Category Archives: Energy Wars

America’s Wars, Some 4.5 Million Deaths and Counting

by Miriam Berger via Washington Post

The full death toll of violence in the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, let alone of the broader global war on terrorism, remains difficult to determine. But it has long been surpassed by an even larger and more opaque figure: the indirect count of people who have died as a result of post-9/11 conflicts’ far-reaching ripple effects, such as ensuing waves of violence, hunger, the devastation of public services and the spread of disease.

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Brown University researchers, in a report released Monday, draw on U.N. data and expert analyses to attempt to calculate the minimum number of excess deaths attributable to the war on terrorism, across conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen — impacts “so vast and complex that” ultimately, “they are unquantifiable,” the researchers acknowledge.

The accounting, so far as it can be measured, puts the toll at 4.5 million to 4.6 million — a figure that continues to mount as the effects of conflict reverberate. Of those fatalities, the report estimates, some 3.6 million to 3.7 million were “‘indirect deaths” caused by the deterioration of economic, environmental, psychological and health conditions.

More than 7,000 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with more than 8,000 contractors, according to Brown’s Costs of War project. And U.S. forces have suffered cascading effects of their own, including rates of suicide among veterans outpacing the general population. But the vast majority of those killed in the fighting were locals: more than 177,000 uniformed Afghans, Pakistanis and Iraqis and Syrian allies had died as of 2019, according to the Costs of War project, alongside a vast count of opposing combatants and a disputed civilian toll.

“There are reverberating costs, the human cost of war, that people for the most part in the United States don’t really know enough about or think about,” said Stephanie Savell, the paper’s author and co-director of the Costs of War project.

“We talk about it being over now that the U.S. has left Afghanistan, but one significant way that these wars are continuing,” she said, is that “the people in the war zones are continuing to suffer the consequences.”

The legacy of the U.S.-led war on terrorism is dogged by its disastrous consequences for people in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia — a gap, Savell said, that the research, while based on incomplete data, is meant to address by giving a rough estimate of the web of repercussions.

“The exercise of generating this kind of estimate allows us to start to get a handle on what the scale of the problem really is,” she said.

Compiling estimates for just direct civilian casualties in these wars can be politically fraught: Death counts by Washington and its allies are often far lower than those in local reports.

In Iraq, estimated casualties from fighting range from 151,000 to 300,000 to 600,000 people, according to the new report. The Washington Post, among other outlets, has documented severe discrepancies and official undercounting of death tolls from the U.S.-led coalition air and artillery strikes that targeted the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. A Post investigation into casualty payouts in Afghanistanfound the U.S. military had an “uneven, typically opaque handling of the civilian toll of battlefield operations.”

Since 2010, a team of 50 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners and physicians participating in theCosts of War project have kept their own calculations. According to their latest assessment, more than 906,000 people, including 387,000 civilians, died directly from post-9/11 wars. Another 38 million people have been displaced or made refugees. The U.S. federal government, meanwhile, has spent over $8 trillion on these wars, the research suggests.

But Savellsaid the research indicates that exponentially more people, especially children and the most impoverished and marginalized populations, have been killed by the effects of war — mounting poverty, food insecurity, environmental contamination, the ongoing trauma of violence, and the destruction of health and public infrastructure, along with private property and means of livelihood.

In an ideal scenario, Savell said, her team could quantify the toll by studying excess mortality rates, or by using on-the-ground researchers to study who is dying and why. But such documentation, even birth and death certificates, is largely unavailable in the war-torn countries in question.

Instead, Savell relied on a calculation by the Geneva Declaration Secretariat, a U.N.-backed initiative to address armed violence and development, which estimates that for every person directly killed by war, four more are killed by its indirect consequences. War, which often brings about general economic collapse that pervades every aspect of society, compromises access to essentials such as water and food and the infrastructure needed for safe movement and medical care.

“The large majority of indirect war deaths occur due to malnutrition, pregnancy and birth-related problems, and many illnesses including infectious diseases and noncommunicable diseases like cancer,” the report finds. “Some also result from injuries due to war’s destruction of infrastructure such as traffic signals and from reverberating trauma and interpersonal violence.”

Two decades on, the extent of the ongoing threats to human life are only starting to be acknowledged and uncovered. A Post investigation foundthat while Iraqis fell sick and died after exposure to open burning trash pits that U.S. soldiers established by military bases, there has been no American effort to assess, yet alone compensate, the local impact. Last year, U.S. veterans succeeded in a years-long fight for government recognition of the toxic risk.

