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Blocking SWIFT Access Would Be “Declaration Of War”: Russia Warns Against US ‘Nuclear Option’

Blocking SWIFT Access Would Be “Declaration Of War”: Russia Warns Against US ‘Nuclear Option’

Last year during the height of controversy over the Kerch Strait incident, while two dozen Ukrainian sailors were still being held by Russia, Washington’s special envoy to Ukraine at the time, Kurt Volker, floated the possibility of Washington blocking Russian banks from SWIFT. He told Voice of America at the time that it was considered “a nuclear option” and it would have huge costs which would even inadvertently impact US allies.

“People refer to it as a nuclear option. It would have costs for everybody involved,” he said. “Big costs for Russia, but big costs for allies as well. Ultimately, we have to keep it on the table as a possibility because we just can’t continue to see Russia launch further steps of aggression in its neighborhood like this.”

No doubt it’s still in Washington’s playbook as a ‘nuclear option’ long after the Kerch Strait incident was diffused with an historic prisoner swap, and the Kremlin has taken note.

Russia’s Central Bank, via Wiki Commons.

On Thursday Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev took Washington to task over the prior warning, telling reporters that Moscow is well aware of discussions to take sanctions further, even cutting off the country’s access to some 11,000 banks and financial institutions in over 200 countries by blocking SWIFT. This is exactly what the Trump White House did vis-à-vis Iran months after it pulled out of the 2015 JCPOA.

Medvedev said such far-reaching action would be tantamount to a declaration of war. According to statements reported in Russian media:

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Medvedev recalled the West once seriously considered the option, and Moscow is aware of it.

“This would in fact be a declaration of war, but nevertheless it was discussed,” the Russian prime minister said, adding that this is one of the reasons why the government is looking into ways to protect the Russian part of the internet.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Blob: Still Chasing After Pax Americana

The Blob: Still Chasing After Pax Americana

After all the failure, they still look at our wars in the Middle East as some kind of golden age.

Credit: U.S. Air Force/Flickr

I wish to call attention to an instructive essay about U.S. policy in the Middle East—instructive in the sense that it reveals the utterly impoverished nature of establishment thinking on this subject. The title of the essay is “The US Has One Last Chance to Halt Its Withdrawal from the Middle East.” The author is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, who shall remain nameless since I bear him no ill will. Let us refer to him simply as X, in honor of George Kennan, author of a famous 1947 essay offering counsel on how to deal with the Soviet Union. Kennan published that essay under the pseudonym X. And so shall I refer to the author of “One Last Chance.”

Kennan’s purpose was to sound the alarm regarding the Soviet threat and to propose what came to be called the strategy of Containment. The purpose of our present-day Mr. X is to sound the alarm about the United States lowering its profile in the Middle East. To avert that prospect, he proposes what can only be termed a strategy of staying-the-course-while-ignoring-the-facts.

X concedes that throughout the region, things have not gone especially well for the United States over the last couple of decades. He rightly notes that Americans are “still reeling from costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the continuing chaos in Syria, Yemen, and Libya.” He ever so briefly acknowledges that this is “a region where even pro-American governments are often undemocratic and can be disdainful of fundamental human rights” and “where billions of dollars are spent that would be better used at home.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“We Are Going To War”: Has The Final Apocalyptic Conflict Between Israel and Her Enemies Now Begun?

“We Are Going To War”: Has The Final Apocalyptic Conflict Between Israel and Her Enemies Now Begun?

On Tuesday, terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in retaliation for Israel’s targeted killing of the senior commander of Islamic Jihad in Gaza.  Many of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, but quite a few got through, and some even reached as far as Tel Aviv.  Following those rocket attacks, Israeli tanks and aircraft pounded Islamic Jihad positions in the Gaza Strip, and Israeli officials are pledging to continue to respond to any additional attacks.  Unfortunately, it certainly sounds like more attacks are coming.  According to Islamic Jihad’s Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhala, his organization is “going to war” with Israel.  The following comes from the Times of Israel

We are going to war. [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has crossed all the red lines in assassinating Al-Quds Brigades Commander Baha Abu al-Ata. We will respond forcefully,” PIJ Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhala told the Dar al-Hayat Arabic-language news site.

Israeli officials felt that they had no choice but to kill Baha Abu al-Ata once they had a clear opportunity to do so.  According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he was an “archterrorist” and was “the main instigator of terrorism from the Gaza Strip”.  The Israeli people are fed up with the endless rocket attacks, and so it makes sense that Israel would target the man that initiated so many of those attacks.

