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A new nuclear arms race is upon us

“…they have expressed a readiness to go nuclear first in a conflict with Russia or others that had not yet crossed the nuclear Rubicon.”

Eric Zuesse

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The US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), a key nuclear strategy document that was issued on February 2nd by US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, seems to have benefited from last-minute changes that had been made to it. But it’s still extremely dangerous for the entire world, as will be fully explained here.

One key issue on which a change was made was whether the US would lower the threshold for introducing nuclear weapons into a conflict.

Princeton scholar Bruce Blair somehow saw an earlier draft of the NPR, and he headlined, in the normally neoconservative — but not this time; instead they published his warning against Trump’s going too far into neoconservatism — Washington Post, on January 13th, headlined “A new Trump administration plan makes nuclear war likelier; and Blair managed to report, in that neoconservative medium, that the then-draft NPR included the passage:

“The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies, and partners. Extreme circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks. Significant non-nuclear strategic attacks include, but are not limited to, attacks on the US, allied, or partner civilian population or infrastructure.”

Blair criticized this:

Alarmingly, the wizards have uprooted the nuclear taboo and deluded themselves into believing that nuclear weapons are far more usable than previous presidents held. In a single ill-conceived stroke, they have expressed a readiness to go nuclear first in a conflict with Russia or others that had not yet crossed the nuclear Rubicon.

This is needless because the United States possesses ample conventional strength to repulse Russian aggression, and reckless because all it accomplishes is increasing the risk of blundering into a nuclear war.

The tech-journalist Jessica Conditt, on January 31st, two days prior to the NPR’s public release, picked up on Professor Blair’s article (without noting, however, where she had obtained her information on it) and wrote:

The draft takes its cue from the 2010 NPR when it says, copied verbatim, “The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies, and partners.”

However, the updated [she doesn’t indicate that this was ‘updated’ as of January 13th] version expands the definition of such events: “Extreme circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks. Significant non-nuclear strategic attacks include, but are not limited to, attacks on the US, allied, or partner civilian population or infrastructure.”

Essentially, the draft opens the door for the US to respond to a devastating cyberattack with a nuclear strike. Perhaps a low-yield strike, even. Previously, the US has been averse to a first-use scenario, pledging to launch nuclear weapons only if the country were directly targeted by other nukes.

“It’s actually incredibly alarming that the Trump administration is putting forth the idea that we could use nuclear weapons in response to a cyberattack,” Alexandra Bell of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation told National Public Radio on Monday [January 28th] [and National Public Radio likewise had not indicated that the January 13th WP article was their source]. 

“The Trump plan actually puts multiple options on the table — nuclear weapon in response to a chemical attack, to a biological weapons attack, to an attack on civilians without a real description of where that threshold is and really widens the options for President Trump to use nuclear weapons.”

None of these conditions appeared in the final document, which instead said nothing about any of them.

In particular, the specifically quoted passage, which so alarmed these people:

“Extreme circumstances could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks. Significant non-nuclear strategic attacks include, but are not limited to, attacks on the US, allied, or partner civilian population or infrastructure.”

does not appear in the final document that was published on February 2nd.

Furthermore, other seemingly moderating changes appear to have been made. Back on January 9th, Britain’s Guardian had headlined “US to loosen nuclear weapons constraints and develop more ‘usable’ warheads” and reported that “The new nuclear policy is significantly more hawkish that [meaning “than”] the posture adopted by the Obama administration, which sought to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in US defence,” and that, “Arms control advocates have voiced alarm at the new proposal to make smaller, more ‘usable’ nuclear weapons, arguing it makes a nuclear war more likely.”

Clearly, the initial recommendations from Trump’s Defense Secretary Mattis, who shapes Trump’s military views, have been somewhat softened — made less stupid — due to intensive criticisms in the press against them; and this fact indicates that Trump isn’t totally ignoring the opposition (i.e., Democratic Party) press, and that sometimes the billionaires who control the opposition Party and its media, can get through to him, via their media.

However, the final Trump-Mattis document is still extremely incoherent, self-contradictory, and does leave open the possibility that the types of extreme danger to the world’s security that worried these critics of the draft, will become instituted in actual practice by Mattis-Trump. He/they merely removed the explicit statements of the conditions in which the US would initiate a nuclear war. Trump-Mattis just reverted to Obama.

The big problem in the document (and which no one has pointed out) is that it (like all its predecessors) ignores the basic issue regarding nuclear weapons, which is: that there is no such thing as a nuclear weapon which isn’t a strategic weapon; any ‘nuke’, no matter how ‘small’, is a strategic nuclear weapon. The very concept of ‘tactical nukes’ is fraudulent.

Once the nuclear threshold has been breached in a confrontation between the two military super-powers (US & Russia), the history of civilization will be terminated. Much, but hardly all, of that termination will be what occurs in the first 20 to 30 minutes — the actual nuclear exchanges themselves.

World War III, if it happens at all, will be finished in less than 30 minutes, especially because the US has its missiles right on, and near, Russia’s borders. Russia is already down to very nearly a launch-on-warning response-window. Waiting before unleashing the entire retaliatory arsenal would be suicidal, because, otherwise, the opponent’s attack could obliterate much of that arsenal before it’s even in the air.

