Venezuela–WTF?

This post is the 15,000th post I have put on IST! (Damn my fingers are tired…LOL)

Covid-19 is screaming around the globe and the preparations and responses have been pathetic at best…..and yet with all that to deal with Donald the Orange has decided to flex his muscle against Venezuela…..first just a couple of days ago The Trump team put a bounty on the leader of Venezuela…..https://lobotero.com/2020/03/30/venezuela-the-bounty/

We have a naval operation is being carried off along the waters off the coast of Venezuela……

President Trump announced Wednesday that Navy ships are being moved toward Venezuela as his administration beefs up counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean following a US drug indictment against Nicolás Maduro, the AP reports. The president’s announcement was a break from the daily White House press briefing to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, which has left much of the country in lock-down and which the government warns could cause 100,000 to 240,000 deaths. “The Venezuelan people continue to suffer tremendously due to Maduro and his criminal control over the country, and drug traffickers are seizing on this lawlessness,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said after the president’s announcement.

The mission involves sending additional Navy warships, surveillance aircraft, and special forces teams to nearly double the US counter-narcotics capacity in the Western Hemisphere, with forces operating both in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific. Esper said the mission would be supported by 22 partner nations. The enhanced mission has been months in the making but has taken on greater urgency following last week’s indictment of Maduro, Venezuela’s embattled socialist leader, and members of his inner circle and military. They are accused of leading a narcoterrorist conspiracy responsible for smuggling up to 250 metric tons of cocaine a year into the US, about half of it by sea.
Really?
 
Sorry but I think that a concentration on handling the virus is far more important than a desire for regime change.
 
I Read, I Write, You Know
 
“lego ergo scribo”

Venezuela–The Bounty

While you were watching the news and trying to decide what to do with all the pandemic stuff flying around in your head…..Trump has decided it is the time to retry for a change in Venezuela…..

Here we (the US) go again with that damn silly thing called “regime” change”….or the attempt at it……

The US has placed a bounty of $15 million on the leader of Venezuela….a leader that was elected by the people of Venezuela……but a bounty?

In a major escalation of US regime change efforts in Venezuela, the US Department of Justice announced Thursday that it is charging Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and other government officials with “narco-terrorism.” The DOJ placed a $15 million bounty on Maduro’s head, offering that money for any information that leads to his arrest, and the DEA put up a wanted poster on its website.

The allegation from the DOJ is that Maduro and his circle have worked with Colombia’s FARC group to traffic cocaine to the US, or use “cocaine as a weapon against America” as the indictment puts it. What this looks like is just another attempt at regime change in Venezuela while the world is dealing with a global pandemic.

US Puts $15 Million Bounty on Nicolas Maduro

Really?  Trump and the Neocon stooges want that guy Guido (I know that is not his name) to be the leader that they can manipulate…..but what about the people of Venezuela?

The latest poll out of Venezuela, from early March, shows that US-backed Juan Guaido is not considered the nation’s present by hardly anybody in the country. With a 3% margin of error, only 3% identified Guaido as president.

After over a year of the US harping on about him being the legitimate president. 71% of Venezuelans identified President Maduro as the president. He’s the one who won the last election, and this comes despite the US having just put a $15 million bounty on him.

23.7 percent also said that no one was really president at this point, again well ahead of Guaido. Even people saying “I don’t know” were 2.2%, putting them neck and neck with Guaido. Clearly, he doesn’t have deep support in this poll.

A second question asked who they had more confidence in, and 60.7% declared they don’t have confidence in either. Maduro was just over 25% and Guaido was only 3.8%, suggesting even if given a choice very few have much faith in Guaido.

(antiwar.com)

Since the US with the help of the CIA could not stir them people up enough for them to lead the charge to change leaders…….we are resorting to monetary blackmail with a bounty…….hoping that people are struggling enough to want the cash instead of the their freedom.

But how well has other “bounties” worked out for the US?

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/05/the-economics-of-terrorist-bounties/393461/

The US always uses some vague concept to overthrow a legitimate world leader….a subject that I have covered before on IST……

https://lobotero.com/2019/02/13/regime-change-crappy-record/

https://lobotero.com/2020/02/26/its-that-regime-change-thing-again/

Further Reading:

https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/more-things-change-more-they-stay-same

Our policies never learn from the mistakes of the past.

Only a petty small immature d/bag would use a pandemic to settle bruised feelings…..but then that is why we have Donald of Orange….to illustrate just how pathetic and disgusting a leader can be.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

News From Iraq

Sadly we have people still fighting and dying in Iraq and the MSM has little time to cover the situation which is getting worse by the month.

