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Fighting Zika – Not The Virus Itself – Might Have Caused Birth Defects
June 26, 2016
Fighting Zika – Not The Virus Itself – Might Have Caused Birth Defects
The media said that the mosquito borne Zika virus is likely causing microcephaly as well as dozens of other illnesses. They also claimed that insecticides were not related to the development disorder. They seem to have been wrong on both cases.
Since December 2015 U.S. media ran a panic campaign round the Zika virus. That virus was said to cause many bad things including microcephaly, a development distortion of the head of unborn babies, if the mother was infected with Zika during pregnancy.
After looking into the issue and the available data I concluded that: The Zika Virus Is Harmless:
By March the media attributed all known human ills to Zika though every headline doing so included a telltale caveat may. I mocked these in Reading About Zika May Hurt Your Brain
There followed a collection of 35 recent “Zika may cause …” headlines.
Meanwhile doctors in the Zika affected areas in Brazil pointed out that the real cause of somewhat increased microcephaly in the region was probably the insecticide pyriproxyfen, used to kill mosquito larvae in drinking water:
Pyriproxyfen is produced by a daughter company of U.S. mega poison dealer Monsato. It was therefore unsurprising that the New York Times and otherscalled the doctors report a “conspiracy theory” and trotted out some “experts” to debunk it.
But facts are facts and as these come to the fore the embarrassed media will now likely stay silent.
Well, maybe those doctors on the ground in Brazil knew what they were talking about. The scientist at the New England Complex Systems Institute also researched the pyriproxyfen thesis. They found:
Monsato/Sumitomo sold a poison in Brazil which was supposed to prevent the spread of mosquito borne Zika virus by hindering the development of mosquito larvae. Suddenly cases of the human development disorder microcephaly occurred. The company knew that their insecticide could cause birth defects in mammals. But they continued to blame the Zika virus which then increased demand for their poison to “prevent” the further spread of that false Zika cause.
Some enterprising lawyers might find enough material in this case to hold the company responsible for the suffering it probably caused for many families in Brazil.
But the media should also be held responsible. First for spreading a false panic and for attributing all kinds of nonsense to a harmless flue virus. They should also be held responsible for not diligently investigating the possibly human-effected cause of the development disorder. The one that now seems to turn out to be the real culprit.
June 25, 2016
The Imminent Dodging Of Brexit – A Gift For The Fascist Right
We claimed that BREXIT – is not gonna happen and pointed to a propaganda campaign (see further examples in the comments there) launched to reverse the Brexit votes. Within that campaign two memes get pushed:
First, young voters feel cheated of their future because some old, grumpy people voted for Brexit. Well, these young voters of age 18 to 24, tearfully interviewed by the BBC and Channel 4, constitute only 5% of the electorate.Only a third of them voted at all, 70% of those 1/3 of 5% for “Remain”. This is a small part, and a not very interested one, of the population. Who are they to deserve some special attendance?
The second meme pushed is the “success” of some petition for a #ReverseBrexit vote someone set up on the UK parliament website. It now has more than a million “signatures”. That is a lot in a short time frame. But wait, any dog on the Internet can “sign” that petition provided it has some throw-away email address. I, a German in Germany, “signed” to test the procedure. It took me about 30 seconds.
This propaganda campaign will not have any tangible success, but it sets a certain atmosphere which then will be used to stall the exit process.
The EU exit mechanism is build in a way that allows for an endless postponement of the actual procedure. This is the way the British politicians will likely take. The Jack of Kent Blog explains how this works:
The UK immediately filing Article 50, as Cameron once promised, would trigger a two year long negotiation period with the EU which would end with the legal exit independent of the negotiation results. After filing Article 50 the clock would run down to the deadline likely without any serious concession from the EU. The UK has therefore an interest to negotiate beforefiling Article 50. To negotiate before filing is its only chance to apply some pressure.
But the EU has no reason, or legal basis, to negotiate at all before the UK files. Why should it make concessions to a divorce letter that was not filed and may not ever arrive?
