Moving Closer To War
Paul Craig Roberts
The Obama regime, wallowing in hubris and arrogance, has recklessly escalated the Ukrainian crisis into a crisis with Russia. Whether intentionally or stupidly, Washington’s propagandistic lies are driving the crisis to war. Unwilling to listen to any more of Washington’s senseless threats, Moscow no longer accepts telephone calls from Obama and US top officials.
The crisis in Ukraine originated with Washington’s overthrow of the elected democratic government and its replacement with Washington’s hand-chosen stooges. The stooges proceeded to act in word and deed against the populations in the former Russian territories that Soviet Communist Party leaders had attached to Ukraine. The consequence of this foolish policy is agitation on the part of the Russian speaking populations to return to Russia. Crimea has already rejoined Russia, and eastern Ukraine and other parts of southern Ukraine are likely to follow.
Instead of realizing its mistake, the Obama regime has encouraged the stooges Washington installed in Kiev to use violence against those in the Russian-speaking areas who are agitating for referendums so that they can vote their return to Russia. The Obama regime has encouraged violence despite President Putin’s clear statement that the Russian military will not occupy Ukraine unless violence is used against the protesters.
We can safely conclude that Washington either does not listen when spoken to or Washington desires violence.
As Washington and NATO are not positioned at this time to move significant military forces into Ukraine with which to confront the Russian military, why is the Obama regime trying to provoke action by the Russian military? A possible answer is that Washington’s plan to evict Russia from its Black Sea naval base having gone awry, Washington’s fallback plan is to sacrifice Ukraine to a Russian invasion so that Washington can demonize Russia and force a large increase in NATO military spending and deployments.
In other words, the fallback prize is a new cold war and trillions of dollars more in profits for Washington’s military/security complex.
The handful of troops and aircraft that Washington has sent to “reassure” the incompetent regimes in those perennial trouble spots for the West–Poland and the Baltics–and the several missile ships sent to the Black Sea amount to nothing but symbolic provocations.
Economic sanctions applied to individual Russian officials signal nothing but Washington’s impotence. Real sanctions would harm Washington’s NATO puppet states far more than the sanctions would hurt Russia.
It is clear that Washington has no intention of working anything out with the Russian government. Washington’s demands make this conclusion unavoidable. Washington is demanding that the Russian government pull the rug out from under the protesting populations in eastern and southern Ukraine and force the Russian populations in Ukraine to submit to Washington’s stooges in Kiev. Washington also demands that Russia renege on the reunification with Crimea and hand Crimea over to Washington so that the original plan of evicting Russia from its Black Sea
naval base can go forward.
In other words, Washington’s demand is that Russia put Humpty Dumpty back together again and hand him over to Washington.
This demand is so unrealistic that it surpasses the meaning of arrogance. The White House Fool is telling Putin: “I screwed up my takeover of your backyard. I want you to fix the situation for me and to ensure the success of the strategic threat I intended to bring to your backyard.”
The presstitute Western media and Washington’s European puppet states are supporting this unrealistic demand. Consequently, Russian leaders have lost all confidence in the word and intentions of the West, and this is how wars start.
European politicians are putting their countries at great peril and for what gain? Are Europe’s politicians blackmailed, threatened, paid off with bags of money, or are they so accustomed to following Washington’s lead that they are unable to do anything else? How do Germany, UK, and France benefit from being forced into a confrontation with Russia by Washington?
Washington’s arrogance is unprecedented and is capable of driving the world to destruction. Where is Europe’s sense of self-preservation? Why hasn’t Europe issued arrest warrants for every member of the Obama regime? Without the cover provided by Europe and the presstitute media, Washington would not be able to drive the world to war.
it appears that war IS our foreign policy... when you're the world's biggest bully, war seems to be the solution for every problem... real or imagined... big or small
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US People Can't Know
Overseas Drone Death Toll
by Jon Queally,
At behest of intelligence chief, Senate removes "modest" provision that would reveal number of people killed by US attacks overseas-
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper urged the Senate Intelligence Committee to drop language about those killed in drone strikes. And they did. (Public domain)The Senate Intelligence Committee and the Obama administration agree on this: the American people should not know the number of people killed by U.S. drone attacks overseas, nor should they hope to understand the circumstances under which such lethal killings are authorized or executed.
