28-May-17 – Eurasian Economic Transformation Goes Forward

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At this juncture it’s clear that the attempt of the Trump Administration and related circles in the US military industrial complex have failed in their prime objective, that of driving a permanent wedge between Russia and China, the two great Eurasian powers capable of peacefully ending the Sole Superpower hegemony of the United States. Some recent examples of seemingly small steps with enormous future economic and geopolitical potential between Russia and China underscore this fact. The Project of the Century, as we can now call the China One Belt One Road infrastructure development–the economic integration on a consensual basis by the nations of Eurasia, outside the domination of NATO countries of the USA and EU–is proceeding at an interesting pace in unexpected areas.

1971: America’s Twilight Begins

It’s very essential in my view to appreciate where the post-1944 development of America’s role in the world went seriously wrong. The grandiose project dubbed by Henry Luce in 1941 as the American Century, if I were to pick a date, began its twilight on August 15, 1971.

That was the point in time a 44-year-old Under-Secretary of the Treasury for International Monetary Affairs named Paul Volcker convinced a clueless President Richard Milhous Nixon that the treaty obligations of the 1944 Bretton Woods Treaty on a postwar Gold Exchange Standard should be simply ignored. Volcker rejected the express mandate of the Bretton Woods Treaty which would have seen a devaluation of the dollar in order to rebalance world major currencies. By 1971 the economies of war-ravaged countries such as Japan, Germany and France had rebuilt at a significantly higher level of efficiency than the US.

A devaluation of the dollar would have given a major boost to US industrial exports and eased the export of dollar inflation in the world arising from Lyndon Johnson’s huge Vietnam War budget deficits. The de-industrialization of the USA could have thereby been avoided. Wall Street would hear none of that. Their mantra in effect was, “Nothin’ personal, just bizness…” The banks began the destruction of the American industrial base in favor of cheap labor and ultra-high-profit manufacture abroad.

Instead of correcting that at a point it could have had an enormously positive economic effect, Volcker advised Nixon to in effect spit on America’s international treaty obligations and to brazenly dare the world to do something about it. On Volcker’s advice, Nixon simply ripped the treaty in shreds and ended Federal Reserve redemption of dollars held by foreign central banks for US gold reserves. The US dollar overnight was no longer “as good as gold.”

A serious dollar devaluation against currencies of America’s major trading partners, while it could have given a new lease on life to America’s industries, would have greatly reduced the power of the Wall Street banks. It was from David Rockefeller’s Chase Manhattan Bank that Volcker came to Washington.

Paul Volcker’s unilateral suspension of gold-dollar redemption began a series of moves, as I document in The Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century. The floating dollar allowed the increasingly more powerful and more unregulated banks of Wall Street to destroy the industrial base of the United States, the world’s once-great economy, and to create a debt burden that today is so out-of-control that it perhaps can only be managed through a possible war or countless wars everywhere, failing some variation of a US national Chapter 9 bankruptcy reorganization.

That a new war so readily can be considered a solution by the American oligarchs behind Wall Street and the huge military-industrial complex should not surprise us. We need only realize that since the nation’s founding in 1776, the United States has been at war with someone for 214 of her 235 years of existence as a nation. That’s impressive, at least in the negative.

The American Century is crumbling before our eyes, and has been doing so for the near-five decades since August, 1971. That willful ignoring of the health of the economy of the United States over decades has created a vast moral, political and economic vacuum in the world today.

Into that vacuum other nations outside Washington’s NATO control are building what I have termed a Eurasian Century, a very lawful and positive response to an increasingly totalitarian Washington role in the world.

The contrast between what China, together with Russia, and the other nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Eurasia are doing to build up their common economic space, and what the United States, Britain and other NATO nations are doing to destroy, could not be more stark.

A Eurasian Century Advances

I’ve often written about the 2013 initiative of China’s far-sighted President Xi Jinping, the project called One belt, One Road (OBOR), or the New Economic Silk Road. I’m now preparing a book dealing with the various levels of its strategic global impact. The three strategic partners in the economic projects around OBOR that are transforming the economic potentials of the world economy in a positive direction are China, Russia–including Russia’s partners in the Eurasian Economic Union–and Iran. Here I want to take a selection of game-changing projects going forward, with almost no appreciation by mainstream Western media, involving Russia and China.

The huge and ambitious infrastructure development of high-speed Trans-Eurasian railway connections together with a network of deep water ports from Asia to the Middle East and on to Greece and other parts of Europe, is a huge project creating over the next several years millions of new skilled jobs and economic spending in the trillions of dollars. This will take place over the next two or more decades.

OBOR is transforming the industrial geography of the world in a tectonic shift away from more than five centuries of European and later Trans-Atlantic domination. The shift is to a new world ordering in which the nations with the largest populations are emerging and expressing their rightful national sovereignty, and rightly demanding their sovereign right to decide how to develop their own vast resources for their own development. In effect it contrasts with a de facto imperial US-controlled globalization to the alternative defense of national sovereignty. This is a very serious difference between West (NATO) and East (OBOR).

Russian Grain as Strategic Asset

A little-noted area of strategic development between China and her neighbor, Russia, involves grain, lots of it. I want to put the focus briefly there.

In 2016, ironically as a direct consequence of the foolish and self-defeating US Treasury and EU economic sanctions against the Russian Federation, Russia counter-sanctioned EU agriculture imports and began to intensively revive her dormant agriculture production, including signing into law a total ban on GMO commercial crops in Russia, the land blessed by nature and geography with the richest nutrient-endowed black earth soils.