It is a stalemate situation. The powers that are against Brexit will use this to blockade any move.
Despite the British voter decision for Brexit business as usual will continue with absolutely no change in sight:
Jack of Kent:
While this may be a convenient way forward for the EU bureaucrats and the politicians committed to neo-liberal globalization, the damage in the long run will be much more severe than a chaotic Brexit procedure.
Brexit will join a number of other issues on which the democratic will of the people has been ignored. This further de-legitimizes the EU and whatever it undertakes.
People who argue that a violent overthrow of the system is the only way forward will gain credibility.
The aborted Brexit will also give further impetus to the hard-rightwing parties currently cropping up in several European countries. These parties ostensibly cater to the “small people” who feel unrepresented and on the economic losing side. But the economic programs of these parties are anti-social and would only further inequality. They (ab-)use the grievance of the poor and middle class to gain even more power for the rich.
What is missing in Europe are leftwing parties that take the romantic longing for local nationalism – in opposition to bone-crushing globalization – seriously and merge it with socialist policies. The social-democrats once had that role but under Blair, Schroeder and Hollande they waft away into the anti-nationalism, neo-liberal globalization sphere. Nationalism has, for them, become a dirty word. This at the time as nationalism gains new popularity as the anchor for common people lost in the sea of neo-liberal arbitrariness.
The space left empty by them will be filled by fascism.
June 24, 2016
The #ReverseBrexit Campaign Has Begun
The British people voted to exit the EU.
But, as I said, Brexit ain’t gonna happen
Immediately after the result was announced the campaign for a “revote”, which would give the voters the chance to correct their wrong views, began. Here is a glimpse. First a BBC editor:
“See, the people did not really mean it,” says the official mouthpiece of the ruling powers.
“Most told us,” is of course always fine to manipulate opinions. But “most” of what?
Here is another obvious spin:
That Independent tweet did wonders. The petition site was suddenly so “crashed” and “inaccessible” that only 15,710 people signed on within just the last hour.
So The Independent had a bad web connection? Or was it the point of the tweet and article to drive the people to the well accessible site?
And what please is the democratic legitimization of some ad-hoc petition with 100,000 signatories, many possibly by artificial entities, when millions just decided deliberately and consciously after an exhausting discussion of the question?
The powers that are on both sides of the Atlantic will use all means to reverse the decision of the British people. Or to make it irrelevant. The high-powered, opinion leading media tweets above are just the start of the #ReverseBrexit campaign. It will intensify and blare through all channels.
It will require diligence and hard work by the majority that voted for Brexit to see their will fulfilled.
June 23, 2016
BREXIT – Not Gonna Happen
No matter how the Brexit vote will go, the powers that are will not allow Britain to exit the European Union.
Dems Stage Unflattering Stunt While Trump Spreads The Popular Message
With elections upcoming this fall, the Democrats under Obama decided that reducing their potential might be a good way forward. Ignoring all democratic rules and procedures they initiated a childish stunt to press for legislation that is generally unpopular and loathed by liberals and progressive:
At issue are more gun purchase restrictions. A few days after a mass murderer killed 50 people in Orlando with a semi-automatic gun, weapons purchase rules are again of public interest. To take this up may be good politics and makes general sense.
Semiautomatic weapons, like the military derived AR-15 used in Orlando, should be put under the National Rifle Act of 1934 just like other high powered weapons. That laws has clear rules on who can purchase, transfer and use machine guns or destructive (military) devices. It requires a rather bothersome, lengthy registration of guns and their owners which is fine if one wants to keep such weapons out of the hands of spontaneous, emotionally-driven murderers.
But the Democrats did not want to make sense. They wanted to create a ruckus and decided to go for measures that even their own electorate is likely to reject:
The government’s terrorist watch lists and no-fly lists are arbitrary and of dubious value. Some 1,500,000 people are at least on one of these lists. At times even toddlers and Senators made the cut. Of the recently active “terrorists” in the U.S. some were on one of those list but could fly and proceed anyway. Others were, like the shooter in Orlando, not on any of them. These lists, and the (secret) criteria to be put on or taken down from them, do not make sense.
