Trump escalates nuclear war danger

This 6 December 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Daniel Ellsberg Reveals He was a Nuclear War Planner, Warns of Nuclear Winter & Global Starvation

Could tension between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un bring us to the brink of nuclear war? As tensions ramp up, we discuss what nuclear war would look like with a former nuclear war planner and one of the world’s most famous whistleblowers—Daniel Ellsberg.

In 1971, Ellsberg was a high-level defense analyst when he leaked a top-secret report on U.S. involvement in Vietnam to The New York Times and other publications, which came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. He played a key role in ending the Vietnam War. Few know Ellsberg was also a Pentagon and White House consultant who drafted plans for nuclear war. His new book, published Tuesday, is titled “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.” We speak with Ellsberg about his top-secret nuclear studies, his front row seat to the Cuban missile crisis, whether Trump could start a nuclear war and how contemporary whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden are his heroes.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Trump, announcing new missile defense program, ramps up nuclear arms race

19 January 2019

Speaking at the Pentagon Thursday, President Donald Trump announced the largest expansion of US missile defense forces since Ronald Reagan’s failed “Star Wars” program.

The announcement is the latest move in a global nuclear arms race in which the United States, Russia and China are rapidly expanding their nuclear arsenals, even as the Trump administration moves to tear up all restrictions on the development, deployment and use of nuclear weapons.

Trump has accelerated a $1 trillion nuclear modernization program put in place under Obama, while rushing the development of new US strategic bombers, nuclear submarines and “low-yield” nuclear weapons that are more likely to be used in combat.

At the same time, the White House has announced the United States’ intention to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty as it prepares to ring Russia and China with short- and medium-range nuclear and conventional missiles.

While US missile defense strategy previously claimed to defend against the actions of smaller states such as North Korea and Iran, this year’s missile defense review more directly targets Russia and China. As the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank wrote, “For the first time, the document puts Russia and China in the same sentence as missile defenses, making explicit what has hitherto been implicit.”

Speaking at the Pentagon Thursday, Trump declared that “foreign adversaries, competitors and rogue regimes are steadily enhancing their missile arsenals… Their arsenals are getting bigger and stronger.”

Trump’s remarks echoed the themes of the Pentagon report he was presenting. “Military superiority is not a birthright,” the report states. “The scale and urgency of change required to renew our conventional and missile defense overmatch should not be underestimated.”

The report goes on to threaten: “To our competitors: We see what you are doing, and we are taking action.”

Congress has approved $10.3 billion for the US missile defense agency this fiscal year, a figure that is poised to skyrocket if Trump’s plans are carried through.

In his Pentagon appearance, Trump did not attempt to hide the fact that he was using the prospect of billions of dollars in additional military funding to solicit political support. Responding to applause as he took the podium, Trump told the military audience, “You’re only doing that because I gave you the greatest and biggest budget in our history. And I’ve now done it two times. And I hate to tell the rest of the world, but I’m about to do it three times. So that’s the only reason you gave me such a nice welcome.”

Despite the bitter factional warfare in Washington, there is overwhelming bipartisan agreement on the vast and perpetual expansion of the military. Last June, the Senate approved, on an 85-10 vote, an $82 billion increase in the Pentagon budget, bringing annual spending to $716 billion. The colossal levels of military spending are almost never discussed in the media and the money is appropriated without question.

The diversion of funds into military appropriations and the pockets of defense contractors is even more shameless in connection with missile defense than with other types of military spending, because the efficacy of missile defense is, according to experts, largely illusory.

Missile defense is “the longest running scam in the history of the Department of Defense,” wrote Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, and “the new Missile Defense Review continues that proud tradition.”

Since President Reagan first announced his “Star Wars” initiative, the United States has spent some $300 billion on missile defense systems. Cirincione observed that “a decade after the start of ‘Star Wars’, having spent tens of billions of dollars on X-ray lasers, directed energy weapons, particle-beam weapons, space-based kinetic interceptors and ‘brilliant pebbles’, the Pentagon was forced to conclude that none of these fanciful concepts would work. We ended up with a concept of limited, ground-based interceptors that might be able to intercept one or two primitive long-range warheads.”

But the extremely limited effectiveness of the US missile defense systems did not prevent Trump from making sweeping claims about US capabilities. “Our goal is simple: to ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, anytime, anyplace,” he said.

“We will destroy every type of missile attack against any American target, whether before or after launch,” he added.

