How is a pretext for a cold war manufactured?

Source:  Granma
September 6 2018

Author: 

A pretext is all that is needed to start a conflict, something with which the United States has experience, from the Spanish-American War, to Vietnam, Iraq… but its latest efforts to vilify Cuba are unique

a pretext for war.jpgPhoto: Ishmael Francisco

A pretext is all that is needed to start a conflict, something with which the United States has experience, from the Spanish-American War, to Vietnam, Iraq… but its latest efforts to vilify Cuba are unique.
Last year, the U.S. asserted that its diplomatic personnel in Cuba had been affected by “sonic attacks,” an accusation that has been developed in the media in an attempt to justify launching a Cold War.
A timeline of events illustrates the current administration’s efforts to undermine the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

2017
February
On the 17th the State Department and the U.S. embassy in Havana report, for the first time, to Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic in Washington, the occurrence of alleged acoustic attacks between November 2016 and February 2017.
April and May
On April 25, two new alleged sonic attacks are reported.
On May 23, the State Department orders two Cuban diplomats in Washington to leave the country.
June and August
Three meetings between U.S. experts and their Cuban counterparts take place on the Island. The U.S. acknowledges that it has no evidence to support its allegations.
September
The Cuban Foreign Minister informs the U.S. Secretary of State that Cuba rigorously fulfills its obligations with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. The withdrawal of 60% of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Havana is announced, and the State Department recommends that U.S. citizens not travel to Cuba, absurdly citing the risk of sonic attacks.
October
Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson, states that the number of affected individuals has reached 24. On October 3, the expulsion of 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington is announced, which Cuba denounces as “unjustified” and “unacceptable”.
2018
January
The AP news agency reports that the FBI has found no evidence of the alleged “attacks” after investigations and several trips to Havana. On January 9 a hearing is held in the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, organized by Marco Rubio, to impose the accusation, despite the lack of any evidence whatsoever.
February
On February 14, a controversial article is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), under the title “Neurological symptoms among U.S. diplomats in Cuba.”
An attempt is made to use the text as the scientific confirmation of the Washington hypothesis. However, the authors Christopher C. Muth and Steven L. Lewis affirm that “a unifying explanation of the symptoms experienced by the officials (…) remains vague and the effect of a possible exposure to auditory phenomena is not clear”.
April
The Canadian government reports the recall of diplomats’ families in Havana, since 10 of its employees have reported symptoms. Cuba respects the decision, while describing it as unjustified.
May
On May 29, the U.S. Embassy in Havana reports that on the 27th a new victim was reported. No interviews with the individual are allowed. The United States issues an advisory to its citizens living in China, warning them to seek medical help for symptoms such as those noted in Cuba.
June
On June 5, the U.S. Secretary of State reports the creation of a Joint Task Force to respond to what are described as “unexplained health incidents” affecting personnel stationed abroad, specifically in Cuba and the People’s Republic of China. Cuba reiterates that there is no evidence to support such a statement.
August
Neurologists and doctors from several countries question the conclusions of the report made by doctors from the University of Pennsylvania supporting the U.S. government’s version of events. The U.S. announces further reductions of its personnel and services in Havana.
September
On the 1st, The New York Times cites the University of Pennsylvania report, and on the 3rd, the Cuban Foreign Ministry reiterates that U.S. arguments continue to lose credibility over time.

Assassination of Beloved Public Figure in Ethiopia?

Sources:  Strategic Culture
August 2 2018

Much-loved public figure, Simegnew Bekele, found dead

Simegnew Bekele, Ethiopia.jpgSimegnew Bekele

The apparent assassination of a highly regarded public figure has rocked Ethiopia to its core. Simegnew Bekele, the architect overseeing a prestigious hydroelectric project in Ethiopia, was shot dead last week in the capital Addis Ababa by an unknown attacker. Many people in the Horn of Africa country are now suspecting a foreign hand behind his brutal slaying.

Bekele (53) was a much-loved public figure. He was seen as embodying a vision for Ethiopia’s political independence and economic development. The hydroelectric dam he oversaw was his life’s work and he was revered by the wider population for his dedication.

Now what appears to be his cold-blooded murder has shocked the nation.

The killing comes amid concern that a newly appointed prime minister is part of a geopolitical shakeup of Ethiopia to bring the country under the geopolitical sway of Washington and its Arab regional clients, away from Ethiopia’s recent strategic alignment with China.

Related:  Why Ethiopia is grieving for ‘hero’ dam engineer Simegnew Bekele, BBC News

In African security matters, Ethiopia may have been an ally of the United States for the past three decades. But in terms of its more important economic development, the country has relied on China.

