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The US Air Force could be biggest obstacle to F-35’s success

Forbes’ Loren Thompson suggests that the US Air Force planner daydreams may be what does the most damage to the F-35 program.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The F-35 Lightning II (a.k.a. Joint Strike Fighter) has been in development and deployment for about 26 years now.

For the sake of comparison, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, one of the fighters the F-35 is slated to replace, took from 1971 to 1976 to go from conceptualization to production.

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The newer fighter has been the subject of much criticism for many reasons, including extreme budget overruns, delays in production, reports that up to half the planes on any given flight line are non-functional, and that they suffer in terms of speed, range and combat ability to older designs from the US, Russia, and China.

Nevertheless, the program has been slogging forward, and since 2016, operational squadrons of the aircraft are serving the military forces in the USA and Israel, as well.

In fact, the fighter’s first known combat operations were those carried out by the Israeli Air Force in a May 10, 2018 airstrike against Iranian elite forces operating in the Golan Heights region of southern Syria. To date, over 305 have been completely built.

By many accounts, the plane is actually being described as superb, “a dream to fly”, and many of the earlier problems with production are solved and so output rate of the aircraft is on the upswing. Forbes reports that the aircraft is looking like a success. It comes in three “flavors”, each tailored for the military branches (Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps) it will serve. It is also available to the allied nations of the United States, and it is of interest to many of them.

Nevertheless, Forbes’ writer Loren Thompson reports that the plane may well be a victim of its own design process, at least where the Air Force is concerned. If true, this is a problem (emphasis added):

Nobody needs the F-35 more than the Air Force, which today is operating the oldest combat fleet in its history. Most of the fighters in that fleet were designed long before words like “stealthy” or “digital” became commonplace in military parlance. With U.S. strategy shifting to an emphasis on great-power competition, the ability of these legacy aircraft to survive in airspace near Russia and China is increasingly being questioned. You needn’t take my word for that since I have business ties of one sort or another to several companies working on the program; just check out the various forecasts available at www.af.mil.

The F-35 is the only fighter currently in production that can cope with the emerging warfighting environment. It is invisible to radar. It collects and shares information across vast expanses of the electromagnetic spectrum. It generates ten times as much radiated power for jamming or deceiving enemies as legacy aircraft. And after the most complex flight test program in history, the Air Force knows that all of its key features actually work. So the service is planning to buy F-35s at the rate of about one per week for many years to come.

At that rate, though, it will take decades to recapitalize a fleet that is already on its last legs. Which brings me to an unsettling reality. Because the Air Force version accounts for 72% of the joint buy, and because its “A” variant is the one that most allies want, investment choices that Air Force leaders make over the next dozen or so years will decide whether the F-35 achieves the role originally envisioned for it in revitalizing U.S. air power. If the Air Force scales back its current plan to buy 1,763 F-35s, that will have profoundly negative consequences for other military services, allies and overall U.S. security.
Mr. Thompson goes on to explain the reason for this: the inception of this fighter as a “tri-service program with extensive allied involvement.”
The thought was that multiple participants would share development costs for a big production run of relatively inexpensive planes – less expensive, the theory went, than if each contractor or nation or service developed their own hardware.
While the idea seemed great, its implementation turned out to be amazingly lengthy in terms of time to production, and it featured enormous cost overruns.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon cost US$ 18.8 million per plane in 1998. The F-35 cost per plane ranges from $94.3 million for the A variant the Air Force is getting, to $122.4 million for the B version which is Short Takeoff or Vertical Landing (STOVL) capable. The present hope is to drive the cost per plane below the $85 million threshold by 2019. Still, this is an extremely expensive aircraft. However, if the US Air Force cuts its order, the price per plane will increase.
Oddly enough, the practical future for the plane is seen positively by Mr. Thompson, but he points out what he believes to be a flaw in the mindset of the Air Force itself:

Evidence is beginning to accumulate that the Air Force is not as focused on seeing the F-35 succeed as previously thought. For example, it is not ramping up production of its version at the rate that would deliver the greatest economies, and it is warning that if costs to keep the plane flying are not reduced, it may have to shrink its buy by hundreds of planes. The rationales for these moves are shaky at best, based on muddled thinking and outdated information that ignores key features of the F-35 bargain proposition.