But to Islamic Jihad, Baha Abu al-Ata was a greatly beloved hero, and his death sent shockwaves throughout the entire Middle East.  Once news of his death got out, terrorists in Gaza fired “more than 200 rockets into Israel”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Central Banks Fund Our Age of Endless War

How Central Banks Fund Our Age of Endless War

[This talk was delivered at the Mises Circle in New York City on September 14, 2012.]

The 20th century was the century of total war. Limitations on the scope of war, built up over many centuries, had already begun to break down in the 19th century, but they were altogether obliterated in the 20th. And of course the sheer amount of resources that centralized states could bring to bear in war, and the terrible new technologies of killing that became available to them, made the 20th a century of almost unimaginable horror.

It isn’t terribly often that people discuss the development of total war in tandem with the development of modern central banking, which — although antecedents existed long before — also came into its own in the 20th century. It’s no surprise that Ron Paul, the man in public life who has done more than anyone to break through the limits of what is permissible to say in polite society about both these things, has also been so insistent that the twin phenomena of war and central banking are linked. “It is no coincidence,” Dr. Paul said, “that the century of total war coincided with the century of central banking.”

He added:

If every American taxpayer had to submit an extra five or ten thousand dollars to the IRS this April to pay for the war, I’m quite certain it would end very quickly. The problem is that government finances war by borrowing and printing money, rather than presenting a bill directly in the form of higher taxes. When the costs are obscured, the question of whether any war is worth it becomes distorted.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

In A Society Built On War, We Must Do More Than Just Prefer Peace

In A Society Built On War, We Must Do More Than Just Prefer Peace

American activist Angela Davis once said, “In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” Our responsibility to truth and justice isn’t fulfilled by merely witnessing the perverse tendency in western society toward white supremacy without participating in it, any more than our responsibility is fulfilled by merely witnessing but not participating in a gang rape. Simply choosing not to participate in a grave injustice while giving it our tacit permission to continue is insufficient, especially if the color of your skin gives you an advantage resulting from that injustice. This injustice must be forcefully opposed.

The same is true of war, which is the glue that holds together the empire which dominates our society.

There is a painfully common notion among leftists and progressives that it is perfectly acceptable to focus on domestic policy while de-emphasising the importance of foreign policy, or even ignoring foreign policy entirely. Politicians can generate immense support for themselves simply by promoting decent domestic policies while maintaining foreign policy that is not terribly distinct from the CIA/CNN mainstream consensus. I’m not as familiar with right-wing political circles, but I gather that libertarians and other right-leaning anti-interventionists often encounter a similar deprioritization of sane foreign policy.

War is the worst thing in the world. In terms of death, destruction and suffering caused to human beings, nothing else comes close: it’s just the absolute worst thing. It is worse than economic injustice. It is worse than racism. It is worse than sexism. It is worse than homophobia and transphobia. It is worse than draconian drug policies and immigration policies. All of those things are bad. War is worse. The politics of anyone who claims to care about people should reflect this.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump Warns: Warmongering Will Not End, The US “May Have to Get Into Wars”

TRUMP WARNS: WARMONGERING WILL NOT END, THE US “MAY HAVE TO GET INTO WARS”

President Donald Trump’s words don’t set him apart from the past president’s intent on raining down terror in other countries.  Trump has said that the United States’ warmongering will not end, and the U.S. “may have to get into wars.”

Inevitably, everyone calling for war doesn’t have to potentially fight or die in one. And Trump seems to be specifically threatening Iran, according to Politico. The president says the U.S. will strike Iran “like they’ve never been hit before” if the regime provokes Washington. Those comments appeared confusing because the president also claimed on Monday that he was working to bring soldiers home.

So he is going to bring U.S. soldiers home by sending them off to other conflicts? “I’m trying to get out of wars. We may have to get in wars, too. OK? We may have to get in wars,” Trump told reporters at the White House. He reiterated the part about getting into wars twice while only saying he wants to get out of wars once.