China’s growing stature in Africa – much to the chagrin of the US – has been largely prefigured by its close strategic partnership with Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is long seen as the spiritual and diplomatic leader of the 54 nations of the continent, proudly standing as being the one nation never historically colonized by European powers. Through its economic partnership with Beijing, Ethiopia was in many ways China’s gateway to the rest of Africa.

Political Shift

The coming into office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali – by parliamentary selection – nearly four months ago has signaled a shift in the internal and international politics of Ethiopia. That change appears to be giving the US a greater role in the economic development of the country in a way that relegates China’s erstwhile dominant role.

The murder of chief engineer Bekele last Thursday casts a foreboding shadow over the future of Ethiopia. It also casts a shadow over the new prime minister and his much-vaunted leadership.

Youthful premier Abiy Ahmed (41) has up to now won glowing praise in Western news media as a “reformer”. He has promised to open up key sectors of the economy to foreign capital and to broaden its multiparty democracy.

Since Ethiopia’s revolutionary war against the Derg dictatorship nearly 30 years ago, the country has been ruled by a coalition government largely dominated by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The Tigray are a minority ethnic group from the north of Ethiopia which led the revolutionary war against the despotic Derg regime.

Premier Ahmed was previously part of the ruling coalition government, having served as a minister, and in military intelligence. But he comes from the Oromo ethnic group, which is the most populous in Ethiopia’s nation of 100 million, comprising some 84 different ethnic groups. The Oromo are associated with supporting the former Derg regime.

For the past three decades there have been ongoing acrimonious tensions between the Oromo and Tigray people. Since Ahmed came to office, there are fears among the Tigray especially that he is stealthily rehabilitating remnants of the old regime. He has released hundreds of political prisoners in the name of “reforms”, but several of these figures are accused by the Tigray of having committed past acts of grave violence against the state.

Read more here:  Geopolitics Shadow Ethiopia’s Foul Murder

Recolonization of Africa by Endless War

Source:  Black Agenda Report
November 8 2017
“Washington is running a gruesome protection racket in Africa, simultaneously creating the conditions for armed groups to thrive while offering protection against them.”
Recolonization of Africa by Endless War
Recolonization of Africa by Endless War

 

Six years ago, on October 20th, 2011, Muammar Gaddafi was murdered, joining a long list of African revolutionaries martyred by the West for daring to dream of continental independence.

goddafiEarlier that day, Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte had been occupied by Western-backed militias, following a month-long battle during which NATO and its “rebel” allies pounded the city’s hospitals and homes with artillery, cut off its water and electricity, and publicly proclaimed their desire to “starve [the city] into submission.” The last defenders of the city, including Gaddafi, fled Sirte that morning, but their convoy was tracked and strafed by NATO jets, killing 95 people. Gaddafi escaped the wreckage but was captured shortly afterward. I will spare you the gruesome details, which the Western media gloatingly broadcast across the world as a triumphant snuff movie. Suffice to say that he was tortured and eventually shot dead.

We now know, if testimony from NATO’s key Libyan ally, Mahmoud Jibril, is to be believed, it was a foreign agent, likely French, who delivered the fatal bullet. His death was the culmination of not only seven months of NATO aggression, but of a campaign against Gaddafi and his movement the West had been waging for over three decades.

“It was a foreign agent, likely French, who delivered the fatal bullet.”

Yet it was also the opening salvo in a new war –- a war for the military recolonization of Africa.

The year 2009, two years before Gaddafi’s murder, was a pivotal one for US-African relations. First, because China overtook the US as the continent’s largest trading partner; and second because Gaddafi was elected president of the African Union.

The significance of both for the decline of US influence on the continent could not be clearer. While Gaddafi was spearheading attempts to unite Africa politically, committing serious amounts of Libyan oil wealth to make this dream a reality, China was quietly smashing the West’s monopoly over export markets and investment finance. Africa no longer had to go cap-in-hand to the IMF for loans, agreeing to whatever self-defeating terms were on offer, but could turn to China –- or indeed Libya –- for investment. And if the US threatened to cut them off from their markets, China would happily buy up whatever was on offer. Western economic domination of Africa was under threat as never before.

The response from the West, of course, was a military one. Economic dependence on the West –- rapidly being shattered by Libya and China –- would be replaced by a new military dependence. If African countries would no longer come begging for Western loans, export markets, and investment finance, they would have to be put in a position where they would come begging for Western military aid.