Determining whether deaths were intentional and who bears direct responsibility is outside the scope of the study, Savell said.

“You can’t separate out who caused the death because there’s lots of different warring parties” and other complicating factors, from authoritarian rule to climate change, Savell said. “The point is to say the U.S. has been involved in these really violent wars. There’s been an intensification as a result of U.S. involvement. And at this point, the issue is really: How do we come to terms with a sense of responsibility?”

US in Syria, The Forgotten Illegal Occupation

by Robert Inlakesh via RT

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the Palestinian territories and currently works with Quds News. Director of ‘Steal of the Century: Trump’s Palestine-Israel Catastrophe’.

The US military, with the help of its Kurdish allies, occupies a third of Syrian territory with no legal basis and is now complaining about Russia antagonizing its troops. Although Moscow has been invited into Syria by Damascus and the US has repeatedly been asked to leave, the Americans are treating Syrian territory as if it is their own.

US officials have recently lashed out with yet more accusations against Moscow. This time the complaints have surfaced through Western corporate media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The head of US Air Forces Central Command, Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, told the WSJ that “we continue to see unsafe and unprofessional area activity from the Russians,” reportedly in proximity of US forces. No evidence has been provided for the claims and Moscow has yet to make any comment.

In July of last year, Dana Stroul, the Biden administration’s deputy assistant secretary of defense (DASD) for the Middle East, said: “Russia is flying in and moving about, at times, in the same space or terrain, near our forces, and it is the responsible, professional thing to do to make sure we have a channel to talk to each other.” She claimed this system has been in place for “a very long time” and is key in preventing misunderstandings that could “tip into an escalatory cycle.” With the presence of both forces in close proximity so frequently, there has yet to be any indication that what is being complained about now is anything new.

However, the story that is being completely written out of existence here is that the US has no legitimacy whatsoever to even operate inside Syria. The US government attempts to legally justify its presence by asserting that under international law it is a victim state in the face of non-state actors such as ‘Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) ISIS or Al-Qaeda. Therefore, the Authorization for Use of Military Force (UAMF) against Iraq, which was passed by US Congress in 2002, is utilized here.

The problem is that the US invasion of Iraq had no validity under international law either, a point explicitly made by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2004. Knowing this, US government officials will always cite their invitation from the Iraqi government to operate inside the country today, sometimes attempting to attach their operations in Syria as coming in defense of their Iraqi ally. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, an international law which prohibits the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another state, completely invalidates US operations inside Syria, since the sovereign government of the nation never granted America permission to enter its territory. In fact, it has even ordered US forces to leave.

Even if you buy the domestic argument about the US fight against ISIS, an organization that has been reduced to terror cells that linger in caves for the most part, this justification also begins to fall apart when examined closely. In 2017, US Senator for Virginia, Tim Kaine, wrote to the US State Department and Secretary of Defense, expressing his concern that if the anti-ISIS mission was extended to include pursuing objectives outside combating the terrorist group, it would have no legitimacy.

In 2018, former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that he planned on maintaining an indefinite troop presence in Syria, both to fight ISIS and to combat Iran and Syrian President Bashar Assad. Even today, the US Department of Defense openly mentions that its mission in Syria and Iraq is a strategy to undermine Iran and ISIS. At one point, after former US President Donald Trump had been misled to believe that all US forces had been withdrawn from Syria, he corrected himself by saying that the US military presence there is “only for the oil.”

Interestingly, at a conference in 2019, Stroul stated that despite the lack of investment that the US was able to muster to counter Iranian and Russian influence in Syria, it still maintained compelling leverage “to shape an outcome that is more protective and conducive to US interests.”

Stroul outlined four ways that the US maintains its leverage. The first key point she made was about the territory in the north-east, which she said is “owned via the US military with its local partner,” adding that the “one third of Syria is the resource rich, economic powerhouse of Syria.” She elaborated that this is “where the hydrocarbons are” and that it is also the “agricultural powerhouse” of the country. Additionally, she stated that the strategy of isolating the government in Damascus diplomatically is in part about preventing Moscow’s efforts to re-integrate the country onto the international stage, and that US sanctions are partly attached to a wider anti-Iran strategy.