The Democrats should have killed the whole arbitrary list system long ago. At least one court found these to be unconstitutional. Instead they now demand to further replace due process with more arbitrary executive decisions within ill defined categories.
If the “terrorists” on those lists are so dangerous why allow them to have driver licenses? Could they not use cars to kill? Why not lock them up without further trial? The potential extensions are endless.
The stunt will probably end in a political disaster for Democratic candidates. If one wants to play the populist card one needs to take up popular issue. Bending to ever expansive demands of the executive, here President Obama, is not one of these.
Donald Trump’s speech (transcript) on the stakes of the election made good points on globalization and trade. It was also full of lies and obfuscations. But that will, as the primaries have shown, not diminish his central message nor hurt him within his potential electorate. He hits the right buttons with a lot of people:
Those words will ring with many people.
Trump now needs money for the general election. He sold out to hard-line Zionist donors. Within an otherwise isolationist foreign policy view he claimed that “Thanks to Hillary Clinton, Iran is now […] on the road to nuclear weapons.” Neither was Clinton much involved in the nuclear agreement with Iran, nor is Iran on such a road. But Trump will rake in millions from Adelson and other arch-Zionists for making these claims.
His anti-globalization shtick will sell well in fly-over country and with marginalized workers. My hunch is that the media, overwhelmingly in Clinton’s favor, will underestimate his pull until the day he wins the election.
June 22, 2016
Open Thread 2016-22
News & views …
June 21, 2016
“Dramatic Rescue! Man With Kid Runs Towards Camera!” – 44 Staged Pictures
A man with a kid in arm runs towards the camera. The kid’s face is heavily colored, but it looks otherwise fine. On the lower left we see the back of a man with a “White Helmets” logo on his vest. Dust in the background. Always dust or smoke. A bunch of men looking very busy but are they actually doing anything?
That would be a lucky by-chance photo shot for any normal photographer. Even in country where rubble from a fresh bombing may be around some near corner.
But this is a typical “White Helmets rescue kid” propaganda picture.
The photo above is, except for maybe the old rubble, likely completely staged.
There the 43 similar pictures below the fold to demonstrate that. Just ask yourself: Could all these very similar by-chance pics, taken within about a year, be real? Really?
June 20, 2016
An Eyewitness Tells How The U.S. Ambassador Instigated “Revolution” In Syria
S. Rifai, also known as @THE_47th, is a Syrian “activist” from Homs. He was involved since early 2011 when the U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford (@fordrs58) fomented the “revolution” in Syria. He has since tweeted about the “revolution” and has shown lots of insider knowledge. Below S. Rifai corrects the U.S. propaganda record.
The former ambassador Ford allegedly had a hand in last weeks “dissident” letter by some State Department employees. The letter urges launching an open U.S. war against Syria and its government. Ford was recently interviewed about the letter for an exculpatory piece in the New Yorker.
In the New Yorker interview Ford asserted:
Quoting the above S. Rifai responded to former ambassador Ford’s assertions (emphasis added, edited to expand Twitter shorthand):
June 18, 2016
Syria – Russian Surprise Attack Blows Up Kerry’s Delaying Tactic
The U.S. is unwilling to stop the war on Syria and to settle the case at the negotiation table. It wants a 100% of its demands fulfilled, the dissolution of the Syrian government and state and the inauguration of a U.S. proxy administration in Syria.
After the ceasefire in Syria started in late February Obama broke his pledgeto separate the U.S. supported “moderate rebels” from al-Qaeda. In April U.S. supported rebels, the Taliban like Ahrar al Sham and al-Qaeda joined to attack the Syrian government in south Aleppo. The U.S.proxies broke the ceasefire.