“Economic dependence on the West –- rapidly being shattered by Libya and China –- would be replaced by a new military dependence.”

To this end, AFRICOM –- the US army’s new ‘African command’ –- had been launched the previous year, but humiliatingly for George W. Bush, not a single African country would agree to host its HQ; instead, it was forced to open shop in Stuttgart, Germany. Gaddafi had led African opposition to AFRICOM, as exasperated US diplomatic memos later revealed by WikiLeaks made clear. And US pleas to African leaders to embrace AFRICOM in the “fight against terrorism” fell on deaf ears.

After all, as Mutassim Gaddafi, head of Libyan security, had explained to Hillary Clinton in 2009, North Africa already had an effective security system in place, through the African Union’s “standby forces,” on the one hand, and CEN-SAD on the other. CEN-SAD was a regional security organization of Sahel and Saharan states, with a well-functioning security system, with Libya as the lynchpin. The sophisticated Libyan-led counter-terror structure meant there was simply no need for a US military presence. The job of Western planners, then, was to create such a need.

NATO’s destruction of Libya simultaneously achieved three strategic goals for the West’s plans for military expansion in Africa. Most obviously, it removed the biggest obstacle and opponent of such expansion, Gaddafi himself. With Gaddafi gone, and with a quiescent pro-NATO puppet government in charge of Libya, there was no longer any chance that Libya would act as a powerful force against Western militarism. Quite the contrary –- Libya’s new government was utterly dependent on such militarism and knew it.

“Gaddafi had led African opposition to AFRICOM.”

Secondly, NATO’s aggression served to bring about a total collapse of the delicate but effective North African security system, which had been underpinned by Libya. And finally, NATO’s annihilation of the Libyan state effectively turned the country over to the region’s death squads and terror groups. These groups were then able to loot Libya’s military arsenals and set up training camps at their leisure, using these to expand operations right across the region.

It is no coincidence that almost all of the recent terror attacks in North Africa – not to mention Manchester – have been either prepared in Libya or perpetrated by fighters trained in Libya. Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, ISIS, Mali’s Ansar Dine, and literally dozens of others, have all greatly benefited from the destruction of Libya.

By ensuring the spread of terror groups across the region, the Western powers had magically created a demand for their military assistance which hitherto did not exist. They had literally created a protection racket for Africa.

In an excellent piece of research published last year, Nick Turse wrote how the increase in AFRICOM operations across the continent has correlated precisely with the rise in terror threats. Its growth, he said, has been accompanied by “increasing numbers of lethal terror attacks across the continent including those in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Tunisia.

“Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, ISIS, Mali’s Ansar Dine, and literally dozens of others, have all greatly benefited from the destruction of Libya.”

In fact, data from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland shows that attacks have spiked over the last decade, roughly coinciding with AFRICOM’s establishment. In 2007, just before it became an independent command, there were fewer than 400 such incidents annually in sub-Saharan Africa. Last year, the number reached nearly 2,000. By AFRICOM’s own official standards, of course, this is a demonstration of a massive failure. Viewed from the perspective of the protection racket, however, it is a resounding success, with US military power smoothly reproducing the conditions for its own expansion.

This is the Africa policy Trump has now inherited. But because this policy has rarely been understood as the protection racket it really is, many commentators have, as with so many of Trump’s policies, mistakenly believed he is somehow ‘ignoring’ or ‘reversing’ the approach of his predecessors. In fact, far from abandoning this approach, Trump is escalating it with relish.

What the Trump administration is doing, as it is doing in pretty much every policy area, is stripping the previous policy of its “soft power” niceties to reveal and extend the iron fist which has in fact been in the driving seat all along. Trump, with his open disdain for Africa, has effectively ended US development aid for Africa –- slashing overall African aid levels by one third, and transferring responsibility for much of the rest from the Agency for International Development to the Pentagon –- while openly tying aid to the advancement of “US national security objectives.”

In other words, the US has made a strategic decision to drop the carrot in favor of the stick. Given the overwhelming superiority of Chinese development assistance, this is unsurprising. The US has decided to stop trying to compete in this area, and instead to ruthlessly and unambiguously pursue the military approach which the Bush and Obama administrations had already mapped out.

“Terror attacks have spiked over the last decade, roughly coinciding with AFRICOM’s establishment. In 2007.”

