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Forum Post: Obama's Far Right Foreign Policy

Posted 6 months ago on March 4, 2014, 4:43 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5854)
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Obama's Far Right Foreign Policy

Tuesday, 04 March 2014 09:08 By Shamus Cooke, CounterPunch | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/22230-obamas-far-right-foreign-policy

“Show me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are” — ancient proverb.

The conflicts in Ukraine, Venezuela, and Syria have one thing in common: the U.S. government is in favor of the groups who aspire to topple — or who have toppled — the government in power. Thus, U.S. politicians are giving either political, financial, or military support to these “opposition” movements.

But in all three cases there are leading groups steering the “opposition” that want absolutely nothing to do with democracy — these groups are as far-right as politics gets: European-style fascism in Ukraine, Islamic extremism in Syria, and in Venezuela the elite-favored tradition of military dictatorships.

But there has been a virtual U.S. media blackout as to the leadership of the movements in Ukraine, Syria, and Venezuela, and for good reason; if these groups come to power, the country will be far worse off than it is now. The American public would give zero support to these groups if they knew the truth, which is why the level of U.S. media misinformation about these groups is as Orwellian as the workings of Obama’s NSA.

Take Ukraine for example. The day after democratically elected government forces fled from the capital Kiev, the successful opposition political leaders sucked the enthusiasm out of the “revolution” when they informed the public that they would be presiding over a “doomed” transitional government, because they “have to make some unpopular decisions.” The new nominee for Prime Minister called his new cabinet a “Kamikaze government.”

The government is suicidal because they are seeking loans from western financial institutions — like the IMF and European Commission — that come at a heavy price; in exchange for money Ukraine will have to implement a massive austerity program where the living standards of Ukrainians will be destroyed in Greek-like fashion.

This was the original reason why the now-ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych began to lean towards Russia, since Putin agreed to give Ukraine the money with no strings attached. Of course, this background information — which is crucial to understanding the events in Ukraine — was simply ignored in the western media, which misleadingly referred to the protests as “pro-EU protests.” It’s true that the suppression of a small pro-EU protest helped ignite wider sections of the population against the Ukrainian government, but the average Ukrainian would of course, not risk life and limb only to be torn asunder by a pro-EU austerity program.

The U.S. media also ignored the motor force of the Ukrainian protesters: the Ukrainian fascist party Svoboda, whose already-large presence in the Ukrainian parliament has been empowered because of the protests. There was yet another U.S. media blackout about the role of Svoboda in the protests, whose members or sympathizers acted as the shock troops against the democratically elected government. As writer Mike Whitney recently noted:

“The United States helped defeat Nazism in World War 2. Obama helped bring it back.”

It’s possible that once the current transitional government completes its austerity-suicide mission, the Svoboda party could then take total power and seek to funnel the immense anger of the austerity programs into anti-Russia and anti-Jewish sentiment. Svoboda was already rewarded for its role in the protests and given six ministerial posts in the transitional government, including the deputy prime minister and the powerful Secretary of the Security and National Defense Committee. But once the transitional government discredits itself with austerity, Svoboda will blame the senior member of the coalition, the “Fatherland” party, and seek to boost itself into total power.

This nightmarish scenario seems entirely possible now, and if it happens, Svoboda will undoubtedly be indebted to President Obama and the U.S. media for their role in giving the protests political cover, not to mention the critical role played by the U.S. in helping strategize the overthrow of Yanukovych — the audio recording of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland goes into Machiavellian detail about how the U.S. was working to bring about the coup; and the significance of this incredible recording was ignored by the U.S. media, which reduced the story to how “rude” Nuland had acted by uttering an expletive about the European Union.

In Syria, Obama has consistently relied on the right-wing extremists as the leaders of the opposition against the Assad government. The role of these al-Qaeda style Islamic extremists has been ignored by the media, even as their atrocities pile up on Youtube.

Syria was one of the most modern, cosmopolitan countries in the Middle East and is now being dragged back to the Dark Ages by Obama’s “allies” on the ground, who would like Syria to look like Saudi Arabia, another “close ally” of the U.S., where there is no such thing as political, religious, or labor-related freedoms.

The Islam of Saudi Arabia is the far-right type favored by the dictatorial monarchy that rules the country. Like its fascist friends of Ukraine, the U.S. is relying on another ultra-right ideology in Syria in order to bring a pro-U.S. government to power.

The newest coalition of Syrian opposition ground forces calls itself the Islamic Front. The U.S. media portrays this group as the “good rebels,” versus the al-Qaeda rebels who are also fighting the Syrian Government. But of course, the U.S. media kept quiet when the most powerful militia inside the Islamic Front, Ahrar al Sham, declared itself to be the “real” representative of al-Qaeda in Syria (U.S. politicians had long known that Ahrar al Sham was ideologically linked to al-Qaeda).

If Obama gets his way and the Islamic Front comes to power, Syria will experience a cultural devolution along similar lines of the Taliban-era Afghanistan. In the meantime, Obama and the U.S. media will continue to give crucial political support to an opposition that deserves none.

Venezuela, too, has recently been in the news, with far-right led opposition protests that the Obama administration is backing 100 percent. An excellent article in the Guardian by Mark Weisbrot outlined the subtle and more direct ways that the Obama administration was giving political and financial support to the Venezuela opposition protests.

In dutiful fashion the U.S. media stayed on message. In a recent pro-opposition op-ed in the New York Times, it was nonchalantly declared, “Clearly, Venezuela is sliding toward dictatorship,” even though there were municipal elections that were just completed across the country, and in the previous year presidential elections occurred, which by all standards were “free and fair.”

If the Venezuelan opposition comes to power, we know exactly what they will do. When they took power briefly in a U.S.-backed military coup in 2002 they immediately disbanded all the democratic institutions that governed the country, since they prefer the type of political system that served them well during their hundreds of years of pre-Chavez dictatorships.

Of course, anybody who sympathizes with the above “opposition” movements are not automatically members of the far-right. One of the successes in this political strategy is the far-right movement’s attempt to tap into existing frustrations, and when the political flames are stoked, the energy is quickly exploited by those leading the movement in an attempt to violently overthrow the government.

Why does the Obama administration choose this type of foreign policy? The main reason is that the above-targeted countries had slid out of the U.S. orbit of control, and only these far-right groups are interested in getting their country back into the U.S. orbit. Ultimately, U.S. capitalists gain mountains of profit when a country is dependent on U.S. loans, U.S.-made weapons, manufactured goods, foodstuffs, etc.

This is why the U.S. establishment — now represented by the Obama administration — will not simply leave Latin America, the Middle East, or Eastern Europe to be independent or fall into the orbit of a competing regional power like Russia. There is simply too much profit at stake. Peace is not an option.

In order to stop the never-ending warmongering of U.S. foreign policy, the U.S. government itself must be fundamentally transformed. The U.S. establishment that favors the capitalist economic system will endlessly provoke wars for profit, while an economic system without a profit-motive will have no need for foreign wars.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

56 Comments

56 Comments


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[-] 6 points by Ache4Change (3280) 6 months ago

So, 'Who Is Provoking The Unrest In Ukraine?' - http://www.nationofchange.org/who-provoking-unrest-ukraine-debate-role-russia-us-regional-crisis-1393949447 Never Give Up Working For Understanding! Occupy Peace And Solidarity With The 99%!

[-] 1 points by doitagain (234) from Brooklyn, NY 5 months ago

i just watched the video http://rt.com/shows/the-truthseeker/shocking-torture-footage-dictators-694/ horrible revelation of an involvment of "third party" in any anti-government uprising which has been happening all around the world in recent hystory

[-] 3 points by Ache4Change (3280) 5 months ago

That was a breathtaking and exhausting video! Try this instead - http://www.eegas.com/ukraine.htm . Never Give Up Looking Behind The Headlines! Occupy The Truth And Expose The Snipers! Solidarity.

[-] -1 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 months ago

"Grand Puppetmaster Brzezinski Directing War Strategies from the Shadows'' by Mike Whitney :

"The Looting Of Ukraine Has Begun'' by Dr.Paul Craig Roberts :

''The corporate media are a key component of the U.S. imperial machine. Although styling themselves as watchdogs, they are in fact the dogs of war, whose mission is to hide Washington’s aggressions behind a fog of lies.'' from ; '''Journalists' Follow Obama on Ukraine'', by Margaret Kimberly :

e tenebris, lux ...

[-] 5 points by Ache4Change (3280) 5 months ago

Re. Ukraine, this map speaks volumes - http://www.eegas.com/ukraine.htm & thanks for those great links. Nothing is as the MSM portrays it. Never Give Up Looking Deeper! Occupy The Light! Solidarity.

[-] -1 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 months ago

An excellent and revealing map. Thanx and in compliment :

fiat lux ...

[-] 4 points by Ache4Change (3280) 4 months ago

'Behind the coverage of Wahl’s dramatic protest, a cadre of neoconservatives was celebrating a public relations coup. Desperate to revive the Cold War, head off further cuts to the defense budget and restore the legitimacy they lost in the ruins of Iraq, the tightknit group of neoconservative writers and stewards had opened up a new PR front through Wahl’s resignation.' - taken from your very interesting article by Blumenthal and Khaleq. A quite long piece but - Very Interesting Indeed! Everyone who cares about the direction of travel of US Foreign Policy and just who or what the 'FPI' are, needs to read that article. In compliment, consider the following articles, two about Foreign Policy and in keeping with the OP and the last one, on a linked matter -

http://www.nationofchange.org/crucible-iraq-1396964656#s2

http://www.nationofchange.org/killer-drones-downward-spiral-1396963135

http://www.nationofchange.org/eight-headlines-mainstream-media-doesn-t-have-courage-print-1396884374

Never Give Up Exposing The War Mongers! Occupy The Light - From The Darkness! Solidarity.

[-] -1 points by shadz66 (19985) 4 months ago

''Militarism and violence are diseases. It does not matter under what guise they appear. Renegade jihadists, Shiite death squads, Sunni militias, Saddam’s Baathists and secret police, Kurdish Peshmerga rebels, al-Qaida cells, gangs of kidnappers and the U.S. Army 101st Airborne are all infected with the same virus.'' From your first link ''The Crucible Of Iraq'' by Chris Hedges, which really was a strong and jarring read. I also recommend your second link by the redoubtable Medea Benjamin.