Two UN resolutions demand that al-Qaeda in Syria be fought no matter what. But the U.S. has at least twice asked Russia not to bomb al-Qaeda. It insists, falsely, that it can not separate its “moderates” from al-Qaeda and that al-Qaeda can not be attacked because that would also hit its “moderate” friends.
The Russian foreign minster Lavrov has talked wit Kerry many times about the issue. But the only response he received were requests to further withhold bombing. Meanwhile al-Qaeda and the “moderates” continued to break the ceasefire and to attack the Syrian government forces.
After nearly four month Kerry still insists that the U.S. needs even more time for the requested separation of its proxy forces from al-Qaeda. Foreign Minister Lavrov recently expressed the Russian consternation:
The bucket was full and Kerry’s latest request for another three month pause of attacking al-Qaeda was the drop that let it overflow. Russia now responded by hitting the U.S. where it did not expect to be hit:
U.S. jets came and the Russian jets went away. The U.S. jets left to refuel, the Russian jets came back and hit again. Allegedly two U.S. proxy fighters were killed and 18 were wounded.
Earlier today another such attack hit the same target.
This was no accident but a well planned operation and the Russian spokesperson’s response makes the intend clear:
Translation: “If you can not separate your forces from al-Qaeda and differentiate and designate exclusively “moderate” zones we can not do so either.”
The forces near Tanf are supported by U.S. artillery from Jordan and air power via Iraq. British and Jordan special operations forces are part of the ground component (and probably the majority of the “Syrian” fighters.) There is no al-Qaeda there. The Russians know that well. But they wanted to make the point that it is either separation everywhere or separation nowhere. From now on until the U.S. clearly separates them from AQ all U.S. supported forces will be hit indiscriminately anywhere and anytime. (The Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State with U.S. support are for now a different story.)
The Pentagon does not want any further engagement against the Syrian government or against Russia. It wants to fight the Islamic State and its hates the CIA for its cooperation with al-Qaeda and other Jihadi elements. But John Brennan, the Saudi operative and head of the CIA, still seems to have Obama’s ear. But what can Obama do now? Shoot down a Russian jet and thereby endanger any U.S. pilot flying in Syria or near the Russian border? Risk a war with Russia? Really?
The Russian hit near Tanf was clearly a surprise. The Russians again caught Washington on the wrong foot. The message to the Obama administration is clear. “No more delays and obfuscations. You will separate your moderates NOW or all your assets in Syria will be juicy targets for the Russian air force.”
The Russian hits at Tanf and the U.S. proxies there has an additional benefit. The U.S. had planned to let those forces move north towards Deir Ezzor and to defeat the Islamic State in that city. Eventually a “Sunni entity” would be established in south east Syria and west Iraq under U.S. control. Syria would be split apart.
The Syrian government and its allies will not allow that. There is a large operation planned to free Deir Ezzor from the Islamic State occupation. Several hundred Syrian government forces have held an isolated airport in Deir Ezzor against many unsuccessful Islamic State attacks. These troops get currently reinforced by additional Syrian army contingents and Hizbullah commandos.A big battle is coming. Deir Ezzor may be freed within the next few month. Any U.S. plans for some eastern Syrian entity are completely unrealistic if the Syrian government can take and hold its largest eastern city.
The Obama administration’s delaying tactic will now have to end. Russia will no longer stand back and watch while the U.S. sabotages the ceasefire and supports al-Qaeda.
What then is the next move the U.S. will make?
June 17, 2016
Know-Nothing “Diplomats” Prepare For Hillary’s War On Syria
There are at least 51 stupid or dishonest “diplomats” working in the U.S. State Department. Also – Mark Lander is a stupid or dishonest NYT writer. The result is this piece: Dozens of U.S. Diplomats, in Memo, Urge Strikes Against Syria’s Assad
Note that it was Ahrar al Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra and other U.S. paid and supported “moderates” who on April 9 broke the ceasefire in Syria by attacking government troops south of Aleppo. They have since continuously bombarded the government held parts of Aleppo which house over 1.5 million civilians with improvised artillery.
