British Prime Minister Cameron Anxious To Send British Troops To Jumpstart World War III.

Cameron commits troops and ‘non-lethal aid’ to Ukraine

Russia-Today
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (Reuters / Russell Cheyne)

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron (Reuters / Russell Cheyne)

Prime Minister David Cameron has said Britain will not supply Ukraine with lethal weaponry in the fight against rebels in the East of the country, but UK troops will support Ukrainians with tactical intelligence, training and logistics.

Speaking to the Liaison Select Committee, David Cameron said UK support would be given “well away from the area of conflict,” adding that the purpose of aid would be to improve Ukraine’s tactical advantage.

He was further questioned on the capability of the UK to defend its airspace after RAF jets were scrambled to intercept Russian bombers last week for the second time in 2015.

He said the Russians were probably trying to make “some sort of point,” but added that he didn’t know what that point was.

Cameron said Britain should be confident in its defensive strengths against Russia.

EU and US leaders accuse Russia of supporting the militias in Donbass. The claims have been repeatedly denied by Russian officials.

He added that should Russian President Vladimir Putin risk destabilizing the Baltic states with a cyber-attack, or similar, he would risk confrontation with NATO.

“We are committed to their collective defense,” Cameron said, but he did not give an indication of what a “red line” might be, in terms of intervention.

He said the UK must continue to work with Russia on matters other than Ukraine, despite the country not “behaving like a strategic partner to Europe,” saying it was important to join efforts to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

The Prime Minister, however, also advocated deeper sanctions against Russia, adding that the Baltic States and Poland were likely to agree.

Cameron’s actions go against those of French and German leaders Hollande and Merkel who are pushing for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the conflict. The leaders orchestrated the Minsk peace talks, where a ceasefire was agreed, though there have been reports of continued clashes since the deal was reached.

Last week the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to approve a Russian-drafted resolution to support the Minsk agreements, reached by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.

The resolution was submitted to the UNSC by Russia on February 13, a day after the Minsk deal was agreed. It is aimed at endorsing and executing the Minsk agreements. The document also expresses concern over the continuing violence in eastern Ukraine, and stresses the importance of resolving the conflict peacefully.

“After the unprecedented diplomatic efforts last week, Ukraine has a chance to turn a dramatic page in its history,” said Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin, who expressed “gratitude” towards the other parties for endorsing the document.

It was revealed in early February the US is considering sending arms to Ukraine.

Cameron is facing a general election on May 7. His tough stance on international tensions between Russia and the West is informed with this in mind.

Ukraine President Drags Poland and Lithuania Into His Quagmire

[SEE:  Poland to move thousands of troops to border with Ukraine]

Ukrainian President ratifies joint 4,500-strong military unit with Poland and Lithuania

Russia-Today
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko.(Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko.(Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko has signed a law ratifying the creation of a joint military unit with Poland and Lithuania. The unit is set to carry out tasks which have been given a UN Security Council mandate.

“The Agreement provides for the establishment of joint Ukrainian-Polish-Lithuanian military unit and determines the general purpose, principles of activity, decision-making process, security guarantees and other organizational measures related to the activity of the brigade,” the Ukrainian president’s official website says.

The brigade is to become a UN and EU peacekeeping force. Other states can join it under joint invitation from the three states.

The Ukrainian commitment is planned at 545 soldiers, according to the country’s defense ministry. Poland and Lithuania were expected to contribute up to 3,800 and 350 servicemen respectively. The funding will be separate for each country’s contingent and it will be provided by the governments of the participants. The HQ is going to be situated in Lublin in Eastern Poland.

The defense ministers of the three countries agreed to form the unit last September in Warsaw, and plan to conduct the first joint military drill in 2015. Ukraine’s parliament ratified it on February 4.

The idea to create a joint Ukrainian-Polish-Lithuanian brigade was first put forward in 2007, when the three states decided to establish a joint battalion.

A year later, a more ambitious plan of assembling an entire brigade of Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Polish troops was put forward.

Former Ambassador, Robert Ford, Blasts Obama’s Syrian Policy As “a huge failure,” “singularly unsuccessful”

Once a top booster, ex-U.S. envoy no longer backs arming Syrian rebels

McClatchy

By Hannah Allam

Congress SyriaRobert Ford, former U.S. ambassador to Syria, arrives to testify to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the conflict in Syria, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 31, 2013.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE — AP

WASHINGTON — Robert Ford was always one of the Syrian rebels’ loudest cheerleaders in Washington, agitating from within a reluctant administration to arm vetted moderates to fight Bashar Assad’s brutal regime.

In recent weeks, however, Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria who made news when he left government service a year ago with an angry critique of Obama administration policy, has dropped his call to provide weapons to the rebels. Instead, he’s become increasingly critical of them as disjointed and untrustworthy because they collaborate with jihadists.

