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...former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev...told an anti-nuclear conference in Rome last spring, "In the final analysis, the nuclear danger can only be removed by abolishing nuclear weapons. But could one regard as realistic the prospect of one country retaining the quantities of conventional weapons that exceed the combined arsenals of practically all other nations - the prospect of one country achieving absolute global superiority? Unless we address the need to demilitarize international relations, reduce military budgets, put an end to the creation of new kinds of weapons and prevent weaponization of outer space, all talk about a nuclear-weapon-free world will be just inconsequential rhetoric."
This trip report covers the period of July 22-August 23 as I traveled to Japan and South Korea for my longest and most successful speaking tour ever.
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.
Chinese Assassination Squads (Satire)
To: Leon Panetta, Langley HQ
From: Operative 650, Shanghai office
Re: Memo XE1250
I just received the memo on the latest Blackwater scandal. Talk about embarrassing! Why did we outsource assassination to those bozos? Remember in 2006 when a Blackwater guy, drunk as a skunk, killed the Iraqi vice president's bodyguard? And we were going to deputize these trigger-happy Rambos to take down America's Most Wanted? I wish we could simply put all the blame on the last administration. But we're still shelling out millions to the company to provide "security" in Iraq.
Look, if we're going to outsource, we should outsource to the experts. The Chinese. They make our clothes. They make our computers. Heck, they even supply the components for our weapons systems. Why not give them the task of assassinating jihadists?
Here are the top five reasons to go with the Chinese:
William Calley, the former Army lieutenant convicted on 22 counts of murder in the infamous My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, publicly apologized for the first time this week while speaking in Columbus.
“There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai,” Calley told members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus on Wednesday. His voice started to break when he added, “I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry.”
In March 1968, U.S. soldiers gunned down hundreds of civilians in the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai. The Army at first denied, then downplayed the event, saying most of the dead were Vietcong. But in November 1969, journalist Seymour Hersh revealed what really happened and Calley was court martialed and convicted of murder. Read more.
China's Defense Ministry launched its first official Web site Thursday, part of an effort by the normally secretive military to be more transparent.
The launch of the site — including an English version — comes as the U.S. Army's top general visits Beijing for talks with his Chinese counterparts. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey was to visit the headquarters of the People's Liberation Army on Thursday and meet PLA Chief of the General Staff Chen Bingde.
A notice on the Web site said it is "designed to let the outside world have a better perception of China's national defense policy."
"Help enhance foreign exchanges and cooperation, (and) display before the world the fine image of the PLA as a mighty, civilized and peaceful force," it said.
The site will also help China's drive to modernize its military, it said. Read more.
China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi called Wednesday for international diplomacy to avert an "arms race in outer space."
Space should be reserved for peaceful purposes, Yang told the 65-nation Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
"Outer space is now facing the looming danger of weaponization," he said. "Credible and effective multilateral measures must be taken to forestall the weaponization and arms race in outer space."
China and Russia have been vocal advocates of a global treaty against space-based weapons and argue for this to be included in future Conference of Disarmament negotiations.
The United States has dismissed the criticism as designed to block its plans for a missile interceptor system — while leaving untouched Chinese and Russian ground-based missiles that can fire into space. 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.
Corporate Responsibility—Products for War and Occupation or Products for Peace
By Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat
In America, we don’t have many companies that fund peace activities. Most American companies seem to be more interested in making money off war.
In contrast, I am on a three week speaking tour in Japan sponsored partially by Leila, a peace, social and environmentally-conscious women’s cosmetic company. Wishing to make a major contribution to women’s peace initiatives, in 2000, Leila established the Women’s Peace Fund to be used to invite women peace activists to the annual World Conference against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the yearly Japan Mothers’ Congress, where 10,000 women meet from all over Japan. Leila donates one yen (one cent) for each cosmetic product sold to the fund).
