United States occupation of Iraq, forever?

This video from the USA says about itself:

US Announces Indefinite OccupationMedia Ignores It & Yawns

20 August 2018

U.S. forces will stay in Iraq “as long as needed” to help stabilize regions previously controlled by Islamic State [ISIS], a spokesman for the U.S.-led international coalition … said on Sunday.

“We’ll keep troops there as long as we think they’re needed … The main reason, after ISIS (Islamic State) is defeated militarily is the stabilization efforts and we still need to be there for that, so that’s one of the reasons we’ll maintain a presence”, Colonel Sean Ryan told a news conference in Abu Dhabi.

Read more here.

‘Mass grave of immigrants, Pentagon covers up’

This 15 August video from the USA says about itself:

Military Cover-Up? Hundreds of Migrants Feared Dead in Mass Grave at Arizona Bombing Range

As the Trump administration continues an immigration crackdown at the border, asylum seekers are being told to wait for days or weeks on end before being allowed entry into the United States.

This practice is leading more and more immigrants to risk their lives on dangerous journeys through the desert to enter the country instead, says investigative reporter John Carlos Frey. We speak with the Marshall Project reporter about the Barry Goldwater bombing range in Arizona, a vast swath of land across the border from Nogales, Mexico. The area is part of an incredibly dangerous migrant path, but aid workers are not allowed access to the site. Frey estimates hundreds of immigrants could have died there in recent years but that their bodies have not been recovered.

The brutality of borders. Mass grave revealed at Arizona Air Force bombing range. By Norisa Diaz, 18 August 2018.

Trump, Pence militarizing space

This 10 August 2018 music video from Britain is a parody of the Beatles song Across the Universe.

It says about itself:

Donald Trump’s Beatles tribute band launch their theme song for Space Force 2020.

The Tweetles – Across the Universe (Space Force 2020)

Space is very YUGE and there
are lots of bad hombres out there
So screw free healthcare and let’s go
Across the universe!

Saturn’s rings, Olympus Mons
Let’s knock ‘em down and build a wall
Let’s make our planet great again
Fly, oh crew of Space Force!

No one’s blowing up my world
No one’s blowing up my world
No one’s blowing up my world
Only I get to do that

Little green men, be prepared for fire and fury
The likes of which have never been unleashed
Across the universe!

One small step for man could be one bigly leap for all mankind
I bet they’ve even heard of me
Across the universe!
Fly, oh crew of Space Force! Um…

No one’s blowing up my world
No one’s blowing up my world
No one’s blowing up my world
Only I get to do that

By Trévon Austin in the USA:

White House and Pentagon advance plan to create a Space Force

11 August 2018

In a speech Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence promoted President Trump’s plan to create a “Space Force” as a sixth branch of the US military—on par with the Navy, Air Force, Marines, Army and Coast Guard—aimed at fighting wars in space.

Pence called the initiative “an idea whose time has come” and stated the Trump Administration planned to have the branch operational by 2020. In his speech at the Pentagon, Pence called for Congress to supply an additional $8 billion for space security systems over the next five years.

“The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America’s best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation”, he said.

In his typical chauvinist fashion, President Trump has said, “It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space; we must have American dominance in space.” The chest-thumping rhetoric conceals an inconvenient truth: the US manned space program is moribund rather than dominant, dependent on Russian rockets to send astronauts to the International Space Station. Many other nations have mastered the basic technologies associated with reaching space, which are now some 60 years old.

Pence, in his inflammatory speech, said that “other nations are seeking to disrupt our space-based systems and challenge American supremacy in space as never before.” The vice president claimed China and Russia have transformed space into a warfighting domain, and stated, in a show of menace, “the United States will not shrink from this challenge.”

When Trump publicly announced his intentions in June, he made it clear that the creation of a Space Force was directly linked to preparations for war with Russia and China. The White House pointed to Russia’s and China’s improved satellite capabilities as a pretext for the US militarization of space.

Trump’s initial proposal for a Space Force met opposition within his own cabinet and the Pentagon. Secretary of Defense James Mattis initially opposed its creation on the grounds that it would “likely present a narrower and even more parochial approach to space operations.” He was also responding to internal pressures within the Pentagon, where the Air Force views a Space Force as a subtraction from its resources and powers.

Senator Bill Nelson, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, tweeted his opposition, saying Trump could not create a sixth branch of the military without congressional approval. But another top Democrat, Jim Cooper, ranking member of the House Armed Forces Committee, declared his support for the plan.