The about-face, which is drawing murmurs among foreign policy analysts and Syrian opposition figures in Washington, is another sign that the so-called moderate rebel option is gone and the choices in Syria have narrowed to regime vs. extremists in a war that’s killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.

On the heels of meetings with rebel leaders in Turkey, Ford explained in an interview this week why his position has evolved: Without a strong central command or even agreement among regional players that al Qaida’s Nusra Front is an enemy, he said, the moderates stand little chance of becoming a viable force, whether against Assad or the extremists. He estimated that the remnants of the moderate rebels now number fewer than 20,000. They’re unable to attack and at this point are “very much fighting defensive battles.”

In short: It makes no sense to keep sending help to a losing side.

“We have to deal with reality as it is,” said Ford, who’s now with the Middle East Institute in Washington. “The people we have backed have not been strong enough to hold their ground against the Nusra Front.”

Ford today sounds like a different person from the optimist who only six months ago wrote an essay in Foreign Policy that began: “Don’t believe everything you read in the media: The moderate rebels of Syria are not finished. They have gained ground in different parts of the country and have broken publicly with both the al Qaida affiliate operating there and the jihadists of the Islamic State.”

Now, however, on panels and in speeches, Ford has accused the rebels of collaborating with the Nusra Front, the al Qaida affiliate in Syria that the U.S. declared a terrorist organization more than two years ago. He says opposition infighting has worsened and he laments the fact that extremist groups now rule in most territories outside the Syrian regime’s control.

Ford said part of the problem was that too many rebels – and their patrons in Turkey and Qatar – insisted that Nusra was a homegrown, anti-Assad force when in fact it was an al Qaida affiliate whose ideology was virtually indistinguishable from the Islamic State’s. The Obama administration already has suffered a string of embarrassments involving supplies it’s donated to the rebels ending up in the hands of U.S.-designated terrorist groups.

“Nusra Front is just as dangerous, and yet they keep pretending they’re nice guys, they’re Syrians,” Ford said. “The second problem is, some of our stuff has leaked to them.”

As his calls to arm the rebels have become more muted, Ford has grown more vocal about the relationship between the rebels and Nusra, something U.S. officials have preferred to ignore, at least in public.

At a seminar last month where the audience included prominent Syrian dissidents he’d worked with for years, Ford began with a disclaimer that what he was about to say was “not going to be popular” among the opposition crowd.

He then launched into an indictment of the moderate rebels, pulling no punches as he told them they could forget about outside help as long as they kept collaborating with Nusra. He suggested that supportive U.S. officials had grown tired of covering for them before an administration and an American public that are skeptical of deeper U.S. involvement in Syria.

“For a long time, we have looked the other way while the Nusra Front and armed groups on the ground, some of whom are getting help from us, have coordinated in military operations against the regime,” Ford said. “I think the days of us looking the other way are finished.”

Most audience members were familiar with Ford’s record, and they were visibly surprised at the tongue lashing; they knew him as a relentless defender of the rebels, someone who’d ended a long diplomatic career a year ago this month with scathing words about the Obama administration’s refusal to arm them. Ford is often described as the first senior official to come out so vocally against U.S. policy toward Syria; the White House is still furious with his decision to go off-message.

Ford hasn’t softened his stance against the U.S. role in the Syrian catastrophe – he still describes American policy as “a huge failure” and “singularly unsuccessful” – but now he doesn’t spare the rebels their share of the blame. He has little patience for the argument that they were forced to work with Nusra and other unpalatable partners because of broken Western promises of assistance. There needs to be agreement, he said, that an al Qaida affiliate is off-limits as a partner.

“It becomes impossible to field an effective opposition when no one even agrees who or what is the enemy,” he said.

Ford said the latest U.S. approach of ditching the old rebel model to build a new, handpicked paramilitary to focus on the Islamic State was doomed; Syrian rebels are more concerned with bringing down Assad than with fighting extremists for the West, and there are far too few fighters to take the project seriously.

“The size of the assistance is still too small,” he said. “What are they going to do with 5,000 guys? Or even 10,000 in a year? What’s that going to do?”

The Assad regime is eager to present itself as an alternative, but Ford said the Syrian military had been severely weakened and that it was doubtful the regime could pull off a successful campaign against the extremists. Then there’s the political and moral fallout that would come from a U.S. détente with a man American officials have described since 2011 as a butcher who’s lost the legitimacy to rule.

Ford said the time had come for U.S. officials and their allies to have a serious talk about “boots on the ground,” though he was quick to add that the fighters didn’t need to be American. He said a professional ground force was the only way to wrest Syria from the jihadists.

And any parallel effort to build up a local rebel movement would have to be streamlined through a central, Syrian chain of command, he said. International partners, Ford said, have to ditch the current “nonsensical” framework in which regional powerhouses each fund client groups in an uncoordinated tangle that he said would be comical if the results weren’t so tragic.

And if those steps can’t be achieved, said the man known for advocating greater U.S. involvement, “then we have to just walk away and say there’s nothing we can do about Syria.”