This is why the first side to “go nuclear” against the other will be at an enormous strategic advantage. ‘Tactical’ nuclear weapons (‘small’ nukes) should thus be outlawed altogether. Anything (such as the use of ‘small nukes’) that lowers the nuclear threshold, increases enormously the likelihood of a world-ending nuclear war, because the nuclear threshold has then already been crossed.

The side that crossed it might say that “We didn’t cross our strategic threshold,” but the opposite side might feel that it crossed theirs. Mattis ignores this reality, which can’t be modified (far less nullified) by any technological development (such as he assumes).

Nuclear weapons are, by their very physics, vastly higher energy-intensity than any other type of weaponry; and any attempt to make them smaller, or the delivery-system more accurate, doesn’t at all make them non-nuclear. If a weapon entails a nuclear-energy release, then it’s a nuclear weapon. Period. And any nuclear weapon is a strategic weapon. That’s just a strategic fact.

As Michel Chossudovsky wrote on February 5th (but based largely on those earlier news-reports that turned out not to reflect the final document), under the headline “Secret Meeting on the Privatization of Nuclear War Held on Hiroshima Day 2003: Behind closed doors at Strategic Command Headquarters”, providing important historical context to this:

The Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review 2018 has called for “the development of new, more usable nuclear weapons”.

The 2018 NPR is in many regards Déjà Vu.

What seems to have escaped the numerous media reports on the 2018 NPR is that the development of “more usable nuclear weapons” had already been put forth in George W. Bush’s 2001 Nuclear Posture Review, which was adopted by the US Senate in late 2002.

In this regard, Senator Edward Kennedy had accused the Bush Administration for having developed “a generation of more usable nuclear weapons,” namely tactical nuclear weapons (B61-11 mini-nukes) with an explosive capacity between one third and 6 times times a Hiroshima bomb.

The term “more usable” emanates from debate surrounding the 2001 NPR, which justified the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the conventional war theater on the grounds that tactical nuclear weapons, namely bunker buster bombs with a nuclear warhead, are, according to scientific opinion on contract to the Pentagon [and thus hired in order to buttress the Pentagon’s viewpoint] “harmless to the surrounding population because the explosion is underground.”

Even if a ‘small nuke’ explodes underground, it can still be achieving a strategic objective — maybe even a decisive one, in a war that possesses major strategic significance.

Nuclear war starts when nuclear weapons are first used. Period.

The military opponent might be a non-nuclear power, in which case there won’t be nuclear retaliation. This would be like Japan 1945 (and the bombs that were used on those cities were ‘small’ enough to qualify to be referred to today as having been ‘small nukes’, or ‘tactical nuclear weapons’).

But America’s use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was “strategic” nonetheless. To deny this is simply to lie. It’s what Mattis-Trump-Obama-Bush do/did, and what almost all neoconservatives are committed to doing in order to increase the bottom lines of ‘Defense’ contractors.

Defense Secretary James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis

However, Mattis-Trump aren’t aiming to increase America’s ‘small nukes’ stockpiles only, or even mainly, in order to win ‘conventional’ wars (which WW II was). They have been openly pushing for it against both Russia and China. They have been publicly lowering the barrier to WW III.

How serious is this issue?

The only widely available scientific estimates of the impact that a nuclear war would have were done by Steven Starr — a scientist entirely non-dependent upon Lockheed Martin and other corporations that depend for their existence upon the most expensive of all strategic weapons systems, which are the nuclear-capable ones. A good summary of Starr’s analysis can be found here. However, his analysis is really based upon earlier ones, and those will now be discussed:

The latest scientific analysis of “Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War” was published in Physics Today December 2008, and said “A regional war involving 100 Hiroshima-sized weapons would pose a worldwide threat due to ozone destruction and climate change. A superpower confrontation with a few thousand weapons would be catastrophic.” That term “catastrophic” was a typical scholarly understatement, which actually meant ending civilization (if not ultimately life on Earth), but the article includes no direct verbiage about that, only such obtuse phrases as:

In the SORT conflict, we assume that Russia targets 1000 weapons on the US and 200 warheads each on France, Germany, India, Japan, Pakistan, and the UK. We assume the US targets 1100 weapons each on China and Russia. We do not consider the 1000 weapons held in the UK, China, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, and possibly North Korea. …

With 1000 weapons detonated in the US, 48% of the total population and 59% of the urban population could fall within about 5 km of ground zero; 20% of the total population and 25% of the urban population could be killed outright, while an additional 16% of the total population and 20% of the urban population could become injured. …

Because the soot associated with a nuclear exchange is injected into the upper atmosphere, the stratosphere is heated and stratospheric circulation is perturbed. For the 5-Tg injection associated with a regional conflict [much smaller than a Russia-America war would be], stratospheric temperatures would remain elevated by 30°C [54 degrees Fahrenheit] after four years.6–8 [No estimate is provided in the case of a Russia-v.-America conflict.

Presumably, it would quickly end the world; so, it’s not publicly analyzed.] The resulting temperature and circulation anomalies would reduce ozone columns by 20% globally, by 25–45% at middle latitudes, and by 50–70% at northern high latitudes for perhaps as much as five years, with substantial losses persisting for an additional five years.7 

The calculations of the 1980s generally did not consider such effects or the mechanisms that cause them. Rather, they focused on the direct injection of nitrogen oxides by the fireballs of large-yield weapons that are no longer deployed. Global-scale models have only recently become capable of performing the sophisticated atmospheric chemical calculations needed to delineate detailed ozone-depletion mechanisms. Indeed, simulations of ozone loss following a SORT conflict have not yet been conducted. …

For any nuclear conflict, nuclear winter would seriously [the term “seriously” is nowhere defined] affect noncombatant countries.12 

In a hypothetical SORT war, for example, we estimate that most of the world’s population, including that of the Southern Hemisphere would be threatened by the indirect effects on global climate.