In 2008, the fund also sponsored international women activists to attend the Worldwide Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution-Renunciation of War, which was undermined by the Bush administration’s pressure (and continued by the Obama administration) for Japan’s participation in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in violation of Japan’s constitution. I was honored to be an international speaker at the 2008 conference on the importance of Article 9 to Japan and to the world. The New Japan Women’s Association (NJWA) or Shinfujin administers the funding provided by Leila and invites international guests to speak at these events. Over the past ten years, women from the Philippines, South Korea, Canada, China, Kazakhstan and the United States, as well as women representing international organizations have been invited to speak on issues of peace, anti-militarization of Asia and the Pacific and nuclear disarmament. From the United States, members of the 9-11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families Speak Out, United for Peace and Justice, the Women’s International League for Peace, CODEPINK: Women for Peace, Veterans for Peace and Abolition 2000 have spoken in Japan under the auspices of the Women’s Peace Fund.
By Bruce Gagnon
I began the day by joining a news conference and protest at the headquarters that is in charge of the joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States that began today. The exercise, called 2009 Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), is the world's largest computerized command and control war game which mainly focuses on a US-South Korea attack and occupation of North Korea. The exercise was initiated in 1976 and is conducted annually in late summer.
There were about 40 activists at the event from many of the key peace and reunification organizations. I was asked to speak for five minutes as part of the news conference. US military helicopters were circling overhead and US-South Korea military personnel drove in and out of the base in a steady stream.
Matthew Bryza has been one of the U.S.'s main point men in the South Caucasus, the Caspian Sea Basin and Central Asia for the past twelve years.
From 1997-1998 he was an advisor to Ambassador Richard Morningstar, coordinating U.S. efforts in the Caucasus and Central Asia as well as in Southeastern Europe, particularly Greece and Turkey. Morningstar was appointed by the Clinton administration as the first Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Assistance to the New Independent States of the Former Soviet Union in 1995, then Special Advisor to the President and the Secretary of State for Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy in 1998 and was one of the chief architects of U.S. trans-Caspian strategic energy plans running from the Caspian Sea through the South Caucasus to Europe. Among the projects he helped engineer in that capacity was the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan [BTC] oil pipeline - "the world's most political pipeline" - running from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea.
Trans-Caspian, Trans-Eurasian Energy Strategy Crafted In The 1990s
In 1998 Bryza was Morningstar's chief lieutenant in managing U.S. Caspian Sea energy interests as Deputy to the Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy, where he remained until March of 2001, and he worked on developing what are now U.S. and Western plans to circumvent Russia and Iran and achieve dominance over the delivery of energy supplies to Europe.
Morningstar later became United States Ambassador to the European Union from 1999-2001 and this April was appointed the Special Envoy of the United States Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy, a position comparable to that he had occupied eleven years earlier.
In 2005 the George W. Bush administration appointed Bryza Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs under Condoleezza Rice, a post he holds to this day although he will soon be stepping down, presumably to become the U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, the nation that most vitally connects American geostrategic interests in an arc that begins in the Balkans, runs through the Caucasus to the Caspian Sea and then to Central and South Asia.
By ABC Radio Australia
A retired US army Colonel and diplomat has told Guam residents she's concerned about the planned American military buildup.
She says the movement of 8,000 marines, and 34,000 support staff and dependents will increase the population by 25 percent, creating a population explosion the island can't accommodate.
Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Ann Wright, retired US army Colonel and diplomat
Ex-envoy warns against US plan for Guam
A FORMER U.S. diplomat turned peace activist advised Guam residents to be wary of the American government’s military buildup plan for the island.
“We need to be looking very carefully at what our federal government does to us,” said Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel who spoke to a small crowd on the implications of the relocation of 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam during a presentation held Monday night at the University of Guam.
“While we all want to be safe and secure in the world, sometimes our federal government uses this issue of national security to do things to us that we normally wouldn’t put up with,” she added.
