When President Trump uses his most powerful non-nuclear weapon against local hoodlums in eastern Afghanistan, sending a clear message to Russia and North Korea, he betrays his eagerness to crack open the launch codes.
Good Friday began with the news that the United States had deployed its largest non-nuclear ordinance against tribal insurgents in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarha. According to US sources the decision to drop “MOAB” – the GBU-43/B, known affectionately in American military circles as the “mother of all bombs” – was made in Afghanistan, but there can be no doubt its use was a particular ambition of the hawks in the Trump administration. Early reports have suggested that no more than 36 militants were killed by the 11 tonne detonation – resulting in a blast zone one mile in radius, and that the intended target was a network of tunnels which the most sophisticated military hardware in the history of human warfare was incapable of destroying in almost 11 years of fighting.
Largest non-nuclear weapon used by US against 36 tribesmen in Afghanistan at a cost of $300 million. A message to R… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…
We can cut the crap. The use of this super bomb – at a cost of over $300 million – has nothing to do with Afghanistan, the Islamic State, or any other half-baked notion that the US military-industrial complex is incapable of dealing with fighters who are now no more advanced in their military skills than the Mujahidin were in the early 1980s. MOAB – the use of which, according to the write-up in the Guardian, had villagers in the area terrified the world was ending – is nothing but more evidence that Trump is out of control. In the simplest of terms, this was the biggest toy in the box – without resorting to the nuclear option – and this man-child in the Oval Office couldn’t wait to use it.
What is all the more worrying is, of course, the fact that this is the ultimate weapon on the threshold of the use of non-conventional weapons – a sure sign that Trump is eager to cross the line. Afghanistan is the southern course of the curtain wall the US has been building around Russia over the past two decades – and in Moscow Putin will read this as a message indented for him. With tensions continuing to mount between the US and North Korea, there can be no mistaking that this also a warning to Kim Jong-un; who has already warned that he is prepared to strike back at American forces if Trump oversteps the mark.
The killing of 36 alleged members of an ISIS affiliated group – bearing in mind that the Americans are convinced everyone with a gun in the region is ISIS – will not damage resistance to the effective US occupation of much of the Middle East. So in terms of its strategic benefits in the fight against radical Islamism it is limited at best. MOAB is a watershed moment in the foreign policy of the Trump regime, every other player on the board has been shown the tools the US intends to use in any, more serious, conflict, but the problem with this is that it lets Russia and North Korea know that the only advantage they will have in the protection of their interests is nuclear.
U.S. Drops MOAB, ‘Mother Of All Bombs,’ On ISIS Complex
President Trump has ordered an attack on an airbase in Syria in response to an apparent sarin gas attack in Idlib province. However, the stricken airfield is a Russian base of strategic importance and Moscow is not taking this well.
Early on Tuesday social media in the Syrian province of Idlib began to report a gas attack, describing how planes were seen and heard dropping shells on civilian targets. As the day progressed it became obvious the province’s few functioning hospitals were not able to cope with the numbers of those injured. In what was quickly determined to be a sarin gas attack, over 70 people were killed and hundreds seriously injured – children were among the dead and wounded. International outrage was immediate.
In both the United States and the United Kingdom the incident was described as a war crime and the finger of blame was again pointed at President Bashar al Assad. During trade negotiations with Chinese premier Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, President Trump order retaliatory action. According to the Pentagon, in what was described as a “legal proportional strike,” naval destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross launched a combined tomahawk missile assault on Shayrat airbase near Homs from locations in the eastern Mediterranean. Despite the Trump administration alerting Russia – which had personnel at the airbase – before Congress, the attack now raises the possibility of a direct military confrontation between Russia and the United States in Syria.
Assad is about to defeat ISIS, so why would he suddenly gas women & children to infuriate America? Makes no sense. @realDonaldTrump
As these events bring us closer to war between the US and Russia, the narrative of another Syrian chemical attack on civilians is problematic to say the least. Why would Assad risk provoking direct US intervention only days after the US ambassador to the United Nations stated that US policy was no longer directed towards removing him from power? Former Pentagon prosecutor, Sen. Richard Black, asked – in an interview with Russia Today – why would Assad “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?” Indeed. Syrian government forced have all but defeated ISIS and US-backed al-Qaeda militants in the north, putting the government within a stone’s throw of ending the war.
Black – the Senator for Virginia – pointed to the questionable reliability of the witnesses, the White Helmets – who he describes as “terrorists” and “an arm of al-Qaeda.” The sexed up nature of the dossier against Assad doesn’t end here. In 2013 a sarin attack in Damascus almost triggered an international intervention, to avoid which the Syrian government surrendered its entire stockpile of chemical and biological weapons. Later the same year Turkish authorities intercepted al-Qaeda agents attempting to cross into Syria with sarin gas and the chemical components needed to produce it. Even the UN confirmed that munitions captured from “rebel militants” contained sarin.
Sarin gas, or GB (G-series, ‘B’), is lethal even at very low concentrations.
Without any real investigation into the attack in Idlib, it would appear to be the case the Trump administration has leapt upon this incident as a pretext for military involvement. Russia – allied with Syria – has responded by cancelling its agreement with the US to avoid engagements with US forces in the country, a step that does bring us closer to a widening of the conflict. The UK has said that it fully supports the actions taken by the United States, thus indicating that it may be prepared to commit ground troops to the US-led coalition in the event that Russia refuses to back down.
All of this – from beginning to end – smacks of fake news. The photographic evidence for the sarin attack has been called into question by independent experts who have pointed out the absence of the protective clothing required to deal with such a deadly neurotoxin – lethal even at very low concentrations. International monitors doubt that Assad has such an arsenal, and we know that the rebels do. Yet without waiting for an investigation the US has upped the ante, creating all the conditions necessary for a more serious global conflict that will undoubtedly involve Britain. The only thing that is clear is that the news is the last place we will get reliable information.
‘Why would Assad attack civilians not military? It’s simply irrational’ – U.S. Senator
Trump said that he would ban Muslims from coming into America. No one can say that he didn’t give us fair warning. Now he has gone and kept his promise and everyone is bewildered at how cold and callous the US has become. But he told us.
Don’t for a single moment imagine that this doesn’t concern you. If you are thinking: So what? It has nothing to do with me, well then you had better check to see if tickets are available for Mars trips yet. While it may not seem like it – on account of us living in a world where we take them for granted – human rights, like the rule of law and civil and political rights, are fragile; they are only as strong as the state powers that protect and guarantee them. Right now Donald Trump, the most powerful man in the most powerful state power on the planet, has administered a serious blow to the rights of refugees and migrants – thus undermining the entire edifice of all our rights and freedoms.
@realDonaldTrump I voted for you and now my wife of 19 years with green card is afraid you are sending her to concentration camp.... 😣
More immediately, this is a direct assault on national, ethnic, and religious groups for no other reason than their place of origin. It is a deliberately misguided collective punishment in retaliation for acts of terrorism that had nothing whatsoever to do with these people. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – where Donald Trump happens to do business – are not on this banned list, despite the fact that these states are the leading exporters of Islamist extremism and terrorism. Had this ban be about protecting the US from harm Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would be at the top of this list. All that can really explain this ban is the overt racism, bigotry, and Islamophobia of the Trump machine.
In direct contravention of the Geneva Convention on Refugees the door to the United States has been closed on Syrian refugees, leaving them stranded and homeless either in a warzone or in other nations where their rights are being daily violated. Just as he didn’t want African Americans living in his properties, he doesn’t want “these people” coming to America. Approaching half a million civilians – including 50,000 children – have been killed in the Syrian civil war, and over six and a half million people have been displaced; causing the world’s greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Where do these people go? Well, not the land of the free! The Statue of Liberty is telling them lies; Trump’s America doesn’t want them.
Believe it or not it was the United States that caused both their misery and the entire refugee crisis. The anti-Assad rebellion was, from the beginning, backed by the Obama administration. The CIA and other clandestine outfits backed the “rebels” – AKA Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, formerly known as al-Qaeda – in their attempt to overthrow the regime and secure yet another oil pipeline for Uncle Sam. It didn’t work because Russia’s Vladimir Putin didn’t much appreciate America taking oil from its ally and trade partner. So a new Cold War proxy became hell on earth for ordinary Syrians who now have nowhere to go.
If you do support the #MuslimBan today, remember this: you will be remembered as the villains of our children's history books tomorrow.
Trump’s decree that Syrian refugees can no longer seek sanctuary in the United States has Europe reeling in shock. Last summer the beaches of south-west Europe were strewn with the bodies of drowned refugees who had drowned in their desperate attempt to cross the Mediterranean. RTÉ, the Irish state broadcaster, reported that about 130 people were dying like this every single day by the end of the year – many of them children. US and British media aren’t reporting these numbers because it is their guns and tanks and planes and drones and bombs that are causing the problem. Trump is using the excuse of terrorism to hide his racism, but these poor souls are fleeing real terrorism in their own country – US and British state-sponsored terrorism.
We have been hearing a good bit of what Trump may or may not have been up to while holidaying in Moscow, but as we get further from the front page headlines it becomes more apparent that the bed wetting saga is a smoke screen for a real war.
Amidst news coverage of PEOTUS Donald Trump’s eventful evening in the presidential suite of Moscow’s Ritz Carlton hotel going into hyper-drive – a night of shenanigans equalled only by Prince Harry’s trip to Vegas – other, more serious, news has been slipping under the radar. In late October the Lithuanian government, a NATO member since 2004, issued a public information booklet detailing what citizens were to do in the event of a Russian military invasion. Since Trump signalled his reluctance to honour the US’ treaty obligations to NATO last year if other member states didn’t start pulling their weight Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have drastically increased their defence budgets – making the Baltics the region with the highest growth in military spending in the world. It is clear that they are taking the threat of Russian aggression seriously.
Lithuania on high alert
While we were all either laughing at BuzzFeed’s “unsubstantiated” report on a security leak concerning Trump and leaks of another kind or smirking at the content of the dossier itself the United States was busy deploying 3,500 boots to Poland and increasing its already significant presence in the Baltic States. In response to this the Russian Foreign Ministry has upgraded its language of “concern” at the US’ intervention to the less diplomatic phraseology of the US posing a “threat to [Russia’s] national security.” This may well be a simple matter of Obama firing a parting shot at Putin in retaliation for Russia’s alleged involvement in the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s email accounts during the presidential election, but with both Estonia and Latvia being home to a sizeable ethnic Russian minority – similar to that of Ukraine – and given Putin’s form for overt expansionism, the possibility of Russia overrunning these countries cannot be ruled out.
Vladimir Putin – whether he was behind the hack on the DNC or not – has been busy making overtures to useful people within the incoming new guard of Europe and America’s political right. It is in this regard that we should, as Paul Mason has pointed out, be paying closer attention to Donald Trump. Indeed he may not be the best person for the highest political office in the world; what with his attitude towards women and his less than adequate political experience, but this is not the most important issue at stake. What we should be asking is whether or not he is a Russian agent. As much as this takes us down the dark paths of the Manchurian Candidate, it is a real possibility – and if this is true then his presidency spells the end of Western peace and security.
Paul Mason in Medium
By effectively removing the United States from the balance of power created by the North Atlantic alliance, there are few serious obstacles standing in the way of Putin securing access to the Baltic and the Atlantic by re-annexing at least Estonia and Latvia. Sadly we no longer live in a reality where this suggestion is outlandish. It has its perfect precursor in the invasion and annexation of the Crimea – another strategic move directed to securing Russian access to the sea. Poland, being a US nuclear ballistic missile outpost, may well be too much to chew for even the most ambitious of Putin’s plans – but then Poland is surplus to requirements if all he is looking for is his place in the sun.
Estonian FM: ‘Russia is a threat for security in Europe’
President Obama has lashed out against Putin for the alleged Russian involvement in the series of cyber-hacks against Hillary Clinton. Without any credible evidence supporting the White House’s claims there has to be more to this than meets the eye.
Outgoing US president Barack Obama is doing everything in his power to “poison the well” before the 20 January inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump. Without a single shred of verifiable evidence the White House has “retaliated” against Putin’s Russia for its alleged involvement in the hacking of DNC email accounts during the recent presidential election by expelling 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying and promising a whole raft of sanctions against Russia. Most analysts, including former US diplomat and foreign policy advisor Jim Jatras, are of the opinion that this hostile move is designed to widen the US-Russian divide before Trump takes office.
WikiLeaks only last night tweeted that the latest revision of the Joint Analysis Report – the NCCIC and FBI “hacking report” – had redacted any mention of the non-profit leak website from its disclaimer, a clear indication of a governmental agency whitewash intended to point the finger at Russia alone. Leaving aside the fact the United States has a long historical record of overt and covert interference in the democratic elections of other countries; leading in many cases to US-sponsored military dictatorships and grotesque human rights violations, these accusations come at a time when tensions between the US and Russia are at their highest point since the Cold War.
As the US and its allies continue to support al-Qaeda militants and their affiliates in Syria the arrival of Russia’s northern fleet into the Eastern Mediterranean has turned the tide of the conflict, putting US strategic interests in the region on the back foot. So far nothing has been found linking the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, to the Turkish government – a US ally in the Syrian civil war – despite the assassin’s close association with Erdoğan. Yet this, together with Obama’s unsubstantiated claims yesterday, is only adding to the pressure cooker of new Cold War conditions that is US-Russian relations.
These expulsions and sanctions against Russia have to be understood against the backdrop of the Syrian conflict, a debacle all sides have obscured through their respective media outlets. As is the case with all US intervention in the Middle East, Syria is an oil war – and both the United States and Russia are vying for control of the pipelines. Given the involvement of multiple government agencies behind the scenes of Obama’s position it is most likely the case that this is a civil service power play in Washington to fortify long-term strategic objectives before an unpredictable Trump – known for his admiration for Putin and Russia – takes office and ruins their fun.
‘Any further hostile actions from US will trigger Moscow reaction’
– Russian Foreign Ministry