For example, the notion that F-35 is expensive to operate ignores the fact that it will become much less expensive as it matures; ignores the fact that the latest F-35s are already the highest performing aircraft in the Air Force inventory; ignores the fact that the plane is delivering far better reliability than specified by requirements documents; and ignores the fact that its productivity on combat missions will exceed the performance of legacy aircraft by hundreds of percent.

That doesn’t mean that operating costs can’t be reduced faster and deeper than planned, but it does raise the question of why the Air Force is not thinking in more rigorous terms about the plane described in its annual acquisition report as “the centerpiece of our future fighter precision attack capability.” I suspect I know the answer to that question, because I saw a similar breakdown of analysis occur in the Army during the last decade. To put it simply, the Air Force has become too enamored with big ideas about the future to think clearly about the present.

The biggest idea captivating Air Force leaders is that “near peer” adversaries, meaning Russia and China, are catching up with U.S. warfighting technology and may soon surpass it. The service stated in its Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan that “the Air Force’s projected force structure in 2030 is not capable of fighting and winning” against the “array of potential adversary capabilities” it will likely face. You might infer therefrom that the service needs to buy stealthy, networked F-35s faster, but its flight plan highlights other items.

For instance it wants a “penetrating counterair” capability — maybe a plane, maybe a family of systems — that can operate within Russian and Chinese air space circa 2030. That would enable it to protect the Air Force’s next-generation bomber in attacks on the most densely-defended targets, or conduct search-and-destroy missions against time-sensitive targets. Obviously, this would require greater endurance than traditional fighters. It also wants unmanned strike and reconnaissance aircraft that can survive in contested airspace, perhaps directed by pilots in penetrating planes.

In addition, it wants all of its warfighting assets linked by a robust network so that each operator can benefit from the reconnaissance and kill capabilities of all the others, and any attrition of assets can be covered via redundancy in the system. And these assets would not be confined to air-breathing platforms — the network would stretch across multiple warfighting “domains,” including space and the electromagnetic spectrum. Electronic and cyber warfare would be ubiquitous in the high-end battlespace it envisions.

Meanwhile, at the low end of counter-terror and counter-insurgency operations, the service wants to acquire planes less costly than the F-35, perhaps turboprops rather than jets, that can deal with enemies who lack their own air forces or air defenses. So F-35 potentially ends up in a squeeze play between the lower-cost systems envisioned for addressing irregular threats and the higher-capability systems needed to address future near-peer competitors. Add in all the other stuff needed for space resilience, mobility, training and so on, and the F-35 program of record starts to look shaky.

Mr. Thompson’s analysis, therefore notes that the F-35 may well be an extremely fine aircraft, and he even notes the program as a success in spite of its own cumbersome nature. But here he expresses the greatest criticism to be towards the thinkers of America’s airborne fighting forces spending too much time in dreamland, and not enough time rooted in practicality:

There’s nothing wrong with planning for the future. It’s an essential facet of military preparedness. But the Air Force needs to be realistic about how frequently past forecasts have proven wrong, and how tight budget resources will likely be in the next decade. There probably will never be a penetrating counterair system due to changing technological, geopolitical and fiscal circumstances. There may not even be a next-generation bomber. The one option the service can count on is that there definitely will be an F-35.

The question is whether the Air Force will make the most of that option, and in the process enable its sister services and America’s allies to do likewise.

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JPHChe Sernageofftibetan cowboyGer Recent comment authors
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JPH
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JPH

Forbes’ pipe dream.

Comments are superfluous after reading this:

http://www.pogo.org/straus/issues/weapons/2018/f-35-still-no-finish-line-in-sight.html

Che Serna
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Che Serna

Nothing feels me with more than US pilots being killed by their enemies!
When this lemon actually sees combat…My dream will be realised in droves…Bravo!

geoff
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geoff

The F35 will be a welcome addition to combat Palestinian slingshots and aggressive balloons !!

tibetan cowboy
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tibetan cowboy

The Pentagon, congress, Sanders and the MIC have insured the defeat of the USA in a conventional war with either Russia or China due to the uselessness of the F-35 in combat. It is no adversary against any fighter plane in those countries. This is due to the massive corruption in the Pentagon and congress who support a machine designed to defeat the USA and no other countries just to get their pay-offs. Bernie supports it because Vermont is involved with its production and insures well-paying jobs. So Bernie sold out like most of congress for more money. Read this… Read more »

Ger
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Ger

So. The Israelis, in a standoff sneak attack, have proven the ‘combat’ readiness of the F-35. Escorted by a fleet of F-15 fighter planes to protect the one F-35 …..?.

Shahna
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Yoh! Archangel!
Can it fly for more than 30 minutes without refueling yet?

RB
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This is all news to me. What I’ve read about the “politically engineered” F-35 is that it’s an extremely pricey lemon. I’ll have to let others confirm that all of the F-35’s deficiencies have been overcome.

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Why Autocrats Are Replacing Democrats

High among the reasons Trump was elected was that, for all his flaws and failings, he was seen as a doer, a man who “gets things done.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org:


“If you look at Trump in America or Bolsonaro in Brazil, you see that people now want politicians who are tough enough to do what they promise,” said Spanish businessman Juan Carlos Perez Carreno.

The Spaniard was explaining to The New York Times what lay behind the rise of Vox, which the Times calls “Spain’s first far-right party since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975.”

Indeed, the growing impatience of peoples with elected leaders and legislators who cannot or will not act decisively explains two realities of our time: the eclipse of Congress and the rise of autocracy worldwide.

In condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency and use Pentagon funds to build his wall, Beltway elites have charged the president with a multitude of sins against the Constitution.

He has usurped the “power of the purse” that the Founding Fathers invested in Congress. He has disregarded the “checks and balances” of Madisonian democracy. He is acting like an imperial president.

Yet the decline of Congress is not a recent phenomenon. And the principal collaborator in its fall from grace, from being “the first branch of government” to the least esteemed, has been Congress itself, its own timidity and cowardice.

Contrast, if you will, the now-inveterate torpor and inaction of Congress with how presidents, declared by historians to be great or near great, have acted.

Thomas Jefferson seized upon Napoleon’s sudden offer to sell the vast Louisiana territory for $15 million in an act of dubious constitutionality by Jefferson’s own judgment. History has validated his decision.

Andrew Jackson — “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” — shoved aside a Supreme Court ruling denying him the right to transfer the Indians of Florida to the middle of the country.

Abraham Lincoln arrested Maryland legislators to prevent a secessionist-minded legislature from meeting, violated the habeas corpus rights of thousands, ordered Chief Justice Roger Taney arrested, shut down newspapers, and, in January 1863, declared free all the slaves of every state still in rebellion against the Union.

“I took Panama!” said Theodore Roosevelt, whose agents helped rebels shear off the province from Colombia to build his canal.

FDR ordered some 110,000 Japanese, 75,000 of them U.S. citizens, into detention camps in 1942 for the duration of the war.

Without authorization from Congress, Harry Truman ordered U.S. troops into South Korea in 1950 to resist the invasion by North Korea, calling it a police action.

Though a Republican House voted against attacking Serbia in 1998, Bill Clinton continued his 78-day bombing campaign until Belgrade yielded up its cradle province of Kosovo.

Yet while presidents have acted decisively, without congressional authorization and sometimes unconstitutionally, Congress has failed to defend, and even surrendered, its legitimate constitutional powers.

Congress’s authority “to regulate commerce with foreign nations” has been largely ceded to the executive branch, with Congress agreeing to confine itself to a “yeah” or “nay” vote on whatever trade treaty the White House negotiates and sends to the Hill.

Congress’s authority to “coin money” and “regulate the value thereof” was long ago transferred to the Federal Reserve.

Congress’s power to declare war has been ignored by presidents since Truman. Authorizations for the use of military force have replaced declarations of war, with presidents deciding how broadly they may be interpreted.

In declaring the national emergency Friday, Trump rested his case on authority given the president by Congress in the National Emergencies Act of 1976.

The Supreme Court has usurped Congress’ powers with impunity.

While the civil rights acts of the 1960s were enacted by Congress, the desegregation of America’s public schools was simply ordered by the Warren Court in 1954.

In the ’60s and ’70s, Congress sat indolent as busing for racial balance was imposed on countless school districts by federal judges.

As the Supreme Court, for decades, exploited the establishment clause of the First Amendment to de-Christianize all public schools and public places, Congress did nothing. A triumphant court then moved on to declare abortion and same-sex marriage constitutional rights.

Yet Congress had the latent power, in Article III, Section 2, to restrict the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and every other federal court. But the big stick the founders left for Congress to corral a runaway Supreme Court was never picked up, never used.

High among the reasons Trump was elected was that, for all his flaws and failings, he was seen as a doer, a man who “gets things done.”

And high among the reasons that autocrats are on the rise is that the centrist parties being shoved aside are perceived as having failed the people in their most basic demands — fewer migrants, more secure borders, preservation of national identity, putting their own people and their country own first.

Whatever may be said of the autocrats, be it Trump, Putin or Xi Jinping, they are not talkers but doers. They act.

And they may very well own the future.

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Photos of swastika on Ukrainian mall stairway creates a stir [Video]

Ukrainian nationalist press in damage-control mode to explain away the Nazi sign, but they forgot the name of the street the mall is on.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the aspects of news about Ukraine that does not make it past the gatekeepers of the American and Western news media is how a significant contingent of Ukrainian nationalists have espoused a sense of reverence for Nazis. The idea that this could even happen anywhere in the world in an open manner makes the claim seem too absurd to be taken seriously. Gone are the days when the Nazi swastika adorned streets and buildings in Europe. Right?

Well, maybe, wrong.

This was seen in Kyiv’s Gorodok (or Horodok, if you insist) Gallery, a shopping center in that city, located on Bandera Avenue.

The pro-nationalist news service UNIAN wasted no time going to press with their explanation of this incident, which admittedly may be accurate:

Children and teenagers who participated in the All-Ukrainian break dance festival held in the Kyiv-based Gorodok Gallery shopping mall were shocked to see a swastika image projected onto an LED staircase.

The mall administration apologized to visitors, explaining saying that their computer system had apparently been hacked.

“The administration and staff have no relation to whatever was projected onto the LED-staircase, and in no way does it support such [an] act. Now we are actively searching for those involved in the attack,” it said in a statement.

According to Gorodok Gallery’s administrative office, it was not the first time a cyber breach took place.

As reported earlier, Ukraine is believed to be a testing ground for cyberattacks, many of which are launched from Russia. Hackers have earlier targeted critical energy infrastructure, state institutions, banks, and large businesses.

This time, it appears, hackers aimed to feed the Kremlin’s narrative of “Nazis in power in Ukraine” and create a relevant hype-driving viral story for Russian media to spread it worldwide.

The Gorodok Gallery also apologized on its Facebook page and said that this was a result of hacking.

But what about the street that the mall is on? From the self-same Facebook page, this is what we see:


To translate, for those who do not read Ukrainian or Russian, the address says the following:

23 Steven Bandera Prospekt, Kyiv, Ukraine 04073

This street was formerly called “Moscow Avenue.” Big change, as we shall see.

Steven Bandera got his birthday designated as a national holiday in Ukraine last December. He is known in Ukraine’s history for one thing. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The street where the shopping mall is located is named for Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who briefly collaborated with Nazi Germany in its fight against Russia.

His troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews.

Several Israeli papers picked this bit of news up, and of course, the reasons are understandable. However, for the West, it appears possible that this news event will largely go unnoticed, even by that great nation that is often called “Israel’s proxy”, the United States.

This is probably because for certain people in the US, there is a sense of desperation to mask the nature of events that are happening in Ukraine.

The usual fare of mainstream news for the West probably consists of things like “Putin’s military seizes innocent Ukrainian sailors in Kerch incident” or, “Ukraine’s Orthodox Church declared fully independent by Patriarch of Constantinople” (not that too many Americans know what a Constantinople even is, anyway), but the overriding narrative for the American people about this country is “Ukraine are the good guys, and Russia are the bad guys,” and this will not be pushed aside, even to accommodate the logical grievance of Israel to this incident.

If this article gets to Western papers at all, it will be the UNIAN line they adhere to, that evil pro-Russia hackers caused this stairway to have a swastika to provoke the idea that Ukraine somehow supports Naziism.

But UNIAN neglected to mention that the street name was recently changed to Stephan Bandera (in 2016), and no one appears to have hacked this. Nor does UNIAN talk about the Azov fighters that openly espoused much of the Nazi ideology. For nationalist Ukrainians, this is all for the greater good of getting rid of all things Russia.

A further sad fact about this is the near impossibility of getting assuredly honest and neutral information about this and other similar happenings. Both Ukrainian nationalists and Russian media agencies have dogs in the race, so to speak. They are both personally connected to these events. However, the Russian media cannot be discounted here, because they do offer a witness and perspective, probably the closest to any objective look at what is going on in Ukraine. We include a video of a “torchlight march” that took place in 2017 that featured such hypernationalist activity, which is not reported in the West.

More such reports are available, but this one seemed the best one to summarize the character of what is going on in the country.

While we do not know the motive and identities of whoever programmed the swastika, it cannot really be stated that this was just a random publicity stunt in a country that has no relationship with Nazi veneration.

The street the mall is on bears witness to that.

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It’s Back to the Iran-Contra Days Under Trump

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Wayne Madsen, via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Showing that he is adopting the neoconservative playbook every day he remains in office, Donald Trump handed the neocons a major win when he appointed Iran-contra scandal felon Elliott Abrams as his special envoy on Venezuela. Abrams pleaded guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information on the secret sale of US weapons for cash to help illegally supply weapons to the Nicaraguan right-wing contras, who were battling against the government of President Daniel Ortega. Abrams would have headed to a federal prison, but President George H. W. Bush, an unindicted co-conspirator in the scandal, issued pardons to Abrams and his five fellow conspirators – former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and former Central Intelligence Agency officials Alan Fiers, Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, and Clair George – on Christmas Eve 1991, during the final weeks of Bush’s lame duck administration.

Abrams escaped being charged with more serious crimes by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh because he cut a last-minute deal with federal prosecutors. Trump, who has made no secret of his disdain for cooperating federal witnesses, would have normally called Abrams a “rat,” a gangster term meaning informant. The man who helped engineer the pardons for Abrams and his five convicted friends was none other than Bush’s Attorney General, William Barr, who has just been sworn in as Trump’s Attorney General. Trump, who is always decrying the presence of the “deep state” that thwarts his very move, has become the chief guardian of that entity.

During a recent hearing of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, newly-minted congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, reminded her colleagues and the world about the sordid background of Abrams.

Omar zeroed in on Abrams’s criminal history:

“Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful.”

Abrams, as is the nature of neocons, refused to respond to Omar and cited her comments as “personal attacks.”

Abrams’s and his fellow criminals’ use of mercenaries and “death squads” to conduct secret wars in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala during the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s has made a re-entrance under Trump. Abrams was brought on board by neocons like National Security Adviser John Bolton, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to oversee a US military build-up in Colombia, said to be 5000 US troops, to support Venezuelan paramilitary and military efforts to topple President Nicolas Maduro. Abrams and Bolton are also believed to have retained the services of another unindicted conspirator in the Iran-contra affair, Michael Ledeen, a colleague of the disgraced and convicted former Trump National Security Adviser, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Ledeen and Flynn co-authored a book titled, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and its Allies.” The book contains nothing more than the standard neocon tripe one might expect from the likes of Ledeen.