Furthermore, I excerpt the following from you final link by Paul Buccheit as it pertains closely to this forum-post : ''-- Americans [are] especially uninformed about international public affairs. -- American respondents also underperformed in relation to domestic-related hard news stories. -- American television reports much less international news than Finnish, Danish and British television''

Thanx for those links and as per your final line (which I ditto and echo) & as per Leo's 'TruthOut' OP, I append the following for consideration :

cave - bellum se ipsum alet ...

[-] 7 points by Ache4Change (3280) 4 months ago

'Given that most Americans living today were born and raised under a massive military establishment, the CIA, and the NSA, a large number of Americans very likely believe that the United States has always had this type of government.'

'Not so, as Michael Swanson shows in a new book, 'The War State'. Swanson points out that America’s warfare state didn’t come into existence until more than 150 years after the country’s inception. More important, he shows how the warfare state has not only altered our constitutional order in fundamental ways but also how it continues to pose a grave threat to the freedom and well-being of the American people.'

Eg. 'Among the CIA’s first activities was the ousting of Iran’s prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and the ushering in of 26 years of dictatorial rule under the shah, or monarch, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. To his credit, Truman had rejected the plan, in large part because it was nothing more than a way to help England get back its oil interests, which Mossadegh had nationalized. But once Eisenhower came to power, the CIA rebilled the plan as one to protect Iran and the West from the threat of communism. On that basis, Eisenhower authorized the plan. While the operation succeeded in replacing Mossadegh with the shah, it also led to the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the anti-Americanism that came with it.'

I excerpt the above from your final link and also recommend the Dr. Michael Hudson interview. At a tangent to your comment but in compliment to the OP, please consider -

http://www.nationofchange.org/africom-goes-war-sly-1397484755 and also

http://www.nationofchange.org/washington-fights-fire-fire-libya-1397658368

We seem to have endless funds and resources for the wars abroad while the people suffer and struggle to get by at home - without good public education or healthcare for all. OWS is one of means whereby the 99% can really join the dots between their predicament; the barely changing 'far right foreign policy', irrespective of which side is in power - and the corporate co-option of US 'democracy' - such as it is.

Never Give Up Joining The Dots! Occupy The Real Issues! Solidarity.

[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 4 months ago

''Ever since the U.S. helped oust dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with air and missile strikes against regime targets and major logistical and surveillance support to coalition partners, Libya has been sliding into increasing chaos. Militias, some of them jihadist, have sprung up across the country, carving out fiefdoms while carrying out increasing numbers of assassinations and other types of attacks. The solution seized upon by the U.S. and its allies in response to the devolving situation there: introduce yet another armed group into a country already rife with them.

''A failure to imagine the consequences of the last major U.S. intervention in Libya has, perhaps irreparably, fractured the country and sent it into a spiral of violence leading to the deaths of Americans, among others, while helping to destabilize neighboring nations, enhance the reach of local terror groups, and aid in the proliferation of weapons that have fueled existing regional conflicts. Even Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda Dory admitted at a recent Pentagon press briefing that the fallout from ousting Gaddafi has been “worse than would have been anticipated at the time.” Perhaps it should be sobering as well that the initial smaller scale effort to help strengthen Libyan security forces was an abject failure that ended up enhancing, not diminishing, the power of the militias.''

The above is taken from your quite excellent second link by Nick Turse. Sadly Americans know very little outside the MSM bubble of their Governments actions around the world and they also fail to join the dots and make the connection to their predicament at home. The MSM 'mind management programme' has been going on for generations now and the propaganda is now sadly, very deeply set in. It may take another generation to undo ... but that process has to start somewhere. Thanx for the excerpt and links A4C & so also fyi :

''Despite the rise of a society much steeped in the illusions of advertising and marketing, most Americans likely still assume in their day-to-day affairs that their neighbors and business contacts do pretty much what they say they are doing, that while there may be an exaggeration or white lie here or there, most matters proceed according to understanding, laws, and ordinary civility. By and large for the present, they are still pretty much justified in their assumptions.

''But when it comes to the level of the national government, and especially in matters of international affairs, these ordinary truths simply cease to hold, almost as though you had moved from the visible, work-a-day world to the quantum strangeness of the subatomic. Likely, it has always been the case to some degree, but the evidence mounts that we have entered a startling new reality, one which shares almost nothing with traditional civil society. America’s national government has become inured to lying and cheating the people whom it ostensibly serves, lying as consistently and thoroughly as would be the case with an occupying foreign power trying to keep a captive population pacified. Americans were lied to about Vietnam, lied to about Cambodia, lied to about the Gulf War, lied to about the invasion of Afghanistan, lied to about the invasion of Iraq, and lied to about a host of policies and interventions.

''But we have reached a new level in these matters, a level where the extent of the misrepresentation almost severs the social contract between those governed and their government. America’s neo-con faction has had its agenda adopted over the last few decades, that of freely and happily using America’s great military and economic power to crush those abroad who disagree with America’s arbitrary pronouncements, creating a long crusade intended to re-order the affairs of others with no apologies to them and no honest explanation to America’s own people who pay the taxes and provide the lives of soldiers. While the neo-cons are a passing phenomenon, much as the Middle-eastern garrison state with which they are ferociously associated, the values and lessons they have successfully imparted will remain part of America’s ruling consciousness, serving yet other interests. A tool once successfully used is rarely abandoned.''

respice, adspice, prospice ...

[-] 5 points by Ache4Change (3280) 4 months ago

That's almost too powerful to comment on but thank you for posting and excerpting and I'll just limit myself to posting these links for you on this important thread -

http://www.nationofchange.org/road-abu-ghraib-1398694586 and

http://www.nationofchange.org/how-us-created-afghan-war-and-then-lost-it-1398869826

Never Give Up On Exposing Warmongers! Occupy Peace! Solidarity.

[-] -1 points by shadz66 (19985) 4 months ago

''It’s mind-boggling. Torture is still up for grabs in America. No one questions anymore whether the CIA waterboarded one individual 83 times or another 186 times. The basic facts are no longer in dispute either by those who champion torture or those who, like myself, despise the very idea of it. No one questions whether some individuals died being tortured in American custody. (They did.) No one questions that it was a national policy devised by those at the very highest levels of government. (It was.) But many, it seems, still believe that the torture policy, politely renamed in its heyday “the enhanced interrogation program,” was a good thing for the country.'' From your first link & excerpted with a shudder with 'thin end of the wedge' very much in mind. I'd already read your second on Truth-Out :

Thanx for the strong links & also see : http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/04/30/kerr-a30.html which will speak for itself.

fiat lux et fiat pax ...

[-] 6 points by Ache4Change (3280) 3 months ago

'Torture is still up for grabs in America'! No shit! Take a look at this -

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/05/news-organizations-sue-missouri-lethal-injection

Thanks for the very strong links. The piece about Afghanistan was great and also see -

http://www.nationofchange.org/us-military-s-new-normal-africa-1400249819 & -

http://www.nationofchange.org/drone-lawyer-kill-16-year-old-get-promotion-1400247226

Let there be light and peace - but that is just not possible without 'justice'.

Never Give Up Exposing The Machine! Occupy The Occupiers! Solidarity.

[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 3 months ago

The Death Penalty in the USA is an abomination and is generally pushed by people who are also anti-a woman's right to bear a child or not and control her own body if she so chooses. Go figure.

I saw the Nick Turse piece re. Africa via http://truth-out.org/ already and have used it too but thanx and from your excellent Medea Benjamin link re. 'Drone Lawyers' :

''If you think that as a United States citizen you’re entitled to a trial by jury before the government can decide to kill you–– you’re wrong. During his stint as a lawyer at the Department of Justice, David Barron was able to manipulate constitutional law so as to legally justify killing American citizens with drone strikes. If you’re wondering what the justification for that is, that’s just too bad – the legal memos are classified. Sounds a little suspicious, doesn’t it? What’s even more suspicious is that now the Obama Administration wants to appoint the lawyer who wrote that legal memos to become a high-ranking judge for life.

''Disturbingly, this is not the first time that the president has rewarded a high-level lawyer for paving the legal way for drone strike assassinations. Jeh Johnson, former lawyer at the Department of Defense, penned the memos that give the “okay” to target non-US citizen foreign combatants with drones. His reward? He’s now the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. These Obama nominations are eerily reminiscent of the Bush-era appointment of torture memo author Jay Bybee to a lifetime position of a federal judge.'' Also fyi :

Yep, No Justice ; No peace !!! Never Give Up A4C - We All ''Ache 4 Change'' !! Solidarity !

respice ; adspice ; prospice ...

[-] 4 points by Ache4Change (3280) 3 months ago

'Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has expressed a willingness to hold hearings or take action against the impunity of the NSA. Congressman James Sensenbrenner, a principal author of the Patriot Act, introduced the USA Freedom Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring), H.R. 3361/ S. 1599, in the House of Representatives. The legislation would end bulk collection of Americans' communications records and reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, among other things.'

'The FISA reforms are inadequate, but they are a beginning. In addition, Rep. Barbara Lee has introduced H.R. 4608 to repeal the 2001 Authorization of Use of Military Force, which is a blank check for endless war. AUMF has been used to justify some of the worst abuses of executive power since 9/11 and has contributed to the fearmongering of the intelligence community. With Osama Bin Laden dead, Al-Qaeda a shell of its former self and our involvement in Afghanistan quickly diminishing, a movement is building in Congress to repeal the 2001 AUMF once and for all. Support for this comes from both the liberal side of the Democratic party and the libertarian wing of the Republican party. Budgetary constraints and resistance to wholesale surveillance are creating a new political coalition that can mobilize to roll back the surveillance state.' From your first truth-out.org link.

Everyone needs to see that second truth-out.org link - http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/23658-your-must-do-assignment-for-2014-read-this-chart-and-pass-it-on -

'However, if we could get this chart to go viral, like the video of the dog who bites his own leg or the cat in a shopping bag, maybe we could start to put a dent in our tacit acquiescence to this fraudulent and excessive budget that supposedly keeps us safe. I am asking you to send this chart along to your family and friends and ask them to do the same. If we don't inject some logic and comprehension into the debate on military spending, we will continue to damage the well-being of our country and the world. Will you spend a few minutes on a cut, paste and send?'