One of the lingering consequences of the catastrophic rape of Russia’s economy during the Yeltsin era by Washington and the Harvard Shock Therapy boys in the 1990s was the opening of Russia to EU food imports, most of it industrialized from giant Western agribusiness conglomerates like Kraft Foods, Tyson, Unilever, Nestle and others, food products of dubious nutritional value. Russians forgot how delicious and nutritious Russian domestic food was. After 1990 Russian supermarket shelves were filled indeed, but with Western “fake foods.”

With the recent USA and EU economic sanctions, Russian agriculture has boomed since 2014. In 2016 Russia surpassed the United States and the combined 28-nation EU as the world’s largest producer and exporter of grain.

The Western grain industry is astonished at the dramatic turnaround in Russian grain and agriculture output. What they likely did not realize was that in the years from 2008-2012–when according to the Russian Constitution Vladimir Putin was prohibited from serving a third consecutive term as President–Putin served as Prime MInister with responsibility over Russia’s economy among other areas. There he quietly initiated select market reforms that prepared the way for the dramatic renaissance of Russian agriculture after 2014 as a world factor.

During the 1980’s Russia had become far the world’s largest grain and agriculture importer after catastrophic harvest failures. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger acted as broker for Cargill and the US Grain Cartel companies, at the same time that Kissinger’s Middle East “shuttle diplomacy” was manipulating a Yom Kippur War that triggered an OPEC oil embargo against the USA and Europe. Kissinger negotiated the huge sale of US grain to the Soviet Union at outrageously high prices. It was known in grain trading circles as the “Great Grain Robbery.” It was at that same time, with a Washington-orchestrated 400% oil price shock and a similar 300% rise in essential world grain prices, that Kissinger reportedly boasted, “If you control oil, you control entire nations; if you control food, you control the people…”

That Russian import dependency on western grain lasted until very recently. Now, for the harvest year 2016-2017 according to the US Department of Agriculture and the International Grains Council, Russia will export some 30 million tons of GMO-free grain, exceeding the EU’s 27 million tons and USA with 25.5 million tons.

The geopolitical as well as economic implications of this profound shift in Russian food production are strategic.

Russia-China Grain Trade

On April 8, 2017, the first freight train loaded with high-quality Russian wheat arrived in Manzhouli, a land port in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, across the border from Russia.

Why is this significant one might ask?

In 2015 China grain imports rose 20 per cent from 2014 to 120 million tons. More than 80 million tons were almost entirely GMO soybeans that came from the USA and Brazil. The rest were mostly cereals such as wheat. Now China for the first time has the possibility of importing directly from neighboring Russia by rail of Russian GMO-free grains. By contrast, more than 94% of all USA soybeans in 2016 according to the US Department of Agriculture was GMO and 89% of all USA corn. This is a huge advantage for GMO-free Russian grains in China.

In December, 2015 the relevant authorities in China and Russia came to a formal agreement on standards of import of wheat, corn, rice and soybeans from GMO-free Russia. The first delivery in April 2017 of Russian wheat was completed. Now the machinery is approved and in place to increase Russian grain imports to China.

China’s state-owned food conglomerate COFCO is responsible for quality control, import and distribution of the Russian grain to the Chinese market. Overland train transport from Russia significantly cuts transport time and cost compared with sea transport. As well, it is far less vulnerable to potential US or NATO economic sanctions.

Currently China grain imports must navigate the perilous conflict zones in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, both areas where the US Navy is escalating tensions under the false argument of maintaining “freedom of navigation.” With present US naval bases in Japan, South Korea and Singapore, Washington could impose an economic blockade on China seaborn grain imports as well as oil and other products.

China COFCO president Yu Xubo said they plan to import 1 million to 2 million tons of wheat from Russia a year, and it may increase to 4 million or 5 million tons a year.

If tensions between Washington and Beijing significantly escalate, the Russian overland railway share of grain exports to China could become geopolitically essential to China’s agriculture security. This “simple” first Russian trainload of wheat to China is not at all being greeted with joy in Washington.

HR 1644

The warhawk faction in the present US House of Representatives has recently introduced a bill deceptively titled HR 1644: The Korea Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act.

The bill is not at all about putative missile threats from North Korea. It’s a sneaky way to try to impose grossly illegal sanctions, de facto acts of war, against China and Russia.

The bill, passed by the House of Representatives on April 29, now is in the Senate for debate. It provides a “legal basis” for US military control over Russian ports in the Far East, military and civilian, as well as over Chinese ports. If passed by the Republican-dominated US Senate, the Bill will allow the US military to “inspect, search and seize any vessel or aircraft suspected in violation of the anti-North Korea sanctions,” according to terms that would be defined unilaterally by Washington. The HR 1644 bill also gives the US military the authority to inspect the sea ports in Russia and China, implying that if they resist the brazen incursion into their sovereignty, they will face far more severe US sanctions.

The HR 1644 Korea Interdiction and Modernization Act bill, if signed into law by the US President, will also sanction Russia’s global food trade because North Korean workers are being employed in Russia’s agricultural sector. The HR 1644 Bill would completely ban the trade of Russia-produced food worldwide in order to replace it with US produced GMO crap that the USA sells as nutritious food.

Beijing moves OBOR forward

On May 14-15 leaders and heads of government of twenty nine nations met in Beijing to discuss the implications of the One Belt, One Road infrastructure development. In his opening greeting, China’s Xi Jinping, the author of the OBOR idea, told attendees that the OBOR should become “a road of peace, prosperity, opening up, innovation and connecting different civilizations. The ancient silk routes thrived in times of peace, but lost vigor in times of war. The pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative requires a peaceful and stable environment.”

Xi added, “In pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, we should focus on the fundamental issue of development, release the growth potential of various countries and achieve economic integration and interconnected development and deliver benefits to all.” Xi called for promoting land, maritime, air and cyberspace connectivity, focusing on key passageways, cities and projects, and connecting networks of highways, railways and sea ports. That I must say sounds far better to my ears than wars to defend the hegemony of a bankrupt US military-industrial complex and the Wall Street banks and oil companies.