Pence’s announcement indicates a shifting mood in the upper levels of the state. Following Pence’ speech, the Pentagon unveiled a report with steps that would be necessary to create a Space Force, known as United States Space Command. According to Pence, Mattis even said that space “is becoming a contested war-fighting domain, and we have to adapt to that reality.”

The drive to expand America’s war machine into space stems from concerns over antisatellite weaponry allegedly being developed by Russia and China. An intelligence report in February claimed that Russia and China will be able to shoot down American satellites within two to three years. In 2007, China destroyed one of its own satellites using a missile launched from the Earth. Russia has also tested a missile that can be used to target satellites.

“We could be deaf, dumb and blind within seconds,” Cooper said in February at a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Seldom has a great nation been so vulnerable.”

According to the World Atlas, the United States operates 123 of the approximately 320 military satellites currently orbiting Earth, which serve a variety of functions such as reconnaissance, GPS and communications.

The satellite network is an essential component to US imperialism. GPS satellites help guide aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and fighter jets over Syria. The satellites also help organize drone strikes across the Middle East in countries such as Yemen and allow intelligence agencies to spy on foreign targets.

The US military apparatus is concerned with maintaining its supremacy in all territory possible, including space. Establishing and maintaining space superiority has been an element of US military planning since Reagan introduced the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), better known as “Star Wars”, in 1983.

The US military particularly sees China as a threat to its dream of domination in space. China’s space program has undergone rapid development in the past 30 years. China became the third country to conduct a manned spaceflight with the launch of Shenzhou 5 in 2003. Russia maintains a space program inherited from the Soviet Union.

The introduction of a Space Command is tied to the escalation of imperialist intervention and preparation for great power conflict with Russia, China, and even Europe. Trump made his war aim clear in June when he stated the US should not have “China and Russia and other countries leading us” in space.

STONE POSTS NAZI SYMBOL Trump’s former campaign adviser Roger Stone posted an edited image of himself, Trump and many others affiliated with the administration dressed in space suits adorned with swastikas on Instagram. [HuffPost]

Accessory to War’ probes the uneasy alliance between space science and the military. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s latest book examines the partnership between scientists and soldiers. By Maria Temming, 10:00am, September 4, 2018.

Pentagon, from ‘war on terror’ to World War III?

This video says about itself:

3 June 2015

A former Al Qaeda operative and informant steps out of the shadows. He reveals a sinister double game played by Al Qaeda and the former Yemen government of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Washington allies with ISIS as great power conflict trumps “war on terror

7 August 2018

The “National Defense Strategy” document released at the beginning of this year declared bluntly that the nearly two-decade focus by the US military on the so-called “global war on terrorism” had come to an end. In its place, a new strategic orientation was being introduced based on preparing for “great power” confrontation, i.e., war with nuclear-armed Russia and China.

This was the first such defense strategy to be issued by the Pentagon in over a decade and expressed the urgency with which Washington views the preparations for a third world war.

A particularly crude and criminal outcome of this policy shift is becoming increasingly apparent in three major theaters where US forces are engaged in active combat operations. Reports from Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan provide firm evidence that the US and its local proxies are allying themselves with and employing the services of elements of ISIS and Al Qaeda in the pursuit of Washington’s broader strategic interests.

In Yemen, hundreds, if not thousands, of fighters from Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), branded by the US government as the “most dangerous” affiliate of the loose international Al Qaeda network, have been recruited by Washington’s closest allies in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to fight as foot soldiers in the near-genocidal US-backed war that these Persian Gulf oil monarchies have been waging against the impoverished country of Yemen since 2015.

AQAP are the perpetrators of the bloody attack on Charlie Hebdo weekly in Paris; abused by NATO countries’ governments for more war and more attacks on civil liberties.

According to an investigative report published Monday by the Associated Press, the Saudi-led coalition “cut secret deals with al-Qaida fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash… Hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself.”

It added that “Key participants in the pacts said the US was aware of the arrangements and held off on any drone strikes.”

“Elements of the US military are clearly aware that much of what the US is doing in Yemen is aiding AQAP and there is much angst about that”, Michael Horton, a senior analyst at the Jamestown Foundation, a CIA-connected Washington think tank, told the AP.

“However, supporting the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against what the US views as Iranian expansionism takes priority over battling AQAP and even stabilizing Yemen”, Horton added.

