Closing Thought–08May18

First of all…this day in history has been a busy day…..1904..US Marines land in North Africa to protect the Belgians….1942..The Battle of the Coral Sea…..1945..the final surrender of German forces…..1952 Allies have the largest bombing of North Korea.

Years ago there were many stories in the media about the rise in sexual assault among our troops….that was in the  dark ages of news before Trump……but even though it is not making news these days….the crime has not gone away….

Reports of sexual assaults across the US military jumped by nearly 10 per cent in 2017, a year that saw a massive online nude-photo sharing scandal rock the services.

Officials familiar with the data say the overall increase was fuelled by a nearly 15-per cent surge in sexual assault reports in the Marine Corps.

The Marines were at the centre of last year’s online investigation. The military services launched a campaign to raise awareness of inappropriate behaviour and beef up enforcement of social media rules and conduct.

The Navy and the Air Force saw increases of about nine per cent in reported sexual assaults, while the Army went up eight per cent. US officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details ahead of the public release of the report.

It is sad that women should have to face this danger as well as the dangers of multiple deployments in regions of conflict.

Let The Revolution Begin

Is there anyone old enough to know what the SDS was?  Or who was Hayden, Hoffman, Rubin?

The year was 1968 and the university protest at Columbia…..this is where most of the turbulence of the 60’s and 70’s began….or so say some…..

The Columbia University Struggle of 1968, 50 years ago, was in fact a Struggle against Columbia University—as a ruling class slumlord, a racist gentrifier against the people of Harlem and Morningside Heights, and a genocidal war criminal carrying out weapons research against the People of Vietnam. It was one of the great miracles of the times that students who had been recruited to support The System turned against it and sided with the Black community and the people of Vietnam.

The Struggle against Columbia was carried out by The Movement—a Black United Front in Harlem including Harlem Tenants Association, Morningsiders United and Harlem CORE, the Students’ Afro-American Society and Black Students of Hamilton Hall, Students for a Democratic Society at Columbia, and national groups like Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, SDS, with support from the national civil rights and anti-war movements.

Fifty years ago and this is what lit the fire of rebellion under my ass……I was in the military at the time but the need to help end the war I was fighting was deep felt.

We need students to step forward……there is a small beginning now with the high school students from Florida……we need for it to expand…..and soon.

But those were the days of an independent press that had to scratch for news not like today with the corporate control of the media…..the days of the SDS may be gone but they are not forgotten by hard core radicals like myself.

“Axis Of Autocracy”

Do you remember the original “Axis Of Evil”….North Korea, Iran and Iraq so labeled by GW Bush in a SOTU speech.

Now step back a few decades when the USSR and China were in competition for world domination….well there forms of communism…..

Why would I even bring this up?  What does it have to do with anything?

Well China and Russia are in budding bromance that could become a world problem……and when Iran is added to the total it is what is being called an “Axis of Autocracy”

It sounded like an echo of Sino-Soviet alliance of the 1950s and 1960s when China’s new defense minister, Wei Fenghe, said at a meeting in Moscow this month, “The Chinese side has come to show Americans the close ties between the armed forces of China and Russia.”

A full-blown military alliance remains a long ways off, of course, and it is easy to dismiss Wei’s remarks as rhetorical posturing. But that would be a mistake, because Wei nonetheless captured an ominous feature of world politics today: the growing alignments between America’s various geopolitical rivals.

While NATO is build-up its position in Eastern Europe the US Navy building up to counter China in Asia…..

The American admiral slated to head the US Pacific Command is planning a buildup of American forces in the region along with closer alliances as part of the Pentagon’s new strategy to counter China.

Admiral Philip Davidson, the nominee for the command job, revealed in little-noticed testimony to a US Senate committee how he will restructure the 375,000 military and civilian personnel, 200 ships and nearly 1,100 aircraft in the region.

Then there is Iran…..the US is countering the spread of Iranian influence with the Army and Air Force in the Middle East…..

Where will all this posturing lead?

To a place we all would rather avoid.

The Color Of Revolution

We have had a Green Revolution……then there was a Red Revolution when the communists came to power… Orange Revolution…..a Yellow Revolution…..and the list goes on…..then there was the Velvet Revolution…..

Armenia is in that region that once wrote about as the possible linch pin to start another global upheaval….the region between the two seas…..

It took less than two weeks of protests for Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan, the former two-term president who had previously said he would not take the premiership, to step down from the position. The leader of the protests last week called it a “velvet revolution,” a reference to the pro-democracy color revolutions of the early 2000s that swept the former Soviet Union and the Balkans. But this was no color revolution. The color revolutions pulled states out of Russia’s orbit. Armenia, however, has nowhere else to go.

In the color revolutions of the past, the West offered indirect support to the protesters through vehicles like nongovernmental organizations. Yet there is no overt evidence that the United States or any European countries directly funded or otherwise materially supported the Armenian protests. In fact, no Western government even made statements criticizing Sargsyan or his government. A few Western-funded NGOs went so far as to sign a petition in support of the protests, but this hardly suggests that a dramatic political transformation is imminent.

This region gets very little attention…..and has some of the most volatile situations in global politics…..situations that can easily transgress into a shooting war at the drop of a hat…

And then there is another look at the situation in Armenia…..

When opposition Member of Parliament Nikol Pashinyan led a knot of marchers through northern Armenia in April to protest the return to power of long-serving leader Serzh Sargsyan, no one guessed his campaign would prompt the country to take a leap into the unknown.

One of a mere handful of opposition parliamentarians, Pashinyan has never been a popular leader in this country of three million people. His criticism of the government resonated with those parts of society that oppose Sargsyan and reflected real problems. But when he set out on his march, the former journalist and publicist was a marginal figure.

IST tries to keep its finger on the pulse of the region…well as best it can without access to classified info…..

But could Russia intervene in Armenia?

The resignation of Armenia’s Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan after more than a week of mass protests in Russia’s backyard begs the question: Why has Moscow not intervened?

The demonstrators bring to mind “color revolutions” in the post-Soviet neighborhood that the Kremlin seems to abhor, like in Georgia and Ukraine. But even genuine revolutions, which Armenia has not yet seen, are not enough in and of themselves to prompt Russia to intervene.

An Armenian end run did not succeed……

Armenia’s former president and just appointed prime minister, Serzh Sargsyan, resigned Monday after a 10-day campaign of nationwide protest and civil disobedience. Protests began as soon as Sargsyan announced 11 April that he would, after previously stating otherwise, seek the ruling Republican Party’s nomination to the newly created post of prime minister.

By doing so, he laid to rest any lingering doubt about the reasons for Armenia’s switch to a parliamentary system. Introduced through a contested constitutional referendum in December 2015, the new system came online just as Sargsyan’s second, and by law final, presidential term ended. Executive powers now lie with the prime minister, and the president is relegated to a largely ceremonial role.

This situation is why I enjoy being a foreign policy wonk…..stuff like all this is just fascinating….

IST will keep looking for the rest of this story…..