In compliment, see - http://www.nationofchange.org/nyc-suspends-massive-911-system-overhaul-probe-lengthy-delays-1-billion-over-budget-1401104766 &

'There will be the work of committing deeply to struggle that at times will seem unwinnable, the work of remembering Dr. King’s words: “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It will feel like a leap of faith at times, as if stepping off a cliff into the chasm of an unknown future.' from - http://www.nationofchange.org/making-new-populism-reality-lessons-conference-1401204622

Never Give Up Working For Peace! Occupy The 99% Agenda! Solidarity.

[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 3 months ago

“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” (MLK) - Thanx - I likey :-) Great excerpts and links and thus in compliment, I append and recommend :

fiat lux et fiat pax ...

[-] 3 points by Ache4Change (3280) 3 months ago

'Capitalism Undermines Democracy' & 'Its Current Form' is its most rapacious - EVER and this is the reality behind 'Obama's Far Right Foreign Policy! Thanks for the great links here, they are not too long or intricate and deserve wide readership. In compliment I'll just restrict myself to this -

http://www.nationofchange.org/mr-kerry-here-s-why-snowden-can-t-make-his-case-our-system-justice-1401720616 .

'Let there be light & let there be peace' but Never Give Up On The 99%! Occupy The 1%! Solidarity.

[-] -3 points by shadz66 (19985) 2 months ago

John Kerry is a botox addict and buffoon !!! His amnesia about his post-Vietnam views is a possible side effect of his needle addiction and wrinkle obsession !! As is his manipulative, mean minded mendacity !

Great 'NoC' link re. Edward Snowden from Juan Cole and thus in compliment on this thread - I append :

fiat justitia ruat caelum ...

[-] 2 points by Ache4Change (3280) 2 months ago

'What Excuse Remains for Obama’s Failure to Close GITMO?' - Glenn Greenwald rightly asks in that strong article, and he concludes that - 'The sole excuse now offered by Democratic loyalists for this failure has been that Congress prevented him from closing the camp. But here, the Obama White House appears to be arguing that Congress lacks the authority to constrain the President’s power to release detainees when he wants. What other excuse is there for his clear violation of a law that requires 30-day notice to Congress before any detainees are released?'

'But once you take the position that Obama can override — i.e., ignore — Congressional restrictions on his power to release Guantanamo detainees, then what possible excuse is left for his failure to close the camp?'

Also fyi on this thread - http://www.nationofchange.org/fall-mosul-and-false-promises-modern-history-1402585570

'Let there be justice though the sky falls'. Never Give Up! Occupy The Facts! Solidarity.

[-] 2 points by johannus (59) from Newburgh, NY 5 months ago

I've been following the goings-on at RT for the past few days including Liz Wahl's on-air resignation which seemed kinda fishy to me at the time. This was confirmed by the Truthdig article that you put up. Thanks.

Although I did not agree with Abby Martin's denunciation of Russia for intervening in Crimea a few days ago, I respect her for speaking her mind....And I applaud her for giving us news that you would not hear on the MSM. I especially admired her for the well-deserved lambasting that she gave to the neocon war mongers last night. (which is early in her news program)

http://rt.com/shows/breaking-set-summary/exposing-the-new-neocons-233/

She tells it like it is with a minimum of words.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 months ago

Abby Martin is right up there with the real traditions of combative journalism and I watch her show as often as I can. Alas her 'm.o' is also why she'll NEVER get onto MSM but hey .. if she ever did ..then the'd only use her as a fig leaf for their Corporate Pro-War, Imperial Propaganda .. so she is better off where she is. Liz Wahl in the meantime, is now exposed as a true stooge - of Neocon Propagandists. Also fyi and very relevantly to the OP :

fiat justitia ...

[-] 5 points by johannus (59) from Newburgh, NY 5 months ago

Since I consider myself a moral person who values the lives of all people, it was not easy reading that link, Treating People Like Garbage that points out the death and destruction that we bring to the World in our imperial quest..

Several months before 9/11 I read a book (in part at least) called Blowback, by Chalmers Johnson. So from reading that book which confirmed much of what I already knew....when the attack on our country occurred, I understood what had happened on a deeper level than most people.

Two weeks after 9/11 before a joint session of Congress, President Bush declared that, Osama Bin Laden attacked America because "he hates our freedom and is jealous of our way of life." Then again several months (maybe more) after that, I saw those words chiseled into a 9/11 monument on the grounds of our County Courthouse.

It irks the hell out of me that people who had lost loved ones during the 9/11 attacks, and most other Americans as well, have been lied to and accept this as being the truth.

http://www.thenation.com/article/blowback

[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 months ago

RiP Chalmers Johnson and from your link : ''... the other so-called superpower, the former Soviet Union, disappeared almost overnight because of internal contradictions, imperial overstretch and an inability to reform. We have always been richer .. so it might well take longer for similar contradictions to afflict our society. But it is nowhere written that the United States, in its guise as an empire dominating the world, must go on forever.'' Also fyi : http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article35016.htm & solidarity ~{~

fiat pax ...

[-] 4 points by LeoYo (5854) 4 months ago

Noam Chomsky | Red Lines in Ukraine and Elsewhere

Friday, 02 May 2014 11:22
By Noam Chomsky, Truthout | Op-Ed

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/23448-noam-chomsky-red-lines-in-ukraine-and-elsewhere

The current Ukraine crisis is serious and threatening, so much so that some commentators even compare it to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

Columnist Thanassis Cambanis summarizes the core issue succinctly in The Boston Globe: "(President Vladimir V.) Putin's annexation of the Crimea is a break in the order that America and its allies have come to rely on since the end of the Cold War - namely, one in which major powers only intervene militarily when they have an international consensus on their side, or failing that, when they're not crossing a rival power's red lines."

This era's most extreme international crime, the United States-United Kingdom invasion of Iraq, was therefore not a break in world order - because, after failing to gain international support, the aggressors didn't cross Russian or Chinese red lines.

In contrast, Putin's takeover of the Crimea and his ambitions in Ukraine cross American red lines. Therefore "Obama is focused on isolating . Putin's Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world, limiting its expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood and effectively making it a pariah state," Peter Baker reports in The New York Times.

American red lines, in short, are firmly placed at Russia's borders. Therefore Russian ambitions "in its own neighborhood" violate world order and create crises.

The point generalizes. Other countries are sometimes allowed to have red lines - at their borders (where the United States' red lines are also located). But not Iraq, for example. Or Iran, which the U.S. continually threatens with attack ("no options are off the table").

Such threats violate not only the United Nations Charter but also the General Assembly resolution condemning Russia that the United States just signed. The resolution opened by stressing the U.N. Charter ban on "the threat or use of force" in international affairs.

The Cuban missile crisis also sharply revealed the great powers' red lines. The world came perilously close to nuclear war when President Kennedy rejected Premier Khrushchev's offer to end the crisis by simultaneous public withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba and American missiles from Turkey. (The U.S. missiles were already scheduled to be replaced by far more lethal Polaris submarines, part of the massive system threatening Russia's destruction.)

In this case too, the United States' red lines were at Russia's borders, and that was accepted on all sides.

The U.S. invasion of Indochina, like the invasion of Iraq, crossed no red lines, nor have many other U.S. depredations worldwide. To repeat the crucial point: Adversaries are sometimes permitted to have red lines, but at their borders, where America's red lines are also located. If an adversary has "expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood," crossing U.S. red lines, the world faces a crisis.

In the current issue of the Harvard-MIT journal International Security, Oxford University professor Yuen Foong Khong explains that there is a "long (and bipartisan) tradition in American strategic thinking: Successive administrations have emphasized that a vital interest of the United States is to prevent a hostile hegemon from dominating any of the major regions of the world."

Furthermore, it is generally agreed that the United States must "maintain its predominance," because "it is U.S. hegemony that has upheld regional peace and stability" - the latter a term of art referring to subordination to U.S. demands.

As it happens, the world thinks differently and regards the United States as a "pariah state" and "the greatest threat to world peace," with no competitor even close in the polls. But what does the world know?

Khong's article concerns the crisis in Asia, caused by the rise of China, which is moving toward "economic primacy in Asia" and, like Russia, has "expansionist ambitions in its own neighborhood," thus crossing American red lines.

President Obama's recent Asia trip was to affirm the "long (and bipartisan) tradition," in diplomatic language.

The near-universal Western condemnation of Putin includes citing the "emotional address" in which he complained bitterly that the U.S. and its allies had "cheated us again and again, made decisions behind our back, presenting us with completed facts . with the expansion of NATO in the East, with the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders. They always told us the same thing: 'Well, this doesn't involve you.' "

Putin's complaints are factually accurate. When President Gorbachev accepted the unification of Germany as part of NATO - an astonishing concession in the light of history - there was a quid pro quo. Washington agreed that NATO would not move "one inch eastward," referring to East Germany.

The promise was immediately broken, and when Gorbachev complained, he was instructed that it was only a verbal promise, so without force.

President Clinton proceeded to expand NATO much farther to the east, to Russia's borders. Today there are calls to extend NATO even to Ukraine, deep into the historic Russian "neighborhood." But it "doesn't involve" the Russians, because its responsibility to "uphold peace and stability" requires that American red lines are at Russia's borders.

Russia's annexation of Crimea was an illegal act, in violation of international law and specific treaties. It's not easy to find anything comparable in recent years - the Iraq invasion is a vastly greater crime.

But one comparable example comes to mind: U.S. control of Guantanamo Bay in southeastern Cuba. Guantanamo was wrested from Cuba at gunpoint in 1903 and not relinquished despite Cuba's demands ever since it attained independence in 1959.

To be sure, Russia has a far stronger case. Even apart from strong internal support for the annexation, Crimea is historically Russian; it has Russia's only warm-water port, the home of Russia's fleet; and has enormous strategic significance. The United States has no claim at all to Guantanamo, other than its monopoly of force.

One reason why the United States refuses to return Guantanamo to Cuba, presumably, is that this is a major harbor and American control of the region severely hampers Cuban development. That has been a major U.S. policy goal for 50 years, including large-scale terror and economic warfare.