Russian President Putin was present in Beijing for the OBOR forum. Turkey’s Erdogan also. Notably however, aside from the Prime Minister of Italy, not one leader from a G-7 Western industrial country choose to attend. Trump decided to send a middle-level National Security Council spook, Matthew Pottinger, former intelligence officer in Afghanistan under Lt. General Michael Flynn, who is now in the US National Security Council under McMaster. Trump decided not to send even his Secretary of State Tillerson. Could that be because Washington is fearing the success of the Eurasian Century and the One Belt, One Road? You can bet your booties it is!

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.

23-May-2017 – Donald Trump against Jihadism

by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network

Donald Trump’s speech to the leaders of the Muslim world marks a radical change in US military policy. As from now, the enemy is no longer the Syrian Arab Republic, but jihadism, in other words the strategic tool of the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

During his electoral campaign, Donald Trump had declared that he had no interest in overthrowing régimes, although he intends to put an end to Islamic terrorism. Since his election, his adversaries have been attempting to force him to follow their policy – using the power of the Muslim Brotherhood to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic.

They have used anything they could to destroy the team chosen by candidate Trump, notably by provoking the resignation of his National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn. In 2012, Flynn had opposed Barack Obama’s project to create Daesh, and he continued to finger the Muslim Brotherhood as the source of Islamic terrorism.

Everything has been used to present the new US President as an Islamophobe. He was criticized for having promulgated a decree forbidding entry into his country to citizens of six Muslim States. Democrat magistrates abused their functions in order to uphold this accusation. In reality, Donald Trump has suspended entry for people whose consulates are unable to verify their identity, because they are subject to civil troubles or open war.

The problem that Donald Trump has to face is not posed by the survival of the Syrian Arab Republic, but by the loss of what would represent, for certain allies of Washington, the end of the terrorist strategy. It is clearly recognized in all international conferences that all states are publicly opposed to Islamic terrorism, although in private, some of these states have been organizing it for the last 66 years.

This is primarily the case of the United Kingdom, which, in 1951, built the Muslim Brotherhood on the ruins of the organization of the same name, which had been dissolved two years earlier, and almost all of whose leaders were in prison. It is also the case of Saudi Arabia, who, at the demand of London and Washington, created the Muslim World League in order to support both the Brotherhood and the Naqshbandi Order. It is this League, whose budget is superior to that of the Saudi Ministry of Defense, which supplies money and weapons to the jihadist system throughout the world. And finally, it is also the case of Turkey, which now supervises the command of the military operations of this system.

By concentrating his speech in Riyadh on the clarification of the misconceptions concerning his relations with Islam and the affirmation of his intention to put an end to the jihadist tool of the Anglo-Saxon secret services, Donald Trump imposed his will on the fifty states gathered to listen to him. In order to avoid misunderstanding, his Secretary for Defense, James Mattis, clearly explained his military strategy – to encircle the jihadist groups, and then to exterminate them without allowing a single one to escape.

We do not yet know what London’s reaction will be. As for Riyadh, Donald Trump was very careful to whitewash the Sauds for their past crimes. Saudi Arabia has not been accused of anything, but Iran has been handed the role of scapegoat. This is obviously absurd, since the Muslim Brotherhood and the Naqshbandis are Sunnis, while Teheran is Shiite.

The accusations against Iran have no importance, since Teheran knows which way the wind is blowing. For the last 16 years, Washington – which never misses an opportunity to spit in their faces – has been destroying, one by one, all their enemies – the Taliban, Saddam Hussein and soon Daesh.

What is now in play, as we announced eight months ago, is the end of the “Arab Springs” and the return to regional peace.

10-May-17 – Was Russia Tricked by an American Woman in Syria? – No way!

Written by Valentin Vasilescu, military analyst, former deputy commander of Otopeni Airport.

Trans. By Alice Decker

On April 7, 2017, President Trump famously launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at the Shayrat air base near Homs, a highly visible and much-vaunted gesture, even though only 23 of them actually landed. But even that begs the question: How did even one of them get through, if Russia has such a solid defense in place?

In Syria, the Russian army has deployed a multitude of land-based and ship-borne long-range and short-range AA systems and even has MiG-31BM, Su-30SM, and Su-35S cruise missiles capable of taking down cruise missiles. In its military actions in Syria, the Russians have applied the principles and laws of military science by the book [1]. Indeed, they have even surpassed world standards in the use of force for special operations [2].

Even so, all the Russian military installations were [seemingly] powerless against the US ship-based cruise missiles. The Americans managed to trick the Russians very handily.

Cruise missiles are no longer a technical novelty except for states with a weak military. Russia has demonstrated that their Kalibr can achieve the same performance as America’s Tomahawk. Moreover, under standard conditions, AA S-400 and S-300V4 air defense missiles can successfully counter a Tomahawk cruise missile launched from surface ships (though not from submerged submarines which are harder to spot).

So it wasn’t technological superiority that made the difference, but the commanders of the Fifth American Fleet who demonstrated a high level of skill. They made full use of intelligence and innovation to counter the Russians’ technological advantage. By the way, for those who do not know: the commander of Fleet VI is a woman, Admiral Michelle J. Howard, who graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1982 and from the Army’s Command and General Staff College in 1998.

The apparent trajectory of cruise missiles.

If the Americans had chosen a direct trajectory for the cruise missiles, the distance between Crete (where the Arleigh Burke destroyers – the DDG 78 Porter and DDG 71 Ross – were deployed) and the Syrian air base Shayrat (40 km SE of Homs) would have been 1,070 km. The Tomahawk missiles used were Block III TLAM-C or Block IV TLAM-E, both with a range of 1,600 km.