This high-level agreement was confirmed on Monday after a "modest" provision designed to add transparency to the US drone assassination program was killed in the Senate committee following objections by the Obama administration's intelligence chief.
“How many people have to die for Congress to take even a small step toward transparency? It's stunning that after all these years we still don't know how many people the Obama administration has killed with drones." —Zeke Johnson, Amnesty International
As The Guardian reports:
At the behest of the director of national intelligence, US senators have removed a provision from a major intelligence bill that would require the president to publicly disclose information about drone strikes and their victims.
The bill authorizing intelligence operations in fiscal 2014 passed out of the Senate intelligence committee in November, and it originally required the president to issue an annual public report clarifying the total number of “combatants” and “noncombatant civilians” killed or injured by drone strikes in the previous year. It did not require the White House to disclose the total number of strikes worldwide.
But the Guardian has confirmed that Senate leaders have removed the language as they prepare to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, after the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, assured them in a recent letter that the Obama administration was looking for its own ways to disclose more about its highly controversial drone strikes.
Critics of the Obama administration's use of drones and ongoing assassination program say that even though the language of the provision was mild, it was at least a step towards transparency and oversight.
“Congress is charged with oversight of the administration and this is a matter of life and death,” Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA, told the New York Times. “A basic report on the number of people killed shouldn’t be too much to ask.”
And Hawkins' colleague Zeke Johnson, Zeke Johnson, who directs the group's security and human rights program asked:
“How many people have to die for Congress to take even a small step toward transparency? It's stunning that after all these years we still don't know how many people the Obama administration has killed with drones."
we want to keep secret the horrible numbers of human beings we kill
The Top 10 Questions About the World’s Biggest Problems
Will anyone ever outfox Putin? Why are we still using old solutions to solve the same old Middle East Problems? And where exactly are we going in Afghanistan?
annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. The timing is fortuitous, because I’m pondering a number of big questions these days and I’ll be interested to see what some of the nation’s best scholars think about them. So for what they may be worth, here are my Top 10 Foreign Policy Puzzles:
No. 1: Will there be a deal on Ukraine?
The crisis in Ukraine has been a colossal failure of analysis and of diplomacy, with plenty of blame to share on all aides. The main victims, alas, have been the unfortunate Ukrainian people. As I’ve written before, I think the United States and the West played a key role in causing the crisis, mostly by failing to anticipate that Russia was going to respond forcefully and vigorously to what its leaders regarded as a gradual attempt to incorporate Ukraine into the West. One need not approve of Russia’s response to recognize that the United States should have seen it coming and thought more carefully about our interests and objectives beforehand.
Since the collapse of the Yanukovych government, the United States and its allies have followed the usual playbook: ramping up sanctions and waiting for Moscow to cave and give us everything we want. Unfortunately, this view fails to recognize that Russia does have valid reasons to care about its border areas and still has cards to play. Sanctions are clearly hurting, but Putin probably anticipated them and has been willing to pay the price. In the meantime, sanctions aren’t helping the sputtering European economy (see below), and Ukraine itself is going from bad to worse.
So my question is: Will someone get serious about real diplomacy, and make Putin an offer he’s unlikely to refuse? Instead of building more bases in Eastern Europe, the United States and its allies should be working to craft a deal that guarantees Ukraine’s status as an independent and neutral buffer state. And that would mean making an iron-clad declaration that Ukraine will not be part of NATO. (Just because many Ukrainians want to join doesn’t mean NATO has to let them.) Recent proposals for a deal lack that essential ingredient and aren’t going to solve the crisis.
A "Finlandized" Ukraine might not be an ideal outcome, but it is better than watching the country get destroyed. A "Finlandized" Ukraine might not be an ideal outcome, but it is better than watching the country get destroyed. Putin may reject such a solution, of course, but surely it deserves a serious attempt before things get even worse.
No. 2: When will anyone in Israel or Palestine try something different?
