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Offline RE

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🚀 China develops their own Mother of All Bombs
« Reply #645 on: January 06, 2019, 01:06:41 AM »
A bigger explosion is always better.

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🚀 Dismantling the Doomsday Machines
« Reply #646 on: January 21, 2019, 03:20:55 AM »
https://www.greanvillepost.com/2019/01/19/dismantling-the-doomsday-machines/

Dismantling the Doomsday Machines


HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

By John V. Walsh


“From a technical point of view, he (Stanley Kubrick) anticipated many things. … Since that time, little has changed, honestly. The only difference is that modern weapons systems have become more sophisticated, more complex. But this idea of a retaliatory strike and the inability to manage these systems, yes, all of these things are relevant today. It (controlling the systems) will become even more difficult and more dangerous.” (Emphasis, jw)

Vladimir Putin commenting on the film, Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, in an interview with Oliver Stone, May 11, 2016. Putin had not seen the movie and did not know of it before Stone showed it to him.

The Doomsday Machine, the title of Daniel Ellsberg’s superb book is not simply an imaginary contraption from a movie masterpiece. A Doomsday Machine uncannily like the one described in Dr. Strangeloveexists right now. In fact, there are two such machines, one in US hands and one in Russia’s. The US seeks to hide its version, but Ellsberg has revealed that it has existed since the 1950s. Russia has quietly admitted that it has one, named it formally, “Perimetr,” and also tagged it with a frighteningly apt nickname “Dead Hand.” Because the US and Russia are the only nations with Doomsday Machines to date we shall restrict this discussion to them.

The Doomsday Machine was published just a little more than a year ago, but its terrifying message has failed to provoke action. And Daniel Ellsberg is a man who knows whereof he speaks; the subtitle of the book is “Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” which is how Ellsberg spent the early part of his career. What follows on this first anniversary of the book’s publication is a brief restatement of the main argument of the book and then a summary of Ellsberg’s plan of action. (Not included are memoirs and personal experiences of this remarkable, very intelligent and moral man, which are found in the book and which I recommend to flesh out the line of thought presented herein.) Ellsberg’s plan is to be considered a stop gap measure to remove the nuclear sword of Damocles hanging over our heads and allow time to move to total abolition of nuclear weapons, a much more arduous task. Hopefully this essay will serve as a reminder of Ellsberg’s warnings and as a call to act on them.

How Do the Doomsday Machines Work? – Two components

What is the essence of a “Doomsday Machine”? The first component is a mechanism of launching nuclear weapons that is on hair trigger alert and not always in the hands of the Presidents of Russia or the US. The fact well concealed from the US public is that the US President or those in the line of Constitutional succession are not the only ones with a finger on the nuclear button, and the same is true in Russia. The second component of a Doomsday Machine is a weapon of such destructive force that it can kill billions in the immediate aftermath of an attack and then the entire human race and perhaps all animal life on earth.

The Launch Mechanism – Command and Control

Russia and the US each have a First Strike capability, that is the ability to strike the other with great force, destroy the other’s cities and industrial and military base – and knock out the other’s nuclear deterrent. The essence of a First Strike capacity is this ability to wipe out the deterrent of the other side or weaken it sufficiently that the remaining force could be intercepted for the most part. How can a targeted nation prevent the use of a First Strike? It must convince the adversary that such a strike is futile and will not destroy the deterrent of the targeted nation. The attacker must understand that he will not escape retribution, because the nuclear force of the targeted nation, its nuclear deterrent, will survive.

Launch on Warning – Hair Trigger Alert. The first measure to prevent the loss of deterrence in the event of a First Strike is to put the nuclear force on Launch on Warning or Hair Trigger Alert status. Most of us have heard about this, but we ought to quake in our boots every time the thought of it crosses our minds. Since the time to respond to a First Strike is only tens of minutes for an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) attack, which takes about 30 minutes to travel between the US and Russia, and even less time for a short or intermediate range missile, a targeted country must have its nuclear force loaded onto delivery vehicles and capable of being launched on warning of a nuclear attack. The weapons must be ready to go and launched before the country is struck. This is called “Launch on Warning” and the weapons are sometimes said to be on “Hair Trigger Alert.” (There is some imprecision to the terminology surrounding nuclear weapons, partly due the obfuscation used by the US in negotiations. Steven Starr gives an account of this imprecision and a brief glossary here. I will use terms that are easily understood and commonsensical. And I will define them when necessary.)

Nuclear warheads that are loaded onto delivery vehicles are said to be “deployed,” and there were roughly 1600 such warheads loaded onto long range delivery vehicles, each, in Russian and U.S. hands in 2018. They are ready to be launched in minutes. (There are several thousand more warheads in reserve on each side but not “deployed.”) It is easy to see the danger inherent in this situation. The decision to launch must be made in minutes to prevent destruction of the nuclear deterrent and it would be hard to decide with certainty whether the warning of an attack was genuine or due to a technical malfunction. In fact, the signal that an attack is coming is always likely to be ambiguous. Even if the attack is real, the attacker will seek to hide it and so even then the signal will be ambiguous. Thus, even an ambiguous warning caused due to a technical malfunction must always be treated with seriousness and a decision to respond made within minutes.


That a decision of such moment must be made so quickly, under the gun if you will, is a disaster waiting to happen. A mistake is bound to occur with the passage of sufficient time. And it nearly did during the Cuban Missile crisis and again in 1983 when the Soviets detected an attack coming from the United States. According to established protocol the warning was sufficient for the Soviet officer in charge to inform the leadership that a nuclear attack on the U.S. should be ordered. But that officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stefan Petrov, refused to follow protocol and instead interpreted the warning of an attack as a false alarm, which it was. So, a launch of Soviet weapons did not occur. In Russia, Stefan Petrov who died recently is hailed as “the man who saved the world.” This is the nuclear powder keg on which we all sit.

Decapitation and Delegation – Unknowns have their finger on “the button.” The second measure to prevent loss of deterrence is Delegation. This is not widely known or understood. One aspect of a First Strike would be an attempt to knock out known command centers so that a retaliatory strike could not be ordered. This is known as Decapitation. The antidote to Decapitation is Delegation, that is others besides the Presidents and their immediate successors are authorized to press “the button.” It works this way. These “others” are located in secret command centers far from Washington or the Strategic Air Command Base in Colorado, both of which will be targeted in a Decapitation strike. If these secret centers find themselves cut off from communication with Washington or Moscow, then the assumption is made that a decapitating nuclear strike has occurred. In that event these “others” removed from the centers of power are authorized to the press the nuclear button!! (One can see why the Russians call their system of delegation, Perimetr.) These others are not elected officials and in fact we do not know who they are! What Ellsberg discovered is that some of these “others,” military men, were concerned that they too could be hit in a decapitating strike. So they had delegated authority to still others!! In fact, no one, perhaps not even the President and his circle of advisors, knows who can send off the nuclear weapons. Is it possible that one of them might be like the fictional General Jack D. Ripper, the psychotic and delusional man who gives the launch order in Dr. Strangelove – or a similar individual lusting after the Rapture?

It does not take much imagination to see the multiple ways in which things could go wrong; a launch due to a false alarm of attack and a lack of time to make a thoughtful check and decision; a failure of communication that puts the perimeter out of touch with the center although no decapitation has in fact occurred; or a mad man or woman or a crazed ideologue who becomes one of the Delegated. A terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon on Moscow or Washington could also mimic a Decapitating attack and set in motion the fast Delegation to the delegatee. The appropriateness of the term “Dead Hand” for this arrangement is striking.

It is true that so far as we know the probability of a mistake or a rogue element gaining control of nuclear weapons is small. (But the fact is we do not know what the situation is – it is hidden from us and perhaps even from elected officials.) The weapons are protected from rogue use by safety locks called Permissive Action Links (PALs) but these are not perfect, and they must be capable of activation by someone in the “perimeter” in the event of Delegation. And they are no protection against a false alarm of an attack. Despite how low the probability of an error might be, the dice are thrown every moment of every day, and with the passage of time, inevitably something will go wrong.

In summary, First Strike Capability is the source of the problem. It leads to Launch on Warning and Delegation by a targeted nation. The U.S. pioneered and maintains a First Strike Capability and refuses to adopt a “No First Strike” policy. Another response to a first strike capability is that the targeted nation will build up the numbers in its nuclear force so that some will always survive an attack. That is precisely what happened in the first Cold War until it reached insane levels as shown graphically here.

The Nuclear Weapon. The First Strike Arsenal.

Obliteration of Russia and the U.S. The second component of a Doomsday Machine is the weapon itself. What is the destructive power of the ensemble of nuclear weapons as used in a First Strike? I know of no such quantitative estimates released by the Pentagon for the present day. They are badly needed. But in 1961 when Ellsberg was among those working on nuclear war fighting strategy for the Kennedy administration, he asked for an estimate from the Pentagon of the deaths due to a First Strike as the generals and their civilian war planners had mapped it out at the time. To his surprise the estimate came back at once – the Pentagon had made it and kept it hidden. Launching of the nuclear weapons planned for use in a First Strike by the U.S. would result in the deaths of 1.2 billion from explosions, radiation and fire. That number was the number of deaths and did not include injuries. And it was only the result of US weapons; it did not include deaths from a response from the Soviet side if they managed one. 1.2 billion people was the toll at a time when the population of the earth was about 3 billion! (Note that this toll does NOT include the effects of nuclear winter which was unknown at that time. More on that below.) And of course, such deaths would be concentrated in the targeted countries which in these times would be the US and Russia. Ellsberg was stunned to learn that the Pentagon would coolly make plans for such a gargantuan and immediate genocide. And so should we all be. What kind of mindset, what kind of ethics, what kind of morality has allowed for such a thing!

Nuclear Winter and the Destruction of Humanity. But the damage does not stop there. This is the surprise that the Pentagon did not understand at the time. The ash from the fires of burning cities would be cast up into the stratosphere so high that it would not be rained out. There it would remain for at least a decade, blocking enough sunlight that no crops would grow for ten years. That is sufficient to cause total starvation and wipe out the entire human race with only a handful at most able to survive. This is Nuclear Winter. It is eerily reminiscent of Kubrick’s Doomsday Machine which resulted in a cloud of radioactivity circling the earth and wiping out all life. Nuclear Winter was first understood in the 1980s, but at that time careful assessment of the existing computer models seemed to indicate that it was not likely and so many “stopped worrying.” Now with the interest in Global Warming, new and better computer models have been developed. When the results of a nuclear first strike are put into these models, Nuclear Winter again makes its appearance as Brian Toon, Alan Robock and others have shown. The TED talks of Toon and of Robockdescribing their findings are worth watching; they are brief and well-illustrated. We are confronted with a genocide of all or nearly all humanity, an “Omnicide.”

The launch of the 1600 “deployed” warheads of either the US or Russia is sufficient to give us nuclear winter. So we in the US have put in place a weapon system on hair trigger alert commanded by we know not whom which can kill virtually all Americans – along with most everyone else on the planet. We have on hair trigger alert a weapon which is in fact suicidal. Use the weapon and we lose our very existence. We should also be clear that even if we prescind from the effects of nuclear winter, the nuclear attacks would be concentrated on Russia and the US. So most of us would be consumed. Thus MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) is replaced with SAD (Self-Assured Destruction).

Disarming the Doomsday Machine

What is Ellsberg’s plan to disarm the Doomsday Machines? He does not suggest total abolition of nuclear weapons, a worthy and ultimate goal, as a first step. He suggests intermediate steps, which can be accomplished much more quickly and remove the present danger.

From what was said above, it is clear that the Doomsday Machine with its massive nuclear force, Launch On Warning and system of Delegation all grows out of a need to protect from a First Strike. The solution to the problem does not demand giving up all nukes or even a deterrent which many are loathe to do. And that is not hard to understand when we compare the fate of Kim Jong-un to that of Muammar Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein. Nor is it difficult to understand in the U.S. given the current intense Russophobia, or in Russia given the alarm caused by NATO’s drive to the East. This is one reason that total abolition of nuclear weapons or even abolition of a nuclear deterrent will be quite difficult. However, dismantling the Doomsday Machines, the immediate danger to humanity, does not demand giving up nuclear deterrence.

Abandoning First Strike Policy and Capacity. Dismantling the Doomsday Machine with its Hair Trigger Alert and Delegation does mean abandoning a First Strike policy and capacity. And right now, only two countries have such First Strike capacity and only one, the U.S., refuses to take the right to use it “off the table” even when not under attack. What does the elimination of First Strike Capacity mean in practice; how can it be achieved? This turns out to involve two basic steps for the US.

Dismantling the Minuteman III. First, the land-based ICBMs, the Minuteman III, must be entirely dismantled, not refurbished as is currently being undertaken at enormous cost. These missiles, the land-based part of the Strategic Triad, are highly accurate but fixed in place, “sitting ducks”; they are only good for a First Strike, for they will be destroyed in a successful First Strike by an adversary. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry and James E. Cartwright, formerly head of the Strategic Air Command and Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have both called for dismantling the Minuteman III. We would thereby also save a lot of money.

Reducing the SLBM Force. The second step in dismantling the First Strike capacity is to reduce the Trident Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) force to the level where it cannot destroy the entire Russian land-based missile force. With these two measures in place the US would no longer have a First Strike Capability, and so Launch on Warning and Delegation upon apparent Decapitation would both be unnecessary. It is that simple.

Of course, the Russians would also need to take similar measures that take into account the specifics of its arsenal. And that is where negotiations, treaties and verification come in. That in turn cannot take place in the current atmosphere of Russiagate and Russophobia, which is why both are existential threats and must be surmounted. We must talk despite our differences, real or perceived.

However, were the US and Russia to abandon their First Strike capacity, a reasonable deterrent could be preserved. Such a deterrent should be far below the threshold for a nuclear winter. When Herbert York, one of the original nuclear war planners and strategists, was asked how many nuclear weapons it would take to guarantee deterrence, he suggested somewhere between one and one hundred, closer to one, perhaps ten. Of course, such a small number demands giving up on a missile defense system which has been a will-o’-the-wisp since the 1950s. But would a leader of any nation, even one equipped with an Anti-Ballistic Missile system, when confronted with 100 nuclear warheads facing him or her, be willing to risk ten getting through and demolishing 10 cities?

But there is a deep problem here. The US at least has not built its nuclear forces with the simple object of deterrence. It has had the policy of being able to strike first and destroy or sufficiently degrade the Russian force so that there would be no retaliation. Ellsberg establishes that definitively based on his own experience in his days as a nuclear war planner. But this is also a will-o’-the-wisp. With Launch on Warning and Delegation both sides would be destroyed. So, this path must be abandoned. However, it is a path that has been trod for a long time. It has acquired many adherents and become embedded in the thinking of our “strategic war planners.” It will be hard to abandon this way of thinking which is what will make the simple steps outlined above politically difficult although technically and logistically quite simple. Moreover, in the mind of the public there is no clear distinction between First Strike and simple deterrence. And many favor a nuclear deterrent. So the movement for total abolition of nuclear weapons has a long way to go to reach its destination.

An additional measure – Eliminating launch on warning, aka “hair trigger alert,” that is, “De-alerting.” An additional measure has also been proposed. All nuclear warheads should be removed from deployed status by Russia and the US. (The oft-used term for this is “De-alerting.”). That is, the warheads should be removed from their delivery vehicles and stored in a way that would take days or even weeks to deploy – that is to remount. This has been proposed by the Global Zero Commission on Nuclear Risk Reduction which says of itself:

As world leaders descended on the United Nations in New York for the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, the Global Zero Commission on Nuclear Risk Reduction — led by former U.S. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James E. Cartwright and comprised of international military experts — issued a bold call for ending the Cold War-era practice of keeping nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert.

The Commission’s extensive report calls for (1) an urgent agreement between the United States and Russia to immediately eliminate “launch-on-warning” from their operational strategy, and to initiate a phased stand down of their high-alert strategic forces….; and (2) a longer-term global agreement requiring all nuclear weapons countries to refrain from putting their nuclear weapons on high alert.

Urgent action is needed, according to the Commission, because of heightened tensions between the United States and Russia, ongoing geopolitical and territorial disputes involving other nuclear countries that could escalate, and an emerging global trend toward placing nuclear weapons on high alert.

The proposal, backed by more than 75 former senior political officials, national security experts and top military commanders, makes the case that a multinational de-alerting agreement could greatly mitigate the many risks of nuclear weapons use, including from computer error, cyber launch, accidental detonations, unauthorized “insider” launch, false warning of enemy attack, and rushed nuclear decision-making.

The full report is here.

Such an arrangement must be solidly negotiated and verifiable. It would seem that the US President could do this by executive order and at little cost. For submarines the nuclear warheads would be stored on shore in a way that makes it impossible to reload for the period of delay that is negotiated. This arrangement means that no decisions about nuclear warfare need be taken at a moment’s notice, no launch on warning is possible or even relevant any longer and the possibility of Decapitation and the consequent necessity of Delegation disappear. And when either nuclear state feels existentially threatened by conventional forces, its first response need not be to fire a nuclear weapon. Its first response could be to deploy its warheads (that is, reload the launch vehicles) while it negotiates over the threat. That along with Ellsberg’s suggestions would greatly stabilize the world and lessen to almost zero the probability of nuclear war based on misjudgment or accident. From there the work on ever greater levels of reduction leading eventually to total abolition of nuclear weapons could go forward.

The Work Ahead to Win Support for Dismantling the Doomsday Machines

To be able to get Congress or the Executive to move toward these changes, a number of things will be necessary. First is information. As a very basic example, Ellsberg learned in 1961 that a US First Strike at that time would produce 1.2 billion deaths as an immediate result of Nuclear War, excluding any effects of nuclear winter and excluding a Soviet response. We deserve to know what those numbers are now. Here, Ellsberg argues, both public pressure and the work of whistle blowers will be needed. As another example, we need to know from the Pentagon and the National Academy of Sciences whether the result of a US First Strike of the magnitude now on hair trigger alert would lead to nuclear winter – as it seems almost certain it would.

But far more than that would be needed. There must be some form of pressure to wake up the politicians and force them to dismantle the Doomsday Machines. But this is missing. In part with the end of the First Cold War, many thought that the danger had disappeared. Clearly it has not. A movement to abolish the Doomsday Machine is a threat to the Military Industrial Complex and so the MIC and its media acolytes would prefer silence or opposition to such efforts. It may be that the generations which lived through the first Cold War and went through its terrors, from “duck and cover” drills to mushroom cloud nightmares, to the Cuban Missile Crisis may have a special role to play. Their psyches have been most affected by nuclear horrors and they may be the best ones to convince succeeding generations of the dangers. But the strategy and tactics for such an effort have yet to be outlined. It is a task that lies before us.

The first step to sanity is to eliminate launch on warning and the second step would be to rid ourselves and the Russians of a First Strike policy and capacity and negotiate a stable deterrent, small enough that it does not threaten nuclear winter. That is something that the nuclear powers and the broad public can easily accept despite the opposition of a small number of nuclear war fighters. Here the idea of negotiations is not to make the other side more vulnerable but to give the “adversary” and oneself a small, stable nuclear deterrent. Such a win-win approach to negotiations is in fact necessary for survival while we take the more difficult road to total nuclear abolition.

Total abolition should be the ultimate goal because no human hand should be allowed to wield species-destroying power. But it seems that an intermediate goal is not only needed to give us the breathing space to get to zero nuclear weapons. An intermediate and readily achievable goal can call attention to the problem and motivate large numbers of people. The Nuclear Freeze movement of the 1980s is a very successful example of this sort of effort; it played a big role in making the Reagan-Gorbachev accords possible. The effort to kill the Doomsday Machines might well be called something like Step Away From Doomsday or simply Step Away. The time may be ripe for such an effort. Getting to zero will require a breakthrough in the way countries deal with one another, especially nuclear armed countries! Let us give ourselves the breathing space to accomplish that.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com He writes about issues of war, peace and empire, and about health care, for Antiwar.com, Consortium News, DissidentVoice.org, Unz Review and other outlets. Now living in the East Bay, he was until recently Professor of Physiology and Cellular Neuroscience at a Massachusetts Medical School.
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🚀 Putin to U.S.: I'm ready for another Cuban Missile crisis if you want one
« Reply #647 on: February 21, 2019, 07:03:38 AM »
We're ratcheting up another notch.  :o

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-putin/putin-to-u-s-im-ready-for-another-cuban-missile-crisis-if-you-want-one-idUSKCN1QA1A3

World News
February 21, 2019 / 1:43 AM / Updated 4 hours ago
Putin to U.S.: I'm ready for another Cuban Missile crisis if you want one
Andrew Osborn

4 Min Read

.
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly, including the State Duma parliamentarians, members of the Federation Council, regional governors and other high-ranking officials, in Moscow, Russia February 20, 2019. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS

The Cuban Missile Crisis erupted in 1962 when Moscow responded to a U.S. missile deployment in Turkey by sending ballistic missiles to Cuba, sparking a standoff that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

More than five decades on, tensions are rising again over Russian fears that the United States might deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe as a landmark Cold war-era arms control treaty unravels.

Putin’s comments, made to Russian media late on Wednesday, follow his warning that Moscow will match any U.S. move to deploy new missiles closer to Russia by stationing its own missiles closer to the United States or by deploying faster missiles or both.

Putin fleshed out his warning in detail for the first time, saying Russia could deploy hypersonic missiles on ships and submarines which could lurk outside U.S. territorial waters if Washington now moved to deploy intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe.

“(We’re talking about) naval delivery vehicles: submarines or surface ships. And we can put them, given the speed and range (of our missiles)... in neutral waters. Plus they are not stationary, they move and they will have to find them,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript.

“You work it out. Mach nine (the speed of the missiles) and over 1,000 km (their range).”
TREATY VIOLATIONS

The U.S. State Department dismissed Putin’s earlier warning as propaganda, saying it was designed to divert attention from what Washington alleges are Moscow’s violations of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

The pact, which banned Russia and the United States from stationing short- and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe, is in its death throes, raising the prospect of a new arms race between Washington and Moscow.

Putin has said he does not want an arms race with the United States, but that he would have no choice but to act if Washington deployed new missiles in Europe, some of which he says would be able to strike Moscow within 10-12 minutes.

Putin said his naval response to such a move would mean Russia could strike the United States faster than U.S. missiles deployed in Europe could hit Moscow because the flight time would be shorter.

“It (the calculation) would not be in their favor, at least as things stand today. That’s for sure.” said Putin.
Russia warns U.S.: keep missiles out of Europe

Relations between Moscow and Washington were strained, he added, but the tensions were not comparable to those of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“They (the tensions) are not a reason to ratchet up confrontation to the levels of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s. In any case that’s not what we want,” said Putin. “If someone wants that, well OK they are welcome. I have set out today what that would mean. Let them count (the missile flight times).”

Editing by Gareth Jones
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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🚀 Indian Jets Strike on Pakistani Side of Kashmir Line
« Reply #648 on: February 26, 2019, 02:22:05 AM »
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/25/world/asia/india-pakistan-kashmir-jets.html?register=email&auth=register-email

Indian Jets Strike on Pakistani Side of Kashmir Line


A photograph released by Pakistan on Tuesday showing damage to trees it said was caused by Indian military airstrikes.CreditCreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

By Maria Abi-Habib and Austin Ramzy

    Feb. 25, 2019

NEW DELHI — Indian warplanes conducted airstrikes in Pakistan on Tuesday, Pakistani officials said, in an escalation of tensions between the nuclear-armed nations after a suicide bombing against Indian troops in the disputed region this month.

If confirmed, it would be the first time that Indian aircraft had crossed the Kashmir Line of Control to strike in years. But it was unclear what, if anything, the attack jets hit on the Pakistani side, raising the possibility that India was making a calculated bet to assuage public anger but minimize the risk of a major Pakistani military response.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s armed forces, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, on Tuesday posted on Twitter four images of a forested area pockmarked with small craters and debris, which he said was the site of Indian airstrikes.

    Payload of hastily escaping Indian aircrafts fell in open. pic.twitter.com/8drYtNGMsm
    — Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 26, 2019

The Indian Foreign Ministry confirmed in a news briefing that a strike had occurred but would give no further details. The Indian news media, quoting local military officials, said Indian Mirage 2000 fighter jets dropped bombs on a “terrorist camp” in Pakistan-controlled territory at 3:30 a.m. local time.

No casualties or damage were reported, General Ghafoor said. The planes dropped the bombs near Balakot, which is close to the disputed border of India and Pakistan.

“Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot,” General Ghafoor wrote.

    Indian aircrafts intruded from Muzafarabad sector. Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot. No casualties or damage.
    — Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 26, 2019

Tensions have escalated in the Kashmir Valley since a Feb. 14 attack by a suicide bomber who drove an explosive-filled vehicle into a convoy of Indian troops. At least 40 soldiers were killed, the deadliest attack in the region in decades. India blamed Pakistan for the assault.

Though India and Pakistan routinely shell each other across what is known as the Line of Control, this is the first time in years that either side has deployed warplanes to fly across it.

Western security officials have raised questions about the existence of a large-scale training camp, saying that Pakistan no longer runs such camps and that militant groups are spread out in small groups around the country.

Analysts and diplomats in New Delhi said the targets of the Indian airstrikes were unclear, as any terrorist groups operating along the border would have cleared out in recent days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India vowed retaliation over the Kashmir attack.

Residents have also fled the area as hundreds of Kashmiris have been arrested and Indian troops have moved more troops into the region.

The Indian attack is likely to draw a response from Pakistan, analysts say.

“The Pakistanis are bound to react, conventionally and not through a proxy like a militant group,” said Rahul Bedi, an analyst at the London-based Jane’s Information Group, which tracks the defense industry. “Where they react and when is something that only Pakistanis know. This is a dangerous situation, as this brinkmanship can escalate quickly.”

The American government has typically been a broker between India and Pakistan, conducting shuttle diplomacy in similarly heated situations. But President Trump has taken a hard line on Pakistan while drawing closer to India since coming to office in 2017. Observers fear the situation may escalate further in the absence of a third nation tamping down tensions.

Early last year, Mr. Trump cut some $1.3 billion in military assistance to Pakistan because of the country’s support of terrorist groups. Pakistan’s military denies that it engages terrorist groups to achieve its defense and foreign policy objectives.

India controls much of Kashmir, while Pakistan controls a smaller part of the region, which was left in an undetermined state after the British partition of India in 1947. It has seen decades of violence from militants seeking independence.

In the run-up to Indian elections this spring, and with Mr. Modi facing a fierce a re-election fight, voters have demanded that New Delhi respond to the Kashmir attack with force against Pakistan.

“What they hit is speculation for now — they say they hit a terrorist camp, but a lot of intelligence sources say those camps in Pakistan had been cleaned out in recent days,” Mr. Bedi said. “This is more political symbolism than anything else. Mr. Modi had to show some demonstrable action on India’s part, ahead of elections.”
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Jeffrey Gettleman contributed reporting from New Delhi, and Salman Masood from Islamabad, Pakistan.
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🚀 Pakistani Military Says It Shot Down 2 Indian Aircraft
« Reply #649 on: February 27, 2019, 12:25:12 AM »
Will they break out the Nukes?

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https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/world/asia/kashmir-india-pakistan-aircraft.html

Pakistani Military Says It Shot Down 2 Indian Aircraft


Indian soldiers near the remains of an Indian aircraft after it crashed on Wednesday.CreditCreditTauseef Mustafa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By Maria Abi-Habib, Sameer Yasir and Salman Masood

    Feb. 27, 2019

NEW DELHI — Pakistan’s military said Wednesday that it had shot down two Indian aircraft that had entered Pakistani airspace and captured one of the pilots, in an escalation of hostilities just a day after Indian fighter jets crossed the disputed Kashmir region to launch an airstrike within Pakistan.

The claim by Pakistan’s military was not confirmed by the Indian government. Earlier, Indian officials said that one of the country’s fighter jets had crashed within Indian-controlled Kashmir, with the cause being unclear.

There are fears that tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors could escalate after Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan promised on Tuesday to retaliate for an incursion by Indian jets hours before. Those airstrikes were the first time since 1971 that the Indian Air Force had crossed the Line of Control, the de facto border between the Indian- and Pakistani-held areas of Kashmir, to strike inside Pakistan.

Pakistan’s chief military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said the country’s air force had shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace on Wednesday morning after they crossed the Line of Control.

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“One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K while other fell inside IOK. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground while two in the area,” General Ghafoor said on Twitter, using the acronyms for the Pakistani- and Indian-administered portions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Maria Abi-Habib reported from New Delhi; Sameer Yasir from Srinigar, Kashmir; and Salman Masood from Islamabad, Pakistan.
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"Don't worry, they won't go to war over this."

They're not at war if they bomb each other? ???  :icon_scratch:

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https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/27/india-pakistan-air-strike-claims-what-you-need-to-know.html

India and Pakistan say they've launched airstrikes against each other. Here's what you need to know

    Tensions between nuclear powers India and Pakistan escalated this week after each country said it carried out airstrikes against the other, prompting concerns about a potential outbreak of war in South Asia.

    On Tuesday, India said its air force conducted strikes against a militant camp in Pakistani territory.
    A day later, Pakistan said its air force carried out strikes into India-controlled territory and claimed to have shot down two Indian jets.

Saheli Roy Choudhury   
Published 4 Hours Ago Updated 42 Mins Ago CNBC.com
      
   
An Indian army solider walks past the wreckage of an Indian aircraft after it crashed in Budgam area, outskirts of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, Feb.27, 2019.
Mukhtar Khan | AP

Long-standing tensions between nuclear powers India and Pakistan escalated this week after each country said it carried out airstrikes against the other, prompting concerns over the potential outbreak of a war in South Asia.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged both countries on Tuesday to "exercise restraint" and avoid an "escalation." France, Australia and China, which is a close ally of Islamabad and a major investor in the country, also called for restraint.

While the countries have had a contentious relationship since 1947, this week's escalation reached heights not seen in recent years.
What happened?

On Tuesday, India said its air force conducted strikes against a militant camp in Pakistani territory. That attack killed a "very large number" of terrorists, trainers and senior commanders belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammed, according to New Delhi.

India's response came after the group recently claimed responsibility for an attack in India-controlled Kashmir that killed more than 40 security officers. The suicide car bombing prompted a barrage of international criticism toward Pakistan for failing to crack down on terror groups operating on its soil.

For its part, Islamabad denied there were any casualties from India's Tuesday strike.

On Wednesday, Pakistan said its air force carried out strikes along the so-called Line of Control to demonstrate its "right, will and capability for self defence." The Line of Control is the de facto border between the Indian and Pakistani parts of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Then, according to a spokesman for the Pakistan armed forces, Indian planes entered Pakistani airspace and two jets were shot down. One of the aircraft fell on India's side of Kashmir, while the second came down in Pakistani-held territory, and its pilot was captured, the spokesman said.

An Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman acknowledged that one pilot was missing and a combat jet had been lost. That spokesman also claimed a Pakistani jet had been shot down in the altercation.
Why does it matter?

Kashmir has always been a sensitive topic for both countries, which have fought two wars over the mountainous region. In 2014, forces from Pakistan and India exchanged fire in border clashes.

Tuesday's attack was the first time India has used airstrikes inside Pakistan since 1971. Moreover, the area it struck — Balakot — was well outside Pakistani Kashmir and beyond the Line of Control.


Students associated with religious political party Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami hold images of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a protest in Lahore on Feb. 27, 2019.
Arif Ali | AFP | Getty Images

Since the terrorist attack earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been under pressure from his base to respond with force ahead of a parliamentary election due to take place by May.

"That India entered Pakistan's airspace is a clear indication that it is willing to do whatever it takes to keep India safe, which, I suspect, caught Pakistan off-guard," Akhil Bery, analyst for South Asia at political consultancy Eurasia Group, told CNBC on Tuesday.

Dhruva Jaishankar, a fellow in foreign policy studies at Brookings India, said India has faced a series of terrorist attacks since the 1990s from groups and individuals based in Pakistan. The challenge for both sides has always been about how to respond to provocations from its neighbor, especially after each country became a nuclear power.

Jaishankar told CNBC that both countries have tested the limitations of how far they can escalate the conflict before reaching a "nuclear threshold."

To be clear, escalating tensions to the point of nuclear conflict would be catastrophic for both India and Pakistan and would destabilize the entire region — an option unlikely to be taken by either New Delhi or Islamabad.

For his part, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's sway with the country's influential military is limited. The way Khan handles this week's situation will be a big test of his leadership, according to Moeed Yusuf, associate vice president for the Asia Center at the United States Institute of Peace.

"You have a new leader in Pakistan who (has to) show that he is strong and willing to stand up to India," Yusuf told CNBC. "He must also follow the army's lead and so if the army decides to escalate, he won't be able to say much to them right now."

For Modi, meanwhile, it would be "political suicide" if he walked back on the conflict at this stage — when it may appear to outside observers that India and Pakistan had evenly matched each other's force, Yusuf said.

What's next?

Experts have said it is highly unlikely that a war would break out between the two nations — even if the situation escalates in the coming days.


Pakistani soldiers stand next to what Pakistan says is the wreckage of an Indian fighter jet shot down in Pakistan controled Kashmir at Somani area in Bhimbar district near the Line of Control on February 27, 2019.
STR | AFP | Getty Images

Eurasia Group's Bery said New Delhi's public statements on its airstrikes were careful to emphasize that it was an attack on a terror camp that was already planning terrorism against India. Modi may also have electoral politics in mind.

"Modi has already alluded to the strikes in a campaign rally earlier today, and will continue to press the point he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep India safe," Bery said Tuesday, adding that the prime minister is positioning himself as someone committed to India's security to appeal to more voters.

For Pakistan, Jaishankar said it is possible that Islamabad would play up Wednesday's airstrikes as "some kind of a retribution," and that could even lead to a de-escalation of tension.

The international community may need to get involved in coming days, according to Yusuf, who said the U.N. Security Council should step in and prevent further use of force.

— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to the report.
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Re: WW3??
« Reply #651 on: February 27, 2019, 09:40:29 AM »
If India nukes Pakistan or vice versa, which side are we on? Anybody know? Does Trump know?
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"Don't worry, they won't go to war over this."

India and Pakistan say they've launched airstrikes against each other. Here's what you need to know

    Tensions between nuclear powers India and Pakistan escalated this week after each country said it carried out airstrikes against the other, prompting concerns about a potential outbreak of war in South Asia.

This REALLY bears watching. Of all the hotspots in the world, this one carries a nuclear-tipped danger.
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Re: WW3??
« Reply #653 on: February 27, 2019, 01:47:45 PM »
If India nukes Pakistan or vice versa, which side are we on? Anybody know? Does Trump know?

Pakistan has the "Islamic Bomb," if we need a tiebreaker. And we;\'re fixing to make sure the Wahhabis have one, too.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: WW3??
« Reply #654 on: February 27, 2019, 02:54:16 PM »
If India nukes Pakistan or vice versa, which side are we on? Anybody know? Does Trump know?

Pakistan has the "Islamic Bomb," if we need a tiebreaker. And we;\'re fixing to make sure the Wahhabis have one, too.

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WW3??
« Reply #655 on: February 27, 2019, 08:10:55 PM »
If India nukes Pakistan or vice versa, which side are we on? Anybody know? Does Trump know?

What side are we on?  What kind of question is that.



But calm down.  Terrorist camps caused the brouhaha and the pilots are patsies.  Cool heads will prevail but it would suck to be in their air forces right now.  At the end of the day it could be death by ground towel-head.  A meaningless end in a meaningless world.
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🚀 Trump tells Russia to get its troops out of Venezuela
« Reply #656 on: March 28, 2019, 12:15:33 AM »
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuelan-politics-usa/trump-tells-russia-to-get-its-troops-out-of-venezuela-idUSKCN1R81OQ

March 27, 2019 / 7:16 AM / Updated an hour ago
Trump tells Russia to get its troops out of Venezuela
Steve Holland, Lesley Wroughton


4 Min Read

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Russia to pull its troops from Venezuela and said that “all options” were open to make that happen.

The arrival of two Russian air force planes outside Caracas on Saturday believed to be carrying nearly 100 Russian special forces and cybersecurity personnel has escalated the political crisis in Venezuela.

Russia and China have backed President Nicolas Maduro, while the United States and most other Western countries support opposition leader Juan Guaido. In January, Guaido invoked the constitution to assume Venezuela’s interim presidency, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.

“Russia has to get out,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, where he met with Guaido’s wife, Fabiana Rosales.

Asked how he would make Russian forces leave, Trump said: “We’ll see. All options are open.”

Maduro, who retains control of state functions and the country’s military, has said Guaido is a puppet of the United States.

Russia has bilateral relations and agreements with Venezuela and Maduro that it plans to honor, Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said on Twitter.

A spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said the United States should pull troops from Syria before telling Moscow to withdraw from Venezuela.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Fabiana Rosales, wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

“Before giving advice to somebody to withdraw from somewhere, the United States should bring to life its own concept of exodus, particularly from Syria,” Zakharova said, speaking on Russia’s state Channel One, TASS agency quoted her as saying.

Venezuela’s economy is in tatters with food and medicine in short supply due to years of hyperinflation. In addition, citizens are now grappling with power blackouts that experts have blamed on years of neglect and maintenance.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration slapped sanctions on state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, known as PDVSA, to try to cut off revenues to Maduro. Oil provides 90 percent of export revenue for Venezuela, an OPEC member. Trump has said tougher sanctions are still to come.
“TRYING TO BREAK OUR MORALE”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers on Wednesday that rebuilding after Maduro leaves office would be expensive.

“The day and week after is going to be a long process,” Pompeo said. “I’ve seen estimates between $6 (billion) and $12 billion to repair” the economy, he said.

The Trump administration has asked Congress for up to $500 million in foreign aid to help “support a democratic transition in Venezuela,” Pompeo said in written testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives.

At the White House, Rosales, Guaido’s wife, told Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that food shortages in Venezuela were hurting children.

“They are trying to break our morale. They want to submerge us in eternal darkness. But let me tell you that there is light, and the light is here,” said Rosales, a 26-year-old journalist and opposition activist.

Guaido was attacked on Tuesday, she told Trump. Upon leaving a National Assembly session, individuals threw stones at the vehicle Guaido was traveling in and tried to open its doors, according to a Reuters witness.
Slideshow (7 Images)

“I fear for my husband’s life,” said Rosales, who was accompanied by the wife and sister of Roberto Marrero, Guaido’s chief of staff, who was arrested and detained last week.

Rosales is slated to meet U.S. first lady Melania Trump in Palm Beach on Thursday on a swing through South Florida, home to the largest community of Venezuelan exiles in the United States.

Rosales also plans to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and members of the Venezuelan diaspora at a prominent Washington think tank.

Pence praised Rosales for being “courageous.” “Our message very simply is: We’re with you,” Pence said.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Steve Holland; additional reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Caracas, Michelle Nichols in New York, Andrey Ostrokh in Moscow, and Roberta Rampton, Doina Chiacu and Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Leslie Adler
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🚀 U.S. Says Russia ‘Will Pay a Price’ for Helping Venezuela
« Reply #657 on: March 30, 2019, 02:34:17 AM »
I was wrong in a prior post on this topic. Vlad the Impaler is supporting Madurable.  That makes the situation a lot more dangerous.

RE

https://www.newsweek.com/us-russia-pay-price-helping-venezuela-missiles-1380589

World
U.S. Says Russia ‘Will Pay a Price’ for Helping Venezuela, Where Missiles Are Getting Ready to Fire
By Tom O'Connor On 3/29/19 at 3:20 PM EDT


World
International Affairs

The U.S. has warned that Russia would be punished for supporting Venezuela as Washington and Moscow face off over the socialist-led Latin American country's political and economic crisis.

U.S. special envoy to Venezuela Elliot Abrams has condemned Russia's recent deployment of aircraft and up to 100 military personnel to Venezuela, where Moscow has backed President Nicolás Maduro against Washington-sponsored National Assembly leader and self-declared acting head of state Juan Guaidó. The feud—which came amid an economic collapse blamed on internal mismanagement and U.S. sanctions—has fueled the latest flare-up in already-failing ties between the world's top two military powers.

"We have a very nice options paper of the various things that can be done in U.S.-Russia relations," Abrams told BBC News. "There are a lot of things we can do in economic terms, in terms of sanctions. There is a lot of things that are on the list. So, the Russians will pay a price for this."

Abrams later told a press briefing that "it would be a mistake for Russia to think they have a free hand" in Venezuela. He also confirmed U.S. suspicions that Moscow was "helping the regime with the S-300 ground-to-air missile system that "apparently got screwed up" amid ongoing electricity outages exacerbated by fuel shortages due to U.S. economic restrictions.

GettyImages-476866685
The Venezuelan army’s Russian-made missile carrier is seen during a military ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of President Hugo Chavez’s death, in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 5, 2014. Chavez bought the S-300 missile defense system, and Russian military personnel have reportedly arrived to prepare it for potential combat. JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images

The S-300 is a Soviet-era defense system designed to intercept enemy missiles and warplanes and was purchased by Venezuela in 2009. (At that time, the country was led by Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chávez, who was also targeted by regime change efforts linked to Abrams and other U.S. officials.) On Sunday, Israeli satellite imagery firm ImageSat International shared photographs that appeared to show that "Venezuela has put the S300 into operational readiness" after a month of drills and preparations that accompanied failed international talks.

"ISI continuous satellite surveillance between February and March 2019 shows a parallel between the beginning of the crisis in Venezuela and the heightened alert in the military's S-300 unit," an intelligence assessment published Monday read. "While the negotiations are in progress, there is a chance that its failure will develop into a military confrontation. This risk is probably the reason for the intense activity of various air defense units in the Venezuelan army over the last two months."

Moscow has not specified the nature of its recent deployment to Venezuela, which followed a previous delegation that conducted joint drills with Venezuela over the Caribbean in December, a month before Guaidó's challenge. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova simply said Thursday that "Russian specialists arrived in Venezuela in accordance with the provisions of the bilateral agreement on military-technical cooperation."

She also shot back at President Donald Trump's warning that "Russia has to get out" of Venezuela and that "all options are open" in ensuring it does. Zakharova noted the U.S.'s own history of intervention abroad, which included decades of state-sanctioned campaigns against leftist forces across Latin America and, more recently, the war on terror waged across the Middle East, other parts of Asia and Africa.

GettyImages-1133321667
A Russian Antonov AN-12 plane takes off from Simon Bolivar International Airport in La Guaira, Vargas state, Venezuela, on March 28. Russia said Thursday its troops will stay in Venezuela “for as long as needed” and urged the United States not to worry about Moscow’s ties with a traditional ally. YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
Related Stories

    Russia Accuses U.S. of 'Stoking Chaos' in Venezuela
    Trump: Russia Must Leave Venezuela, ‘All Options’ Open
    U.S. Says Nations Can Decide On Foreign Troops...Unless

"We have been waiting for a month for Donald Trump's promise to withdraw his specialists from Syria to be fulfilled," Zakharova told reporters. "When will you recall your specialists? No one can say, not even Donald Trump himself. What about Afghanistan, Iraq, where they are being alternately pulled in and out? Everything is legal with us; but over there, we are not so sure."

Russia was also involved in Syria, but in support of President Bashar al-Assad, whom the U.S. has accused of war crimes and attempted to overthrow by backing insurgents after a 2011 rebel and jihadi uprising. Moscow deployed modernized S-300 batteries to Syria after a Russian surveillance plane was accidentally shot down by friendly Syrian fire responding to a hostile Israeli air raid, but the weapon has not seen use in subsequent Israeli attacks.

Further complicating U.S. plans in both Venezuela and Syria, China and Iran were among those who have joined Russia in supporting these governments. A Chinese Yangtze River Airlines plane arrived Friday in Caracas to deliver medicine and medical supplies to Maduro's government, who has refused aid packages by the U.S. and regional foes on the grounds that he suspected them to be part of the conspiracy to overthrow him.
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🚀 Is Russia a better ‘gift’ to NATO’s 70th birthday than money?
« Reply #658 on: April 08, 2019, 12:00:06 AM »
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🚀 War on Iran & Calling America’s Bluff
« Reply #659 on: April 29, 2019, 01:02:39 AM »
https://consortiumnews.com/2019/04/24/pepe-escobar-war-on-iran-calling-americas-bluff/

China, Column, Commentary, Foreign Policy, India, International, Iran, Russia, Trump Administration
PEPE ESCOBAR: War on Iran & Calling America’s Bluff
April 24, 2019 • 117 Comments


Vast swathes of the West seem not to realize that if the Strait of Hormuz is shut down a global depression will follow, writes Pepe Escobar.

By Pepe Escobar
Special to Consortium News

The Trump administration once again has graphically demonstrated that in the young, turbulent 21st century, “international law” and “national sovereignty” already belong to the Realm of the Walking Dead.

As if a deluge of sanctions against a great deal of the planet was not enough, the latest “offer you can’t refuse” conveyed by a gangster posing as diplomat, Consul Minimus Mike Pompeo, now essentially orders the whole planet to submit to the one and only arbiter of world trade: Washington.

First the Trump administration unilaterally smashed a multinational, UN-endorsed agreement, the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal. Now the waivers that magnanimously allowed eight nations to import oil from Iran without incurring imperial wrath in the form of sanctions will expire on May 2 and won’t be renewed.

The eight nations are a mix of Eurasian powers: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.

