Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Why Two Carrier Groups Are A Useless Response To Gaza

Aurelian2022  |  In reality, the relationship between the use of force and the attainment of a defined political objective is a highly complex, inexact and uncertain art, and is much easier to explain theoretically than to do in practice. It implies a whole series of complicated, asserted relationships that don’t necessarily exist tidily in real life. To begin with, of course, you need to have a defined political objective, which is agreed, practicable and measurable. Bombing somebody, or firing off some shells like the French ship, is not an objective in itself, and is often indistinguishable from a display of pique to make yourself feel better. What the military call the “end-state” has to be clearly distinguishable from the current state, not to mention better than it, or there is no point in pursuing it.

You also have to be reasonably sure of how the political end-state will play out, or you could be in a worse situation than you were at the start. This implies a realistic knowledge of the political situation you are trying to affect, and what the political consequences of your military actions might be. So the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999 was intended to humiliate the government of Slobodan Milosevic by forcing the surrender of Kosovo, and so remove him from power in the elections the following year. It was assumed that the government that replaced his would be grateful to NATO for bombing them, and would adopt a pro-western, pro-NATO stance. What was not anticipated  (well, except by those of us who were paying attention) was that Milosevic would be brought down by nationalist agitation, and replaced by a hard-line nationalist President, Kostunica. And as for the idea that a teetering Gaddafi, perhaps on the point of being overthrown in 2011, could be pushed over the brink by western intervention, leading to a stable, pro-western democratic system … well if there is a stronger word than “catastrophic” to put before “misunderstanding” let’s by all means use it. Oh, and let’s not even get into the political fantasies of western capitals about what would follow the forced resignation of Vladimir Putin.

So this use-of-force-for political-objectives thing looks a bit more complicated than we thought at first sight, doesn’t it? It also means that you might just get your fingers trapped in the wringer. For example, the US has deployed two carrier battle groups to the eastern Mediterranean. Now, this is a traditional action of governments that have no other options really open to them, and not, of itself, necessarily criticable. In the circumstances there is a political obligation to do something, whatever that something might be. And to be fair, carriers are very useful for evacuating foreign nationals, under military protection or otherwise, as the French showed in Beirut in 2006.

The problem is that it’s virtually certain that the carrier groups have been deployed according to this “do something” logic, which is to say that there is almost certainly no accompanying political strategy: as often, the US is making it up as it goes along. (Talking about “deterrence” or “stabilisation” is not a strategy, it’s an attempt at a justification.) The difficulty with all such deployments, though, is that they are much easier to start than stop. To withdraw the force is to send a political message that you think the crisis is over, or at least manageable, which may not be the message you want to send. So you keep the force in position, and eventually you replace it, because you don’t have any choice. The difficulty is that, apart from evacuations, there’s almost nothing for which the career group can be usefully employed. Intelligence gathering maybe, but there are far easier and more discreet ways of doing that. In the meantime, they are large targets, probably limited to flying patrols and not much else. (I’m assuming that the US would not be so insane as to join in the bombardment of Gaza itself.)

In turn, this reflects the effective impotence of the US in the present conflict. Its historical attempt to combine the positions of independent facilitator with doglike devotion to one side was always dubious, but was tolerated insofar as the country was actually able to have some influence. That’s clearly no longer true. Nobody in the Arab world is going to be influenced by the US now, and it has also ruled itself out of any influence over Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. Biden’s initial maximalist rhetoric has effectively given away most of the influence the US might have been able to assert over Israel as well. Which doesn’t leave a lot, and doesn’t leave a lot for US military power to actually do, either.

In any event, even if a decision were made to use military power, in a political vacuum, and just to look threatening, what could the US actually do? For the moment, nothing. Now if a major ground invasion were to start in Gaza, and if Hezbollah were to react militarily along the northern frontier, then theoretically the US could target them, but with massive attendant risks to the Lebanese population, and considerable risk of casualties to itself, in other places where there are US troops. Put simply, an attack agains Hezbollah which is large enough to make a difference could cause massive collateral damage to Lebanon, whereas anything smaller will not make a difference anyway. The US has invested massively in the stability of Lebanon in recent years, and is not to going to put that investment in jeopardy now.

There is certainly every chance that Iran would consider a large-scale attack on Hezbollah to be an unfriendly action, and then retaliate. The problem for the Americans is that the Iranians can inflict far more damage on them and their interests than they can inflict on the Iranians. This is nothing to do with the sophistication, or even numbers, of weapons: it’s a lot more mundane than that. Get out a map, and have a look at the region, and ask yourself, where could US carrier groups safely go? Which countries could be expected to provide airfields, ports and harbours and logistic depots? In the present political situation, the answer is probably “none.” No doubt an air- and sea-launched missile attack on Iran could do some damage, but what would be the point? What possible proportional political objective could be served thereby? No conceivable amount of damage caused to Iran could compel the government, for example, to cut off support for Hezbollah, or for the current government in Syria. By contrast, severe damage to a single carrier, even if it were not sunk, would  be enough to drive the US  out of the region.

I think we can draw some general lessons from these examples, which in turn may help us understand how the current Gaza crisis may eventually resolve itself. We can start by recalling that the theory of using military power to achieve political end-states is important, but primarily as a limitation. That’s to say that, whilst military action without a political objective is pointless, the mere fact of starting military action towards a declared political end-state doesn’t mean that you will automatically get there. You still have to do the hard work of turning the one into the other, and it’s that that I want to talk about now.

Consider a political end-state of some kind. It doesn’t have to be heaven on earth or for that matter the surrender of your enemy. It can be something simpler, such as an enforceable decision by your neighbour to stop supporting separatist groups in your country. So let’s assume you define that political end-state, which we’ll call P(E). Now the first thing to say is that this political end-state must actually be politically (not just militarily) possible. It must be within the capacity of the other government to agree to, or failing that the balance of political forces at the end of the conflict must at least make it possible. It is pointless and dangerous to attempt to force a country or a political actor do do something that is beyond their power to do; not that this hasn’t been attempted often enough.

