Category Archives: Military

White House Close to Finalizing Over $100 Billion in Arms Sales to Saudis

White House Close to Finalizing Over $100 Billion in Arms Sales to Saudis

Earlier this month, US officials said the US was seeking to reach “billions” of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia as part of Trump’s visit to Riyadh. With a week left before the visit, officials now say the White House is very close to the deal, and that it will amount to over $100 billion in sales.

Details are still emerging, but the plan is for this to set out a series of growing deals over the next decade that will involve more than $300 billion going to arms dealers, not just to arm the Saudis, but in extra aid to Israel to ensure their “qualitative military edge” over the Saudis.

White House officials said the move would be good for the economy, and insisted that building Saudi Arabia’s already substantial military was “essential” because of regional problems. Saudi Arabia, of course, spends much of its military budget invading Yemen and trying to reinstall former President Hadi in power.

Given Saudi Arabia’s Yemen-centric foreign policy, US sales are likely to be heavily on warplanes and bombs to drop on northern Yemen, as the conflict has lasted far longer than the Saudis anticipated, and there is little sign they are interested iin extricating themselves from the conflict anytime soon.

How much this means Israel will get greatly depends on the sort of weapons the US is giving Saudi Arabia, and particularly if there is anything “new” in the shipments, or just more of the same old stuff. The US commitment to ensuring Israel has an advantage over the rest of the Middle East militarily, while at the same time selling large amounts of arms to the rest of the Middle East, has been icing on the cake for US arms makers, who end up supplying all sides of this arms race.

by Jason Ditz/AntiWar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

War, Militarism, and Middling Opposition Different Administration Same Story

In the run-up to budget discussions, the Trump Administration floated various proposals for a dramatic increase in military spending on top of the already bloated $596 billion Pentagon budget. This, figure doesn’t even represent the true expenditures devoted to war-making and militarism in the $1.1 trillion discretionary side of the national budget. The $596 doesn’t include the $65 billion in veterans spending and $26 billion for nuclear weapons. That brings the total to about $690 billion or 63% of all discretionary spending! To fund this outrageous theft of the peoples’ resources for the military/industrial/complex, the Administration called for unprecedented cuts to various Federal agencies and departments since everything is supposed to be revenue neutral.

Now a reasonable person might conclude that for an oppositional party that claims to be the voice of the downtrodden and committed to social justice informed by “liberal values,” Trump’s proposals to take a meat cleaver to state agencies in order to increase military spending and indeed his whole budget recommendations would be a godsend for democrats since militarism has a direct impact on working people and the poor. Even republican president Dwight Eisenhower understood this in what today’s right-wing U.S. culture would read as a radical statement:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

Yet, instead of vigorous opposition and mass mobilizations from the loyal opposition, the democrat party is still trying to hold the public’s attention with the nonsensical drama related to supposed collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign., As though collusion between campaigns and foreign governments is something new – think Nixon’s efforts to sabotage peace efforts in the ‘68 campaign and Reagan’s campaign’s coordination with Iran and release of U.S. hostages that sunk Carter’s presidency.

What is so incredibly inept about the strategy to keep the focus on Russia is that the issues that could really begin the process of driving a wedge between the Trump administration and the independents and white workers who voted for Obama in ’08 and ’12 but voted Trump in 2016 — the healthcare issue, no support for an increase in minimum wage, tax cuts for the rich — are there to be exploited if the democrats were really a serious oppositional party with an alternative reform agenda. This is precisely the point. The democrat party is not a serious oppositional party.

The absence of any real opposition to the reckless use of U.S. military force — the attack on Syria, the macho demonstration bombing in Afghanistan, the provocations toward North Korea — exposed once again the unanimity among the U.S. ruling class and the state on the use of military force as the main strategy to enforce its global interests.

What this means for Black and oppressed people, in the capitalist centers in the West and in the Global South is that we cannot afford the luxury of diversionary politics when it is our bodies that are in the crosshairs of an F-16 in Libya and a Glock 9mm in the hands of a racist cop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For us, unrestrained militarism and war has always meant death and destruction.