Perhaps the most shocking of all Stroul’s points was the admission that the US has only allowed reconstruction in the areas controlled by its SDF allies in occupied Syria while commenting that “the rest of Syria is rubble.” Stroul continued, “What Russia wants and what Assad want, is economic reconstruction and that is something that the United States can basically hold a card on via the international financial institutions and our cooperation with the Europeans.” In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Northern Syria earlier this year, the prevention of reconstruction has contributed significantly to civilian suffering resulting from the natural disaster.

The US Caesar Act sanctions have been blasted for years by UN experts, who have called upon the Biden administration to drop them over the “suffocating”humanitarian crisis they are inflicting on Syrian civilians. Under international law, the third of Syrian territory “owned” by the US can be argued as tantamount to an illegal occupation by a foreign military force. Given that the US military is an occupying power, Damascus has the right to use force to expel it, furthermore, since Russia has been invited into Syria by the official government, the US claims of harassment carry no weight. The United States of America has no right to claim self defense in Syria, it has only one right there – to leave and not return.

What I Have Learned from a Whistleblower About the NordStream Blasting, in 2022

by Thomas Röper (a german journalist living in Russia) via Anti-Spiegel

In October 2022 I received a message from a whistleblower who claimed to have information about the Nord Stream blast. His narration exactly confirms Seymour Hersh’s account of the pipeline blast.

In my article translating Seymour Hersh’s report detailing how the Biden administration planned and carried out the blasting of the Nord Stream pipelines as early as 2021, I mentioned that a few months ago, someone contacted me, who claimed to have been a soldier in the maneuver BALTOPS 22 and who claims to have seen how extremely arrogantly behaved special divers from the USA on the warship on which he had served, exactly at the site of the later detonation the attachment of “practiced” mines.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t provide any evidence for his story and wanted to remain anonymous, which is why I didn’t report on it, because he couldn’t provide anything reliable to confirm his story. Of course, I don’t write an article based on a story from someone who doesn’t reveal their identity and can’t provide supporting evidence for their story. However, after Hersh was published on February 8th, I am certain that the whistleblower who contacted me at the time was telling the truth because his story fits exactly with what Hersh published.
Therefore I will tell here what I found out in October 2022 and I will also completely translate and publish the email from the whistleblower, the text of which I received on October 4, 2022. The email was originally in English and came from an anonymous Proton address.
As I found out from the whistleblower
In early October 2022, I was contacted by my colleague and friend John Marc Dugan, an American living in Moscow. He had received an email from an anonymous whistleblower.
At the time we discussed for a long time what we could do with it, but since the whistleblower couldn’t provide any evidence for his story and we couldn’t verify the pictures he sent, after all everything is possible with Photoshop, I wasn’t prepared to publish anything about it. As far as I know, John didn’t report about it in his videos either.
Which parts of the Hersh story the whistleblower’s email confirms
With what I know today from Seymour Hersh’s article, I believe the whistleblower’s story is authentic because it fits exactly what Hersh writes. At the time, the whistleblower reported on non-military-looking US special divers who were helicoptered onto the warship on which the whistleblower was serving during maneuver BALTOPS 22.
This confirms Hersh’s story that the specialty divers are from the Panama City Navy diving school in Florida and were not soldiers but are believed to be US intelligence. Even more: Hersh does not go into the details of the operation in the Baltic Sea itself, but the whistleblower does. And he mentioned that the US special divers had MK29 diving systems, which he says are classified.
According to what can be found on the net, the MK29 are actually secret, in any case you cannot order them, there are only reports about them. Most importantly, according to a 2018 U.S. Department of Defense report, they were developed by the very U.S. Navy diving school in Panama City, Florida that Hersh mentions. The fact that the whistleblower mentioned the MK29 system, which has a direct connection to the Navy diving school whose specialist divers Hersh says planted the bombs on the pipelines, back in early October 2022 is further confirmation of Hersh’s story for me.
In this video, the US Navy proudly displays the MK29 and explains its benefits on long deep dives.
MK29 Mixed Gas Rebreather System
According to the whistleblower, the special divers were supposed to do exercises with sea mines, but according to the whistleblower they did not have the necessary equipment with them. Instead, they carried state-of-the-art deep-diving gear (including the MK29) that they don’t even need for a sea mine exercise, which floats at such shallow depths that conventional scuba gear is sufficient. According to the whistleblower, the special divers were also active in the wrong place during the exercise and were under water much longer than is possible with the equipment he is familiar with.

