineering monkey wrench.

It happened ten years ago, when I awoke at 3 AM on a warm October night. Suddenly wide awake, I decided to get up and stand outside in the moonlight that was flooding the house. I stood outside by our garage, looked up and beheld a gargantuan murky cloud. An unaccountable, horizon-to-horizon corrugated, scabrous serpent-cloud, inert and staggeringly immense, it hung motionless aloft for as long as I stared at it. A long while. I

llumined by grisly moonlight its sheer extraordinariness — its inexplicable garishness — created a visceral impression that has never left me. Standing in the moonlight I thought of that moment, reflecting on my friend’s attempted alert I whispered to myself, ‘My god, he was right’.

It took me ten years to gird myself to undertake an exploration of that dark apparition, an investigation that has uncorked as many questions as it has answered.

Science historian James R. Fleming has made it incontestably clear that geoengineering is a creature birthed and brought to life inside the military. [1] The reason so many questions about geoengineering remain difficult to answer is that military research and operations are typically classified, usually highly classified, and thus impenetrable to public view.

The highly militarized national security state and its permanent war economy [2] that evolved ever since the end of World War II guards its secrets with ferocity and guile, and for the most part the public, certainly the US public and its corporate media — and most shamefully, the nation’s environmental community — stays dutifully silent when confronted with claims that an issue cannot be broached due to reasons of “national security.”

This situation of complicit silence, enforced at the outset of the Cold War, has persisted despite the end of that war in 1989-1991, and has been magnified since September 11, 2001.

One of the most puzzling questions I’ve stumbled on is what I think of as the Jekyll-and-Hyde conundrum: it turns out geoengineers are a diverse but divided community, a profession that exhibits dissociative identity disorder — a split personality.

Mr. Hyde, the “dark side” personality, sometimes referred to as a “weaponeer,” has worked out of public sight for the military for many decades to weaponize the weather, the climate, and other Earth systems such as the ionosphere.

One of Mr. Hyde’s foremost redoubts has been the University of California Berkeley’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), co-founded in 1952 by the father of the H-bomb, Edward Teller. [3]

Mr. Hyde’s legacy stretches back seven decades; his work since the Vietnam War has continued out of public sight (and will do so for as long as the militarized national security state holds our uncritical allegiance).

Dr. Jekyll, on the other hand, represents by and large the open and typically optimistic public, civilian face of the geoengineering community, the “good” scientist, oriented to solving the “climate problem.”

Ever since 2006 when Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen aired a new version of an old Hydean scheme to spray sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere to cool down the climate, [4] the good scientist (and geoengineer) has been scrupulously oriented to help humanity without regard to national identity. But not all the players are so oriented, as we shall learn.

Crutzen was the first to break the ranks of the climate scientists and initiate an open discussion about geoengineering, dragging the once arcane notion out of obscurity and irrevocably linking climate scientists to climate engineers.

The grizzled weaponeers (nuclear weapons scientists) emerged as do-good climate engineers and the term “geoengineering” entered daily public discourse for the first time, fit for print.

Though located in universities, prestigious research institutes, and erstwhile nuclear weapons labs, the academic geoengineers have an obscure brotherhood inside the military, whose scientific findings over a span of decades’ research form a legacy that is publicly unacknowledged, locked inside military manuals and classified scientific documents.

One purpose of this essay is therefore perhaps unavoidably therapeutic: I wish to help promote an integration of two scientific communities, or more precisely, to persuade the cheery Dr. Jekyll to recognize his alter ego, the obscure Mr. Hyde, and to do so within plain sight of the entire global climate-change science and activist community.

Why? Because until this self-reckoning happens no good will come of Dr. Jekyll’s supposedly benign schemes to deal with Earth’s climate. The clever and above all determined Mr. Hyde, an inveterate national security warrior, will use such schemes for his own anachronistic national security ends.

He always has. And history demonstrates these ends do not serve the benefit of all humanity. Nor what geoscientists now call the Earth System.

Unlike partisan warfare, climate change involves the entirety of the human family, the entire biosphere, the fate of a living totality, planet Earth. A hidden partisan identity within the geoengineering community that places the interests of some nations over those of others inevitably will subvert the geoengineering community’s attempts to influence a whole-Earth system like the climate. And they will lead us directly into anthropogenic climate chaos.

[1] James R Fleming, Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).

[2] Seymour Melman, The Permanent War Economy: American Capitalism in Decline (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974) and Seymour Melman, “They Are All Implicated In the Grip of a Permanent War Economy,” Counterpunch, March 15, 2003. Accessed on July 09, 2015.

[3] Hugh Gusterson, Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996).

file://localhost/x-webdoc/::F128E364-598F-4541-B136-BA0EF48FD7A4: – _ftnref44 Paul J Crutzen, “Albedo enhancement by stratospheric sulfur injections: A contribution to resolve a policy dilemma?” Climate Change, 77 (2006). Accessed June 4, 2015.

Beyond Global Climate Talks
Our Geoengineering Age, Part 2)

A wall of silence surrounds the subject of geoengineering past and present. But now geoengineering future bubbles brightly in our ears. The disconnection between a fecund and little understood past and its presumed, shortly-to-be-hatched progeny is an unsettling one. Neither parent nor child seems to recognize each other.

The Royal Society begins its definition of geoengineering as “the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment” and by itself this serves as a historically valid definition. The Society adds: “to counteract anthropogenic climate change,” which serves to make the new but more narrow definition of geoengineering as climate engineering, or in its most current iteration, “climate intervention.” [1]

Broad or narrow, for nearly three-quarters of a century geoengineering has been conducted for reasons that have little to do with the mandate to ameliorate climate change and much to do with war, and secondly with commerce.

This odd paradox has shadowed the world climate negotiations that took place, most recently, in the Paris suburb of Le Bourget during December 2015 to try and achieve, after over 20 years of trying, a legally binding universal agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and limit the rise of global temperatures to 2° C above pre-industrial levels.

According to John Shepherd, chair of the Royal Society’s 2009 geoengineering study that featured ‘Plan B’, “We are already staring 1.6° C in the face.” [2]

Six years later, climate scientists warn Greenland and Antarctic ice melt is already so rapid that the 2° C increase limit is no longer reliable and that a “sea level rise of several meters” could render such coastal cities as London, New York, and Shanghai uninhabitable during this century, unless immediate countervailing global action is taken. [3]

We have been prepped to bite the new geoengineering bait for some time now. In 1997, Edward Teller popularized the idea of a “sunscreen” for planet Earth in the Wall Street Journal. [4]

Two years later Dr. Teller’s protege Ken Caldeira co-wrote the paper that “crunched the numbers” to show that indeed a stratospheric aerosol sunscreen could work to counteract the effects of sharply increasing CO2. [5]

Ever since geoengineers and their funders [6] have inched their way toward a rough consensus, hedged about with caveats, that solar radiation management (SRM) — placing reflective aerosols in the stratosphere — is the best, and least expensive, “solution” currently available to “the climate problem.”

In June 2015 geoengineer Caldeira proclaimed, “There is a chance climate change will prove truly catastrophic, with people suffering and dying in many parts of the world . . . .The only thing politicians can do to cause Earth’s climate to cool within their terms in office is to reflect more of the sun’s warming rays back into space” [emphasis added]. [7]

Though the movement toward consensus about climate intervention is not without serious debate and strenuous dissension, the repetitive warnings of imminent climate disasters sways the dialogue ineluctably toward eventual “intervention.”

And this is likely the outcome the US and its NATO allies wish for, and perhaps as well the Russians, as it would serve as a perfect cover for what many believe are ongoing, classified geoengineering activities.

The path of climate intervention is well worn. It reveals tracks old as well as fresh, footprints we are ill advised to ignore, despite the complicit silence of corporate media, academia, and of course, governments and their military establishments.

And so the road to future world climate negotiations is paved with intentions both good (Jeykllian) and above all unknown (Hydean), and obscured by a long history of denial, prevarication, outright deceit, and collective inattention.

[1] The Royal Society, “Geoengineering the Climate: Science, Governance and Uncertainty,” September 1, 2009. Accessed June 6, 2015, See also Jeff McMahon, “Four Reasons to Study a Bad Idea: Geoengineering,” Forbes, February 25, 2015. Accessed August 3, 2015.

[2] Catherine Brahic, “Top Science Body Calls for Geoengineering ‘Plan B'”, New Scientist, September 1, 2009. Accessed May 30, 2015.

[3] James Hansen et al, “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2° C global warming is highly dangerous,” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion, European Geosciences Union, July 23, 2015. Accessed July 30, 2015,

[4] Edward Teller, “The Planet Needs a Sunscreen,” Wall Street Journal, October 17, 1997 (Reprint, Hoover Digest, January 30, 1998). Accessed June 06, 2015.