Email: hallam@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @HannahAllam.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/02/18/257024/once-a-top-booster-ex-us-envoy.html#storylink=cpy

RAGE—because there is no rage

[The following was sent by a reader of the site.  I sympathize with Al, but, for a man with his varied political interests, one would think that his disillusionment with the left would have set in during Obama’s first term.  I have two suggestions–stop reading anyone related to the London School, and look for different sources (Chossudofsky banned me from Global Research years ago).  You have been officially marginalized.  You will have zero chance of being heard, unless you manage to arrange a very public heckling arrest.  If that happens, let me know and I will let others know.    Peter]

RAGE—because there is no rage

-al perry

NEWS FROM THE STREET #2
(february 16, 2015)
wow…what a night…i found out a few days ago that world-renowned leftist and co-editor of new left review (a publication i subscribed to for 10 years) tariq ali was to appear at a bookstore on the lower east side…i’m a long time fan but have never met him or heard him speak in public…ever since 2000 or 2001 i’ve occasionally provided links from my band’s website to his essays and articles…one particular article he wrote, a scathing critique of obama’s first term, i must have read over 10 times…so i was excited to hear he’d be in new york today….
i packed a bottle of water, a used marcuse book to read on the journey, and a whole bunch of cd’s of my, now defunct, folk rock band, “losing touch”…our cd was entitled”with time” and was released in 2002…i have quite a few left gathering dust and figured i can hand some out for free to friends i may make, including possibly tariq, along the way…my band and i performed a few gigs in manhattan and new jersey at the time but i hated performing (i’m the singer and acoustic guitarist) so we got nowhere…well, actually we were played several times on a commercial rock station in n.j., wdha…quite a feat for an unsigned band…we also received kudos from some big names like neal casal (of the chris robinson brotherhood), evan dando of the lemonheads, and even actress ally sheedy…i know this may seem like i’m trying to brag or something, but i’m not…i feel i have to get in a quick bio because many on the left, it seems, think i’m some kind of informant…or maybe agent provocateur…nothing could be further from the truth…true, i do not disguise my rage but a cold hard look at today’s political climate should have ANY sensitive individual GOING INSANE!…
 i’m a lifelong chronic depressive and anti-depressants, and even medical marijuana!, have unpleasant effects on me – they don’t work…in 2005 i moved to tucson, arizona and became more of a recluse…luckily my mother moved out there too so by the time i left and returned to the east coast my social circle was composed of 2 people…3 if you count me…i had to leave tucson – the police didn’t like my one man protesting with my guitar…they even locked me up a couple of times…i decided to protest in the rich part of town…one time they followed me with a crime chopper!…
well, i returned to the east coast, after some failed attempts at trying to feel better in n.j. and killorglin, ireland…the state i was raised in, n.j., was way too expensive for a guy like me to live in…i had to stop working in 2010…i couldn’t function even as a night security guard…food stamps and family charity – the feds won’t give me cash assistance and i’ve been waiting for years now for disability assistance but nada…i guess they don’t like radicals…having an outstanding warrant for my arrest in the state of arizona, i guess, doesn’t help…it’s only a misdemeanor so it’s not extradictable…i refused to leave the entrance of a church because they locked the door on me and wouldn’t tell me why they wouldn’t let me in…the police told me to move along but i refused until i received a proper reply…shockingly, it was not forthcoming!…the religious hypocrites would rather have me in jail than answer any questions!…i didn’t show up at the trial…the state already wanted me badly and i know when i’m being railroaded…this all involved my exposing of the pax americana…and 911…my one friend chuck aubrey, himself a rabble rouser, was often there for support…he’s got a clip on youtube where he’s interviewing richard gage of 911 truth…
my chronic depression and overwhelming desire for isolation has gotten progressively worse over the years…my sister helen took her own life on feb. 1, 2007…she was living in gouda, holland…tragedy hit again with superstorm sandy…i’ve been a life long collector of vinyl records and books…i lost over 1,000 books and 1,500 vinyl records…the passaic river in new jersey overflowed and most of what i owned in storage was underneath dirty river water for several days…i also lost all my recording equipment, my stereo system and musical instruments…most of my cd’s were salvageable…i’m 47 years old…that was a lifetime of collecting i lost…i’ll never be able to afford or find most of those records again…i don’t care about the recording equipment…
i’m living now in easton, pennsylvania…i’ve contacted my band members for a possible  reunion…but, unfortunately, they’re not quite interested…my new songs are incorrigibly very angry and they, having spouses, children, etc. don’t seem to want any trouble…they’re involved in other “safer” musical projects…