Hersh writes in his article that the special divers attached the explosive devices to the pipelines under the guise of an exercise with sea mines. The exercise with sea mines was therefore included in the BALTOPS 22 maneuver as a camouflage for laying the bombs on the pipelines. Here, too, the e-mail written by the whistleblower corresponds to the article now published by Hersh.
The whistleblower’s email
I am now showing the text of the email that the whistleblower sent to John and which John forwarded to me immediately afterwards on October 4th. I translated them from English.
Start of translation:
Dear Mr. Dugan!
I am writing this letter in the hope that you will pass it on. I cannot share the information myself as it would harm my career and life. I am sending you this photo as proof that I was there and a copy of my ID. You may give this to another journalist you trust, but do not give it away from your possession. It is important that you do not share it with anyone and that you never use this email account again. You can quote the letter verbatim as it is written:

I had a leading administrative role in the BALTOPS 22 military exercise in June near the island of Bornholm, Denmark. I can’t give you my exact title as it could reveal my identity. There were some unusual details surrounding a group of US Marines from Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) who had traveled from Stockholm. What seemed odd at the time looks downright nefarious in hindsight.

Let me explain. Forgive me in advance if I have misunderstood the terminology, as my country’s military may use different terms. I can’t give specifics about my job, but I do work coordinating dive teams and underwater operations with various NATO-allied forces.
On June 15, the day of the exercise, I was involved in coordinating certain aspects of the exercise. I have to be vague here. A US military helicopter arrived with a group of men believed to be US Navy mine hunters. They disembarked, unloaded their gear, and met both the US Navy Vice Admiral and a group of plainclothes American men, who arrived a few hours later. We all assumed they were some sort of intelligence operative.
After a short conversation, which I couldn’t hear because of the helicopter noise, they went to their briefing.
I found it quite odd that they were from the US Navy. My first thought was that they looked like a group of terrorists and not someone from the US Navy. The other groups that we had from many branches of the military had some kind of standards. Haircuts, for example. Not only did these men have wild hair that would have gone against military norms in any civilized nation, but they also had facial hair. Like I said, they looked more like Middle Eastern terrorists. Neither of these men wore an identification tag around their neck.
Another thing I found strange was that they claimed to be looking for underwater mines, but they didn’t have the equipment for such exercises. Their gear consisted of the Navy’s latest underwater diving gear and some small hard cases we call pelicans.
Their task was to take an inflatable boat to a certain location, look for anti-ship mines there and return with their findings. They usually carry a long metal detection kit with them on such ventures, but that was absent from their kit.
One detail that struck me as very odd here was that other minesweeper teams wore conventional SCUBA gear with tanks and the like, while this group wore state-of-the-art helium respirators and wetsuits. While I’ve never seen one up close, I’m pretty sure they were the MK29 systems, designed for deep diving and classified to this day. My country’s military wouldn’t even be able to afford the helium for it, let alone the suits themselves. Detecting mines just a few meters below the surface would certainly not require these suits.
They went out to sea in their boat. Not to the area where the simulated mines were placed, but to a completely different location. My colleague, who was monitoring the teams’ various locations, made a casual joke about how the US Navy was lost and two thousand meters from where it was intended.
They got out of their boat, wearing their breathing apparatus, and disappeared underwater for over six hours. As far as I know, there is no self-contained underwater gear that can keep a diver under water for six hours. With the latest military systems, a maximum of three or four hours is possible if the diver is not overexerting himself. After a few hours we became concerned and contacted the US 6th Fleet coordinator who assured us that everything was fine, that they were in contact, that we were ignoring the matter and not making any reports should.
After the exercise ended and they returned, almost all of the pelicans were missing. They didn’t stay for any pleasantries. They chatted briefly with the US civilians, boarded a waiting helicopter, and took off. The civilians they spoke to also left, albeit in a different helicopter. Their mission was later described as “successfully completed”, although they were nowhere near the goal.
In retrospect, I have the following suspicions. The divers met with a small, waiting submersible that took them to the pipeline area. The explosives required for such an operation would not have fit in their kit, so I suspect they carried surveying and tracking equipment with which they could mark where the explosives needed to be placed. After examining the pipeline and marking the correct coordinates, they had time to check this data with demolitions technicians, return to the site at a later date, and place the required explosive charges, which were then detonated with a timer or remotely.
end of translation
It should be noted that the whistleblower was probably wrong on one point in his conclusion, since the divers may have planted the explosives immediately, according to the Hersh report. Perhaps the submersible suspected by the whistleblower carried him, which is entirely possible. [Note Ed. Actually the whistleblower supports Moon of Alabama explanation.]
The USA has the necessary, so-called “unmanned maritime systems” and they are regularly tested during maneuvers, such as this maneuver from September 2022 off the coast of Portugal shows.
In my new book “Putin’s Plan – The World Does Not End With Europe and the USA – How the Western System Is Destroying Itself”” I address the question of what the final battle of the systems – which we are currently experiencing – is really about. We are witnessing nothing less than the clash of two systems in which Vladimir Putin offers the world an alternative to neoliberal globalism. Were the citizens of the West asked if they wanted all this, if they wanted to give up their prosperity and their freedoms in favor of neoliberal globalism?
The book has recently been published and can only be obtained here directly from the J.K. Fischer Verlag can be ordered.