Wright accompanied members of the Code Pink Japan, a peace activist group, who visited Guam to discuss the impact of the military buildup with local activists. The group left Guam yesterday.
Military Escalation: From Afghanistan To the Caspian Sea and Central Asia
Largest ground combat operation since the Vietnam War.
by Rick Rozoff | Scoop Independent News
The Pentagon and its NATO allies have launched the largest combat offensive to date in their nearly eight-year war in South Asia - Operation Khanjar (Strike of the Sword) with 4,000 US Marines, attack helicopters and tanks and Operation Panchai Palang (Panther's Claw) with several hundred British engaged in airborne assaults - in the Afghan province of Helmand.
The American effort is the largest ground combat operation conducted by Washington in Asia since the Vietnam War.
Other NATO and allied nations have also boosted or intend to increase their troop strength in Afghanistan, with German forces to exceed 4,000 for the first time, Romanian troops to top 1,000 and contingents to be augmented from dozens of other NATO member and partner states, including formerly neutral Finland and Sweden.
The US, NATO, NATO's Partnership for Peace and Contact Countries and other allied nations - states as diverse as Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and Macedonia - have some 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, all under the command of America's General Stanley A. McChrystal, former head of the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq and a counterinsurgency master hand. The Afghan-Pakistani war theater resembles the Vietnam War in more than one manner.
The US troop contingent has nearly doubled since last year, more than quintupled in five years, and will be in the neighborhood of 70,000 soldiers by year's end.
Concurrent with the ongoing offensive the US has fired missiles from aerial drones into Pakistan in the two deadliest strikes of the type ever in that country, killing 65 and 50 people in two recent attacks.
Large-scale government military operations on the Pakistani side of the border, coordinated with the Pentagon through its new Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell and with NATO through the Trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-NATO Military Commission, have uprooted and displaced well in excess of two million civilians, the largest population dislocation in Pakistan since the 1947 partition of British India. Read more
Reforms being backed by the Japanese government are likely to see further easing of, if not an outright end to, Japan’s stringent restrictions on military arms exports. That this may well be a necessity due to current trends toward joint development of weapons systems between nations and corporations, should in no way be taken to mean it will not have major consequences for Japan. The Japanese arms industry currently exists to serve the Self Defense Forces but should its raison d’être change from national security to profit-making, Japan is likely to see a major increase in both governmental corruption and the ‘revolving door’ system of conflicts of interest, which have compromised the security of nations such as the UK and USA.
Since the end of WWII the Japanese people have seen their country portrayed, by virtue of its constitution’s renunciation of war, as a uniquely peaceful and nonviolent nation. Yet, in the past decade the push to ‘normalize’ the country, and return to it the full variety of foreign policy options available to other major powers, has seen significant changes occur. Recently, the government has begun to relax a longstanding injunction against the export of weapons, something that will unleash some of the world’s leading industrial manufacturers on the international weapons market. In doing so, Japan greatly increases the influence the arms industry will have upon its national politics. This industry now exists solely as a provider for the Self Defense Forces but, should profitability take over from national security as its raison d’être, the state will, based upon the examples of the US and the UK, have to contend with increased levels of corruption and the promotion of an aggressively militaristic foreign policy.
By Gareth Porter
The Raw Story website has just published my story on how Robert S. McNamara deliberately misled Lyndon Johnson on Augusts 4, 1964 by withholding what he knew about the alleged attack on U.S. ships in the Tonkin Gulf -- which was that the whole premise of such an attack had been thrown in doubt by the commander on the scene. Based on documents from the Lyndon Johnson Library, this story reveals the lengths to which McNamara went in seeking to maneuver Johnson into bombing North Vietnam -- thus greasing the skids for the U.S. War in Vietnam.
The story is followed by pdfs of the key documents with the smoking gun evidence that McNamara hid from Johnson the fact that he had gone ahead with the strike order -- obviously without telling LBJ -- despite the advice of Admiral Grant Sharp, the Commander in Chief of Pacific Forces, to wait until confirming evidence had been obtained.