The norm for scientists — who are hired by large corporations that have huge stakes in the ‘findings’ and that hire those same scientists only to the extent the given scientist supports the same things that their employers support — is to avoid terminology that will attract non-specialists, and this article included no estimates as to how many survivors there would be after all the nuclear poisoning and ozone depletion and soaring high-altitude temperatures and ultimate plunging ground-temperatures, and the interactions of all those factors.

The scientific establishment (largely dependent upon the military-industrial complex) and the political establishment (likewise) are obviously not trying to educate the public about any of those realities — and Mattis says nothing about them, if he even knows about them.

Does he have the numbers that aren’t published? Why are they not published? Who benefits by hiding these matters from the public? Who will hire Mattis after he leaves Government? Does he really think that the US military can force the rest of the world in the way that America’s Deep State (billionaires and their hired agents inside and outside the US Government) want?

Subsequently, in January 2010, some of the same scientists who had done that December 2008 study, published “Local Nuclear War”, and opened: “Worry has focused on the US versus Russia, but a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan could blot out the sun, starving much of the human race.” That sounds about the same as they had said earlier would happen if the US and Russia haul off against each other.

Obviously, however, a Russia-v.-US war would actually be much worse than a Pakistan-v.-India war. Something’s wrong here. The scientists aren’t doing their job; or, if they are, it’s not the public’s job (i.e., not informing the public in a democracy as a real democracy would require), it’s the military-industrial complex’s job that they’re doing. And people such as Mattis are the very public front of it. And US President Donald Trump has essentially contracted-out his international relations to Mattis.

Here are highlights, key excerpts, from the final published Nuclear Posture Review; and, after it will be discussed its key failings:

——

media.defense.gov

NUCLEAR POSTURE REVIEW FEBRUARY 2018

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

Executive Summary Introduction On January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump directed Secretary of Defense James Mattis to initiate a new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The President made clear that his first priority is to protect the United States, allies, and partners. He also emphasized both the long-term goal of eliminating nuclear weapons and the requirement that the United States have modern, flexible, and resilient nuclear capabilities that are safe and secure until such a time as nuclear weapons can prudently be eliminated from the world.

The United States remains committed to its efforts in support of the ultimate global elimination of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. It has reduced the nuclear stockpile by over 85 percent since the height of the Cold War and deployed no new nuclear capabilities for over two decades. Nevertheless, global threat conditions have worsened markedly since the most recent 2010 NPR, including increasingly explicit nuclear threats from potential adversaries. …

The Value of US Nuclear Capabilities 

The fundamental reasons why US nuclear capabilities and deterrence strategies are necessary for US, allied, and partner security are readily apparent. US nuclear capabilities make essential contributions to the deterrence of nuclear and non-nuclear aggression. The deterrence effects they provide are unique and essential to preventing adversary nuclear attacks, which is the highest priority of the United States.

US nuclear capabilities cannot prevent all conflict, and should not be expected to do so. But, they contribute uniquely to the deterrence of both nuclear and non-nuclear aggression. They are essential for these purposes and will be so for the foreseeable future. Non-nuclear forces also play essential deterrence roles, but do not provide comparable deterrence effects — as is reflected by past, periodic, and catastrophic failures of conventional deterrence to prevent Great Power war before the advent of nuclear deterrence. … 

Deterrence of Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Attack 

Effective US deterrence of nuclear attack and non-nuclear strategic attack requires ensuring that potential adversaries do not miscalculate regarding the consequences of nuclear first use, either regionally or against the United States itself.

They must understand that there are no possible benefits from non-nuclear aggression or limited nuclear escalation. Correcting any such misperceptions is now critical to maintaining strategic stability in Europe and Asia. …

Enhancing Deterrence with Non-strategic Nuclear Capabilities 

Existing elements of the nuclear force replacement program predate the dramatic deterioration of the strategic environment. To meet the emerging requirements of US strategy, the United States will now pursue select supplements to the replacement program to enhance the flexibility and responsiveness of US nuclear forces.

It is a reflection of the versatility and flexibility of the US triad that only modest supplements are now required in this much more challenging threat environment. These supplements will enhance deterrence by denying potential adversaries any mistaken confidence that limited nuclear employment can provide a useful advantage over the United States and its allies.

Russia’s belief that limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons, can provide such an advantage is based, in part, on Moscow’s perception that its greater number and variety of non-strategic nuclear systems provide a coercive advantage in crises and at lower levels of conflict

. Recent Russian statements on this evolving nuclear weapons doctrine appear to lower the threshold for Moscow’s first-use of nuclear weapons. Russia demonstrates its perception of the advantage these systems provide through numerous exercises and statements. Correcting this mistaken Russian perception is a strategic imperative. …

Expanding flexible US nuclear options now, to include low-yield options, is important for the preservation of credible deterrence against regional aggression. It will raise the nuclear threshold and help ensure that potential adversaries perceive no possible advantage in limited nuclear escalation, making nuclear employment less likely. … In the near-term, the United States will modify a small number of existing SLBM warheads to provide a low-yield option, and in the longer term, pursue a modern nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM).

