Kiss That Nobel Good-Bye

Closing Thought–24May18

Have you heard the news today?

First there was the chest thumping then there were the kind words of approval then there was the news that North Korea and US would sit down to a much needed summit……Trump would meet Kim……

North Korea is destroying their nuke test site……

North Korea carried out what it said is the demolition of its nuclear test site Thursday, setting off a series of explosions over several hours in the presence of foreign journalists. The explosions at the nuclear test site deep in the mountains of the North’s sparsely populated northeast were centered on three tunnels into the underground site and a number of observation towers in the surrounding area, reports the AP. The planned closing was previously announced by Kim Jong Un ahead of his planned summit with President Trump next month. Sky News correspondent Tom Cheshire was on hand, and described it thusly: “We hiked up into the mountains and watched the detonation from about 500 meters away. … There was a huge explosion, you could feel it. Dust came at you, the heat came at you. It was extremely loud.”

The North’s decision to close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site has generally been seen as a welcome gesture by Kim to set a positive tone ahead of the summit. Even so, it is not an irreversible move and would need to be followed by many more significant measures to meet Trump’s demands for real denuclearization. By bringing in the foreign media, mainly television networks, the North is apparently hoping to have images of the closing—including explosions to collapse tunnel entrances—broadcast around the world. The group included an AP television crew. The North did not invite international inspectors to the ceremony, which limits its value as a serious concession.

…….and then there were words that put the summit in jeopardy and finally the news came out….the summit has been axed!

Hours after North Korea announced it had blown up its nuclear test site, news of something else blowing up. The White House on Thursday released a letter from President Trump to Kim Jong Un canceling the planned June 12 summit in Singapore. It reads in part: “Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.”

The statement the president references came from senior North Korean official Choe Son Hui, who called Mike Pence a “political dummy” for comparing North Korea to Libya in the context of denuclearization and warned Pyongyang wouldn’t “beg” for dialogue. CNN’s sources tell it the statement “infuriated” Trump and his team, specifically the portion about Pence. “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Trump continued in the letter.

Odd…they eliminate their reactor site and then eliminate the summit…..this is an odd occurrence….

One thing we can say for sure…..Trump can kiss the Nobel Peace Prize good-bye…….after all the work that his minions in Congress did to try and force the committee to award the prize to Trump…..

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The Lie Of Victimhood

The move is complete and the violence will continue….but there is more to this than the embassy…..

Unarmed civilians are being shot and maimed by an army that if it occurred elsewhere there would be a world uproar…..and yet it has been a whimper…..the US has made sure that Israel is protected…and yet this same scenario was playing out in Libya and we know how that turned out…..

The United States has used its veto power at the UN Security Council to block a Monday resolution calling for an independent probe into the killing of scores of Palestinian protesters this week along the Gaza Strip border. The protesters were killed by Israeli forces.

It is very common for the US to use its veto power to protect Israel from any UN Security Council repercussions for its mistreatment of the Palestinians. US Ambassador Nikki Haley praised Israel over the killings, saying they’d not only shown “restraint” in only killing 61, but had shown more restraint than any other country on the planet would’ve in the face of the demonstration.

Haley further claimed that the blame should really fall on the Iranian government, on the grounds that the protesters were encouraged by the Hamas movement, and Iran has backed the Hamas movement in the past.

Haley mostly sought to downplay the links between the massacre and the US opening its new embassy in Jerusalem. It is fair to suggest that the two events aren’t wholly connected, as the protest was organized for Nakba Day. It is impossible not to notice that the US made the decision to open the Israeli Embassy on Nakba Day, however, despite knowing it would be seen as yet another insult to the Palestinians.

(antiwar.com)

Restraint my ass!  This is typical bullshit from a country that allows war crimes to go unchecked……

The US media is just as guilty as Haley in this whitewashing of the deaths of civilians……

Typical of the mindset of corporate media reporting on what happened in Gaza on Monday as Israeli soldiers killed more than 50 protesting Palestinians, is this tweet from CNN. It says: “Death toll rises to at least 52 people during clashes along the border fence between Israel and Gaza, Palestinian officials say. More than 2,400 people have been injured.” CNN’s new slogan is “#FactsFirst.”

Adam Johnson, who writes for the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, responded to CNN with a tweet of his own:

“This one’s got it all:

  • ‘death toll rises’ — no one was killed and no one specific party did the killing, the death toll just mysteriously ‘rises’
  • ‘clashes’ — launders all power asymmetry
  • ‘2,400 people have been injured’ — all 2,400 are Palestinian but lets go with ‘people’.”

Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, said on his blog that he did a Google News search for the word “massacre” and found not one reference to Gaza.

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/05/14/u-s-media-whitewashes-gaza-massacre/

And American journalist keep pushing the “victim” card for Israel….it is the biggest lie we have these days…..

The New York Times has always had a double standard on human rights, but they usually aren’t very open about it.  They condemn Russian bombing as horrible war crimes, but criticize similar US bombing as mistakes and pretty much ignore Israeli bombing of Gaza. But they don’t come right out and say that killing is good or that it is cruel to be kind and kind to be cruel and Palestinians need to be shot for their own good.

Until now.

Columnist Shmuel Rosner says essentially this, and the Times published him three days ago: “Israel Needs to Protect Its Borders. By Any Means Necessary.”

http://mondoweiss.net/2018/05/columnist-palestinian-palestinians/

If the US foreign policy was at all consistent then we would do as we did in Libya…..attack and destroy for threatening civilians……

The Syrian civil war, we have been told, began as part of the Arab Spring and really took hold when Syrian government forces allegedly opened fire on protesters across the country in early 2011. This pattern of indiscriminate violent behavior against civilians has been a talking point in the western media’s regime-change narrative. The media often goes so far as to claim that the government led by Bashar al-Assad has lost all legitimacy.

What then, should we make of Israel’s decision to open fire on protesters in the Gaza Strip this past week, killing over 60 protesters and wounding 2,700 more in the process? According to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Israel is not an aggressor at all but a country that has shown considerable “restraint” in its use of force. Despite the claim that most of the dead were Hamas members, the fact that 2,700 people were injured suggests Israel deployed lethal force upon thousands of protesters — not exactly what comes to mind when one thinks of the word “restraint.” Even purposely shooting one unarmed protester seems to contradict everything we are supposed to believe about human rights and democracy.

http://theantimedia.com/us-bombing-israel/

Our Foreign Policy has never been consistent and our defense of the innocents in this world has become a joke that the whole world sees for what it is….a goddamn lie!

A New Iranian Nuke Deal?

Yes there is a new list of demands from the Trump crazies that Iran MUST adhere to for the deal to go back into effect…and there are some doozeys……..

Now that the US has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, what would it take to strike a new deal? A lot, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed Monday in a speech outlining US demands, reports the Wall Street Journal, the AP, CNN, and Al Jazeera. Pompeo listed 12 things Iran must do, including:

  • Stop the enrichment of all uranium
  • Allow “unqualified access” to all nuclear sites
  • Withdraw all forces from Syria
  • Release all US citizens in custody
  • Stop its threats to destroy Israel
  • Halt its support for militant groups in the region, including Hezbollah in Lebanon
  • Declare all previous efforts to build a nuclear weapon

“Relief from sanctions will come only when we see tangible, demonstrated, and sustained shifts in Tehran’s policies,” said Pompeo in a speech at the Heritage Foundation. “We acknowledge Iran’s right to defend its people. But not its actions which jeopardize the world’s citizens.” The gist of coverage from the above sources suggests that the odds of Iran agreeing to the demands are virtually nonexistent. “There is such an enormous trust deficit between the US and Iran that Iranian leaders are likely to really shrug this off as yet more angry rhetoric coming from the Trump White House,” per Al Jazeera.

Tell me would the US accept these conditions……these are more to protect Israel than to end nuclear dreams.  Read Pompeo’s words it is that superiority thing…..”do as we say not as we do” sort of thing.

Personally I think his bluster will bite him in the butt….and I am not alone……

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speech on new sanctions on Iran lays out a wide range of Iranian behavior he would like to change, and specified harsh US financial sanctions as his instrument.

Pompeo, a Kansas oil man backed by the Koch brothers, is just a former congressman and a virulent Christian fundamentalist with white nationalist tendencies. He knows little about the world and is among the worst prepared secretaries of state in American history. He also knows nothing about the history of the region.

Unilateral US sanctions as a means of regime change or radically changing regime behavior have a strong record of failure, especially when applied to states with pricey primary commodities like petroleum.

https://www.juancole.com/2018/05/pompeo-iran-sanctions.html

These Trump people are the least capable of leading this country than ever before……

While the US makes demands that will not be met……the EU, China and Russia are moving to save the deal that is in place now……

While previous reports have indicated that there was little interest in talking about a new nuclear deal with Iran, the withdrawal of the US from the existing deal appears to have changed things. Now, Russia, China, and the European Union are to hold talks on a major revision of the deal later this week.