First thought is that there is a NEW group of “bad guys”…..

New Iraqi Group Claims Responsibility For Camp Taji Attack

A new Iraqi military group has claimed responsibility for the March 11 Camp Taji attack, which claimed the lives of three U.S.-led coalition service members.

In an official statement released on March 15, the group, dubbed Ausbat al-Thaayirin (AT), confirmed its responsibility for the recent rocket attacks on Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops.

“In response to the request of our Mujahedeen brothers … we declare that the blessed operations [the shelling of occupation bases] are our operations, and we fear no one by announcing this,” the statement reads.

A few days ago, Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) released a statement calling on the perpetrators of the recent attacks to reveal themselves, promising to support them. KH was held responsible for these attacks by the U.S.

AT appears to be a pro-Iranian Shiite group. The group vowed to respond to the assassination of Popular Mobilization Unties (PMU) Deputy-Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Maj. Gen. Qassam Soleimani, Commander of Iran’s Quds Force.

“The assassination of our martyr leaders is heat in our chests, a motive for our conscious that will not trail off until the withdrawal of the occupying forces in a humiliating and degrading manner,” the group said.

The U.S. carried out a series of strikes on Iraq on March 13 in response to Camp Taji attack. The strikes hit positions of the PMU, the Iraqi military and police.

AT’s statement is yet to be verified. More information about the mysterious group will likely appear in the coming months.

(South Front)

More Allied airstrikes…..and more confusion…..

Iraqi President Barham Salih issued a statement Friday angrily condemning a flurry of US airstrikes, saying they amounted to repeated violations of Iraqi sovereignty and threatened to provoke dangerous consequences.

Salih added that the US attacks amount to a “dangerous and deliberate weakening of its abilities especially at a time when Iraq faces unprecedented challenges.” Indeed, that the president is the one making responses at all shows the position Iraq is in. Normally this would be the purview of the PM, but Iraq simply doesn’t have one. The PM-designate has resigned, and the acting PM also resigned in recent weeks.

The US attacks targeted Iraqi PMF militia Kataib Hezbollah, and US officials insist they were “terrorist bases” that were legitimate to hit. The PMF is part of the Iraqi government, despite the US sense that they can attack them with impunity.

Salih’s big warning though was that in this current situation, Iraq could simply unravel under US pressure, ending up a failed state, and potentially fueling an ISIS resurgence.

These consequences seem lost on US officials, likely reflecting US rhetoric presenting the PMF as “Iranian-backed” groups, instead of what they are, militias under the Iraqi government that are heavily active in anti-ISIS operations.

(antiwar.com)

The attack was done by the new group and yet we attacked those supposedly not involved….good policy that should make us more friends.

These airstrikes not only attacked someone not necessarily involved in the attack but we killed our allies as well……Iraq’s military said US airstrikes in the south of the country killed three Iraqi soldiers, two police officers, and one civilian. On Friday, US officials said they launched airstrikes in Southern Iraq against targets where weapons are stored by Kataib Hezbollah, a Shi’ite militia group. 

Iraqi officials also said five members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) were injured in the most recent US airstrikes. The PMF is an umbrella organization of Iraqi militias that have fought together against ISIS since 2014. Kataib Hezbollah is a member of the PMF.

Then there is the war of words……

According to State Department officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Sunday, demanding that the Iraqi government defend US troops who are stationed on the ground in Iraq.

Pompeo told Abdul Mahdi that the government needs to hold militias responsible for attacking US forces accountable, and threatened further US military action “in self-defense” in more attacks happened. On Sunday, more rockets hit a US base, wounding three troops.

This is generally the US position, evinced by US attacks on militia bases last week after the US decided to blame that militia for a previous rocket attack. The US has blamed those militias and labeled them “Iran-backed, though in practice they are Shi’ite groups who are part of the Iraqi government.

Even less clear is what the point of Pompeo telling that to Abdul Mahdi was, as he’s resigned twice in the last few months, both times amid mounting US tensions. First he resigned after parliament voted to expel the US and the US threatened to bankrupt the country with sanctions. Abdul Mahdi agreed to serve as acting-PM until a replacement was decided on, then earlier this month he resigned from that as well.

Iraq’s president has been making comments recently, since he’s the only top figure still in power, but Pompeo seems to hope that Abdul Mahdi has enough political influence to at least pass the message along.

(antiwar.com)

So our policy is to threaten then attack our ally, right?

But the animosities between Iran and the US has Iraq in the middle of the conflict……and that could lead to more instability in the nation and a rapid rise of more terrorism….

https://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_escalation_nation_iraq_and_the_us_iran_rivalry

If they are not an ally then what the Hell are we still doing in country?