The United States claims that it is shocked by Cuban human rights violations, overlooking the fact that the worst such violations are in Guantanamo; that valid charges against Cuba do not begin to compare with regular practices among Washington's Latin American clients; and that Cuba has been under severe, unremitting U.S. attack since its independence.

But none of this crosses anyone's red lines or causes a crisis. It falls into the category of the U.S. invasions of Indochina and Iraq, the regular overthrow of parliamentary regimes and installation of vicious dictatorships, and our hideous record of other exercises of "upholding peace and stability."

© 2014 Noam Chomsky Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate

[-] 4 points by LeoYo (5854) 4 months ago

AFRICOM Goes to War on the Sly

Monday, 14 April 2014 09:39
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch | News Analysis

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/23080-africom-goes-to-war-on-the-sly

US Officials Talk Candidly (Just Not to Reporters) About Bases, Winning Hearts and Minds, and the “War” in Africa

What the military will say to a reporter and what is said behind closed doors are two very different things -- especially when it comes to the U.S. military in Africa. For years, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has maintained a veil of secrecy about much of the command’s activities and mission locations, consistently downplaying the size, scale, and scope of its efforts. At a recent Pentagon press conference, AFRICOM Commander General David Rodriguez adhered to the typical mantra, assuring the assembled reporters that the United States “has little forward presence” on that continent. Just days earlier, however, the men building the Pentagon’s presence there were telling a very different story -- but they weren’t speaking with the media. They were speaking to representatives of some of the biggest military engineering firms on the planet. They were planning for the future and the talk was of war.

I recently experienced this phenomenon myself during a media roundtable with Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. When I asked the general to tell me just what his people were building for U.S. forces in Africa, he paused and said in a low voice to the man next to him, “Can you help me out with that?” Lloyd Caldwell, the Corps’s director of military programs, whispered back, “Some of that would be close hold” -- in other words, information too sensitive to reveal.

The only thing Bostick seemed eager to tell me about were vague plans to someday test a prototype “structural insulated panel-hut,” a new energy-efficient type of barracks being developed by cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He also assured me that his people would get back to me with answers. What I got instead was an “interview” with a spokesman for the Corps who offered little of substance when it came to construction on the African continent. Not much information was available, he said, the projects were tiny, only small amounts of money had been spent so far this year, much of it funneled into humanitarian projects. In short, it seemed as if Africa was a construction backwater, a sleepy place, a vast landmass on which little of interest was happening.

Fast forward a few weeks and Captain Rick Cook, the chief of U.S. Africa Command’s Engineer Division, was addressing an audience of more than 50 representatives of some of the largest military engineering firms on the planet -- and this reporter. The contractors were interested in jobs and he wasn’t pulling any punches. “The eighteen months or so that I’ve been here, we’ve been at war the whole time,” Cook told them. “We are trying to provide opportunities for the African people to fix their own African challenges. Now, unfortunately, operations in Libya, South Sudan, and Mali, over the last two years, have proven there’s always something going on in Africa.”

Cook was one of three U.S. military construction officials who, earlier this month, spoke candidly about the Pentagon’s efforts in Africa to men and women from URS Corporation, AECOM, CH2M Hill, and other top firms. During a paid-access web seminar, the three of them insisted that they were seeking industry “partners” because the military has “big plans” for the continent. They foretold a future marked by expansion, including the building up of a “permanent footprint” in Djibouti for the next decade or more, a possible new compound in Niger, and a string of bases devoted to surveillance activities spreading across the northern tier of Africa. They even let slip mention of a small, previously unacknowledged U.S. compound in Mali.

The Master Plan

After my brush off by General Bostick, I interviewed an Army Corps of Engineers Africa expert, Chris Gatz, about construction projects for Special Operations Command Africa in 2013. “I’ll be totally frank with you,” he said, “as far as the scopes of these projects go, I don’t have good insights.”

What about two projects in Senegal I had stumbled across? Well, yes, he did, in fact, have information about a firing range and a “shoot house” that happened to be under construction there. When pressed, he also knew about plans I had noted in previously classified documents obtained by TomDispatch for the Corps to build a multipurpose facility in Cameroon. And on we went. “You’ve got better information than I do,” he said at one point, but it seemed like he had plenty of information, too. He just wasn’t volunteering much of it to me.

Later, I asked if there were 2013 projects that had been funded with counter-narco-terrorism (CNT) money. “No, actually there was not,” he told me. So I specifically asked about Niger.

Last year, AFRICOM spokesman Benjamin Benson confirmed to TomDispatch that the U.S. was conducting intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, or ISR, drone operations from Base Aérienne 101 at Diori Hamani International Airport in Niamey, the capital of Niger. In the months since, air operations there have only increased. In addition, documents recently obtained by TomDispatch indicated that the Army Corps of Engineers has been working on two counter-narco-terrorism projects in Arlit and Tahoua, Niger. So I told Gatz what I had uncovered. Only then did he locate the right paperwork. “Oh, okay, I’m sorry,” he replied. “You’re right, we have two of them... Both were actually awarded to construction.”

Those two CNT construction projects have been undertaken on behalf of Niger’s security forces, but in his talk to construction industry representatives, AFRICOM’s Rick Cook spoke about another project there: a possible U.S. facility still to be built. “Lately, one of our biggest focus areas is in the country of Niger. We have gotten indications from the country of Niger that they are willing to be a partner of ours,” he said. The country, he added, “is in a nice strategic location that allows us to get to many other places reasonably quickly, so we are working very hard with the Nigeriens to come up with, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a base, but a place we can operate out of on a frequent basis.”

Cook offered no information on the possible location of that facility, but recent contracting documents examined by TomDispatch indicate that the U.S. Air Force is seeking to purchase large quantities of jet fuel to be delivered to Niger's Mano Dayak International Airport.

Multiple requests for further information sent to AFRICOM’s media chief Benjamin Benson went unanswered, as had prior queries about activities at Base Aérienne 101. But Colonel Aaron Benson, Chief of the Readiness Division at Air Forces Africa, did offer further details about the Nigerien mini-base. “There is the potential to construct MILCON aircraft parking aprons at the proposed future site in Niger,”he wrote, mentioning a specific type of military construction funding dedicated to use for “enduring” bases rather than transitory facilities. In response to further questions, Cook referred to the possible site as a “base-like facility” that would be “semi-permanent” and “capable of air operations.”

[-] 5 points by LeoYo (5854) 4 months ago

Pay to Play

It turns out that, if you want to know what the U.S. military is doing in Africa, it’s advantageous to be connected to a large engineering or construction firm looking for business. Then you’re privy to quite a different type of insider assessment of the future of the U.S. presence there, one far more detailed than the modest official pronouncements that U.S. Africa Command offers to journalists. Asked at a recent Pentagon press briefing if there were plans for a West African analog to Djibouti’s Camp Lemonnier, the only "official" U.S. base on the continent, AFRICOM Commander General David Rodriguez was typically guarded. Such a “forward-operating site” was just “one of the options” the command was mulling over, he said, before launching into the sort of fuzzy language typical of official answers. “What we're really looking at doing is putting contingency locating sites, which really have some just expeditionary infrastructure that can be expanded with tents,” was the way he put it. He never once mentioned Niger, or airfield improvements, or the possibility of a semi-permanent "presence.”

Here, however, is the reality as we know it today. Over the last several years, the U.S. has been building a constellation of drone bases across Africa, flying intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions out of not only Niger, but also Djibouti, Ethiopia, and the island nation of the Seychelles. Meanwhile, an airbase in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, serves as the home of a Joint Special Operations Air Detachment, as well as of the Trans-Sahara Short Take-Off and Landing Airlift Support initiative. According to military documents, that “initiative” supports “high-risk activities” carried out by elite forces from Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara. U.S. Army Africa documents obtained by TomDispatch also mention the deployment to Chad of an ISR liaison team. And according to Sam Cooks, a liaison officer with the Defense Logistics Agency, the U.S. military has 29 agreements to use international airports in Africa as refueling centers.

As part of the webinar for industry representatives, Wayne Uhl, chief of the International Engineering Center for the Europe District of the Army Corps of Engineers, shed light on shadowy U.S. operations in Mali before (and possibly after) the elected government there was overthrown in a 2012 coup led by a U.S.-trained officer. Documents prepared by Uhl reveal that an American compound was constructed near Gao, a major city in the north of Mali. Gao is the site of multiple Malian military bases and a “strategic” airport captured by Islamist militants in 2012 and retaken by French and Malian troops early last year.

AFRICOM’s Benjamin Benson failed to respond to multiple requests for comment about the Gao compound, but Uhl offered additional details. The project was completed before the 2012 uprising and “included a vehicle maintenance facility, a small admin building, toilet facilities with water tank, a diesel generator with a fuel storage tank, and a perimeter fence,” he told me in a written response to my questions. “I imagine the site was overrun during the coup and is no longer used by U.S. forces.”

America’s lone official base on the African continent, Camp Lemonnier, a former French Foreign Legion post in Djibouti, has been on a decade-plus growth spurt and serves a key role for the U.S. mission. “Camp Lemonnier is the only permanent footprint that we have on the continent and until such time as AFRICOM may establish a headquarters location in Africa, Camp Lemonnier will be the center of their activities here,” Greg Wilderman, the Military Construction Program Manager for Naval Facilities Engineering Command, explained.

“In 2013, we had a big jump in the amount of program projects,” he noted, specifically mentioning a large “task force” construction effort, an oblique reference to a $220 million Special Operations compound at the base that TomDispatch first reported on in 2013.

According to documents provided by Wilderman, five contracts worth more than $322 million (to be paid via MILCON funds) were awarded for Camp Lemonnier in late 2013. These included deals for a $25.5 million fitness center and a $41 million Joint Headquarters Facility in addition to the Special Operations Compound. This year, Wilderman noted, there are two contracts -- valued at $35 million -- already slated to be awarded, and Captain Rick Cook specifically mentioned deals for an armory and new barracks in 2014.