It also means that attempting to build oppositional coalitions to confront and defeat militarism and neoliberal state austerity cannot depend on effective and consistent support from democrat party related structures both inside and outside of the democrat party such as many of the nonprofits and labor unions. It even means that it is becoming more difficult to build opposition to war and militarism among the U.S. left and progressives because these sectors along with the corporate media and the general public have fallen prey to what Rashna Batliwala Singh and Peter Mathews Wright calls “imperial privilege.”

Imperial privilege is this strange ability on the part of the U.S. public to “shrug off” the consequences experienced by people impacted by the direct and indirect result of U.S. militarism. That is precisely why pro-imperialist politicians like Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren can be designated as “progressives” and vast numbers of voters can rally around a warmonger like Hilary Clinton without suffering much moral distress.

It is also why there is not much discussion of the consequences for the people of Korea if through macho posturing the Trump administration sparks a military confrontation on the Korean peninsula or why there are no calls from the public to stop Saudi war crimes in Yemen and it seems perfectly acceptable that the entire U.S. Senate would sign-on to a letter to the United Nations condemning it for its bias against Israel. And it is why “Trump became president” of all the people after ordering the military to engage in an illegal attack on Syria.

According to Batliwala Singh and Mathews Wright:

Imperial privilege makes it possible for even the liberally-inclined to turn a blind eye to the toxic footprint of U.S. militarism at home and abroad; to fall silent at any mention of the homicidal decisions of an American President; to exclude such matters from public political discussion and to prevent them from influencing their voting patterns in any way.

So, while Trump only got a $15 billion dollar increase in the budget compromise, the “commonsense” acceptance of war by the public at this point makes it more likely that the Administration will be successful in securing billions more of the public’s resources for war-making in the 2018 budget that will be debated over coming months.

The irreconcilable contradictions of capitalism, fueled by white nationalist sentiment has produced a toxic, proto-fascist politics. This is the context in which we must build an alternative to the neoliberalism of the Democrats and the nationalist-populism of Trump.

The drive toward war, domestic repression, and the militarization of society can only be stopped by the people. But that will not occur until there is a shift in the culture and consciousness of the public. A shift in which the inherent value of all lives is recognized and a new kind of politics is practiced in which the people are able to recognize that their interests are not the same as the interests of the capitalist oligarchy and that they have a responsibility to victims of U.S. imperialism around the world.

By Ajamu Baraka/Dissident Voice

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Pentagon finally ‘admits’ US jets bombed mosque with civilians in Syria

The Pentagon has reportedly acknowledged that a US airstrike destroyed a mosque in Syria’s Aleppo province in March, a CNN report says. The US had insisted that it targeted a terrorist meeting and claimed the mosque was intact, despite video evidence.

READ MORE: Aleppo mosque airstrike controversy: ‘US only considers sources credible when it suits them’

An internal investigation carried out by US Central Command (CENTCOM) in the wake of the deadly airstrike on the Al-Jinah Mosque concluded that it was accidentally targeted in what was supposed to be a strike on a meeting of senior Al-Qaeda members, CNN reports, citing two US defense officials.

While photos and videos showed the disastrous aftermath of the strike – which reportedly claimed the lives of over 40 people – emerged almost immediately after the attack on March 16, the US military failed to accept responsibility until now.

The officials told CNN that the building, earlier identified as a partially-built community hall, was in fact part of a “mosque complex.” The probe launched by the Pentagon into the circumstances of the strike – after images of bodies and debris that started circulating on social media challenged their version of events – found that the building had been used as a place of worship in the past.

Another official speaking to CNN said that the building was primarily used as a religious institution.

The sources say that the US command genuinely believed that Al-Qaeda militants were holing up in the building at the time of the attack. It is unknown if the complex had ever been on the list of civilian structures that are banned from attacking.

Following the attack, Colonel John J. Thomas, spokesman for US Central Command, claimed that “We did not target a mosque, but the building that we did target – which was where the meeting took place – is about 50 feet from a mosque that is still standing.”

A recent report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), based on witness accounts, says that the mosque had been used daily and saw dozens of people gathering inside during prayer calls.

“Aerial surveillance of the building would have shown this,” the report said, accusing US forces of failing to double check the facts on the ground before launching what turned out to be an attack on civilians who were flocking to the site for evening prayers.