Monday, October 30, 2023

What Is At The Heart Of The US-Israel Special Relationship?

strategic-culture  |  The Biden administration is becoming increasingly edgy about the crisis in Gaza and what the objectives are for the Netanyahu war camp. Most of all, its worried that it is being carefully coaxed into a war between Israel and Iran which even the hapless U.S. president knows is not somewhere he wants to go, regardless of how far he is away from his re-election campaign. Netanyahu, for his part, is not even sure himself if he actually wants to launch a ground offensive and a number of top analysts are even predicting that he even won’t go ahead with it, given what’s at stake and the history of such initiatives in the past. Politically, he is not at all in a good place right now and the attack on October 7th in many ways, while buying him time in office and allowing him freedom from corruption investigations, is a double-edged sword which will dismember him when Israelis’ patience runs out. Most blame him for the attacks and kidnappings in the first place so he has a limited amount of political bandwidth to work with.

His strategy seems to be more about playing it cool and letting time take its toll. Even though he doesn’t have too much time himself, Biden has much less. The stranglehold that Netanyahu has on Biden tightens each day, when it is clear that Biden doesn’t have the patent ability to invoke a ceasefire and do what most U.S. presidents should do: behave like a superpower. This, apparently will have to be left to the two real superpowers who tend to do more and talk less: China and Russia. For the moment both Biden and Netanyahu are both waiting for a miracle to happen which allows for a ceasefire to happen without Netanyahu losing face. Biden could simply insist that Netanyahu stops the campaign and then at least Bibi could say to the world “this is what the U.S. has asked us to do”. But even in this setup, there would be a price to pay for Biden and his administration elsewhere.

As more and more Iranian militias build up on the Syrian-Israel border and the narrative heats up between Hezbollah and Israel, everyone in fact is looking for a stroke of luck to throw the entire gruesome slaughter out of sync. Biden could do this. He could be bold and courageous and show real élan on the world stage. But that’s just not what he does. Despite being an old school neocon and being a huge advocate for NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, these days he has lost his mojo. He simply doesn’t know what he wants with Israel, a country which he always professed to being a great supporter of, but whose present administration is not where Biden wants U.S. foreign policy to be.

Many experts question what actually is at the heart of the U.S.-Israel relationship and the 3bn dollars it hands to Israel each year in military aid? For a long time, it was the special relationship that Israel cherished while it, Israel, acted on behalf of the U.S. in the region and was there just in case Arab countries lost their way in their token allegiance to U.S. hegemony. At the very least it was an outpost.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Have Iran And Russia Set A Trap In Palestine?

thecradle  |    Hamas has called on the millions of Palestinians in the diaspora, as well as the whole Arab world and all lands of Islam, to unite. Slowly but surely, a pattern may be discerned: could the Arab world – and great swathes of Islam – be on the verge of significantly uniting to avenge their own “century of humiliation” – much as the Chinese did after WWII with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping? Beijing, via its sophisticated diplomacy, is certainly hinting at it to key players, even before the ground-breaking, Russia-China brokered Iran-Saudi rapprochement was struck earlier this year. That by itself won’t thwart the perpetual US neocon obsession to bomb critical infrastructure in Iran. Worth less than zero when it comes to military science, these neocons ignore how Iranian retaliation would – accurately – target each and every US base in Iraq and Syria, with the Persian Gulf an open case.

Peerless Russian military analyst Andrei Martyanov has shown what could happen to those expensive American iron bathtubs in the Eastern Mediterranean in case of an Israeli-threatened attack on Iran. Moreover, there are at least 1,000 US troops in northern Syria stealing the country’s oil – which would also become an instant target. Ali Fadavi, IRGC’s deputy commander-in-chief, cut to the chase: “We have technologies in the military field that no one knows about, and the Americans will know about them when we use them.” Cue to Iranian hypersonic Fattah missiles – cousins to the Khinzal and the DF-27 – traveling at Mach 15, and able to reach any target in Israel in 400 seconds. And add to it sophisticated Russian electronic warfare (EW). As confirmed in Moscow six months ago, when it comes to military interconnection, the Iranians told the Russians at the same table, “whatever you need, just ask.”

The same applies vice-versa, because the mutual enemy is one and the same. The heart of the matter in any Russian-Iran strategy is the Strait of Hormuz, through which transits at least 20 percent of the world’s oil (nearly 17 million barrels a day) plus 18 percent of liquified natural gas (LNG), which amounts to at least 3.5 billion cubic feet a day. Iran is able to block the Strait of Hormuz in a flash. For starters, that would be some sort of poetic justice retribution for Israel aiming to gobble up, illegally, all the multibillion-dollar natural gas discovered offshore Gaza: this is, incidentally, one of the absolutely key reasons for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Yet the real deal will be to bring down the Wall Street-engineered $618 trillion derivative structure, as confirmed for years by analysts at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, as well as independent Persian Gulf energy traders.

So when push comes to shove – and way beyond the defense of Palestine and in a scenario of Total War – not only Russia-Iran but key players of the Arab world about to become members of BRICS 11 – such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE – do have what it takes to bring down the US financial system anytime they choose. As an old school Deep State higher up, now in business in Central Europe, stresses: “The Islamic nations have the economic advantage. They can blow up the international financial system by cutting off the oil. They do not have to fire a single shot. Iran and Saudi Arabia are allying together. The 2008 crisis took 29 trillion dollars to solve but this one, should it happen, could not be solved even with 100 trillion dollars of fiat instruments.” As Persian Gulf traders told me, one possible scenario is OPEC starting to sanction Europe, first from Kuwait and then spreading from one OPEC country to another and to all countries that are treating the Muslim world as enemies and war fodder.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

You’re Lying If You Say You Care About America – But You Send $100 Billion To Other Countries

 

Friday, October 27, 2023

America Is Indispensable To Who?

responsiblestatecraft  |  In his recent address concerning the wars in Gaza and Ukraine and U.S. involvement in both, President Biden quoted the famous line by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, that America is “the indispensable nation.” This is indeed the belief by which the U.S. foreign and security establishment lives and works.