Cook’s presentation also indicated that a number of long-running construction projects at Camp Lemonnier were set to be completed this year, including roads, a “fuel farm,” an aircraft logistics apron, and “taxiway enhancements,” while construction of a new aircraft maintenance hangar, a telecommunications facility, and a “combat aircraft loading area” are slated to be finished in 2015. “There’s a tremendous amount of work going on,” Cook said, noting that there were 22 current projects underway there, more than at any other Navy base anywhere in the world.

And this, it turns out, is only the beginning.

“In the master plan,” Cook said, “there is close to three quarters of a billion dollars worth of construction projects that we still would like to do at Camp Lemonnier over the next 10 to 15 years.” That base, in turn, would be just one of a constellation of camps and compounds used by the U.S. in Africa. “Many of the places that we are trying to stand up or trying to get into are air missions. A lot of ISR... is going on in different parts of the continent. Generally speaking, the Air Force is probably going to be assigned to do much of that,” he told the contractors. “The Air Force is going to be doing a great deal of work on these bases… that are going to be built across the northern tier of Africa.”

[-] 5 points by LeoYo (5854) 4 months ago

Hearts and Minds

When I spoke with Chris Gatz of the Army Corps of Engineers, the first projects he mentioned and the only ones he seemed eager to talk about were those for African nations. This year, $6.5 million in projects had been funded when we spoke and of that, the majority were for “humanitarian assistance” or HA construction projects, mostly in Togo and Tunisia, and “peacekeeping” operations in Ghana and Djibouti.

Uhl talked about humanitarian projects, too. “HA projects are small, difficult, challenging for the Corps of Engineers to accomplish at a low, in-house cost… but despite all this, HA projects are extremely rewarding,” he said. “The appreciation expressed by the locals is fantastic.” He then drew attention to another added benefit: “Each successful project is a photo opportunity.”

Uhl wasn’t the only official to touch on the importance of public perception in Africa or the need to curry favor with military “partners” on the continent. Cook spoke to the contractors, for instance, about the challenges of work in austere locations, about how bureaucratic shakedowns by members of African governments could cause consternation and construction delays, about learning to work with the locals, and about how important such efforts were for “winning hearts and minds of folks in the area.”

The Naval Facilities Engineering Command’s Wildeman talked up the challenges of working in an environment in which the availability of resources was limited, the dangers of terrorism were real, and there was “competition for cooperation with [African] countries from some other world powers.” This was no doubt a reference to increasing Chinese trade, aid, investment, and economic ties across the continent.

He also left no doubt about U.S. plans. “We will be in Africa for some time to come,” he told the contractors. “There’s lots more to do there.”

Cook expanded on this theme. “It’s a big, big place,” he said. “We know we can’t do it alone. So we’re going to need partners in industry, we’re going to need… local nationals and even third country nationals.”

AFRICOM at War

For years, senior AFRICOM officers and spokesmen have downplayed the scope of U.S. operations on the continent, stressing that the command has only a single base and a very light footprint there. At the same time, they have limited access to journalists and refused to disclose the number and tempo of the command’s operations, as well as the locations of its deployments and of bases that go by other names. AFRICOM’S public persona remains one of humanitarian missions and benign-sounding support for local partners.

“Our core mission of assisting African states and regional organizations to strengthen their defense capabilities better enables Africans to address their security threats and reduces threats to U.S. interests,” says the command. “We concentrate our efforts on contributing to the development of capable and professional militaries that respect human rights, adhere to the rule of law, and more effectively contribute to stability in Africa.” Efforts like sniper training for proxy forces and black ops missions hardly come up. Bases are mostly ignored. The word “war” is rarely mentioned.

TomDispatch’s recent investigations have, however, revealed that the U.S. military is indeed pivoting to Africa. It now averages far more than a mission a day on the continent, conducting operations with almost every African military force, in almost every African country, while building or building up camps, compounds, and “contingency security locations.” The U.S. has taken an active role in wars from Libya to the Central African Republic, sent special ops forces into countries from Somalia to South Sudan, conducted airstrikes and abduction missions, even put boots on the ground in countries where it pledged it would not.

“We have shifted from our original intent of being a more congenial combatant command to an actual war-fighting combatant command,” AFRICOM’s Rick Cook explained to the audience of big-money defense contractors. He was unequivocal: the U.S. has been “at war” on the continent for the last two and half years. It remains to be seen when AFRICOM will pass this news on to the American public.

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5854) 5 months ago

Former US Ambassador: Behind Crimea Crisis, Russia Responding to Years of ''Hostile'' US Policy

Thursday, 20 March 2014 11:53
By Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman, Democracy Now! | Video Report

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/22581-former-us-ambassador-behind-crimea-crisis-russia-responding-to-years-of-hostile-us-policy

The standoff over Ukraine and the fate of Crimea has sparked the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on top Russian officials while announcing new military exercises in Baltic states. Meanwhile in Moscow, the Russian government says it is considering changing its stance on Iran's nuclear talks in response to newly imposed U.S. sanctions. As tensions rise, we are joined by Jack Matlock, who served as the last U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. Matlock argues that Russian President Vladimir Putin is acting in response to years of perceived hostility from the U.S., from the eastward expansion of NATO to the bombing of Serbia to the expansion of American military bases in eastern Europe.

TRANSCRIPT

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

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The Ukrainian government has announced plans to abandon its military bases in Crimea and evacuate its forces following Russia's decision to annex the region. Earlier today, Russian forces reportedly released the commander of the Ukrainian Navy, who has been seized in his own headquarters in Crimea. At the United Nations, ambassadors sparred over the situation in Crimea. Yuriy Sergeyev is the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.N.

YURIY SERGEYEV: The declaration of independence by the Crimean Republic is a direct consequence of the application of the use of force and threats against Ukraine by the Russian Federation, and, in view of Russian nuclear power status, has a particularly dangerous character for Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity, as well as for international peace and security in general. Accordingly, I assert that on the basis of customary norms and international law, that the international community is obliged not to recognize Crimea as a subject of international law or any situation, treaty or agreement that may be arise or be achieved by this territory.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, defended Moscow's move to annex Crimea.

VITALY CHURKIN: [translated] A historic injustice has been righted, which resulted from the arbitrary actions of the leader of the U.S.S.R. at the time, Nikita Khrushchev, who, with the stroke of a pen in 1954, in violation of the constitutional norms, transferred the Russian region of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which was part of the same state then. And he did this without informing the population of Crimea and, of course, without their consent. And nobody cared about the views of the Crimeans.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the U.S. Navy warship, the Truxtun, a U.S. guided-missile destroyer, conducted a one-day military exercise in the Black Sea with the Bulgarian and Romanian navies. And Vice President Joe Biden has been meeting this week with the heads of states of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, promising Washington would protect them from any Russian aggression. On Wednesday, President Obama addressed the crisis during an interview withNBC 7 San Diego.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine. What we are going to do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we've got a strong international coalition that sends a clear message, which is: The Ukraine should decide their own destiny. Russia, right now, is violating international law and the sovereignty of another country. You know, might doesn't make right. And, you know, we are going to continue to ratchet up the pressure on Russia as it continues down its current course.

AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the growing crisis in Ukraine, we're joined by Ambassador Jack Matlock. He served as U.S. ambassador to Moscow from 1987 to 1991. He's the author of several books, including Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended_. He recently wrote acolumnstory.html for The Washington Post headlined "The U.S. Has Treated Russia Like a Loser Since the End of the Cold War."

Ambassador Matlock, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about the situation right now, what has just taken place, Ukraine now pulling out of Crimea.

JACK MATLOCK JR.: Well, I think that what we have seen is a reaction, in many respects, to a long history of what the Russian government, the Russian president and many of the Russian people—most of them—feel has been a pattern of American activity that has been hostile to Russia and has simply disregarded their national interests. They feel that having thrown off communism, having dispensed with the Soviet Empire, that the U.S. systematically, from the time it started expandingNATO to the east, without them, and then using NATO to carry out what they consider offensive actions about an—against another country—in this case, Serbia—a country which had not attacked any NATO member, and then detached territory from it—this is very relevant now to what we're seeing happening in Crimea—and then continued to place bases in these countries, to move closer and closer to borders, and then to talk of taking Ukraine, most of whose people didn't want to be a member of NATO, into NATO, and Georgia. Now, this began an intrusion into an area which the Russians are very sensitive. Now, how would Americans feel if some Russian or Chinese or even West European started putting bases in Mexico or in the Caribbean, or trying to form governments that were hostile to us? You know, we saw how we virtually went ballistic over Cuba. And I think that we have not been very attentive to what it takes to have a harmonious relationship with Russia.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Ambassador Matlock, Americans often look at these crises in isolation, and some of the press coverage deals with them that way. But from your perspective, you argued that we should see the continuum of events that have happened from the Russian point of view—for instance, the Orange Revolution, the pronouncements of some of our leaders several years back, the crisis in Georgia a few years ago, and how the Russians are seeing the original good feeling that most Russians had toward the United States after the collapse of the Soviet Union compared to now.

JACK MATLOCK JR.: Yes, that's absolutely true. You see, in the Orange Revolution in Kiev, foreigners, including Americans, were very active in organizing people and inspiring them. Now, you know, I have to ask Americans: How would Occupy Wall Street have looked if you had foreigners out there leading them? Do you think that would have helped them get their point across? I don't think so. And I think we have to understand that when we start directly interfering, particularly our government officials, in the internal makeup of other governments, we're really asking for trouble.

And, you know, we were pretty careful not to do that in my day. And I recall, for example, when I was being consulted by the newly elected leaders of what was still Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania. They were still in the Soviet Union, and they would come to us. We were, of course, sympathetic to their independence; we had never even recognized that they were legally part of the Soviet Union. But I had to tell them, "Keep it peaceful. If you are suppressed, there's nothing we can do about it. We cannot come and help you. We're not going to start a nuclear war." Well, they kept it peaceful, despite provocations.

Now, what have we been telling the Ukrainians, the Georgians—at least some of us, officials? "Just hold on. You can join NATO, and that will solve your problems for you." You know, and yet, it is that very prospect, that the United States and its European allies were trying to surround Russia with hostile bases, that has raised the emotional temperature of all these things. And that was a huge mistake. As George Kennan wrote back in the '90s when this question came up, the decision to expand NATO the way it was done was one of the most fateful and bad decisions of the late 20th century.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5854) 5 months ago

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to Vice President Joe Biden, who criticized Russia recently during his trip to Lithuania Wednesday.

