Monday August 21, 2017
The US and South Korean large-scale combined joint exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) begins on Aug. 21 to last till Aug. 31. There will be approximately 17,500 total US service members participating, with roughly 3,000 coming from off-peninsula - 500 more than last year. The numbers of all participants swell to a total of about 530,000 because South Korean servicemen (around 50,000), government officials and civilians also take part in the drills. The missions include: amphibious landings, intense live-fire exercises, counter-terrorism drills and simulated or tabletop battle plans.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was deeply worried and considered the risk of military conflict between the US and North Korea "very high." He suggested a plan under which North Korea would halt missile tests if the US and South Korea would cancel the drills. China also objects to the exercise.
The UFG training event was initiated in 1976 and is conducted annually during August or September. This year, it is the first UFG exercise to be held after Pyongyang fire-tested intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking US territory, such as the island of Guam. North Korea feels threatened by a squadron of B-1B bombers on the island. The aircraft flying to the peninsula for taking part in the exercise could provoke it into launching ballistic missiles to spark a war. Last year, Pyongyang responded to the UFG by testing a nuclear weapon.
North Korea alleges that the drill is a precursor to a war planned against it. With bits of information coming from various sources pieced together, one can come to conclusion that this time it may be right. It’s not a routine training event.
Monday August 21, 2017
Following the recent clashes between the alt-right and the group antifa, some libertarians have debated which group they should support. The answer is simple: neither. The alt-right and its leftist opponents are two sides of the same authoritarian coin.
Sunday August 20, 2017
AMMAN JORDAN – I haven’t seen many miracles in my decades of travel around the globe, particularly not in the strife-torn Mideast.
But last week I participated in a real miracle in Jordan as the splendid Four Paws International group staged a daring rescue of 13 wild animals trapped in the wartime hellhole of Aleppo, Syria. It appeared to be a mission impossible.
Syria has been torn apart for the past six years by a bloody civil war that has killed over 400,000 people and reduced many parts of this beautiful country to ruins. Half the population has become refugees. The ancient northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest, was laid waste.
Just outside Aleppo lies a wrecked 40-acre amusement park cum zoo that once held hundreds of imprisoned wild animals to entertain children. The animals were abandoned in their cages in the midst of constant gunfire and shelling. Many were killed; the rest were left to starve to death or die of thirst. Some starving Syrians shared their meager rations with the animals.
No one else cared about these abandoned creatures that included five lions, two tigers, two Asian black bears, two hyenas and two Husky dogs.
Saturday August 19, 2017
Imagine a world where one country – country X – is bombing at least seven countries at any one time and is seeking to bomb an eighth, all the while threatening an adversarial ninth state – country Y – that they will bomb that country into oblivion, as well. Imagine that in this world, country X already bombed country Y back into the Stone Age several decades ago, which directly led to the current adversarial nature of the relationship between the two countries.
Now imagine that country Y, which is currently bombing no one and is concerned mostly with well-founded threats against its own security, threatens to retaliate in the face of this mounting aggression if country X attacks them first. On top of all this, imagine that only country Y is portrayed in the media as a problem and that country X is constantly given a free pass to do whatever it pleases.
Now replace country X with the United States of America and country Y with North Korea to realize there is no need to imagine such a world. It is the world we already live in.
As true as all of this is, the problem is constantly framed as one caused by North Korea alone, not the United States. “How to Deal With North Korea,” the Atlantic explains
. “What Can Trump Do About North Korea?” the New York Times asks
. “What Can Possibly Be Done About North Korea,” the Huffington Post queries
. Time provides
6 experts discussing “How We Can Solve the Problem” (of North Korea). “North Korea – what can the outside world do?” asks
Friday August 18, 2017
The United Arab Emirates created a “slush fund” using money meant for domestic economic development projects and funneled it to a high-profile think tank in the United States, emails obtained by The Intercept show.
Friday August 18, 2017
In a truly “free” society, no one gets beaten up for their political views. Laws cannot be passed against thoughts or symbols. And mob violence is not allowed to rule the day. But Florida Senator Marco Rubio, like most establishment political hacks, is not interested in a free society. He’s interested in seizing power in any way possible. And if that means excusing and encouraging mob violence, to achieve his political ends, then so be it. While Rubio may rail against dictators, his statements sound eerily like the late Fidel Castro, and other tyrants like him.
Rubio’s statement came in the form of a series of tweets he posted in response to the Charlottesville circus. Here are his exact words: “When entire movement built on anger & hatred towards people different than you, it justifies & ultimately leads to violence against them.” While the trained seals who follow hucksters like Rubio will bark their approval for his “brave words”; those who love liberty will shudder at the true ramifications of what he is saying. But let’s begin by trying to parse who exactly he is saying it about.