“The airstrike took place in between the sunset and the evening prayer, at a time when US officials should have known that there would be people gathering in the mosque,” deputy director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division, Lama Fakih, told RT in April.

HRW did not find any evidence that would have backed up the claim that an Al-Qaeda meeting was being held there.

Such negligence in identifying the target “raises the question whether officers were criminally reckless in authorizing the attack,” the report says.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, some news outlets rushed to pin the blame for the reported death of civilians on Moscow or Damascus.

READ MORE: Russia urges US comment on reports of fatal Syria mosque strike

However, after troves of evidence emerged which indicated the culpability of the US – including a photo allegedly showing a fragment of an air-to-surface AGM-114 Hellfire missile from the site – Moscow urged Washington to comment.

“Unlike some of our opponents, we are not going to blame them for ‘intentional killing of civilians and destruction of infrastructure,’” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said at the time, adding that she was sure the US warplanes had been aiming at terrorists during the ill-fated sortie.

From RT
Posted by The NON-Conformist

Congress to Add $12.5 Billion in Military Funding; Trump, Pentagon Seek More

Reports from weekend negotiations in Congress suggest that the latest temporary funding deal on military spending is going to provide an additional $12.5 billion to the Pentagon, a figure short of the $30 billion President Trump seeks, and even shorter of the unspecified numbers sought by Congressional hawks.

Fighting umpteen wars and constantly trying to increase the size of the US military in the process gets expensive, so everyone in Congress seems to agree that they need to throw more money at the situation. The difficulty of finding untold billions to waste on wars is a big obstacle, however.

While President Trump is trying to position his massive increase as necessary, and Congress’ present offer as insufficient,, it’s not exactly a battle with two sides, as Congressional hawks were attacking the Trump proposal from the start as insufficient, wanting even bigger amounts.

This “battle” is largely illusory, or exists solely on the margins within the Congress, as history has shown every sequestration gets violated, and even budget proposal, no matter how grandiose, always get a few extra billion tacked on in the end,, irrespective of whether they can afford it or not. The budget-busting military expenses will grow.

by Jason Ditz/AntiWar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

What Corporate Media Never Tells You about North Korea

There is a great deal of propaganda and deliberate misinformation about North Korea, which the public should know. While neocons, a cheering corporate media, and Deep State, rush to war with North Korea, information is the ultimate weapon. For example, did you know that North Korea, China, and India, are the only three nations who have committed to a “no nuclear first” policy. They have pledged never to use nuclear weapons “first”, but of course reserve the right to use them if attacked. How many times has the US threatened to use nuclear weapons against North Korea? Do you know that North Korea has repeatedly asked the US to engage in bi-lateral talks, to cool off the ever-escalating tension? The offer was flatly rejected by both Obama and Trump. Can you resolve differences within your family without dialog? No dialogue, no peace. Why won’t the US talk to North Korea?? The neocons, Deep State, and media argument, insist Kim Jong-un is irrational, and therefore you cannot negotiate with him. A look back at recent history illustrates the US and its complicit media demonize anyone we do not like, and the demonizing usually ends up with a war. Manuel Noriega in Panama, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, serve as recent examples. But the demonizing of Kim Jong-un continues as we move towards another war, and once again the public buys into the myth. There are no western reporters allowed in North Korea, and since North Korea is a virtual closed society, one must wonder who knows what Kim Jong-un really is like? On the other hand, some might suggest we have a very irrational leader in this country. This attitude of demonizing is akin to the Taliban’s offer to turn over Osama Bin Laden so many years ago, and the US, then under Bush, flatly rejected the Taliban offer. Sixteen years later we are still at war in Afghanistan. War is the result of failed diplomacy or the absence of diplomacy. Perhaps we did not want diplomacy; perhaps we don’t want diplomacy now.

Do you know North Korea has agreed to suspend its nuclear testing if the US agreed to end the annual war games along the border of North Korea? You may not know the US conducts war games that simulate the overthrow of the North Korean government, and this year there were almost 400,000 soldiers participating. Did you know that?? Do you know the Korean War has never officially ended because there was no formal truce signed? This is one of North Korea demands. A final treaty to end the Korean War was never signed, because if there was a treaty, the US would have no legal basis for the occupation of South Korea with our many military bases. Do you know that in 1993 the US announced it was re-targeting hydrogen bombs from the old USSR to North Korea?