[5] Bala Govindasamy and Ken Caldeira, “Geoengineering Earth’s Radiation Balance to Mitigate CO2-induced Climate Change,” Geophysical Research Letters, 27, no.14 (2000). Accessed June 15, 2015,

[6] Marc Gunther, “The business of cooling the planet,” Fortune, October 7, 2011. Accessed July 29, 2015,

[7] Ken Caldeira, “One Known Way to Cool the Earth: Another View,” USA Today, February 15, 2015. Accessed June 15, 2015.

Ian Baldwin is a life-long environmentalist and co-founder and Publisher Emeritus of Chelsea Green. After working for several national environmental organizations in the 1970s, he co-founded the EF Schumacher Society (US) before launching Chelsea Green in 1984 with his wife Margo Baldwin. In 2005, he and Rob Williams co-founded Vermont Commons: Voices of Independence to explore the possibilities of rescaled living in a future Vermont republic.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

ACTION ALERT: Test US Military Bases for Water Contamination

April 29th, 2017 - by admin

Laura Olah / Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger & Jennifer McDermott / Associated Press – 2017-04-29 23:30:18

Special to Environmentalists Against War

ACTION ALERT: Testing Military Bases for Water Contamination
Laura Olah / Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger

To Cease Fire Campaign organizations:

(April 26, 2017) — I received a “Dear Stakeholder” letter from the EPA today asking for public input on existing regulations that could be repealed, replaced or modified to make them less burdensome (to polluters, of course).

Details about opportunities for public comment and to register for an upcoming listening session (by telephone) are posted online at:

Every voice matters — please participate if you can.

Laura Olah is the Executive Director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) and the coordinator of its Cease Fire Campaign.
Contacts: E12629 Weigand’s Bay S, Merrimac, WI 53561. (608) 643-3124
info@cswab.org. www.cswab.org.http://cswab.org/resources/cease-fire-campaign

The Military Plans to Examine Whether Chemicals
From Firefighting Foam May Have Contaminated
Groundwater at 664 Sites Nationwide, Officials Say

Jennifer McDermott / Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (March 10, 2016) — The military plans to examine hundreds of sites nationwide to determine whether chemicals from foam used to fight fires have contaminated groundwater and spread to drinking water, the Defense Department said.

The checks are planned for 664 sites where the military has conducted fire or crash training, military officials told The Associated Press this week.

Since December, tests have been carried out at 28 naval sites in mostly coastal areas. Drinking water at a landing field in Virginia and the groundwater at another site in New Jersey have been found to contain levels above the guidance given by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Navy said. Results of the other tests have either come up under federally acceptable levels or are pending.

The Navy is giving bottled water to its personnel at the Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress in Chesapeake, Virginia, and is testing wells in a nearby rural area after the discovery of perfluorinated chemicals in drinking water, which the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says may be associated with prostate, kidney and testicular cancer, along with other health issues.

The Navy found perfluorinated chemicals in the groundwater monitoring wells at Naval Weapons Station Earle in Colts Neck, New Jersey, but not in the drinking water supply. Test results from off-base drinking water wells are expected this month.

And several congressmen are raising concerns about the safety of drinking water near two former Navy bases in suburban Philadelphia. The lawmakers say firefighting foams might be the source of chemicals found in nearly 100 public and private wells near the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster.

The foam is used where potentially catastrophic fuel fires can occur, such as in a plane crash, because it can rapidly extinguish them. It contains perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOS and PFOA, both considered emerging contaminants by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Defense Department said that until foam without perfluorinated chemicals can be certified for military use, it is removing stocks of it in some places and also trying to prevent any uncontrolled releases during training exercises.

The military is beginning to assess the risk to groundwater at the training sites not only to determine the extent of contamination, but also to identify any action the Defense Department needs to take, said Lt. Col. Eric D. Badger, a department spokesman.

California has the most sites, with 85, followed by Texas, with 57, Florida, with 38, and Alaska and South Carolina, each with 26, according to a list provided to the AP. Each state has at least one site.

Knowledge about the chemicals’ effects has been evolving, and the EPA does not regulate them. The agency in 2009 issued guidance on the level at which they are considered harmful to health, but it was only an advisory — not a standard that could be legally enforced.

The EPA said then that it was assessing the potential risk from short-term exposure through drinking water. It later began studying the health effects from a lifetime of exposure. Those studies remain in progress.

The Navy started handing out bottled water in January to about 50 people at the contaminated Virginia site, and it worked with the city to set up a water station for concerned property owners after it found perfluorinated chemicals in on-base drinking water wells above the concentrations in the EPA advisory.

The Navy is testing private wells of nearby property owners; those results are due next week.

Chris Evans, of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, credited the Navy with being proactive but said he’s concerned anytime there’s a potential threat to human health and the environment.

Some states have established their own drinking water and groundwater guidelines for the maximum allowable concentrations of the chemicals; Virginia uses the EPA’s.

“We’ll follow EPA’s lead as this develops,” Evans said.

There’s a lot of evolving science around perfluorinated chemicals, said Lawrence Hajna, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

“The more that we hear, the more that we realize that this is a very important health concern,” he said.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

The Shame of Killing Innocent People

April 29th, 2017 - by admin

Kathy Kelly / AntiWar.com & Sen. Rand Paul / Rare.us – 2017-04-29 23:18:05

The Shame of Killing Innocent People

The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Kathy Kelly / AntiWar.com

(April 29, 2017) — On April 26th, 2017, in Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, the Saudi-led coalition which has been waging war in Yemen for the past two years dropped leaflets informing Hodeidah’s residents of an impending attack. One leaflet read:
“Our forces of legitimacy are heading to liberate Hodeidah and end the suffering of our gracious Yemeni people. Join your legitimate government in favor of the free and happy Yemen.”

And another:
“The control of the Hodeidah port by the terrorist Houthi militia will increase famine and hinder the delivery of international relief aid to our gracious Yemeni people.”

Certainly the leaflets represent one aspect of a confusing and highly complicated set of battles raging in Yemen. Given alarming reports about near famine conditions in Yemen, it seems the only ethical “side” for outsiders to choose would be that of children and families afflicted by hunger and disease.

Yet the US has decidedly taken the side of the Saudi-led coalition. Consider a Reuters report, on April 19, 2017, after US Defense Secretary James Mattis met with senior Saudi officials. According to the report, US officials said “US support for the Saudi-led coalition was discussed including what more assistance the United States could provide, including potential intelligence support . . .”

The Reuters report notes that Mattis believes “Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East would have to be overcome to end the conflict in Yemen, as the United States weighs increasing support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting there.”

Iran may be providing some weapons to the Houthi rebels, but it’s important to clarify what support the US has given to the Saudi-led coalition. As of March 21, 2016, Human Rights Watch reported the following weapon sales, in 2015 to the Saudi government:

* July 2015, the US Defense Department approved a number of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, including a US $5.4 billion deal for 600 Patriot Missiles and a $500 million deal for more than a million rounds of ammunition, hand grenades, and other items, for the Saudi army.

* According to the US Congressional review, between May and September, the US sold $7.8 billion worth of weapons to the Saudis.

* In October, the US government approved the sale to Saudi Arabia of up to four Lockheed Littoral Combat Ships for $11.25 billion.

* In November, the US signed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $1.29 billion for more than 10,000 advanced air-to-surface munitions including laser-guided bombs, “bunker buster” bombs, and MK84 general purpose bombs; the Saudis have used all three in Yemen.

Reporting about the role of the United Kingdom in selling weapons to the Saudis, Peace News notes that “Since the bombing began in March 2015, the UK has licensed over £3.3bn worth of arms to the regime, including:

* £2.2 billion worth of ML10 licenses (aircraft, helicopters, drones)

* £1.1 billion worth of ML4 licenses (grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)

* £430,000 worth of ML6 licenses (armored vehicles, tanks)

What has the Saudi-led coalition done with all of this weaponry? A United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights panel of experts found that:
“At least 3,200 civilians have been killed and 5,700 wounded since coalition military operations began, 60 percent of them in coalition airstrikes.”

A Human Rights Watch report, referring to the UN panel’s findings, notes that the panel documented attacks on
camps for internally displaced persons and refugees;
civilian gatherings, including weddings;
civilian vehicles, including buses;
civilian residential areas;
medical facilities;
markets, factories and food storage warehouses;
and other essential civilian infrastructure, such as
the airport in Sana’a,
the port in Hodeidah and
domestic transit routes.”

Five cranes in Hodeidah, which were formerly used to offload goods from ships arriving in the port city were destroyed by Saudi airstrikes. 70% of Yemen’s food comes through the port city.

Saudi coalition airstrikes have hit at least four hospitals supported by Doctors Without Borders.

In light of these findings, the leaflets fluttering down from Saudi jets on the beleaguered city of Hodeidah, encouraging residents to side with the Saudis “in favor of the free and happy Yemen” seem exceptionally bizarre.

UN agencies have clamored for humanitarian relief. Yet the role the UN Security Council has played in calling for negotiations seems entirely lopsided.