Like a good political opportunist, he speaks in vague terms. One might surmise that his reference to an “entire movement” is a shot at Donald Trump and his supporters. Myriads of establishment politicians have accused Trump of “anger & hatred”; yet examples of this are never forthcoming, other than disagreements over something like immigration policy. So, is Rubio saying it’s OK to physically attack any who belong to “the movement” that elected Trump? And if so, then is Rubio also saying it’s OK to physically attack Trump? The supposed leader of this “movement?” The political vagaries allow Rubio to deny this, and perhaps say that he is talking about white supremacists, neo-Nazis, or the KKK. But even if he is talking about these groups…. Is he correct in saying it’s “justifiable” to physically attack them for their views? If so, then he is no friend to freedom in general, nor to free speech in specific.
Thursday August 17, 2017
The White House readout of US President Donald Trump’s phone call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday highlighted that the latter “thanked” Trump for his “strong leadership uniting the world against the North Korean menace.” Modi must be the only world leader who has given such fulsome praise to Trump for his performance vis-a-vis North Korea. And, Trump naturally felt elated.
In reality, though, it wasn’t particularly difficult for Modi to say such a strange thing, because India has no role to play in resolving the North Korea problem. What the readout betrays is Washington’s craving for endorsement by the world community for its incoherent approach to the North Korean problem. However, Modi has taken a risk here by raising new expectations in Trump’s mind. The point is, Trump is getting into a collision course with Iran.
Trump has tried to outsmart Tehran by not tearing up the Iran deal but instead undermining it systematically. But Tehran has decided to draw the ‘red line’ and challenged Trump to cross it. On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened Trump that if his administration imposes any further sanctions on Iran, Tehran will restart its nuclear programme. Period. Significantly, Rouhani issued the stark warning to Trump while addressing the Iranian Majlis...
Tuesday August 15, 2017
By suggesting that he might order a US regime-change invasion of Venezuela, President Trump has inadvertently shown why North Korea has been desperately trying to develop nuclear weapons — to serve as a deterrent or defense against one of the US national-security state storied regime-change operations. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Venezuela and, for that matter, other Third World countries who stand up to the US Empire, also seeking to put their hands on nuclear weapons. What better way to deter a US regime-change operation against them?
Think back to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The US national-security establishment had initiated a military invasion of the Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, had exhorted President Kennedy to bomb Cuba during that invasion, and then had recommended that the president implement a fraudulent pretext (i.e., Operation Northwoods) for a full-scale military invasion of Cuba.
That’s why Cuba, which had never initiated any acts of aggression against the United States, wanted Soviet nuclear missiles installed in Cuba. Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro knew that there was no way that Cuba could defeat the United States in a regular, conventional war. Everyone knows that the military establishment in the United States is so large and so powerful that it can easily smash any Third World nation, including Cuba, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Venezuela.
Monday August 14, 2017
The political violence in Charlottesville yesterday was as predictable as it was futile. One person was killed and dozens badly injured, marking a new low in the political and cultural wars that are as heated as any time since in America since the 1960s.
This relentless politicization of American culture has eroded goodwill and inflamed the worst impulses in society. Antifa and the alt-right may represent simple-minded expressions of hatred and fear, but both groups are animated entirely by politics: the perception that others can impose their will on us politically. The only lasting solution to political violence is to make politics matter less.
We’ve allowed politics to invade every aspect of American life, from religion and family life to sex and sexuality, from bathrooms to ball fields to the workplace. But what has it gotten us besides identity politics on steroids? The “personal is political” is hardly the rallying cry of a free and confident nation. Even as we enjoy historically unparalleled material prosperity, we are dispirited by the 2016 election hangover and looking for scapegoats to explain the American malaise.
It’s easy to decry Antifa and its violent leftwing rhetoric. It’s easy to decry the alt-Right, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and fascists. It’s more important to understand them as exemplars of a new political age. Progressives demanded permanent revolution; conservatives responded by becoming permanent reactionaries. And the media bias (overwhelmingly anti-right) makes things worse: one “side” becomes convinced of its moral superiority, while the other becomes convinced the fix is in.
We suspect, without knowing, that a Hillary voter is just a step or two removed from a bandanna-clad Antifa, while a Mitt Romney voter is but a few degrees removed from an alt-Right nationalist marching in the streets. This may seem farcical, but the political society promoted by Clinton and Romney encourages it. Everyone must take a side, and live with the excesses.
Monday August 14, 2017
There’s something very strange and disturbing about the hype around the White House and US media’s latest obsession with North Korea. It’s not just the usual war-mongering and hot air though. We’ve seen all that before. This goes beyond sabre-rattling. There’s something uncomfortably bipartisan about this new appetite for war.
Watching CNN this week, you got the impression we’ve entered a new comic book phase in the American experiment, driven by an 24 hour media environment where facts and analysis seem like a distant nostalgic hallucination. I asked myself, is it real? Where does the show finally end, and the war begin?
We’re told that North Korea has now defied recent threats of “fire and fury” from US President Donald Trump, and that the regime has announced its plan to launch missiles at the nearest US territory, the island of Guam in the Pacific. So that’s it. It’s war then, right?
Trump’s generals wasted no time throwing petrol on the fire, led by Defense Secretary Gen. James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis who warned Kim Jung-Un that the US military “possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth.”
Whatever your views might be of Trump, North Korea, US foreign policy, or ‘global security,’ at this point we’d all do well to hit the breaks.