although a recluse, rage always seems to get me out of the house…rage at war…rage at imperialism…rage at innocents dying…rage at drone warfare…rage at lies…rage at compromise with the pax americana…etc….can rage be therapeutic?…i however have never hurt anyone physically whilst enraged…verbally, but not physically…i am confrontational, however, and am afraid of NO ONE…
well, today i had a 100 bucks to spend so i boarded a bus for 45 dollars at the easton station and arrived at the new york port authority bus terminal a couple hours later…i had some time to kill so i went to the “revolution” book store on west 26th street…i purchased two cheap used books by harry magdoff…(i used to subscribe to monthly review a few years ago – around the time harry passed away)…the elderly gentleman who was at the register, who’s name escapes me now, was extremely friendly…he too had lost a lot of books, records, photographs, etc. when his basement flooded years ago…i can’t believe i forgot to mention my music and i didn’t give him a free cd of mine…after all, i’m trying to get rid of them…next time…he did put me on the bookstore’s mailing list…here’s hoping the compromising, scared, disrespectful, machiavellian left doesn’t get to him…
i then walked a few blocks to the “democracy now” studio on west 25th…the security guard told me i needed an appointment to visit…”no problem”, i told him…i watch the program religiously and have emailed them quite often…sometimes to encourage them and sometimes to criticize them…i’ve never received a response but i’m sure they get tons of emails…i’ve been pretty persistent however when criticism is warranted but always in a spirit of respect…i thought i’d drop by today, introduce myself to whoever was there…(it was a little before 5p.m.)…and drop off some free cds…and tell them they could criticize me if they wanted…all in good fun…oh well, “next time”, i thought…
i then headed south through the streets of manhattan…surprised at all the changes…i used to work and commute into the city back in the nineties…and used to go to the shops until i moved to arizona…i performed with my band at a venue called “kenny’s castaways” on bleeker st. back in 2002…springsteen’s new york debut venue i was told at the time…sadly it’s no longer there…the “bottom line” tragically is also gone…it used to be on e. 4th…i saw and met john martyn there a few times!…tom rush…jorma kaukonen…dino valenti…etc….legends!…it’s nice to know “other music” is still there…i had some pizza on 2nd ave…and a pint of guinness on houston…
i arrived at the bookstore a couple minutes early…the place was packed…standing room only…all the chairs were taken…i stood near the entrance…i didn’t have much choice…it was basically an interview with tariq conducted by someone from “jacobin” magazine…tariq first spoke about the greek syriza party and then discussed the events in spain dealing with the “podemos” party…i have an estranged father who is living in portugal near the spanish border so lately i’ve been a bit curious about what’s been going on over there…when tariq seemed to conclude the spanish topic, i innocently raised my hand…i was going to ask him if the catalan and basque independence movements in spain are complicating the “podemos” situation…are these break away movements merely populist capitalist or do they have their own political factions?…i was ignored and rightly so because the question session was reserved for the end of the interview…however, i realized i was getting some ugly looks from some people…including what seemed like to me from the jacobin interviewer….i quickly shrugged it off thinking i’m paranoid and, of course, i should get out more…
tariq then discussed the topic of his recent book, the “extreme center”…a clipboard was passed around and i entered my name and email address…a money jar was also passed around (though they did make it clear that a contribution was not necessary)…i threw a 20 dollar bill in the jar…(once again, not bragging – just trying to make clear my pure intentions)…
when the audience question session started, i didn’t raise my hand right away (feeling a bit embarrased about raising it prematurely earlier)…i did, however, raise my hand after the first question was asked and answered…and i raised it again…and i raised it again…and i raised it again…and i raised it again…and i raised it again…the jacobin interviewer looked straight at me every time…i soon realized that my initial discomfort was actually well founded…people who had only raised their hand ONCE were getting chosen!…even one girl standing right next to me!…i persisted and while LOOKING RIGHT AT ME, the interviewer stated there would be no more questions taken…i came a long way to get a chance to ask tariq a question…i intended to purchase his book and if possible say hi, give him a free cd, and maybe get an autographed copy…i also wanted to MEET other leftists and sort of network…remember, this is not exactly easy for me…my only visitor in easton is my mother! who lives nearby in bethlehem…i’m coming off a decade of a 2 person social circle!…while raising my hand six or seven times, i was debating whether to address the spanish issue or the extreme center issue…