This new deal would keep Iran’s requirements the same as the existing deal, but would increase the incentives guaranteed by the other powers. This is an attempt to keep Iran complying with the deal as the US ratchets up sanctions.

While the US was the one pushing for a “new” deal in the first place, the other nations have kept the US completely sidelined in these new talks. This is unsurprising, as many see the US trying to undermine any such deals.

The new deal is said to offer Iran billions of dollars in financial aid to make up for the US dishonoring the pact and withdrawing its own sanctions relief. The deal also aims to pledge international cooperation to prevent US  sanctions being enforced internationally.

(antiwar.com)

This deal be saved one way or the other….but making unrealistic demands is not the “art of the deal”.

Afghanistan–Well Duh!

It has been 17 years that our troops have been fighting in Afghanistan……I was never in favor of a continued presence after the first 2 years….I felt it would be an irritant and just a replay of the Vietnam scenario…..and so far I have seen NOTHING that would warrant us staying this long or another minute longer……..

But Hell I am a crotchity old fart but I am NOT wrong……and now so says the Pentagon’s Inspector General……

The inspector general has issued a new report openly scorning Pentagon claims of progress in the war in Afghanistan, noting the continued large attacks from the Taliban and ISIS, and that available data simply doesn’t show progress in much of anything.

That’s been a recurring theme in the war, now 17 years in. Pentagon officials have claimed in recent months that they see progress being made, and that they’ve “turned the corner,” but they’ve made similar claims dozens of times with nothing to show for it.

Meanwhile, ISIS and the Taliban are able to carry out major attacks even in supposedly secure districts. The Taliban controls broad swathes of the country, and only yesterday the Afghan senate admitted that roughly half of the country is outside their direct control.

That’s all bad news that’s been growing markedly worse in the past couple of years. The US has increased their own presence in Afghanistan, and is launching a soaring number of airstrikes, but neither of those has changed the underlying reality that the war is being steadily lost.

(antiwar.com)

This is not the first report that has shitty news about Afghanistan….if so then when will a spineless bunch of Congresspeople do something.  Time for these cowards to stand up and demand that our overworked and over-deployed troops come home and leave Afghanistan to the Afghans?

The Bomber Has Landed!

As a foreign policy wonk that is analyzing conflicts around the world I do a lot of research and I found something this morning that needs attention.

So far today there has not been much news about the Chinese long range bomber that landed on China’s island in the South China Sea…..

The Chinese air force has landed long-range bombers for the first time on an airport in the South China Sea, a state newspaper said on Saturday, in a move likely to further fuel concerns about Beijing’s expansive claims over the disputed region.

The China Daily newspaper reported that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force conducted takeoff and landing training with the H-6K bomber in the South China Sea.

China is pitted against smaller neighbours in multiple disputes in the South China Sea over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/china-lands-bomber-on-south-china-sea-island-for-first-time/articleshow/64232552.cms

Not a big deal, right?

Well that may be an understatement for I also read a piece about what this event could mean for the future of the region…..

….on Friday, reports emerged that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Air Force (PLAAF) had, for the first time, landed an H-6K strategic bomber on one of the country’s South China Sea islands. China’s state-run People’s Daily shared footage of the bomber landing on an airstrip.

The island in question was Woody Island, China’s largest military outpost in the South China Sea. Woody Island sits in the Paracel Islands, but Chinese military activity there has foreshadowed possible moves in the seven artificial islands that Beijing also possesses in the Spratly group.

In addition to permanently stationing military personnel on Woody Island, China has deployed J-11 fighters, HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missiles, and other materiel there.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/05/south-china-sea-what-chinas-first-strategic-bomber-landing-on-woody-island-means/

This fell through the cracks with the hoopla of some royal nuptials….this region is becoming more contentious as the years go by……this needs attention and soon!