To this end, Trump has stepped up drone attacks, removing the (limited) restrictions that had been in place during the Obama era. The result has been a ramping up of civilian casualties, and consequently of the resentment and hatred which fuels militant recruitment. It is unlikely to be a coincidence, for example, that the al Shabaab truck bombing that killed over 300 people in Mogadishu last weekend was carried out by a man from a town which had suffered a major drone attack on civilians, including women and children, in August.

Indeed, a detailed study by the United Nations recently concluded that in “a majority of cases, state action appears to be the primary factor finally pushing individuals into violent extremism in Africa.” Of more than 500 former members of militant organizations interviewed for the report, 71 percent pointed to “government action,” including “killing of a family member or friend” or “arrest of a family member or friend” as the incident that prompted them to join a group. And so the cycle continues: drone attacks breed recruitment, which produces further terror attacks, which leaves the states involved more dependent on US military support. Thus does the West create the demand for its own “products.”

It does so in another way as well. Alexander Cockburn, in his book Kill Chain, explains how the policy of ‘targeted killings’ –- another Obama policy ramped up under Trump –- also increases the militancy of insurgent groups. Cockburn, reporting on a discussion with US soldiers about the efficacy of targeted killings, wrote that: “When the topic of conversation came round to ways of defeating the [roadside] bombs, everyone was in agreement. They would have charts up on the wall showing the insurgent cells they were facing, often with the names and pictures of the guys running them,” Rivolo remembers. “When we asked about going after the high-value individuals and what effect it was having, they’d say, ‘Oh yeah, we killed that guy last month, and we’re getting more IEDs than ever.’ They all said the same thing, point blank: ‘[O]nce you knock them off, a day later you have a new guy who’s smarter, younger, more aggressive and is out for revenge.”’

Alex de Waal has written how this is certainly true in Somalia, where, he says, “each dead leader is followed by a more radical deputy. After a failed attempt in January 2007, the US killed Al Shabaab’s commander, Aden Hashi Farah Ayro, in a May 2008 air strike. Ayro’s successor, Ahmed Abdi Godane (alias Mukhtar Abu Zubair), was worse, affiliating the organization with Al-Qaeda. The US succeeded in assassinating Godane in September 2014. In turn, Godane was succeeded by an even more determined extremist, Ahmad Omar (Abu Ubaidah). It was presumably Omar who ordered the recent attack in Mogadishu, the worst in the country’s recent history. If targeted killing remains a central strategy of the War on Terror”, De Waal wrote, “it is set to be an endless war.”

“Endless war undermines China’s blossoming relationship with Africa.”

But endless war is the whole point. For not only does it force African countries, finally freeing themselves from dependence on the IMF, into dependence on AFRICOM; it also undermines China’s blossoming relationship with Africa.

Chinese trade and investment in Africa continues to grow apace. According to the China-Africa Research Initiative at John Hopkins University, Chinese FDI stocks in Africa had risen from just two percent of the value of US stocks in 2003 to 55 percent in 2015, when they totaled $35 billion. This proportion is likely to rapidly increase, given that “Between 2009 and 2012, China’s direct investment in Africa grew at an annual rate of 20.5 percent, while levels of US FDI flows to Africa declined by $8 billion in the wake of the global financial crisis”. Chinese-African trade, meanwhile, topped $200 billion in 2015.

China’s signature ‘One Belt One Road’ policy –- to which President Xi Jinping has pledged $124 billion to create global trade routes designed to facilitate $2 trillion worth of annual trade –- will also help to improve African links with China. Trump’s policy toward the project was summarized by Steve Bannon, his ideological mentor, and former chief strategist in just eight words: “Let’s go screw up One Belt One Road.” The West’s deeply destabilizing Africa policy –- of simultaneously creating the conditions for armed groups to thrive while offering protection against them – goes some way toward realizing this ambitious goal. Removing Gaddafi was just the first step.

Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. This article previously appeared in IBW21 [2] (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) website

Going Down With the Bad Ship U.S.A.

Source:  Black Agenda Report
March 15 2018

going down with the bad ship.jpgGoing Down With the Bad Ship U.S.A.

“All that it can offer to the emerging nations of the world is a bad example and the threat of annihilation.”

There is no mystery to the ideological collapse of U.S. ruling class politics under late stage capitalism and imperial decline. Simply put, the corporate duopoly parties have nothing to offer the masses of people except unrelenting austerity at home and endless wars abroad. A shrunken and privatized Detroit serves as the model for U.S. urban policy; Libya and Syria are the scorched-earth footprints of a demented and dying empire. The lengthening shadow of economic eclipse by the East leaves the U.S. Lords of Capital with no cards left to play but the threat of Armageddon.