after raising my hand one last time, and being told again “no more questions”, i immediately realized that i was singled out right from the beginning!…some of them knew who i was…particularly the interviewer…they couldn’t have made it any clearer…i have been sending constructive criticism to many “left” outlets for a couple of years now…WELL WARRANTED CRITICISM…AND THEY KNOW THAT!…yes, i’m al perry…the guy who knows fires cannot pulverize concrete and steel and bring down steel high rises into their own footprint at freefall speed…yeah, al, the guy who feels the rage of the 911 victim’s family members, and thousands of demolition experts, pilots, firefighters, construction engineers, etc. who want answers…yeah, al perry, the guy who doesn’t believe the bullshit “beheading” videos presented by the zionist s.i.t.e. intelligence group to justify war where thousands are killed by satanic drone warfare which violates international law…yes, the al perry that’s completely flabberghasted as to why there are no major war protests!…why so called leaders of the left ignore these issues without TELLING US WHY and INSULT those who RIGHTFULLY are ENRAGED!!!
they think they know who i am and are afraid i might bring up a topic they didn’t want to discuss…maybe if they had showed some respect and spoken to me respectfully beforehand OR ANSWERED the myriad amounts of emails i’ve sent throughout the years, they would have known who i really am…
i have gotten NO RESPONSE throughout the years from “democracy now”, monthly review, new left review, the intercept, greenwald, scahill, klein, the nation…the list goes on and on…literally hundreds of emails asking perfectly valid questions and many times i offered words of ENCOURAGEMENT…NO REPLY AT ALL…
who have responded to my emails?…short list…tom hayden! (i was shocked…the godfather of protest!)…he understood my rage!…russell brand who tolerates my angry posts on his site…mike davis, who i emailed directly and although extremely busy, answered a few of my questions in detail…i’ll never bother him again out of respect and appreciation…
after realizing that i’ve been set up to look like public enemy number one, i became very angry and did something COMPLETELY UNPLANNED…COMPLETELY IMPROMPTU…ON THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT…AND I FELT EXHILIRATED!…
as half the audience was getting ready to leave, i suddenly shouted “SO I GUESS WE’RE NOT GONNA HEAR ABOUT 911 TONIGHT!…I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU TRAVEL TO NEW YORK CITY AND DON’T BRING UP 911!…AND WHAT ABOUT THE FAKE BEHEADINGS PROVIDED BY THE S.I.T.E. INTELLIGENCE GROUP?!……AND WHERE ARE THE PROTESTS?!!!…THERE’S A WAR GOING ON, YOU FUCKS!!!..THERE’S A WAR TO PROTEST!!!…HIT THE STREETS!!!…WHERE ARE THE PROTESTS…PEOPLE ARE DYING!!!…” and other words to that effect…i was then asked by an employee of the bookstore to leave…i was already on my way out…i hadn’t intended the night to end this way so i left…when outside, still enraged, i slammed my backpack on the storefront window…
I FELT GREAT!…TARIQ, YOU HAD IT COMING…PERHAPS I’VE EVEN STATED..YELLED…THINGS YOU’D LIKE TO SAY BUT FIND YOURSELF FOR SOME REASON UNABLE TO UTTER…
IT’S OBVIOUS THAT MANY ON THE LEFT ARE ENGAGED IN A CONCERTED EFFORT NOT TO MENTION CERTAIN TOPICS…THEY’VE AVAILED THEMSELVES OF MACHIAVELLIAN STRATEGIES WHICH THEY OBVIOUSLY THINK THE RABBLE WOULD NOT UNDERSTAND!!!!!!!!!!…….BUT WHEN THEY DESIST FROM PROTESTING  WAR…THE DEATHS OF THOUSANDS…DRONE WARFARE…THEY’VE GONE TOO FAR!!!…OFTEN, THESE LEFT OUTLETS SHAMEFULLY ECHO NEWS I HEAR ON THE MAINSTREAM WITHOUT QUESTIONING IT!!!…MAKING THEMSELVES BLOODGUILTY!!!!!…AND AREN’T THEY SUPPOSED TO BE ORGANIZING PROTESTS?!…SHOULDN’T THEY TELL US WHERE THE FUCK TO MEET?!…
AND I’M SICK AND TIRED OF FUCKING WORDS!!!…HIT THE STREETS!!!!…SCARE THE STATUS QUO!!!!…..I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW EASY IT HAS BEEN FOR THE PAX AMERICANA TO RAMPAGE THROUGHOUT THIS EARTH THESE LAST FEW YEARS!!!…MOST OF THE LEFT IS EITHER SCARED OR COMPROMISING AND LYING!!!!……THAT’S RIGHT, LYING!!!…BEING DISINGENUOUS IS LYING!!!!!!!!…..AND THOUSANDS ARE DYING BECAUSE OF THIS BULLSHIT!!!!!….YOU’RE GONNA REGRET IT!…MARK MY WORDS!!!….
IF ANYONE OUT THERE WANTS FEARLESS, UNCOMPROMISING REPORTING GO TO THE GLOBAL RESEARCH WEBSITE RUN BY MICHEL CHOSSUDEVSKY AND BARRY ZWICKER IN CANADA…THEY ARE TRULY NOT BLOODGUILTY…and i’m sure would let me ask any question i like…
i now realize there’s a david and goliath situation in this country…if any of you authentic leftists want to protest war and drones this year, you’ll probably be alone…don’t worry…THINK OF BRIAN HAW!!!…that always gets me going…print some leaflets and signs…even if you’re alone, you can be very effective…there are courageous leftists out there organizing…for example, i was involved recently with the lepoco group of pennsylvania…a month ago 53 of us showed up at a drone command center in horsham, pa. to protest…it will soon be a monthly event…most cars driving by that reacted to the protest honked their approval…you can even go door to door in your neighborhood alerting people about what’s really going on in their world and what the scared left is afraid to mention…
i do not regret what i did tonight…it should’ve been done a long time ago…and i’m just getting started…
- al perry