As Biden’s speech reflected, it is one way in which the establishment justifies to American citizens the sacrifices that they are called on to make for the sake of U.S. primacy. It is also how members of the Blob pardon themselves for participation in U.S. crimes and errors. For however ghastly their activities and mistakes may be, they can be excused if they take place as part of America’s “indispensable” mission to lead the world towards “freedom” and “democracy.”

It is therefore necessary to ask: Indispensable for what? Empty claims about the “Rules-Based Order” cannot answer this question. In the Greater Middle East, the answer should be obvious. I suppose that a different hegemon might have made an even bigger mess of the region at even greater cost to itself than the United States has succeeded in doing over the past 30 years, but it would have had to put some really serious effort into the task. Nor is it clear that the absence of a superpower hegemon could have made things any worse.

In this time, not one beneficial U.S. effort at peace in the region has succeeded; few were even seriously attempted. And more than this, the U.S. has not even fulfilled the core positive role of any hegemon, that of providing stability.

Instead, it has all too often acted a force of disorder: by invading Iraq and thereby enabling an explosion of Sunni Islamist extremism that went on to play a dreadful role in Syria as well; by pursuing through 20 years a megalomaniac strategy of externally-driven state-building in Afghanistan, in defiance of every lesson of Afghan history; by destroying the Libyan state, and thereby plunging the country into unending civil war, destabilizing much of northern Africa, and enabling a flood of migrants to Europe; by repeatedly wrecking or abandoning possibilities of a reasonable deal with Iran; and most gravely of all, by refusing to take an even remotely equitable approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and failing through the greater part of the past thirty years to make any serious effort to promote a settlement.

Over the past generation, successive U.S. administrations turned a blind eye, not merely while the Likud governments slowly killed the “two-state solution” and stoked Palestinian and Arab rage through its settlement policy, but while Prime Minister Netanyahu deliberately helped build up Hamas as a force against the Palestine Liberation Organization, so as not to have to negotiate seriously with the latter.

This strategy has now proved catastrophic for Israel itself. It was also carried out with no regard whatsoever to the interests of the United States or its European allies in the face of Islamist terrorism.

And what have the American people themselves gained from this? Nothing at all, is the answer; while the losses can be precisely calculated: More than 15,000 soldiers and contractors killed in Afghanistan and Iraq; more than 50,000 wounded, and often disabled for life; more than 30,000 veteran suicides; 2,996 civilian dead on 9/11, an attack claimed by al-Qaida as a reprisal for U.S. Middle East policy; some $8 trillion subsequently expended in the “Global War on Terror.”

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Netanyahu Showed Map of 'New Middle East'—Without Palestine—to UN General Assembly

NC  |   Israel is committed to a ground invasion of Gaza. It has also doubled down on its stated aim of destroying Hamas in rejecting UN calls for a ceasefire.

The invasion of Gaza and the intent to destroy Hamas appear to be political aims, since the former will be extremely costly, particularly in soldiers’ lives to a casualty-averse IDF, and the elimination of Hamas is not attainable. The point Alex Christoforu made in his show today, that the US with its much greater resources, has not been able to eliminate Al Qaeda, is confirmed in a Financial Times comment, Israel must know that destroying Hamas is beyond its reach.

Many military experts, including former Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis, Douglas Macgregor, and Scott Ritter, have warned that it will be very difficult for the IDF to engage in this kind of urban clearing operation, particularly given its scale versus the IDF’s limited experience and the largely reservist status of the majority of its forces. Foreign Affairs, the premier US foreign policy publication, just released a grim prognosis in How Will the IDF Handle Urban Combat?Fighting Hamas in Gaza Will Be Difficult and Costly. Key sections:

A potential ground assault into Gaza…would entail horrendously difficult tactical conditions, including room-to-room combat and tunnel warfare that would lead to massive casualties. It would require fighting on the ground, in the air, and at sea—fighting that must be done in a carefully synchronized fashion. Combat will be slow and grinding, and the resulting devastation will almost certainly test international support for Israel’s invasion…

Urban combat is slow, grinding, destructive, environmentally devastating, and horrendously costly in human life—especially for civilians. It involves house-by-house, block-by-block fighting that soaks up troops and firepower in enormous quantities, as every room, street corner, rooftop, sewer, and basement must be secured before the next can be taken. Such combat is particularly dangerous for junior combat leaders, who must constantly expose themselves in order to see, communicate with, and command their soldiers…

…for soldiers and civilians in the midst of urban fighting, the danger, the fatigue, the sense of perpetual threat from every direction, and the horror of close-range hand-to-hand combat all take an immense physical and psychological toll. Battles tend to be confused, fleeting (measured in seconds), and short range, with targets often closer than 50 yards. Troops may be focused on the house or room they are fighting in, but at the same time they may also be targeted from a distance by mortar crews, snipers, and drone operators.

There is a lot more along these lines.

Several points seem noteworthy. First, as is evident even from this short extract, Foreign Affairs acts as if a ground operation is not a given, when there are reports of large numbers of Israeli tanks and troops newly positioned nearby and more expected. Second is that it bangs on about the findings of “NATO researchers” and of creating a “combined-arms effect.” As we saw in Ukraine, forces trained to supposed NATO standards were found by the Ukraine military to perform less well than ones that used what NATO derided as more primitive approaches better suited to battle conditions.

Third, and perhaps most important, this article does not give much consideration about how the extensive Gaza tunnel system vastly complicates this operation. Readers are welcome to correct me, but my strong impression is that not only has there never been a clearing operation in this large a setting, there has also never been one that has had to contend with such an extensive tunnel system.

The IDF may be correct in its belief, or one might say hope, that bunker busters can destroy most if not all of it and also detonate stored munitions. There was alleged evidence of that happening, with Jacob Dreizen posting a video of a presumed bunker buster then producing successive explosions from below ground a meaningful distance from the strike site.

 

Gaza Fitna Eclipse Fallujah And Mariupol F'Sho (REDUX Originally Posted 9/15/20)



Counterpunch |  Entitled Future Strategic Issues/Future Warfare [Circa 2025], the PowerPoint presentation anticipates: a) scenarios created by U.S. forces and agencies and b) scenarios to which they might have to respond. The projection is contingent on the use of hi-technology. According to the report there are/will be six Technological Ages of Humankind: “Hunter/killer groups (sic) [million BC-10K BC]; Agriculture [10K BC-1800 AD]; Industrial [1800-1950]; IT [1950-2020]; Bio/Nano [2020-?]; Virtual.”