Unlike DCA, a low-yield SLBM warhead and SLCM will not require or rely on host nation support to provide deterrent effect. They will provide additional diversity in platforms, range, and survivability, and a valuable hedge against future nuclear “break out” scenarios. DoD and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will develop for deployment a low-yield SLBM warhead to ensure a prompt response option that is able to penetrate adversary defenses.

This is a comparatively low-cost and near term modification to an existing capability that will help counter any mistaken perception of an exploitable “gap” in US regional deterrence capabilities. In addition to this near-term step, for the longer term the United States will pursue a nuclear-armed SLCM, leveraging existing technologies to help ensure its cost effectiveness. SLCM will provide a needed non-strategic regional presence, an assured response capability. 

——

The dead give-away there is the subhead “Enhancing Deterrence with Non-strategic Nuclear Capabilities.” There are no “non-strategic nuclear capabilities.” Mattis-Trump still accept the lie that there are. If they don’t know that it’s a lie, they’re idiots.

In other words: the NPR (meaning Nuclear Posture Review, not National Public Radio) is based upon using nuclear weapons in order to win a nuclear war. That has actually been America’s real nuclear strategy ever since at least 2006. ‘Small’ nukes will now be used instead of conventional weapons, to “warn” “the enemy” against using “small nukes.”

The problem with this line of thinking is that it ignores that, regardless of whether the conflict starts with regular weapons or with “small nukes,” the response to it will necessarily be a total blitz release of the other side’s entire strategic nuclear stockpile, because the first side to release its entire nuclear stockpile against the other will be the one that suffers the less harm. In military parlance, the side that suffers the less harm is the ‘winner’, regardless of any other factor. That’s the basic reality of military strategy: it’s inevitably win-lose, not win-win.

The advantage to “going first” is much greater in strategic military matters than it is in chess or other (i.e., non-fatal) “competitive games.” Mattis ignores, instead of states, this fact.

The first side to release everything will destroy some of the other side’s weaponry and thus enormously weaken the other side. And defense against nuclear weapons costs much more than does increasing the weapons that are strictly for aggression (the latter of which — overtly, instead of merely covertly, aggressive weapons — is Russia’s strategy).

In any war, even ‘defensive’ weapons are for aggressive purposes — to win — in this case, to invalidate some of the opposite side’s attacking weaponry.

The United States is trying to create ABM (BMD) systems that will eliminate Russia’s retaliatory weapons in the event that the US attacks Russia first. With existing nuclear-warhead treaty-limits against both sides, there is no way for Russia to countervail America’s ABM-buildup other than to exceed the existing nuclear-warhead-limiting treaties.

Putin and his successors won’t tolerate America’s spending-war against the Soviet Union being repeated against Russia. If driven by the US to do so, Russia’s response will thus be to exceed existing warhead-limitations, as being the more cost-effective way to respond to America’s ABM buildup — a buildup that threatens Russia’s ability to retaliate against a possible NATO nuclear blitz-attack, first-strike surprise invasion, against Russia.

America is trying to outspend Russia into historical oblivion before a nuclear war even happens. But Russia, like America, would rather strike first than be struck first, and won’t allow the US to gain the ability to win a nuclear war. America’s policy is “M.A.D. is dead.”

Nuclear victory is now the goal. As was previously said, this has been the strategic nuclear policy of the United States Government since at least 2006. In fact, this US nuclear policy was subsequently confirmed in a shocking article published on 1 March 2017 in the prestigious Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

So, it can no longer be reasonably denied. Winning a nuclear war against Russia is now irrefutably the US Government’s real objective. This fact, also significantly, exposes the fraudulence (or else ignorance) of the Princetonian, Professor Blair, in the January 13th Washington Post article, saying “Alarmingly, the wizards have uprooted the nuclear taboo.”

That ‘taboo’ was actually ended by the US Establishment by no later than 2006, but has been consistently continued on the Russian side (which has no incentive whatsoever to promote the blatant lie that a nuclear war between the US and Russia can be ‘won’).

The very concept of “victory” in a nuclear war between the two military super-powers is insane. It is pre-nuclear thinking. Mattis and Trump are now basically committed to it, just as was President Obama, and George W. Bush before him. Mattis’s NPR was going to fill in some of the blanks that prior US Presidents didn’t yet want filled in, but the torrent of criticisms from Democratic Party newsmedia seem to have stopped that.

Thus: on nuclear strategy, Trump is continuing Obama. No one is publicly discussing what’s central. Even the published criticisms don’t.

In the nuclear age, the mere possession of nuclear weapons places the given nation into a strategically different category than any that even so much as existed in pre-nuclear-weapon history. That’s the reason why there has been so much concern about North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program, and about the possible such program in Iran. In warfare, nuclear is strategic — never merely ‘tactical’.

Any nation that operationalizes nuclear weaponry enters thereby into a military category that didn’t even exist until 1945. Any press statements that pertain to nuclear weaponry but ignore this basic strategic fact about them, disqualify both the publisher and the writer. Any nuclear weapon is a strategic weapon, by definition of “nuclear weapon.”