In reality, current US missile defenses are not capable of reliably destroying modern ICBMs possessed by Russia or China, much less the new generation of hypersonic reentry vehicles that the two countries are deploying.

Trump’s statements reflect the two most essential characteristics of American military policy since the fall of the Soviet Union: boundless, often delusional, hubris and a total lack of restraint. Given the series of blank checks Congress keeps writing, it is likely that Trump’s announcement will be the start of a new “Star Wars” boondoggle—turning over hundreds of billions more dollars for fanciful proposals.

However, the dubious efficacy of these initiatives does not lessen their deadly implications. The entire program is part of accelerating preparations for nuclear war, in which US imperialism is preparing to use offensive nuclear weapons.

For all the money Trump’s new missile defense system will consume, the primary mechanism for ensuring that no missiles reach the United States in the event of war is the threat to destroy the entire landmass of a potential opponent with nuclear weapons. “The United States will continue to rely upon nuclear deterrence for strategic nuclear attack from major powers,” the CSIS declares.

The central aim of the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, released last year, was to de-stigmatize the use of nuclear weapons by expanding the range of possible scenarios in which the president could respond with a nuclear strike.

As numerous studies have made clear, a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia or between the United States and China, beyond an initial death toll in the hundreds of millions, would result in a climatological phenomenon known as nuclear winter, entailing a long-term drop in global temperatures that would make agriculture impossible and wipe out the entire human race.


Trump’s Pompeo’s warmongering speech in Egypt

This 10 January 2019 South Korean TV video is called U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo attacks Iran, Obama in Cairo speech.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Pompeo in Cairo: The ugly face of US imperialism

12 January 2019

Overloaded with lies, hypocrisy and absurdities, the speech delivered by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the American University in Cairo, Egypt on Thursday signaled to the collection of monarchs and despots that count as Washington’s allies in the Middle East that US imperialism is committed to a continued escalation of war in the region, particularly against Iran.

He insisted that despite Donald Trump’s December 19 announcement of a decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, there would be no “change of mission.”

“For our part, airstrikes in the region will continue as targets arise,” he said. “We will keep working with our partners in the Coalition to Defeat ISIS. We will continue to hunt down terrorists who seek safe havens in Libya and in Yemen.”

He vowed that the US would continue its intervention in Syria “to expel every last Iranian boot” from the country and spelled out an unwavering agenda of regime change in both Damascus and Tehran.

Reflecting US imperialism’s priorities in the region, Pompeo mentioned Iran 25 times in his speech, compared to a mere dozen references to “terrorism.”

Universally described as a “keynote” speech, Pompeo’s address was as crude and thuggish as the man himself.

Titled “A Force for Good: America Reinvigorated in the Middle East”, it represented an unabashed celebration of the decades of US military interventions, occupations and bombings that have decimated entire societies.

Pompeo introduced himself as the personification of Washington’s role in promoting “goodness” in the Middle East, noting in his opening remarks that the visit to Egypt was “especially meaningful for me as an evangelical Christian” and sharing with his audience that “In my office, I keep a Bible open on my desk to remind me of God and His Word and The Truth.”

He went on to insist that “because I’m a military man by training, I’ll be very blunt and direct today: America is a force for good in the Middle East.”

Taking these self-descriptions together, it was as if Pompeo had crafted his remarks to substantiate the Islamists’ portrayal of America’s role in the Middle East as that of “crusaders”.

It was notable that even in the audience of handpicked functionaries, businessmen and vetted flunkies of Egypt’s dictatorial regime, only a single line in Pompeo’s delusional presentation was interrupted by applause—when he thanked the Egyptian dictator Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for “his courage”—and at the end, the response was at best tepid.

The rhetoric about the US as a “force for good” is so at odds with the reality of a quarter century of unending US wars in the region that even this audience found it tough to swallow.

The war in Iraq, launched on the basis of lies about weapons of mass destruction with the criminal invasion of 2003, claimed well over 1 million lives and left the society in shambles, torn by sectarian divisions. It saw massacres in Fallujah and other cities and the degrading spectacle of torture at Abu Ghraib

In Syria, the attempt by the US and its allies to effect regime change through a CIA-orchestrated insurgency by Al Qaeda-linked militias has claimed hundreds of thousands more lives and turned millions into refugees. Similarly, the US-NATO war for regime change in Libya left the country in a shambles, with continuous fighting between rival militias, a government that exists in name only and a hell on earth for migrants trapped in a network of prisons and slave markets.