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I want to make it clear: We stand resolutely with our Baltic allies in support of Ukrainian people and against Russian aggression. As long as Russia continues on this dark path, they will face increasing political and economic isolation. There are those who say that this action shows the old rules still apply. But Russia cannot escape the fact that the world is changing and rejecting outright their behavior.

AMY GOODMAN: And in a speech Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted what he called Western hypocrisy on Crimea, saying that the U.S. selectively applies international law according to its political interests.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] Our Western partners, headed by the United States of America, prefer in their practical policy to be guided not by international law, but by the right of the strong. They started to believe that they have been chosen and they are unique, that they are allowed to decide the fate of the world, that only they could always be right. They do whatever they want

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Jack Matlock, if you could respond to both Biden and Putin?

JACK MATLOCK JR.: Well, I think that this rhetoric on both sides is being very unhelpful. The fact is, Russia now has returned Crimea to Russia. It has been, most of its recent history, in the last couple of centuries, been Russian. The majority of the people are Russian. They clearly would prefer to be in Russia. And the bottom line is, we can argue 'til doomsday over who did what and why and who was the legal and who was not—I'm sure historians generations from now will still be arguing it—but the fact is, Russia now is not going to give up Crimea. The fact also is, if you really look at it dispassionately, Ukraine is better off without Crimea, because Ukraine is divided enough as it is. Their big problem is internal, in putting together disparate people who have been put together in that country. The distraction of Crimea, where most of the people did not want to be in Ukraine and ended up in Ukraine as a result of really almost a bureaucratic whim, is—was, I think, a real liability for Ukraine.

Now, the—we should be concentrating now on how we put Ukraine back together—not we, but the Ukrainians, with the help of the Europeans, with the help of the Russians, and with at least a benign view from the United States. Now, the American president and vice president directly challenging the Russian president and threatening them with isolation is going to bring the opposite effect. All of this has actually increased President Putin's popularity among Russians. Now, you know, most politicians, they like to do things that make them more popular at home. And, you know, the idea that we are acting, you know, contrary to what Russians would consider their very natural interests—that is, in bringing an area which had been Russian and traditionally Russian for a long time back into Russia—they look at that as a good thing. It's going to be very costly to Russia, they're going to find out, in many ways. But to continue all of this rhetoric, I would ask, well, how is it going to end? What is your objective? Because it isn't going to free up Crimea again or give it back to Ukraine.

I think it would be most helpful to encourage the Ukrainians to form a united government that can begin reforms. The proposals before, both by the EU and by Russia, would not have solved their problems. And they are not going to solve the problems by taking a government that basically represents one half of the country and making it work on the whole country. And all of this interference, both by Russia and by the West, including the United States, has tended to split Ukraine. Now, that is the big issue there. And we need to turn our attention more to it. And I just hope everyone can calm down and look at realities and stop trying to start sort of a new Cold War over this. As compared to the issues of the Cold War, this is quite minor. It has many of the characteristics of a family dispute. And when outsiders get into a family dispute, they're usually not very helpful.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Ambassador Matlock, what would you, if you were counseling the president, urge him to do at this stage? Because obviously there are these pretty weak sanctions that have so far been announced. What would your advice be?

JACK MATLOCK JR.: Well, I think, first of all, we should start keeping our voice down and sort of let things work out. You know, to ship in military equipment and so on is just going to be a further provocation. Obviously, this is not something that's going to be solved by military confrontations. So, I think if we can find a way to speak less in public, to use more quiet diplomacy—and right now, frankly, the relationships between our presidents are so poisonous, they really should have representatives who can quietly go and, you know, work with counterparts elsewhere.

But fundamentally, it's going to be the Ukrainians who have to put their society back together. It is seriously broken now. And it seems to me they could take a leaf from the Finns, who have been very successful ever since World War II in putting together a country with both Finns and Swedes, by treating them equally, by being very respectful and careful about their relations with Russia, never getting into—anymore into military struggles or allowing foreign bases on their land. And they've been extremely successful. Why can't the Ukrainians follow a policy of that sort? I think, for them, it would work, too. But first, they have to find a way to unite the disparate elements in Ukraine; otherwise, these pressures from Russia, on the one hand, and the West, on the other, is going to simply tear them apart. Now—

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador, on Wednesday—

JACK MATLOCK JR.: —in the final analysis, if the—

AMY GOODMAN: On Wednesday, the head of Ukraine's First National TV was attacked in his office by members of the far-right Svoboda party, including at least one member of Parliament who serves on the parliamentary committee on freedom of speech. The attackers accused the station of working for the Russian authorities, after it aired a live broadcast of the signing of the agreement between President Putin and the de facto Crimean authorities. In a video posted online, the attackers are seen forcing the head of the channel to write a resignation letter. Heather McGill of Amnesty International condemned the attack, saying, quote, "The acting Ukrainian authorities must waste no time in demonstrating that basic human rights are protected in Ukraine and that nobody will face discrimination because of their political views or ethnic origin." Ambassador Matlock, can you talk about this attack and the role of these far-right-wing parties in the new Ukrainian government?

JACK MATLOCK JR.: Well, I'm not intimately informed about all of the details, but—and I would say that I think Russian media have exaggerated that right-wing threat. On the other hand, those who have ignored it, I think, are making a big mistake. We do have to understand that a significant part of the violence at the Maidan, the demonstrations in Kiev, were done by these extreme right-wing, sort of neo-fascist groups. And they do—some of their leaders do occupy prominent positions in the security forces of the new government. And I think—I think the Russians and others are quite legitimately concerned about that. Therefore, you know, many of these things are not nearly as black and white, when we begin to look at them, as is implied in much of the rhetoric that we're hearing. And I do think that everybody needs now to take a quiet breath to really look at where we are and to see if we can't find ways, by keeping our voices down, to help the Ukrainians in present-day Ukraine to get to a road to greater unity and reform that will make them a viable state.

AMY GOODMAN: Jack Matlock, we want to thank—

JACK MATLOCK JR.: And I would argue that—

AMY GOODMAN: We want to—

JACK MATLOCK JR.: —they are better off without Crimea.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us. Ambassador Matlock served as the U.S. ambassador—

JACK MATLOCK JR.: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: —to Moscow from 1987 to 1991 under both President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush, and he's the author of a number of books, including Superpower Illusions andAutopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador's Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended.

When we come back, we'll be joined by Raphael Warnock, the minister of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's church. He was among 39 people arrested this week in Atlanta. Stay with us.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

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[-] -1 points by shadz66 (19985) 6 months ago

''Why Russians Are ‘Paranoid’", by Peter Hitchens :

That really was a piss poor reply to me ^up there^ btw. Now had u been able to see past your parDisan programming and prejudices, u could have seen the real worth if not wisdom of PBJ's words but despite being ''more conservative than a typical liberal'', sadly you could not overcome your preconceived ideas, irrespective of the longer term best interests of The Global 99% & a just and universal Peace for us all.

I have copied that very interesting article by Peter Hitchens (yep, the deceased Christopher's brother!) despite the fact that I generally hate his shrill, reactionary, right-wing views because what he says has real worth here and helps give a rare perspective into present reality and the important history behind it.

I liked your link tho' and just can't help feeling that it stemmed from a subconscious recognition of your own journey to the right lol - after all, what else explains your identification with - ''But really, was Hillary right?'' ?! Perhaps u should actually invest some of your hard earned money into Jen Senko's important documentary project and maybe even volunteer yourself as an interesting example of what happened to her dad but .. stay clear of 'US Talk Radio', lolol. Finally, re. your understandable Koch fixation, do try :

fiat lux et fiat pax ...

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[-] -1 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 months ago

TCH, Tch, tch - your toilet mouth is nearly on a par with 'GirlFriedHead' and you both need serious help and/or discipline with that but you just are not gonna get it from our mods here, lol ! Your parDisan and factional attachment to one cheek of the same ass makes a mockery of rhyme or reason & is all 'heat' and no 'light' !! That you think that your - ''point of view is entirely immaterial. I had nothing to do with it'' is actually a very much deeper comment than you know - you pre-programmeD, abrasive, bumptious, cantankerous Dork !!!

''The United States is more than just an ally to fascists in Ukraine and everywhere else; the American South provided an historical model for fascism.'' Ergo, also see ...

''America didn't used to be run like an old Southern slave plantation, but we're headed that way now. How did that happen ?''

You are probably too much of a barking mad dog to realise how relevant these two articles are - or just how YOU exhibit all the worst traits of ''libertarianism'' yourself - but you know how I work ... every B-S response from you, gets a spanking & at least one relevant (imo) link from me. Now spew some more.

fiat lux et verum ex absurdo ...

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[-] 0 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 months ago

Hmmm. Strange and more than a slightly mad response. Sad & a li'l bad too but re. the OP, consider :

multum in parvo ...

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[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (28261) from Coon Rapids, MN 5 months ago

Can't find a flaw in that comment - when you consider who/whats in office whats going down and who is in the back pushing.

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[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (28261) from Coon Rapids, MN 5 months ago

A step in the right direction? ( America taking a page from Bernie Sanders - but Elizabeth pulling the trigger this time )

https://occupywallst.org/forum/fighting-dirtiest-oil-planet-xldissent/#comment-1025547

[-] -1 points by JGriff99mph (507) 5 months ago

You are completely off your rocker and should probably go get yourself more involved with the Democractic party if you think that is the answer.

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[-] 2 points by JGriff99mph (507) 5 months ago

don;t worry about what me or anyone else is doing.

If the Dems provide what you deem the best chance to fix things, then shut up and go get involved.

Edit: For someone who slams nihilism a lot, you spend an awful of time conversing with people on a chat instead of being part of the organizational aspect of the Dem party to defeat Republicans.

Are you confused? Or just full of it? Or sit on here. It's your choice, zen.

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[-] -1 points by JGriff99mph (507) 5 months ago

What is it?

[-] 1 points by flip (6866) 5 months ago

right on man!

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[-] -2 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 months ago

Are you suggesting that this is a ''Paulite thread'' ffs ?!!! Any critical mention of or reference to, the POTUS appears to have you seeing red and can ''flip you for real yo''!! Sheeeeeesh and hmmmm !