Some Small Corrections To Seymour Hersh’s New Nord Stream Revelations

via Moon of Alabama

Seymour Hersh is a legendary investigative reported who has revealed dozens of crimes the U.S. government committed at home and abroad.

In his latest piece Hersh describes the destruction of the North Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea by U.S. government forces. The destruction released an enormous amount of methane, a global warming gas. It destroyed Germany’s gas lifeline with Russia and thereby heavily damaged Germany’s industry. It was ecological and economic terrorism by the U.S. government targeted at an ‘ally’.

The story his source is telling Hersh is largely the same one I had constructed from open sources on September 28, a day after the pipeline was blown up.

Whodunnit? – Facts Related to The Sabotage Attack On The Nord Stream Pipelines

Hersh’s story is true. That U.S. officials deny it means nothing. Previous revelations by Hersh on domestic spying by the CIA, on the My Lai massacre, on torture at Abu Ghraib, were also denied but eventually all were proven to be true.

The story about the pipelines makes complete sense. Unfortunately there are some details that Hersh, for lack of access to the right information, gets wrong.

He writes:

Last June, the Navy divers, operating under the cover of a widely publicized mid-summer NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22, planted the remotely triggered explosives that, three months later, destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, according to a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning.

It is unlikely that the explosives were put out while the yearly BALTOPS exercise was still ongoing. The current Wikipedia entry about it says:

A total of 14 NATO nations, including NATO partner nations Finland and Sweden, took part in the 51st BALTOPS exercise between 5 and 17 June 2022. The usual mine hunting exercise was augmented this year with experimental mine hunting unmanned underwater vehicles and the collection of environmental data sets for target recognition algorithms in conjunction with the Naval Undersea Warfare Center and Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific.

BALTOPS 2022 was shadowed by two Russian Karakurt-class corvette.

The whole exercise took only 12 days. A lot of nations took part. Submarines were involved. The Russian’s were around watching what was happening. (They like also had submarines in the wider area.)

Those are not good conditions to do a lot of secret underwater work. It was much easier to do this later, when everyone had turned back to port. The U.S. ships though did not sail home. They stayed around, did some harbor visits and eventually settled down near the island of Bornholm a few miles away from the pipelines where they started to do their work.

Here is where the pipelines were hit:


The four Nord Stream pipelines, two for Nord Stream 1 and two for Nord Stream 2, are strong:

The steel pipe itself has a wall of 4.1 centimeters (1.6 inches), and it’s coated with another 6-11 cm of steel-reinforced concrete. Each section of the pipe weighs 11 tonnes, which goes to 24-25 tonnes after the concrete is applied.

The pipelines are also buried into the sandy sea ground, not deep, but deep enough to prevent fishing equipment or anchors from damaging them.

To blow such pipelines takes a lot more than just putting a few pounds of C4 explosives on top of them. The pipelines had first to be dug out, must likely with pressurized water. Next explosives had to be placed all around them. Then a trigger mechanism of some kind had to be deployed and fixed on to them. Lastly the explosive laden section would have to be reburied to prevent detection or unforeseen entanglement with some external elements. All this had to be done at least four times. If I had planned the operation I probably would have gone for a total of eight explosive packages.

The whole process takes time. Unmanned submarine like vehicles were needed to carry the hundreds of kilograms of explosives and equipment. Diving time at that depth is not unlimited and there must have been a few crew changes. It probably took three to four weeks to fix the whole issue.

When I wrote about the incident I translated a German language report which Hersh had likely not found.

Here is my original translation:

Big Fleet Group From U.S. Navy Passes [German island passage] FehmanbeltOn Wednesday morning the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, escorted by the Landing Ships USS Arlington and USS Gunston Hall, was en route towards west. Previously, the ships were part of US units that took part in NATO maneuvers and called at numerous ports in Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

The “USS Kearsarge”, flagship of the association and largest warship of the US Navy, which was in action in the Baltic Sea in the last 30 years, has 40 helicopters and fighter planes as well as more than 2000 soldiers on board, the escort ships about 1000. For the around 4,000 soldiers are heading back home on the east coast of the US after their six-month deployment.