This is especially the case if it’s being used against another nuclear-weapon nation. However, even when Japan surrendered to the US in 1945, because it had no deliverable nuclear weapon with which to retaliate, that was very definitely a strategically significant matter.

Incidentally, Mattis’s (and this statement did make it into the final draft) “Russia’s belief that limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons, can provide such an advantage” is probably entirely fictitious — a lie about “Russia’s belief.” Russia has not — at least not publicly — endorsed any such “belief”; and, the last time when Russia even so much as mentioned the subject (which was as of 2003), “Russian officials say that the lack of information about Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons is necessary.”

As of today, a Google-search for the phrase “Russia’s new tactical nuclear weapon” produces a finding: “No results found for ‘Russia’s new tactical nuclear weapon’.” None — ever, including now. In other words: no Russian tactical nuclear weapon has ever been reported to the public, even by Russia’s enemies (i.e., by the US and its allies).

Mattis is almost certainly lying to employ the phrase “Russia’s belief that limited nuclear first use, potentially including low-yield weapons, can provide such an advantage”; but, if he’s not, then the Government that currently hires him is obligated to its public (if there’s anything at all democratic about that Government) to provide evidence backing up that allegation.

And, as to whether the US Government itself (such as in that statement from Mattis) should ever be trusted, the answer is very clearly no. So, that evidence needs to be provided by the US Government, to the public; and, otherwise, the NPR should be viewed as being both scurrilous and extremely dangerous to the entire world, for unsupportedly alleging this.

But, in any case, NATO already publicly acknowledges having tactical nuclear weapons. And, as of 2011, the US had already deployed over 150 of them in Europe. The US has those weapons, which should be illegal, but the big debate on the US side is how they ‘should’ be used. They should be the first weapons to be destroyed. The aggressor is clearly the US.

America’s military-industrial complex (sometimes called “neoconservatives”) now headlines ‘news’-reports, by such unintended bad jokes as “Tactical Nuclear Weapons: How America Could Have Won the Vietnam War?” which are just PR pieces for costly new government-contracts for military-supply corporations such as Raytheon to produce yet more of these weapons that ought to be outright destroyed; so, now, we’re supposed to believe (from the military-industrial complex’s ‘news’media) that there could have been a ‘technological fix’ for the Vietnam War (which war was actually just a US-and-allied invasion of Vietnam). Napalm wasn’t already bad enough? Really?

A November 2011 US Army War College study “Russian Nuclear Weapons: Past, Present and Future”, which reflected 100% neoconservative assumptions, said (p. 296) “an analysis of Russia’s current thinking about nuclear issues reveals ongoing and vigorous high-level debates about nuclear weapons. This debate is evidently linked to the domestic struggle for primacy between the factions around Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.” Then:

The public debate began in earnest in October 2009 when Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, told an interviewer that the forthcoming defense doctrine will be amended to allow for the possibility of preventive and preemptive first strikes, including nuclear strikes, even in the context of a purely conventional local war and even at the lower level of operational-tactical, as opposed to strategic, strikes.10 This triggered a major public debate over those questions that paralleled the private debate among Russia’s leaders.

Although ultimately the published doctrine omitted to say these things, the citation above about armored vehicles suggests that for many Patrushev’s views are nevertheless reflected there.11 In addition, the doctrine was accompanied by a classified publication on nuclear issues that left foreign observers in the dark about when Russia might or might not go nuclear and for what purposes and missions.

The same book (p. 321) even presents an amazing passage which acknowledges “the danger [to Russia] (as listed in the new defense doctrine) of NATO enlargement, and the threat of [US] missile defenses coming closer to Russia” and then it just ignores this outrageously unacceptable danger to Russia, and proceeds to try to portray as if today’s non-communist Russia is the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact partners, and as if they are positioning weaponry on and near America’s borders — to portray that the aggressor is Russia, and not NATO:

Fourth, given these conditions, the danger (as listed in the new defense doctrine) of NATO enlargement, and the threat of missile defenses coming closer to Russia, Moscow believes that it is being placed under mounting military-political pressure, or at least professes to be so, even though it undoubtedly knows that NATO is hardly an offensive threat and that the US missile defenses cannot threaten its systems.92

Therefore, it has been ready for at least a decade with its threat of striking first with nuclear weapons, even against conventional strikes, if the threat to its interests is dire enough. Thus in 1999 Colonel General Vladimir Yakovlev, commander in chief of Russia’s nuclear forces, stated that: “Russia, for objective reasons, is forced to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons, extend the nuclear deterrent to smaller-scale conflicts and openly warn potential opponents about this.”93 Since then, there has been no mention of any further alteration of this threshold. Consequently Russia sees nuclear weapons as warfighting weapons.

That “or at least professes to be so” indicates the author’s distrust of Russia’s many pleas to the US military alliance not to do this. His “NATO is hardly an offensive threat” is a lie so blatant that only an idiot could actually believe it. Regardless of whether its author was stupid or instead a liar, those interjections from him reflect the mind-set of the people who write such things — such writers blatantly disqualify themselves from being trusted by any intelligent human being.

Subsequently (p. 331) the book made clear precisely which of the two — Putin or Medvedev — the author thought to be supporting tactical nuclear weaponry:

Medvedev made it clear that Russia does not need to increase its offensive nuclear capability any further than was originally planned.124 Clearly this directly contradicted Putin’s public remarks in December 2009, underscoring the continuing divisions between Putin and Medvedev and within the Russian military-political elite.

