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Osama: A “hero” turned most wanted

Osama Bin Laden’s links to the CIA explored in depth.

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The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on the request of its director, released 321 gigabytes of images, audio, text, and video gather at Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. There will debates, analyses and commentaries on the data. Last year, May the 2nd marked the fifth year of Osama Bin Laden’s death. The official Twitter account of the Central Intelligence Agency began “live tweeting” the accounts of the operation on Bin Laden’s compound as they unfolded during the actual raid, reminding the world how United States killed the most wanted fugitive on earth. But was Osama Bin Laden actually what he was portrayed as?

Born to a Yemeni migrant, Mohammaed bin Awad bin Laden, who settled in Saudi Arabia after the world war one and started his construction company in 1930’s. Soon after meeting King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, Awad bin Laden grew his business empire named as the Saudi Bin ladin Group, a gigantic corporation blessed by the Saudi royals themselves due to which the family became the wealthiest non royal in the Kingdom and till date all major governmental projects are handled by the company. Osama was born in an immensely wealthy family and enjoyed a princely childhood despite having a big family and studied at King Abdul-Aziz University, where he earned his degree in business administration while some reports suggest his later degree was in civil engineering.

His religious inclination was no different from that of the locals who practiced the state induced Wahabbi-ism which is closely associated with the Sunni version of the Islamic religion, hence the sacredness of the Kingdom which houses Islam’s two Holiest sites was precious to him. Osama’s personal views however, did not alone make him the most wanted terrorist in the world. The phrase “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” goes a long way in explaining the story of Osama Bin Laden.

To understand the rise of Osama Bin Laden, few chapters of mostly ignored world history need to be investigated. While still living his routine life in Saudia Arabia and posing no threat, Bin laden was unaware that his one voluntary decision would change the course of his life. The tale of this protagonist-turned-antagonist starts in Afghanistan. After the fall of King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan, the tug of power within the tribes started to unsettle the country. The power of governance landed in hands of the pro-Soviet Nur Mohammad Taraki in 1978 whose aims of modernizing the country, faced a serious backlash from the mostly conservative society and the government lost control in the major parts of the country by 1979. The Afghan government then requested the Soviet government under Leonid Brezhnev to send covert troops for support and advisory role. On 24th of December, 1979 the 40th Army arrived and staged a coup, killed the President and gave power to Babrak Karmal; a rival and a socialist.

The Soviets then, clearly underestimated the local tribes who disapproved both the Soviets and their ruler, marking the beginning of the Soviet Afghan War which lasted nine years (1979-1989). It is imperative to keep in mind that while the Soviets were in Afghanistan, United States and the Soviets were in a phase of Cold War which was mostly played on foreign soil by both countries in desperate attempts to maintain their world domination. At the time, Pakistan was “all in walk” with the United States of America for personal reasons. Operation Cyclone was initially planned by the C.I.A to flush out the Soviets from Afghanistan with the assistance of ISI. Pakistan in return for its support would get an assistance package worth  3.2 billion dollars of economic aid and military sales.

The relationship which later turned into an abusive one when the war on terror was imposed on Pakistan after 9/11 with a clear message” you are either with us or against us”. Local Afghans ( The Mujahideens)  took up arms against the Soviets and their own army , resulting in intensive war which led many to flee to neighboring Pakistani cities and Iran , many of whom are still hosted by both countries.

Osama’s entry in the play did not emerge until the world , primarily the Muslim countries started to take notice of the issue that Pakistan faced in terms of number of Afghan refugees fleeing their country and the Soviet’s refusal to leave the country. In January of 1980, foreign ministers from 34 Muslim countries gathered for the meeting of Islamic Conference ( now known as the Organization of Islamic Countries ) and adopted a resolution demanding “the immediate, urgent and unconditional withdrawal of Soviet troops” from Afghanistan, while the UN General Assembly passed a resolution protesting the Soviet intervention by a vote of 104:18. Back at home the Arab countries preached against the Soviets and claimed that their brothers in Islam were under non- Muslim aggression, leading to forming sympathies for the Mujahideens.