The latest Gaza war was déjà vu all over again: more people were killed, vastly more damage was done to the imprisoned civilian population of Gaza, the IDF lost more than 60 soldiers (a total more than twice the number of civilian victims from Gazan rockets and mortars over the past five years), and the eventual cease-fire agreement changed nothing of significance. On the West Bank, the occupation grinds on, while Israeli politics drift rightward. Yet despite all these worrisome trends, nobody in a position of authority seems capable of rethinking their hardened positions: not Israel, not Hamas, and not the Palestinian Authority. And certainly not the United States, either. Until one of those actors adopts a different mind-set and/or a different approach, we can count on another reprise in a few months or years.
No. 3: Will Europe ever get its act together?
There was a brief flurry of optimism a year or so ago, as the eurozone achieved some modest economic growth and interest rate spreads eased, but the French economy is now in serious trouble and even Germany’s economy contracted during the last quarter. (As noted above, this may not have been the smartest moment to impose stiffer sanctions on Russia.) Scotland’s status in the U.K. is up for grabs, and so is England’s membership in the EU. Some European Jews are heading for Israel to escape fears of rising anti-Semitism, even as some Israelis are heading the other way. Remember when Euro-optimists used to crow about it becoming a different sort of world power, based on democracy, rule of law, and "civilian power"? Today, a better question is whether Europe can retain any sense of unity, regain its economic health, and avoid geopolitical irrelevance.
No. 4: Where will the borders be drawn in the greater Middle East?
There are good reasons why existing borders tend to endure, even when they don’t conform well to ethnic, cultural, or religious boundaries. One reason is simple prudence: Once you start redrawing the map, it is hard to know where the process will end, and so existing elites will have every incentive to preserve the present arrangements, however flawed they might be. Even so, it is hard to look at what is now happening in the Middle East and believe that the current borders aren’t going to look different some years from now. Libya might break up completely. The borders drawn by Sykes and Picot may end up on the ash heap of history, and be replaced by a rump Alawite state, a radical Sunni community in eastern Syria/western Iraq, and a genuinely independent Kurdistan. The Green Line separating pre-1967 Israel from the West Bank is increasingly meaningless too, but a future "Greater Israel" would catalyze a Palestinian struggle for civil rights. I don’t know if any of these things will happen or what the final end states will be, but trying to keep the pre-2009 Humpty Dumpty together is looking like a bad bet these days.
No. 5: Will a stable equilibrium emerge in East Asia?
China’s rise has shifted the balance of power in East Asia, and Beijing continues to press various territorial claims in the East China and South China seas. There have been desultory efforts to resolve these disputes but no serious progress. In the absence of multilateral agreement, these disputes are just trouble waiting to happen, especially given U.S. treaty commitments to various regional allies and to freedom of navigation more broadly. America’s "rebalance" to Asia was supposed to help address these issues, but Washington keeps getting distracted by more dramatic but ultimately less significant events elsewhere. My guess: East Asia will be even more contentious in 2016 than it is today, and these issues are going to loom large in the next president’s agenda.
No. 6: Will there be a deal over Iran’s nuclear program?
If Obama wants to leave office with at least one tangible achievement, securing a deal that caps Iran’s nuclear program and opens the door for a more constructive relationship with Tehran is his best bet. The good news: The emergence of the Islamic State (IS) has given Iran and the United States an additional reason to cooperate — at least tacitly — and both sides have clearly been negotiating in good faith. The bad news: There are still significant gaps between the two sides’ stated positions, in part because hard-liners on both sides retain too much influence but also because their core strategic objectives are at least partly at odds. Plus, events in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Ukraine have undercut Obama’s clout and he’ll be more and more of a lame duck with each passing month. The clock is ticking, and the bad news is that opponents just have to run out the clock. Here’s hoping they fail, but I wish I could say that with a bit more optimism.
No. 7: Where is Afghanistan headed?
After more than a dozen years of effort, and billions of dollars spent, Afghan internal politics are as screwed up as ever. After more than a dozen years of effort, and billions of dollars spent, Afghan internal politics are as screwed up as ever. As I write this, for example, Afghan presidential contender Abdullah Abdullah has withdrawn from the post-election audit agreement brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry, casting additional doubts on the country’s political future.
