Tag Archives | Geopolitics & Globalization

Is the US in Terminal Decline?

You might very well think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment. BBC News‘ North America editor Mark Mardell has some interesting thoughts, however:

It is eerie to walk so close to a weapon of mass destruction.

The B-52 bomber is one of the ultimate expressions of American power. If the president decides to drop a nuclear bomb, this is the sort of aircraft that would do it.

I am careful not to step over the red line around the plane. A sign painted on the ground warns lethal force can be used against those who cross it without authorisation.

I’ve come to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, filming for the new BBC One programme The Editors.

The programme aims to get the BBC’s on-air editors to explore – and hopefully answer – a big question. My chosen subject is the decline of American power.

There’s little evidence of it at the base, where the sign above the gate reads: “Only the best come North”.

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Bush Speechwriter: Oil Inspired Decision To Invade Iraq

Ten years ago, anyone who said that the United States was invading Iraq in part to take its oil was dismissed as delusional. But via the Daily Beast, former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum now confirms:

I was less impressed by Ahmed Chalabi than were some others in the Bush administration. However, since one of those “others” was Vice President Cheney, it didn’t matter what I thought.

In 2002, Chalabi joined the annual summer retreat of the American Enterprise Institute near Vail, Colorado. He and Cheney spent long hours together, contemplating the possibilities of a Western-oriented Iraq: an additional source of oil, an alternative to U.S. dependency on an unstable-looking Saudi Arabia.

 

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Audio Recording Of Bradley Manning Speaking At Military Tribunal Leaked

Despite a strict ban on recordings and transcripts at the secretive proceedings, the Freedom of Press Foundation has gotten a hold of a covertly-made tape of Manning’s full speech to the court explaining his motivation for leaking classified government materials. He remarks:

“I am the type of person who likes to know how things work. And, as an analyst, this means I always want to figure out the truth. Unlike other analysts within the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, I was not satisfied with just scratching the surface and producing canned or cookie cutter assessments. I wanted to know why something was the way it was, and what we could to correct or mitigate a situation.”

“I began to become depressed with the situation that we [the U.S. military] found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year…we became obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists…[I wanted] society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment everyday.”

“I knew that if I continued to assist the Baghdad Federal Police in identifying the political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki, those people would be arrested and in the custody of the Special Unit of the Baghdad Federal Police and very likely tortured and not seen again for a very long time – if ever.”

“I read more of the diplomatic cables published on the Department of State Net Centric Diplomacy.

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On The Legacy Of Hugo Chavez

This past fall, the Independent‘s Owen Jones wrote that Hugo Chavez’s towering feat was “proving it is possible to lead a popular, progressive government that breaks with neo-liberal dogma”:

Even opponents of Chavez told me that he is the first Venezuelan president to care about the poor. Since his landslide victory in 1998, extreme poverty has dropped from nearly a quarter to 8.6 per cent last year; unemployment has halved; and GDP per capita has more than doubled. Rather than ruining the economy – as his critics allege – oil exports have surged from $14.4bn to $60bn in 2011, providing revenue to spend on Chavez’s ambitious social programs, the so-called “missions”.

But when it comes to his relationship with his opposition, Chavez has arguably been pretty lenient. Many of them – including [recent presidential opponent] Capriles – were involved in a US-backed, Pinochet-style military coup in 2002, which failed only after Chavez’s supporters took to the streets.

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More Than 50 Countries Collaborated With CIA On Extraordinary Rendition Torture Program

Torturing: it brought the United States together with Iran, Syria, Libya, and Zimbabwe. Wired reports:

A new report from the Open Society Foundation details the CIA’s effort to outsource torture since 9/11. Known as “extraordinary rendition,” the practice concerns taking detainees to and from U.S. custody without a legal process and handing detainees over to countries that practiced torture.

The report found that 136 people went through the post-9/11 extraordinary rendition, and 54 countries were complicit in it. Some were official U.S. adversaries, like Iran and Syria, brought together with the CIA by the shared interest of combating terrorism.