Back to the piece:
These State Department loons have their ass covered by Secretary of State Kerry. Otherwise they would (and should) be fired for obvious ignorance. What “judicious” military threat against Russian S-400 air defense in Syria is credible? Nukes on Moscow (and New York)?
Would these “diplomats” be able to name even one group of “moderate Sunnis” in Syria that is not on the side of the Syrian government? Are Ahrar al-Sahm and the other U.S. supported groups, who recently killed 50 civilians out of purely sectarian motives when they stormed the town of Zara, such “moderate Sunnis”?
These 50 State Department non-diplomats, and the stinking fish head above them, have obviously failed in their duty:
The NYT writer of the piece on the memo demonstrates that he is just as stupid or dishonest as the State Department dupes by adding this paragraph:
How is spending over $1 billion a year to hire, train, arm and support “moderate rebels” against the Syrian government consistent with the claim of a U.S. “refusal to be drawn into the conflict”?
It is obvious and widely documented that the U.S. has been fueling the conflict from the very beginning throughout five years and continues up to today to deliver thousands of tons of weapons to the “moderate rebels”.
All the above, the “diplomats” letter and the NYT writer lying, is in preparation of an open U.S. war on Syria under a possible president Hillary Clinton. (Jo Cox, the “humanitarian” British MP who was murdered yesterday by some neo-nazi, spoke in support of such a crime.)
The U.S. military continues to reject an escalation against the Syrian government. Its reasonable question “what follows after Assad” has never been seriously answered by the war supporters in the CIA and the State Department.
Unexpected support of the U.S. military’s position now seems to come from the Turkish side. The Erdogan regime finally acknowledges that a Syria under Assad is more convenient to it than a Kurdish state in north-Syria which the U.S. is currently helping to establish:
The Turks have suddenly removed their support for their “Turkmen” proxies fighting the Syrian government in Latakia in north west Syria. Over the last few days the “Turkmen” retreated and the Syrian army advanced. It may soon reach the Turkish border. Should the Latakia front calm down the Syrian army will be able to move several thousand troops from Latakia towards other critical sectors. The Turkish government, under the new Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, is now also sending peace signals towards Russia.
The situation in Syria could rapidly change in favor of the Syrian government should Turkey change its bifurcating policies and continue these moves. Without their Turkish bases and support the “moderate rebels” would soon be out of supplies and would lack the ability to continue their fighting. The Russians and their allies should further emphasize the “Kurdish threat” to advance this Turkish change of mind.
The race to preempt a Hillary administration war on Syria, which the “diplomats” memo prepares for, is now on. May the not-warmongering side win.
June 16, 2016
The Next “Russian Government Cyber Attack” May Be A Gulf of Tonkin Fake
Yesterday the Washington Post published a piece that smelled of bullshit from the first line to the last:
Why the f*** would Russia want to steal oppo research about Trump when it can read such in Politico and the Washington Post every day? Why start A YEAR AGO to hack something for Trump data? Who would have thought A YEAR AGO that Trump would be relevant? This was obvious nonsense. But some snakeoil salesmen convinced the Washington Post know-nothing reporter and the DNC that it all must be true:
If there was a hacker breaking some servers for over a year how the hell would anyone know what s/he accessed? There is no assured way to know what files were touched. And to conclude from what was probably taken to “must thereby have been Russia” is plainly stupid.
All one might see in a breach, if anything, is some pattern of action that may seem typical for one adversary. But anyone else can imitate such a pattern as soon as it is known. That is why there is NEVER a clear attribution in such cases. Anyone claiming otherwise is lying or has no idea what s/he is speaking of.
Russia denied to have anything to do with that alleged hack. That did not prevent the Washington Post to come with a listical about Five more hacks the West has tied to Russia none of which is likely to have any Russian origin.
Trump for one claims that the DNC “hacked” itself to be able to publish their claims against him.
But now for the fun. A hacker calling himself Guccifer 2.0 just published ablogpost with documents from the hack of the DNC server.