Apart from the trademark toxic cocktail of hubris, illegality, arrogance/ignorance and geopolitical/geo–economic infantilism inbuilt in this foreign policy decision, the notion that Washington can decide who’s allowed to be an energy provider to emerging superpower China does not even qualify as laughable. Much more alarming is the fact that imposing a total embargo of Iranian oil exports is no less than an act of war.

Ultimate Neocon Wet Dream

Those subscribing to the ultimate U.S, neocon and Zionist wet dream – regime change in Iran – may rejoice at this declaration of war. But as Professor Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran has elegantly argued, “If the Trump regime miscalculates, the house can easily come crashing down on its head.”

Reflecting the fact Tehran seems to have no illusions regarding the utter folly ahead, the Iranian leadership — if provoked to a point of no return, Marandi additionally told me — can get as far as “destroying everything on the other side of the Persian Gulf and chasing the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan. When the U.S. escalates, Iran escalates. Now it depends on the U.S. how far things go.”

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This red alert from a sensible academic perfectly dovetails with what’s happening with the structure of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — recently branded a “terrorist organization” by the United States. In perfect symmetry, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council also branded the U.S. Central Command — CENTCOM — and “all the forces connected to it” as a terrorist group.

The new IRGC commander-in-chief is Brigadier General Hossein Salami, 58. Since 2009 he was the deputy of previous commander Mohamamd al-Jafari, a soft spoken but tough as nails gentleman I met in Tehran two years ago. Salami, as well as Jafari, is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war; that is, he has actual combat experience. And Tehran sources assure me that he can be even tougher than Jafari.

In tandem, IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri has evoked the unthinkable in terms of what might develop out of the U.S. total embargo on Iran oil exports; Tehran could block the Strait of Hormuz.

Western Oblivion

Vast swathes of the ruling classes across the West seem to be oblivious to the reality that if Hormuz is shut down, the result will be an absolutely cataclysmic global economic depression.

Warren Buffett, among other investors, has routinely qualified the 2.5 quadrillion derivatives market as a weapon of financial mass destruction. As it stands, these derivatives are used — illegally — to drain no less than a trillion U.S. dollars a year out of the market in manipulated profits.

Considering historical precedents, Washington may eventually be able to set up a Persian Gulf of Tonkin false flag. But what next?

If Tehran were totally cornered by Washington, with no way out, the de facto nuclear option of shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would instantly cut off 25 percent of the global oil supply. Oil prices could rise to over $500 a barrel, to even $1000 a barrel. The 2.5 quadrillion of derivatives would start a chain reaction of destruction.

Unlike the shortage of credit during the 2008 financial crisis, the shortage of oil could not be made up by fiat instruments. Simply because the oil is not there. Not even Russia would be able to re-stabilize the market.

It’s an open secret in private conversations at the Harvard Club – or at Pentagon war-games for that matter – that in case of a war on Iran, the U.S. Navy would not be able to keep the Strait of Hormuz open.

Russian SS-NX-26 Yakhont missiles — with a top speed of Mach 2.9 — are lining up the Iranian northern shore of the Strait of Hormuz. There’s no way U.S. aircraft carriers can defend a  barrage of Yakhont missiles.

Then there are the SS-N-22 Sunburn supersonic anti-ship missiles — already exported to China and India — flying ultra-low at 1,500 miles an hour with dodging capacity, and extremely mobile; they can be fired from a flatbed truck, and were designed to defeat the U.S. Aegis radar defense system.

What Will China Do?

The full–frontal attack on Iran reveals how the Trump administration bets on breaking Eurasia integration via what would be its weakeast node; the three key nodes are China, Russia and Iran. These three actors interconnect the whole spectrum; Belt and Road Initiative; the Eurasia Economic Union; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; the International North-South Transportation Corridor; the expansion of BRICS Plus.

So there’s no question the Russia-China strategic partnership will be watching Iran’s back. It’s no accident that the trio is among the top existential “threats” to the U.S., according to the Pentagon. Beijing knows how the U.S. Navy is able to cut it off from its energy sources. And that’s why Beijing is strategically increasing imports of oil and natural gas from Russia; engineering the “escape from Malacca” also must take into account a hypothetical U.S. takeover of the Strait of Hormuz.
Coast of Oman, including Strait of Hormuz. (International Space Station photo from 2016 via Wikimedia)

Night view of coast of Oman, including Strait of Hormuz. (Intl Space Station photo via Wikimedia)

A plausible scenario involves Moscow acting to defuse the extremely volatile U.S.-Iran confrontation, with the Kremlin and the Ministry of Defense trying to persuade President Donald Trump and the Pentagon from any direct attack against the IRGC. The inevitable counterpart is the rise of covert ops, the possible staging of false flags and all manner of shady Hybrid War techniques deployed not only against the IRGC, directly and indirectly, but against Iranian interests everywhere. For all practical purposes, the U.S. and Iran are at war.

Within the framework of the larger Eurasia break-up scenario, the Trump administration does profit from Wahhabi and Zionist psychopathic hatred of Shi’ites. The “maximum pressure” on Iran counts on Jared of Arabia Kushner’s close WhatsApp pal Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) in Riyadh and MbS’s mentor in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed, to replace the shortfall of Iranian oil in the market. Bu that’s nonsense — as quite a few wily Persian Gulf traders are adamant Riyadh won’t “absorb Iran’s market share” because the extra oil is not there.

Much of what lies ahead in the oil embargo saga depends on the reaction of assorted vassals and semi-vassals. Japan won’t have the guts to go against Washington. Turkey will put up a fight. Italy, via Salvini, will lobby for a waiver. India is very complicated; New Delhi is investing in Iran’s Chabahar port as the key hub of its own Silk Road, and closely cooperates with Tehran within the INSTC framework. Would a shameful betrayal be in the cards?

China, it goes without saying, will simply ignore Washington.

Iran will find ways to get the oil flowing because the demand won’t simply vanish with a magic wave of an American hand. It’s time for creative solutions. Why not, for instance, refuel ships in international waters, accepting gold, all sorts of cash, debit cards, bank transfers in rubles, yuan, rupees and rials — and everything bookable on a website?

Now that’s a way Iran can use its tanker fleet to make a killing. Some of the tankers could be parked in — you got it — the Strait of Hormuz, with an eye on the price at Jebel Ali in the UAE to make sure this is the real deal. Add to it a duty free for the ships crews. What’s not to like? Ship owners will save fortunes on fuel bills, and crews will get all sorts of stuff at 90 percent discount in the duty free.

And let’s see whether the EU has grown a spine —  and really turbo-charge their Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) alternative payment network conceived after the Trump administration ditched the JCPOA. Because more than breaking up Eurasia integration and implementing neocon regime change, this is about the ultimate anathema; Iran is being mercilessly punished because it has bypassed the U.S. dollar on energy trade.
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