This is a gross understatement. Washington is providing indispensable military support for a war that has reduced millions of Yemenis to the brink of starvation. It is prepared to wipe out much of the country’s population in order to bolster its strategic position and that of the reactionary Arab regimes with which it is allied against the perceived threat of Iranian influence to US regional hegemony.

The war has escalated in recent days in the ongoing siege of the Yemeni Red Sea Port of Hodeidah, which was green-lighted by the Trump administration. The UN has warned that a quarter of a million people could lose their lives in this operation, while millions more across the country may die of starvation if it shuts down the port, the sole lifeline for food, fuel and medicine for at least 70 percent of the population.

Recruiting Al Qaeda fighters to slaughter Yemenis in this immense and bloody war crime is entirely consistent with US policy.

In regard to Syria, meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry last Thursday issued a statement warning that ISIS has increasingly concentrated its forces in the area around al-Tanaf, near the Syrian-Iraqi border, where the US military maintains a military base and has unilaterally declared a 34-mile exclusion zone around it. US troops there have provided training to so-called “rebels” opposing the government of President Bashar al-Assad and appear to be providing a security screen for ISIS.

Launched on the pretext of carrying out the “annihilation” of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the illegal US military intervention in Syria has repeatedly seen the US and its local proxies facilitate the flight of ISIS from besieged cities. The most notorious incident was in Raqqa, where a column of vehicles carried 4,000 ISIS fighters and family members, along with their weapons, ammunition and explosives, into the eastern Syrian desert.

The goal was to turn these fighters against government troops and aid in the US operation to deprive Damascus of control over Syria’s oil and gas fields, which are vital for the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country. The US aims in Syria are bound up with wider preparations for war not only against Iran, but against Russia as well.

Finally, in regard to Afghanistan, where the US has waged war for nearly 17 years, the New York Times published an article Sunday titled “Are ISIS Fighters Prisoners or Honored Guests of the Afghan Government?”

The article reported how two senior commanders of ISIS, along with 250 of their fighters, had surrendered to the US-backed Afghan National Army to avoid being routed by the Taliban in northern Afghanistan.

“If they were prisoners, however, it was hard to tell”, the Times reported. “The government arranged for them to stay in a guesthouse in the provincial capital of Sheberghan. Guards were posted around it not to keep the insurgents in, but to keep their potential enemies out, according to the provincial governor. Although the fighters were disarmed, they were allowed to keep their cell phones and other personal possessions.”

The Times added that “The dubious nature of the Islamic State surrender has proved a propaganda bonanza for the Taliban.”

The newspaper does not provide any details on the nature of this “propaganda”, but it does report that the ISIS fighters “were ferried from the battlefield in Afghan Army helicopters, avoiding a potentially dangerous journey on the roads.”

The obvious conclusion from this account is that ISIS has functioned as a US asset in Afghanistan, attacking the Taliban and carrying out atrocities aimed at precluding any negotiated resolution of the conflict that does not serve US geo-strategic interests in the region.

This more or less open alliance between the Pentagon and ISIS, a supposed prime target in multiple US military interventions across three continents, is not so much a new policy as the revival of an old one that was never fully abandoned, despite the inflated rhetoric of that greatest of all “fake news” stories, the “global war on terrorism”.

Al Qaeda, the original supposed arch enemy in this unending war, was the direct product of CIA and US support for the Islamist mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviet-backed government in the 1980s. Since then, these elements have had a dual use for US imperialism, serving at one stage as proxy forces in wars for regime-change, and at another as a pretext for US interventions in the name of fighting terror.

Under the mantle of the “war on terrorism”, successive US governments, Democratic and Republican alike, have not only conducted wars whose victims number in the millions, but also carried out an unrelenting attack on democratic rights, from domestic spying to censoring the Internet.

The emerging international alliance between the Pentagon and ISIS only serves to expose the real interests underlying these policies, which are bound up with the waging of war to offset US imperialism’s loss of economic preeminence and defend its crumbling global hegemony, and domestic repression to sustain a social order characterized by the most extreme inequality in modern American history.

US launches economic war on Iran, roils Mideast and world geopolitics: here.

TRUMP: IRAN SANCTIONS ARE FOR ‘WORLD PEACE’ President Donald Trump has claimed in a tweet that “biting” sanctions on Iran that took effect at midnight are for “WORLD PEACE” and warned, “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.” Earlier, Hassan Rouhani condemned Washington over the measures, describing them as “psychological warfare” designed to “sow division among Iranians.” [AP]

United States Pentagon, world’s biggest polluter

This 1967 satiric music video from the USA is called Tom Lehrer – Pollution – with intro.