As China reclaims its historic place at the center of the earth, alongside the huge and heavily armed landmass of Russia, Washington flails about in a frenzy of firewall-building, buying time with the blood of millions, hoping to somehow preserve its doomed hegemony. But the “exceptional” superpower has no Marshall Plan to rescue itself from the throes of systemic decay, and all that it can offer to the emerging nations of the world is a bad example and the threat of annihilation. Its own people tire of the “Great Game,” finally realizing that they are the ones who have been played.

“Washington flails about in a frenzy of firewall-building, buying time with the blood of millions.”

George Bush drawled the “last hurrah” of empire with his declaration of “Mission Accomplished,” 15 years ago — and was quickly contradicted. With the failure in Iraq, the pretense of “spreading democracy” came ingloriously undone. A refurbishing of the imperial brand was attempted, with a bright and shiny new face – a Black-ish one — plus a new logo to justify invasion and regime-change: “humanitarian” intervention. But Obama’s assault on Syria revealed that the U.S. and its junior partners could only project power in the region through an alliance with Islamic jihadist terror. The architects of the War on Terror were, in fact, the godfathers of al Qaida.

“Do you realize now what you’ve done?” Vladimir Putin demanded of the Americans, at the United Nations, in 2015. “It is hypocritical and irresponsible to make loud declarations about the threat of international terrorism while turning a blind eye to the channels of financing and supporting terrorists, including the process of trafficking and illicit trade in oil and arms. It would be equally irresponsible to try to manipulate extremist groups and place them at one’s service in order to achieve one’s own political goals in the hope of later dealing with them or, in other words, liquidating them.”

The U.S. and its junior partners could only project power in the region through an alliance with Islamic jihadist terror.”

Washington’s jihadist strategy has rapidly unraveled ever since. The empire was unmasked in the world’s most public forum, revealing the utter depravity of U.S. policy and, more importantly, the weakness of Washington’s position in the region. The mighty fortress of global capital, the self-appointed defender of the world economic “order,” was revealed as, not just in collusion with head-chopping, women-enslaving, sectarian mass-murdering terrorists, but militarily dependent on the very forces it claims to wage a twilight, “generational” battle to destroy. The U.S. has been spouting The Mother of All Lies, and most of humanity knows it. Deep down, most Americans suspect as much, too.

With its intervention in Syria as a stalwart foe of jihadism and in defense of the principle of national sovereignty, Russia spoke the language of international law and morality, presenting a fundamental challenge to U.S. imperial exceptionalism. By deploying his forces against Washington’s jihadist proxies, in a region infested with American bases, Putin put muscle behind his call for a “multi-polar” world order.

China understands clearly that the ultimate U.S. aim is to block China’s access to the region’s energy and markets, at will. Beijing has praised Russia’s military role in the war, and stood with Moscow in vetoing western Security Council resolutions targeting Damascus. China routinely joins with Russia – and most other nations on the planet — in pursuit of a more “multi-polar world.”

“Putin put muscle behind his call for a “multi-polar” world order.”

The U.S. now uses the desperate Kurdish militia as surrogates in Syria, in an attempt to justify its presence in the country, while continuing to arm, finance and train other “rebel” groups, reportedly including former ISIS fighters. The U.S. has always avoided targeting the al Qaida affiliate in Syria, formerly known as the al Nusra Front — which, with ISIS on the run, remains the most effective anti-government force in the country.

The Trump administration declares that it will remain in Syria for the foreseeable future — without even a fig leaf of legal cover. Although there is now no possibility for a jihadist victory, Washington seems intent on drawing out the war as long as possible. The truth is, Washington doesn’t know how to extricate itself, because to do so would amount to yet another admission of defeat, and lead quickly to the dissolution of the jihadist networks the Pentagon has so long cultivated.

Withdrawal from Syria — and, sooner rather than later, from Iraq, whose parliament this month called for a timetable for U.S. forces to vacate the country — would totally unravel U.S. strategy to dominate events in the oil-rich region. Obama launched the jihadist war against the Syrian government in 2011 to force his way into the country. ISIS’s seizure of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, gave the U.S. the opportunity to return to that country, militarily. There will be no third chances, in Syria or Iraq.

“Washington doesn’t know how to extricate itself, because to do so would amount to yet another admission of defeat.”

The American people will not stand for another such adventure. They feel tainted by the experience in both Syria and Iraq, and don’t trust what their government says about the “good guys” and the “bad guys” in the Arab world. If only for reasons of racism, they want out.