On April 14, 2016, UN Security Council Resolution 2216 demanded “that all parties in the embattled country, in particular the Houthis, immediately and unconditionally end violence and refrain from further unilateral actions that threatened the political transition.” At no point is Saudi Arabia mentioned in the Resolution.

Speaking on December 19, 2016, Sheila Carpico, Professor of Political Science at the University of Richmond and a leading Yemen specialist called the UN Security Council sponsored negotiations a cruel joke.

These negotiations are based on UN Security Council resolutions 2201 and 2216. Resolution 2216 of 14 April 2015, reads as if Saudi Arabia is an impartial arbitrator rather than a party to an escalating conflict, and as if the GCC “transition plan” offers a “peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition process that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people, including women.”

Although scarcely three weeks into the Saudi-led intervention the UN’s deputy secretary-general for human rights said that the majority of the 600 people already killed were civilian victims of Saudi and Coalition airstrikes, UNSC 2216 called only on “Yemeni parties” to end the use of violence. There was no mention of the Saudi-led intervention. There was similarly no call for a humanitarian pause or corridor.

The UN Security Council resolution seems as bizarre as the leaflets delivered by the Saudi jets.

The US Congress could put an end to US complicity in the crimes against humanity being committed by military forces in Yemen. Congress could insist that the US stop supplying the Saudi led coalition with weapons, stop helping Saudi jets to refuel, end diplomatic cover for Saudi Arabia, and stop providing the Saudis with intelligence support.

And perhaps the US Congress would move in this direction if elected representatives believed that their constituents care deeply about these issues. In today’s political climate, public pressure has become vital.

Historian Howard Zinn famously said, in 1993, “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose which is unattainable. If the purpose is to stop terrorism, even the supporters of the bombing say it won’t work; if the purpose is to gain respect for the United States, the result is the opposite . . .” And if the purpose is to raise the profits of major military contractors and weapon peddlers?

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

The US Should Not Fund Saudi Arabia’s War on Yemen
Sen. Rand Paul / Rare.us

(April 28, 2017) — American-built planes with American bombs were used by the Saudis to bomb a funeral procession in Yemen. Over 100 people were killed, and 500 mourners were wounded. Active duty American pilots have been refueling the planes dropping bombs across Yemen.

Sounds like war to me.

But when did we declare war on Yemen? When did Congress vote to authorize military force in Yemen? Who is the enemy, and why are we fighting them?

Let’s be clear: war was NOT declared by Congress, as the Constitution requires. Congress never authorized American participation in a war in Yemen. And yet, here we are, involved in yet another Middle East war.

We have an unfortunate habit of arming foreign nations, only to discover that these supposed allies may be creating more enemies for America than they are killing.

Not only are we selling the bombs to Saudi Arabia that they are dropping on Yemen, the president’s first military act was to send a manned raid of Navy Seals into Yemen.

Tragically, one of our Navy SEALs was killed, along with several women and children. I don’t blame our soldiers — they take orders. They do the best that they can under the circumstances. I do, however, blame the politicians who send our soldiers into impossible situations.

Confronted by civilians, sometimes women and children, firing weapons at them, our soldiers must return fire. But before putting our soldiers in that unenviable position, shouldn’t Congress debate whether involving our nation in a war in Yemen is in our national security interest?

The raid killed al-Qaeda operatives who, while likely enemies of ours, were actually fighting the same people the Saudis are fighting: the Houthi rebels.

To emphasize, the Saudis and al-Qaeda are fighting a common enemy in the Houthi rebels. In essence, we sent Navy Seals into Yemen to kill people who actually were fighting a common enemy.

In a country where so many factions are fighting, it is nearly impossible to distinguish friend from foe.

Thousands of civilians have been killed by Saudi bombings in Yemen. The blowback from these civilian deaths will be generations of hatred and likely more terrorism.

It is also possible our involvement in the Yemeni Civil war could allow a situation where the Saudis and the Houthis decimate each other, leaving a vacuum that al-Qaeda fills. Think it can’t happen? Well it’s exactly what happened when America and Saudi-supported rebels pushed back Assad in Syria, leaving a power gap that ISIS filled.

In recent years, there hasn’t been a military action taken in Yemen by Saudi Arabia that doesn’t have America’s fingerprints all over it.

As my colleague Senator Chris Murphy said last year, “If you talk to Yemenis, they will tell you that this is perceived inside Yemen as not a Saudi-led bombing campaign [ . . .] but as a US bombing campaign or at best a US-Saudi bombing campaign.”

Obviously, none of this enhances US national security. But how many Americans are even aware that we are actively involved in a war in Yemen?

Last year I introduced a bipartisan bill with Sen. Murphy to stop a US transfer of arms and dollars — costing $1.15 billion in all — to the Saudis. The Senate voted to allow the sale. The debate, however, prompted President Obama to reconsider and ultimately to cancel the sale of more bombs to Saudi Arabia.

Now, the Trump administration is considering going ahead with more missile sales to Saudi Arabia. This would be a serious mistake. If the sale is debated in Congress, I will reintroduce legislation to stop it.

Other reasons not to sell offensive arms to Saudi Arabia include their abysmal human rights record and lingering questions about that nation’s possible role in 9/11.

The families of 9/11 victims have an active legal case alleging Saudi culpability for 9/11. These are complaints that bear review, considering that 16 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.

One of the memos discovered during the Hillary Clinton email leak stated, “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIS and other radical groups in the region.”

A State Department cable released by Wikileaks in 2009 revealed, “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda [and] the Taliban [ . . .]”

Why don’t we hear more about this?

President Trump promised to put America first again, precisely because so much of what we have done in our foreign policy in recent years has been to other countries’ benefit but to the detriment of the US

In the upcoming debate, I hope the president will seriously consider the unintended consequences of getting us mired in yet another Middle East war.

That would be a mistake. I think it’s high time we start learning from our mistakes.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Talk to, Don’t Provoke, North Korea

April 29th, 2017 - by admin

Sheldon Richman / The Libertarian Institute – 2017-04-29 22:49:22


Talk to, Don’t Provoke, North Korea
Sheldon Richman / The Libertarian Institute

(April 28, 2017) — There’s little more we can do than hope that some cool heads around Donald Trump are telling him he’d be nuts to attack North Korea. I don’t know who they might be. Still, we must hope.

It doesn’t take a lifetime of study to know that, fortunately, no military resolution of the standoff is available. Ten million South Koreans live within artillery reach of the capital of Seoul, some 30 miles from the demilitarized zone separating North and South.

Nearly 30,000 US military personnel are around there too. North Korea has thousands of underground and undersea military facilities that American bombs and missiles would not find. A conventional US attack would be catastrophic, a nuclear attack far, far worse, for the horrifying effects would spill over to China and Japan.

So what would be accomplished? Nothing good. That’s for sure.

Where, then, is the Trump from a year ago? You know, the one who said, “I would speak to him [North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un]. I would have no problem speaking to him.”? As we well know, there are many Donald Trumps. Well, that’s the one we need now. Instead we have sabre-rattling Trump, along with Vice President Pence and others on the national-security squad.

The two governments have much to talk about. (Alas, as long as we’re stuck with the Westphalian system, we must make the best of it.) First things first. And by first, I mean peace.

Yes, Kim, like his father and grandfather before him, is a tyrant. But when has that ever stopped an American president from dealing with — and often befriending — a ruler? Never. American presidents have allied with some of the most ruthless heads of states of the 20th century.

Trump recently entertained a tyrant — al-Sisi of Egypt — at the White House, praising him profusely. Then he called the head of Turkey — Erdogan — to congratulate him on expanding his autocratic powers through the ballot box. Nixon went to meet Mao Zedong, one of the great mass murderers in history, to open normal relations with what we once called Red China.

Kim and North Korea, therefore, are not unique in that respect. But they are unique in another way. The US government fought an undeclared war — sorry, police action — alongside South Korea’s own tyrant — Syngman Rhee — against North Korea and Kim’s grandfather — Kim Il-sung — from 1950 to 1953 because President Harry Truman didn’t want the Republicans saying he “lost Korea.”

The US Air Force obliterated the country through carpet-bombing after Truman decided atomic bombs were not practical, in contrast to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, a few years earlier.

The bombing and shooting stopped with an armistice, but no peace treaty was ever signed to formally end the war. For decades, the North Korean government has sought that treaty and a nonaggression pact with the US government, but the requests always fell on deaf ears.

Finally, in 1994 President Bill Clinton reached an agreement with the North Korean government. First, a little more background. A decade earlier North Korea had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), agreeing not to develop nuclear weapons and making it subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

But North Korea refused to give the IAEA access to information and suspected sites, so the agency found North Korea in noncompliance with its NPT agreement in 1993 on suspicion that it held undeclared plutonium. North Korea then announced plans to leave the NPT.

Things looked bleak until North Korea asked to meet with the US government to settle their disputes. The Clinton administration agreed — on the condition that the IAEA have all they access it had sought. North Korean eventually agreed.