On a direct trajectory, the cruise missiles would have overflown Cyprus and would have arrived over land at the 30 km strip that separates the port of Tartus from the Lebanese border. But the port of Tartus is used by the Russian navy and they have a division there (x 4 AA rockets), S-300V4. The new S-300V4 system became operational in 2014. It can detect cruise missiles flying just above sea level and launch air-to-air missiles when such targets pass Cape Greco in Cyprus (over 160 km). The S-300V4 division has 80 missiles.

US Navy photo by Paul Farley

Even if the cruise missiles had crossed this strip without being detected, the distance between Tartus and the Syrian air base at Shayrat is 85 km. Over rough terrain, the S-300V4 can detect Tomahawk missiles flying at an altitude of 50 m from 50 km away and can take them down from a distance of 38–40 km. Tomahawk rockets fly at 800 km / h, and at that speed they are within striking distance for more than 2 minutes and 30 seconds, enough time for 87% of them to be shot down by the S-300V4s.

The Khmemim airbase, located 68 km north of Tartus and used by Russian aviation, operates a Russian AA S-400 missile division. This division would have discovered them from more than 160 km away and would have knocked down the US cruise missiles if they had bypassed the island of Cyprus and made it to the coast of Turkey. The S-300V4 and S-400 divisions are protected by a Pantsir-S1 (X 8 launcher), each launcher having two 30 mm guns (4000 projectiles per minute) and 12 short range missiles (20 km). The Pantsir-S1 can detect and attack cruise missiles from a distance of 15 km. So, in this case, the American missiles would have had no chance of hitting the Shayrat air base.

The actual trajectory chosen.

An interesting explanation offered by Russian expert Alexandr Shishkin in his article “Missed Hit” on his blog (at http://navy-korabel.livejournal.com/161373.html or here). He said the US cruise missiles were programmed to follow a flight trajectory 250km south of Cyprus and to cross over Israel. On this route, the radars of the S-300V4s and S-400s could not see the cruise missiles as the mountainous terrain of Lebanon intervenes between them and Israel. The cruise missiles then crossed Jordan’s airspace for about 250 km, changing direction frequently, flying parallel to the Syrian–Jordanian border. The missiles crossed into Syrian airspace and flew across Syria to their targets over areas occupied by Islamist rebels, mostly in the desert.

In 2011, Syria had more than 200 radars, in the metic, decimetric and centimeter ranges, for detecting air-to-air missiles and directing fighter jets. Most of them were arrayed in the open field or on top of commanding heights. During Syria’s civil war, 85% of the radars were destroyed by Islamist rebels, while the rest were re-located around Damascus and the Mediterranean. That is why there are major gaps in the area covered by Syria’s radio-location facilities — i.e., in areas occupied by Islamist rebels, starting at the border with Jordan, and in central, eastern and northern Syria.

The Tomahawks’ fight path was chosen to bypass Damascus, where discovery radars and AA missiles were in place that could shoot down cruise missiles.

Did the Russians get it wrong?

After the collapse of the USSR, the US Navy Fleet in the Mediterranean no longer included a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier; submarines and many other combat ships disappeared. There are four destroyers at the Rota naval base in Spain and amphibious ships at Gaeta, Italy, homeport of the 6th Fleet flagship USS Mount Whitney.

A similar threat to Syrian cruise missiles existed in 2013, but at that time the Russians created an efficient blockade with a naval group that included the Slava-class cruiser Moskva (equipped with air-to-air S-300F Fort and OSA-M missile systems), the cruiser Peter the Great (with S-300F Fort, 3K95-Kinzhal and OSA-M), and other destroyers and anti-aircraft frigates. The Russian naval group, superior both quantitatively and qualitatively, was deployed in a circular formation some of 150–250 km from the US military ships. The Russian ships had onboard KA-31 helicopters equipped with early warning radars and turrets with opto-electronic sensors, which patrolled the area for 40–70 km around their own naval grouping. Any cruise missile launch could be immediately detected and neutralized because it would be within the range of radar discovery on Russian ships.

Bear in mind that any such cruise missile operation takes at least a month to prepare, and after that one waits for the right moment to strike. It is out of the question that President Donald Trump simply made a tempestuous decision to do this.

And from this standpoint it would appear that Russia’s military intelligence service was totally out of the picture. Meanwhile, the US naval and aero-cosmic reconnaissance had discovered that the Black Sea Fleet’s frigates Ladnyi and Pitlivy, armed with the AA Osa-MA-2 missile systems, were laid up for repair. So was the cruiser Moskva, lead ship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and the Smetlivy anti-submarine destroyer, armed with M-1 Volna AA rockets.

The Americans also knew that the Russian frigate Admiral Grigorovich had just left the Mediterranean Sea and crossed the Bosporus and Dardanelle Straits to move to the port of Novorossiysk. The ship is armed with Kalibr cruise missiles and Shtil-1 AA rockets (40 km range).

In the meantime, the frigate Admiral Makarov, sister ship to the Admiral Grigorovich, launched in 2015, has not been commissioned even today and handed over to the Black Sea Fleet. So on the date of April 7, 2017, the Russians did not have a single medium- to high-range AA battle system in the Mediterranean Sea.

If the Russians had put up the same naval blockade as in 2013 and had not blindly relied on a totally inadequate tactic for the S-300V4 and S-400 type AA systems, then the Americans would not have launched the cruise missiles — as they would have been destroyed by the Russians. After the cruise missile attack, Russia finally deployed an A-50U AWACS aircraft to the Hmeimim airbase in Syria. The A-50U is equipped with the Vega Shmel-M radar for launch detection, including air-to-air missiles on a 500-km flight.

So, was the new face of the US Navy that smart, or was perhaps the whole episode rigged? — most likely.