“We’re better prepared than we’ve ever been,” he continued. “If Iran does something, they’ll be hit like they’ve never been hit before. I mean, we have things that we’re looking at.” Politico reported further that Trump in recent days has sought to promote a temporary cease-fire agreement that Vice President Mike Pence negotiated last week with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, aimed at halting the slaughter of U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in Syria by Turkish forces.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bimillenary of the death of Germanicus: The Defeat of the Roman Deep State

Bimillenary of the death of Germanicus: The Defeat of the Roman Deep State

2,000 years ago, on Oct 10, 19 CE, Germanicus Julius Caesar died in Antioch, Asia Minor, perhaps poisoned by his uncle, Tiberius, then the ruling emperor. If we see Hillary Clinton in the role of Germanicus and Donald Trump in the role of Tiberius, you have an equivalent ongoing conflict. 
Most likely, the concept of “Deep State” existed in Roman times, just as in ours.

Germanicus had not gained his “agnomen” (victory name) because he was a friend of the Germans, but because he had managed to kill many of them in a series of military campaigns from 14 to 16 CE. Tacitus tells us many details of how the Romans engaged in what we would call today a Strafexpedition (“Punitive expedition”) to avenge the defeat they had suffered against the Germans in Teutoburg ten years before. 

The Romans attacked Germany with eight legions and plenty of auxiliary troops in what was probably the largest military expedition in history, up to that time. In military terms, it was a success: the Germans were defeated and forced to retreat, but the cost of the campaign was simply staggering. Reading Tacitus we can get a feeling of the enormous effort in which the Romans had to engage in order to keep their legions supplied of food, equipment (and money for the troops). Eight legions were about a third of the whole military strength of the Empire: imagine fielding them in a region having no roads and no supporting infrastructure! 

By 16 CE, it must have been clear that the effort was bankrupting the Roman state. That led to an undeclared conflict between the ruling emperor of the time, Tiberius, and his nephew, Germanicus. It was good that Germanicus could defeat the Germans (or, at least, claim victory over them).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The US-Iran Silent War is Transformed Into An “Iraq Uprising”

THE US-IRAN SILENT WAR IS TRANSFORMED INTO AN “IRAQ UPRISING”

The last four days have shown that the ongoing US-Iran war is acutely affecting the whole region. This is now evident in Iraq where more than 105 people have been killed and thousands wounded in the course of demonstrations that engulfed the capital Baghdad and southern Shia cities including Amara, Nasririyeh, Basrah, Najaf and Karbalaa. Similar demonstrations could erupt in Beirut and other Lebanese cities due to the similarity of economic conditions in the two countries. The critical economic situation in the Middle East offers fertile ground for uprisings that lead to general chaos.

Iraq has special status due to its position, since the 2003 US occupation of the country, as both an Iranian and as a US ally. Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi up to now has armed himself with article 8 of the constitution, seeking to keep Iraq as a balancing point between all allies and neighbouring countries, and to prevent Mesopotamia from becoming a battlefield for conflicts between the US and Iran or Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Notwithstanding the efforts of Baghdadi officials, the deterioration of the domestic economic situation in Iraq has pushed the country into a situation comparable to that of those Middle Eastern countries who were hit by the so-called “Arab Spring”. 

Fuelled by real grievances including lack of job opportunities and severe corruption, domestic uprisings were manipulated by hostile foreign manipulation for purposes of regime change; these efforts have been ongoing in Syria since 2011. Baghdad believes that foreign and regional countries took advantage of the justified demands of the population to implement their own agenda, with disastrous consequences for the countries in question.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

India-Pakistan Nuclear War Could Kill 100 Million And Trigger Global Cooling

India-Pakistan Nuclear War Could Kill 100 Million And Trigger Global Cooling 

Every geopolitical analyst is currently observing and studying the developments that are occurring along the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan. Any major flare-up in flighting between both countries could ignite a nuclear war that would kill hundreds of millions and trigger global cooling. 

The scenario for nuclear armageddon between India and Pakistan was highlighted in a report by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com titled Pakistani Kashmir Chief: Standoff With India May Spark Nuclear Armageddon.

Now, a new report in Science Advances, titled Rapidly expanding nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and India portend regional and global catastrophehas modeled what a nuclear war could look like between both countries.

“Pakistan and India may have 400 to 500 nuclear weapons by 2025 with yields from tested 12- to 45-kt values to a few hundred kilotons. If India uses 100 strategic weapons to attack urban centers and Pakistan uses 150, fatalities could reach 50 to 125 million people, and nuclear-ignited fires could release 16 to 36 Tg of black carbon in smoke, depending on yield,” the study said.

Alan Robock, a professor in environmental sciences at Rutgers University who co-authored the paper, said more than 100 million deaths on both sides of the LoC could be seen, followed by global mass starvation and global cooling.