In the past, “Hunter/gatherer” groups fought over “hunting grounds” against other “tribal bands” and used “handheld/thrown” weapons. In the agricultural era, “professional armies” also used “handheld/thrown” weapons to fight over “farm lands.” In the industrial era, conscripted armies fought over “natural resources,” using “mechanical and chemical” weapons. In our time, “IT/Bio/Bots” (robots) are used to prevent “societal disruption.” The new enemy is “everyone.” “Everyone.”
Similarly, a British Ministry of Defence projection to the year 2050 states: “Warfare could become ever more personalised with individuals and their families being targeted in novel ways.”

“KNOWLEDGE DOMINANCE”
The war on you is the militarization of everyday life with the express goal of controlling society, including your thoughts and actions.

A U.S. Army document on information operations from 2003 specifically cites activists as potential threats to elite interests. “Nonstate actors, ranging from drug cartels to social activists, are taking advantage of the possibilities the information environment offers,” particularly with the commercialization of the internet. “Info dominance” as the Space Command calls it can counter these threats: “these actors use the international news media to attempt to influence global public opinion and shape decision-maker perceptions.” Founded in 1977, the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command featured an Information Dominance Center, itself founded in 1999 by the private, veteran-owned company, IIT.

“Information Operations in support of civil-military interactions is becoming increasingly more important as non-kinetic courses-of-action are required,” wrote two researchers for the military in 1999. They also said that information operations, as defined by the Joint Chiefs of Staff JP 3-13 (1998) publication, “are aimed at influencing the information and information systems of an adversary.” They also confirm that “[s]uch operations require the continuous and close integration of offensive and defensive activities … and may involve public and civil affairs-related actions.” They conclude: “This capability begins the transition from Information Dominance to Knowledge Dominance.”

“ATTUNED TO DISPARITIES”
The lines between law enforcement and militarism are blurred, as are the lines between military technology and civilian technology. Some police forces carry military-grade weapons. The same satellites that enable us to use smartphones enable the armed forces to operate.

In a projection out to the year 2036, the British Ministry of Defence says that “[t]he clear distinction between combatants and non-combatants will be increasingly difficult to discern,” as “the urban poor will be employed in the informal sector and will be highly vulnerable to externally-derived economic shocks and illicit exploitation” (emphasize in original). This comes as Boris Johnson threatens to criminalize Extinction Rebellion and Donald Trump labels Black Lives Matter domestic terrorists.

In 2017, the U.S. Army published The Operational Environment and the Changing Character of Future Warfare. The report reads: “The convergence of more information and more people with fewer state resources will constrain governments’ efforts to address rampant poverty, violence, and pollution, and create a breeding ground for dissatisfaction among increasingly aware, yet still disempowered populations.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Preznit Biden Says "American Leadership Is What Holds The World Together"

adamtooze  |  American leadership is what holds the world together. 

The President wasn’t just improvising. He has not done a lot of speeches from the Oval Office. A speech-writing team crafted that extraordinary line.

It reflects deeply held views on the part of Washington. Back in February 2021, the newly appointed Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave several speeches and interviews in which he repeated the line:

The world doesn’t organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happens: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests and values, or no one does, and then you get chaos.

This idea, that there is a “place” in the world, which is that of “America as the organizer”, and that without America occupying that place and doing its job, the world will fall apart, or some other power will take America’s place as the organizer, is deep-seated in US policy circles. 

As a metaphysical proposition it is silly and self-deluding. It is bizarre to imagine that the world needs America to “hold it together”. America itself is hardly in one piece.

It isn’t true that the world doesn’t organize itself without top down leadership from a power sitting in America’s “place”. Indeed, what would it mean for America’s “place” to be vacant and free for another power to fill, the specter conjured by Blinken? Does America disappear from the map when it elects Donald Trump President? The United States is always present in one form or another, even as an absence in international discussions - as was the case, for instance in the 1920s.

America’s power - potential or realized - is a force that world politics has been built around for just over a century. In the book Deluge I argued that 1916 was the moment that this became indisputably true. The Presidential election of that year was the first followed by the world in the way that the world will follow the 2024 election.

Whoever governs America, dysfunctionally or not, speculating about a post-American world, is a waste of time. And there a few key areas of global affairs in which American institutions today play a crucial organizational role. I have written often in this newsletter about the dollar system and its resilience. The dollar continues to be the basis for global finance. Though it dare not speak its name, the Fed acts as a global central bank.

It is also true that American leadership and military spending does hold structures like NATO together. But that is not “the world”. It is an exclusive military alliance.

For the most part, to make sense of the sort of thing that Biden and Blinken say, you have to realize that they are talking not to the world or about the world, but to Americans about America. Above all, Biden and Blinken’s rhetoric is directed against Trump, who conjured up a scenario in which America was, as Biden and Blinken see it, a chaotic, disruptive and untrustworthy force. This shames their self-understanding as a liberal elite. With a tight election in 2024 those fears will overshadow all America’s interactions with the world, whoever actually sits in the Oval Office.

American democracy, the system that produces the leadership that Biden and Blinken so self-confidently evoke, is clearly broken. Pervasive and well-merited skepticism about America’s system of government, is now a massive reality in world affairs.

 

The "Rules Based World Order" Never Looked Particularly "Rules Based"....,

WaPo  |  On Friday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II described Israel’s actions in Gaza as “a war crime.” He said Israel was carrying out “collective punishment of a besieged and helpless people,” which ought to be seen as “a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.”

That may not trouble an Israeli leadership bent on retribution, argued Marc Lynch, professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, but it’s a problem for the United States. “It is difficult to reconcile the United States’ promotion of international norms and the laws of war in defense of Ukraine from Russia’s brutal invasion with its cavalier disregard for the same norms in Gaza,” he wrote in Foreign Affairs.