[1]. New details on the effort to insert airborne troops into Deir ez-Zor ( http://www.algora.com/blog/?p=235 ).

[2]. The role of the Spetsnaz in the liberation of Aleppo ( http://www.veteranstoday.com/2016/12/23/the-role-of-the-spetsnaz-in-the-liberation-of-aleppo/ )

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4-May-17 – Why did Trump bomb Al-Shayrat?

by  Thierry Meyssan

Contrary to appearance, the US administration, far from behaving erratically, is attempting to define the framework for its foreign policy. President Donald Trump is negotiating with a spokesperson for the deep State which has been governing his country since 11 September 2001 – and it would seem that they have found the conditions for an agreement, whose details are still to be specified. Members of the administration will have to clarify the White House’s new foreign policy at the end of May, before a Congressional Committee.

[…]

By accusing Syria, in his turn, of having used poison gas, this time in Khan Cheikhoun, and by bombing them immediately, Donald Trump demonstrated the « credibility » that his predecessor lacked.

Aware that Syria was not guilty, either in the Ghouta or in Khan Cheikhoun, he managed to warn the Syrian Arab Army in advance so that they had time to evacuate the base before the strike.

Based on this action, he began negotiations with the deep US State, or at least with one of its spokespersons, Senator John McCain. A representative of Israël, Senator Lindsey Graham, was also present during the discussions.

The Europeans were of course surprised to learn that Donald Trump had acted as a « warlord », thus confirming his status as the President of a member state of the UNO. We have to keep in mind the particular context of the United States, where the deep State is composed primarily of military figures, and only incidentally of civilians.

According to our information, it would seem that President Trump has agreede to give up – for the time being – the dismantling of NATO and its civilian chapter, the European Union. This decision implies that Washington still considers – or pretends to consider – that Russia is its main enemy. Also the deep US State seems to have agreed to give up supporting the jihadists and pursuing the British plan of the « Arab Springs ».

To seal this agreement, two neo-conservative personalities should soon enter the Trump administration, where they will handle European policy : 

 Kurt Volker, Director of the McCain Institute (Arizona State University) will apparently be nominated as Director of the Eurasian bureau for the Secretary of State. Volker, an ex-military judge, was President Bush Jr’s ambassador to NATO during the war in Georgia (August 2008). 

 Tom Goffus, one of McCain’s assistants at the Senate Committee for Armed Services, will be nominated as deputy assistant for the Secretary of Defense, and tasked with Europe and NATO. Goffus is an Air Force officer who has already occupied this type of function on behalf of Hillary Clinton and the National Security Council.

As for Syria, this agreement, if ratified by both parties, should mark the end of the US war against the Syrian Arab Republic – a war that was pursued thanks to the initiative of the United Kingdom and Israël, with their allies (Germany, Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey, etc.). Little by little, the phony « Friends of Syria », which united 130 States and international organisations in 2012, began shrinking. There are only 10 left today.

3-May-17 – President Trump’s Korean Peninsula Gambit

By  Preston James

President Trump’s Korean Peninsula Gambit

 Highlights:

What exactly is the strategy that President Trump has now deployed to neutralize BRICS and Shanghai Silk Road which is the main recognized threat to the Federal Reserve System controlled American economic situation?

President Trump’s advisers now realize that unless the BRICS nations system and the new budding Shanghai Silk Road trading pact is neutralized, eventually the Federal Reserve System will be reduced in power and reach, and the US Petro Dollar will cease to be the World’s Reserve Currency. 

1- Trump’s strategy appears to be to counter Kim Jong Un’s saber-rattling and weapons display by sending subs and a carrier group near Korea, deploying massive amounts of well-armed drones that can strike North Korea with below-radar stealth attacks, and moving B1 and B2 bombers within easy striking distance of North Korea. But it is unlikely that this is what President Trump’s real agenda is.

2- A good bet is that President Trump has made a secret deal with China. This deal involves China being allowed to take back Taiwan as long as they deal with it like they did when they took back Hong Kong from the UK when their lease ran out. China left Hong Kong intact to operate as it was because it was so profitable and economics is a big concern of the new China. China agrees to cut off coal and food from North Korea and allow Trump to stage strategic strikes to remove Kim Jong Un from power. China allows Korea to be re-united as long as there will be no US military in Korea anymore and no nuclear weapons anywhere in the Korean peninsula, north or south.

3- President Trump will allow BRICS and Shanghai Silk Road AIIB to continue as long as they participate in a new IMF special Drawing Rights form of World Reserve Currency, making room for America to stay in the game, while allowing room for BRICS and the new Shanghai Silk-Road AIIB trade pact, which are both growing. Has President Trump set up the negotiated end of the FRS while appearing to be fighting for it; and just how dangerous a game is this for America?

4- Some of President Trump’s advisers may have different plans and may try to set off a full nuclear exchange-based WW3 with Russia and China by provoking them to act first, or staging a nuclear false-flag to be falsely blamed on Russia.

02-May-2017 – Privatized Prisons Make a Come Back – Is That How Trump Plans to Boost the Economy?

Privatized prisons were supposed to be fading into the past like a bad dream, but the new U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, says they are here to stay. No matter that the previous Administration determined that privatization does not make prisons more efficient. No matter that they are likely to increase the rate of the revolving door, as prisoners receive less counseling to help them integrate into life on the outside. No matter that conditions there are more likely to worsen any mental health issues they may have.

Is it really only the shareholders who matter?