“The smoke will rise into the upper troposphere, be self-lofted into the stratosphere, and spread globally within weeks. Surface sunlight will decline by 20 to 35%, cooling the global surface by 2° to 5°C and reducing precipitation by 15 to 30%, with larger regional impacts. Recovery takes more than 10 years. Net primary productivity declines 15 to 30% on land and 5 to 15% in oceans threatening mass starvation and additional worldwide collateral fatalities,” the study continued.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Art of War According to the Science of Complex Systems: The Seneca Cliff as a strategic weapon

The Art of War According to the Science of Complex Systems: The Seneca Cliff as a strategic weapon 

Music has always been part of the war effort: a way to build up network connections in such a way to make the fighting system more resilient and more effective. Here, an especially effective version: “The Sacred War” sung by Elena Vaenga. I wouldn’t say that the Soviets defeated the Germans in ww2 because they had better music, but it surely it must have helped.

On military matters described in terms of system science, see also the post on drone warfare published last week on “Cassandra’s Legacy” and also our study on the statistical patterns of conflicts in history


The science of complex systems turns out to be especially interesting and fascinating when applied to one of the most complex activities in which human beings engage: warfare. Below, you’ll find a revised and condensed excerpt from my book “The Seneca Effect” (2017). A more detailed and in-depth discussion of how the concept of Seneca Collapse may affect war is part of my new book “Before Collapse: A Guide to the Other Side of Growth” that should appear in print and on the web before the end of the year.

From “The Seneca Effect” (Springer 2017)
by Ugo Bardi
(revised and condensed)

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. (Sun Tzu, the Art of War)The idea that collapse can be a tool to be used in warfare may go back to the Chinese historian and military theorist Sun Tzu in his “The Art of War” (5th century BCE), where he emphasizes the idea of winning battles by exploiting the enemy’s weakness rather than by brute force.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Thucydides Trap & War Between China & USA

Thucydides Trap & War Between China & USA 

QUESTION: What do you make of Trump’s proposal to restrict US investment in China? Will this send the US economy into recession as everyone is saying?

DH

ANSWER: I have never seen the press so anti-president in the history of this nation. Every possible thing they claim will destroy the US economy. The US trade with China will by no means send the US economy into a deep recession. However, blocking US investment into China would send the Chinese economy down even harder.

This style of analysis always reduces the future trend to one simple event. The markets and the world economy are far more complex than a single event. This is the entire problem with Western Analysis – it is always linear and never cyclical. This is the same problem as Global Warming. They see a 1-degree rise, project that out for 50 years, and then assume the trend will remain the same – linear analysis. They always project the future in this manner and NEVER look at the trends in history to learn what are the “real” possibilities from similar events.

What you must understand is they often call this type of struggle between the current superpower (Financial Capital of the World) and the rising power to take that title, the Thucydides Trap. This is named after the ancient Greek historian Thucydides who wrote about a war that devastated the two leading city-states of classical Greece – Sparta & Athens.

Thucydides explained: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.”

While Thucydides provided his opinion, there was another backdrop to this war which he did not cover. Looking at this from an economic issue, it was the ancient clash between Capitalism and Communism. Sparta never issued coins whereas the Athenian Owl coins became the international currency recognized even in barbarian regions.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump, FDR, and War

Trump, FDR, and War

President Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran reminds me of President Franklin Roosevelt’s similar campaign against Japan prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

After England declared war on Germany, owing to the latter’s invasion of Poland, the American people were overwhelmingly opposed to entry into the war. That was because they recognized that U.S. interventionism into World War I, which cost the lives and limbs of tens of thousands of American soldiers and severely infringed on the liberty of the American people, had accomplished nothing. 

Americans had no interest in doing it again. Their mindsets were similar to those of our American ancestors, whose founding foreign policy was to avoid involvement in Europe’s forever wars. 

In his 1940 campaign for president, Roosevelt told the American people that he was with them in their opposition to foreign wars. He said to them, “I’ve said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

The problem is that FDR was lying. In fact, his secret aim was to circumvent the will of the American people and somehow maneuver the United States into the war.

During that time, U.S. presidents were still complying with the provision in the Constitution that prohibits the president from waging war without first securing a declaration of war from Congress. FDR knew, however, that securing such a declaration was impossible, given the overwhelming sentiment against getting involved in another European war.