Not astonishingly the published documents include those with “financial, donor or personal information” which the DNC unconvincingly claimed had not be accessed. Guccifer 2.0 writes that most of the documents will soon be published via Wikileaks.
The whole story in the Washington Post was a anti-Russia nonsense based on self-promotion of an obviously incompetent cyber security company.
But it is dangerous.
I am afraid that such propaganda will one day be used as another Gulf of Tonkin fake to start a war. NATO is already preparing the public for such a move:
One wonders if the Washington Post scaremongering about alleged Russian cyber abilities was coordinated with that NATO announcement.
To even think of such conventional retribution for a cyber attack is lunatic. No cyber attack is ever attributable with any certainty. The U.S. National Security Agency, as well as other state sponsored entities, would have no trouble to fake a “Russian cyber attack”. If one lone hacker in the U.S., where Guccifer 2.0 seems to reside, can do such how much more convincing would any intentional, government sponsored fake be?
June 14, 2016
Open Thread 2016-21
News & views (other than on the U.S. election) …
June 13, 2016
A Few More Questions About The Orlando Massacre
Some additional bits about the NYPD fan who allegedly killed some 50 people in Orlando are coming to light.The father of the guy who is an immigrant from Afghanistan was a bit of a loon himself. He damned Pakistan and Afghan politicians over the Durand line. He put himself forward as a candidate for the Afghan presidency even when no election was in sight.
His son, the killer, was known to the FBI as a loon. He hated black, gays, Jews etc and had claimed affinity to the Boston bomber, Al-Qaeda, Hizbullah and the Islamic State – three groups which hate each other. He was not known to have any contact to any of these groups.
The Islamic State took the obvious step of adopting the shooter. The claim of IS responsibility did not come from the core organization but from its “news” agency which cited “sources”. The IS folks are unlikely to have known of his existence until they heard the news. For them it is just good propaganda to claim a relation.
The various politicians use the case as they use any case. They propagandize their favorite policies and whatever facts of the case do not fit those policies are simply shoved aside. One can only ignore them and hope that over time sanity will prevail.
There are open questions I have yet to find answered:
Any big event in these days produces dozens of videos. Some people inside the club must have filmed whatever happened. Will we ever see those clips?
How does one guy in a club full of men manages to shoot 50+ and wound another 50+ without getting overwhelmed? He needed to change ammunition clips several times. The ideal time to attack him. Where there no three strong guys around in the club to jump him?
Was it really only one shooter? Those are a lot of casualties for one sole loon to cause.
It will take weeks until a more or less solid picture of the incident can be painted. There will of course be lots of speculations about false flag attacks and the like, including here in the comments. I do not see any evidence for such. The FBI had him on its radar?
Well, there are some 600,000 people on the U.S. no-fly-list. Hardly any of them is a “terrorists”. The FBI has even more under on and off surveillance. Its haystack is too big to find the real needles. They thought he as a loon and not a danger. They were right with the loon part.
June 12, 2016
Orlando Killer Was NYPD Fan – This Tells Us What?
Last night some deadbeat loser killed more than 50 people in a gay club in Orlando, Florida. It is the largest shooting massacre in the U.S. since Wounded Knee. According to his ex-wife the man, one Omar Mateen, used to beat her and was not religious. He had worked for the private prison and mercenary corporation G4S for more than five years. There were U.S. Marines stickers on his car.
Earlier Mateen took pictures of himself and posted those on Myspace. The pics are selfies and mostly not remarkable but in TWO of them he wears shirts with New York Police Department emblems on them.
This tells us what?
There is currently a lot of speculation, but no public evidence, that the guy was also a fan of the Islamic State (ISIS) death cult. None of the pictures he posted points into that direction, but it still may be the case.
But what does that really tell us?
Was his emotional relation to ISIS as strong as his emotional relation to the NYPD?
Do such assumed allegiances tell us anything at all?