Sue Binder’s new book Bodies in Beds: Why Businesses Should Stay Out of Prisons shows us how it matters to those inside, the workers and the offenders:

James was a mental health priority for me. He had a history of prior suicide attempts, self-mutilation, depression, and anxiety. I had been worried about James ever since he arrived, but was extremely concerned when he was placed in segregation. Inmates who already have serious mental health issues have been known to deteriorate when placed in segregation.
I spent a little more time with him than I did with some of the other mental health clients because of the necessity. I cringed because I did not have the staff or the time that these mental health inmates needed. I tried to make time when it was an emergency, when I saw a need. James was crying out for help. His help was not to be found in tossing him into segregation.
The Colorado Department of Corrections has actively integrated reform with new practices. The goal was to phase out long-term isolation of inmates. A report, Open the Door—Segregation Reforms in Colorado, states that administration segregation had shrunk from 1,500 to 160. [Earlier], some offenders had been housed in administrative segregation for more than twenty-four years.  
Research shows that seriously mentally ill prisoners were less able to successfully negotiate the complexity of the prison environment, committing infractions at three times the rate of non-seriously mentally ill counterparts.7
I thought about the medications he had arrived with. Had he been taking them regularly? I wondered. I knew he hadn’t had time to see the psychiatrist yet.
Because I understood the ramifications of a mentally-fragile inmate being in segregation, I made a special trip to see him. As I entered the segregation unit, I looked at the large white board on the wall. James’ name remained there.
“I thought James was to leave this morning,” I ventured. “No, not yet,” the officer on duty informed me. Puzzled, I traversed the room, heading straight toward James’ cell. Perhaps he could tell me what had happened. Another charge? Had some emergency interfered with his release?
I stopped dead still. “James!” I yelled. “James! Officer! NOW! Hanging! Hanging!”
Immigrants are  the newest category of bodies to be delivered in wholesale quantities to the prison industrial complex—just in time to make up for the reduced number of convicts in detention. Business is business. No wonder prison corporation stocks are rebounding.

Immigrants, who often consist of minorities, are, in some cases, being swooped up and detained in a brand new form of punishment for simply crossing a border without paperwork. Illegal entry has become more than just deportation. In fact, it has become another enormous profit-maker for the private prison systems. Interestingly, this all comes when fewer offenders are entering the system due to a reduction in crime. Some of this reduction may be due to the legalization of marijuana in several states. Most people would think that if fewer offenders are entering the system—there would be fewer offenders entering the gates of CCA facilities.

From the very beginning of the private prison concept, CCA has made provisions for such a phenomenon. … Namely, they noted that if laws changed and the courts began assigning lawbreakers to programs instead of directly to prison, they might be in trouble. This was never a secret.

Immigrant detention presented them with an opportunity from the outset; it could prevent significant loss of profits and stabilize CCA’s future. Whether they planned it or not, the very first facility they opened paved the way for their future profits. By incorporating the U.S. Government into their packaging, they have been able to avoid serious financial problems, in spite of the declining crime rate. Thus, immigrant detention coupled with the restructuring under the aforementioned Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) enabled CCA to further acquire enormous profits. All of this was taking place right under the noses of taxpayers.

1-May-17 – Behind the Smokescreen: Trump’s Policies Meant to ‘Weaken Opposition at Home’

Donald Trump promised to focus on America’s domestic affairs, but his first months in office have been marked by aggressive posturing abroad, something few have expected. This strategy is a cover-up tactic that Trump uses to tackle those opposed to his policies at home, journalist and political analyst Anatoly Wasserman wrote for Sputnik.

"Trump has largely been forced to carry out policies of the previous US administration against the backdrop of unyielding propaganda pressure. As far as I understand, he has adhered to these policies as a smokescreen in the sense that he has carried out extremely aggressive missions to achieve purely propaganda results," the analyst explained.

© AP Photo/ Carolyn Kaster

Trump Doesn’t Care About Your Hurt Knee: Worry About North Korea Instead!

Wasserman cited the Pentagon’s massive airstrike against a base operated by the Syrian Arab Army as a case in point. The operation which saw 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles hit an airstrip in the Idlib province resulted in minimal damage.

"In addition, the Russian air defense system [deployed to Syria] appears to have received a wonderful opportunity to test its components. Of course, there has been no official confirmation, but indirect signs abound," he said.

The White House has used the same approach with North Korea. Although tensions between both countries have increased, neither has made any real offensive steps. Wasserman described DPRK leader Kim Jong-un as "clearheaded," saying that the North "does not pose a threat to anyone."

However, if Pyongyang "comes under attack, it could give a strong response. Some experts assume that due to an unorthodox use of nuclear technologies North Korea could mount a nuclear warhead on all of its missiles, some of which could be deployed to US shores on diesel-electric submarines," the analyst said. "In these circumstances, Trump has naturally settled on tough talk and saber-rattling."

Wasserman further suggested that Trump’s assertiveness is not aimed at foreign nations, but is rather directed at his domestic opponents.
Trump’s tough stance on Russia "is aimed at weakening domestic opposition, not Moscow," the analyst said. "As far as I understand, he has mentioned sanctions primarily because our country has clearly demonstrated its capacity to withstand them."

30-April-17 – There’ll Be Plenty for the New British Troops To Do in Afghanistan

By Musa Khan Jalalzai

Author of The Afghan Intel Crisis : Satellite State, War of Interests and the Blame-Game

Just an idea what the British will be facing this time around in Afghanistan.

Due to the politicization of Afghanistan’s civilian and military intelligence agencies, Afghan security forces [are] undergoing a serious security crisis. The ANA [lacks] intelligence collection capabilities. NATO and the US lost thousands of troops, and spent half a trillion dollars to build a strong army, but now they seem unwilling to address the exponentially growing corruption culture within the Afghan armed forces. Civilian casualties rose to a record level as the Taliban retrieved sophisticated weapons from Russia. Desertion and retention became a persistent challenge for ANA commanders as thousands of soldiers and officers joined either Taliban or the ISIS terrorist groups. Afghan Defense Ministry was losing as many as 5,000 soldiers and officers every month in cases of desertion and casualties in 2015 and 2016.