So, FDR, who is widely recognized as one of the craftiest politicians in U.S. history, began figuring out a way by which he could embroil the nation in the war despite the fierce opposition of the American people.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pentagon to Present Trump, Aides With a ‘Range’ of Iran Military Options

Pentagon to Present Trump, Aides With a ‘Range’ of Iran Military Options

Gen. Dunford says US response is a ‘political judgment’

Though President Trump has downplayed the idea of war with Iran over the past couple of days, the actual decision is to be made at a high-profile meeting, either Thursday or Friday depending according to reports. 

Trump will be joined by a number of national security officials and other aides, and will be presented with a wide array of options by the Pentagon. Options are said to range from full-scale war to a simple cyberattack.

Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was very clear about the Pentagon not pushing any specific agenda on this matter, saying the response would be purely a “political judgement.”

Among Trump’s officials, Pompeo is seen as the one pushing hardest for a military response. He’s been in Saudi Arabia meeting with officials there, and probably will come back all the more hawkish. 

This response, whatever it will be, will be nominally over Iran attacking Saudi oil refineries with drones. The Iranians denied having done so, and Yemen’s Houthis said it was them, not the Iranians. 

Either way, Saudi oil output is virtually back to pre-attack levels as it is, not even a week later, which gives the appearance this whole thing was being hugely overplayed earlier in the week.

Trump has already announced that there will be sanctions against Iran, and those sanctions are set to be announced Friday as well. The timing of the two together could further reduce the pressure to take more extreme measures militarily. 

Iran Vows Major War Even If US Conducts “Limited Strikes”

Iran Vows Major War Even If US Conducts “Limited Strikes”

Just after on Friday Pentagon leaders presented Trump with numerous “military options” for a response to Iran following last week’s twin attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities, Iran has again put the US on notice that any “limited attack” will assuredly lead to major war.

The briefing on “options” for responding to Iran were followed by a late Friday Pentagon announcement that it is deploying US troops to Saudi Arabia as a “first step” which could be followed by additional “kinetic” moves down the road. “As the President has made clear the United States does not seek conflict with Iran. That said we have many other military options available should they be necessary,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in the briefing.

Iran on Saturday responded to the move by again declaring any potential “limited” US attack on Iran would certainly lead to rapid escalation. The head of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Major General Hossein Salami, said in remarks broadcast on state TV that no such limited strikes would actually remain ‘limited’.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Major General Hossein Salami, via AMN News

Gen. Salami said

“Be careful, a limited aggression will not remain limited. We will pursue any aggressor.”

Clearly understanding Trump’s deep reluctance to drag the United States into yet another costly Middle East quagmire, it appears the Iranians are telegraphing that if they can convince Washington that even a small, one-off strike on Iran could spark WW3, this could dissuade the US altogether from even limited, “kinetic” missions. 

It’s likely the administration could be spit-balling the idea of missile strikes similar to Trump’s two instances of bombing Syrian government facilities — each confined to a single night, not more than hours long, but going no further in terms of expanding the scope of originally defined objectives. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Can Trump Still Avoid War with Iran?

Can Trump Still Avoid War with Iran?

Can Trump Still Avoid War with Iran?

A more fundamental question arises: If the United States was not attacked, why is it our duty to respond militarily to an attack on Saudi Arabia?

President Donald Trump does not want war with Iran. America does not want war with Iran. Even the Senate Republicans are advising against military action in response to that attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

“All of us (should) get together and exchange ideas, respectfully, and come to a consensus — and that should be bipartisan,” says Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch of Idaho.

When Lindsey Graham said the White House had shown “weakness” and urged retaliatory strikes for what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls Iran’s “act of war,” the president backhanded his golfing buddy:

“It’s very easy to attack, but if you ask Lindsey … ask him how did going into the Middle East … work out. And how did Iraq work out?”

Still, if neither America nor Iran wants war, what has brought us to the brink?

Answer: The policy imposed by Trump, Pompeo and John Bolton after our unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Our course was fixed by the policy we chose to pursue.

Imposing on Iran the most severe sanctions ever by one modern nation on another, short of war, the U.S., through “maximum pressure,” sought to break the Iranian regime and bend it to America’s will.

Submit to U.S. demands, we told Tehran, or watch your economy crumble and collapse and your people rise up in revolt and overthrow your regime.

Among the 12 demands issued by Pompeo:

End all enrichment of uranium or processing of plutonium. Halt all testing of ballistic missiles. Cut off Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Disarm and demobilize Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq. Terminate support for the Houthi rebels resisting Saudi intervention in Yemen.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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