KING SALMON–the Big Fish

98d95d4d-4684-4b14-8a3d-c1425eef3961-1020x612 KING SALMON

Obama Boasts of “Twisting Arms” To Force His Will Upon Others

Obama: ‘We have to twist arms when countries don’t do what we need them to’

Russia-Today
U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters/Larry Downing)

U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters/Larry Downing)

President Barack Obama has said the reality of “American leadership” at times entails “twisting the arms” of states which “don’t do what we need them to do,” and that the US relied on its military strength and other leverage to achieve its goals.

READ MORE: ‘US unilateral actions to protect its interests let other govts use same excuse’

In a broad-ranging interview with Vox, which Obama himself described as a venue “for the brainiac-nerd types,” the US president both denied the efficacy of a purely “realist” foreign policy but also arguing that at times the US, which has a defense budget that exceeds the next 10 countries combined, needed to rely on its military muscle and other levers of power.

Lauding the rule-based system to emerge in the post-World War II era, Obama admitted it wasn’t perfect, but argued “the UN, the IMF, and a whole host of treaties and rules and norms that were established really helped to stabilize the world in ways that it wouldn’t otherwise be.”

He argued, however, that the efficacy of this idealistic, Wilsonian, rule-based system was severely tested by the fact that “there are bad people out there who are trying to do us harm.”

READ MORE: ‘Unexceptional’ US, Russia scrap over Putin’s NY Times Op-Ed

In the president’s view, the reality of those threats has compelled the US to have “the strongest military in the world.” Obama further says that “we occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do if it weren’t for the various economic or diplomatic or, in some cases, military leverage that we had — if we didn’t have that dose of realism, we wouldn’t get anything done, either.”

‘We occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do’

Obama argues that the US doesn’t have “military solutions” to all the challenges in the modern world, though he goes on to add that “we don’t have a peer” in terms of states that could attack or provoke the United States.

“The closest we have, obviously, is Russia, with its nuclear arsenal, but generally speaking they can’t project the way we can around the world. China can’t, either. We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined,” he said.

Within this context, Obama said that “disorder” stemming from “failed states” and “asymmetric threats from terrorist organizations” were the biggest challenges facing the international community today.

Obama also argued that tackling these and other problems entailed “leveraging other countries” and “other resources” whenever possible, while also recognizing that Washington is “the lead partner because we have capabilities that other folks don’t have.”

‘We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined’

This approach, he said, also led to “some burden-sharing and there’s some ownership for outcomes.”

When asked about the limits of American power, Obama conceded that there were things that his administration simply cannot do in terms of power projection, but remained upbeat.

“Well, American leadership, in part, comes out of our can-do spirit. We’re the largest, most powerful country on Earth. As I said previously in speeches: when problems happen, they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us. And we embrace that responsibility. The question, I think, is how that leadership is exercised. My administration is very aggressive and internationalist in wading in and taking on and trying to solve problems.”

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the United Nations meeting in New York September 25, 2014. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the United Nations meeting in New York September 25, 2014. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

This appeal to US leadership, which has often been couched within the notion of American exceptionalism, has regularly been questioned by Moscow.

‘American leadership, in part, comes out of our can-do spirit’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took issue with the notion past September, following Obama’s speech before the UN in which the US president named “Russian aggression in Europe” along with the Ebola epidemic and ISIS as threats to international peace and security.

Lavrov said that Obama’s address to the UN was the “speech of a peacemaker – the way it was conceived,” but added that he had “failed to deliver, if one compares it to real facts.”

READ MORE: Russia tops ISIS threat, Ebola worst of all? Lavrov puzzled by Obama’s UN speech

The Russian foreign minister added that Obama had presented a worldview based on the exceptionality of the United States.

“That’s the worldview of a country that has spelt out its right to use force arbitrarily regardless of the UN Security Council’s resolutions or other international legal acts in its national defense doctrine,” Lavrov said.

In a September 2013 Op-Ed article in the New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the concept of American exceptionalism was a precarious one in the global arena.

“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,” Putin wrote. “There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

Emergency Shutdown of Ukraine’s Largest Nuke Plant, Right In Eastern War Zone

ZAPORIZIHA POWER PLANT

ZAP

[SEE: Moscow says Ukraine’s switch to US nuclear fuel threatens European safety;“Emergency shutdown” at one of world’s largest nuke plants ;Ukraine’s Nukenado < Updated]

Ukraine Energy Wars Are Leading To A Fukushima-Chernobyl Debacle In Europe

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By Yoichi Shimatsu
Exclusvie to Rense
1-5-15

Clashes over energy in Ukraine between the West and Russia could prompt another Chernobyl-type accident or a catastrophe on the order of a Fukushima that will complete the nuclear devastation of the Northern Hemisphere. As news media fixate on conflicts over pipelines that supply Europe with Russian gas, another energy war is erupting over control of Ukraine’s nuclear-power industry, which generates half that nation’s electricity.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenuk’s campaign for “energy independence” from Russian-sourced natural gas and nuclear fuel is not a study in cost control, economic security or even national sovereignty. His corporate-giveaway policies are actually a concession to Western energy interests in return for their influence over the EU, which can provide loans to avert an imminent default on Kiev’s debt to the IMF and World Bank. With an annual budget shortfall of $15 billion and a currency collapse, Ukraine is staggering under external sovereign debt estimated at between $140 and $200 billion.