By Whitney Webb of EcoWatch in the USA:

U.S. Military Is World’s Biggest Polluter

August 1, 2018

Last week, mainstream media outlets gave minimal attention to the news that the U.S. Naval station in Virginia Beach had spilled an estimated 94,000 gallons of jet fuel into a nearby waterway, less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean.

While the incident was by no means as catastrophic as some other pipeline spills, it underscores an important yet little-known fact—that the U.S. Department of Defense is both the nation’s and the world’s, largest polluter.

Producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined, the U.S. Department of Defense has left its toxic legacy throughout the world in the form of depleted uranium, oil, jet fuel, pesticides, defoliants like Agent Orange and lead, among others.

In 2014, the former head of the Pentagon’s environmental program told Newsweek that her office has to contend with 39,000 contaminated areas spread across 19 million acres just in the U.S. alone.

U.S. military bases, both domestic and foreign, consistently rank among some of the most polluted places in the world, as perchlorate and other components of jet and rocket fuel contaminate sources of drinking water, aquifers and soil. Hundreds of military bases can be found on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of Superfund sites, which qualify for clean-up grants from the government.

Almost 900 of the nearly 1,200 Superfund sites in the U.S. are abandoned military facilities or sites that otherwise support military needs, not counting the military bases themselves.

“Almost every military site in this country is seriously contaminated”, John D. Dingell, a retired Michigan congressman and war veteran, told Newsweek in 2014. Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina is one such base. Lejeune’s contamination became widespread and even deadly after its groundwater was polluted with a sizable amount of carcinogens from 1953 to 1987.

However, it was not until this February that the government allowed those exposed to chemicals at Lejeune to make official compensation claims. Numerous bases abroad have also contaminated local drinking water supplies, most famously the Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa.

In addition, the U.S., which has conducted more nuclear weapons tests than all other nations combined, is also responsible for the massive amount of radiation that continues to contaminate many islands in the Pacific Ocean. The Marshall Islands, where the U.S. dropped more than sixty nuclear weapons between 1946 and 1958, are a particularly notable example. Inhabitants of the Marshall Islands and nearby Guam continue to experience an exceedingly high rate of cancer.

The American Southwest was also the site of numerous nuclear weapons tests that contaminated large swaths of land. Navajo Indian reservations have been polluted by long-abandoned uranium mines where nuclear material was obtained by U.S. military contractors.

One of the most recent testaments to the U.S. military’s horrendous environmental record is Iraq. U.S. military action there has resulted in the desertification of 90 percent of Iraqi territory, crippling the country’s agricultural industry and forcing it to import more than 80 percent of its food. The U.S.’ use of depleted uranium in Iraq during the Gulf War also caused a massive environmental burden for Iraqis. In addition, the U.S. military’s policy of using open-air burn pits to dispose of waste from the 2003 invasion has caused a surge in cancer among U.S. servicemen and Iraqi civilians alike.

While the U.S. military’s past environmental record suggests that its current policies are not sustainable, this has by no means dissuaded the U.S. military from openly planning future contamination of the environment through misguided waste disposal efforts. Last November, the U.S. Navy announced its plan to release 20,000 tons of environmental “stressors”, including heavy metals and explosives, into the coastal waters of the U.S. Pacific Northwest over the course of this year.

The plan, laid out in the Navy’s Northwest Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement, fails to mention that these “stressors” are described by the EPA as known hazards, many of which are highly toxic at both acute and chronic levels.

The 20,000 tons of “stressors” mentioned in the Environmental Impact Statement do not account for the additional 4.7 to 14 tons of “metals with potential toxicity” that the Navy plans to release annually, from now on, into inland waters along the Puget Sound in Washington state.

In response to concerns about these plans, a Navy spokeswoman said that heavy metals and even depleted uranium are no more dangerous than any other metal, a statement that represents a clear rejection of scientific fact. It seems that the very U.S. military operations meant to “keep Americans safe” come at a higher cost than most people realize—a cost that will be felt for generations to come both within the U.S. and abroad.

The US Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act, a blueprint for $708 billion in Pentagon spending, voting Wednesday by a margin of 87-10. Forty-six Republicans were joined by 41 Democrats in approving the bill, which now goes to the White House for President Trump’s signature. Only 8 Democrats voted against: here.

How to Blow $700 Billion and Lose Wars: A Guide to America’s Exploding Defense Budget and Military Failure: here.