In February, the ANA arrested and disarmed 30 cops with alleged Taliban ties, including the police chief of Helmand’s Sangin district. Drug trafficking was another serious challenge where, according to the Russian Narcotics Agency report, almost a third of the ANA officers turned to drug trafficking. Army generals and officers were deeply involved in drug trafficking and kidnapping for ransom. The question of merited appointment also remained unsolved as the Military Headquarters and the Intelligence agencies done nothing to oversight selection process to ensure merited promotions.

Those who fought against insurgents during the last 15 years were removed from their posts, and those who enjoyed a comfortable life in Kabul were promoted to the rank of general. The ambassador of the European Union to Afghanistan expressed his dismay that the number of Afghan army generals exceeded several times than those in Britain, Italy, Germany and France. On 11 October 2016, President Ashraf Ghani sternly criticized appointments of unprofessional officers and soldiers within the ranks of the Afghan armed forces. On 15 October 2016, a number of MPs in the lower house of parliament criticized intelligence agencies and warned that the lack of war strategy resulted in the exchange of districts between ANA commanders and Taliban insurgents.

…All military commanders are answerable to their political masters and war criminals with conflicting priorities rather than to the state and government. On 29 December, Afghan police commanders loyal to a specific political group refused to fight against Taliban in Helmand. In the end of 2014, more than 100 Afghan police joined Taliban.

19-April-17 – After Six Years of War, The Syrian Army Has Effective Anti-Rocket Missiles

By Valentin Vasilescu

Trans. by Alice Decker

The Role of Anti-Tank Guided Missiles in Syria

Since 2012, Syrian rebels have taken control of several of the Syrian army’s weapons depots, capturing ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) manufactured by Russia such as the 9M113 Konkurs and 9K115-2 Metis-M. Later, in 2014, Saudi Arabia which already had over 15,000 ATGMs (nearly 10,000 of them being BGM-71 TOW 2s) acquired another 14,000 TOW 2s (BGM-71D) and TOW 2As (BGM-71E) from the American corporation Raytheon, for which they paid nearly $ 1 billion.

It just so happens that, in 2014, the “moderate” Islamist rebels supported by the Gulf states, Turkey and the US were supplied with 2,000 to 3,000 ATGM systems of various types, including the 9K111 Fagot [Russian for “bassoon”], the 9M133 Kornet, the 9M113 Konkurs, and the H-8 and H-73C (produced in China), the Milan (from France–Germany) and the BGM-71 TOW2.

The media have shown evidence that the FSA rebels (Free Syrian Army) alone received about 790 BGM-71 TOW 2 systems from Saudi Arabia from April 4–15, 2014. They would have been delivered clandestinely at the Turkish border with the complicity of Qatar and the US.

Following the Russian air force intervention in Syria at the invitation of Bashar Al Assad in November 2016, ATGM shipments to rebel groups were increased exponentially. Another nine Islamist groups including Al Nusra (Syria’s Al-Qaeda subsidiary) have in their possession nearly 2,000 BGM-71 TOW2 systems.

According to Armament Research Services,

The US-produced TOW[1] missiles are in use by many armed forces, including Syria’s regional neighbors Bahrain, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, and Yemen.

The Defense Logistics Agency’s WebFLIS service shows that BGM-71E-3B missiles have seen service with both the US Army and US Marine Corps, with the Marines having recently become the primary managing organization for this item. This particular example is marked as having been produced by Hughes Aircraft Company as part of a contract first awarded in January 1990 (see contract number, also visible in the image below). This contract was taken over by Raytheon when Hughes was purchased by them in 1997 and has been re-awarded seven times since its initial issue, with the most recent award in 2004. Consequently, the missile was probably produced between 1990 and 1997 [2].

Electro-Optical and IR Countermeasures

ATGMs, especially the BGM-71 TOW 2, used in urban combat, have become a nightmare for Syrian tank operators because they have caused significant losses and damaged the Syrian army’s morale. For example, in February 2015, during the offensive to take Idlib, the ATGM-armed Islamic rebels destroyed about 40 Syrian army tanks.

This was possible because the Syrian army’s old T-53 and T-62 tanks had little protection, mainly some armor on the tank chassis. In order to reduce the cost as much as possible, the newest tanks (T-72) were ordered from the Soviet Union without any supplementary packages of “Kontakt” or “Relikt” Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) applied over their own armor. ERA provides additional protection equivalent to 620–700 mm of RHA (Rolled Homogeneous Armor). Neither did the Syrian tanks have any active-type armor (such as the “Arena” or “Shtora” system found on Russian T-72B3M / B4M and T-90 tanks) that automatically detects, intercepts and detonates antitank munitions before they hit the tank.

To remove this vulnerability, in 2012 the Syrian Scientific Research Center (SSRC) started a research program to create a jamming device against ATGMs that use the SACLOS (Semi-Automatic Command to Line of Sight) principle. ATGMs with 2nd generation SACLOS require the operator to keep his weapon’s target in the weapon sight until the missile has impacted. ATGMs are capable of destroying tanks and armored vehicles, bunkers, fortifications, buildings and other obstacles. ATGM jammers were available but Syria could not buy them because it was under the UN embargo. The Shtora on the Russian T-90 tank was too complex and the SSRC could not fit on the T-55, T-62 and T-72 tanks.