There is also a MP3 file with the audiotape of Lyndon Johnson telling McNamara a few weeks later on September 18 (when McNamara was trying to sell him on the idea that yet another attack on U.S. ships had taken place in the Tonkin Gulf) that he had misinformed him about the alleged attack on August 4.
For the full text, go here.
US and Kyrgyzstan sign new air base deal
By Isabel Gorst in Moscow, Financial Times
Kyrgyzstan said on Tuesday it would temporarily allow the US to continue using a military air base on its territory that is critical to coalition forces fighting the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Kadyrbek Sarbayev, the Kyrgyz foreign minister, said Washington had agreed to more than triple the rent for use of the Manas base, a transit hub used for refuelling aircraft carrying troops to Afghanistan.
Kyrgyzstan gave the US six months to vacate Manas last February after accepting a promise of $2bn of financial assistance from Russia which objects to the presence of US troops in former Soviet central Asia.
Last week, the Bureau of the IADL, meeting in Hanoi, presented President Nguyen Minh Triet of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam with the final decision of the Tribunal. The judges found the U.S. government and the chemical companies guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ecocide during the illegal U.S. war of aggression in Vietnam. We recommended that the Agent Orange Commission be established in Vietnam to assess the damages suffered by the people and destruction of the environment, and that the U.S. government and the chemical companies provide compensation for the damage and destruction.
Sop'ore is a small, remote village in Khammouane province. It's a group of wooden stilt-houses in traditional Lao style.
I met Mr Ta on his veranda there, as chickens, dogs and pigs scratched and snuffled below. We sat looking out at the mountains, which were covered with lush tropical rainforest and low morning mist.
The serenity of the scene stood in contrast to Mr Ta's horrific injuries.
Eight years ago, he told me, he was foraging in the forest with his children, looking for food. But they came across a small bomb. When it exploded, he lost both his arms and one of his eyes.
Since then, he explained, life has been very hard.
"I can't look after myself," he said. "I can only eat like a dog. My wife has to feed me and care for me, as well as looking after our children." Read more.
The tiny Pacific island nation of Palau has agreed to a US request to temporarily resettle 17 Chinese Muslim ethnic Uighurs held at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre for more than seven years.
In a statement on Wednesday Johnson Toribiong, the country's president, said he had agreed to resettle the Uighur detainees "subject to periodic review".
The 17 were cleared for release from Guantanamo four years ago after US officials ruled there was no evidence to hold them as "enemy combatants".
Last year a US federal judge ordered the men released into the US, but an appeals court halted the order, and they have been in legal limbo ever since.
The US state department has said the Uighurs cannot be returned to China, despite requests from Beijing that they be handed over, because of fears they will face persecution and possible execution.
Instead US officials have been trying to find a third country willing to take them in, but in the meantime they have been kept in Guantanamo, spending up to 22 hours a day locked in their cells. Read more.
Obama's Outreach to Muslims: Empty Rhetoric, Same Old Policies
By Stephen Lendman
As well as anyone, Edward Said understood the West's long-standing antipathy to Islam - reflected in Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations" article in the summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs and later a 1996 book.
He wrote that future conflicts won't be "primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural....the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future" - demagogically suggesting a benevolent, superior West confronting a belligerent, hostile, inferior Muslim world. In other words, good v. evil.
NYC, Tomorrow 6/2: Mark Crispin Miller Hosts Authors of "Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail"
Mark Crispin Miller writes:
Tomorrow evening (Tuesday 6/2), I'll be hosting Bob Coen and Eric Nadler at
McNally Jackson, for this month's First Tuesday event. Bob and Eric are the
authors of Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail (which is both
a book and a film).
I'm pleased to say that they'll be kicking off their book tour with this event.