June 11, 2016
Clashes In Marseille Foreshadow Wider Sectarian War
Marseille – Clashes between sectarian supporters of two opposed participants in an ancient ritual games erupted today. Observers fear that these could escalate into a wide sectarian war throughout Europe. Local militia intervened but as their own religion is despised by the two brawling sides ended up fighting both. The street fights started after organized supporters of the orthodox Russian team threw beer bottles towards drunk partisans of protestant Englishmen. Throwing beer bottles is seen as an insult in Europe. Catholic French militia used tear gas and indiscriminately attacked the quarreling sides as well as bystanders. Locals accuse the militia of attacking its own people and demanded the immediate downfall of the Hollande regime.
Protestant Englishmen, catholic Frenchmen and orthodox Slavs hate each other due to deep-rooted sectarian history and a long series of wars in Europe. Ugly violence is rooted in conflicts that date back to the Anglo-French wars in the 13th century and Napoleon’s moves deep into Russia. A siege in 1627 marked the apex of local sectarian tensions in France. It ended with a catholic victory despite relief for the protestants arriving from England. The clashes between U.S.-backed Englishmen and Chinese-backed Russians in France are also part of a proxy war between capitalism and communism in the South China Sea.
After its militia lost control of the fighting, the catholic government of France pledged to send reinforcements to crack down on all sides. Humanitarian organizations pleaded to show restraint and not to hurt moderates involved in the brawls. Regional experts discussed providing arms to some less sectarian participants. Catholic authorities from Poland called on NATO to hold Putin accountable for the clashes in Marseille. Russian aggression versus any NATO members can not be tolerated, they said.
h/t Hayder al-Khoei
June 10, 2016
The U.S. (Again) Escalates The War In Afghanistan
When Obama came into office he promised to end the hopeless war in Afghanistan. Immediately the Pentagon ambushed him with requests for a “surge” with some additional 40,000 troops. Under pressure Obama agreed to a lower number and set a 18 month limit for their deployment. Those troops occupied some meaningless areas in Afghanistan and when they were withdrawn those areas fell back to Taliban rule. Currently the U.S. has some 10,000 troops and more than 20,000 “contractors” in Afghanistan. There are additional troops from NATO allies. Since 2014 these troops are restricted in their tasks to fighting Al-Qaeda and are not supposed to support Afghan government troops.
But the idea of turning the war over to local troops without losing to the Taliban failed. Afghan troops are giving ground especially in the south and have a high attrition rate. It is obviously that without change the whole south would fall to the Taliban by end of the year. This would hardly matter to anyone but the people living there many of whom have no problem with their Taliban brethren.
Several steps taken by the U.S. have made it more unlikely that the conflict will come to an end. The primary Taliban demand in any peace talks is the the removal of all foreign troops from the country. The U.S. and the U.S. installed puppet government have rejected that. Instead of finally giving upthe U.S. military wants to continue to occupy Afghanistan. The U.S. recently killed a innocent taxi driver in south Pakistan and his passenger, the Taliban commander Mansour, with a military drone strike. All available science on the issue says that assassinating the leader of a resistance movement does not end such movements but let them intensify their conflict and cause more civilian casualties. The Taliban operations did not halt for one moment. A new hardline leader was elected and bigger operations against Afghan troops were launched.
In a recent political change of direction the U.S. is now making nice with India to use it as a pawn in the competition with China. At the same time it stopped payments to the Pakistani military. In a countermove China intensified its cooperation and its investment in Pakistan. The Taliban have their training camps, leadership organization and support in Pakistan. The Pakistani secret services are feeding them with Saudi money. Shunning Pakistan and making nice with India will intensify Pakistani paranoia of a two front war against their arch enemy India supported by the U.S. in Afghanistan. Pakistan is therefore likely to further intensify its support for the Taliban. These have an endless stream of recruits from Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan and enough material support to fight on for decades. Meanwhile the Afghan government troops are unwilling to shed blood for their corrupt government, operational incapable and disorganized despite years of U.S. training.