The IMF and World Bank have halted further transfers of loan tranches to Kiev, which is now unable to make payments on its gas imports from Russia. Kiev policymakers are therefore desperately looking to expand their nuclear industry. Unfortunately two recent accidents at its largest nuclear-power plant highlight the serious risks to a nation still grappling with the long-term effects of the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown.

Boom and Bust

In stark contrast with eco-conscious capitals across Europe, Kiev is unable to resist foreign demands to adopt the Texan model of boom-and-bust energy extraction. Chevron and Shell have launched fracking projects to tap shale-oil deposits across Ukraine, but exploration and revenues have been delayed by the fierce fighting in the Donetsk region.

Ukraine also possesses one of Europe’s few exploitable uranium reserves in its Kirovograd and Dnipropetrovsk regions, now being targeted by the French nuclear giant AREVA in cooperation with local partner VostGOK.

An ongoing series of nuclear-fuel deals between Toshiba-Westinghouse and Ukraine energy monopoly Energoatom is aimed at severing Kiev’s reliance on Russian technology and Kazakh uranium. The competition to supply the global market for MOX (mixed oxides of uranium and plutonium) is pitting a consortium of Westinghouse, AREVA and their US suppliers against their Moscow-based rival Rusatom and nuclear-engineering firm TVE.

Beset by losses of orders from Japan, the AREVA MOX fabrication plant in France is facing a new and strong challenge from the Rusatom pellet facility in Krasnoyarsk, western Siberia, which has replaced the aging Mayak fuel plant.

To reduce stockpiles of plutonium-laced spent fuel rods stored inside power plants, the global nuclear industry is pushing to introduce advanced prototypes of fast-breeder reactors, which burn a variety of nuclear fuels including plutonium. Rusatom is producing MOX pellets for a next-generation fast-breeder to start operation this year at Beloyarskaya. The Russian design is the chief rival for next-generation breeder reactors being developed by the French ASTRID program in the Rhone region and the Hitachi-GE Horizon project along Britain’s Irish Sea coast.

In this global race to revive the fortunes of the nuclear industry, Chernobyl and the ongoing Fukushima cataclysm spewing radioactive waste into the jet stream over Europe have all but been forgotten.

Salvaging Savannah River

The powerful explosion of MOX fuel rods at Reactor 3 in Fukushima nearly four years ago prompted Britain to close its Sellafield MOX fuel-rod production facility and convinced the Department of Energy to suspend construction on the US mixed-oxide project in Savannah River, South Carolina. These setbacks for the US-UK nuclear industry left the AREVA’s Mercoule facility in the southern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon as the only MOX producer in the West.

Ulterior motives lurk behind the Ukraine sales pitch. The year-end push by Toshiba-Westinghouse to supply nuclear fuel to Kiev is a backhanded tactic to overturn the DOE decision to halt construction on the Savannah River MOX fuel fabrication facility. Anti-Moscow rhetoric and geopolitical arguments for switching Ukraine to Western-based energy systems (fracking, tanker-delivered oil imports and MOX fuel) bolster the odds for congressional funding to complete the Savannah River MOX facility.

Started in 1999 to dispose of plutonium from warheads under nuclear-weapons reductions agreed between Washington and Moscow, the MOX plant has already cost taxpayers $4 billion while an added $3.8 billion in project overruns is the low estimate before the operations are scheduled to begin in 2019. Unfortunately for Toshiba-Westinghouse, the main arguments against completing Savannah River are based on security questions.

Since the planning stage, nonproliferation experts have come to recognize the threat of plutonium being hijacked from DOE facilities, as happened in the 2008 covert operation by Israeli agents at the PANTEX warhead-dismantling plant in Amarillo, Texas. (This investigative journalist penned an in-depth article on the PANTEX heist and the murder of CIA contract inspector Roland Carnaby.)

The technological factor behind abandoning MOX for nonproliferation purposes was the introduction of laser-extraction systems that enable nuclear engineers to efficiently remove pure plutonium from spent MOX fuel rods. Nations with nuclear-weapons ambitions just have to place an order for MOX fuel to obtain high-grade plutonium.