The USS Kearsarge was much longer in the Baltic Sea than Hersh presumes. The explosives were put down sometime between the end of BALTOPS on June 17 and September 22, the date the USS Kearsarge passed Fehmarn to leave the Baltic Sea.

That’s why Hersh errs when he later writes:

And then: Washington had second thoughts. The bombs would still be planted during BALTOPS, but the White House worried that a two-day window for their detonation would be too close to the end of the exercise, and it would be obvious that America had been involved.Instead, the White House had a new request: “Can the guys in the field come up with some way to blow the pipelines later on command?”

That window was not extend by months between the end of BALTOPS and the explosions but by a mere few days between somewhat around September 20 when the Kearsarge went on its way back home and September 27 when the pipelines exploded.


Since my translation some content has been added to the German piece to put it in the context of the Russian invasion. It is now dated October 21 2022 which makes no real sense. (The only copy of the piece is the changed on, saved on December 2022.)


The piece now starts with this (my translation):

Big Fleet Group From U.S. Navy Passes [German island passage] Fehmarnbelt

I don’t remember that there was a sub-headline to it or some sentences about the war in Ukraine but the piece now has those:

On Thursday morning, September 22, a fleet group from the U.S. Navy passed [the German island] Fehmarn. The “USS Kearsarge” as flagship was the biggest of the war ships.

  • Russian nuclear submarines and NATO units in strait of Fehmarn
  • Ships sail again in western direction
  • 40 helicopters and war planes on board

Fehmarn – With the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, which began in February, and with the change in security policy it caused, with NATO entry requests by Finland and Sweden, the Baltic has become a concentration area for naval forces of Russian and NATO. This can be seen in the increasing number of war ships which have passed the strait of Fehmarn [Fehmarnbelt] during the past months. This counts for Russian nuclear submarines just as for NATO units. On Thursday morning, September 22, a fleet group of the U.S. navy passed Fehmarn.

Then follow, seemingly unchanged, the two paragraphs I had translated previously.

It is some weird editorializing to add the now leading new parts to the old small piece by a local newspaper nearly a month after it was originally published. Who initiated that?

The new part does not make sense. BALTOPS is a yearly exercise, BALTOPS 22 was the 51st one of its kind. That it was held had nothing to do with the war in Ukraine.

As far as I can tell there are and were no nuclear submarines from Russia stationed in the way too shallow Baltic Sea. The home harbors of Russia’s nuclear fleets are Murmansk in the northern Kola bay for the Northern and Atlantic fleet and Rybachiy Nuclear Submarine Base on the Kamchatka peninsular for the Pacific fleet.

When a Russian nuclear submarine passes Fehmarn it is most likely one from Murmansk that takes part in the Russian fleet parade in St. Petersburg. That is like BALTOPS a yearly event. To use that for war mongering is rather stupid.

End of excursion.

What was of interest in the piece I had translated was not only the time when the U.S. ships left but also the remark that the Kearsarge was the “largest warship of the US Navy” that was in action in the Baltic Sea in the last 30 years.

The Kearsarge was likely selected for purpose. The ship has a …

… well deck, which opens to the sea through huge gates in the ship’s stern. There, the cargo, troops and vehicles are loaded onto landing craft for transit to the beach. The air cushion landing craft can “fly” out of the dry well deck, or the well deck can be flooded so that conventional landing craft can float out on their way to the beach.

Usually the Kearsarge would be a too big missile target to be in the Baltic Sea. But the well deck comes in handy when one wants to test new underwater equipment or put explosives around pipelines:

In support of BALTOPS, U.S. Navy 6th Fleet partnered with U.S. Navy research and warfare centers to bring the latest advancements in unmanned underwater vehicle mine hunting technology to the Baltic Sea to demonstrate the vehicle’s effectiveness in operational scenarios.Experimentation was conducted off the coast of Bornholm, Denmark, with participants from Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport, and Mine Warfare Readiness and Effectiveness Measuring all under the direction of U.S. 6th Fleet Task Force 68.

Bornholm is of course where the pipelines were blown up.