The only way to end the war in Afghanistan is through peace negotiations. Some main conditions of the Taliban must be met to let those succeed. Foreign troops will have to leave the country. Otherwise the conflict will go on for more decades and will again metastasize into neighbor countries.
The Obama administration seems to be incapable of recognizing that. Instead of reducing troops it is contemplating to again reinforce those. Instead of deescalating the war it intensifies it. This despite years of failure to achieve anything positive with similar moves.
This “new” policy is incoherent:
More bombing will not cower the Taliban who have been bombed by the U.S. for the last 15 years. More U.S. troops will not change the strategic equations for China, Pakistan and the Taliban.
The U.S. and the especially the U.S. military have lost in Afghanistan. How many additional decades will it take it to recognize and admit that simple fact?
June 09, 2016
Libya – How Moscow Can Influence A Unity Deal
by Richard Galustian
Russia’s growing influence in Libya is reflecting their ever evolving new Middle East and North African policy.
While Libya has been divided between two parliaments and governments since 2014, Russia’s influence has grown with East Libya.
A review of the United Nations resolution on Libya’s arms embargo is likely to be voted upon early next week. However this will only be achieved if Russian concerns can be overcome.
Despite the international efforts a paradox remains. A partial lifting of the UN’s arms embargo to one side will greatly increase the danger of swelling the intensity of the civil war and of risking some of those arms reaching the Islamic State in Libya.
The Russians do not understand the West’s approach to extremists. Russia’s logic is sound as shown in Syria. If it looks like a duck and walks and quacks like a duck; it probably is a duck, to paraphrase Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavarov comment on terrorists.
In Libya the two divided factions, the democratically elected eastern government and parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR), and the ‘Libya Dawn’ coalition of Islamist militias who created Tripoli’s National Salvation Government (NSG), are now challenged by a third ‘virtual’ faction, the Government of National Accord (GNA) which was selected by the UN as a nine men, now reduced to seven, Presidency Council (PC), which in effect constitutes a GNA quorum.
Let me be clear: The international community supports a non-existent GNA headed by a Western patsy designated prime minister and six other men. To boot, this fledgling Western selected so called government still faces huge unpopularity from the masses who resent Western interference in its internal affairs.
The GNA, having no military forces of their own, have agreed with Dawn Militias that they be re-badged ‘the Presidential Guard’ and that they be the recipients of new weapons permitted by the UN if the resolution is accepted by the Security Council.
Interestingly Russia’s UN Ambassador Churkin said “the highest priority” in Libya should be to encourage the HoR Parliament in the East approval of the new GNA government. A new twist. If anyone can persuade the East and the HoR to ‘bless’ the GNA, it will be the Russians that will be the broker.
June 08, 2016
U.S. Election Thread 2016-04 – Premature Presumptive
The Associated Press yesterday declared Hillary Clinton to be the “presumptive” Democratic nominee for the presidential election based on alleged pledges of anonymous super-delegates.
This was a quite unprecedented interference in still ongoing and upcoming primaries on a day when no new public vote count was available.
Bernie Sanders said he will continue to campaign up to the convention. His hope is that either the FBI will indict Hillary Clinton for using an unsecured private email server for classified state business, or that some other Clinton scandal will make it most likely that she would lose a vote against Trump. In both cases some super-delegates may change their vote and the convention might vote for Sanders as nominee.
The FBI is under Obama’s control and there no doubt that he wants Clinton as candidate to continue his right-leaning policies. But the FBI tends to be leaking quite a bit and someone with access to the case may want to speak to some enterprising reporters.
Sanders requested a meeting with Obama which will happen on Thursday. Obama will offer him a bad deal which would be akin to a total capitulation. Sanders will look for a way to sneak at least some of his preferred policies into the party agenda. He will demand some significant price for endorsing Clinton and will probably wait to do so up to the last minute.
People around the world will wonder what democracy is all about when a race for a presidency ends up as a contest between the two most disliked people in the field who are both proxies for the more or less same small social segment.