Everyone smells U.S. defeat, inside and outside the empire. It is a stink that only Americans that were conscious in the Vietnam era can remember. It makes folks anxious — like the loss of a cocoon. Just as whites reaped a “psychological wage ” from Jim Crow privileges, according to W.E.B. Dubois, even if they were poor, so do citizens of empire feel psychological benefits, even when the cost of the war machine is impoverishing the country. U.S. politics in the era of imperial decline will be nasty, stupid, petty and racist — just as we are already experiencing. There must be scapegoats for the national de-exceptionalization. The Russians fit the bill, for now, and so does anybody that talks like a Russian, or a Chinese — for example, people that would like to live in a “multi-polar world.”

Do not expect the Republicans or the Democrats to make any sense of a world of diminishing empire. The duopolists are incapable of seeing any future beyond their rich patrons’ vision –- and the rich have no vision beyond continued accumulation of wealth, which requires a harsher and harsher austerity.

Most dangerous, they cannot imagine a world in which they are not on top. We will have to fight to keep them from blowing us all up, in rich man’s despair.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com .

Vladimir Putin Spoke This Morning

by Keith Ellis

March 1 2018

Are we on the way to permanent peace, beginning with talks on restoring arms control agreements?

vladimir putin march 1 2018.jpgBefore Putin spoke this morning (Thursday, March 1, 2018), we knew we were living in a world where the U.S. and NATO reserved the right, to be used at their discretion, to deliver a first nuclear strike on any selected foe.  President Trump during his election campaign was heard wondering aloud why his country had nuclear weapons if it didn’t use them.

The West’s war drills

When he became president, ignoring the fact that his predecessor had embraced the same first-strike doctrine, some of his fellow citizens and people in other parts of the world began to recoil in fear of nuclear war being unleashed.  Rising tensions were now expressed in and provoked by the West’s war drills which had become almost perpetual and were being practised closer and closer to the territories of Russia, China and North Korea.  This latter country, in defiance of the U.N.’s prohibition, continued to improve its nuclear status, thus making the U.S. increasingly angry but with reduced options for reacting militarily, an awkward situation for an “exceptionally great power.”

            Faced, on the one hand, with his country’s propensity having recourse to war, and with his own predisposition to condone his military’s use of nuclear weapons or ones fashioned from depleted uranium, and, on the other, with the abhorrence of nuclear weapons held by much of humanity, President Trump decided to make the use of nuclear weapons more palatable.

As part of his Nuclear Posture Review announced this past January, he proposed new entry-level low-yield nuclear weapons—retro-designed to be “nice” mini ones, going back in yield to the days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  That former explosive power would now be possible, redesigned and repackaged, following the same esthetic inspiration as those hand guns that Smith and Wesson produce for lady shooters, or like the piece of chocolate cake Trump proudly fed to Premier Xi while he carried out the bombing of Al Shayrat airbase in Syria. This earlier scale of destruction of human lives and property would seem “mercifully” lower than that resulting from his vaunted “fire and fury”.  The same relative “humanitarian” line of thinking is perhaps encouraging Trump to appreciate and be inspired by the fact that, by his linking the new bombs to the past (1945), the new ones will seem as if they have been used before and thus be endowed with a comfortable familiarity.  If they are used again, say against Venezuela—provided they are kept well away from the rich oil fields and the human victims appear to be from one of those countries recently described by the leader of the “free world” in the way in which he wants the rest of the imperialist world to see us—a nuclear war using his small new bombs will come to seem no more inconvenient than did hurricane María.  The goal of making nuclear war into conventional war will then have been achieved.

Nuclear parity

“Not so fast,” Vladimir Putin intimated on March 1.  The defensive and retaliatory arsenal he showed as ready or nearly ready to respond to any attack by a nuclear weapon has re-magnified Hiroshima, bringing back to people’s ears the “Oh horrors” slowly pronounced by my grandfather in 1945.  What is more, the inescapable silo-emptying response would be applied to any nuclear foe not only of Russia but also of its allies.  Putin named for the first time, in this military context, only one of these allies: China.  In this climactic part of his speech, he displayed unusual passion, as if the torrent of insults against him and Russia and the constant threats and provocations against his allies were becoming too much to bear.