As the U.S. experience with Iraq demonstrates, intervening powers facing an open-ended, costly, and unpromising commitment have few good options. (Moral: When you screw things up really badly, bad choices are what you are left with.) Staying longer is no guarantee of success and just adds to the sunk costs. But getting out often creates chaotic situations whose consequences are depressing to behold and can be trouble in their own right.
So the big question here is simple: Given that the United States and its allies are going to leave, just how bad will things get? And if they do, will the United States resist pressures to re-engage? I suspect we will, but I’ve been wrong before.
No. 8: Will Obama’s climate change gambit work?
Facing resolute opposition from GOP mossbacks in the Senate, the Obama administration is reportedly pursuing a "global accord" on greenhouse gas emissions that would rely on voluntary compliance by other states and not require Senate ratification. The idea is appealing because the United States could meet its obligations through legislation that would require a simple majority (and not the 67 Senate votes required to ratify a formal treaty), and because getting the United States fully on board would supposedly encourage other major emitters to sign on too. But there are at least two big questions: a) would "voluntary compliance" and "naming and shaming" really work, and b) if the GOP and its climate-change deniers gain a majority in the Senate, what are the odds that any meaningful U.S. legislation gets passed at all?
If climate change does as much damage as many experts now fear, climate-change deniers will one day deserve their own wing in the Museum of Great Human Follies.
Or maybe a chapter in the sequel to this book.
No. 9: Will the United States, its allies, and other concerned countries come up with a better approach to "violent extremism" of the sort represented by al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and others?
Terrorism has been with us for a long time, but it has dominated discourse on national security policy for more than a decade. We are 20 years past the original emergence of al Qaeda, and 13 years past the 9/11 attacks, yet we have not been able to put the threat in perspective or devise an effective strategy for minimizing it even more. Killing terrorists with drones doesn’t seem to have worked, and may actually make the problem worse. Removing authoritarian tyrants like Saddam Hussein or Muammar al-Qaddafi from power backfired badly, and sending lots of Western troops into Iraq and Afghanistan merely reinforced jihadi narratives about the infidel’s relentless interference. The United States and its allies are probably better at detecting and thwarting plots than they used to be, but there can never been a 100 percent reliable defense against either foreign extremists or deranged domestic radicals either. I’d just like to know when we will do something besides sending drones anywhere they can reach. Even more importantly, I’d like to know if U.S. leaders will ever put the danger in proper perspective, and stop treating every nasty radical group as the Greatest Threat We Have Ever Faced.
No. 10: Can Western democracies roll back the "surveillance state"?
As scholars like Jack Goldsmith and Geoffrey Stone have noted, the United States (and other democracies) has often compromised civil liberties and conducted aggressive censorship and surveillance efforts during national emergencies. In this sense, the panicked response that produced the Patriot Act and the NSA’s notorious excesses is disturbing but not surprising. But in the past, such measures got reversed once the danger was over, and in some cases — such as the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II — the United States eventually understood it had done wrong and tried to make amends.
My question: Can we be confident that a similar course correction will take place today? The national security state is bigger and more powerful than it was in earlier periods of U.S. history, and the capacity for government (and private!) surveillance is vastly greater. The perceived threat from nonstate actors like al Qaeda or worse is impossible to measure precisely, which makes it easy for threat-inflators to scare the public into endorsing measures that would make the Founding Fathers weep. Plus, trying to run an increasingly chaotic world requires governing elites to spend a lot of time spinning and inevitably tempts them into keeping lots and lots of secrets, to include telling the public exactly what they’re doing. Add all this together, and I think you understand why Barack Obama didn’t unwind the Bush-era practices, and in some cases made them worse. So my question remains: Even post-Snowden, is an increasingly secretive and intrusive national security state the "new normal"?
Notice that these issues run the gamut from political theory, area studies, and international relations to environmental politics, conflict studies, international political economy, and a few other subjects beyond those. The APSA meeting will be crawling with people who study these topics, and I hope I get a good answer to at least some of these questions while I’m there. If I do, I’ll let you know.