Instead, in 2014, the Syrian Army intelligence service captured 18 BGM-71 TOW2 systems from the FSA rebels in northern Syria. These were dismantled and studied by the SSRC. The BGM-71 TOW2 has a range of 3,750 m and has a 5.9 kg high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead which operates in two stages, that is, a small warhead explodes on impact with the tank, then detonates the main warhead. The main warhead emits a jet of gas and molten metal at a speed of 1,500–3,000 m / s which can penetrate armor as much as one meter thick. The BGM-71 TOW2 missile features a xenon lamp and a thermal beacon at the rear, allowing it to be tracked and guided by the sensors and the operator through the IR and thermal sighting and targeting.

The Syrian Sarab System

The Syrian army first used its Sarab-1 (“mirage”) active protection, mounted above the turret on T-62 tanks, near the NSVT 12.7mm heavy machine gun, in its offensive on Khanaser, south of Aleppo (21–29 February 2016). This proved to be a good antidote against the 9M113 Konkurs ATGM used by the Islamic State. The Sarab-1 disrupted the optical command link between the operator and the ATGM sensor, so that the ATGM missiles could not receive the operator’s corrections to the trajectory; instead they received false commands transmitted by Sarab-1 via IR and they missed their targets.

The Sarab-1 system uses several transmitters that cover about 120 ° of the front of the tank. The transmitters are based on high-powered infrared LEDs and uses lenses to focus the light rays. Sarab-1 is a primitive form of Shtora and has shown to have an efficiency rating of over 80%. The Syrian army has also used Sarab-1 to protect its fixed support points (artillery pieces, fortified buildings, etc.) against ATGMs. Sarab-1 was not developed and tested according to the standards of the weapons industry but directly on the battlefield, against Islamic rebels.

Sarab-2

Sarab-2, an improved version, was mounted on the T-62 and T-55 tanks used in the fight against Islamic State near Palmyra. At 2.34 seconds from launch and after traversing approximately 520 m (considered to be its minimum limit of efficiency) the BGM-71 Tow2’s IR sensor automatically switches from Large Field of View mode (with an angle of more than 6°) to the Narrow Field of View mode (between 1 and 0.25°). At this stage, the Sarab-2 emits stronger IR beams than those in the rear of the antitank missile (which are tracked by the launcher’s guidance system). These false data emitted by Sarab-2 cause the ATGM guidance system to send sudden corrections to the vertical flight and the rocket hits the ground before it gets near the target. Batteries provide 10 hours of operating power for Sarab-2, and its transmitters cover a frontal sector of 180°.

The latest version, Sarab-3, also uses laser beams and protects the tank in a complete 360 ​​° sector. The only problem is that the Sarab family has no effect on wire-guided or optical fiber ATGMs, RPGs (Rocket-Propelled Grenades), or portable man-launched rockets.

And Low-Tech Protection

US armored vehicles used in the invasion of Iraq (2003) and in Afghanistan were provided with a steel grille mounted at a distance of 1 m from the vehicle and providing 360° coverage. This solution was effective against RPGs (RPG-7, SPG-9) and some ATGMs, because the projectiles explode on contact with the tank’s grille and even if they pierce the armor itself, they do not explode inside the vehicle.

In February 2017, on the outskirts of Damascus, hundreds of Syrian Army vehicles were observed, T-72 M tanks, BMP-2s (IFV), ZSU-23-4 tanks and bulldozers from the 4th Tank Division, with a steel grating mounted on them. Bulldozers with armor plates welded on are used extensively in Syria’s urban areas to create the corridors needed to get tanks, armored personnel carriers, and artillery pieces through, past the ruins of buildings.

April-16-17 – We Just Survived World War III

Here we have it. First, The Donald’s tough talk – “I’m crazy. I can start WW 3. I fear nothing!”

The tough talk is immediately followed by weak facts as we have a fake gas attack, all staged, like on a movie set.

Then we have a fake Tomahawk attack where 60% of the missiles disappeared and “nobody knows where.” The Russians are saying that they were not within their reach; the Syrians are mum; and the US declares it was a complete success, a wipe-out strike, without accounting for anything on their side. No signs of damage on the Syrian side, either, although the US claims to have inflicted a devastating blow to “the Syrian regime” (20% of Assad’s air force, which would be something like 100 planes, and the air base “disabled forever,” and so on).

Now comes the second act in this Kabuki theater: the Tough Donald takes on North Korea.

First we have 600,000 people evacuated from Pyongyang and preparations for a “major event,” then all the foreign journalists are summoned, just to announce a street opening.

Then we have the gathering of the entire military leadership and dozens and dozens of Korean submarine-launched missiles, ICBM missiles, medium-range missiles, all within a one-mile radius brought together in the center of Pyongyang creating an open invitation for an all-out American bulls-eye strike. One would expect a Mother Of All Bombs to wipe out the entire military leadership and at least 20% of their toys, as in Syria.

But the devastating blow came later, not with a Boom but the Hiss of a deflating balloon — in this case, a failed launch of a Korean missile. Was it the launch of a state-of-the-art ICBM? No, just a routine medium range, maybe even short-range missile. Maybe no range at all.

So now McMaster, and all the other masters of the US full-spectrum dominance, supposedly took out a toy missile. The mountain gave birth to a mouse.

Maybe it was the overwhelming concentration of forces by the “full spectrum dominant” force, their satellites, aircraft carriers, submarines, THAAD, cyber/electronic warfare, all brought together to stop this missile in its flight. But maybe, also, the Korean Boy who runs the fearless Korean war machine set up a prank, maybe together with the Chinese (maybe agreed at the famous chocolate-cake war room conference at Mar-a-Lago), so that they had a launch and self-destroyed it instantly.

Now everybody can go home and have their Easter eggs. Oof, we avoided World War III! Or, maybe we that was it, we just had it. Who knows?

But we all survived, and now the Donald has had himself awarded the title of a war president, and he can now negotiate with the Chinese and the Russians – from a position of strength . . . the demise of the United States.

Happy Spring to a new world.

Nonfiction for the Nonplussed