Miroslav Antić


Archive for decembar 2015

Combatting ISIS

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Is the U.S. losing a rare opportunity to foster a broad coalition of nations in this common cause?

by William Hessell

Hessell, a PhD Psychologist from UCLA with International Relations nndergrad degree, has had long years of looking at the psychological aspects of political decisions as they affect the world at large.

December 4, 2015

ISIS has emerged in the last few years as the most dangerous enemy facing major Western powers, as well as being a threat to Muslim nations and others not interested and willing to create an extremist, radical Islamist caliphate in the Middle East.

Its rapid rise has astounded the West. ISIS’military leadership has been constructed from elements of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Sunni army, which was disbanded by US occupying forces when they took over Iraq in 2003. These military careerists were turned loose without employment, and were increasingly joined by other disaffected Sunnis in Iraq who were alienated by the Shiite government that the US had installed. They merged with radical Sunni rebel forces in Syria fighting Basher Assad’s Alawite Shia government. They were also joined by other anti-western, extremist Islamic youth who otherwise might have been attracted to the now deflated al Qaeda movement. Soon the ISIS became a major military and financial force. They were able to capture large supplies of US military weaponry, as well as oil producing areas that the US-trained Iraqi army was unable to defend.

ISIS’s hatred of the West seems to know no bounds, and similarly shows no mercy on other Muslims who resist its overtures. It has declared war on Western nations, especially those with any history of involvement in the Middle East––and on Muslim nations and peoples that dare stand in its way. Its prime strategies are to advance and conquer areas of the Middle East, and now even Africa, where its reach extends by vicious attacks, and by spreading terror and fear within Western nations beyond its immediate reach. The nations of the West, the Middle East, and much of the world, have no alternative but to respond in force.

Facing such a sworn enemy, a rare opportunity exists for all nations to join together in a broad, cooperative coalition––this includes even those who have various issues that tend to keep them apart. If the major forces with reason to oppose ISIS (namely Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Kurds, other Middle Eastern Muslim nations and sects) were providing troops on the ground; with combined US, French, Russia, the UK, and Germany providing air support, ground advisors and military coordination––their power working together would be overwhelming. Unfortunately, to date the dynamics of current multi-power politics are preventing this from happening.

A major obstacle is the U.S. insistence that the removal of Assad in Syria continues as a priority of its policy. Meanwhile the U.S. continues to support rebel terrorists groups fighting Assad, while at the same time launching attacks on ISIS in Syria. This puts the U.S. in opposition to the position of Russia, which is supporting Assad staying in power at least for the present until elections can be held. Russia has had a long partnership with Syria and a legal military base in Syria for years which adds to Assad’s military strength––Syria is the major ground force fighting ISIS in Syria today. Turkey’s motivation to fight ISIS is diminished by its ongoing conflict with Kurdish populations and other revelations coming out. Iran is desirous of fighting ISIS and has forces on the ground in Iraq, but its diplomatic challenges with the US make any real coordination in their mutual efforts problematic. Although Iraqi forces are weak, they are appropriately reluctant to accept US boots on the ground. The majority of local Iraqi populations are aware that the presence of Western ground forces is a major recruiting attraction for ISIS. And on and on it goes, with a region so racked by its long history of western interference, in addition to their deep sectarian and political divisions. They have difficulty uniting even temporarily to defeat a common enemy.

Much of this immediate crisis, like the rise of ISIS, was created through misdirected Western involvement. Therefore, Western nations should be a major factor in its resolution, but without using ground forces to engage ISIS in land combat. Middle Eastern nations have the most at stake with the rise of ISIS. It’s necessary that they provide the ground troops to regain and hold the land that ISIS has overtaken in Syria. Over time, only local populations can hold and maintain peace on that land. The West cannot successfully do that, and if it tries, it diminishes the motivation of regional nations and peoples from fully engaging in their own battle. The West must, however, provide the coordination, facilitation and air support necessary to ensure success.