Meanwhile, in Yemen, the Pentagon continues to arm and aid a near-genocidal Saudi-led war that has claimed well over 60,000 lives and brought some 20 million people to the brink of famine in what the United Nations has described as the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe.

To attribute such mass slaughter and suffering as the workings of a “force for good” is obscene.

Driving this rhetoric was a puerile attempt by Pompeo to contrast his speech to one given by then-president Barack Obama 10 years earlier from the same podium at Cairo’s American University. Not mentioning the former president by name, referring to him only as “another American who stood before you” in 2009, Pompeo excoriated Obama for offering even a hint of an apology for the crimes carried out by US imperialism in the Middle East and claimed that the message he delivered resulted in the US becoming too “timid in asserting ourselves” and a “reluctance to wield our influence.”

In reality, the speech delivered this week and the one given by Obama ten years ago have more in common than Pompeo let on.

As the World Socialist Web Site noted at the time, Obama and his speech were merely a means of presenting a new face for imperialism.

While Obama voiced support for “democracy” and “human rights”, he said nothing about the actual conditions in Egypt under the US-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak, or Saudi Arabia, which he had just visited, under the tyrannical House of Saud. He defended the ongoing US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said nothing about the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza.

“The vague and flowery rhetoric, the verbal tributes to Islamic culture and the equal rights of nations, constitute an adjustment of the language being used to cloak the policy of US imperialism, not a change in substance”, the WSWS stated. “Obama made not a single concrete proposal to redress the grievances of the oppressed peoples of the Middle East. That is because the fundamental source of this oppression is the profit system and the domination of the world by imperialism, of which American imperialism is the most ruthless.”

Pompeo has ditched the flowery rhetoric as Washington pursues a naked policy of aggression against and demonization of Iran. He boasted of Trump’s scrapping of the Iran nuclear treaty and the ever-escalating economic sanctions that have been imposed against the country, punishment tantamount to an act of war.

He vowed that US sanctions would only “keep getting tougher until Iran starts behaving like a normal country.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Twitter: “The day Iran mimics US clients … to become a ‘normal’ country is the day hell freezes over … Best for the US to just get over loss of Iran.”

Noting that Obama had declared that the relationship between the US and the Middle East needed a “new beginning,” Pompeo insisted that only with the advent of Trump had the “real new beginning” become possible. As evidence of this, he pointed to the two US cruise missile attacks on Syria—emphasizing that Washington is “willing to do it again.” He cited the airstrikes that leveled the cities of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria and the unfettered relations with the monarchical dictatorships of the Persian Gulf and the police state regime of General Sisi in Egypt.

“The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over,” Pompeo declared.

He added: “For those who fret about the use of American power, remember this: America has always been, and always will be, a liberating force, not an occupying power. We’ve never dreamed of domination in the Middle East.”

Somehow, Pompeo’s listeners contained their laughter. US domination of the Middle East and its oil wealth has been a cornerstone of US foreign policy for over 70 years. US imperialism has always masked its predatory interests by the “liberating” myth. As Leon Trotsky noted wryly in 1924: “America is always liberating somebody. That is her profession.”

The US secretary of state went so far as to brag about the role being played by the Pentagon in the slaughter of the Yemeni people, declaring, “In Yemen, we’ve assisted our coalition partners as they take the lead in preventing an Iranian expansion…”

The main thrust of his speech was the call for the building of an anti-Iranian coalition that he referred to as the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) based upon the Sunni oil sheikdoms, the Egyptian dictatorship and Israel.

To that end he praised the regime of General Sisi, the former army commander who came to power through a coup against Egypt’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, which saw the massacre of some 1,600 of his followers and the subsequent imprisonment of an estimated 60,000 Egyptians for political reasons, in prisons where torture is routine. Pompeo presented the general’s regime as a beacon of tolerance and freedom in the Middle East.

While General Sisi has enthusiastically embraced Washington’s war on terrorism—labeling all of its opponents as terrorists—it is less clear that Cairo is anxious to enlist in a US-led war on Iran.

Pompeo’s speech served only to underscore the continuing catastrophic role played by US imperialism throughout the Middle East and the threat that a new and even bloodier war is being prepared in the drive for US hegemony over the region.

BOLTON ASKED FOR IRAN ATTACK OPTIONS The White House’s national security team last fall asked the Pentagon to provide options for striking Iran. The request by the National Security Council, led by the hawkish John Bolton, sparked deep concern among Pentagon and State Department officials. [Reuters]

US ratchets up threats against Iran, Turkey amid Syria withdrawal plans: here.