The most famous case involves Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen snatched in 2002 by the U.S. at JFK Airport before the CIA sent him to Syria under the mistaken impression he was a terrorist. In Syrian custody, Arar was “imprisoned for more than ten months in a tiny grave-like cell, beaten with cables, and threatened with electric shocks by the Syrian government.”

The full 54 countries that aided in post-9/11 renditions: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

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Will The United States Never Again Have A Peacetime President?

Have Bush and Obama ushered in the age of vague, unpublicized, poorly-defined war that never ends? Via Foreign Policy, Micah Zenko writes:

Since September 11, 2001, the president has been able to threaten or use military force to achieve a range of foreign policy objectives with few checks and balances or sustained media coverage — to an extent unprecedented in U.S. history. It is unlikely that the United States will ever have a peacetime president again.

The primary reason for this stems from how policymakers in Washington perceive the world — a perception that bridges partisan divisions. According to most officials, the international security environment is best characterized by limitless, complex, and imminent threats facing the United States. Those threats require the military to be perpetually on a wartime footing and the president to frequently authorize the use of lethal force. As a Pentagon strategy document first noted in 2010, the United States has entered “a period of persistent conflict.”

In response to this world of grave uncertainty and looming threats, the United States has invested heavily in offensive military capabilities [including drones, special operations forces, and cyberattacks] that the president leverages with speed, secrecy, and minimal oversight.

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The CIA Has A Secret Drone Base In Saudi Arabia

I wonder, what other news is hidden from the public under an “informal arrangement”? The BBC reports:

The CIA has been operating a secret airbase for unmanned drones in Saudi Arabia for the past two years. US media have known of its existence since then, but have not reported it. The New York Times published its report on Tuesday night, ending an “informal arrangement” among several news organizations not to disclose the location of the base.

The facility was established to hunt for members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen. A drone flown from there was used in September 2011 to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric who was alleged to be AQAP’s external operations chief.

Construction was ordered after a December 2009 cruise missile strike in Yemen. It was the first strike ordered by the Obama administration, and ended in disaster, with dozens of civilians, including women and children, killed.

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The Paranoia of the Super Rich and Super Powerful

from Stevertigo at Wikimedia Commons

Via TomDispatch:

[This piece is adapted from “Uprisings,” a chapter in Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire, Noam Chomsky’s new interview book with David Barsamian (with thanks to the publisher, Metropolitan Books).  The questions are Barsamian’s, the answers Chomsky’s.]

Does the United States still have the same level of control over the energy resources of the Middle East as it once had?

The major energy-producing countries are still firmly under the control of the Western-backed dictatorships. So, actually, the progress made by the Arab Spring is limited, but it’s not insignificant. The Western-controlled dictatorial system is eroding. In fact, it’s been eroding for some time. So, for example, if you go back 50 years, the energy resources — the main concern of U.S. planners — have been mostly nationalized. There are constantly attempts to reverse that, but they have not succeeded.

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U.S. War On Terror Shifts Towards Africa With Plans For Drone Base

Uh oh. The New York Times reports:

The U.S. military is preparing to establish a drone base in northwest Africa so that it can increase surveillance missions on Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region.

The move is an indication of the priority Africa has become in American antiterrorism efforts. The United States military has a limited presence in Africa, with only one permanent base, in the country of Djibouti. If the base is approved, the most likely location for it would be in Niger.

A handful of unarmed Predator drones would carry out surveillance missions in the region and fill a desperate need for more detailed information on a range of regional threats, including militants in Mali and the unabated flow of fighters and weapons from Libya. The plan could face resistance from some [officials] who are wary of committing any additional American forces to a fight against a poorly understood web of extremist groups in North Africa.

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The Scandalous History Of Infant Formula

Jill Krasny gives an overview of the history of Infant Formula, its corporate marketing to third world parents, and the tragic consequences. Every parent should know corporations may not necessarily be primarily concerned with consumers’ health and well-being.

via Business Insider:

Outrage started in the 1970s, when Nestle was accused of getting third world mothers hooked on formula, which is less healthy and more expensive than breast milk.

The allegations led to hearings in the Senate and the World Health Organization, resulting in a new set of marketing rules.

Yet infant formula remains a $11.5-billion-and-growing market…

Read more at Business Insider.

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