This conveniently ignores that Putin has always been talking only about the need for Russia to improve its strategic nuclear weaponry. No indication at all has been given anywhere, that Putin supports the development of tactical nuclear weapons. Perhaps he does; and perhaps Russia has some of those weapons (which would be idiotic for Russia to have), but the neoconservative US military-industrial complex isn’t yet publicly able to cite any evidence that Russia does (or is).

Even that book, which stretched as far as it could in order to assume that Russia has every type of weapon, and that the US therefore needs to catch up and spend yet more money on yet newer types of weapons from General Dynamics and Boeing etc. than it already does, could offer no evidence that Russia has any tactical nuclear weapons at all.

The United States seems to be now clearly trying to repeat its victory (a victory of capitalism over communism) in the Cold War against the Soviet Union — outspending it until exhausting ‘the enemy’ — but this time against Russia (which, unlike the Soviet Union, presents no ideological threat to America, nor any ideological or other military alliance against it such as the Warsaw Pact that the Soviet Union countered against America’s NATO alliance). All that Mattis-Trump will be able to achieve with this is to force Russia to quit all nuclear-warhead-limiting treaties.

Nuclear weapons, of any type, have only one constructive use: to deter being attacked. Without them, the Cold War might very likely have become a hot war. But with them, the world has gone since 1945 with no super-power war. “Ban the Bomb!” means: Let’s have yet another superpower war. M.A.D. is real.

The US Establishment is lying to deny it, or even to question it. The “usefulness” of nuclear weapons thus is strictly of a psychological nature — but the most important usefulness of all for avoiding a WW III. Any actual physical war-use of a nuclear weapon would be evil.

Perhaps even the armaments-firms that make billions from governments in many countries would rather it not happen, but they have stockholders whose wealth and power depends upon increasing governments’ expenditures on their militaries — and nuclear weapons-systems are the costliest of all. Buying (or advertising in) news-media to promote invasions is effective marketing for them.

But with ever-increasing expenditure on weapons at the expense of authentically productive products and services, which help instead of maim and kill, the world gets closer and closer to having to choose between those investors, versus the world’s future. At some point, the world’s future must become governments’ top priority; no investors or any group of investors has the right to stand against that, regardless of how hard those investors might stand against the world.

The restored unlimited arms-race will be an enormous boon to the billionaires who own or control corporations such as Lockheed Martin, but the entire world will be impoverished as a result. Obviously, America’s billionaires don’t care at all about that (except in their pious ‘humanitarian’ rhetoric preaching to the rest of the world while funding politicians who push coups and invasions worldwide).

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Via Zerohedge


The Syrian Army unleashed a major assault across the southeastern part of Idlib province on Saturday, a military source told Middle East news site Al-Masdar in a breaking report. According to the source, government forces pounded jihadist defenses across the southeast Idlib axis with a plethora of artillery shells and surface-to-surface missiles.

This latest exchange between the Syrian military and jihadist rebels comes as the Sochi Agreement falls apart in northwestern Syria, and in response to a Friday attack by jihadists which killed 22 Syrian soldiers near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major anti-Assad and al-Qaeda held region. The jihadist strikes resulted in the highest number of casualties for the army since the Sochi Agreement was established on September 17th.

Though the Syrian war has grown cold in terms of international spotlight and media interest since September, it is likely again going to ramp up dramatically over the next few months.

The Al-Masdar source said the primary targets for the Syrian Army were the trenches and military posts for Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham in the towns of Al-Taman’ah, Khuwayn, Babulin, Haish, Jarjanaz, Um Jalal, and Mashirfah Shmaliyah. In retaliation for the Syrian Army assault, the jihadist rebels began shelling the government towns of Ma’an, Um Hariteen, and ‘Atshan.

Damascus has been critical of the Sochi deal from the start as it’s criticized Turkey’s role in the Russian-brokered ceasefire plan, especially as a proposed ‘de-militarized’ zone has failed due to jihadist insurgents still holding around 70% of the planned buffer area which they were supposed to withdraw from by mid-October. Sporadic clashes have rocked the “buffer zone” since.

Russia itself recently acknowledged the on the ground failure of the Sochi agreement even as parties officially cling to it. During a Thursday press briefing by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova admitted the following:

We have to state that the real disengagement in Idlib has not been achieved despite Turkey’s continuing efforts to live up to its commitments under the Russian-Turkish Memorandum of September 17.

This followed Russia also recently condemning  “sporadic clashes” and “provocations” by the jihadist group HTS (the main al-Qaeda presence) in Idlib.

Likely due to Moscow seeing the writing on the wall that all-out fighting and a full assault by government forces on Idlib will soon resume, Russian naval forces continued a show of force in the Mediterranean this week.

Russian military and naval officials announced Friday that its warships held extensive anti-submarine warfare drills in the Mediterranean. Specifically the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s frigates Admiral Makarov and Admiral Essen conducted the exercise in tandem with deck-based helicopters near Syrian coastal waters.

Notably, according to TASS, the warships central to the drill are “armed with eight launchers of Kalibr-NK cruise missiles that are capable of striking surface, coastal and underwater targets at a distance of up to 2,600 km.”

