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Offline RE

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🌎 Iran suggests Tanker Attacks are False Flags
« Reply #735 on: May 15, 2019, 01:51:25 AM »
At least Iran is suggesting a False Flag, via Al Jazeera.  Not that 99.99% of the FSoA population eer watches this stuff of course.

RE

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/iran-suggests-oil-attacks-orchestrated-spark-conflict-190514155502867.html

Iran suggests oil attacks orchestrated to spark conflict

FM Javad Zarif says his country anticipated 'activities to escalate tension' by 'hardliners' in the US and Middle East.


Iranian officials accused "hardliners" in the United States and elsewhere of attempting to orchestrate an incident that would ratchet up tensions with the Islamic Republic, as the supreme leader vowed there would be no war.

The allegation by Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday came as tensions in the Gulf continue to rise as American military forces head to the region and amid a series of attacks on oil infrastructure.

Four ships - two Saudi, one Norwegian and one Emirati - were damaged on Sunday off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in what Emirati officials described as acts of sabotage near the port of Fujairah.

The incident happened 140km south of the Strait of Hormuz, where about one-third of all oil traded by sea passes through.

"We ... talked about the policies that hardliners in the US administration as well as in the region are attempting to impose," Zarif told Iranian state TV in India after a bilateral meeting with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.

"We raised concerns over the suspicious activities and sabotage that are happening in our region. We had formerly anticipated that they would carry out these sorts of activities to escalate tension."

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday there would be no war with the US despite mounting concerns. He also reiterated Iran would not negotiate with the US on a new nuclear deal.

"There won't be any war. The Iranian nation has chosen the path of resistance," he said. "Neither we nor them seek war. They know it will not be in their interest."
Norwegian-flagged oil tanker MT Andrea Victory off the coast of Fujairah [UAE National Media Council via AP]

Details of the alleged oil vessel sabotage remained unclear, and UAE officials have declined to say who they suspected was responsible.

Mohammad Javad Jamali, an Iranian member of parliament, accused unidentified countries in the region of trying "to drag Trump into a war".

"I think the talk of explosions in Fujairah is just a hasty scenario and it suffers many shortcomings. Whoever stands behind this is pushing for a failed plan," said Jamali.

Fatemeh Aman, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center, said the attacks on the vessels may have been planned as a pretext to start a conflict with Tehran.

"The attack on the ships was predictable and it looks like it was orchestrated to function as a pretext to attack Iran," Aman told Al Jazeera. "Any incident or sabotage could be falsely attributed to Iran, even if Iran had no involvement."

Arch foes Saudi Arabia and Iran have both used proxy forces in the region to further their aspirations.

Asked by Al Jazeera if Riyadh may be attempting to push the US towards war with Iran, analyst Tim Constantine said: "Considering the Saudi position on Iran and the well-known position of the Trump administration on Iran, yes I think the Saudis can be counted on to stir the pot and encourage a very aggressive stance by the United States."
No conclusive proof

The alleged attacks demonstrated the raised risks for shippers in a region vital to global energy supplies as tensions are increasing between the US and Iran over its unravelling nuclear deal with world powers.

The Iran-backed Houthi rebel group in Yemen, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for a series of drone attacks on two Saudi Arabian oil facilities in its eastern region on Tuesday, further ratcheting up tensions.
Analysis: Saudi says oil stations attacked by Houthi drones (5:13)

The US Maritime Administration said last week Iran could target US commercial ships including oil tankers sailing through Middle East waterways.

An unnamed US official familiar with American intelligence told Reuters news agency that Iran was a prime suspect in Sunday's sabotage off the UAE coast, although Washington had no conclusive proof.

The US ambassador to Saudi Arabia said Washington should take what he called "reasonable responses short of war" after it determined who was behind the attacks near Fujairah.

"We need to do a thorough investigation to understand what happened, why it happened, and then come up with reasonable responses short of war," Ambassador John Abizaid told reporters in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Tuesday.

"It's not in [Iran's] interest, it's not in our interest, it's not in Saudi Arabia's interest to have a conflict."
US military plan?

On Monday, the New York Times reported that the top US defence official has presented an updated military plan to Trump's administration that envisions sending up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East, should Iran attack US forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons.

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday denied the report.

"I think it's fake news, okay? Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that," Trump told reporters at the White House.
READ MORE
'Dangerous game': US, Europe and the 'betrayal' of Iran

Tensions between Iran and the US have intensified since Trump pulled out of a 2015 international deal to curb Iran's nuclear activities and imposed increasingly strict sanctions on Tehran.

Trump wants to force Tehran to agree to a broader arms control accord and has sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf in a show of force against what US officials have said are threats to US troops in the region.

Iran has said the US is engaging in "psychological warfare", called the US military presence "a target" rather than a threat and said it will not allow its oil exports to be halted.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday he was getting indications from talks with both the US and Iran that "things will end well" despite the current ramping up of rhetoric.

But analysts suggest things could quickly escalate as the American military presence in the region grows.

"Iran could actually view some of this as being a potential buildup for some type of offensive action," said Becca Wasser, a RAND Corp analyst specialising in Gulf security.

"It raises the risk of accidental escalation. Because the US and Iran don't have clear lines of communication at the moment, everything can be perceived in a very different light than one side is intending."

Al Jazeera's Ali Younes contributed to this report
How will Trump's Iran oil gamble affect the global economy?

Counting the Cost

How will Trump's Iran oil gamble affect the global economy?


Saudi Arabia says oil stations attacked by armed drones

Aramco oil stations targeted as Houthi-run media says military operation a response to 'continued aggression'.
14 May 2019 15:15 GMT

Armed drones attacked two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in what Riyadh called a "cowardly" act by Yemen's Houthi rebels, two days after Saudi oil tankers were sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

The drone strikes caused minor damage to one of the stations supplying a pipeline running from its oil-rich Eastern Province to the Yanbu Port on the Red Sea, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

"These attacks prove again that it is important for us to face terrorist entities, including the Houthi militias in Yemen that are backed by Iran," Falih said.

A fire that broke out was later brought under control, but the country's state-run oil giant Aramco stopped pumping oil through the pipeline.

Falih called the attack "cowardly", saying recent sabotage acts against its vital installations not only target Saudi Arabia but the safety of the world's energy supply and global economy.

He also promised the production and export of Saudi oil would not be interrupted.

Oil prices rose on news of the attacks on the stations, 320km west of the capital Riyadh. Brent was trading at about $71 up 1.2 percent.

Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said seven drones carried out the strikes on the Saudi oil installations.

"It was a successful operation. We found assistance from people living in Saudi Arabia, and we had excellent intelligence," Saree said.

Andreas Krieg from King's College London said the drone strikes show the Houthis are now capable of attacking far into Saudi territory. He called the incident "very significant" because the target was oil production.

"The Houthi capability has increased massively in recent years, some of it homegrown but [the attack] definitely suggests that the Iranians have helped out," Krieg told Al Jazeera. "They've never been able to deeply penetrate Saudi Arabia… It looks like they are targeting the oil infrastructure."
'Worrisome and dreadful'
Two Saudi oil tankers among 'sabotaged' ships off UAE coast

Earlier on Tuesday, a television station run by Yemen's Houthi rebels said it launched drone attacks on Saudi installations, without identifying the targets or time of the attacks.

Tuesday's incident comes a day after Riyadh said two of its oil tankers were among four vessels attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday.

The attacks also occurred amid a war of words between the United States and Iran over sanctions and the growing American military presence in the Gulf.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday neither the United States nor Iran want war, adding Iraq is in contact with both, state news agency INA reported.

Iran was a prime suspect in Sunday's sabotage off the UAE although Washington had no conclusive proof, an unnamed US official familiar with American intelligence told Reuters news agency on Monday.

Tehran denied involvement and described the attack on the four commercial vessels as "worrisome and dreadful". It called for an investigation.
'Continued aggression'

WATCH
24:30

Who can secure shipping lines in the Gulf?

The Houthis have repeatedly launched drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and claimed to have launched strikes on the UAE.

"This large military operation is in response to the continued aggression and blockade of our people and we are prepared to carry out more unique and harsh strikes," Al Masirah cited one Houthi official as saying.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading the Western-backed alliance that intervened in Yemen in 2015 against the Houthis in an attempt to restore the internationally recognised government.
READ MORE
Houthi withdrawal from Yemen ports going according to plan: UN

Yemen President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi's government was ousted from power in the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014.

The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Houthis deny being puppets of Iran and say their revolution is against corruption.

Yemen's conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians.

The fighting has triggered what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis with 24.1 million people - more than two-thirds of the population - in need of aid.
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🌎 Is a smooth transition possible in Sudan?
« Reply #736 on: May 15, 2019, 08:44:01 AM »
Tune in to the Collapse Morning Wake-Up Call this Sunday.  Monsta and I discuss the situation in Sudan in detail.

RE

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/nRo0dAwXkaw" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/nRo0dAwXkaw</a>
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🌎 Sudan crisis: Talks stall as military demands barricades removed
« Reply #737 on: May 16, 2019, 01:15:03 AM »
Remember, Sudan is right across the Gulf from Iran.  ::)

Discussion Sunday on the CMWUC.  Don't miss it.

RE


Sudan crisis: Talks stall as military demands barricades removed


Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Barricades have been set up across the capital, Khartoum, but the military says they hinder negotiations

Talks on moving Sudan towards civilian rule have been suspended for three days by the country's military leaders, who demand protesters clear roadblocks.

In a televised statement, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) said barricades outside a designated zone in Khartoum should be removed.

The setback comes hours after the TMC and the opposition agreed a three-year transition period to civilian rule.

Shots were fired on Wednesday as soldiers tried to clear barricades.

Protesters in Khartoum said at least nine people were wounded, but that figure could not be verified. Similar violence on Monday left at least six people dead and protesters say those responsible must be held to account.

    How protesters keep going during Ramadan
    The art fuelling Sudan's revolution
    Sudan's bold challenge to authoritarianism

Sudan has been run by the military council since long-time President Omar al-Bashir was toppled last month, but it has struggled to return the country to normality.

Protesters emboldened by Mr Bashir's downfall have continued to stage a huge sit-in outside military headquarters in the capital, demanding full civilian government.
What do the two sides say?

In his televised address, TMC leader Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan said talks were being suspended "to help prepare an atmosphere for completing the deal".

He called on protesters to dismantle roadblocks, open bridges and "stop provoking security forces".

Earlier, Rashid al-Sayid, a spokesman for the opposition Alliance for Freedom and Change, told AFP news agency: "The military council has told us that the protesters must dismantle the barricades and go back to the sit-in."

Another opposition leader, Ahmed Rabie, confirmed the talks had stalled, saying the military wanted roads in Khartoum and elsewhere reopened before it returned to the negotiating table.
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some protesters were injured in clashes in Khartoum on Wednesday
What has already been agreed?

At a joint news conference on Tuesday night, TMC spokesman Lt Gen Yasser al-Atta said a deal had been struck for a three-year transition period to civilian administration.

He said a final agreement on power sharing would be signed with the opposition alliance within 24 hours. That would include forming a sovereign council which will rule the country until elections.

Gen Atta said the opposition alliance would have two-thirds of the seats on a 300-member transitional legislative council, while the rest would be taken by other groups.

Earlier, protest movement spokesman Taha Osman said the sides had agreed on the structure of future authorities - a sovereign council, a cabinet and a legislative body.
What is the background?

In December, demonstrators took to the streets over a government decision to triple the price of bread. The protests soon grew into widespread anger against the president's 30-year rule.

Five weeks into the protests, on 17 January, witnesses said state forces had fired live ammunition at protesters and killed a doctor.
Media captionDozens of people were injured in the clashes

He had been treating injured protesters in his home in Khartoum when police reportedly fired tear gas into the building.

He was one of dozens of people killed during the anti-government unrest.

As anger mounted, protesters staged a sit-in from 6 April outside military headquarters in Khartoum to demand the army force the president out.

    'Why Sudan is shooting medics'
    Is Sudan a new regional battleground?

Five days later, the president was overthrown by the military.

A military council assumed power on 11 April, but demonstrators stayed put, insisting that it transfer authority to a civilian administration.

Initially, talks between the ruling generals and the protest organisers had shown little sign of progress.
Road to transition
Image copyright AFP

    19 December 2018 - Protests erupt after fuel and bread price rises announced

    20 December - Demonstrators in the capital, Khartoum, strike an anti-government tone chanting "freedom, peace, justice"

    22 February 2019 - President Omar al-Bashir declares a state of emergency and dissolves the government

    24 February - Protests continue as security forces respond by firing live bullets

    6 April - Activists begin sit-in at military headquarters in Khartoum vowing not to move until Mr Bashir steps down

    11 April - army generals announce that Mr Bashir has been toppled but sit-in continues as people demand civilian rule

    17 April - Mr Bashir is taken to a prison in Khartoum

    20 April - Talks between the military rulers and civilian representatives begin

    13 May - Shooting outside the military headquarters leaves six people dead

    14 May - Military and civilians announce a deal on a three-year transition period

Where is Omar al-Bashir?

The ousted leader has not been seen in public since he was removed from office.

He was reportedly moved from the presidential palace to a high security prison in Khartoum, but the BBC has not verified these reports.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Bashir has not been photographed since he was ousted from power

On Monday, Mr Bashir was charged with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters.

The charges stem from an inquiry into the death of the doctor shot dead during the 17 January protests.

He is also facing an investigation over allegations of money laundering and terror financing.
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We got to this conclusion 2 days ago.  MSM is SLOW.

RE

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/05/14/warnings-gulf-tonkin-20-trump-officials-blame-iran-tanker-attack

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Warnings of 'Gulf of Tonkin 2.0' as Trump Officials Blame Iran for Oil Tanker Attacks

"It's obvious that Bolton and Pompeo are trying to create a Gulf of Tonkin incident with Iran."
by Jake Johnson, staff writer


The Al Marzoqah oil tanker on Monday, a day after it was attacked outside the Fujairah port in the United Arab Emirates. (Photo: EPA-EFE)

Is the Trump administration attempting to concoct a false pretext to justify launching a war against Iran?

"We are in grave danger of being sleepwalked into military confrontation with Iran over an incident that is blamed wrongly on Iran."
—Gareth Porter

That question has become increasingly common and urgent among anti-war commentators and activists in recent days as U.S. intelligence officials—without citing any concrete evidence—blamed Iran for reported attacks on Saudi and UAE oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz over the weekend.

Commentators quickly likened the accusations to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, referring to the "fabricated" event that President Lyndon Johnson used to massively escalate America's war in Vietnam.

"Anyone who knows history of [the] 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident and U.S. escalation in Vietnam should be shocked, alarmed at what's happening in [the] Persian Gulf, including unverified claims of boat attacks," Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweeted.

Journalist Rania Khalek echoed Bunch, warning that national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "are trying to create a Gulf of Tonkin incident with Iran."

According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. officials "didn't offer details about what led to the assessment" that Iran carried out the attacks on the oil tankers.

"We are in grave danger of being sleepwalked into military confrontation with Iran over an incident that is blamed wrongly on Iran," author and journalist Gareth Porter said in a statement. "Corporate media have given Bolton and his conniving to achieve such a crisis a free pass."

As The New Yorker's Robin Wright wrote Monday, the United States "has a long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats," including in Iraq, Lybia, Vietnam, and elsewhere.

"Today, the question in Washington—and surely in Tehran, too—is whether President Trump is making moves that will provoke, instigate, or inadvertently drag the United States into a war with Iran," Wright wrote. "The problem, as U.S. history proves, is that the momentum of confrontation is harder to reverse with each escalatory step."

"You have John Bolton in the White House, who has a track record of lying, cheating, and fabricating evidence in order to start wars."
—Trita Parsi, National Iranian American Council

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Trump said he's "hearing little stories about Iran"—apparently referring to U.S. intelligence officials' unsubstantiated claim that Iran was behind the alleged tanker attacks. Iran has denied any involvement.

"If they do anything, they will suffer greatly," Trump said. "We'll see what happens with Iran."

The president's threat came just hours before the New York Times reported late Monday that the president last week reviewed a plan to send 120,000 U.S. ground troops to the Middle East in the event that Iran launches an "attack" on American forces or moves to develop a nuclear weapon.

The military plan was reportedly crafted by Bolton, who last week used the routine deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier and bomber task force to threaten Iran with "relentless force" if it attacks U.S. forces. Bolton did not cite any evidence indicating Iran was planning such an attack.

Observers warned that the Trump administration's actions have moved the two nations dangerously close to an all-out military conflict, which analysts have warned could be even more devastating than the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

"John Bolton is trying to provoke the Iranians to do something so that he can get the war with Iran that he's been looking for, for more than 20 years," Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said Tuesday in an interview on The Real News.

"He's, of course, presenting it as an effort to scare and deter the Iranians," Parsi said. "I don't think that has worked at all, but it has created a scenario in which everyone is now very worried that some form of an accidental war at a minimum is very likely because you have too many U.S. forces and Iranian forces into too small of an area."

"And then you have John Bolton in the White House, who has a track record of lying, cheating, and fabricating evidence in order to start wars," Parsi added, referring to Bolton's role in the invasion of Iraq.

Progressive members of Congress joined the chorus of voices speaking out against the Trump administration's march to war with Iran.

"The one thing we learned from the last time we sent 120,000 American troops to the Middle East is don’t send 120,000 American troops to the Middle East," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) wrote on Twitter.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 presidential candidate, warned that a war with Iran "would be an unmitigated disaster."

"We must stop Trump and his national security advisor, John Bolton—someone who likes endless wars," Sanders tweeted.

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🌎 White House Reviews US Military Plan for 120,000 Troops for Iran War
« Reply #739 on: May 16, 2019, 02:22:52 AM »
Do you really think the Chinese or Ruskies are going to let the FSoA drop 120K Boots on the Ground in Iran or around it without doing the same thing themselves?  Good grief, the Chinese have a 1M man army!

RE

https://news.antiwar.com/2019/05/13/new-us-military-plan-calls-for-120000-troops-for-iran-war/

White House Reviews US Military Plan for 120,000 Troops for Iran War
Plan doesn't envision invasion, which would involve far more troops
Jason Ditz Posted on May 13, 2019


John Bolton ordered the Pentagon to come up with an “updated” plan for getting more American troops into the Middle East to fight a war against Iran. The plans are in now, according to officials, who say that the options envision 120,000 US ground troops in the Middle East.

Officials were unsure if Trump had been informed of the plan. Trump dismissed everything as fake news.

Incredibly, this option appears to just be the start of the war, as officials say that the 120,000 plan does not include a US ground invasion of Iran. Officials concede that the ground invasion would require far more troops.

Instead, the 120,000 is just  the next step in the ongoing US escalations toward war, and is envisioned as a response to any Iranian threat on US forces or interests, or any hint of acceleration of its nuclear program.

US officials quoted in the media about the plan are everywhere and always supportive of the idea, and the underlying narrative of an “Iranian threat.” Some argue that the fact that the Pentagon would send 120,000 troops and not even invade proves how big the threat is, while others say that the 120,000 troops would be a “scare tactic” to warn Iran off any aggressive moves.

This is quite contrary to Europe’s take on US policy, with European officials calling on the US to exercise some restraint, and expressing concern that US moves are liable to miscalculate and start a war through sheer accident.

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com. View all posts by Jason Ditz
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https://consortiumnews.com/2018/03/22/how-many-millions-of-people-have-been-killed-in-americas-post-9-11-wars-part-one-iraq/

How Many Millions of People Have Been Killed in America’s Post-9/11 Wars? – Part One: Iraq
March 22, 2018 • 134 Comments

The numbers of casualties of U.S. wars since Sept. 11, 2001 have largely gone uncounted, but coming to terms with the true scale of the crimes committed remains an urgent moral, political and legal imperative, argues Nicolas J.S. Davies.

By Nicolas J.S. Davies

How many people have been killed in America’s post-9/11 wars? I have been researching and writing about that question since soon after the U.S. launched these wars, which it has tried to justify as a response to terrorist crimes that killed 2,996 people in the U.S. on September 11th 2001.

But no crime, however horrific, can justify wars on countries and people who were not responsible for the crime committed, as former Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz patiently explained to NPR at the time.

“The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the U.S. Invasion” which I co-wrote with Medea Benjamin, estimates the death toll in Iraq as accurately and as honestly as we can in March 2018.  Our estimate is that about 2.4 million people have probably been killed in Iraq as a result of the historic act of aggression committed by the U.S. and U.K. in 2003.  In this report, I will explain in greater detail how we arrived at that estimate and provide some historical context.  In Part 2 of this report, I will make a similar up-to-date estimate of how many people have been killed in America’s other post-9/11 wars.


Samar Hassan screamed after her parents
were killed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq in 2005.
Credit Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Mortality Studies vs Passive Reporting

I explored these same questions in Chapter 7 of my book, Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq, and in previous articles, from “Burying the Lancet Report… and the Children” in 2005 to “Playing Games With War Deaths” in 2016.

In each of those accounts, I explained that estimates of war deaths regularly published by UN agencies, monitoring groups and the media are nearly all based on fragmentary “passive reporting,” not on comprehensive mortality studies.

Of the countries where the U.S. and its allies have been waging war since 2001, Iraq is the only country where epidemiologists have conducted mortality studies based on the best practices that they have developed and used in other war zones (like Angola, Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda).  In all these countries, as in Iraq, the results of comprehensive epidemiological studies revealed between 5 and 20 times more deaths than previously published figures based on passive reporting.

Body Count: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror’ , a report published by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) in 2015 found that the 2006 Lancet study was the most comprehensive and reliable mortality study conducted in Iraq, based on its study design, the experience and independence of the research team, the short time elapsed since the deaths it documented and its consistency with other measures of violence in occupied Iraq.  That study estimated that about 601,000 Iraqis were killed in the first 39 months of war and occupation in Iraq, while the war had also caused about 54,000 non-violent deaths.

In the other countries affected by America’s post-9/11 wars, the only reports of how many people have been killed are either compiled by the UN based on investigations of incidents reported to local UN Assistance Missions (as in Iraq and Afghanistan), or by the UN or independent monitoring groups like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Iraq Body Count (IBC) and Airwars based on passive reports from government agencies, health facilities or local or foreign media.

These passive reports are regularly cited by UN and government agencies, media and even by activists as “estimates” of how many people have been killed, but that is not what they are.  By definition, no compilation of fragmentary reports can possibly be a realistic estimate of all the people killed in a country ravaged by war.

At best, passive reports can reveal a minimum number of war deaths. But that is often such a small fraction of actual deaths that it is highly misleading to cite it as an “estimate” of the total number of people killed. This is why epidemiologists have instead developed scientific sampling methods that they can use to produce accurate estimates of war deaths through statistically valid mortality studies.

The huge disparities epidemiologists have found between the results of mortality studies and passive reporting (between 5:1 and 20:1) have been consistent across many different war zones all over the world. In countries where Western governments are not responsible for the state of war, there has been no political controversy over these results, and they are regularly cited by Western officials and media.

But Western politicians and media have dismissed and marginalized the results of mortality studies in Iraq for political reasons. The U.S. and U.K.’s responsibility for the state of war in Iraq means that the scale of the slaughter is a serious matter of political and criminal responsibility for senior officials who chose to ignore legal advice that the invading Iraq would be “a crime of aggression”.

In 2006, British officials were advised by Sir Roy Anderson, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense, that “The (Lancet) study design is robust and employs methods that are regarded as close to ‘best practice’ in this area…”

President George W. Bush in poster by Robbie Conal (robbieconal.com)

The BBC obtained copies of emails in which British officials admitted that the study was “likely to be right,” and “the survey methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones.” But the same officials immediately launched a campaign to discredit the study. President George W. Bush publicly declared, “I don’t consider it a credible report,” and the subservient U.S. corporate media quickly dismissed it.

In “Playing Games With War Deaths” in 2016, I concluded, “As with climate change and other issues, UN officials and journalists must overcome political pressures, come to grips with the basic science involved, and stop sweeping the vast majority of the victims of our wars down this Orwellian “memory hole.”

Some have argued that it is not important to know whether our wars have killed tens of thousands of people or millions, since all deaths in war are a tragic loss of life and we should just mourn them, instead of quibbling over numbers. But as the authors of Body Count noted,

“The numbers relayed by the media should in themselves be terrifying enough… But apparently they are still perceived as tolerable and, moreover, easy to explain given the picture of excessive religiously motivated violence.  The figure of 655,000 deaths in the first three war years alone, however, clearly points to a crime against humanity approaching genocide.”

I agree with the authors of Body Count that it makes a difference whether our wars kill millions of people or only ten thousand, as most people in the U.K. and the U.S. seem to believe according to opinion polls.

Most Americans would say that it matters whether Germany’s role in the Second World War led to millions of violent deaths or only ten thousand. Suggesting the latter is actually a crime in Germany and several other countries.

So American politicians, journalists and members of the public who say it doesn’t matter how many Iraqis have been killed are consciously or unconsciously applying a morally untenable double standard to the consequences of our country’s wars precisely because they are our country’s wars.

A War That Keeps Killing

While the 2006 Lancet study of post-invasion mortality in Iraq is recognized by independent experts like the authors of PSR’s Body Count report as the most accurate and reliable estimate of war deaths in any of our post-9/11 wars, it was conducted nearly 12 years ago, after only 39 months of war and occupation in Iraq. Tragically, that was nowhere near the end of the deadly and catastrophic results of the U.S. and U.K.’’s historic act of aggression.

The 2006 Lancet study documented ever-increasing violence in occupied Iraq between 2003 and 2006, and many other metrics indicate that the escalation of violence in Iraq continued at least until the end of the U.S. “surge” in 2007. The tide of mutilated bodies of death squad victims overwhelming morgues in Baghdad did not peak until late 2006 with 1,800 bodies in July and 1,600 in October. Then there was a five-fold increase in the U.S. aerial bombardment of Iraq in 2007, and January 2008 was the heaviest month of U.S. bombing since the invasion in 2003.

This pattern gives credibility to a survey conducted by a respected British polling firm, Opinion Research Business (ORB), in June 2007, one year after the Lancet study, which estimated that 1,033,000 Iraqis had been killed by that time.

The Lancet study estimated that 328,000, or more than half of the violent deaths it counted, had occurred between May 2005 and May/June 2006.  So, if the ORB’s estimate was accurate, it would mean that about another 430,000 Iraqis were killed in the year after the 2006 Lancet study was conducted.

While the figure of a million people killed was shocking, the continuing increase in deaths revealed by the ORB survey was consistent with other measures of the violence of the occupation, which continued to increase in late 2006 and 2007.

Violence in Iraq decreased in 2008 and for several years after that.  But the Special Police death squads recruited, trained and unleashed in Iraq by the Iraqi Interior Ministry, U.S. occupation forces and the CIA between 2004 and 2006 (rebranded as National Police after the exposure of their Al-Jadiriyah torture center in 2005, then as Federal Police in 2009) continued their reign of terror against Sunni Arabs in the North and West of the country.  This generated a resurgence of armed resistance and led to large swathes of Iraq accepting the rule of Islamic State in 2014 as an alternative to the relentless abuses of the corrupt, sectarian Iraqi government and its murderous death squads.

U.K.-based Iraq Body Count (IBC) has compiled passive reports of civilian deaths in Iraq since the invasion, but it had only counted 43,394 deaths by June 2006 when the Lancet study found an estimated 601,000 violent deaths, a ratio of almost 14:1.  Just Foreign Policy (JFP) in the U.S. created an “Iraqi Death Estimator” that updated the Lancet study’s estimate by tracking deaths passively reported by Iraq Body Count and multiplying them by the ratio between the mortality study and IBC’s passive reporting in 2006.

Since IBC is based mainly on reports in English-language media, it may have undercounted deaths even more after 2007 as the the Western media’s interest in Iraq declined.  On the other hand, as it became safer for government officials and journalists to travel around Iraq, its reporting may have improved.  Or perhaps these and other factors balanced each other out, making JFP’s Iraqi Death Estimator quite accurate. It may have become less accurate over time, and it was discontinued in September 2011. By that point, its estimate of Iraqi deaths stood at 1.46 million.

Another mortality study was published in the PLOS medical journal in 2013, covering the period up to 2011. Its lead author told National Geographic its estimate of about 500,000 dead in Iraq was “likely a low estimate.”  The study had a wider margin of error than the 2006 Lancet study, and the survey teams decided it was too dangerous to work in two of the 100 clusters that that were randomly chosen to survey.

The most serious problem with the PLOS study seems to be that so many houses were destroyed or abandoned and so many families wiped out or just disappeared, that nobody was left to report deaths in those families to the survey teams.  At the extreme, houses or entire blocks where everyone had been killed or had fled were recorded as suffering no deaths at all.

After the extreme violence of 2006 and 2007 and several more years of lower level conflict, the effect of destruction and displacement on the PLOS study must have been much greater than in 2006. One in six households in Iraq was forced to move at least once between 2005 and 2010. The UNHCR registered 3 million refugees within or outside the country, but acknowledged that many more were unregistered. The authors added 55,000 deaths to their total to allow for 15% of 2 million refugee households losing one family member each, but they acknowledged that this was very conservative.

The authors of Body Count calculated that, if only 1% of houses surveyed were empty or destroyed and each of these households had lost two family members, this would have increased the PLOS study’s overall mortality estimate by more than 50%. Ignoring the two clusters that in effect represented the most devastated parts of Iraq must have had a similar effect. The cluster sample survey method relies on the effect of surveying a cross-section of different areas, from the worst affected to many that are relatively unscathed and report few or no deaths. Most violent deaths are often concentrated in a small number of clusters, making clusters like the two that were skipped disproportionately important to the accuracy of the final estimate.

Map of Iraq. Kurdish territory is in the northeast.

Since 2011, a whole new phase of the war has taken place. There was an Arab Spring in Iraq in 2011, but it was ruthlessly suppressed, driving Fallujah and other cities once more into open rebellion. Several major cities fell to Islamic State in 2014, were besieged by Iraqi government forces and then largely destroyed by U.S.-led aerial bombardment and U.S., Iraqi and allied rocket and artillery fire.  Iraq Body Count and the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq have collected passive reports of tens of thousands of civilians killed in this phase of the war.

Former Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari told Patrick Cockburn of the U.K.’s Independent newspaper that Iraqi Kurdish intelligence reports estimated that at least 40,000 civilians were killed in the bombardment of Mosul alone. Zebari said that there were probably many more bodies buried in the rubble, implying that the reports he saw were of actual bodies found and buried up to that point.

A recent project to remove rubble and recover bodies in just one neighborhood of Mosul yielded another 3,353 bodies, of whom 20% appeared to be IS fighters and 80% were civilians. Another 11,000 people are still reported as missing by their families in Mosul.

IBC has now updated its death count for the period up to June 2006 to 52,209, reducing its ratio to violent deaths in the 2006 Lancet study to 11.5:1. If we apply the method of JFP’s Iraqi Death Estimator from July 2007 to the present using that updated ratio, and add it to ORB’s estimate of 1.03 million killed by June 2007, we can arrive at a current estimate of the total number of Iraqis killed since 2003.  This cannot possibly be as accurate as a comprehensive new mortality study.But, in my judgment, this is the most accurate estimate we can make based on what we do know.

That gives us an estimate of 2.38 million Iraqis killed since 2003, as a result of the criminal American and British invasion of Iraq.

Minimum and Maximum Range 

With significant uncertainty underlying this estimate, it is also important to calculate a minimum and a maximum number based on possible variations in the numbers involved.

To arrive at a minimum and maximum number of people that may have been killed in Iraq, we can start with the minimum and maximum numbers of violent deaths that were each established with 97.5% probability by the 2006 Lancet study, which were 426,000 and 794,000. ORB in 2007 gave a narrower range for its minimum and maximum based on its larger sample size, but ORB was not considered as rigorous as the Lancet study in other ways.  If we apply the same margins as in the Lancet study to the ORB study‘s main estimate, that gives us a minimum of 730,000 and a maximum of 1.36 million people killed by June 2007.

To update those minimum and maximum figures to the present time using a variation of Just Foreign Policy’s method, we must also allow for changes in the ratio between IBC’s tally of deaths and the actual number of people killed. The ratios of the Lancet study’s minimum and maximum figures to IBC’s revised count for June 2006 are about 8:1 and 15:1 respectively.

These ratios are well within the ratios between comprehensive mortality studies and passive reporting found in other war zones around the world, which have varied from 5:1 to 20:1, as I noted earlier. But maybe IBC has counted more or less of the actual deaths since 2006 than than it did before. It must surely have tried to keep improving the scope of its data collection. On the other hand, in the most recent phase of the war, many people were killed by U.S.-led bombing and shelling in areas ruled by Islamic State, where people were punished or even executed for trying to communicate with the outside world.  So IBC’s data for this period may be more fragmentary than ever.

To arrive at a realistic minimum and maximum, we must allow for both these possibilities.  IBC’s 8:1 ratio to the Lancet study’s minimum number killed by 2006 may have fallen closer to the historic minimum ratio of 5:1, or its 15:1 ratio to the Lancet study’s maximum number in 2006 may have risen closer to the historic maximum of 20:1. Using a ratio of 6.5:1 to arrive at the minimum number of deaths and 17.5:1 for the maximum allows for a lower minimum and a higher maximum than in 2006, without equaling the most extreme ratios ever seen in other conflicts. That gives us a minimum of 760,000 Iraqis killed since July 2007, and a maximum of 2.04 million.

Adding these figures to the minimums and maximums we calculated for the period up to June 2007 gives us total minimum and maximum figures for the entire period since the U.S.-U.K. invasion of Iraq in 2003.  We can estimate that the number of Iraqis killed as a consequence of the illegal invasion of their country must be somewhere between 1.5 million and 3.4 million.  As is generally the case with such statistical ranges, the actual number of people killed is likely to be closer to our main estimate of 2.38 million than to either the minimum or maximum end of this range.

Call for a New Mortality Study in Iraq

It is very important that the public health community provide the world with accurate and up-to-date mortality surveys of Iraq and other post-9/11 war zones.

A new mortality study for Iraq must find a way to survey even the most dangerous areas, and it must finally develop realistic procedures to estimate deaths in cases where entire families have been killed, or where houses or apartments have been destroyed or abandoned.  This factor has been identified as a potential flaw in every mortality study in Iraq since 2004, and it is one that only becomes more significant as time passes.  This cannot be ignored, and neither should compensating for it be left to guesswork.

Survey teams could compile records of empty and destroyed homes within the clusters they are surveying, and they could ask neighbors about empty or destroyed houses where large numbers of people or entire families may have been killed. They could also survey refugees and internally displaced people to estimate deaths among these populations.

Epidemiologists have overcome very serious dangers and difficulties to develop techniques to accurately measure the human cost of war. Their work must continue, and it must keep developing and improving. They must overcome powerful political pressures, including from the guilty parties responsible for the carnage in the first place, to politicize and discredit their incredibly difficult but noble and vital work.

On the 15th anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq, the Center for Constitutional Rights in the U.S. renewed its call for the U.S. to pay war reparations to the people of Iraq. This is one way countries that are guilty of aggression and other war crimes have traditionally fulfilled their collective responsibility for the death and destruction they have caused.

In Blood On Our Hands, I concluded my account of the U.S. war in Iraq with a similar call for war reparations, and for war crimes prosecutions of the senior U.S. and U.K. civilian and military officials responsible for the “supreme international crime” of aggression and other systematic war crimes in Iraq.

Coming to terms with the true scale of the crimes committed remains an urgent moral, political and legal imperative for the people of Iraq, the United States, the United Kingdom, and for the whole world. The world will never hold major American and British war criminals accountable for their crimes as long as the public does not understand the full scale and horror of what they have done. And the world will not know peace as long as the most powerful aggressors can count on impunity for “the supreme international crime.”

Nicolas J.S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapter on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.
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🌎 Exiting the War System of NATO
« Reply #741 on: May 17, 2019, 02:34:42 AM »
https://www.globalresearch.ca/exiting-war-system-nato/5677546

Exiting the War System of NATO
The 70 Years of NATO: From War to War
By Comitato No Nato
Global Research, May 15, 2019
Theme: Law and Justice, US NATO War Agenda


The Following text is the last section of
The 70 Years of NATO: From War to War,

by the Italian Committee No War No NATO

*

Documentation presented at the International Conference on the 70th Anniversary of NATO, Florence, April 7, 2019

In the course of the next two weeks, Global Research will publish the 16 sections of this important document, which will also be available as an E-book.

*
Contents

1. NATO is born from the Bomb
2. In the post-Cold War, NATO is renewed
3. NATO demolishes the Yugoslav state
4. NATO expands eastward to Russia
5. US and NATO attack Afghanistan and Iraq
6. NATO demolishes the Libyan state
7. The US/NATO war to demolish Syria
8. Israel and the Emirates in NATO
9. The US/NATO orchestration of the coup in Ukraine
10. US/NATO escalation in Europe
11. Italy, the aircraft carrier on the war front
12. US and NATO reject the UN treaty and deploy new nuclear weapons in Europe
13. US and NATO sink the INF Treaty
14. The Western American Empire plays the war card
15. The US/NATO planetary war system
16. Exiting the war system of NATO

***

NATO-Exit

1. While the acceleration of ongoing conflicts increases the risk of a great war that, with the use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, would jeopardize the very existence of humanity and planet Earth, It is vitally important to multiply efforts to get out of the war system. This raises the question of Italy’s membership in NATO.

2. There are those who say that one can stay in NATO while preserving his autonomy of choice, meaning having the possibility to decide from time to time in the national parliament whether or not to participate in a specific initiative of the Atlantic Alliance. It’s an illusion or worse. The North-Atlantic Council has established the NATO rules in which “there is no vote or majority decision”.  “Decisions are taken unanimously and by mutual agreement”, meaning in agreement with the United States of America, which they are entitled to by the right of controlling the position of Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and other key commands, including that of the Nuclear Planning Group.

3. In the great media spectacle of politics, magicians and acrobats launch appeals for a world without nuclear weapons, which is currently impossible, but they do nothing to achieve what today would be possible: a decisive political battle to free Italy from nuclear weapons, which do not serve our security but expose us to increasing risks. Taking a real step forward towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only way in which Italy could really contribute to defusing the escalation that leads to nuclear war,.

4. To do this, we need to fight in the open for Italy to stop violating the non-proliferation treaty it has ratified, requiring the United States to immediately remove its nuclear weapons from our national territory. By doing so, Italy would adhere to the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

5. The principles of our Constitution and our real national interests make indispensable the removal from our national territory not only nuclear weapons, but U.S. and NATO bases under US command. In other words, the Big Taboo that dominates the political and institutional world must be broken, clearly indicating the goal to be achieved: Italy’s exit from NATO and NATO from Italy in order to contribute to the dissolution of the Atlantic Alliance and  any other military alliance.  It may be an objective considered crazy by those who see the Atlantic Alliance as something sacred and untouchable and be considered dangerous by those who know that by putting themselves against NATO, they put their political careers at risk. It may also be considered impossible by those who think that a sovereign and neutral Italy cannot exist.

6. The obstacles that stand in the way of achieving this goal are enormous. The dominant power bases its strength not only on political, economic and military instruments, but on the control of minds, made possible by a pervasive media that, above all through television, leads us to believe that only what is seen exists and what is not seen does not exist. The control of minds through the dominant media apparatus allows politicans, on the one hand, to reassure public opinion by hiding real threats, and on the other to alarm it by making holograms of dangerous enemies appear, so as to justify rearmament policies, military operations and wars, justifying at the same time a military expenditure that in Italy amounts to about 70 million euros a day and, according to the commitments made in NATO, will have to rise to around 100 million euros a day. And, again as a result of mind control, there is the spectacle of those who have supported the wars that have demolished entire states (the last one in Libya) and have caused dramatic mass exodus now in the front row welcoming the victims of these same wars with open arms.

7. The vast majority, therefore, know nothing or almost nothing about the mechanisms that determine the increasingly rapid escalation of war, making the scenario of the third (and last) world war ever more real: the thermonuclear one. It is spoken of in small circles of “experts”, in “gray rooms” (with reference to the color of hair as a person ages) from which the young are largely absent. It’s about getting out of the closet, finding ways and languages to make people understand that time is running out, that it is absolutely necessary to move while we have time. What to do is in the hands of each of us.

8. In the face of impending danger, we must show that there is still an Italy that remembers, not only in words, its own Constitution; an Italy for which the word “sovereignty” is not just a term for political change; an Italy that refuses to remain caged in an alliance that under foreign command damages us and brings us to the brink of catastrophe; an Italy capable of emerging from the anti-historical vision of a West perched in defense of its supremacy; an Italy capable of playing an active role in the construction of a multipolar world in which the aspirations of peoples for freedom and social justice are based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

*

This text was translated from the Italian document which was distributed to participants at the April 7 Conference. It does not include sources and references.

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It's OFFICIAL ! The Austrian gov't has Collapsed
« Reply #742 on: May 19, 2019, 02:55:05 PM »


Austrian government collapses as far right leader caught in video sting


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-austria-politics-freedom-party/austrian-government-collapses-as-far-right-leader-caught-in-video-sting-idUSKCN1SN2RA
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I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

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🌎 The Truth-Teller: From the Pentagon Papers to the Doomsday Machine
« Reply #744 on: May 21, 2019, 05:00:10 AM »
https://greattransition.org/publication/truth-pentagon-papers-doomsday-machine

The Truth-Teller: From the Pentagon Papers to the Doomsday Machine

Daniel Ellsberg
April 2019


The growth of the military-industrial complex poses an existential threat to humanity. Daniel Ellsberg, peace activist and Vietnam War whistleblower discusses with Tellus Senior Fellow Allen White the continuing existential threat posed by the military-industrial complex—and what needs to be done about it.

You became a pivotal figure in the anti-Vietnam War movement when you released the Pentagon Papers, a large batch of classified documents that revealed a quarter century of official deception and aggression. What inspired you to take such a risky action?

After graduating from Harvard with an economics degree and completing service in the US Marines, I worked as a military analyst at the RAND Corporation. In 1961, in that role, I went to Vietnam as part of a Department of Defense task force and saw that our prospects there were extremely dim. It was clear to me that military intervention was a losing proposition.

Three years later, I moved from RAND to the Department of Defense. On my first day, I was assigned to a team tasked with devising a response to the alleged attack on the US naval warship USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin by the North Vietnamese. This completely fabricated incident became the excuse for bombing North Vietnam, which the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had wanted to do for some months.

That night, I saw President Lyndon Johnson and my boss, Secretary McNamara, knowingly lie to the public that North Vietnam had without provocation attacked the US ship. In fact, the US had covertly attacked North Vietnam the night before and on previous nights. Johnson and McNamara’s claim that the US did not seek to widen the war was the exact opposite of reality. In short, the Gulf of Tonkin crisis was based on lies. I was not yet moved to leave government, though I had come to view US military action as ineffective, illegitimate, and deadly, without rationale or endgame.

By 1969, as the war progressed under Richard Nixon, I saw such evil in government deceit that I asked myself, “What can I do to shorten a war that I know from an insider’s vantage point is going to continue and expand?” When the Pentagon Papers were released in 1971, the extent of government lies shocked the public. The retaliatory crimes Nixon committed against me out of fear that I would expose his own continuing threats––including nuclear threats—ultimately helped to bring him down and shorten the Vietnam War. This outcome had seemed impossible after his landslide reelection in 1972.

Today, similar revelations do not occasion equal shock because in the current administration in Washington, lying is routine rather than exceptional. Whether we are headed for a turning point toward bringing liars to justice will become clear when the investigations of President Donald Trump’s administration are concluded.

Since then, you have been a vocal critic of both US military interventions and the continued embrace of nuclear weapons, an issue with which you had first-hand familiarity through your work at RAND and the Pentagon. How did your experience with nuclear policy contribute to your disillusionment with US foreign policy writ large?

At RAND, Cold War presuppositions dominated all our work. We were certain that the US was behind in the arms race and that the Soviet Union, in pursuit of world domination, would exploit its lead by achieving a capacity to disarm the United States entirely of its nuclear retaliatory force. We were convinced that we were facing a Hitler with nuclear weapons.

However, in 1961, I learned about a highly classified new estimate of Soviet weapons: four intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). At the time, the US had forty ICBMs, as well as thousands of intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Italy, Britain, and Turkey (compared to the Soviet Union’s total of zero). General Thomas Power, head of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), believed that the Russians had 1000 ICBMs. He was wrong by a factor of 250. This early mistaken belief signaled to me that something was very wrong with our perception of the world and, more specifically, with how we perceived the threat posed by the nation viewed as our most formidable adversary.

At the time, I regarded the erroneous “missile gap” as a misunderstanding or cognitive error of some kind. But, in fact, it was very much a motivated error—motivated in particular by the desires of the Air Force and SAC to justify their budget requests for huge increases in the numbers of US bombers and missiles. But why did we at RAND uncritically accept the wildly inflated Air Force Intelligence estimates, rather than the contrary estimates by Army and Navy Intelligence that the Soviets had produced only “a few” ICBMs? Again, a motivated error. Through self-deception, we viewed ourselves as independent thinkers focused exclusively on national security, assuming that our role as contractors on the Air Force payroll had no influence on our analysis.

In retrospect, it is clear that our focus and our recommendations would have been very different had we been working for the Navy. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” It was very important to us not to understand that our work was above all serving to justify the exaggerated budget demands by the Air Force.

My distrust of the wisdom of Pentagon planners was also aroused by JCS estimates of the death toll resulting from deployment of our nuclear weapons. I had heard that the JCS avoided calculating this figure because they didn’t want to know how many people they would be killing. To confront them, I drafted a question that appeared in a letter from the White House Deputy for National Security, Robert Komer, transmitted in the name of President Kennedy: “If your war plans were carried out as written and were successful, how many people would be killed in the Soviet Union and China?”

Within a week, I held in my hand a top secret, eyes-only-for-the-president document with an estimate of 325 million fatalities in the first six months. A week later, a second communication added an estimated 100 million deaths in Eastern Europe and another 100 million in our allied nations of Western Europe, depending upon the wind patterns in the aftermath of the strike. Additional deaths in Japan, India, Afghanistan, and other countries brought the total to 600 million.

That killings of this magnitude—100 times the toll of Jewish victims of the Holocaust—were willingly contemplated by our military transcended prevailing notions of crimes against humanity. We had no words—indeed, there are no words—for such devastation. These data confronted me with not only the question of whom I was working with and for, but also the fundamental question of how such human depravity was possible.

Your recent book, The Doomsday Machine, describes “a very expensive system of men, machines, electronics, communications, institutions, plans, training, discipline, practices and doctrine designed to obliterate the Soviet Union under various circumstances, with most of the rest of humanity as collateral damage.” How did this system come about?

World War II created a highly profitable aerospace sector upon which the US military relied for strategic bombing of cities, thereby setting the stage for the idea of bombers as a delivery mechanism for nuclear weapons. As orders precipitously declined by the end of the war, the industry was in dire financial straits, facing bankruptcy within a year or two. Accustomed to the guaranteed profits of the war years, they found themselves unable to compete with corporations experienced in building non-military products for the market, and demand for civilian aircraft on the part of commercial airlines was insufficient to replace the wartime military business.

The Air Force grew concerned that the industry would be unable to survive on a scale adequate to deliver military superiority in future conflicts. In the eyes of the government—and industry lobbyists—the only solution was a large peacetime (Cold War) Air Force with wartime-level sales to keep the industry afloat.

Thus emerged the military-industrial complex. Mobilization to confront a Hitler-like external enemy—a role filled by the Soviet Union—was viewed as indispensable to national security. Government military planning followed, essentially socialism for the whole armaments industry, including but not limited to aircraft production. With the benefit of hindsight, I now see the Cold War as, in part, a marketing campaign for the continual, massive subsidies to the aerospace industry. That’s what it became after the war, and that’s what we are seeing again today. The contemporary analog is the idea of China as an existential enemy, which, I believe, is the dream and expectation of the US Defense Department.

The threat of nuclear conflict persists as a near-term existential threat yet remains muted in political discourse and largely absent in public consciousness. How do you explain this glaring inconsistency?

Contemporary US media focuses on contradictions and conflicts between the two major parties. On the issue of nuclear weapons, little difference exists between them. They support the same programs and both receive donations from Boeing, General Dynamics, and Raytheon, among others. They both favor more aircraft than the Pentagon requests, itself an amazing situation given the existing level of spending. Right now, the F35, the largest military project in history, may end up costing $1.5 trillion (an incredible sum even by historical standards of lavish Pentagon spending), yet still unable to achieve the promised performance. This kind of massive pork program is used by senators and representatives to secure political advantage—a “jobs” program that often is a euphemism for a “profits” program.

Nuclear weapons and climate change are two quintessential planetary threats requiring a coordinated global response. Do you see potential for alignment and cooperation between the anti-nuclear movement and the climate justice movement?

We, as a society, are conscious of the risk of the devastating impacts that could come from climate disruption. In contrast to the absence of public discourse around nuclear conflict since the end of the Cold War, climate has been a subject of intense public debate. Although the danger of the nuclear threat remains undiminished, the proposed $1.7 trillion nuclear modernization program in the US is not a matter of serious debate.

It is difficult to compare climate and nuclear threats. The climate catastrophe toward which we are moving, while uncertain in terms of timing and outcomes, is indisputable. We have survived the nuclear danger for seventy years, although we have come close to conflict more frequently than the public realizes. I am not talking about just the Cuban Missile Crisis; in 1983, for example, we were also at the brink of a nuclear exchange, and there have been other instances. The risk of conflagration remains continuous and potentially catastrophic.

It is true that climate change may totally disrupt civilization as we know it, but how many lives would it cost? Whatever the number, some form of civilization would probably survive. By contrast, a nuclear winter, which has a non-zero possibility of occurring, would occasion near extinction.

That being said, both climate and nuclear threats are existential in nature, even as the degree and type of destruction differ. And both share another critical feature: the role of corporate interests and influence in sustaining the threat. As we speak, a pristine Arctic snowfield is under threat of oil drilling. Will Exxon and the other corporations be content to leave their known oil reserves in the ground, as needs to be done? I think that’s as unlikely as Boeing eschewing military contracts.

To the question of alignment of the nuclear and climate movements, in my view, we cannot deal with the climate problem, globally or nationally, without massive government spending to speed up the production and lower the cost of renewables, and thereby accelerate the transition from a fossil-fuel economy to a renewable energy one. This will also require subsidies to the underdeveloped countries to ease their transitions. In short, we need a new super-sized Marshall Plan combined with government regulation to constrain the most damaging impulses of the fossil-based market economy embraced by Reagan, Thatcher, and other market fundamentalists. We need a national mobilization akin to that achieved during World War II. We confronted Hitler then as a civilizational threat. Climate disruption demands an equivalent response.

And here’s where the climate-nuclear nexus comes into play again. We cannot afford the wasteful and dangerous development of new nuclear weapons that “modernize” the Doomsday Machine at the same time that we need to apply vast sums to reduce the threat of climate disruption. In the face of imminent climate catastrophe, the $700-plus-billion military budget is both untenable and irresponsible. We must convert the military economy to a climate economy. We cannot have both. To do so, we must recognize that the risks posed by the military-industrial complex far exceed those posed by Russia.

The Great Transition envisions a fundamental shift in societal values and norms. To what extent does eliminating the nuclear threat ultimately depend on such a shift?

Few would disagree that to activate plans for deployment of nuclear weapons leading to a nuclear winter—and thereby killing nearly everyone on Earth—is immoral to a degree that words cannot convey. It is a crime that transcends any human conception or language. But what about the threat of deployment? For many, propagating the threat of an immoral act is itself immoral. But in the nuclear era, the nuclear states have not accepted that as a norm. Our entire nuclear posture, and that of our NATO allies, is based on deterrence of a nuclear war and, if it occurs, responding with our nuclear arsenal.
Revisiting this norm is very difficult. It is deeply embedded in the mindset of the US, Russia, and other nuclear-armed states and reinforced by the interests of powerful corporations. When Reagan and Gorbachev agreed that nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought, they did not say that it cannot be threatened or risked. Both nations continued such preparations and do so to this day. We have been taught that nuclear weapons are a necessary evil. Without a shift in norms and values, this situation will not change.

The Great Transition depicts a hopeful future rooted in solidarity, well-being, and ecological resilience. Given the dystopian scenarios you outline in The Doomsday Machine and your other work, where do you see the basis for hope?

My intention in addressing the threat of nuclear annihilation is that it will at least open up the possibility of change. While such a shift in values and norms would be almost miraculous, miracles can happen, and have happened in my lifetime. In 1985, the falling of the Berlin wall a mere four years later would have seemed improbable, if not impossible, given decades of nuclear tensions and near conflicts. But then it happened. And Nelson Mandela coming to power in South Africa, without a violent revolution, was impossible. But it happened.

So, unpredictable changes like these can happen, and their possibility inspires my commitment to continue my peace activities against long odds. My activity is based on the belief that small probabilities can be enlarged and that, however remote success may be, it is worthwhile pursuing because so much is at stake.

My experience with the Pentagon Papers showed that an act of truth-telling, of exposing the realities about which the public had been misled, can indeed help end an unnecessary, deadly conflict. This example is a lesson applicable to both the nuclear and climate crises we face. When everything is at stake, it is worth risking one’s life or sacrificing one’s freedom in order to help bring about radical change.
Daniel Ellsberg
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Offline azozeo

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If I was to tell you there was a society in which longevity, real incomes, savings — not to mention, happiness, meaning, trust, and democracy itself — were all shrinking at record pace, what would you say? I’d say it was collapsing — whether or not its people knew it, or wanted to know it. Yesterday, that society was the Soviet Union. Today, it’s America. And it strikes me that these two collapses are eerily similar in many ways. Now, I’m not crying: “America is the Soviet Union, dude!!!111” — but I’ll come to that. First, the parallels.

The first is what I’ll call forced apathy. You can’t exactly spend much time changing the system when you’re stuck on the breadline — hence, Soviet collapse was a self-perpetuating force. But you can’t spend much time changing the system when you’re working 80 hours a week…for declining income, either. 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck — translation: nobody much has the time or energy to change much of anything: they’re too busy just struggling desperately to make ends meet. Hence, nothing much changes.

Friends across the world often ask me: “why don’t Americans do more to fix their crumbling society?” They’re aghast, astonished. I tell them the reality of American life: Americans would, if they could, but they can’t, mostly. Apathy is forced on them by a predatory kind of capitalism that forces them to live something like poor people in a rich country. Breadlines — insulin lines — what’s the difference, really? Americans are forced into being apathetic, weary, drained of energy and ideas and time, by a fatally broken political economy which makes them more and more of them live at the edge of ruin, more and more so every day — but that forced apathy, my friends, is the kind of trap that has led societies throughout history to collapse, whether the USSR or Rome.


https://eand.co/how-american-collapse-resembles-soviet-collapse-94773b44fe17
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

Offline Surly1

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If I was to tell you there was a society in which longevity, real incomes, savings — not to mention, happiness, meaning, trust, and democracy itself — were all shrinking at record pace, what would you say? I’d say it was collapsing — whether or not its people knew it, or wanted to know it. Yesterday, that society was the Soviet Union. Today, it’s America. And it strikes me that these two collapses are eerily similar in many ways. Now, I’m not crying: “America is the Soviet Union, dude!!!111” — but I’ll come to that. First, the parallels.

The first is what I’ll call forced apathy. You can’t exactly spend much time changing the system when you’re stuck on the breadline — hence, Soviet collapse was a self-perpetuating force. But you can’t spend much time changing the system when you’re working 80 hours a week…for declining income, either. 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck — translation: nobody much has the time or energy to change much of anything: they’re too busy just struggling desperately to make ends meet. Hence, nothing much changes.

Friends across the world often ask me: “why don’t Americans do more to fix their crumbling society?” They’re aghast, astonished. I tell them the reality of American life: Americans would, if they could, but they can’t, mostly. Apathy is forced on them by a predatory kind of capitalism that forces them to live something like poor people in a rich country. Breadlines — insulin lines — what’s the difference, really? Americans are forced into being apathetic, weary, drained of energy and ideas and time, by a fatally broken political economy which makes them more and more of them live at the edge of ruin, more and more so every day — but that forced apathy, my friends, is the kind of trap that has led societies throughout history to collapse, whether the USSR or Rome.

https://eand.co/how-american-collapse-resembles-soviet-collapse-94773b44fe17

That "forced apathy" is what people have to resort to to forestall being driven insane. It's abetted by a wholesale assault on established institutions, with the cheers being driven by an illegitimately-elected lout hoping to brazen his way past obstruction and treason charges. The one thing Americans could point to with some pride was the illusion of equality of treatment under the law. Every so often the great and powerful get a titty caught in a wringer, but most of the time people get the quality of justice they can afford to pay for. But at least the law worked, in theory. If Pud gets by with his latest assaults on the law, who will remain to observe or obey it?

The only sane response is to conclude "the fix is in," or my favorite, "voting doesn't matter." Cue the resident cynics.

If voting didn't matter, why would the worst people on the planet work so hard to cage it, distort it, suppress it, control it and/or steal it?
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline RE

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If voting didn't matter, why would the worst people on the planet work so hard to cage it, distort it, suppress it, control it and/or steal it?

Because it provides a veneer of authenticity and legitimacy.  Without it, the tyranny is obvious.  It's window dressing that has been used since the House of Windsor left legislation up to Parliament, but kept all the money.

RE
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If voting didn't matter, why would the worst people on the planet work so hard to cage it, distort it, suppress it, control it and/or steal it?

Because it provides a veneer of authenticity and legitimacy.  Without it, the tyranny is obvious.  It's window dressing that has been used since the House of Windsor left legislation up to Parliament, but kept all the money.

RE

Power of the purse in the UK is controlled by Parliament. The English Parliament gained exclusive power to authorize taxes and control the nation's cash flow since the time of Charles II.  Parliament limited his war powers by a refusal by to authorize further taxes and by limiting his ability to secure loans from foreign nations, making him much less powerful.

The Royals in the UK are an expensive hobby. The funding of The Queen’s Official Duties is known as the "Sovereign Grant."  This boodle is reviewed every five years by the Royal Trustees (the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Keeper of the Privy Purse), and annual financial accounts are prepared and published by the Keeper of the Privy Purse. They also slurp up revenues from their various properties.

Like Congresscritters and Senators, The Crown has a legal tax-exempt status because certain acts of parliament do not apply to it. Nice work if you can be born to it.  They also hold inherited wealth, portfolios, estates, art, palaces and extremely deluxe carriages, horses and uniforms.

They are on a very posh, ermine-lined leash but don't do ANYTHING like control the finances of the UK.
"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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They are on a very posh, ermine-lined leash but don't do ANYTHING like control the finances of the UK.

Good Grief man, the Crown still owns most of Canada!  Next to the Holy Roman Catholic Church, about nobody (we know about) owns a bigger parcel of the earth than the House of Windsor.

[html]
 

Inside the British Monarchy's £13 billion property empire

 
 
The QueenQueen Elizabeth II. WPA Pool / Getty LONDON — It pays to be a monarch.

The British Monarchy holds a huge amount of historic property in the UK, which is managed by the Crown Estate.

The Crown Estate announced in June last year that it returned a record £328.8 million ($464 million) to the Treasury in 2016 as the value of the overall estate rose to an astonishing £13.1 billion ($18.5 billion).

Under current arrangements, the Queen receives 25% of the Crown Estate's revenues in the form of a Sovereign Grant, which is used to fund her official work and the upkeep of her residences.

Alongside property historically owned by the monarchy, the Queen also personally owns property assets — rather those attached to the office of the monarch — and her holdings include some of the grandest properties in Britain.

Business Insider took a look at the most spectacular royal assets. The list includes some of the country's best-known buildings: Iconic race courses, grand hotels, historic castles, and an offshore energy portfolio worth over £1 billion ($1.4 billion).

 

The Savoy, London: The Queen privately owns an 18,433-hectare estate called the Duchy of Lancaster. It is administered separately from the Crown Estate. Part of that is the Savoy Estate, a stretch of prime real estate in central London which houses the iconic Savoy Hotel, long seen as the height of sophistication.

The Savoy, London: The Queen privately owns an 18,433-hectare estate called the Duchy of Lancaster. It is administered separately from the Crown Estate. Part of that is the Savoy Estate, a stretch of prime real estate in central London which houses the iconic Savoy Hotel, long seen as the height of sophistication. The exterior of the Savoy Hotel, London Shutterstock

Historic Castles: The Duchy of Lancaster also holds around a dozen historic properties, including Lancaster Castle in Lancashire (pictured), and Pickering Castle in Yorkshire. The Duchy delivers an annual income of around £18 million ($25.5 million), which is paid directly to the ruling monarch.

Historic Castles: The Duchy of Lancaster also holds around a dozen historic properties, including Lancaster Castle in Lancashire (pictured), and Pickering Castle in Yorkshire. The Duchy delivers an annual income of around £18 million ($25.5 million), which is paid directly to the ruling monarch. Entrance to Lancaster Castle, Lancashire Alastair Wallace / Shutterstock
 

Sandringham House, Norfolk: The 8,000-hectare estate in Norfolk, England, is privately owned by the Queen. It was originally purchased by Queen Victoria in 1862. Prince Philip and the Queen choose to spend much of their time at the private country residence.

Sandringham House, Norfolk: The 8,000-hectare estate in Norfolk, England, is privately owned by the Queen. It was originally purchased by Queen Victoria in 1862. Prince Philip and the Queen choose to spend much of their time at the private country residence. Capture Light / Shutterstock

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire: This 20,000-hectare Scottish estate has been the private property of the British monarch since 1852 and the Queen spends each summer there. Princess Eugenie, the Queen's granddaughter, said of Balmoral: "It's the most beautiful place on earth. I think Granny is the most happy there. I think she really, really loves the Highlands."

Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire: This 20,000-hectare Scottish estate has been the private property of the British monarch since 1852 and the Queen spends each summer there. Princess Eugenie, the Queen's granddaughter, said of Balmoral: Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Stuart Yeates/Flickr (CC)
 

Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire: Queen Elizabeth II is an avid lover of horse racing, and reportedly reads the Racing Post with breakfast every day. Ascot Racecourse in the south of England is part of the Crown Estate and hosts the world-famous Gold Cup each June. The race is one of the monarch's favourite annual events.

Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire: Queen Elizabeth II is an avid lover of horse racing, and reportedly reads the Racing Post with breakfast every day. Ascot Racecourse in the south of England is part of the Crown Estate and hosts the world-famous Gold Cup each June. The race is one of the monarch's favourite annual events. Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, Mr Stephen Knott and Mr John Warren arrive in the Royal Procession on day 5 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 24, 2017 in Ascot, England Jan Kruger / Getty

Regent Street & St James's Market, London: The Crown Estate owns the entirety of Regent Street in London, one of the UK's best-known shopping streets. It also owns prime retail property across the UK in locations including Oxford, Exeter, Nottingham, Newcastle, Harlow, and Swansea.

The Crown Estate
 

Lots and lots of farms: The Crown Estate owns around 106,000 hectares (263,000 acres) of farmland across the UK. Its farming operations include small hill farms in Wales and huge commercial operations in the east of England.

The view of the Cotswold Hills and Severn Valley from Frochester Hill near Stroud, England Joe Dunckley / Shutterstock

Fishing rights in Scotland: The Crown owns the rights to salmon fishing and gold mining in Scotland. It has licensed some of these away over the years. Additionally, under UK law, whales and sturgeons — which produce caviar — are "royal fish," meaning they cannot legally be caught by fisherman.

Man fly-fishing on the River Tweed with the iconic Kelso Bridge at the background in Kelso, Scotland Ulmus Media / Shutterstock
 

Windsor Castle & Great Park, Berkshire: The 6,400-hectare Windsor estate in Berkshire is part of the Crown Estate's portfolio. The Castle is the Queen's preferred weekend destination and is also used to host state visits. Windsor Great Park is the only Royal Park managed by the Crown Estate.

Windsor Great Park Shutterstock

Forests: The Crown Estate holds around 11,000 hectares of forestry in areas including Berkshire, Somerset, and Cairngorms in Scotland. Many of the forests used to be royal hunting forests. Pictured is Swinley Forest, part of the Windsor Estate in Berkshire.

James Whitlock / Shutterstock
 

Wind farms: The Crown Estate owns a £1.1 billion ($1.5 billion) offshore energy empire which includes 30 wind farms. Prince Philip once described wind farms as "absolutely useless" and Prince Charles described them as a "horrendous blot on the landscape."

An off-shore wind farm is seen in the English Channel near Clacton-on-Sea in south east England August 29, 2014. Reuters / Toby Melville

The Crown Estate holds many more assets than those listed above. Here is a snapshot of the sheer scale and volume of its assets, ranging from retail parks to forests to Scottish oyster farms.

The Crown Estate / Google Maps
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