You made a great comment below [''Do the dems really look like they are in control of anything? You really don't understand the basic premise of divide and conquer . . .] so I know that you get what a fkn powerless puppet he is and so in compliment of this forum-post, I cross link to my links here {reading optional, lol} :

I'm not sure about your ability, equanimity, inclination or urge to check out any of the information therein but I recommend it to you and all readers nevertheless and your explicit desire for censorship is telling !!

veritas vos liberabit ...

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[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 5 months ago

Nope, NOT ''without hesitation'' at all !!! In a right-wing media and culture many people are much 'more conservative than the average liberal' !! So, when a broken clock like Pat Buchannan chimes in on the right (as in correct) side, people relate to it & did you even read what's in his article above, I wonder ?!

What the real issue here is (imo) - is your trenchant parDisan outlook which seems to have major blind spots when it comes to your hallowed POTUS and his faction of The Ruling Elite in The U$A. Also see :

I disagree with your analysis and if you don't try to drag Obomber ''left'' than he'll go further 'right', right ?! How do u propose to ''eliminate the weight on the far right'' ?!! What .. by NOT putting the alternatives ?!!!

ad iudicium ...

[-] 2 points by shadz66 (19985) 6 months ago

''Resist the War Party on Crimea'', by Patrick J. Buchanan :

With Vladimir Putin’s dispatch of Russian troops into Crimea, our war hawks are breathing fire. Russophobia is rampant and the op-ed pages are ablaze here. Barack Obama should tune them out, and reflect on how Cold War presidents dealt with far graver clashes with Moscow. When Red Army tank divisions crushed the Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956, killing 50,000, Eisenhower did not lift a finger. When Khrushchev built the Berlin Wall, JFK went to Berlin and gave a speech. When Warsaw Pact troops crushed the Prague Spring in 1968, LBJ did nothing. When, Moscow ordered Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski to smash Solidarity, Ronald Reagan refused to put Warsaw in default. These presidents saw no vital U.S. interest imperiled in these Soviet actions, however brutal. They sensed that time was on our side in the Cold War. And history has proven them right.

What is the U.S. vital interest in Crimea? Zero. From Catherine the Great to Khrushchev, the peninsula belonged to Russia. The people of Crimea are 60 percent ethnic Russians. And should Crimea vote to secede from Ukraine, upon what moral ground would we stand to deny them the right, when we bombed Serbia for 78 days to bring about the secession of Kosovo? Across Europe, nations have been breaking apart since the end of the Cold War. Out of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia came 24 nations. Scotland is voting on secession this year. Catalonia may be next.

Yet, today, we have the Wall Street Journal describing Russia’s sending of soldiers to occupy airfields in Ukraine as a “blitzkrieg” that “brings the threat of war to the heart of Europe,” though Crimea is east even of what we used to call Eastern Europe. The Journal wants the aircraft carrier George H. W. Bush sent to the Eastern Mediterranean and warships of the U.S. Sixth Fleet sent into the Black Sea. But why? We have no alliance that mandates our fighting Russia over Crimea. We have no vital interest there. Why send a flotilla other than to act tough, escalate the crisis and risk a clash?

The Washington Post calls Putin’s move a “naked act of armed aggression in the center of Europe.” The Crimea is in the center of Europe? We are paying a price for our failure to teach geography. The Post also urges an ultimatum to Putin: Get out of Crimea, or we impose sanctions that could “sink the Russian financial system.” While we and the EU could cripple Russia’s economy and bring down her banks, is this wise? What if Moscow responds by cutting off credits to Ukraine, calling in Kiev’s debts, refusing to buy her goods and raising the price of oil and gas?

This would leave the EU and us with responsibility for a basket-case nation the size of France and four times as populous as Greece. Are Angela Merkel and the EU ready to take on that load, after bailing out the PIIGS—Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain?

If we push Russia out of the tent, to whom do we think Putin will turn, if not China?

This is not a call to ignore what is going on, but to understand it and act in the long-term interests of the United States. Putin’s actions, though unsettling, are not irrational. After he won the competition for Ukraine to join his customs union, by bumping a timid EU out of the game with $15 billion cash offer plus subsidized oil and gas to Kiev, he saw his victory stolen.

Crowds formed in Maidan Square, set up barricades, battled police with clubs and Molotov cocktails, forced the elected president Viktor Yanukovych into one capitulation after another, and then overthrew him, ran him out of the country, impeached him, seized parliament, downgraded the Russian language, and declared Ukraine part of Europe. To Americans this may look like democracy in action. To Moscow it has the aspect of a successful Beer Hall Putsch, with even Western journalists conceding there were neo-Nazis in Maidan Square. In Crimea and eastern Ukraine, ethnic Russians saw a president they elected and a party they supported overthrown and replaced by parties and politicians hostile to a Russia with which they have deep historical, religious, cultural and ancestral ties.

Yet Putin is taking a serious risk. If Russia annexes Crimea, no major nation will recognize it as legitimate, and he could lose the rest of Ukraine forever. Should he slice off and annex eastern Ukraine, he could ignite a civil war and second Cold War. Time is not necessarily on Putin’s side here. John Kerry could be right on that. But as for the hawkish howls, to have Ukraine and Georgia brought into NATO, that would give these nations, deep inside Russia’s space, the kind of war guarantees the Kaiser gave Austria in 1914 and the Brits gave the Polish colonels in March 1939.

Those war guarantees led to two world wars, which historians may yet conclude were the death blows of Western civilization.

~

cave - bellum se ipsum alet ...

(beware war that feeds itself) ..

~

This article is copied verbatim via ICH (clearer font) from ''The American Conservative'' {links above} and only rabid ''99% & Peace'' blind parDisans will fixate on PJB's ''libeRtopianism'' and ignore his extremely rational and historically literate article, appended here in compliment of this important forum-post. Thanx again Leo and deep solidarity to The 99% .. everywhere ... may they attain True Democracy and liberate themselves from Bankster Oligarchs, Totalitarian Crapitalism and Militarism - wherever they may be ~*~

pax nunc ...

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[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5854) 4 months ago

Washington Fights Fire With Fire in Libya: How Not to End Violence in a War-Torn Land

Tuesday, 15 April 2014 10:49
By Nick Turse, TomDispatch | News Analysis

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/23113-washington-fights-fire-with-fire-in-libya-how-not-to-end-violence-in-a-war-torn-land

Is the U.S. secretly training Libyan militiamen in the Canary Islands? And if not, are they planning to?

That’s what I asked a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). “I am surprised by your mentioning the Canary Islands,” he responded by email. “I have not heard this before, and wonder where you heard this.”

As it happens, mention of this shadowy mission on the Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa was revealed in an official briefing prepared for AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez in the fall of 2013. In the months since, the plan may have been permanently shelved in favor of a training mission carried out entirely in Bulgaria. The document nonetheless highlights the U.S. military’s penchant for simple solutions to complex problems -- with a well-documented potential for blowback in Africa and beyond. It also raises serious questions about the recurring methods employed by the U.S. to stop the violence its actions helped spark in the first place.

Ever since the U.S. helped oust dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with air and missile strikes against regime targets and major logistical and surveillance support to coalition partners, Libya has been sliding into increasing chaos. Militias, some of them jihadist, have sprung up across the country, carving out fiefdoms while carrying out increasing numbers of assassinations and other types of attacks. The solution seized upon by the U.S. and its allies in response to the devolving situation there: introduce yet another armed group into a country already rife with them.

The Rise of the Militias

After Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, a wide range of militias came to dominate Libya’s largest cities, filling a security vacuum left by the collapse of the old regime and providing a challenge to the new central government. In Benghazi alone, an array of these armed groups arose. And on September 11, 2012, that city, considered the cradle of the Libyan revolution, experienced attacks by members of the anti-Western Ansar al-Sharia, as well as other militias on the American mission and a nearby CIA facility. During those assaults, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, local armed groups called on for help or which might have intervened to save lives reportedly stood aside.

Over the year that followed, the influence of the militias only continued to grow nationwide, as did the chaos that accompanied them. In late 2013, following deadly attacks on civilians, some of these forces were chased from Libyan cities by protesters and armed bands, ceding power to what the New York Times called “an even more fractious collection of armed groups, including militias representing tribal and clan allegiances that tear at the tenuous [Libyan] sense of common citizenship.” With the situation deteriorating, the humanitarian group Human Rights Watch documented dozens of assassinations of judges, prosecutors, and members of the state’s already weakened security forces by unidentified assailants.

The American solution to all of this violence: more armed men.

Fighting Fire with Fire

In November 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command chief Admiral William McRaven told an audience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library that the United States would aid Libya by training 5,000 to 7,000 conventional troops as well as counterterrorism forces there. “As we go forward to try and find a good way to build up the Libyan security forces so they are not run by militias, we are going to have to assume some risks,” he said.

Not long after, the Washington Post reported a request by recently ousted Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan that the U.S. train his country’s security forces. In January, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which coordinates sales and transfers of military equipment abroad, formallynotified Congress of a Libyan request for a $600 million training package. Its goal: to create a 6,000 to 8,000-man “general purpose force,” or GPF.

The deal would, according to an official statement, involve “services for up to 8 years for training, facilities sustainment and improvements, personnel training and training equipment, 637 M4A4 carbines and small arms ammunition, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics support services, Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE), and other related elements of logistical and program support.”

In addition to the GPF effort, thousands of Libya troops are to be trained by the militaries of Morocco, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Italy. The Libyan Army also hopes to graduate 10,000 new troops at home annually.

While Admiral McRaven has emphasized the importance of building up “the Libyan security forces so they are not run by militias,” many recruits for the GPF will, in fact, be drawn from these very groups. It has also been widely reported that the new force will be trained at Novo Selo, a recently refurbished facility in Bulgaria.

The U.S. has said little else of substance on the future force. “We are coordinating this training mission closely with our European partners and the U.N. Support Mission in Libya, who have also offered substantial security sector assistance to the Government of Libya,” a State Department official told TomDispatch by email. “We expect this training will begin in 2014 in Bulgaria and continue over a number of years.”