In turn, the administration called off annual war games with South Korea — North Korea had been insisted on that — and began negotiations. Clinton also conditioned the talks on continued IAEA access and North Korean negotiations with South Korea.

Under the resulting “Agreed Framework,” North Korea would convert its nuclear industry from heavy- to light-water reactors for power generation. In the meantime the US government would provide it oil for heat and electricity.

In addition the governments would normalize political and economic relations, and the US government would forswear the use of nuclear weapons against North Korea, which would remain a party to the NPT, with all this implied for IAEA inspections.

All of this was most promising. North Korean froze its plutonium program beyond Clinton’s tenure, until 2002, and the administration, writes historian Bruce Cumings, “in October 2000, had indirectly worked out a deal to buy all of its medium- and long-range missiles. Clinton also signed an agreement with Gen. Jo Myong-rok stating that henceforth, neither country would bear ‘hostile intent’ toward the other.”

However, as Fareed Zakaria writes, “the brief effort at cooperation during the Clinton years was halfhearted, with Washington failing to fulfill some of its promises to North Korea. In any event, the rapprochement was quickly reversed by the George W. Bush administration.” As Cumings puts it, “The Bush administration promptly ignored [the] agreements and set out to destroy the 1994 freeze.”

Mike Chenoy adds, “After a review of Korea policy, Bush declined to reaffirm the communique pledging ‘no hostile intent.’ Meanwhile, leading conservatives in his administration — Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Undersecretary of State John Bolton and others — actively sought to torpedo the Agreed Framework.”

Recall that Bush’s 2002 State of the Union speech included North Korea in his infamous “axis of evil” after the administration accused — without providing evidence — that North Korea had abrogated the agreement.

“The results have been clear,” Zakaria writes. “North Korea has continued to build its nuclear program and engage in provocative tests. As isolation and sanctions have increased in recent years, Pyongyang has only become more confrontational.”

It pulled out of the NPT and embarked on its current program to develop nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Gordon Prather writes, “With the Agreed Framework unilaterally abrogated and its associated shipments of American fuel-oil permanently halted, the Koreans apparently felt they had no choice but to withdraw from the NPT, rip off the IAEA seals and padlocks, restart their plutonium-producing reactor and resume recovery of weapons-grade plutonium.”

As Cumings writes, “The simple fact is that Pyongyang would have no nuclear weapons if Clinton’s agreements had been sustained.”

A later attempt in the Bush years to deal with North Korea in a multilateral context that included Russia and China bore no fruit. (The new effort began when Condoleezza Rice’s State Department had gained an advantage over Vice President Dick Cheney.

At one point, it included removing North Korean from the terrorism list.) In 2009 Prather noted that “what China and Russia have been attempting to do, since 2005, via the Six-Party talks, is to help clean up the mess Bush-Cheney-Bolton made on the neighboring Korean peninsula.”

The problem was that North Korea had been given no reason to trust the US government. Prather described the context of “Second Phase Actions” of October 2007: the purpose was “to effectively re-instate the Agreed Framework of 1994, except that now North Korea has –- somewhere –- at least a half-dozen plutonium-239 based nukes, definitely not under IAEA padlock or seal.

Furthermore, North Korea is no longer a signatory to the NPT. Hence, North Korea is under no international obligation to give up its nuke stockpile.”

Bush-Cheney-Bolton had indeed made a royal mess of things. Remember this the next someone asks, “Can we trust North Korea?” The more appropriate question is whether North Korea can trust the US government.

Decades of embargos and other attempts to isolate North Korea have failed to destabilize the regime or change its policies. Every administrations’ expectation that the government would fall have been dashed. Thus more of the same, including efforts to have China join in isolating North Korea, won’t work.

We should recall how US economic warfare against Imperial Japan turned out: it resulted in a (hoped-for) attack on the United States, specifically, its naval fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Let us dispense, once and for all, with the idea that Kim is a madman. Brutality is not madness, and a madman wouldn’t be expected to capitulate to economic pressure. He shows every sign of wanting his regime to endure, which means he would not want the US military or nuclear arsenal to pulverize it. Assuming rationality in this context asserts only that Kim’s means are reasonably related to his ends.

For example, Kim shows every sign of having learned the lesson of recent US regime-change policies toward Iraq and Libya, neither of which were nuclear states. Same with Syria, whose regime has been targeted by the US government. The lesson is: if you want to deter a US attack, get yourself some nukes.

The upshot is that negotiation of a clear nonaggression pact and a US renunciation of preemptive war and the use of nuclear weapons has a good chance of succeeding. This is the way to go. Meanwhile, Trump should withdraw the America troops. That would be a good start in liquidating the empire.

Sheldon Richman is the executive editor of The Libertarian Institute, senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com. He is the former senior editor at the Cato Institute and Institute for Humane Studies, former editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education, and former vice president at the Future of Freedom Foundation. His latest book is America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Drought and War in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen

April 29th, 2017 - by admin

Jeffrey Gettleman / The New York Times – 2017-04-29 00:42:35

Drought and War Heighten Threat of Not Just One Famine, but Four
Jeffrey Gettleman / The New York Times

BAIDOA, Somalia (March 27, 2017) — First the trees dried up and cracked apart. Then the goats keeled over.

Then the water in the village well began to disappear, turning cloudy, then red, then slime-green, but the villagers kept drinking it. That was all they had.

Now on a hot, flat, stony plateau outside Baidoa, thousands of people pack into destitute camps, many clutching their stomachs, some defecating in the open, others already dead from a cholera epidemic.

“Even if you can get food, there is no water,” said one mother, Sangabo Moalin, who held her head with a left hand as thin as a leaf and spoke of her body “burning.”

Another famine is about to tighten its grip on Somalia. And it’s not the only crisis that aid agencies are scrambling to address. For the first time since anyone can remember, there is a very real possibility of four famines — in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen — breaking out at once, endangering more than 20 million lives.

International aid officials say it’s the biggest humanitarian disaster since World War II. And they are determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

One powerful lesson from the last famine in Somalia, just six years ago, was that famines were not simply about food. They are about something even more elemental: water. If there was any doubt, the recent news from Somalia or Nigeria should erase it.

Once again, a lack of clean water and proper hygiene is setting off an outbreak of killer diseases in displaced persons camps. So the race is on to dig more latrines, get swimming-pool quantities of clean water into the camps, and pass out more soap, more water-treatment tablets and more plastic buckets — decidedly low-tech supplies that could save many lives.

“We underestimated the role of water and its contribution to mortality in the last famine,” said Ann Thomas, a water, sanitation and hygiene specialist for Unicef. “It gets overshadowed by the food.”

The famines are coming as a drought sweeps across Africa and several different wars seal off extremely needy areas. United Nations officials say they need a huge infusion of cash to respond. So far, they are not just millions of dollars short, but billions.

At the same time, President Trump is urging Congress to cut foreign aid and assistance to the United Nations, which aid officials fear could multiply the deaths. The United States traditionally provides more disaster relief than anyone else.

“The international humanitarian system is at its breaking point,” said Dominic MacSorley, chief executive of Concern Worldwide, a large private aid group.

Aid officials say all the needed food and water exist on this planet in staggering abundance — even within these hard-hit countries. But armed conflict that is often created by personal rivalries between a few men turns life upside down for millions, destroying markets and making the price of necessities go berserk.

In some areas of central Somalia, a 20-liter jerry can of water, about five and a quarter gallons, used to cost 4 cents. In recent weeks, that price has shot up to 42 cents. That may not sound like a lot. But when you make less than a dollar a day and your flock of animals — your family’s pride and wealth — has been reduced to a stack of bleached bones and your farm to dust, you may not have 42 cents.

“There is no such thing as free water,” said Isaac Nur Abdi, a nomad, who sat in the dusky gloom of a cholera treatment center in Baidoa this month. He fanned his elderly mother, whose cavernous eye sockets and protruding cheekbones bore the telltale signature of famine.

Scenes like this are unfolding across the region. In Yemen, relentless aerial bombings by Saudi Arabia and a trade blockade have mutilated the economy, sending food prices spiraling and pushing hundreds of thousands of children to the brink of starvation.

In northeastern Nigeria, thousands of displaced people have become sick from diseases spread by dirty water and poor hygiene as the battle grinds on between Islamist militants and the Nigerian military, which, when it comes to protecting the vulnerable, does not have the most stellar record. The Nigerian Air Force bombed a displaced persons camp in January, killing scores, saying it was an accident.

In South Sudan, both rebel forces and government soldiers are intentionally blocking emergency food and hijacking food trucks, aid officials say. Entire communities are marooned in malarial swamps trying to survive off barely chewable lotus plants and worm-infested swamp water.

While the other countries are technically on the brink of famine, the United Nations has already declared parts of South Sudan a famine zone.

Scientists have been saying for years that climate change will increase the frequency of droughts. The hardest-hit countries, though, produce almost none of the carbon emissions that are widely believed to cause climate change.