He added to his statement about Russia’s new nuclear capabilities that they were also new to the world, for their speed, power, length of engagement and maneuverability, feats that require entirely new materials in their manufacture.  These new nuclear capabilities, the Russian leader said, were not intended to frighten his adversaries but to establish a state of nuclear parity.  The weaponry will at the same time be tightly defensive and in a position to punish aggressors against Russia and its allies, “regardless of the consequences”.  His words seemed to have brought palpable happiness to his large audience.  Thanks to the first-rate and dedicated work that is being done by scientists young and old, their achievements are being carried out at the same time as increased social spending in Russia aims to bring marked improvement to such indices as health care and life expectancy in the largest country in the world.  It is useful to remember that the Russian military is currently functioning on a budget of $50 billion while that of the U.S. has been demanding $700 billion, perhaps more now.

An enormous contribution to peace

Some weeks ago Putin warned Trump not to make war on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.  How many China-like defensive agreements are there to be revealed?  (The Venezuelan government is right now widely publicizing Putin’s speech in Spanish translation.)  Are we on the way to permanent peace, beginning with talks on restoring arms control agreements?

            These new creations of nuclear defensive weaponry are so difficult to breach, even with a first-strike advantage, that an adversary would think many times before attempting to do so.  And the response to an attempt would be so difficult to defend against that the risk of trying would hardly be worthwhile.  In summary, the good news from Putin’s speech is that the progress in Russian military science, unmatched by the imperialists, is an enormous contribution to peace.

China’s Xi: We Will Eradicate the ‘Ghosts’ of Poverty

Source:  TeleSUR
February 13 2018

Xi has made eradicating poverty a cornerstone policy, pledging to completely eradicate poverty in China by 2020.

China to eradicate poverty.png

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the first meeting of the French-Chinese business council in Beijing. | Photo: Reuters

Ahead of Lunar New Year celebrations in China, Chinese President Xi Jinping has told the country’s working class that he will banish the “ghosts” of poverty in the country.

RELATED:   After Bringing 800 Million out of Poverty, China Aims to Eradicate It Completely by 2020

As is custom, Xi is currently making inspections trips around the country before the holiday in order to highlight important policy initiatives.

In the mountainous part of Sichuan province, Xi met the ethnic Yi people, with one villager telling him that she used to believe ghosts were the cause of illness, state media reported on Monday.

It was in response to this, that the Chinese president told her they would exorcise the ghosts.

“In the past we did have ghosts – the ghosts of ignorance, backwardness and poverty,” Xi said, reported Reuters.“If we can resolve these problems then the ghosts will vanish. If there is culture, knowledge and hygiene, then our prosperous life can resolve these difficulties and then how can there be any ghosts?”

The Yi, who speak a language similar to Burmese, are one of China’s 55 officially recognized minorities.

800 million people taken out of poverty

Xi has made eradicating poverty a cornerstone of his policies, pledging to completely eradicate poverty in the country by 2020. China has already managed to bring an overwhelming 800 million people out of poverty in less than 40 years.

In addition, it became the first country in the world in 2015 to accomplish the UN millennium development goal of reducing poverty by half.

China has also been a leader on a number of other fronts.

The country plans to invest US$366 billion in renewable energy technologies by 2020, creating more than 13 million jobs, and placing Beijing at the forefront of clean energy innovation, according to the Chinese National Energy Administration.

In addition, its Belt and Road Initiative, called “the largest single infrastructure program in human history,” currently involves 68 countries and 1,700 development projects all over the world.

Jamaica retreats from courage, Caricom ‘spineless’ …Lisa Hanna

Source:  Jamaican Observer

January 8 2018

Lisa Hanna in St Kitts

Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Lisa Hanna has described Jamaica’s abstention vote on the UN Jerusalem resolution as a “retreat from principle, a retreat from courage”.

lisa hanna in st kittsIn a well-received address at the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party Gala on Friday evening, Hanna also suggested that the Caribbean Community (Caricom) appeared “spineless in the face of an offensive threat”, because some countries supported the resolution, while some abstained or left the room when the vote was called.

Following is a lightly edited version of her address to the party which enjoys fraternal relations with the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) here:

Life has taught me that courage has no limits; it might be perceived as stubborn or unreasonable and could even mean you stand alone on principle. Courage can create the perception you’re choosing battles unwisely that could adversely alter the immediate and long- term future. But courage has a responsibility to the future to take a stand, be fearless in the face of any adversity, and act in our children’s best long term interest. Our children ARE our future generation of power.

Courage is individual but also can drive people’s collective consciousness to imbue a country with national courage, and nations with regional courage.

As a region, we have a proud history of promoting respect, self-determination and tolerance of different economic and political systems. Size has never hampered our ability to stand tall, think big, and unleash our feisty/unabashed certainty that we know the answer even in the face of great opposition.