To me the one new and surprising item in the Hersh piece is the involvement of Norwegian forces to trigger the explosions by sonar buoy signals from a P8 navy surveillance plane. I would have bet on Swedish, British or Polish involvement. But Norway makes even more sense as it will profit from the Nord Stream destruction.

Larry Johnson, an old friend of Sy Hersh, has found a video by someone who had tracked a Norwegian P-8 flying in the pipeline area shortly before the explosion.

Unfortunately for Norway though is that its own, now increased gas exports also depend on pipelines. On the day of the Nord Stream explosions Denmark and Poland inaugurated a new pipeline that brings Norwegian gas to Poland. Russia certainly has the means to do to Norwegian pipelines what the U.S. and Norway have done to Nord Stream.

Another small quip I have with the Hersh piece is this:

Sweden had applied for membership into NATO, and had demonstrated its great skill in managing its underwater sound and magnetic sensor systems that successfully tracked Russian submarines that would occasionally show up in remote waters of the Swedish archipelago and be forced to the surface.

Most of the Russian subs the Swedish detected were never there. More than half of the many incidents were “unlikely violations”, i.e. they never happened. The great Swedish skill is to scare its own population with false alarms about alleged Russian submarines near its coast:

In 1982, several of Sweden’s subs, boats, and helicopters pursued one of these unidentified sources for a whole month, only to come up empty-handed.This continued for over a decade. Every time they picked up an acoustic signal they would search and find nothing but for a few bubbles on the sea’s surface. Sweden was, of course, worried about the intrusions, and couldn’t think why, with the Cold War now over, Russia would continue to provoke them in this manner.

But it was farts.

“It turns out herring have a swim bladder… and this swim bladder is connected to the anal duct of the fish,” Wahlberg said. “It’s a very unique connection, only found in herring. So a herring can squeeze its swim bladder, and that way it can blurt out a small number of bubbles through the anal opening.”

In layman’s terms, they let one rip. Herrings swim in gigantic schools that can reach several square kilometers and up to 20 meters (65 feet) deep. When something near them frightens them – say, a hungry school of mackerel or a submarine on the lookout for Russian spies – they can generate a lot of gas.

To test his theory, Wahlberg bought a herring from a store and applied pressure, and sure enough, it made a sound. He took the footage to the navy personnel and played it back to them. It was a perfect match for the noise they had been hearing.

The good news was that Sweden wasn’t under threat from Russia, the bad news was it had spent 10 years deploying its military in pursuit of fish farts. Since it figured out what was and wasn’t fish farts, there have been zero reports of hostile intruders in Swedish waters.

Great Swedish skills. Indeed.

The US Wants Ukraine’s Titanium

This is one of the key reasons for West’s unconditional support for the Nazi regime.

Now, there is a nascent effort underway in the U.S. and allied nations to identify, develop, and utilize Ukraine’s vast resources of a key metal crucial for the development of the West’s most advanced military technology which will form the backbone of future deterrence against Russia and China.

Titanium is a lightweight yet strong metal used extensively in advanced military applications like fighter jets, helicopters, naval ships, tanks, long-range missiles, and many others.The U.S. still imports more than 90 percent of its iron ore, and not all from friendly nations.The U.S. no longer holds titanium sponge in its National Defense Stockpile, and the last domestic producer of titanium sponge closed down in 2020.

If Ukraine wins, the U.S. and its allies will be in pole position to cultivate a new conduit of titanium. But if Russia manages to seize the country’s deposits and plants, Moscow will boost its global influence over increasingly strategic resource.

Ukraine is one of only seven nations producing titanium sponge, the basis for titanium metal. China and Russia—America’s most prominent strategic rivals—are among this select group.

Western dependence on Russian titanium means the metal has so far escaped the sanctions campaign launched against Moscow by the U.S.

A source told Newsweek that titanium “is a key vulnerability.”

“We’re talking about our ability to produce more planes, we’re talking about our ability to produce munitions. They all rely on titanium, and we’ve allowed ourselves to grow reliant on foreign suppliers for these things. Russia has previously been one of those primary suppliers.”

Last year’s annual defense-spending bill ordered the State Department to investigate “feasibility of utilizing titanium sources from Ukraine as a potential alternative to Chinese and Russian sources.”

“Ukraine has really significant deposits of rare earth minerals, and if we play our cards right could actually be a really attractive alternative to Russian and Chinese sources, which is where a lot of dependency currently is,” writes the Newsweek.

“As there are increasing debates throughout the West about why it’s in our interest to keep supporting Ukraine, I think this is one of the arguments that you’re going to start hearing more.” the source said.