South Sudan and Somalia, for instance, have relatively few vehicles and almost no industry. But their fields are drying up and their pastureland is vanishing, scientists say, partly because of the global effects of pollution. People in these countries suffer from other people’s driving, other people’s manufacturing and other people’s attachment to things like flat-screen TVs and iPads that most Somalis and South Sudanese will touch only in their dreams.

It’s not simple to get food and clean water into these areas where everything is dried out, yellow and dead.

Baidoa itself is controlled by Somalia’s fledging government and African Union troops. But just a few miles outside the town, it is Shabab country, belonging to the Shabab militant Islamist group that has banned Western aid agencies.

“The fact that people are dying near Baidoa and we can’t get there, it makes me crazy,” said Patrick Laurent, a water and sanitation coordinator hired by Unicef in Somalia.

After Somalia’s last famine, the multibillion-dollar aid industry thought it had come up with an answer to prevent the next one: resilience. It was the new buzzword in aid circles, bandied about at workshops and among high-powered officials.

Aid officials defined resilience as the ability to adapt to sudden environmental or political shocks. Resilience programs included livestock insurance and better water management, especially in Africa.

Some aid officials never liked this term, saying it seemed patronizing, as if Africans were built to suffer. Still, the resilience subindustry roared on.

But just as many of the new resilience programs were being funded, these latest crises hit, one after the other. “The environment didn’t give time for these resilience efforts to bear fruit,” Mr. Laurent said.

Ms. Thomas, the Unicef water and hygiene specialist, said that during Somalia’s last famine, the deadliest areas were not the empty deserts where there was little food but the displaced-persons camps near urban areas where, comparatively speaking, there was plenty of food.

The reason was that the crowded camps became hotbeds of communicable diseases like cholera, a bacterial infection that can lead to very painful intestinal cramps, diarrhea and fatal dehydration. Cholera is often caused by dirty water and spread by exposure to contaminated feces through fingers, food and flies.

Malnutrition certainly played its part; famine victims, especially children, were compromised by a lack of nutrients. They arrived in the camps from wasted areas of the interior with their immune systems already shot.

But in the end it was poor hygiene and dirty water, Ms. Thomas said, that tugged many down.

If rivers and other relatively clean water sources start drying up, as they are right now in Somalia, this sets off an interlocking cycle of death. People start to get sick at their stomachs from the slimy or cloudy water they are forced to drink. They start fleeing their villages, hoping to get help in the towns.

Camps form. But the camps do not have enough water either, and it is hard to find a latrine or enough water for people to wash their hands. Shockingly fast, the camps become disease factories.

Water, of course, is less negotiable than food. A human being can survive weeks with nothing to eat. Five days without water means death.

Different strategies are being emphasized this time around to parry the famine. One is simply giving out cash.

United Nations agencies and private aid groups in Somalia are scaling up efforts to dole out money through a new electronic card system and by mobile phone.

This allows poor people to get a monthly allowance and shop for staples like fresh vegetables, powdered milk, pasta, dates, sugar, salt and camel meat.

Cash payments are often better for the local economy than importing sacks of food, and the people get help fast.

Many more Africans may soon need it. Sweltering days and poor rains so far this year have left Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania parched and on the edge of a major food crisis.

At the cholera treatment center in Baidoa, which logged in more than 30 cases on a recent day, many people had little inkling of what caused cholera.

When Mr. Abdi, whose mother was nearly dead from the disease, was asked what had made his mother sick, he said the cause was simple.

It was the hot season.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Trolling for a Race War Through Alt-Right v. Alt-Left Conflict

April 29th, 2017 - by admin

Matthew Sheffield / Salon.com – 2017-04-29 00:35:19

https://www.salon.com/2017/04/ 27/trolling-for-a-race-war-neo -nazis-are-trying-to-bait-left ist-antifa-activists-into-viol ence-and-radicalize-white-people/

Trolling for a Race War:
Neo-Nazis Are Trying to Bait Leftist “Antifa” Activists
Into Violence — and Radicalize White People

Matthew Sheffield / Salon.com

Alt-right violence isn’t random –
it’s part of a strategy to radicalize the “normies”
and make fascism great again.

(April 27, 2017) — Despite being almost religiously devoted to Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, the legions of online racists referred to as the “alt-right” have already decided to move on to their next big project: sparking widespread political conflict that they hope to turn into a nationwide race war.

White nationalists worldwide have fantasized about such conflicts for decades in photocopied manifestos and novels like “The Turner Diaries,” which reportedly inspired Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. Racist killers like Dylann Roof have tried to spark the racial apocalypse through mass murder.

This time around, their dreams seem slightly more plausible, thanks to two important tools that didn’t really exist for racists of yore: the democratizing nature of the internet (allowing anyone with enough dedication to grow a following) and a realization among members of today’s far right that they can adopt the tactics of nonviolent civil disobedience — long associated with the activist left — to spread their message of hate.

Before the web, the expense required to engage in mass communications was such that only wealthy individuals and political parties could do it effectively. That changed with the emergence of the internet.

Before the web, white nationalists simply could not afford to get out their message effectively to large numbers of people. Now, finding racist materials online is a matter of a simple Google search.

The widespread adoption of the web has also given rise to a new form of culture based on trolling, the practice of posting abusive messages in discussion forums and social networks with the sole intent of provoking others to anger.

At first, trolling was simply an apolitical form of amusement — web posting as performance art. The image board 4chan soon became its mecca.

Over time, however, the trolls began moving from joking about racism to advocating it in their desire to become ever more edgy. Andrew Anglin, creator of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer and a longtime troll before that, described the transformation process in a lengthy post on his blog:

“The sentiments behind the jokes slowly became serious, as people realized they were based on fact,” he wrote. “Non-ironic Nazism [began] masquerading as ironic Nazism.”

As online neo-Nazis immersed themselves into the thought stream of what today’s young racists call “White Nationalism 1.0,” they soon were joined by many members of the so-called “manosphere,” a loose collection of anti-feminist blog communities that originally began as dating tip sites for men.

The political rise of Donald Trump and his harsh critique of American conservatism as corrupt and effeminate — as cuckolded, as in the insult “cuckservative” — provided the perfect mechanism for the racist alt-right to eject its nonracist elements and grow its ranks by radicalizing more mainstream white conservatives.

Demonstrating a media savvy far beyond the ken of 20th-century white nationalists, the new race warriors have managed to spread their message to an audience of millions. Since 4chan literally invented the internet meme, it’s no surprise that the board’s members (and those who frequent its rivals and spinoffs) have successfully created political propaganda that appeals to more mainstream conservatives.

In fact, conservative media in general has become so polarized against the left that it both wittingly and unwittingly spreads alt-right messages to its audiences. Trump himself tweeted memes produced by neo-Nazis on several occasions during his presidential campaign.

Having proved their ability to manipulate the right long before they began to sour on Trump, America’s homegrown Nazis have now set their sights on using the left to push white nationalism into the mainstream.

The strategy essentially began coalescing last June after a crew of white nationalists demonstrating in Sacramento, California, were physically attacked by a group of “antifa” activists, members of a radical left-wing underground movement who seek to use political violence to forcibly shut down organizations they perceive as fascist. Nine people were hospitalized after the fracas as the skinheads and their allies retaliated with knives and other weapons.

This brawl received comparatively little national media attention but was obsessively covered within the alt-right, as the notoriously fractious community came together to sympathize with the demonstrators. The incident soon became a rallying cry on the far right, dubbed the “Battle of Sacramento.”

Publishing an interview with Matthew Heimbach, a leader of the group that had organized the march, the Daily Stormer‘s Anglin proclaimed that the skirmish would “go down in history as the day the American race war really heated up.”

Heimbach strongly agreed, saying that he hoped the highly educated web trolls would understand their need to work together with the blue-collar skinheads they have generally derided:

I have had the pleasure to get to know a lot of different people in the White nationalist movement over the years I have been involved in this Cause. One of the biggest problems I have found in our movement is the sub cultural divides between various factions and classism within certain factions. The skinhead subculture is a working class movement with a lot of diversity within it. . . .

One of our primary functions as a movement must be uniting our people and promoting class cooperation, gender cooperation and religious cooperation. The enemy seeks to divide us, we must unite as one people; standing shoulder to shoulder in defense of our folk.

Seeing the galvanizing power that such skirmishes could bring to their cause, Heimbach and other far-right activists have held dozens of rallies since last summer. They’ve also made it a point to join up with protest events organized by “normie” Republicans who support President Trump, in the hopes of recruiting new members and generating sympathy for their cause. This bears a striking similarity to the “popular front” strategy practiced for years by Marxists and other left-wing revolutionaries.

By their own admission, the racist activists see attacks by antifa activists as useful to their cause. In hundreds of web postings examined by Salon, members of the Daily Stormer and many other websites such as 8chan’s /pol/ board have discussed at length their plans to infiltrate antifa social-media groups and use them to foment violence against right-wingers, in a strategy ultimately aimed at radicalizing “basic bitch” white conservatives.

The strategy is a grotesque variation of methods employed by Mohandas K. Gandhi in his struggle for Indian independence, and for that matter by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during his fight for civil rights for black Americans.

Historian David Garrow and others have documented how King and his allies would sometimes place children and elderly women in important protest positions, believing that any violence directed against such vulnerable people would engender outrage from journalists and the general public. Subsequent events proved his strategy was a sound one.

Seizing upon violence from the opposing side, regardless of who started the aggression, is also a key component of the radicalization strategy of Islamic terrorist groups like ISIS or al-Qaida. Such militant Islamists have long pointed to real or alleged abuses of Muslims committed by Western governments as a justification for their revolutionary theology.

It’s not a coincidence that Anglin has called for “white sharia” in a series of recent web postings. Those on the alt-right and Islamic jihadists have more than a few similarities, despite their mutual hatred.

“If you can portray yourself sympathetically, suffering violence is a strategic advantage,” said David S. Meyer, a sociology professor at the University of California, Irvine, who studies social movements. “It brings people into the conflict and portrays your opponent unsympathetically.”

The far right’s radical vision has also been aided by the emergence of a conservative media niche sometimes referred to as the “alt-lite.” Such outlets frequently take neofascist memes, strip them of overtly white nationalist content and then repackage them to the much larger conservative media world for clicks and advertising dollars.

Nathan Damigo, a white supremacist who was caught on film punching a female antifa activistnamed Emily Nauert during an April 15 brawl at a pro-Trump rally in Berkeley, California, is a perfect example of the way neo-Nazis are using clashes with antifa activists to mainstream their views within the larger right.

It’s not clear who originally sponsored the pro-Trump event in what may be America’s most liberal community. An online flyer promoting it featured a mixture of alt-right and more mainstream conservatives.

Irma Hinojosa, a Latina supporter of Trump, was featured alongside Brittany Pettibone, a Christian nationalist contributor to alt-right websites, and Lauren Southern, an alt-lite commentator who has bragged that anime fans masturbate to photos of her.

While centrist and left-wing news sources focused on Nauert and condemned Damigo for hitting her, conservative and far-right websites began digging up information on her. They discovered video evidence appearing to show that Nauert had been throwing bottles at her opponents earlier in the confrontation.

Soon, a number of conservative sites such as The Rebel (which formerly employed Southern) that had denounced the alt-right in other contexts were demonizing Nauert with the epithet “Moldylocks.” Many regular conservatives on Twitter have also promoted memes that glorified Damigo.

Another Berkeley rally riot a few weeks earlier, on March 4, provided an example of the confluence of alt-right and alt-lite. Kyle Chapman — a pro-Trump commercial diver who showed up at the protest armed with pepper spray, a knife and a shield — hit with a long piece of wood the head of an antifa activist who appeared to be struggling with a Trump supporter.

Within minutes after the video of Chapman’s encounter surfaced online via 8chan’s /pol/ forum, he was dubbed “Based Stickman” on the neo-Nazi forum and the meme magicians went to work devising numerous propaganda images of him. These images and clips quickly migrated to more mainstream conservative sites that also cater to alt-right audiences, including The Rebel, Breitbart News and Gateway Pundit.

Heat Street — a blog owned and operated by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. that is attempting to cultivate a younger right-wing readership — praised Chapman in an extraordinarily flattering article. Hailing his actions as “giving America one of its greatest victories since Guadalcanal,” the site denounced Berkeley police for arresting the “hero.”

“Chapman’s brief stint as a political prisoner should be a disturbing reminder that America would benefit from more modern-day Patrick Henrys,” blogger Joe Simonson wrote.

None of the people praising “Based Stickman” bothered to look up his violent past, his “likes” of white nationalist pages on Facebook or his seemingly indiscriminate pepper-spray attack on a fellow Trump supporter.

Chapman was just as nonchalant when he was asked by Wired reporter Emma Grey Ellis if he approved of people circulating memes of white supremacist Nathan Damigo. “I honestly just don’t care,” he was quoted as saying.

The radicalization process appears to be working among at least some conservatives. Read through almost any thread about antifa activists on 4chan, 8chan, the Daily Stormer or any of the larger alt-right blogs and you’ll find stories like the one below recounted by an 8chan /pol/ member:
The thing is I WANT them around. My 70 y/o mom was a basic indy voting normie a year ago. Now she’s all but telling me we need to gas the cultural marxists and exterminate the muslims. This is all because of the stupidity of the last year. All the safe space shit, the 4000 genders, riots, [jihadist] attacks, white genocide, etc. . . . She’d literally just look the other way as commies and muslims are genocided knowing it needs to be done. My brother is going the same way.

Antifa is our greatest ally. Their insanity is pushing the normies to the far right.

Leveraging far-left activists who think that they help their cause by engaging in violence is the dream of many neo-fascists.

“Lol how do they still not get it?” asked one /pol/ poster earlier this month. “They’re escalating with people that have been dreaming about killing them for years and have been preparing the whole time.”

Chapman, the “Based Stickman,” seems to be moving in that general direction. On April 21, he announced the formation of a group called the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights, which appears to have more than a few similarities to the Sturmabteilung, the infamous Brownshirts paramilitary organization that predated the Nazi Party and helped facilitate its rise.


In interviews with Salon and on their own websites, antifa activists and their allies have defended their tactics, saying that mainstream liberals and various government officials’ willingness to allow neofascists to publicly flaunt their views will ultimately lead to the destruction of civil society.

As might be expected, many antifa activists are aware that the alt-right has been moving toward a new operating consensus that is less about conventional politics and more about fomenting revolution.

A representative of It’s Going Down, one of the most popular antifa and anarchist websites, discussed this with Salon by email:
As Trump has predictably not done anything to improve the lives of the majority of poor and working-class people, the far-Right has continued to search for enemies to explain this reality, outside of anything that would question capitalism and the governments that protect it, and thus has continued to settle for the need to attack and beat back social movements and struggles which actually do challenge the status-quo. . . .

A changing and often worsening of conditions among the working-class; neoliberalism and the rise of the ‘precariat,’ people working more precarious jobs for less pay. Within this context people are looking for answers and often where there is not a strong anti-capitalist force to provide that, they end up being attracted to the far-Right, which on the surface appears to provide a critique of ‘globalism’ and the political order.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the Right in general feeds off of autonomous and insurgent violence and social movements. The Bundy occupation was backed by several elected officials just as Trump goes on InfoWars, while some Republicans find it hard to condemn abortion shooters, and others talk about ‘white genocide.’

This is a different reality than on the Left. On the Left the ‘official organizations;’ political parties, non-profits, and labor unions, act as a wet blanket on revolt, trying to contain them and force them back into the political and economic structure for the sake of maintaining social peace. . . .

This reality is why the anarchist movement is the only movement that seeks to build a true grassroots and autonomous force outside of the political circus and within actual communities for the purpose of creating counter-power to the status-quo.

Regardless of whether attempts to forcibly shut down far-right events might help to mainstream fascist viewpoints, antifa activism has become a hot debate topic on the American left.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the progressive icon whom polls suggest is now America’s most popular politician, repeatedly denounced violence during his 2016 presidential campaign.

He weighed in on the subject again in an interview with The Huffington Post when he was asked about violent threats that the University of California, Berkeley, received after it announced that it would allow a local College Republican chapter to host a speech by alt-lite columnist and Trump acolyte Ann Coulter. Her speaking engagement, which the organizers had scheduled for April 27, was moved to May 2 by the university administration and ultimately canceled after organizers refused the date.

“I don’t like this. I don’t like it,” Sanders told reporter Daniel Marans. “To me, it’s a sign of intellectual weakness. If you can’t ask Ann Coulter in a polite way questions which expose the weakness of her arguments, if all you can do is boo or shut her down or prevent her from coming, what does that tell the world?”

To the antifa activists, however, their extreme tactics are not about silencing free speech. Instead, they are about stopping the far right from organizing its forces, according to an activist giving his name as Kieran, who agreed to be interviewed by a leftist radio station in February:
There’s both a question of strategy and tactics. I think that all of this is with the understanding that what we’re opposing is not the free speech of fascists, or the speeches of fascists. What we’re doing is opposing the organizing of the fascists.

So, for instance, in my workplace, I work with workers with a whole range of opinions on all different kinds of questions. And occasionally you’re going to run into people who are influenced by far right politics. In those circumstances it doesn’t make sense for me to start a fight, a physical fight with a coworker since they raised some perspective that comes from that background.

But that’s totally different than a situation where you have an organization or a personality who’s using the framework of a public speech or an event, a forum, in order to advance political goals. And so the way we look at it is the way we would look at any kind of organizing done by that group with those aims.

Kieran also defended the antifa militancy that led to the cancellation of a February speech by alt-lite commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, a former Breitbart News editor.