Do you know George Bush called the leader of North Korea a “pygmy”, and said he wanted to “topple his regime”? Do you know Bush also prepared a policy of “preemptive” attack, and referred to North Korea as a member of the “axis of evil”? It was shortly thereafter that North Korea left the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and threw all inspectors out of the country. Neocons, Deep State, and the corporate media, argue North Korea is a threat to the US, and just days ago Trump said they were a “threat to the world”? That is asinine, as Trump’s increase in military spending of 54 billion, is 11 times greater than the entire North Korean military budget. To suggest North Korea is a “threat to the US” or the “world” is either stupidity or an outright lie, and yet a CNN poll shows 37% of the US public believes North Korea is a threat to the US. Who says propaganda isn’t effective? Do you know the recent leader of South Korea was impeached for corruption, and there is a pending election to decide on new leadership? The opposition party wants the US out of South Korea, and wants the THAAD missile system just installed by the US, out.

Theresa May, in Great Britain, shocked many recently, when she announced she would be willing to use nuclear weapons in a “first strike”? Why have we not declared war on Britain, as Theresa May is apparently a bit “irrational”? Experts suggest North Korea has perhaps 8 nuclear weapons, but has no effective delivery system. The US has 7,000.

North Korea has not invaded or attacked any nation since the end of the Korean War, while the US has bombed over 30 countries. How many countries is the US currently bombing?? Can’t answer? Who is the aggressor here? Who has refused to “talk” to North Korea? Who has threatened to use nuclear weapons repeatedly against North Korea?

Why can’t the US simply sit down and agree to bi-lateral talks? Is there a logical reason why this cannot be done? What is there to lose by such talks? This whole policy of antagonizing, instead of talking, is insane! We know its insanity; we don’t know if it is intentional rejection of diplomacy.

By Joe Clifford/DissidentVoice

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Reign of Idiots

The idiots take over in the final days of crumbling civilizations. Idiot generals wage endless, unwinnable wars that bankrupt the nation. Idiot economists call for reducing taxes for the rich and cutting social service programs for the poor, and project economic growth on the basis of myth. Idiot industrialists poison the water, the soil and the air, slash jobs and depress wages. Idiot bankers gamble on self-created financial bubbles and impose crippling debt peonage on the citizens. Idiot journalists and public intellectuals pretend despotism is democracy. Idiot intelligence operatives orchestrate the overthrow of foreign governments to create lawless enclaves that give rise to enraged fanatics. Idiot professors, “experts” and “specialists” busy themselves with unintelligible jargon and arcane theory that buttresses the policies of the rulers. Idiot entertainers and producers create lurid spectacles of sex, gore and fantasy.

There is a familiar checklist for extinction. We are ticking off every item on it.

The idiots know only one word—“more.” They are unencumbered by common sense. They hoard wealth and resources until workers cannot make a living and the infrastructure collapses. They live in privileged compounds where they eat chocolate cake and order missile strikes. They see the state as a projection of their vanity. The Roman, Mayan, French, Habsburg, Ottoman, Romanov, Wilhelmine, Pahlavi and Soviet dynasties crumbled because the whims and obsessions of ruling idiots were law.

Donald Trump is the face of our collective idiocy. He is what lies behind the mask of our professed civility and rationality—a sputtering, narcissistic, bloodthirsty megalomaniac. He wields armies and fleets against the wretched of the earth, blithely ignores the catastrophic human misery caused by global warming, pillages on behalf of global oligarchs and at night sits slack-jawed in front of a television set before opening his “beautiful” Twitter account. He is our version of the Roman emperor Nero, who allocated vast state expenditures to attain magical powers, the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang, who funded repeated expeditions to a mythical island of immortals to bring back the potion that would give him eternal life, and a decayed Russian royalty that sat around reading tarot cards and attending séances as their nation was decimated by war and revolution brewed in the streets.