North Korea: As The Date Draws Near

June 12, 2018 is the date for the new efforts to make the Korean Peninsula nuke free…Trump is suppose to meet Kim in Singapore…..but there may be a snag seems that both leaders are pushing back at each other as the date draws near……

North Korea is ratcheting up its threats—and potentially inching away from the table. After canceling high-level talks with South Korea planned for Wednesday and warning the US it could cancel Kim Jong Un’s meeting with President Trump over joint military exercises between the US and South Korea, another wrinkle. The Guardian reports Pyongyang is adding to the list of things that could imperil the planned June 12 summit: A statement released by KCNA on Wednesday says the North would bow out if the US maintains its “one-sided demand for us to give up our nukes.” The report quotes first vice minister of foreign affairs Kim Kye Gwan, and the New York Times has the statement in full. More on what it says, and reaction to it:

  • The statement references the “so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment” on more than one occasion, saying US comments about complete denuclearization amount to “a manifestation of awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers. … It is absolutely absurd to dare compare [North Korea], a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial state of nuclear development.”
  • Time addresses the Libya angle, explaining the fact that Moammar Gadhafi “was toppled with US backing despite acquiescing to demands to denuclearize has long been a thorn in US efforts to reach a deal with North Korea—one likely sharpened by Trump’s recent decision to nix a hard-fought denuclearization deal with Iran.”
  • Reuters notes the statement also offered harsh words about US national security adviser John Bolton, who has been promoting a Libya-style denuclearization. “We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him,” it read, with Reuters recalling North Korea having called Bolton “human scum” when he worked for the Bush administration.
  • At the Times, Gerry Mullany sees “a pattern by the unpredictable regime,” and outlines five other times when North Korea “did a sudden about-face.” Read them here.
  • A senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists offers his take to the Guardian: “The North Koreans know how to make an explicit threat. By their standards, this is pretty circumspect. It could very well be a play for additional leverage or to see how the Trump team reacts.”
  • At Time, Korea expert Professor Stephan Haggard echoes that but sees a second possibility: That Kim has “gotten cold feet—they just want an out.”
  • As for the South, Yonhap reports South Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “held emergency phone talks Wednesday in a show of solidarity against North Korea’s renewed brinkmanship.” The Guardian reports the joint US-South Korean military exercises, codenamed Max Thunder, started Friday and will continue.

The theater of the absurd continues….a tit for tat…..each trying to out tat the other……but how could a denuclearization be achieved?

The Brookings has a plan……

The recent news about the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore is exciting and encouraging. It would not have seemed remotely possible a year ago—or even six months ago. Back then, war seemed much more likely. It is impossible to know whether the decision to hold a summit is primarily due to Kim’s newfound confidence in his missile and nuclear capabilities, or his fear of Trump’s military threats, or a result of the pain his country has endured from U.N.-imposed economic sanctions, which have cut North Korea’s external trade in half. Perhaps the charm offensives that Kim, Trump, President Moon, and Secretary Pompeo have been showering on one another led to the summit. In truth, it is probably some combination of most of those factors.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/05/14/a-step-by-step-plan-for-denuclearizing-north-korea/

The point is that if people are waiting for an instant “art of the deal” moment then they will be sadly mistaken.

Time will tell.

Closing Thought–21May18

Well we had another mass school shooting this time in Texas….but I will not cover that for that is an effort in futility trying to change a culture of violence, guns and killing…..something we Americans excel at……

A Rifle To Kill Americans

There is a new Russian sniper rifle that is designed to kill NATO troops and that includes Americans….the odd part of this story is that this deadly rifle was promoted by the NRA…..

In late 2016, the US Army released a report noting that the Russian military, through experience gained during fighting in Ukraine, was undergoing a transformation and becoming a more potent battlefield threat to American forces. One troublesome development identified by the report’s authors was the increased proficiency of Russian snipers. “The capabilities of a sniper in a Russian contingent is far more advanced than the precision shooters U.S. formations have encountered over the last 15 years,” the study noted. One reason for this was the Russian military’s recent adoption of the ORSIS T-5000, a relatively new Russian-made firearm that the report called “one of the most capable bolt action sniper rifles in the world.” As one military technology expert noted, after reviewing this report, the US Army faced “being outgunned” by foes armed with the T-5000—which can be accurate at a distance of 2,000 yards—and these Russian rifles were showing up in Iraq and Ukraine. That is, this weapon posed a threat to US troops and those of its allies. Yet the National Rifle Association—which boasts it is identified with American patriotism—has helped promote Moscow-based ORSIS and its sniper rifle.

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/05/the-pentagon-considers-this-russian-sniper-rifle-a-big-threat-to-us-soldiers-the-nra-helped-promote-it/

A fascinating story……but it probably matters not…..