“Our understanding is that he was planning to out undocumented students at Berkeley for the sole purpose of putting them under attack by Trump’s immigration forces,” Kieran said in the radio interview. “And so, in that circumstance, we can’t let that attack go unchallenged. And I think that when you look at it from that perspective, it makes sense to try and oppose it.”

The neofascists, however, no longer appear to see leftist disruptions as a loss. Instead, they have come to the conclusion that violence at a political gathering is far more valuable than whatever speeches the people who organized it happen to deliver.

In the pre-internet days, rallies were their own reward. In the age of YouTube and social media, that’s not the case.

“The only realistic gains we can get from these rallies are the videos and snapshots of Leftists going absolutely berserk,” according to blogger “Marcus Cicero” of Occidental Dissent, a Southern nationalist blog.

The pseudonymous writer envisioned a parallel to Germany between World Wars I and II: “Like the Weimar Republic, decaying America needs to be brought to its knees for something far greater to rise from the ruins, and if these demonstrations continue to grow, spread, and radicalize, we may be closer than ever before.”

A writer, web developer, and former TV producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Instead of Threats of War, Trump Should Make an Artful Deal: Halt US War Exercises in Exchange for a Halt to the North’s Weapons and Missile Testing

April 29th, 2017 - by admin

Bruce Cumings / The Nation & John Delury / The Washington Post – 2017-04-29 00:26:50


Korean War Games
Bruce Cumings / The Nation

(April 22, 2013) — North Korea greeted 2013 with a bang (or several of them), not the dying whimper that Beltway officials and pundits had hoped for — and have been predicting ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In December, Pyongyang launched a long-range missile that, after many failures dating to 1998, got the country’s first satellite rotating around the earth.

A couple of months later, North Korea detonated its third atomic bomb. Then, as the annual US–South Korean war games got going and a new president took office in Seoul, the North let loose a farrago of mind-bending rhetoric, bellowing that events were inching toward war, renouncing the Korean War armistice of 1953, and threatening to hit either the United States or South Korea with a pre-emptive nuclear attack.

In between, Chicago Bulls great Dennis Rodman brought his stainless-steel-studded, tattooed and multi-hued six-foot-eight frame to sit beside “young lad” (as the vice chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff described the North’s new leader) Kim Jong-un at a basketball game in Pyongyang. As the saying goes, you can’t make this stuff up.

The Republic of Korea, one of the most advanced industrial states in the world, was, according to Pyongyang, a “puppet of the US imperialists” led by a “rat” named Lee Myung-bak; if he was on the way out, the incoming president, Park Geun-hye, brought something new, a “venomous swish of skirt,” to the Blue House in Seoul. As if the North weren’t hated enough (it ranked fourth in a 2007 global index of unpopularity, albeit behind Israel, Iran and the United States), it added blatant sexism to its repertoire — in Korean, this phrase is used to taunt women deemed too aggressive.

If the North’s heated rhetoric set some kind of record, the approach was hardly new. Nothing is more characteristic of this regime than its preening, posturing, overweening desire for the world to pay it attention, while simultaneously threatening destruction in all directions and assuring through draconian repression that its people know next to nothing about that same world.

Twenty years ago, when the Clinton administration brought maximum pressure on the North to open its plutonium facility to special inspections, the North railed on about war breaking out at any minute; that 1993–94 episode likewise sought to shape the policies of an incoming South Korean president, Kim Young-sam.

Almost 40 years ago, when Jimmy Carter was president, North Korea shouted itself hoarse about the peninsula being “at the brink of war.” The difference is that, in past decades, specialists read this stuff in Korean Central News Agency reports that arrived weeks late, by snail mail; today, it gets instant Internet coverage, which the North is exploiting to the utmost (while the masses still have no Internet access). The daunting part, of course, is that the North relies on the good sense of its adversaries not to take its incessant warmongering racket seriously.

Today, the rhetoric is designed to do three things: to confront President Park with a choice of continuing the hard line of her predecessor or returning to engagement with the North; to raise the stakes of Obama’s stance of “strategic patience” (which has not been a strategy but has certainly been patient, as the North has launched three long-range missiles and tested two nuclear bombs since Obama’s 2009 inauguration); and to present China, which for the first time worked with the United States to craft the most recent UN sanctions against the North, with a choice — enforce the sanctions at the risk of events spinning out of control, or return to its usual posture of voting for sanctions and then looking the other way when the North violates them.

* * *
It can hardly be said that Pyongyang’s patented antics are disturbing amicable regional relations. Sitting now as prime minister in Tokyo is Shinzo Abe, whose grandfather Nobusuke Kishi ran the munitions industry in 1930s Manchukuo, the region of northeast China occupied by Imperial Japan after its 1931 invasion.

This was the same time that Kim Il-sung and his fellow guerrillas combated Japanese militarists there, and that Park’s father, Park Chung-hee (who was South Korea’s ruthless military dictator for eighteen years), was an officer in the Japanese Army and the happy recipient of a gold watch for his loyalty to puppet Emperor Puyi.

Famous for his brain-dead insensitivity to his neighbors’ historic grievances against Japan earlier in his career and in his election campaign, Abe said at a public forum on his state visit to Washington in February: “I met [President-elect Park Geun-hye] twice . . . and my grandfather was best friends with her father, President Park Chung-hee . . . . so President Park Chung-hee was someone who was very close with Japan, obviously.” Abe probably thought this was a compliment.

Meanwhile, China has besmirched a decade of careful diplomacy with its neighbors by instigating ever more serious confrontations with Japan and Southeast Asian nations over islands (most of them uninhabited rock piles) that it covets, called the Senkakus/Diaoyus, Spratlys and Paracels; barely a week goes by without Chinese naval ships intruding on islands claimed by Japan, counting on Tokyo — whose navy is far superior to
China’s — not to escalate the conflict. South Korea has a similarly insoluble dispute with Japan over yet another set of windswept rocks, Dokdo/Takeshima, which could also get out of hand.

* * *
Now comes Barack Obama with his “pivot to Asia,” bringing new US bases and force projections to the task of containing China — while denying any such purpose. Surely many in Washington enjoy the spectacle of China, the world’s second-largest economy, at the throat of Japan, the third-largest, with their relations arguably at the lowest ebb since they exchanged ambassadors in 1972.

North Korea’s relations with China may also be at their worst ever, now that Beijing is working hand in glove with Washington on sanctions. China is apoplectic because the North’s missiles and A-bombs just might push Japan and South Korea to go nuclear.

They certainly elicited a quick US response: in mid-March, President Obama decided on a $1 billion acceleration of the US ballistic missile interceptor program, adding fourteen new batteries in California and Alaska (calling them interceptors is a bit of a misnomer; in fifteen tests of these systems under ideal conditions, only eight worked).

As luck would have it, such anti-missile forces are also useful against China’s antiquated ICBMs. The truth is that Pyongyang ought to be paid by Pentagon hard-liners and military contractors for its provocations; the North Koreans are the perfect stalking horse for America’s stealth containment of China — and for keeping military spending high.

At the end of March, Obama upped the ante by sending B-52 and B-2 Stealth bombers soaring over South Korea to drop dummy bombs. It was a needless and provocative re-enactment of “the empire strikes back”; more than sixty years ago, Washington initiated its nuclear blackmail of the North when it launched B-29s on simulated Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombing missions over North Korea in the fall of 1951.

Operation Hudson Harbor dropped dummy A-bombs or heavy TNT bombs in a mission that called for “actual functioning of all activities which would be involved in an atomic strike, including weapons assembly and testing.” Ever since, nuclear weapons have been part of our war plans against the North; they were not used during the Korean War only because the US Air Force was able to raze every city in the North with conventional incendiaries.

Hardly any Americans know about this, but every North Korean does; no wonder they have built some 15,000 underground facilities related to their national security. However provocative the North appears, we are reaping the whirlwind of our past nuclear bullying.

Washington’s injudicious patience and Seoul’s hard line have gotten nothing from the North but the ever-growing reliability of its A-bombs and missiles. They really have no choice but to talk to Pyongyang — most likely along the lines of former Los Alamos head Siegfried Hecker’s suggestion that the programs be capped through the “Three No’s”:
“No more nukes,
No better nukes,
No proliferation.”

Given the North’s labyrinthine subterranean complexes, spies can never be sure to have pinpointed every bomb anyway, and a handful of nukes will provide security and deterrence for an insecure leadership with much to be insecure about. Otherwise, they are useless.

Last year, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said we have been “within an inch of war almost every day” with the North. Today, it looks more like millimeters. What a terrible commentary on seven decades of failed American policies toward Pyongyang.

Bruce Cumings teaches at the University of Chicago and is the author of The Korean War (Random House, 2010).
In 2012 on Jeju, an island off the southern tip of Korea, villagers protested a South Korean-US military base installation. Koohan Paik and Jerry Mander explored the environmental, cultural and political repercussions of yet another military base in the Asia-Pacific region.