This is where current US policy is failing to demonstrate responsible leadership. As the major instigator of the ISIS crisis––and the nation with the most military power in the region, the primary coordination role should reside with the US. It has resisted this role against ISIS––with its priority being to replace Assad in Syria, and secondly with its strong antipathy towards Russia. The French government, after the ISIS attack on Paris, has made it very clear, the immediate priority is on defeating ISIS, other considerations are secondary. They are in consultation with Russia to push for a broader coalition.

Russia also is clear that it has been attacked by terrorists repeatedly, and that it has large Muslim populations and restive adjacent peoples which are being ignited by the terrorists. As far as Russia is concerned, extremist elements in Syria must be defeated in Syria before they come en masse to nearby Russia––and secondly, that established governments like Syria must be maintained, not take out, when threatened by extremists. Taking Assad practically guarantees that Syria will become a Caliphate.

Regime change and nation building by the West has failed elsewhere, why would Syria be any different? We have only to look back at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and others to understand this reality. US policy remains, unfortunately, highly conflicted, and tragically is inviting conflict among the nations that should be working together against ISIS.

When Russia made the decisive move to enter the fray in Syria, it seemingly out-maneuvered the months of equivocation and hesitancy of the US policy. The US response was far from welcoming to Russia’s initiative. Instead, they made a reference suggesting that our coalition was much better than that of Russia and Syria. This was hardly helpful to laying the ground work needed between the two nations, who have many reasons to learn, through experience, how to work together for a beneficial common purpose.

Is it too late to reverse the process? Is it too late to model a more cooperative efforts that is desperately needed ––and in a region that has long suffered from its absence?

One certainly hopes not, but the prospects are not encouraging. The US would need to alter its stance toward Syria and Russia and provide more creative leadership. The most vocal voices in the US Congress are currently reactive, conservative and fear-dominated. When threat and fear are paramount in the political thinking of leadership, it produces a constrictive effect on the vision needed for sound policies.

A call for change needs to arise from American citizens and it needs to be loud and clear––that is,to push for more enlightened policies. It is utterly tragic when chances for cooperation as vital as the defeat of ISIS (and the avoidance of a potential major war between the U.S. and Russia), are not acted upon and carried out to the fullest.

(bolding by ST to assist rapid reading)



Written by Mika

10. decembra 2015. at 09:52

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End the Gun Epidemic in America

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End the Gun Epidemic in America

The Editorial Board

Doug Mills/The New York Times

All decent people feel sorrow and righteous fury about the latest slaughter of innocents, in California. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are searching for motivations, including the vital question of how the murderers might have been connected to international terrorism. That is right and proper.

But motives do not matter to the dead in California, nor did they in Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and far too many other places. The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.

Opponents of gun control are saying, as they do after every killing, that no law can unfailingly forestall a specific criminal. That is true. They are talking, many with sincerity, about the constitutional challenges to effective gun regulation. Those challenges exist. They point out that determined killers obtained weapons illegally in places like France, England and Norway that have strict gun laws. Yes, they did.

But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not. Worse, politicians abet would-be killers by creating gun markets for them, and voters allow those politicians to keep their jobs. It is past time to stop talking about halting the spread of firearms, and instead to reduce their number drastically — eliminating some large categories of weapons and ammunition.

It is not necessary to debate the peculiar wording of the Second Amendment. No right is unlimited and immune from reasonable regulation.

Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.

What better time than during a presidential election to show, at long last, that our nation has retained its sense of decency?

A Selection of Related Editorials

Written by Mika

5. decembra 2015. at 17:39

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The US-Russia Proxy War in Syria

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The US-Russia Proxy War in Syria

December 1, 2015


Exclusive: The risk of Syria becoming a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia became real last week when Turkey and Syrian jihadists used U.S.-supplied weaponry to shoot down a Russian warplane and rescue helicopter, killing two Russians, a danger that ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explores.