This moment in history marks the end of a long, sad tale of greed and murder by the white races. It is inevitable that for the final show we vomited a grotesque figure like Trump. Europeans and Americans have spent five centuries conquering, plundering, exploiting and polluting the earth in the name of human progress. They used their technological superiority to create the most efficient killing machines on the planet, directed against anyone and anything, especially indigenous cultures, that stood in their way. They stole and hoarded the planet’s wealth and resources. They believed that this orgy of blood and gold would never end, and they still believe it. They do not understand that the dark ethic of ceaseless capitalist and imperialist expansion is dooming the exploiters as well as the exploited. But even as we stand on the cusp of extinction we lack the intelligence and imagination to break free from our evolutionary past.

The more the warning signs are palpable—rising temperatures, global financial meltdowns, mass human migrations, endless wars, poisoned ecosystems, rampant corruption among the ruling class—the more we turn to those who chant, either through idiocy or cynicism, the mantra that what worked in the past will work in the future, that progress is inevitable. Factual evidence, since it is an impediment to what we desire, is banished. The taxes of corporations and the rich, who have deindustrialized the country and turned many of our cities into wastelands, are cut, and regulations are slashed to bring back the supposed golden era of the 1950s for white American workers. Public lands are opened up to the oil and gas industry as rising carbon emissions doom our species. Declining crop yields stemming from heat waves and droughts are ignored. War is the principal business of the kleptocratic state.

Walter Benjamin wrote in 1940 amid the rise of European fascism and looming world war:

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned towards the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

Magical thinking is not limited to the beliefs and practices of pre-modern cultures. It defines the ideology of capitalism. Quotas and projected sales can always be met. Profits can always be raised. Growth is inevitable. The impossible is always possible. Human societies, if they bow before the dictates of the marketplace, will be ushered into capitalist paradise. It is only a question of having the right attitude and the right technique. When capitalism thrives, we are assured, we thrive. The merging of the self with the capitalist collective has robbed us of our agency, creativity, capacity for self-reflection and moral autonomy. We define our worth not by our independence or our character but by the material standards set by capitalism—personal wealth, brands, status and career advancement. We are molded into a compliant and repressed collective. This mass conformity is characteristic of totalitarian and authoritarian states. It is the Disneyfication of America, the land of eternally happy thoughts and positive attitudes. And when magical thinking does not work, we are told, and often accept, that we are the problem. We must have more faith. We must envision what we want. We must try harder. The system is never to blame. We failed it. It did not fail us.

All of our systems of information, from self-help gurus and Hollywood to political monstrosities such as Trump, sell us this snake oil. We blind ourselves to impending collapse. Our retreat into self-delusion is a career opportunity for charlatans who tell us what we want to hear. The magical thinking they espouse is a form of infantilism. It discredits facts and realities that defy the glowing cant of slogans such as “Make America great again.” Reality is banished for relentless and baseless optimism.

Half the country may live in poverty, our civil liberties may be taken from us, militarized police may murder unarmed citizens in the streets and we may run the world’s largest prison system and murderous war machine, but all these truths are studiously ignored. Trump embodies the essence of this decayed, intellectually bankrupt and immoral world. He is its natural expression. He is the king of the idiots. We are his victims.

By Chris Hedges

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Russia to build 2 nuclear power plants in Iran

Russian experts will help the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) construct two new nuclear power plants in the country’s southern city of Bushehr, according to Iran’s Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian.

“The contract has been signed between the AEOI and Russia, and includes building two 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plants, the construction of which is about to start,” said Chitchian.

can use Iranian military bases ‘on case by case basis,’ confirms https://www.rt.com/news/382523-russia-iran-bases-use/?utm_source=browser&utm_medium=aplication_chrome&utm_campaign=chrome#.WNoi8dXwm_U.twitter 

Photo published for Russia can use Iranian military bases ‘on case by case basis,’ Tehran confirms — RT News

Russia can use Iranian military bases ‘on case by case basis,’ Tehran confirms — RT News

Russia can use Iranian military bases for airstrikes targeting terrorists in Syria on a “case by case basis,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Reuters.

rt.com

Russian energy major Gazprom has sealed a cooperation agreement with its Iranian counterpart for the development of local gas deposits.

During his visit to Moscow last month, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani highlighted the importance of the energy sector in bilateral relations and the possible creation of a free trade zone between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union that includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist