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Even though the U.S. military budget is almost ten times that of China's (with a population more than four times as large) and Washington plans a record $708 billion defense budget for next year compared to Russia spending less than $40 billion last year for the same, China and Russia are portrayed as threats to the U.S. and its allies. China has no troops outside its borders; Russia has a small handful in its former territories in Abkhazia, Armenia, South Ossetia and Transdniester. The U.S. has hundreds of thousands of troops stationed in six continents.
While Gates was in charge of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and responsible for almost half of international military spending he was offended that the world's most populous nation might desire to "deny others countries the ability to threaten it."
On December 23 of last year Raytheon Company announced that it had received a $1.1 billion contact with Taiwan for the purchase of 200 Patriot anti-ballistic missiles. In early January the U.S. Defense Department cleared the transaction "despite opposition from rival China, where a military official proposed sanctioning U.S. firms that sell arms to the island." 
The sale completes a $6.5 billion weapons package approved by the previous George W. Bush administration at the end of 2008. In the words of the Asia bureau chief of Defense News, "This is the last piece that Taiwan has been waiting on." 
In time of crisis, barter works and may have saved Russia in 1998
By Richard C Cook | Richard C Cook.com
After the collapse of the Soviet Union caused it to split up into its components, the newly-established nations each faced an economic crisis. In Russia the crisis lasted for a decade. Inflation had destroyed the currency. There was no banking sector to speak of. And the central government had failed to monetize the nation’s potential production through a functioning monetary system.
The answer? Barter! Not only among individuals, but also among businesses and even with the central government. According to a study from the period by Dr. David Woodruff of MIT, “As of early 1998, 50-75 percent of exchange in industry took the form of barter...” With regard to payment of taxes, “In 1997, at least one-quarter of the revenue collected for the federal budget took a non-monetary form.”
At the time, the International Monetary Fund, which was trying hard to impose harsh neoliberal bank-centered policies on Russia, was urging Western governments to take a hard line in trying to force Russian government officials to carry out an anti-barter crackdown. The Russians resisted. Within a couple of more years the Russian economy had begun to move forward again under President Vladimir Putin.
The Arctic Ocean, in particular that part of it under the ice cap, is Russia's last retaliatory refuge, that spot on the earth where any element of its strategic forces is comparatively safe from a Western first strike and least targetable by interceptor missiles after such an attack.
That Canada has advanced to the front rank of Western nations confronting and challenging a disproportionately stronger Russia in the Arctic strongly suggests that it has been put up to the task. Being a smaller and weaker nation allows it to be cast in the role of a sympathetic victim of "Russian aggression," much like Estonia two years ago with alleged cyber attacks and Georgia last year after its invasion of South Ossetia. Leading Western elected officials were champing at the bit to activate NATO's Article 5 in the last two cases (even though Georgia is not yet a full member of the bloc), and Canada could provide a casus belli impossible to resist.
This year is ending as it began, with heightened U.S. interest in the Arctic Ocean. For energy, transportation and military purposes. Especially the third.
An American website has scanned and posted a 36-page document released by the U.S. Department of the Navy on November 10, 2009 called Navy Arctic Roadmap 
The paper states that "The primary policy guidance statements influencing this roadmap are the National Security Presidential Directive 66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25 (NSPD 66/HSPD 25) and the Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower (CS21)."  The second policy document was issued by the U.S. Navy on October of 2007 and the first, the National Security Directive, was written on January 9 of this year. A previous article in this series examined the second in detail shortly after it was made public. 
The key components of January's National Security Directive are these, the first reproduced verbatim:
"The United States has broad and fundamental national security interests in the Arctic region and is prepared to operate either independently or in conjunction with other states to safeguard these interests. These interests include such matters as missile defense and early warning; deployment of sea and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic deterrence, maritime presence, and maritime security operations; and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight."
Report: Russia vows quick completion of Iran atom plant | Ynet.com
Russian energy minister quoted as saying Moscow will complete Islamic republic's first nuclear power station 'at the earliest possible time'
Russia's energy minister pledged on Sunday a quick completion of Iran's first nuclear power station, Iran's state broadcaster IRIB reported, weeks after Moscow announced the latest delay to the Bushehr plant.
The reported statement, which did not give a specific time for the launch of Bushehr, came as Iran's government announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants, in a major expansion of its disputed nuclear program. Read more.
A Europe united under the EU and especially NATO is to be strong enough to contain, isolate and increasingly confront Russia as the central component of U.S. plans for control of Eurasia and the world, but cannot be allowed to conduct an independent foreign policy, particularly in regard to Russia and the Middle East. European NATO allies are to assist Washington in preventing the emergence of "the most dangerous scenario...a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran" such as has been adumbrated since in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Four years after the publication of The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski's recommended chess move was made: The U.S. and NATO invaded Afghanistan and expanded into Central Asia where Russian, Chinese and Iranian interests converge and where the basis for their regional cooperation existed, and Western military bases were established in the former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, where they remain for the indefinite future.
As the United States escalates its joint war with NATO in Afghanistan and across the Pakistani border, expands military deployments and exercises throughout Africa under the new AFRICOM, and prepares to dispatch troops to newly acquired bases in Colombia as the spearhead for further penetration of that continent, it is simultaneously targeting Eurasia and the heart of that vast land mass, the countries of the former Soviet Union.
The U.S. and Russia, which together possess 95 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, announced this summer an agreement to someday reduce their nuclear arsenals by up to one-third.
The proposed treaty could cut each state’s long-range thermonuclear weapons – known in military jargon as "strategic" weapons – to between 1,500 and 1,675. Mainstream news reports said this was down from the limit of 2,200 slated to take effect in 2012."
In fact, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists the US had 9,938 warheads in 2007 and is obligated under the 2002 Moscow Agreement to reduce this to 5,470 by the end of 2012.
Maintaining a total of 1,500 warheads, at 335 kilotons each (today’s Minuteman III missile warheads), is equivalent to 502.5 million tons of TNT, or 502 "megatons" of nuclear firepower.
How much overkill power is this? There are currently 188 cities on Earth with over 2 million people. With 1,500 warheads, the Pentagon could still explode seven H-bombs on each one, setting massive fires whose smoke would block sunlight and could plunge the world into nuclear winter – according to new research from the Univ. of Colorado. Read more.
The Soviet war in Afghanistan, also known as the Soviet-Afghan War, was a nine-year conflict involving Soviet forces supporting the Marxist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) government against the Mujahideen resistance.
In 1989, ten years after a little more time, a lot more money, and a lot more lives lost, the USSR finally was forced to give up it's dreams of domination of Afghanistan and withdrew... and collapsed.
Back before email, a world traveler who wanted to keep in touch and couldn't just pop into the nearest Internet café, might drop you a series of postcards from one exotic locale after another. Pepe Escobar, that edgy, peripatetic globe-trotting reporter for one of my favorite on-line publications, Asia Times, has been doing just that for TomDispatch readers as he explores the geography that undergirds our civilization, the pipelines that crisscross Eurasia through which flow energy -- and trouble. This, then, is his third "postcard" from what he likes to call Pipelineistan. The first in March began laying out a great, ongoing energy struggle across Eurasia via an embattled energy corridor (and a key pipeline) that runs from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Georgia and Turkey -- and the Great Game of business, diplomacy, and proxy war between Russia and the U.S. that has gone with it.
In May, he plunged eastward into tumultuous Central and South Asia and the devolving battleground that, in Washington, goes by the neologism AfPak (for the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater of operations). Now, he heads west toward Europe and another developing struggle, this time over just how natural gas from the Caspian Sea will reach Europe. Think of this as a story that lurks under so many other stories. For instance, this very day, the representatives of Russia, Germany, China, France, Britain, and for the first time, the United States, will be sitting down with Iran's representative in Geneva for what's billed as an historic exchange. On the table -- and in global headlines -- will be the Iranian nuclear program, a
previously secret Iranian nuclear site, Iranian medium-range missile tests, sanctions of various sorts, the possibility of future attacks on that country's nuclear establishment, and so on. What won't be in the headlines, or the accompanying reams of analysis, is the approximately 15% of the world's natural gas deposits Iran controls. As it happens, for the Europeans and the Russians (and so for Washington), that's the story hidden under the Iranian imbroglio, which is why we need Pepe Escobar. Tom
Jumpin' Jack Verdi, It's a Gas, Gas, Gas
Iran and the Pipelineistan Opera
By Pepe Escobar
Brussels -- Oil and natural gas prices may be relatively low right now, but don't be fooled. The New Great Game of the twenty-first century is always over energy and it's taking place on an immense chessboard called Eurasia. Its squares are defined by the networks of pipelines being laid across the oil heartlands of the planet. Call it Pipelineistan. If, in Asia, the stakes in this game are already impossibly high, the same applies to the "Euro" part of the great Eurasian landmass -- the richest industrial area on the planet. Think of this as the real political thriller of our time.
The movie of the week in Brussels is: When NATO Meets Pipelineistan. Though you won't find it in any headlines, at virtually every recent NATO summit Washington has been maneuvering to involve reluctant Europeans ever more deeply in the business of protecting Pipelineistan. This is already happening, of course, in Afghanistan, where a promised pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India, the TAPI pipeline, has not even been built. And it's about to happen at the borders of Europe, again around pipelines that have not yet been built.
If you had to put that Euro part of Pipelineistan into a formula, you might do so this way: Nabucco (pushed by the U.S.) versus South Stream (pushed by Russia). Be patient. You'll understand in a moment. Read more.
Kucinich, Price Form Bipartisan Congressional Russia Caucus
Washington D.C. (September 22, 2009) – Congressmen Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Tom Price (R-GA) today announced the formation of a bipartisan caucus to address issues that are of mutual concern to Russia and the United States and to examine ways to improve friendship, dialogue and international exchange between the two nations. The announcement comes as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s arrives in the United States tonight for the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh on September 24-25.
The Defense Intelligence Agency and its contractors conclude that a nuclear test was conducted jointly by South Africa and Israel.
An ad hoc presidential panel contradicts that analysis and suggests a meteoroid struck the satellite causing it to sound a false alarm.
Which was it? What should've been the U.S. response? Can you decide?
But perhaps the questions we should really be deciding is does Iran have nuclear weapons; and if so, should the U.S. attack Iran and North Korea”.
On September 17 the White House and the Pentagon, Barack Obama and Robert Gates, announced that after a sixty-day review of the project the U.S. is going to abandon plans to station ten ground-based interceptor missiles in Poland and a forward-based X-band missile radar installation in the Czech Republic.
The deployments were negotiated with both prospective host countries by the preceding George W. Bush administration under the guise of protecting the United States from alleged long-range missile attacks by what were described as rogue states: Iran and North Korea.
Tensions are mounting in the Black Sea with the threat of another conflict between U.S. and NATO client state Georgia and Russia as Washington is manifesting plans for possible military strikes against Iran in both word and deed.
Referring to Georgia having recently impounded several vessels off the Black Sea coast of Abkhazia, reportedly 23 in total this year, the New York Times wrote on September 9 that "Rising tensions between Russia and Georgia over shipping rights to a breakaway Georgian region have opened a potential new theater for conflict between the countries, a little more than a year after they went to war." 
The United States and five partner countries have accepted Iran's new offer to hold talks, even though Iran insists it will not negotiate over its disputed nuclear program, the State Department said Friday.
Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters that although Iran's proposal for international talks - presented to the six powers on Wednesday - was disappointing for sidestepping the nuclear issue, it represented a chance to begin a direct dialogue.
"We are seeking a meeting now based on the Iranian paper to see what Iran is prepared to do," Crowley said. "And then, as the president has said, you know, if Iran responds to our interest in a meeting, we'll see when that can occur. We hope that will occur as soon as possible."
In its proposal, Iran ignored a demand by the six world powers - the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - for a freeze of its uranium enrichment, which is suspected of leading to production of a nuclear weapon. Iran insists that its nuclear work is strictly for peaceful non-military purposes.
Iran pronounced itself ready to "embark on comprehensive, all-encompassing and constructive negotiations." Read more.
Toward the latter half of last month the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, "citing officials and lobbyists in Washington," revealed that the Pentagon would reevaluate planned interceptor missile deployments in Poland and a complementary missile radar site in the Czech Republic and instead shift global missile shield plans to Israel, Turkey and the Balkans 
"Washington is now looking for alternative locations including in the Balkans, Israel and Turkey...." 
The news came a week after it was reported that at the annual Space and Missile Defense Conference hosted by the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency in Huntsville, Alabama the Chicago-based Boeing Company offered to construct a "47,500-pound interceptor that could be flown to NATO bases as needed on Boeing-built C-17 cargo planes," a "two-stage interceptor designed to be globally deployable within 24 hours...." 
This initiative, much as with the reports of plans to expand the American worldwide interceptor missile system to the Middle East and Southeastern Europe, has been presented as a way of alleviating Russian concerns over anti-missile components being deployed near its borders. But on the same day that Boeing announced the project for a rapid deployable missile launcher for NATO bases in Europe the First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, Tomas Pojar, was quoted as asserting that a "possible U.S. mobile anti-missile shield does not threaten the U.S. plans to build a radar base on Czech soil because the system is to be a combination of fixed and mobile elements." 
That is, what is being presented in both instances as substitutes for U.S. and NATO missile shield deployments in Eastern Europe may in fact be added to rather than replace plans for Poland and the Czech Republic.
On August 21 the chief of the U.S. Marine Corps, General James Conway, arrived in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to begin the training of his host country's military for deployment to the Afghan war theater under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
"During the meeting the sides discussed a broad spectrum of Georgian-U.S
bilateral relations and the situation in Georgia's occupied territory."  Occupied territory(ies) meant Abkhazia and South Ossetia, now independent nations with Russian troops stationed in both.
Conway met with Georgian Defense Minister Davit (Vasil) Sikharulidze, who on the same day gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said that the training provided by the U.S. Marine Corps could be employed, in addition to counterinsurgency operations in South Asia, in his country's "very difficult security environment."
Associated Press reported that "Asked if he was referring to the possibility of another war with Russia, he said, 'In general, yes.'"
ElBaradei Foes Leak Stories to Force His Hand on Iran
Analysis by Gareth Porter | IPS News
Western officials leaked stories to the Associated Press and Reuters last week aimed at pressuring the outgoing chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, to include a summary of intelligence alleging that Iran has been actively pursuing work on nuclear weapons in the IAEA report due out this week.
The aim of the pressure for publication of the document appears to be to discredit the November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the Iranian nuclear programme, which concluded that Iran had ended work on nuclear weapons in 2003.
The story by Reuters United Nations correspondent Louis Charbonneau reported that "several" officials from those states had said the IAEA has "credible information" suggesting that the U.S. intelligence estimate was "incorrect".
The issue of credibility of the NIE is particularly sensitive right now because the United States, Britain, France and Germany are anticipating tough negotiations with Russia and China on Iran's nuclear programme in early September.
The two parallel stories by Charbonneau and Associated Press correspondent George Jahn in Vienna, both published Aug. 20, show how news stories based on leaks from officials with a decided agenda, without any serious effort to provide an objective historical text or investigation of their accuracy, can seriously distort an issue.
Reflecting the hostile attitude of the quartet of Western governments and Israel toward ElBaradei, the stories suggested that ElBaradei has been guilty of a cover-up in refusing to publish information he has had since last September alleging that Iran has continued to pursue research on developing nuclear weapons. Read more.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
The United States is resuming a combat training mission in the former Soviet republic of Georgia to prepare its army for counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, despite the risks of angering Russia, senior Defense Department officials said Thursday.
The training effort is intended to prepare Georgian troops to fight at NATO standards alongside American and allied forces in Afghanistan, the Pentagon officials said.
Russian officials have been informed, American officials said. The training should not worry the Kremlin, they said, because it would not involve skills that would be useful against a large conventional force like Russia’s.
“This training mission is not about internal defenses or any capabilities that the Georgians would use at home,” said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary. “This is about the United States supporting Georgia’s contribution to the war in Afghanistan, which everybody can recognize is needed and valued and appreciated.” Read more.
All Compass Points: Canada Leads NATO Confrontation With Russia In North
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | August 6, 2009
Continuing the pattern by top Canadian federal officials over the past year of issuing blunt and bravado statements aimed at Russia over the Arctic, on August 1 Defence Minister Peter MacKay was paraphrased as "warn[ing] Russia that Canuck fighter jets will scramble to meet any unauthorized aircraft" as a mainstream Canadian news agency less than delicately phrased it, and thundered that "Canadian fighter jets would scramble to 'meet' any Russian aircraft 'approaching' Canada's airspace." 
President Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on Monday and agreed to cut American and Russian nuclear stockpiles by at least one quarter and as much as one third. We speak with veteran journalist and leading nuclear disarmament advocate, Jonathan Schell.
* Vietnam War Architect Robert McNamara Dies at 93: A Look at His Legacy With Howard Zinn, Marilyn Young & Jonathan Schell *
Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara has died at the age of 93. McNamara was one of the key architects of the Vietnam war, which killed at least three million Vietnamese, around one million Cambodians and Laotians, and 58,000 American soldiers. We take a look at McNamara’s legacy with two pre-eminent historians: Howard Zinn and Marilyn Young. We also speak with Jonathan Schell, who covered Vietnam as a reporter in 1967 and met with McNamara in a secret Pentagon meeting.
By Guy Faulconbridge, Reuters
MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev on Monday agreed a target of cutting vast Cold War arsenals of deployed nuclear warheads by around a third from current levels to 1,500-1,675 each.
The pledge by Obama and Medvedev puts the world's two biggest nuclear powers further along the path to finding a replacement for the landmark 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) which expires on December 5.
But the cuts announced on Monday only take the United States and Russia 25 operationally deployed warheads below a range of 1,700-2,200, which both sides had already committed to reach by 2012 under the 2002 Moscow Treaty.
After the cuts -- which have to be made within seven years of a new treaty taking force -- the United States and Russia will still have enough firepower to destroy the world several times over. Many hurdles remain to finding a replacement to START by December.
By VOA News
The United States and Russia have signed an agreement committing the two countries to sharply reduce the number of their nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles.
U.S. President Barack Obama says he and his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev had reset U.S.-Russian relations on the first day of their Moscow summit.
The two leaders signed a statement instructing negotiators to finalize a replacement for the Strategic Arms limitation treaty that expires in December. The agreement provides for a reduction of warheads from 2200 to a range of 1500 to 1675 and of launch vehicles from 1600 to a range of 500 to 1100.
Mr. Medvedev said the meeting covered all items on the agenda including a backlog of problems and called the discussions useful, open and sincere.
Reviewing F. William Engdahl's "Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order:" Part I
Reviewing F. William Engdahl's "Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order:" Part I
By Stephen Lendman
For over 30 years, F. William Engdahl has been a leading researcher, economist, and analyst of the New World Order with extensive writing to his credit on energy, politics, and economics. He contributes regularly to business and other publications, is a frequent speaker on geopolitical, economic and energy issues, and is a distinguished Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
Engdahl's two previous books include "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order" explaining that America's post-WW II dominance rests on two pillars and one commodity - unchallengeable military power and the dollar as the world's reserve currency along with the quest to control global oil and other energy resources.
Russia Rejects the Notion of a Joint Missile System in Europe
By Ellen Barry | NYTimes
Responding to remarks by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, a top Russian diplomat said Thursday that Russia would not collaborate with the United States on missile defense unless Washington scrapped plans to deploy elements of the shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.
“We cannot partner in the creation of objects whose goal is to oppose the strategic deterrent forces of the Russian Federation,” said the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Andrei A. Nesterenko. “No one will do something that harms himself.”
“Only the United States’ rejection of plans to base in Europe the so-called third position area of the missile-defense shield could mark the beginning of a full-fledged dialogue on the question of cooperation and reaction to likely missile risk,” Mr. Nesterenko said. He added that Russia expected “it will be possible to find a common denominator.” Read more.
Russia must keep at least 1,500 nuclear warheads after talks with the United States on a new arms treaty, Interfax news agency quoted the commander of Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces as saying Wednesday.
If Moscow's final position reflects Colonel-General Nikolai Solovtsov's view, it would mean Russia is not willing to cut its stockpiles by more than a few hundred strategic warheads - far less than some arms control bodies had hoped....
Russia and the United States are in talks on a new nuclear arms treaty that aims to reduce stockpiles below the 1,700-2,200 figure both sides already agree must be reached by 2012. Read more.
Last Wednesday, the front page of the Wall Street Journal pulled no punches. The lead headline was: "Global Slump Seen Deepening." ("The outlook for the global economy worsened on the eve of a summit of the world's 20 biggest economic powers…") A chart just beneath that headline, labeled "Gloomier Outlook" and showing World Bank economic projections, was nothing short of dramatic. The graph line for world trade simply plunged off a visual cliff and, like an arrow heading for a target, went straight down. The last paragraph of the piece quoted World Bank President Robert Zoellick this way: "In London, Washington, and Paris, people talk of bonuses or no bonuses. In parts of Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, the struggle is for food or no food."
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged international leaders on Tuesday to discuss the creation of a modern currency system, speaking ahead of a G20 meeting set to focus on a new financial architecture.
"The current system is not ideal," Medvedev said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
"We cannot develop in the next 10 years if we do not create a new infrastructure including new (currency) systems... We should think about creating a new currency system," he said.
It has been more than twenty-five years since President Ronald Reagan launched the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)—or Star Wars, as detractors dubbed it. Twenty-six years ago today, Reagan asked, “What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?” It was his great hope that missile defense would “give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.” Although more than $120 billion has been spent on missile defense since Reagan’s speech, it has yet to fulfill its promise of making nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete. However, President Barack Obama may have found a new, more suitable use for missile defense: a bargaining chip.