Our regional courage has never been in question and has, and should be allowed to force each of us to recognise that courage’s responsibility to the future will always translate into Caricom’s best interests.

Given the extraordinary disruptions currently taking place geopolitically, cowering in the face of bullies is NOT courage, and will not take us forward. We must never allow our pride, self-respect, and integrity as peoples of this great region to be bludgeoned into acquiescence by veiled or unveiled threats.

Retreating from taking decisions on principle has never been our preferred option.

In the absence of any public explanation for the sudden volte face, Jamaica’s recent vote at the United Nations on Jerusalem can only be taken as a retreat from principle; a retreat from courage.

Abstention (physically or verbally) cannot be the basis of a sound, strategic, and principled regional foreign policy direction.

Jamaica has always shown assertive, courageous and enlightened leadership in our foreign policy and diplomacy. The Rt Excellent Norman Manley led the world when, even before our independence, he took the position that Jamaica would not trade with apartheid South Africa.

Since then, the policies of PNP administrations have been founded on: (1) respect for the sovereignty of ALL nations (2) respect for human rights and the citizens of ALL countries and (3) a non-aligned stance.

When it was deemed detrimental to support Cuba after 1962, Michael Manley showed unrelenting support and led a united front with Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1972, being the first to do so in the western hemisphere.

We did the same with China. Now China’s aggressive global growth strategy has resulted in China being Jamaica’s main source of bilateral loans and foreign direct investment, and almost certainly prompted the celebrated visit to Jamaica by President Barack Obama in 2015 — the first such since Ronald Reagan’s visit 35 years ago.

That Obama visit was undoubtedly a by-product of Jamaica’s courageous stand on foreign policy issues such as relations with Cuba, China and Venezuela which sent the unmistakable signal to Washington that little Jamaica was strategically crucial to US interests and needed to be courted, NOT threatened.

It was a sign of the times — a confirmation that the basis upon which China and the USA deploys their capital and political might is inexorably changing, especially since the USA holds more Chinese debt.

It’s clear that the China Silk and Belt Road initiative has the potential to increase China’s dominance in the Asian Pacific and quietly turn the global axis of trade dominance towards China. In the meantime, USA’s response to changing world realities appears isolationist, protectionist, and inward-looking.

In the USA of 2017/18, bullyism trumps diplomacy and friendship, and exclusion trumps inclusion. These policies can only assist China’s increased geopolitical influence in global politics and reduce that of USA. Is this the bandwagon that Caricom nations wish to jump on?

The current American president’s pronouncement that climate change is a man-made phenomenon has serious implications for small island developing states (SIDS) in Caricom. Climate change is a real and potentially destructive issue for all of us who call the Caribbean our home, and we must tackle it with courage and realism or we could well be facing the total annihilation of economies.

I know the extensive work of Dr Denzil Douglas in this area to protect the coastlines of St Kitts and Nevis.

They say “he who feels it knows it” and “rain don’t fall on one man roof”. Back to back category five hurricanes are now our reality in the region and we ALL felt the devastation by Irma and Maria.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s emotional pronouncements at the UN last year should serve as a chilling reminder to urgently brace for this year. In this fight We must not only survive but we MUST prevail.

To do this we MUST speak as one voice and have the courage to press for the complete removal of the failed US-imposed embargo on Cuba which has deprived the us from valuable trade with one of our closest neighbours.

We MUST have the courage and speak as one voice to bend the reluctance of international lending agencies to grant concessionary loans at lower interest rates to our member states in the aftermath of natural disasters, in spite of our GDP per capita.

We MUST have the courage and speak as one voice to take the risk and bet on Caricom —one for all and all for one. If you threaten one, you threaten all!

The world has changed significantly since our respective independence. If we are realistic, acting individually as nations will easily marginalise us and lead to us ultimately being globally irrelevant. As Caricom we are a strong voice at the table.

The recent UN vote, where we had some countries voting for, some abstaining and some just absent from the room, does not project a unified front. We appeared spineless in the face of an offensive threat.

As a region we’re bonded by so much more than West Indies cricket. When Usain Bolt or Kimani James compete internationally, they run not only for their respective countries but on behalf of all of us bonded by history, climate and economic circumstances.

Let the world not only see our beaches and our music but our spirit, our courage, and our fervent value system that doing what is right is far superior to might.

Many of you in this room were a part of a generation that gave the world true examples of regional activism, and you did it in step with your Caribbean brothers and sisters in leadership.

What will my child and your child take from our generation of leadership on their behalf? Abstention should never be our legacy. Our only option is to show them our courage.