First Tuesday Series: Bob Coen and Eric Nadler
Bob Coen and Eric Nadler, authors of Dead Silence: Fear and Terror on the Anthrax Trail (Counterpoint)
What will China become in this century? There can hardly be a more important question to ask. TomDispatch regular Dilip Hiro, who has followed shifting global power balances as the planet's former "sole superpower" edged into decline, offers a vivid picture below of a potential rising superpower weathering bad times as we head toward a multipolar planet.
There is, however, a more negative take on where China might be headed. Consider, for instance, Peter Kwong's recent article, "No Reform or Relief in China," which suggests a far more dismal view of that country's circumstances, or James Fallows's fascinating recent essay in the Atlantic, "Interesting Times," which presents a China capable of using this harsh economic moment (as the U.S. may not) to launch a new Great Economic Leap Forward, but offers a striking summary of the bad news in store for China right now. I find Hiro persuasive largely because I've long been convinced that American power is in decline, but I have my own caveats when it comes to China's future success. For one thing, I'm old enough to remember the period in the 1980s when Japan was being pre-anointed as the new economic superpower of Planet Earth. (There was even a much-touted book then entitled, "Japan as Number One: Lessons for America.")
The increasing number of U.S. warships equipped with ballistic missile defense technology would provide greater protection in case of conflict with China, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday (see GSN, April 7).
"We're converting more ships to have ballistic missile defense that would help against China," he told a PBS interviewer in regard to his budget plan for fiscal 2010.
The budget would reduce funding at the Missile Defense Agency by $1.4 billion but seeks $200 million to install missile shield technology on six ships, Gates said Monday.
Critics have argued that the plan would hamper the U.S. ability to fight conventional wars with nations such as China and Russia as Washington attempts to strengthen defenses against looming threats including insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Press Trust of India reported.
China says it has executed two ethnic Uighur Muslims, sentenced to death last year on terror-related offences.
The pair were found guilty of killing 17 policemen in an attack in the western region of Xinjiang, four days before the Beijing Olympics in August.
The run-up to the Games was marked by an apparent resurgence in militancy among Uighurs, some of whom have been seeking independence for Xinjiang.
Xinjiang is home to more than eight million Uighur Muslims.
Pakistan could collapse within six months in the face of the snowballing insurgency, a top expert on guerrilla warfare has said.
The dire prediction was made by David Kilcullen, a former adviser to top US military commander General David Petraeus.
David Kilcullen is the best known practitioner of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations and had advised Gen Petraeus on the counter-insurgency programme in Iraq. Few experts understand the nature of the insurgency in Af-Pak as well and he is now advising Petraeus in Afghanistan.
Petraeus also echoed the same thought when he told a Congressional testimony last week that the insurgency could "take down" Pakistan, which is home to nuclear weapons and al-Qaida.
North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday in what U.S. and South Korean officials deemed a provocative act.
While the United States and South Korea confirmed the rocket launch, the payload of the rocket remains unclear. North Korea has said the rocket was to carry a satellite into space, but the United States, South Korea and other nations fear it could be a missile with a warhead attached.
"With this provocative act, North Korea has ignored its international obligations, rejected unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations," U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement after the launch.
The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space will hold its 17th annual space organizing conference in Seoul, South Korea on April 16-18, 2009. The group is made up of 150 peace groups around the world who are working to oppose the introduction of weapons and nuclear power into space. The theme for the annual conference will be Asian-Pacific Missile Defense and an End to the Arms Race in the region.
Ten Korean peace organizations, led by the Peace Network and the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, will host the 2009 Global Network space conference.
Sung-Hee Choi, Artist and a member of the Korean Organizing Committee wrote AfterDowningStreet.org to remind us of an important distinction. Sung-Hee wrote:
We all congratulate our friends in the Czech Republic for the government of the Czech being fallen largely due to the determined and persistent struggles of the people in the Czech against the US radar base, part of the US missile defense system.