While it seems the Biden administration is working behind the scenes to attempt to restrain Israel’s war cabinet, Gaza’s more than 2 million people are living in a nightmare of airstrikes and explosions and are running out of food, water and places for safe sanctuary. In his speech, Biden stressed the gap between Hamas and the ordinary Palestinians in their midst. “We can’t ignore the humanity of innocent Palestinians who only want to live in peace and have an opportunity,” he said, pointing to the U.S. efforts to bring in humanitarian assistance — deliveries which aid groups say are staggeringly short of what’s required.

But that rhetoric rings hollow when set against the record of U.S. actions. “If the U.S. and other Western governments want to convince the rest of the world they are serious about human rights and the laws of war, principles they rightly apply to Russian atrocities in Ukraine and to Hamas atrocities in Israel, they also have to apply to Israel’s brutal disregard for civilian life in Gaza,” Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement after the U.S. veto.

A senior diplomat from a country in the Group of 20 major economies told me that “it’s this kind of behavior that had the Global South so cautious about what the West was doing” when they were cajoling foreign governments to follow their lead on Ukraine. The current U.S. role in blocking action on Gaza, the official added, speaking this weekend on condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to brief journalists, shows “how much of a double standard the U.S. or West’s strategy relies on.”

In Europe, there’s a growing recognition of this tension, too. “What we said about Ukraine has to apply to Gaza. Otherwise we lose all our credibility,” a senior Group of Seven diplomat told the Financial Times. “The Brazilians, the South Africans, the Indonesians: why should they ever believe what we say about human rights?”

It is also a reminder of the failure of the international community — but chiefly, the United States — to revive the dormant peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. “Today, Western governments are paying for their inability to find, or even to seek, a solution to the Palestinian question,” noted an editorial in French daily Le Monde. “In the current tense climate, their support for Israel — which is perceived as exclusive by the rest of the world — risks jeopardizing their efforts to convince Southern countries that international security is at stake in Ukraine.”

The diplomat speaking to the FT gloomily summed up the latest Gaza war’s impact: “All the work we have done with the Global South [over Ukraine] has been lost. … Forget about rules, forget about world order. They won’t ever listen to us again.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Joe Biden Is The Perfect Symbol Of America's Culture Of Emboldened Stupidity

MoA  |  Today we live in multilateral world. We see Russia, China and many smaller countries united in their will to preserve their rights and security. The cold-war is gone. The somewhat unilateral decades which had followed it are now over. We are in need a new world order.

In the U.S. that penny has finally started to drop.

It has not yet reached the ground. We do not know on which side it will land.

Two days ago U.S. President Joe Biden spoke at a campaign even. Among lots of the usual blah-blah this paragraph stood out:

We were in a post-war period for 50 years where it worked pretty damn well, but that’s sort of run out of steam. Sort of run out of steam. It needs a new — a new world order in a sense, like that was a world order.

There it is -  one can see the penny, slipping out of his hand and falling down.

The time for the U.S. to preserve some of its influence in the rising new world order is short:

Look, we’re at an inflection point in history — literally an inflection point in history, and that is that decisions we make in the next four or five years are going to determine what the next four or five decades look like. And that’s — that’s a fact.

The Ukrainian news site Strana, which was first to point to Biden's acknowledgement of global change, describes the implications of that thought (machine translation):

It should be noted that the "damn good" post-war 50-year peace that Biden spoke about arose as a result of the most brutal war in the history of mankind. It also appeared due to the agreements of the USSR and the United States, which essentially divided the spheres of influence in Europe.

If we proceed from this historical context, then Biden, it turns out, offers either to win a military victory over the Russian Federation and China, with which the United States is currently at enmity, or to negotiate with them and arrange a "new Yalta" with the division of spheres of influence.

On which side will the penny land? The side of a new global war? Or on the side of new negotiations?

We do not know.

---

Putin had predicted that the pursuit of unilateral power would automatically lead to the end its pursuer. As Biden acknowledges, the U.S., in its delusion, is ripping itself apart.

Prior to the campaign event Biden had given a public speech from the White House.

Adam Tooze reflects on it:

Biden:
American leadership is what holds the world together.

The President wasn’t just improvising. He has not done a lot of speeches from the Oval Office. A speech-writing team crafted that extraordinary line.

It reflects deeply held views on the part of Washington. Back in February 2021, the newly appointed Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave several speeches and interviews in which he repeated the line:

The world doesn’t organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happens: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests and values, or no one does, and then you get chaos.

This idea, that there is a “place” in the world, which is that of “America as the organizer”, and that without America occupying that place and doing its job, the world will fall apart, or some other power will take America’s place as the organizer, is deep-seated in US policy circle.

As a metaphysical proposition it is silly and self-deluding. It is bizarre to imagine that the world needs America to “hold it together”. America itself is hardly in one piece.

He describes the negative global consequences of delusional U.S. thinking to then muse about the outcome:

What is the impact of a dysfunctional US political system, where the more reasonable wing of the ruling elite cling to ideas about America’s role that are systematically self-deluding. You could say that hypocrisy is normal. It is the besetting sin of liberalism. But in light of the scale of looming global problems and the shift in the balance of power that has already taken place, let alone that which may still to come, how long can this tension be maintained and what will be the price?

He seems to ask if the now falling penny will ever hit the ground:

The only thing that seems for sure is that we should avoid falling into the trap of what I’ve called fin-fiction or fin-fi, which assumes that because these tension seem unbearable they must therefore resolve in some logical way, for instance in the speculation over the end of dollar hegemony, or what appears be the Biden fantasy of a return to the normality of American leadership.

I am skeptical even of invoking terms like “interregnum”, signifying a temporary hiatus between orders of power.

What gives us confidence that our current situation is temporary and that some new order, like the old, will emerge?

Is that not another version of the kind of thinking that says the world “needs organizing” by a power sitting at the head of the table - in “America’s place”?

That question, to me, seems to miss what multilateralism really means. It does not mean unilateralism with a different country in the lead. It means a somewhat democratic UN system, with an expanded Security Council that includes the large population countries of each continent.

It means to follow international law.