A Bridge Too Far

To anyone with a rational mind, shipping nuclear fuel to the land of Chernobyl might seem not only criminal and unethical but also an act of sheer madness. Yet, under a 2008 contract, Westinghouse (which is majority-owned by Toshiba), has already started supplying uranium fuel assemblies to three reactors at the South Ukraine nuclear plant.

What’s profitable for the nuclear industry in the US and Japan is toxic for the EU, particularly its more environmental and anti-nuclear member-nations including Germany and Austria, which will have no choice but to accept this legal precedent for continent-wide fracking and a revival of nuclear power.

Ukraine serves as the bridgehead for US-Japanese takeover of the European energy industry, but it is a “bridge too far” because the strong possibility of a Fukushima-type MOX fuel explosion at its aging nuclear plants would exterminate all of Europe.

The European public should find little reassurance in that fact that Toshiba built the Fukushima Reactor 3, which blew apart in a mushroom cloud sending microparticles of plutonium as far as Scandinavia and the French Alps. Now the very same company responsible for Fukushima radiation spreading to Europe is toying around in the EU’s backyard.

Chernobyl Redux

A coalition of AREVA and Toshiba-Westinghouse have been lobbying the Parliament in Kiev to approve construction of a western-designed nuclear-power plant in Ukraine’s Black Sea region. According to an Energy Ministry press releases in June, “a new concept for the development of nuclear power is expected to be adopted and will include the technical and financial aspects of the construction of new power units, as well as advancing plans for a fuel fabrication plant and a waste repository.”

No doubt Ukrainian nationalists might rejoice at the sudden prospects of Kiev regaining its nuclear-weapons production capability, which was surrendered to Washington’s nonproliferation soon after its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. That proud national aspiration, in the cold light of geopolitics, will remain only a dream. Any nuclear deterrence will be provided by NATO missile launch pads and bomber airfields, transforming Ukraine into a battlefield and radioactive graveyard. Instead of gaining real independence, Ukraine has sadly reverted to its traditional place as a brutal buffer zone.

The truth is bitter, indeed. Ukraine is getting a raw deal. The proposed high-level waste repository is the predictable price for steep discounts on nuclear technology shipped in modules onto the docks at Odessa along with casks of spent fuel. Japan is in dire need of a foreign nuclear-waste dump, especially for its damaged Fukushima fuel rods, following rebuffs from Russia, China and Mongolia. The US, also straddled with decades of spent-fuel rods, needs an alternative to the canceled Yucca Mountain repository site. Thus, under this unsavory “international partnership”, Toshiba-Westinghouse and AREVA make the profits while Ukraine gets stuck with piles of nuclear waste.

Retrofit Risks

At this point in time, the easiest way to dump nuclear waste is to provide unsuspecting nations with MOX fuel rods, which actually a repository for surplus plutonium. The Energy Ministry’s “new concept of nuclear power” and a proposed “fuel fabrication plant” are code words for the planned conversion of the Russian-built VVER pressurized water reactors for MOX fuel rods. Retrofitting has sizable risks, as shown at Fukushima.

Westinghouse has recently negotiated a deal with to provide an undisclosed type of nuclear fuel for two additional reactors to be built at Energoatom’s Khmelnitsky plant in northwest Ukraine. The deal eliminates fuel rods from Russian nuclear-engineering company TVE, the main contractor for plant construction which operates its own mine and fuel plant in Kazakhstan.

Since then Energoatom director Natalia Shumkova stated the company might start shipping its nuclear waste to the AREVA recycling facility in La Hague, France. AREVA states that its facility separates uranium (95%) and plutonium(1%) as ingredients in new fuels. MOX, in short, is garbage fuel.

Accidents Happen

The 15 reactors in Ukraine’s four nuclear plants have Russian-designed VVER (pressurized water) reactors of the type that can be converted from enriched uranium to MOX fuel rods. The problem is that many of the Russian-built reactors have reached their 4-decade lifetime limit and are now in permanent disrepair, a fact underscored by shutdowns at the giant Zaporozhye nuclear-power plant’s Reactor 3 in late November and at its Reactor 6 a month later.

Energoatom reported the causes of both accidents as minor electrical problems and denied late November reports from a Baltic monitoring station of wide-ranging atmospheric radiation releases. Also ignored were reports from the nearby Donetsk area, where surges in radiation levels were detected at the end of December. The Ukraine nuclear industry must have adopted the TEPCO standards for public disinformation. Or perhaps lying about the dangers of radiation is a homegrown legacy of Chernobyl.

One last point needs to be considered as a spur toward civil peace in unfortunate Ukraine: Zaporozhye with its six reactors is the largest nuclear plant in Europe and lies within easy artillery and rocket range of the battle lines in eastern Ukraine. Collateral damage or a plane crash onto Plant Z would make Chernobyl seem like a picnic in the countryside.

Yoichi Shimatsu is a Hong Kong-based science journalist and environmental consultant who has conducted radiation studies inside the Fukushima exclusion zone and the Hanford and San Onofre nuclear plants.