To ensure the expulsion of Soviets from Afghanistan, which seemed to suit the interests of many countries including the U.S and Pakistan alike, it only deemed fit to arm and fund the local fighters. Hence the process of foreign support and training started off in Pakistan and China, the money and weapons were primarily supplied by Arab countries and the U.S. The young and religiously active Osama Bin Laden was then in his late twenties and skilled in carrying out tasks of operating heavy machinery required for construction purposes.

The call for Jihad made by the Arabs against the Soviets soon reached Osama and due to his closeness to the Saudi Royal family, he offered himself voluntarily and asked to be sent to Afghanistan along with his men, money and machinery. This however did not happen overnight and his mission was delayed for a time but later on was given a green signal marking the start of the rise of Osama as a hero. He became active in not only being an on ground agent by the Saudis but also helped in construction of numerous tunnels for protection and in spreading the Saudi version of Islam. As documented by the National Security Archive, “the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) played a significant role in inserting U.S. influence in Afghanistan by funding military operations designed to frustrate the Soviet invasion of that country. C.I.A covert action worked through Pakistani intelligence services to reach Afghani rebel groups.”

By the mid-1980s, the Soviet contingent was increased to 108,800 and fighting increased throughout the country, but the military and diplomatic cost of the war to the USSR was high. By mid-1987, the Soviet Union, now under reformist leader Mikhail Gorbachev, announced it would start withdrawing its forces. The final troop withdrawal started on 15 May 1988, and ended on 15 February 1989. The war was considered part of the Cold War. Due to its length it has sometimes been referred to as the “Soviet Union’s Vietnam War” or the “Bear Trap” by the Western media, and thought to be a contributing factor to the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Soviets finally had to pull out from Afghanistan and the rest of the world cared less about the aftermath of them creating armed and super-skilled Mujahideens who learned the art of guerilla warfare. Even at the time of their war with the Soviets, these fighters understood the advantage of fighting in their own backward and the only advantage Soviets had was their air power. After the supplies to the Mujadieen or later called Taliban, neither country who assisted them kept a record of “how much and how many” supply was put in to create this organization that timely served everyone’s purpose. Hence after the withdrawal, Taliban, with its head as Mullah Omar made Kandahar as its headquarters and soon took over most part of the county.

Joining the Taliban in this bid of taking over Afghanistan, a large number of sympathetic Muslim fighters, including some from Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia and African countries, like Somalia, Sudan , Egypt and several others volunteered and joined the Taliban ,they brought with them finances as well as the equipment. Amongst those was included Osama Bin Laden who headed Al Qaida. (A fact that former Afghan President, Hamid Karzai does not agree upon, and states that neither Al Qaida not the Taliban exists). Osama was the strongest ally. At that time, he was also rubbing shoulders with the top U.S government leaders and military leadership as well.

After Osama thought he had given enough of his resources to the Mujahideen (since the term has more religious affiliation) he returned to his homeland by 1990 along with few of his other men, and was welcomed as a hero by locals and the Royal family alike for defeating the Soviets and freeing the Afghani brothers from the aggression of a non-Muslims state. Osama enjoyed this hero like treatment till the Invasion of Kuwait (part of the Gulf war) under former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on August 2nd, 1990. After a two day battle, most of the Kuwait was under the Iraqi military and Saddam announced it as a 19th division of the state of Iraq. This rattled the nerves of the neighboring Gulf countries. This is when Osama turned against the US, offering his services again and requested Late King Fahd and defense minister Prince Sultan who was close to the U.S establishment.