Will the U.S. come back into that system? Or does it need a global war to decide the outcome?

 

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Have You Noticed How “Terrorism” NEVER Disrupts The Lives Of Those In Power?

MOA  |  Israel is a colonial settler state in permanent conflict with the suppressed natives.

It thought it could survive in that state, or even extend its settlements, by deterring opposing forces with its superior military.

Hamas has breached that deterrence myth by inflicting, in one day, more casualties in Israel than it had experienced in any previous wars.

Natanyahoo is under pressure to restore the deterrence, to again provide the Zionists with a feeling of superiority.

He can not do that.

Any land attack in Gaza means urban warfare in an already destroyed city with large underground facilities. During the taking of Bakhmut the Wagener forces had in total some 40,000 casualties (dead and wounded). The other side had more than 70,000. What price would the IDF have to pay to 'destroy Hamas'?

The other factor is of course Hizbullah and other resistance groups, which may well attack Israel from the north and various other directions. Hizbullah has loudly said it would do so should the IDF enter Gaza. It has some 100,000 missiles - more than enough to exhaust Israel's air defenses. Its longest reach missiles can attack any major city within Israel. There have already been daily fire exchanges at the norther border.

The 2006 war in Lebanon has shown that Hizbullah is dug in and very able to defend itself. It has since gained more experience by fighting ISIS in Syria. Neither U.S. air force attacks nor a land force invasion can hinder Hizbullah from firing its missiles.

(Syria, as well as Iran, will not intervene in the war unless they are directly attacked.)

Netanyahoo must attack Gaza to restore deterrence. He can not attack Gaza because the urban warfare would cause large Israeli casualties. He can not attack Gaza because Hizbullah would then destroy the myth of the superior settler state even more than Hamas has done so far.

Israel, with the help of the U.S., has tried to push the population of Gaza into Egypt. From Egypt's standpoint that would be a humanitarian solution, at least as long as others pay for it. But it would cause a serious strategic problem. Resistance by Hamas and others against Israel would continue indefinitely, but Egypt would be held responsible for it. It can not and will not take on that burden.

Netanyahoo's next idea was to starve Gaza. But the world will not let him do that. At least not beyond a certain point. Even the UN Secretary General has visited the Rafah crossing. Other global organizations, like the WHO and ASEAN, have spoken up. Pictures of starving people will make it impossible for the west to support that 'solution'.

Meanwhile Hamas fighters will continue to sit in their tunnels, ready to defend their land, and likely with enough provisions to hold out for months.

Israeli settlers, with the support of the IDF, are rampaging through the West Bank. They are killing more Palestinians and further enrage the global public against their deeds. This will escalate.

Israel's decision making is paralyzed. It will for now continue to talk of a ground invasion but will not launch one. It will also continue to starve Gaza.

But something will soon break. At any minute there might be a new large atrocity in Gaza or a pogrom in the West Bank. Any miscalculation in the north could launch that front into a hot war. Hizbullah could start to 'preemptively' invade Israeli proper.

But Israel's Jewish public is still demanding a war of revenge. It still needs the restoration of its deterrence and superiority.

But what if that turns out to be impossible to achieve?

Well. Then something else must change.

As Adam Shatz summarizes in the London Review of Books:

Vengeful Pathologies (archived)

The inescapable truth is that Israel cannot extinguish Palestinian resistance by violence, any more than the Palestinians can win an Algerian-style liberation war: Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are stuck with each other, unless Israel, the far stronger party, drives the Palestinians into exile for good. The only thing that can save the people of Israel and Palestine, and prevent another Nakba – a real possibility, while another Holocaust remains a traumatic hallucination – is a political solution that recognises both as equal citizens, and allows them to live in peace and freedom, whether in a single democratic state, two states, or a federation. So long as this solution is avoided, a continuing degradation, and an even greater catastrophe, are all but guaranteed.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mohatir Mohammad

Transcript:

OF LIES AND DECEPTIONS

1. President Joe Biden’s statement regarding the bombing of the hospital in Gaza was from a misfired Palestinian rocket is totally ridiculous and absurd.

2. Why should there be any doubt that the blast of the Al Ahli Arab hospital is from an Israeli air strike as the murderous regime had been attempting to wipe Palestinians and Gaza out of existence since last week.

3. In fact, Israel had been after the Palestinians all the time, if not wipe out the Palestinians altogether, for the past 70 years and suddenly now, after launching air strikes day and night, Palestinians blames for the blast on the hospital.

4. Biden’s narrative is based on feedbacks from Nethanyahu and Pentagon.

5. Obviously Nethanyahu lies about everything. And if Biden wants to use Pentagon to give credence to his narrative, we have not forgotten how Pentagon and other American institutions lied about the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq.

6. A more recent lie is about Biden claiming to have seen pictures of Hamas beheading babies.

7. Indeed, the White House had withdrawn the statement, admitting that there was no proof of such a deed. The question is how Biden could blatantly lie in the first place and with a straight face.

8. The crux of the matter is that all these atrocities committed by Israel on the Palestinians stems from the American support for Tel Aviv.

9. If the American Government withdraws its support for Israel and stop all military aids to the regime, Israel would not have carried out the genocide and mass murders of Palestinians with impunity.

10. The United States government needs to come clean and tell the truth. Israel and its IDF are the terrorists. The United States is blatantly supporting terrorists. So what is the United States?

 

Friday, October 20, 2023

While You're Watching Israel The Great Reset Soldiers On...,

Off-Guardian  |  “We need a new approach to digital identity”, so say the authors of an “Agenda Article” for the World Economic Forum, published on the 28th of September.

Digital ID has been in the news a lot lately, obscured for the past week in the mist of the Israel-Hamas situation.

Last month the United Nation Developments Programme published its legal guidelines for digital IDs as well as “mobilizing” global leadership with a $400mn fund to “empower” digital identity programmes in over 100 countries.

Various nations are already making steps in that direction. Multiple US states are either already issuing digital IDs or planning to in the near future, as are Kenya, Somalia, Bhutan and Singapore. Austria’s system is going online in December.