China Castigates US for Stealing Oil from Syria

US theft of Syrian oil exacerbates the energy and humanitarian crisis in the war-torn Middle Eastern country, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a briefing on Tuesday.

“According to Syrian government data, in the first half of 2022, over 80% of Syria’s daily oil output was smuggled out of the country by US occupation troops <…> Such banditry is aggravating the energy crisis and humanitarian disaster in Syria. The Syrian people’s right to life is being ruthlessly trampled on by the US,” the diplomat said.

“The US must answer for its oil theft. The Syrian people and the international community deserve an answer. We urge the US to stop trampling on international rule of law and breaking international rules,” Wang Wenbin emphasized.

Most parts of the Syrian provinces of Deir Ez-Zor, Raqqa and Hasakah in the country’s east and northeast are under the control of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) backed by the US. According to Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen TV channel, the US-led Western coalition assists the Kurdish autonomous administration in setting up production at mothballed wells.

According to the news outlet, this is done in order to create an economic base with subsequent oil sales. Damascus views America’s military presence on Syrian soil as an illegal occupation of the country.

via TASS

Europe Will Return to Russian Gas, Says Qatar Energy Minister


European countries will eventually resume higher imports of Russian gas, Qatar’s energy minister and gas company CEO predicted on Saturday, warning that market volatility could last for years.

Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Qatar s energy minister and CEO of QatarEnergy, gives a press conference in Qatar s capital Doha on January 8, 2023, during a signing ceremony with Chevron Phillips Chemical Company at the QatarEnergy headquarters. AFP

Russian gas exports to Europe plunged after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine but Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, head of QatarEnergy, said the situation could change in the future.

“The Europeans today are saying there’s no way we’re going back” to Russian gas, he told the Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi.

“We’re all blessed to have to be able to forget and to forgive. And I think things get mended with time… they learn from that situation and probably have a much bigger diversity.

“But Russian gas is going back, in my view, to Europe.”

Gas exports by Russian energy giant Gazprom to the European Union and Switzerland fell by 55 percent last year, the company said this month.

Europe was previously Gazprom’s main export market but supplies were drastically reduced because of sanctions following the Ukraine invasion last February.

A mild winter has spared European countries from having to plunder their gas stockpiles, but Kaabi warned it would be harder this year to replenish back-up supplies.

“Luckily they haven’t had a very high demand for gas due to the warmer weather. The issue is what’s going to happen when they want to replenish their storages this coming year, and there isn’t much gas coming into the market until ’25, ’26, ’27,” he said.

“So I think it’s going to be a volatile situation for some time.”

Biden’s Economic Policies Threaten a Split with Europe

by Elena Panina via Foreign Policy
(machine translated from Russian)

The Anti-Inflation Act ($370 billion in subsidies for electric cars and clean energy) and the Chips and Science Act ($52 billion in subsidies for semiconductor companies) passed by Washington have caused discontent in Europe, writes FP.
Support under both laws is aimed exclusively at manufacturers in the US. In addition, gas prices in many European countries are already 10 times higher than in America
It has come to the point where EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton has said he will not attend the US-EU Trade and Technology Council meetings this week.
Individual countries are also unhappy. For example, the Dutch are not happy with the US demand to stop supplying chipmaking equipment to China. Their manufacturers, ASML and ASM International, would then suffer.
So far, Washington is limiting itself to verbal therapy but does not intend to change its laws on subsidies or its approaches to China.
It should be noted that Europe can no longer win back the gas.,It has lost the energy war. The freebies in the form of cheap Russian gas, which served as the engine of the EU economy, are over. But the Europeans did it themselves under pressure from the United States.
But what prevents the EU from adopting mirror laws to support its own producers? Maybe WTO rules (which the Americans comply with only when it suits them)?
The EU’s limited political subjectivity prevents it. Quod licet Jovi, non licet Bovi—what is allowed for Jupiter is not allowed for bulls.
The collective West is not homogeneous. It is grouped around an Anglo-Saxon nucleus represented by the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. There are two notional belts around the core. The first has the EU, Japan, and South Korea. In the second, everyone else
It is a world of predators. The interests of the core always prevail. Therefore, the countries in the first and second belts serve as food for the Anglo-Saxons when resources are scarce.
That is what we are seeing in this case: an overflow of industrial companies from Europe to the jurisdiction of the United States.They are more needed there. And the Europeans will be outraged and eventually come to terms with their second-rate role.