Instead of Threatening North Korea, Trump Should Try This
John Delury / The Washington Post

Vice President Pence warned North Korea not to test President Trump during a press conference in South Korea on April 17, citing “the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” as examples. (The Washington Post)

(April 23, 2017) — President Trump’s missile strike on Syria won plaudits from commentators on the left and right, with some of the enthusiasm spilling over into the debate about a “military solution” when it comes to North Korea.

The comparison, like much of the administration’s rhetoric about Korea, is dangerously misleading. There is no way to hit North Korea without being hit back harder. There is no military means to “preempt” its capabilities — nuclear and otherwise — with a “surgical” strike. Any use of force to degrade its weapons program would start a war, the costs of which would be staggering.

Maybe in the era of America First, we don’t care about death and destruction being visited on the 10 million people who live in Seoul, within North Korean artillery and short-range missile range.

Do we care about some 140,000 US citizens residing in South Korea — including soldiers and military families at bases here, plus more in nearby Japan? Or South Korea’s globally integrated $1.4 trillion economy, including the United States’ $145 billion two-way trade with the country?

Do we care about North Korean missiles raining down on Incheon International Airport, one of Asia’s busiest airports, or Busan, the sixth-largest container port in the world? What happens to the global economy when a conflagration erupts on China’s doorstep and engulfs Japan?

Surely the American public and Congress, regardless of party, can agree that these costs are unbearable and unthinkable. Given the presence of many sober-minded strategists and policymakers in the administration, it seems reasonable to conclude the military taunts are a bluff.

If so, they are a distraction from the real, pressing question: How much longer should they wait on economic pressure generated by Chinese sanctions, rather than pursue diplomatic options opened up by direct dialogue and engagement?

The Obama administration said it was open to dialogue, but put its money on sanctions and pressure as North Korea made the power transition from Kim Jong Il to Kim Jong Un.

North Korea, unfortunately, is not vulnerable to the pinch of the purse like normal trading nations such as Iran. North Koreans are already so cut off from the global economy and disconnected from international society that deepening isolation does little to change their calculus.

The one promising thing about Kim Jong Un is that he harbors ambitions to improve North Korea’s economy, and his domestic policies have already generated modest growth. But his first priority is regime survival and national security, and for that, he considers the nuclear deterrent is to be essential (a rational proposition, sadly).

Eight years of sanctions and pressure — but for one spasm of diplomacy just prior to Kim Jong Il’s death — did little to disabuse Pyongyang of the sense that it needs nuclear weapons, or to prevent North Korea from improving its capabilities and expanding its arsenal.

The Trump administration proclaims that the Obama approach of “strategic patience” has ended. But if it really wants to start a new era, the way to do so is not by distracting the public with reckless threats of war, while waiting in vain for Chinese President Xi Jinping to bring Kim to his knees.

Instead, the prudent move would be to open direct talks with Pyongyang that start by negotiating a freeze on the fissile-material production cycle, return of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, and moratorium on testing nuclear devices and long-range ballistic missiles (including satellite launches).

In return, the United States should at least entertain Pyongyang’s standing request for suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea.

Kim may be willing to accept something less, such as an adjustment in scale. Or he may be open to a different kind of trade — initiating talks to convert the 1953 Armistice Agreement into a proper peace treaty to end the Korean War, for example. The only way to probe these options is to get to the table. With two months of large-scale exercises coming to a close, now is a good time to do so.

A freeze is just the initial move in what needs to be a long-term strategy that changes underlying dynamics and addresses what each side sees as the core of the problem. We cannot really know what Kim wants, and what he might give up to get it, until we initiate dialogue. But since he took power, there have been strong signals that his ambitions go beyond a nuclear deterrent, that his real goal is economic development.

Rather than threaten war or deepen sanctions, a more productive path is to nudge Kim down the same road that the major countries in East Asia have all taken: a shift from power to wealth.

If Kim wants to be North Korea’s developmental dictator, the United States’ best long-term strategy is to help him do so. We cannot rationally expect him to surrender his nuclear deterrent at the beginning of that process, but it is the only realistic path for getting him to do so eventually.

Now is the time to jump-start a diplomatic initiative that reopens channels, lowers tensions and caps North Korea’s capabilities where they are. Then, working closely with the new government in Seoul and others, the United States should support a long-term strategy that integrates North Korea into regional stability and prosperity.

Because the nuclear program is the last budget item that Kim will cut, sanctions only deepen the misery of the North Korean population, and pressure fails to improve human rights abuses on the ground. The best way to alleviate the suffering of the North Korean people is to give them a chance to succeed economically and help open up their country step by step.

By simply inflicting economic pain, threatening military strikes and keeping tensions high, the United States is playing into the worst tendencies of the North Korean system. Kim’s nuclear intentions will harden and North Korea’s capabilities will only grow. It’s time to reverse course.

John Delury is an associate professor of Chinese studies at the Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies in Seoul.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Trump: Absolutely a Chance for “Major, Major War” With North Korea

April 29th, 2017 - by admin

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky / Democracy Now! – 2017-04-29 00:09:22

Trump: Absolutely a Chance for Major, Major War With North Korea

Trump: Absolutely a Chance for
Major, Major War With North Korea

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(April 28, 2017) — The United States continues to send wildly conflicting signs on their intentions toward North Korea, with President Trump following up yesterday’s assurances that no war would happen so long as the situation is “manageable” with a warning that “there is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.”

Trump continued to suggest that China might be able to resolve the situation, saying that President Xi “certainly doesn’t want to see turmoil and death.” In the meantime, he said he “hopes” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is rational, despite Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying just the day prior that the US is confident Kim makes rational decisions.

Speaking of Tillerson, yesterday’s talk of patience and keeping North Korea “manageable” for as long as possible appears to have been replaced today with calls to impose “painful” new measures on the country, while warning against showing patience because time will “run out.”

Tillerson also gave a vague mention to the possibility of direct talks with North Korea, despite having previously declared the diplomacy a failure, though he also made clear that any talks were conditioned on a series of unspecified measures North Korea would have to concede to.

Even then, Tillerson downplayed the chances of North Korea agreeing to give up its nuclear program and stop all actions the US find objectionable, saying he believes the international community needs to impose a whole new round of diplomatic and economic sanctions against them.

With the past few weeks of rhetoric and military buildup around the Korean Peninsula already fueling concerns about the US attacking North Korea outright, all this talk of new measures, coupled with the insistence that military operation is still on the table, suggest those concerns aren’t going away any time soon.

Like Obama, Trump Is Radically
Increasing the Danger of Nuclear War

Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky / Democracy Now!

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, we were in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I sat down at the First Parish Church in Cambridge with MIT professor, longtime dissident, world-renowned linguist, Noam Chomsky.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Huge specter that we’re kind of trying to survive under, and that’s nuclear war. That’s a whole other story. Here, both the Obama administration and, increasingly, Trump are radically increasing that danger.

This — the threat of the new developments is captured very effectively in the best, simple monitor of the state of the world, established at the beginning of the nuclear age by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. I’m sure you all know about this, but the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists regularly brings together a group of scientists, political analysts, other very serious people, to try to give some kind of estimate of what the situation of the world is.

The question is: How close are we to termination of the species? And they have a clock, the Doomsday Clock. When it hits midnight, we’re finished. End of the human species and much else. And the question every year is: How far is the minute hand from midnight?

Well, at the beginning, in 1947, beginning of the nuclear age, it was placed at seven minutes to midnight. It’s been moving up and back ever since. The closest it’s come to midnight was 1953. 1953, the United States and Russia both exploded hydrogen bombs, which are extremely serious threat to survival. Intercontinental ballistic missiles were all being developed.

This, in fact, was the first serious threat to the security of the United States. There’s an interesting story behind that, but I’ll put it aside, unless there’s time to talk about it. But then, it came to two minutes to midnight. And it’s been moving up and back since.

Two years ago — 2014, I think it was — the analysts took into account for the first time something that had been ignored: the fact that the nuclear age — the beginning of the nuclear age coincided with the beginning of a new geological epoch, the so-called Anthropocene.

There’s been some debate about the epoch in which human activity is drastically affecting the general environment. There’s been debate about its inception. But the World Geological Organization has recently determined that it’s about the same time as the beginning of the nuclear age.

So we’re in these two eras in which the possibility of human survival is very much at stake, and, with us, everything else, too, of course, all living — most living things, which are already under very severe threat. Well, a couple of years ago — I think it was 2014 — the Bulletin began to take that into account and moved the minute hand up to three minutes to midnight, where it remained last year.

A couple of — about a week into Trump’s term, the clock was moved again, to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. That’s the closest it’s been since 1953. And that means extermination of the species is very much an — very much an open question. I don’t want to say it’s solely the impact of the Republican Party — obviously, that’s false — but they certainly are in the lead in openly advocating and working for destruction of the human species.

I agree that’s a very outrageous statement. So I therefore simply suggest that you take a look at the facts and see if it has any merit or if it just should be bitterly condemned. That’s up to you. My view, the facts are pretty clear.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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