Just last week, Forbes Australia published it’s guide to what “Australians need to know” about digital IDs, and 9News reported that they could be in place as soon as next year.

Just two days ago, the Journal of Australian Law Society predicted the same thing.

Meanwhile, also in Australia, the world’s 21st largest bank is changing its terms and conditions to allow it to “de-bank” customers.

The National Australian Bank’s “revised” terms and conditions go into force on November 1st and include, in clause 11: “NAB may close your account at any time at its discretion”.

The reasons NAB would consider enforcing clause 11 make for interesting reading [emphasis added]:

NAB can take a range of things into account when exercising its rights and discretions. These can include:
[…]
(e) NAB’s public statements, including those relating to protecting vulnerable persons, the environment or sustainability;
(f) community expectations and any impact on NAB’s reputation;

So – as of November 1st – NAB reserves the right to de-bank you if you get cancelled, or say something they don’t approve of about climate change or “vulnerable people”.

In the UK, just two days ago, it was reported the government is planning to upload every passport photo in their records to a facial recognition database. 

At the same time, despite “record profits” for energy companies last winter, the UK government reports they may need to further increase energy bills to “prevent energy companies going bust”.

Two days ago Japan announced it would be trading carbon credits on its stock exchange, and some Japanese firms are introducing a digital currency specifically for the settlement of “clean energy certificates”.

Just yesterday India announced the launch of trial wholesale digital currency, and the South China Morning Post reported a new “hard-wallet” for SIM-based CBDC payments, a joint project between the Bank of China and Chinese telecommunications giants.

Back to Australia, where it was reported on October 12th that Mastercard and the Reserve Bank of Australia had “successfully trialled” the interoperability of CBDC systems, whilst ensuring that “the pilot CBDC can be held, used, and redeemed only by authorised parties“.

Mastercard’s report also notes that the benefits of CBDCs are “programmability, transparency, and compliance”.

 

Not Costco Too!!! Say It Isn't So....,

KCUR  |  You know how holiday stuff is expensive when you most want to buy it, but cheaper after the holidays?

The same dynamic will soon apply to what you pay for electricity on the Missouri side of the Kansas City area.

All of Evergy’s Missouri customers will see a steep price hike for the electricity they burn during the peak demand hours of late afternoon and early evening.

It’s called time-of-use pricing and Jim Busch, the director of industry analysis at the Missouri Public Service Commission, said it makes sense.

“When you look at the overall benefits to the consumers and the company and society as a whole,” he said, “it’s a better path to go down.”

Evergy's change to the time-sensitive model comes with particularly dramatic upticks.

Electricity costs more to generate at peak times, like summer evenings when everyone’s running their air conditioners. Companies have to fire up auxiliary generators to meet that demand.

That means burning natural gas. Cranking up those gas plants costs more to kick out the same power than coal, solar, wind and nuclear.

Time-of-use rates reflect that added cost. Customers pay something closer to the actual cost to produce power at a given time — and have an incentive to use less electricity when it costs the most to produce.

Power companies already send out bills based on time-of-use rates in much of the western U.S. Evergy has allowed customers in both Missouri and Kansas to voluntarily opt-in to variable price billing for years. And the method is catching on, Busch.

But there’s something different about the time-of-use billing schedule for Missouri that Evergy customers will see this fall.

Typically, the price of electricity varies only slightly over the course of the day. Rates may go up or down one or two cents per kilowatt hour.

Some Missouri Evergy customers, on the other hand, will see rates fluctuate dramatically. Under the default plan, customers will be charged 9 cents a kilowatt hour most of the time. But the rate vaults up to 38 cents between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on summer evenings. That’s a 322% spike.

“That is a huge increase,” said Daniel Zimny-Schmitt at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “There’s no way around that.”

He said 38 cents a kilowatt hour, the top rate under Evergy’s default plan, would mark one of the most expensive residential electricity rates in the country outside of California.

The default plan —Evergy brands it “Standard Peak Saver" — is one of four options that Missouri Evergy customers can choose from by October. If you don’t do anything to your Evergy account, that’s the billing structure you’ll have.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

The Arab World Cancelled Meeting With Biden After Latest Israeli Atrocity

BBC  |  US President Joe Biden has said a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital appears to have been caused by Palestinian militants, backing Israel's account of the incident as he visits the country.

Mr Biden, who landed in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, said he was "deeply saddened and outraged" by the explosion.

Israel's military said it was caused by a failed Palestinian rocket launch.

But Palestinian officials said an Israeli air strike hit the hospital.

Health officials in Gaza have said almost 500 people were killed in the explosion, but no death toll has been confirmed.

Meanwhile, Mr Biden has announced that an agreement has been reached with Israel to allow humanitarian aid to move from Egypt into Gaza. However, Israel said it would not allow any aid to pass through its own territory until hostages being held by Hamas are released.

'Deeply saddened and outraged'

Mr Biden's high-stakes visit has been overshadowed by the blast at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital on Tuesday evening, which has further inflamed tensions and sparked protests across the region.

He landed in Tel Aviv on Wednesday where he was greeted warmly by Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, before the pair hosted a joint news conference.

"I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday," Mr Biden said.

"Based on what I've seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you," he told Mr Netanyahu. "But there's a lot of people out there not sure so we have to overcome a lot of things."

Mr Biden was later asked by reporters what led him to conclude that Israel was not responsible, and said: "The data I was shown by my defence department."

In the news conference, he reiterated his support for Israel and condemned the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which launched an unprecedented attack on Israel from Gaza on 7 October that left 1,400 people dead.

At least 3,000 people have been killed in retaliatory Israeli strikes on Gaza, according to Palestinian health official.

Mr Biden had planned to travel from Israel to Jordan to meet King Abdullah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, but that leg of the trip was cancelled after the hospital blast on Tuesday.

Jordan cancelled the meeting and condemned what it called "a great calamity and a heinous war crime". The White House, meanwhile, said the decision had been "made in a mutual way" and Mr Biden would call Mr Abbas and Mr Sisi on his return flight to the US.

Ain't No Katyusha Rocket Blowing Up Hospitals In Gaza

caitlinjohnstone  |  A huge blast in Gaza has destroyed the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, killing hundreds of people. The exact death toll is still unknown.