By Ray McGovern

Belatedly, at a sidebar meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Paris climate summit on Monday, President Barack Obama reportedly expressed regret for last week’s killing of a Russian pilot who was shot down by a Turkish air-to-air missile fired by a U.S.-supplied F-16 and the subsequent death of a Russian marine on a search-and-rescue mission, apparently killed by a U.S.-made TOW missile.

But Obama administration officials continued to take the side of Turkey, a NATO “ally” which claims implausibly that it was simply defending its air space and that the Russian pilot of the SU-24 warplane had ignored repeated warnings. According to accounts based on Turkish data, the SU-24 may have strayed over a slice of Turkish territory for 17 seconds.

[SeeConsortiumnews.com’s “Facts Back Russia on Turkish Attack.”]

President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. National Security Advisior Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Immediately after the incident on Nov. 24, Obama offered a knee-jerk justification of Turkey’s provocative action which appears to have been a deliberate attack on a Russian warplane to deter continued bombing of Syrian jihadists, including the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist, has supported various jihadists as his tip of the spear in his goal to overthrow the secular regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In his first public comments about the Turkish attack, Obama gracelessly asserted Turkey’s right to defend its territory and air space although there was never any indication that the SU-24 – even if it had strayed momentarily into Turkish air space – had any hostile intentions against Turkey. Indeed, Turkey and the United States were well aware that the Russian planes were targeting the Islamic State, Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and other jihadist rebels.

Putin even complained, “We told our U.S. partners in advance where, when at what altitudes our pilots were going to operate. The U.S.-led coalition, which includes Turkey, was aware of the time and place where our planes would operate. And this is exactly where and when we were attacked. Why did we share this information with the Americans? Either they don’t control their allies, or they just pass this information left and right without realizing what the consequences of such actions might be. We will have to have a serious talk with our U.S. partners.”

Putin also suggested that the Turkish attack was in retaliation for Russia’s bombing of a truck convoy caring Islamic State oil to Turkey. On Monday, on the sidelines of the Paris summit, Putin said Russia has “received additional information confirming that that oil from the deposits controlled by Islamic State militants enters Turkish territory on industrial scale.”

Turkey’s Erdogan — also in Paris — denied buying oil from terrorists and vowed to resign “if it is proven that we have, in fact, done so.”

Was Obama Angry?

In private, Obama may have been outraged by Erdogan’s reckless actions – as some reports suggest – but, if so, Obama seems publicly more afraid of offending the neocons who dominate Official Washington’s opinion circles and who hold key positions in his own administration, than of provoking a possible nuclear confrontation with Russia.

On Nov. 24, even as Russian emotions were running high – reacting to the killing of one Russian pilot and the death of a second Russian marine killed after his helicopter was shot down apparently by a U.S.-supplied TOW missile fired by Syrian jihadists – Obama chose to act “tough” against Putin, both during a White House press conference with French President Francois Holland and later with pro-Turkish remarks from U.S. officials.

During the press conference after the Turkish shoot-down and the deliberate fire from Turkish-backed Syrian jihadists aiming at two Russian airmen as they parachuted to the ground, Obama chose to make disparaging remarks about the Russian president.

Obama boasted about the 65 nations in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State compared to Putin’s small coalition of Russia and Iran (although Putin’s tiny coalition appears to be much more serious and effective than Obama’s bloated one, which includes countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that have been implicated in supporting jihadist elements, including Al Qaeda and the Islamic State).

By delivering these anti-Russian insults at such a delicate time, Obama apparently was trusting that Putin would keep his cool and tamp down public emotions at home, even as Obama lacked the integrity and courage to stand up to neocon criticism from The Washington Post’s editorial page or from some of his hawkish subordinates.

The administration’s neocons who keep demanding an escalation of tensions with Russia include Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland. Then, there are the officials most identified with arms procurement, sales and use, such as Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford recently volunteered to Congress that U.S. forces “can impose a no-fly zone” for Syria (a dangerous play advocated by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain). Dunford is the same hawk who identified Russia as the “existential threat” to the U.S. and said it would be “reasonable” to send heavy weapons to Ukraine on Russia’s border.