An official investigation of the Iran-contra scandal by the late Republican Senator John Tower of Texas concluded that Abrams’s and Ledeen’s friend, Iranian-Jewish middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, a long-time Mossad asset and well-known prevaricator, was extremely instrumental in establishing the back-channel arms deals with Iran. Ghorbanifar has long been on the CIA “burn list” as an untrustworthy charlatan, along with others in the Middle East of similar sketchy credentials, including the Iraq’s Ahmad Chalabi, Syria’s Farid “Frank” Ghadry, and Lebanon’s Samir “Sami” Geagea. These individuals, however, were warmly embraced by neocons like Abrams and his associates.

Abrams, whose links with Israeli intelligence has always been a point of consternation with US counter-intelligence officials, is part of an old cabal of right-wing anti-Soviet Democrats who coalesced around Senator Henry Jackson in the 1970s. Along with Abrams, this group of war hawks included Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, William Kristol, Douglas Feith, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Abram Shulsky, and Paul Wolfowitz. Later, this group would have its fingerprints on major US foreign policy debacles, ranging from Nicaragua and Grenada to Lebanon, Iraq, and Libya. Later, in December 2000, these neocons managed to convince president-elect George W. Bush of the need to “democratize” the Middle East. That policy would later bring not democracy but disaster to the Arab Middle East and North Africa.

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela. They have old scores to settle with Nicaraguan President Ortega. The initiation of “regime change” operations in Nicaragua, supported by the CIA and the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, have been ongoing for more than a year.

The Trump administration has already achieved a regime change victory of sorts in El Salvador. Nayib Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, who was expelled from the formerly-ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation (FMLN) party and joined the right-wing GANA party, was recently elected president of El Salvador. Bukele has quickly re-aligned his country’s policies with those of the Trump administration. Bukele has referred to President Maduro of Venezuela as a “dictator.” He has also criticized the former FMLN government’s recognition of China and severance of diplomatic ties with Taiwan. It will be interesting to see how a sycophant like Bukele will politically survive as Trump continues to call hapless asylum-seeking migrants from his country, who seek residency in the United States, “rapists, gang monsters, murderers, and drug smugglers.”

Another country heading for a US-installed “banana republic” dictator is Haiti. President Jovenal Moise has seen rioting in the streets of Port-au-Prince as the US State Department removed all “non-essential” personnel from the country. Moise, whose country has received $2 billion in oil relief from Venezuela, to help offset rising fuel prices, has continued to support the Maduro government. However, at the US-run and neo-colonial artifice, the Organization of American States (OAS), Moise’s envoys have been under tremendous pressure to cut ties with Venezuela and recognize the US puppet Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president. Moise’s refusal to do so resulted in armed gangs hitting the streets of Port-au-Prince demanding Moise’s resignation. It is the same neocon “regime change” playbook being used in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

There will be similar attempts to replace pro-Maduro governments in his remaining allies in the region. These include Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Abrams was also brought in as an adviser on Middle East policy in the George W. Bush administration. The carnage of Iraq is a stark testament to his record. In 2005, it was reported that two key Bush White House officials – Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams – gave a “wink and a nod” for the assassinations by Israeli-paid operatives of three key Lebanese political figures seeking a rapprochement with Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah – Member of Parliament Elie Hobeika, former Lebanese Communist Party chief George Hawi, and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In 2008, a United Nations panel headed by former Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare later concluded Hariri was assassinated by a “criminal network” and not by either Syrian and Lebanese intelligence or Lebanese Hezbollah as proffered by Abrams and his friends in Washington.

Representative Omar was spot on in questioning why Abrams, whose name is as disgraced as his two fellow conspirators – Oliver North and John Poindexter – whose criminal convictions were overturned on appeal, is working for the Trump administration on Venezuela. The answer is that the neocons, who can sense, like raptors, Trump’s political weakness, have filled the vacuum left by top-level vacancies in the administration.

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