Details of who is responsible for the explosion are being hotly debated by all parties, and this is still a developing story with a lot of details yet to be revealed. But what I’d like to quickly document as things unfold is the highly unusual number of mass media reporters I’ve been seeing who haven’t hesitated to point to Israel as the probable culprit.

After noting that Israel is blaming the blast on a failed rocket launch by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), MSNBC foreign correspondent Raf Sanchez quickly pointed out that PIJ rockets don’t tend to do that kind of damage, but Israeli missiles do. He also noted that Israel has an extensive history of lying about this sort of thing.

“The Israeli military at this point is not providing any evidence to back up its claims that this was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket; they are citing intelligence that they have not yet made public,” Sanchez said. “We should also say that this kind of death toll is not what you normally associate with Palestinian rockets. These rockets are dangerous, they are deadly, they do not tend to kill hundreds of people in a single strike in the way that Israeli high explosives — especially these bunker buster bombs that are used to target these Hamas tunnels under Gaza City — do have the potential to kill hundreds of people.”

“And we should say finally that there are instances in the past where the Israeli military has said things in the immediate aftermath of an incident that have turned out not to be true in the long run,” Sanchez added. “And the one example I’ll give you is that when the Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, was killed in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military initially said that she was killed by Palestinian gunmen, and it was only months and months later that they admitted that it was likely an Israeli soldier who fired the fatal shot.”

CNN’s Clarissa Ward said essentially the same thing.

“I will say, just based on seeing these rocket attacks many times over the years, that they don’t usually have an impact like that in terms of the size of the blast, in terms of the scale of the death toll and the scale of the damage,” Ward said. “It’s also not the first time, it’s important to add, that we have seen the IDF categorically deny something before being forced to kind of do an about-face after an extensive investigation.”

 

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Colombia Ran Its Mouth Reckless With Israel Right Up To The Minute It Got PUNKED!!!

nakedcapitalism  |  On Sunday (October 15), the Deputy Director General for Latin America at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Jonathan Peled, summoned the Colombian ambassador, Margarita Manjarez, to “deliver a reprimand” over Petro’s “hostile and antisemitic statements against the State of Israel made last week.” According to the Israeli press release, Petro’s statements “constitute support for the horrific acts of Hamas terrorists, inflame antisemitism, harm representatives of the State of Israel, and threaten the safety of the Jewish community in Colombia.”

Petro has refused to back down despite concerted pressure from Israel, the US, the Jewish community and Colombia’s political and media establishment. Last week, the US “strongly condemn[ed]” President Petro’s statements and “call[ed] on him to condemn Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, for its barbaric murder of Israeli men, women and children,” all to no avail: Petro continues to lambast Israel while refusing to condemn Hamas.

On Saturday, he even stated that “Hamas was created by Mossad to divide the Palestinian people and have an excuse to punish them” — a claim that was widely ridiculed by Colombian media and politicians despite having more than a grain of truth to it. As the Wall Street Journal reported in its 2009 article, How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas, “Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged [Hamas] as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah.”

In 2019, Netanyahu himself told his fellow Likud members in the Knesset:

Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas.

The Israeli ambassador, Dagan, responded to Petro’s tweet with a sarcastic jibe that partly backfired — at least among those aware of the role Israel has played in arming and training Colombia’s paramilitary groups (more on that later):

It is true, Mr. President Gustavo Petro, as you wrote in this tweet, indeed #Hamas is an invention of the Mossad. However, I would like to share additional information with you from our intelligence services, which are among the best in the world: The Elders of Zion founded the Clan del Golfo. There are still Jews, with large, aquiline noses, who command the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.

Tel Aviv’s next step was to suspend all “security exports” to Colombia in response to its president’s “anti-Semitic” statements. Outside of the US, Israel is the Colombian military’s main weapons supplier. But if the move was supposed to bring Petro back into line, it had, if anything, the opposite effect. Petro’s immediate response was the following statement (translation and comments in parenthesis by yours truly), which includes accusations of Israeli involvement in atrocities during Colombia’s dirty wars:

If we have to suspend foreign relations with Israel, we will suspend them. We do not support genocides.

You do not insult the Colombian president.

I call on Latin America to show real solidarity with Colombia. And if it is not capable, it will be  history that will have the last word, as it did in the great Chaco war.

Neither the Yair Kleins nor the Raifal Eithans (NC: two people we will discuss later on) will be able to say what the history of peace in Colombia is like. They unleashed massacres and genocide in Colombia.

To the people of Israel, I ask them to help bring about peace in Colombia and… in Palestine and the world.

That was on Sunday. On Monday, Petro followed through with his threat — though it was Colombia’s foreign minister, Álvaro Leyva Durán, who actually carried it out, albeit not very smoothly or for very long.

X Diplomacy 

After posting a tweet lambasting the Israeli ambassador for his “mindless boorishness” toward Colombia’s president, Leyva Durán suggested that Dagan should “apologise and leave”. Within minutes, the story had gone viral: Colombia, until recently widely considered the “Israel of South America,” had expelled Israel’s ambassador. An hour later, Leyva Durán tweeted: “No sensible person can applaud this scorched earth policy no matter where it comes from. It violates the dignity of the human person. Kills innocents.”

But two hours later, the foreign minister pulled a bizarre 180 degree turn, stating, again on Twitter/X, that he had not actually ordered Dagan’s expulsion after all but was instead merely insisting that respect be shown for Colombia’s president. An hour later, he tweeted: “Relations with Israel will be maintained if this country so wishes. Our constitutional principles teach us and command us to respect international law. Something that must be two-way. Respectful relations between States will always be welcome.”

It was, if nothing else, an embarrassing illustration of the dangers of conducting high-stakes international diplomacy on social media platforms. It is not clear why the Petro government made such a dramatic climbdown — and what’s more, on the most public of global stages — but I will try to hazard a guess.

May Golan Looks And Sounds Just Like A Pig Grunting....,

#Israel official states: "I am personally proud of the ruins of Gaza, and that every baby, even 80 years from now, will tell their gra...