After Osama’s experience in Afghanistan, he requested the Saudi King not to depend on Western Powers for assistance, rather use the Muslim fighters to free Kuwait and protect Makkah and Medina. His request was denied, leaving Osama furious over the decision of letting U.S forces into the Kingdom. Soon after the 82nd U.S Airborne Division landed in Dhahran. Osama was forced to criticize the monarchy over breaching the sacredness of the Holy Land. Speaking against the Saudi Royal family or their decisions is a punishable crime in the Kingdom. At first Osama was asked to stay silent on the matter but he continued his open rant, the government knowing he had a following of many , realized that the person they hailed as a hero could pose a threat in form of an uprising within the country and was a loose end. This led to Osama’s exile from the Kingdom, revoked his nationality as a Saudi and was put on a blacklist.

Osama’s next stop was Sudan (1992) , where he used his construction skills and humanitarian assistance to win over people and the government , he also worked on increasing his militants who later attacked a U.S carrier ship off the cost of Aden , although the attack was meant to take place in international waters ; it was a clear message of Osama’s animosity towards the U.S.

The U.S learned Osama was active in Sudan and began pressurizing the Sudanese government via Saudis to expel or hand over Osama. A failed assassination attempt on Osama’s life by the C.I.A made him flee Sudan and to his final operational round –Afghanistan where he met Mullah Omar and began a series of attacks against U.S and those who shut him out (including Saudis) , which soon made him the most wanted man with a price worth of billion dollars on his head. After 9/11, Pakistan faced the heat of the blast all the way , Musharaf was made to side with U.S on its war on terror while U.S troop landed in Afghanistan to hunt down the culprits and Osama. Little was learned by the U.S from the Soviet’s mistake of invading Afghanistan, where now militants were trained enough to beat the U.S troops. Pakistan on the other hand was asked to negotiate with the Taliban to hand over Osama but in return Pakistan witnessed a spike in terror attacks, causing the country to tremble. Drone attacks within the Pakistani airspace caused loss of human life and an uproar against the U.S and its dual polices. U.S recently passed a bill accusing the Saudis for 9/ 11 bombing – to which the Saudis have responded by threat to pull out 750 billion worth of assets in U.S. Making the Kingdom, second country Pakistan responsible for assistance to terrorists.

U.S spent billions of their tax payer money in hunting down Osama but was in vein in initial years. So, did the U.S kill the very agent it assisted in creating or yet alone has his killing made the world a safer place? The Bush administration made various claims about their achievements against war on terror, but also blamed Pakistan and the intelligence services of harboring terrorist in the northern tribal areas. Many militants mostly of Arab nationalities did not return back to their perspective countries after Osama left for the Kingdom, hence under Benazir’s regime, she ordered arrest and exile of such militants, forging them back to Afghanistan. As for Osama, less claim that he stayed in Pakistan and died after being injured in the bombing of Tora Bora, where a network of tunnels was traced by the U.S military or in 2005 but not in Pakistan .C.I.A’s hunt for Bin Laden within Pakistan damaged the “polio drive” to a massive extent and till date health workers are targeted for being foreign agents collecting DNA samples. U.S’ vow to fight terrorism and to make the world a facer place has done less good and more harm (current example ISIS ).

Since no hard evidence or even a trace of Osama was found, the U.S staged the Abbottabad raid, causing the then Air chief of Pakistan air force to resign in protest. After pressuring Zardari’s government and clearly violating all international laws and treaties , a team of U.S navy seals perfectly acted to kill Osama in few minutes time. Since then many theories have been afloat regarding the incident but the damage done to Pakistan’s repute alone has not been earned back again. Pakistan carried out Zarb-e-Azab to clear its backyard of a now a rouge organization.

Osama, now is a dead man with a thousand tales but in its obsession to act as the world’s watchdog, U.S has more often created elements and agents like Osama for timely use. The splinters of which come back to haunt the U.S again. As for Pakistan, history should serve some serious lessons and under no circumstances participate in covert operations that can become a long time headache for the country. Osama’s death, however remains a conspiracy within itself but certainly the world did not get any safer.

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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