Since September when what was gearing up to be a major Syrian-Russian assault on Idlib was called off through the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement, possibly in avoidance of the stated threat that American forces would intervene in defense of the al-Qaeda insurgent held province (also claiming to have intelligence of an impending government “chemical attack”), the war has largely taken a back-burner in the media and public consciousness.

But as sporadic fighting between jihadists and Syrian government forces is reignited and fast turning into major offensive operations by government forces, the war could once again be thrust back into the media spotlight as ground zero for a great power confrontation between Moscow and Washington.

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Trump Quietly Orders Elimination of Assange

The destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government.

Eric Zuesse

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On June 28th, the Washington Examiner headlined “Pence pressed Ecuadorian president on country’s protection of Julian Assange” and reported that “Vice President Mike Pence discussed the asylum status of Julian Assange during a meeting with Ecuador’s leader on Thursday, following pressure from Senate Democrats who have voiced concerns over the country’s protection of the WikiLeaks founder.” Pence had been given this assignment by U.S. President Donald Trump. The following day, the Examiner bannered “Mike Pence raises Julian Assange case with Ecuadorean president, White House confirms” and reported that the White House had told the newspaper, “They agreed to remain in close coordination on potential next steps going forward.”

On August 24th, a court-filing by Kellen S. Dwyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Alexandria Division of the Eastern District of Virginia, stated: “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure [than sealing the case, hiding it from the public] is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged. … This motion and the proposed order would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.” That filing was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. On November 15th, he posted an excerpt of it on Twitter, just hours after the Wall Street Journal had reported on the same day that the Justice Department was preparing to prosecute Assange. However, now that we know “the fact that Assange has been charged” and that the U.S. Government is simply waiting “until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter,” it is clear and public that the arrangements which were secretly made between Trump’s agent Pence and the current President of Ecuador are expected to deliver Assange into U.S. custody for criminal prosecution, if Assange doesn’t die at the Ecuadorean Embassy first.

On November 3rd (which, of course, preceded the disclosures on November 15th), Julian Assange’s mother, Christine Ann Hawkins, described in detail what has happened to her son since the time of Pence’s meeting with Ecuador’s President. She said:

He is, right now, alone, sick, in pain, silenced in solitary confinement, cut off from all contact, and being tortured in the heart of London. … He has been detained nearly eight years, without trial, without charge. For the past six years, the UK Government has refused his requests to exit for basic health needs, … [even for] vitamin D. … As a result, his health has seriously deteriorated. … A slow and cruel assassination is taking place before our very eyes. … They will stop at nothing. … When U.S. Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Ecuador, a deal was done to hand Julian over to the U.S. He said that because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high, the plan was to break him down mentally…   to such a point that he will break and be forced to leave. … The extradition warrant is held in secret, four prosecutors but no defense, and no judge, … without a prima-facie case. [Under the U.S. system, the result nonetheless can be] indefinite detention without trial. Julian could be held in Guantanamo Bay and tortured, sentenced to 45 years in a maximum security prison, or face the death penalty,” for “espionage,” in such secret proceedings.

Her phrase, “because the political cost of expelling Julian from the Embassy was too high” refers to the worry that this new President of Ecuador has, of his cooperating with the U.S. regime’s demands and thereby basically ceding sovereignty to those foreigners (the rulers of the U.S.), regarding the Ecuadorian citizen, Assange.

This conservative new President of Ecuador, who has replaced the progressive President who had granted Assange protection, is obviously doing all that he can to comply with U.S. President Trump and the U.S. Congress’s demand for Assange either to die soon inside the Embassy or else be transferred to the U.S. and basically just disappear, at Guantanamo or elsewhere. Ecuador’s President wants to do this in such a way that Ecuador’s voters won’t blame him for it, and that he’ll thus be able to be re-elected. This is the type of deal he apparently has reached with Trump’s agent, Pence. It’s all secret, but the evidence on this much of what was secretly agreed-to seems clear. There are likely other details of the agreement that cannot, as yet, be conclusively inferred from the subsequent events, but this much can.

Basically, Trump has arranged for Assange to be eliminated either by illness that’s imposed by his Ecuadorean agent, or else by Assange’s own suicide resulting from that “torture,” or else by America’s own criminal-justice system. If this elimination happens inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, then that would be optimal for America’s President and Congress; but, if it instead happens on U.S. soil, then that would be optimal for Ecuador’s President. Apparently, America’s President thinks that his subjects, the American people, will become sufficiently hostile toward Assange so that even if Assange disappears or is executed inside the United States, this President will be able to retain his supporters. Trump, of course, needs his supporters, but this is a gamble that he has now clearly taken. This much is clear, even though the rest of the secret agreement that was reached between Pence and Ecuador’s President is not.

Scooter Libby, who had arranged for the smearing of Valerie Plame who had tried to prevent the illegal and deceit-based 2003 invasion of Iraq, was sentenced to 30 months but never spent even a day in prison, and U.S. President Trump finally went so far as to grant him a complete pardon, on 13 April 2018. (The carefully researched docudrama “Fair Game” covered well the Plame-incident.) Libby had overseen the career-destruction of a courageous CIA agent, Plame, who had done the right thing and gotten fired for it; and Trump pardoned Libby, thus retroactively endorsing the lie-based invasion of Iraq in 2003. By contrast, Trump is determined to get Julian Assange killed or otherwise eliminated, and even Democrats in Congress are pushing for him to get that done. The new President of Ecuador is doing their bidding. Without pressure from the U.S. Government, Assange would already be a free man. Thus, either Assange will die (be murdered) soon inside the Embassy, or else he will disappear and be smeared in the press under U.S. control. And, of course, this is being done in such a way that no one will be prosecuted for the murder or false-imprisonment. Trump had promised to “clean the swamp,” but as soon as he was elected, he abandoned that pretense; and, as President, he has been bipartisan on that matter, to hide the crimes of the bipartisan U.S. Government, and he is remarkably similar in policy to his immediate predecessors, whom he had severely criticized while he was running for the Presidency.

In any event, the destruction of Assange has clearly been arranged for, at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, just as the destruction of Jamal Khashoggi was by Saudi Arabia’s Government; and, just like in Khashoggi’s case, the nation’s ruler controls the prosecutors and can therefore do whatever he chooses to do that the rest of the nation’s aristocracy consider to be acceptable.

The assault against truth isn’t only against Assange, but it is instead also closing down many of the best, most courageous, independent news sites, such as washingtonsblog. However, in Assange’s case, the penalty for having a firm commitment to truth has been especially excruciating and will almost certainly end in his premature death. This is simply the reality. Because of the system under which we live, a 100% commitment to truth is now a clear pathway to oblivion. Assange is experiencing this reality to the fullest. That’s what’s happening here.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Libya’s Peace Process Dies in Palermo

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet to sort out their differences.

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Authored by Richard Galustian for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity:


“Resounding flop” was the verdict of Italy’s former prime minister Matteo Renzi on this week’s Libya peace conference held in Palermo. He’s not wrong. The conference hosted by Italy’s new government achieved the remarkable feat of making Libya’s tensions worse, not better. Acrimony broke out between the parties, and Turkey’s delegation walked out, its vice president Fuat Oktay accusing unnamed States of trying to “hijack the process.”

Some sources in Palermo suggested, yet to be verified, that the US thought the Conference was not too bad: a joke if true.

Moreover the mystery we might ask is what “process” is there to hijack? Because the truth is, the peace plan the conference was supporting is already dead.

That plan was the brainchild of the United Nations, launched more than a year ago with the aim of ending Libya’s split between warring Eastern and Western governments with elections in December.

Even before the first delegates set foot in the pleasant Sicilian city of Palermo this week, the UN admitted the election date of December 10 they had decided to scrap.

The eastern government, led by the parliament in Tobruk, had made moves in the summer to organize a referendum on a new constitution which would govern the elections. But no referendum was held, and most Libyans agree it would be pointless because Tripoli, home to a third of the country’s population, is under the iron grip of multiple warring militias who have the firepower to defy any new elected government. Hours after the delegates left Palermo, those militias began a new bout of fighting in the Tripoli suburbs.

The best the Palermo negotiators could come up with at the end of the talks was a bland statement declaring their hope that sometime in the future all the Libyan forces will meet in a grand conference to sort out their differences – and this after four years of civil war. To say that chances of this are slim is an understatement.

Dominating the Palermo talks, and indeed Libya’s political landscape, was and is Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army, the country’s most powerful formation. In four years, the LNA has secured Libya’s key oil fields and Benghazi, its second city, ridding most of the east Libya of Islamist militias.

Haftar met reluctantly negotiators in Palermo, but insisted he was not part of the talks process. The Italian government press office said Haftar was not having dinner with the other participants nor joining them for talks. Haftar specifically opposed the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood champion, Qatar, at the event along with Turkey.

Haftar clearly only attended because he had a few days before visiting Moscow – which sent to Sicily Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev – and because also of Egyptian President Sisi’s presence along with his allies.

Possibly Haftar was simply fed up. Twice in the past two years he has attended previous peace talks, hosted each time in Paris, giving the nod to declarations that Libya’s militias would dissolve. Yet the militias remain as strong as ever in Tripoli.

Haftar is detested by the militias and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) but supported by a large segment of the population – 68 percent, according to an opinion poll by America’s USAID. His popularity is based on a single policy – his demand that security be in the hands of regular police and military, not the militias.

Not everyone is happy, certainly not Turkey, which is backing Islamist, MB and Misratan forces in western Libya who detest Haftar. Yet Turkey’s greatest statesman, the great Kamal Ataturk, was a champion of secularism: After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War One Turkey faced the prospect of utter disintegration, and it was Attaturk who rose to the challenge, defending the country’s borders, while ordering that the mullahs, while responsible for spiritual welfare, have no political power.

Political Islam is not popular in Libya either. Libya is a Muslim country, its people know their faith, and most want government to be decided through the ballot box.

The problem for Libya is what happens next with the peace process broken. Haftar has in the past threatened to move on Tripoli and rid the militias by force if they refuse to dissolve, and it may come to that – a fierce escalation of the civil war.

The second possibility is that Libya will split. The east is, thanks to the LNA, militarily secure. It also controls two thirds of the country’s oil and operates as a separate entity, down to it banknotes, which are printed in Russia while the Tripoli government’s are printed in Britain. A formal split would be an economic boon for the lightly populated east, but a disaster for Tripolitania, its population losing most of the oil, its only source of export income.

Yet with the failure of peace talks, and no sign of Tripoli militias dissolving, military escalation or breakup seem more likely than ever.

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