Meanwhile, NATO commander Gen. Philip Breedlove keeps up his fly-by-the-pants information warfare campaign citing Russian “aggression,” “invasions” and plans to do still more evil things. One is tempted to dismiss him as a buffoon; but he is the NATO commander.

Lack of Control

It does not appear as though Obama has the same degree of control over foreign and defense policy that Putin enjoys in Moscow – or at least one hopes Putin can retain such control since some hard-line Russian nationalists are fuming that Putin has been too accommodating of his Western “partners.”

Perhaps the greatest danger from Obama’s acquiescence to the neocons’ new Cold War with Russia is that the neocon hopes for “regime change in Moscow” will be realized except that Putin will be replaced by some ultra-nationalist who would rather risk nuclear war than accept further humiliation of Mother Russia.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the U.S. establishment is such that the generals, the arms manufacturers and weapons merchants, the Defense Department, and most of Congress have a very strong say in U.S. foreign policy – and Obama seems powerless to change it.

The model of governing in Washington is a far cry from Russia’s guiding principle ofedinonachaliye – by which one supreme authority is in clear control of decision-making on defense and foreign policy.

Even when Obama promises, he often fails to deliver. Think back to what Obama told then-President Dmitry Medvedev when they met in Seoul in March 2012, about addressing Russian concerns over European missile defense. In remarks picked up by camera crews, Obama asked for some “space” until after the U.S. election. Obama can be heard saying, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”

Yet, even after winning reelection, Obama has remained cowed by the influential neocons – even as he has bucked some of their more aggressive demands, such as a massive U.S. bombing campaign against Assad’s military in summer 2013 and bomb-bomb-bombing Iran; instead, in 2014-15, Obama pushed for a negotiated agreement to constrain Iran’s nuclear program.

Ideally, Obama should be able to show some flexibility on Syria during his last year in office, but no one should hold their breath. Obama appears to have deep fears about crossing the neocons or Israel regarding what they want for the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Besides the neocons’ close ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the neocons are intimately connected to the interests of the Military-Industrial Complex, which provides substantial funding for the major think tanks where many neocons hang their hats and churn out new arguments for more world conflict and thus more military spending.

Unlike Obama, Pope Francis addressed this fact-of-life head-on in his Sept. 24 address to members of the U.S. Congress – many if not most of whom also are lavished with proceeds from the arms trade and then appropriate still more funding for arms production and sales.

“Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering,” Francis asked them face-to-face. “Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”

An Old Epithet

From my days as a CIA analyst covering the Soviet Union, I’m reminded of the epithet favored by the Soviet party daily Pravda a few decades ago –“vallstreetskiye krovopitsiy” – or Wall St. bloodsuckers. Propaganda-ish as that term seemed, it turns out that Soviet media were not far off on that subject.

Indeed, the banks and corporations involved in arms manufacture and sales enjoy immense power – arguably, more than a president; unarguably more than Obama. The moneyed interests – including Congress – are calling the shots.

The old adage “money makes the world go round” is also apparent in Washington’s velvet-gloves treatment of the Saudis and is nowhere better illustrated than in the continued suppression of 28 pages of the 2002 Joint Congressional Inquiry on 9/11. Those pages deal with the Saudi role in financing and supporting some of the 9/11 hijackers, but both the Bush and Obama administrations have kept those pages hidden for 13 years.

One reason is that the Saudis are the primary recipients of the U.S. trade in weapons, for which they pay cash. American manufacturers are selling the Saudis arms worth $100 billion under the current five-year agreement. Oddly, acts of terrorism sweeten the pot. Three days after the attacks in Paris, Washington and Riyadh announced a deal for $1.3 billion more.

And yet, neither Obama, nor any of the candidates trying to replace him, nor Congress is willing to jeopardize the arms trade by insisting that Riyadh call an abrupt halt to its support for the jihadists fighting in Syria for fear this might incur the wrath of the deep-pocket Saudis.