There have been no reports or confirmation of the plan to also train Libyan militiamen at a facility in Spain’s Canary Islands mentioned along with Novo Selo in that Fall 2013 briefing document prepared for AFRICOM chief Rodriguez, which was obtained by TomDispatch.

Click here to see a larger version

Official briefing slide mentioning a U.S. military training effort in the Canary Islands.

Officials at the State Department say that they know nothing about this part of the program. “I'm still looking into this, but my colleagues are not familiar with a Canary Islands component to this issue,” I was told by a State Department press officer. AFRICOM spokesman Benjamin Benson said much the same. “[W]e have no information regarding training of Libyan troops to be provided in the Canary Islands,” he emailed me. After I sent him the briefing slide that mentioned the mission, however, he had a different response. The Canary Islands training mission was, he wrote, part of an “initial concept” never actually shared with General Rodriguez, but instead “briefed to a few senior leaders in the Pentagon.”

“The information has been changed, numerous times, since the slide was drafted, and is expected to change further before any training commences,” he added, and warned me against relying on it. He did not, however, rule out the possibility that further changes might revive the Canary Islands option and demurred from answering further questions on the subject. A separate U.S. Army Africa document does mention that “recon” of a second training site was slated to begin last December.

Neither the State Department nor AFRICOM explained why plans to conduct training in the Canary Islands were shelved or when that decision was made or by whom. Benson also failed to facilitate interviews with personnel involved in the Libyan GPF training effort or with top AFRICOM commanders. “Given the continuing developing nature of this effort, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time, and we have not been giving interviews on the topic,” he told me. Multiple requests to the Libyan government for information on the locations of training sites also went unanswered.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5854) 4 months ago

Training Day

Wherever the training takes place, the U.S. has developed a four-phase process to “build a complete Libya security sector.” The Army’s 1st Infantry Division will serve as the “mission command element for the Libyan GPF training effort” as part of a State Department-led collaboration with the Department of Defense, according to official documents obtained by TomDispatch.

Agreements with partner nations are to be finalized and Libyans selected for leadership positions as part of an initial stage of the process. Then the U.S. military will begin training not only the GPF troops, but a border security force and specialized counter-terror troops. (Recently, AFRICOM Commander David Rodriguez told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S. was also helping to build up what he termed Libyan “Special Operations Forces.”) A third phase of the program will involve developing the capacities of the Libyan ministries of justice, defense, and the interior, and strengthening Libya’s homegrown security training apparatus, before pulling back during a fourth phase that will focus on monitoring and sustaining the forces the U.S. and its allies have trained.

Click here to see a larger version

U.S. Army Africa document details four-phase plan for U.S. training of Libyan forces.

Despite reports that training at Novo Selo will begin this spring, a State Department official told TomDispatch that detailed plans are still being finalized. After inspecting a briefing slide titled “Libya Security Sector Phasing,” AFRICOM’S Benson told me, “I do not see us in any phase as indicated on the slide… the planning and coordination is still ongoing.” Since then, Lolita Baldor of the Associated Press reported that, according to an unnamed Army official, a small team of U.S. soldiers has now headed for Libya to make preparations for the Bulgarian portion of the training.

A timeline produced by U.S. Army Africa as part of a December 2013 briefing indicates that the Novo Selo site would be ready for trainers sometime last month. After communications systems and security sensors are set up, that training range will be ready to accept its first Libyan recruits. The timeline suggests that this could occur by early May.

While this may have been an early version of the schedule, there’s little doubt the program will begin soon. Baldor notes that formal Libyan approval for the training may come this month, although AFRICOM Commander David Rodriguez pointed out at a Pentagon press briefing that the Libyan government still has to ante up the funds for the program, and a Libyan official confirmed to TomDispatch that the training had yet to commence.

Click here to see a larger version

U.S. Army Africa timeline of U.S. training of Libyan "General Purpose Force.”

Experts have, however, already expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of the program. In late 2013, for instance, Benjamin Nickels, the academic chair for transnational threats and counterterrorism at the Department of Defense’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies, raised a number of problematic issues. These included the challenge of screening and vetting applicants from existing Libyan militias, the difficulty of incorporating various regional and tribal groups into such a force without politicizing the trainee pool; and the daunting task of then devising a way to integrate the GPF into Libya’s existing military in a situation already verging on the chaotic.

“For all their seriousness,” wrote Nickels, “these implementation difficulties pale in comparison to more serious pitfalls haunting the GPF at a conceptual level. So far, plans for the GPF appear virtually unrelated to projects of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR) that are vital to Libya’s future.”

Berny Sebe, an expert on North and West Africa at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, noted that, while incorporating militiamen into a “mainstream security system” could help diminish the power of existing militias, it posed serious dangers as well. “The drawback is, of course, that it can infiltrate factious elements into the very heart of the Libyan state apparatus, which could further undermine its power,” he told TomDispatch by email. “The use of force is unavoidable to enforce the rule of law, which is regularly under threat in Libya. However, all efforts placed in the development of a security force should go hand in hand with a clear political vision. Failure to do so might solve the problem temporarily, but will not bring long-term peace and stability.”

In November 2013, Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an expert on Libya, pointed out that the project seemed reasonable in the abstract, but that reality might be another matter entirely: “[T]he force’s composition, the details of its training, the extent to which Libyan civilians will oversee it, and its ability to deal with the range of threats that the country faces are all unclear.” He suggested that an underreported 2013 mission to train one Libyan unit that ended in abject failure should be viewed as a cautionary tale.

Last summer, a small contingent of U.S. Special Operations Forces set up a training camp outside of Libya’s capital, Tripoli, for an elite 100-man Libyan counter-terror force whose recruits were personally chosen by former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. While the Americans were holed up in their nighttime safe house, unidentified militia or “terrorist” forces twice raided the camp, guarded by the Libyan military, and looted large quantities of high-tech American equipment. Their haul included hundreds of weapons, Glock pistols and M4 rifles among them, as well as night-vision devices and specialized lasers that can only be seen with such equipment. As a result, the training effort was shut down and the abandoned camp was reportedly taken over by a militia.

This represented only the latest in a series of troubled U.S. assistance and training efforts in the Greater Middle East and Africa. These include scandal-plagued endeavors in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a program that produced an officer who led the coup that overthrew Mali’s elected government, and an eight-month training effort in the Democratic Republic of Congo by U.S. Special Operations forces that yielded an elite commando battalion that took part in mass rapes and other atrocities, according to a United Nations report. And these are just the tip of the iceberg among many others or did examples from around the world.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5854) 4 months ago

The Answer?

The U.S. may never train a single Libyan militiaman in the Canary Islands, but the plan to create yet one more armed group to inject into Libya’s already fractious sea of competing militias is going forward -- and is fraught with peril.

For more than half a year, a militia controlled the three largest ports in Libya. Other militiamen have killed unarmed protesters. Some have emptied whole towns of their residents. Others work with criminal gangs, smuggling drugs, carrying out kidnappings for ransom, and engaging in human trafficking. Still others have carried out arbitrary arrests, conducted torture, and been responsible for deaths in detention. Armed men have also murdered foreigners, targeted Christian migrants, and fought pro-government forces. Many have attacked other nascent state institutions. Last month, for instance, militiamen stormed the country's national assembly, forcing its relocation to a hotel. (That assault was apparently triggered by a separate unidentified group, which attacked an anti-parliament sit-in, kidnapping some of the protesters.)

Some militias have quasi-official status or are beholden to individual parliamentarians. Others are paid by and support the rickety Libyan government. That government is also reportedly engaging in widespread abuses, including detentions without due process and prosecutions to stifle free speech, while failing to repeal Gaddafi-era laws that, as Human Rights Watch has noted, “prescribe corporal punishment, including lashing for extramarital intercourse and slander, and amputation of limbs.”

Most experts agree that Libya needs assistance in strengthening its central government and the rule of law. “Unless the international community focuses on the need for urgent assistance to the justice and security systems, Libya risks the collapse of its already weak state institutions and further deterioration of human rights in the country,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said recently. How to go about this remains, however, at best unclear.

“Our Defense Department colleagues plan to train 5,000 to 8,000 general purpose forces,” Anne Patterson, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year, noting that the U.S. would “conduct an unprecedented vetting and screening of trainees that participate in the program.” But Admiral William McRaven, her "Defense Department colleague," has already admitted that some of the troops to be trained will likely not have “the most clean record.”

In the wake of failed full-scale conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has embraced a light-footprint model of warfare, emphasizing drone technology, Special Operations forces, and above all the training of proxy troops to fight battles for America’s national security interests from Mali to Syria -- and soon enough, Libya as well.

There are, of course, no easy answers. As Berny Sebe notes, the United States “is among the few countries in the world which have the resources necessary to undertake such a gigantic task as training the new security force of a country on the brink of civil war like Libya.” Yet the U.S. has repeatedly suffered from poor intelligence, an inability to deal effectively with the local and regional dynamics involved in operations in the Middle East and North Africa, and massive doses of wishful thinking and poor planning. “It is indeed a dangerous decision,” Sebe observes, “which may add further confusion to an already volatile situation.”

A failure to imagine the consequences of the last major U.S. intervention in Libya has, perhaps irreparably, fractured the country and sent it into a spiral of violence leading to the deaths of Americans, among others, while helping to destabilize neighboring nations, enhance the reach of local terror groups, and aid in the proliferation of weapons that have fueled existing regional conflicts. Even Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda Dory admitted at a recent Pentagon press briefing that the fallout from ousting Gaddafi has been “worse than would have been anticipated at the time.” Perhaps it should be sobering as well that the initial smaller scale effort to help strengthen Libyan security forces was an abject failure that ended up enhancing, not diminishing, the power of the militias.

There may be no nation that can get things entirely right when it comes to Libya but one nation has shown an unnerving ability to get things wrong. Whether outside of Tripoli, in Bulgaria, the Canary Islands, or elsewhere, should that country really be the one in charge of the delicate process of building a cohesive security force to combat violent, fractious armed groups? Should it really be creating a separate force, trained far from home by foreigners, and drawn from the very militias that have destabilized Libya in the first place?

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com

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[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 5 months ago

Yeah, and they keep missing these guys, preferring to use generic terms like TBTF and TPTB.

https://occupywallst.org/forum/activist-group-focuses-on-community/