Not even Germany – already inundated, so far this year, by a flood of 950,000 refugees, mostly from Syria – is willing to risk Saudi displeasure. Berlin prefers to pay off the Turks with billions of euros to stanch the flow of those seeking refuge in Europe.

And so, an unholy alliance of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states continues to fuel the war in Syria while Obama pretends that his giant coalition is really doing the job of taking on many of those same jihadists. But Obama’s coalition has been woefully incompetent and indeed compromised, bumbling along and letting the Islamic State seize more territory along with Al Qaeda and its affiliates and allies.

Russia’s entry into the war in September changed the equation because – unlike Obama’s grand coalition – Putin’s puny coalition with Iran actually was serious about beating back the jihadists and stabilizing Assad’s regime. Turkey’s shoot-down of the Russian warplane on Nov. 24 was a crude message from Erdogan that success in defeating the jihadists would not be tolerated.

As for the United States and Europe, myopia prevails. None seems concerned that the terrorists whom they support today will come back to bite them tomorrow. American officials, despite their rhetoric and despite 9/11, seem to consider the terrorist threat remote from U.S. shores – and, in any case, dwarfed in importance by the lucrative arm sales.

As for the Vienna talks on Syria, the speed with which they were arranged (with Iran taking part) raised expectations now dampened. Last week, for example, Secretary of State John Kerry bragged about how a meeting of “moderate” rebels is to convene “in the next few weeks” to come up with principles for negotiating with Syrian President Assad’s government. The convener? Saudi Arabia!

Obama knows what has to happen for this terrorist threat to be truly addressed. The Saudis and Turks have to be told, in no uncertain terms, to stop supporting the jihadists. But that would require extraordinary courage and huge political – perhaps even physical – risk. There is no sign that President Obama dares bite that bullet.

Written by Mika

2. decembra 2015. at 14:00

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Good-Bye To Western Living Standards — Paul Craig Roberts

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Good-Bye To Western Living Standards — Paul Craig Roberts

December 1, 2015 | Categories: Articles & Columns | Tags: | Print This Article

Good-Bye To Western Living Standards

Paul Craig Roberts

My column, “Capitalism At Work,” about Greek women being forced into prostitution by banksters and the IMF produced a number of responses from women, who report that austerity is having the same effect all over Europe.

This is from a letter from Portugal:

“Your article ‘Capitalism At Work’ shows absolutely what’s happened here in Portugal. It is common for young women to sell their body to pay the University fees and for food.

“About the submarines, we had also that experience. The person responsible for this purchasing was Dr. Paulo Portas, who, despite that ‘affair’, was nominated Vice Prime Minister until recently. Now they are Socialists at the Government but believe me, they are so corrupt, even more than the previous right-wing government. In fact all left parties are, even the PCP. They are interested only in self benefit and they give some crumbs to the people. We are a banana republic governed by bastards. We deserve this situation as long as we tolerate it.”

The European socialist parties, which over decades of struggle humanized European capitalism and European society, are no more. Europeans are experiencing a modern version of the Enclosures of the past when they were uprooted from the land in which they had use rights in order that land could become private property and be financialized with debt instruments.

This time Europeans are being dispossessed of the social welfare systems that made life under capitalism liveable. Simultaneously, the most heavily indebted countries are being looted. The living standards of the populations are being squeezed to death in order to pay off the fraudulent debts incurred by corrupt governments.

Look around Europe. Where do the people have a leader? Jeremy Corbyn is the only remaining socialist or semi-socialist who heads a traditional party, and the British Labour Party is not firmly behind him.

France has Marine Le Pen, who heads the National Front. This party is labeled right-wing, because it is nationalist and believes that France belongs to the French. But it represents the French people better than does the Socialist Party of Hollande, Washington’s puppet.

In Greece the left-wing party that swept to power over the austerity issue quickly became an accomplice of the banksters and sold out the Greek people.

With the world economy turning down and Europe additionally burdened with millions of refugees from Washington’s endless wars, the vaunted living standards of Western civilization are on the way out.


Written by Mika

2. decembra 2015. at 10:19

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