The situation in the Middle East is still the most confusing situation on the planet.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scriblo”

De-Fang Democracy

This post is about the organization within the Americas and its purpose in life.

This group is called the Organization of American States (OAS)……

But first a little history and background of the OAS…….

The Organization of American States is the world’s oldest regional organization, dating back to the First International Conference of American States, held in Washington, D.C., from October 1889 to April 1890. That meeting approved the establishment of the International Union of American Republics, and the stage was set for the weaving of a web of provisions and institutions that came to be known as the inter-American system, the oldest international institutional system.

The OAS came into being in 1948 with the signing in Bogotá, Colombia, of the Charter of the OAS, which entered into force in December 1951. It was subsequently amended by the Protocol of Buenos Aires, signed in 1967, which entered into force in February 1970; by the Protocol of Cartagena de Indias, signed in 1985, which entered into force in November 1988; by the Protocol of Managua, signed in 1993, which entered into force in January 1996; and by the Protocol of Washington, signed in 1992, which entered into force in September 1997.

The Organization was established in order to achieve among its member states—as stipulated in Article 1 of the Charter—”an order of peace and justice, to promote their solidarity, to strengthen their collaboration, and to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence.”

Today, the OAS brings together all 35 independent states of the Americas and constitutes the main political, juridical, and social governmental forum in the Hemisphere. In addition, it has granted permanent observer status to 69 states, as well as to the European Union (EU).

The Organization uses a four-pronged approach to effectively implement its essential purposes, based on its main pillars: democracy, human rights, security, and development.

One main pillar is that of democracy……to that I call CRAP!

Why?

Just look at their support for the coup in Chile….their support for the attempts at regime change in Venezuela…..and their support for the right wing rise that threatens all democracy in the region.

Experts at MIT recently concluded that there is no statistical evidence of fraud in the results of the Bolivian presidential elections last October. These findings debunk an earlier report by the Organization of American States (OAS), which were used to justify a right-wing coup d’etat in the Andean nation.

“All in all, the OAS’ statistical analysis and conclusions would appear deeply flawed,” the researchers, John Curiel and Jack R. Williams of the Election Data and Science Lab, wrote in the Washington Post. They added that the incumbent, Evo Morales, very likely garnered more than the 10 percent margin needed to avoid a second round vote.

The announcement has caused an international uproar.

The Organization of American States Is Eroding Faith in Democracy

An organization that started out trying to help democracy bloom in the Americas is now an office of Right wing authoritarianism……

Sad that this is happening……it is sad that Right wing hate is becoming more and more popular.

How the OAS Revived the Cold War in the Americas

Thoughts?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

China Has A Sinking Feeling

If you think this post is about the virus then you have to have another thought because it has little to0 do with the pandemic racing across the globe.

I am NO expert on China but I have been watching their movements in the South China Sea…..https://lobotero.com/2016/07/14/south-china-sea-bingo/

The US is concerned with the build-up of the Chinese military on the islands in the region especially those special built man made islands.

But maybe there is a chance that that situation could solve itself…….

Bejing quickly built human-made artificial islands to seize disputed territories. But now it looks like their greed and speed are coming back to haunt them.

Since 2013 the Chinese government has dredged and mostly destroyed ecologically delicate reefs in disputed waters in order to build seven major military bases complete with ports, airstrips and radar and missile installations.

This first appeared in 2019 and is being reposted due to reader interest.

The islands function as unsinkable aircraft carriers and help to cement Beijing’s claims on waters rich with fish and minerals, waters that neighboring countries also claim.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/sunk-how-chinas-man-made-islands-are-falling-apart-and-sinking-ocean-132047

Shoddy construction plus climate change equals unstable islands.

Wait!  Climate Change?

No need to say any more than that.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

What Happened To The Arms Race?

If you are old enough to remember the Cold War then the term “arms race” is something you are aware of…..but for those youngsters here on IST….

An arms race occurs when two or more countries increase the size and quality of military resources to gain military and political superiority over one another. The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union is perhaps the largest and most expensive arms race in history……

But thank God with the end of the Cold War the dangerous game of arms race in nuclear weapons disappeared….think again!

We ended our involvement in the INF and that is an invitation to an arms race……

If you asked the Pentagon, they would tell you in no uncertain terms that the US is not engaged in any sort of nuclear arms race. At the same time, the US is spending heavily on new nuclear weapons, and is particularly scrambling to get weapons designed to target Russia.

Officials described a recent table-top war game where Russia carried out a tactical nuclear first-strike against NATO territory during a conflict in Europe. This idea of Russia attacking first seems to be informing a lot of US policy decisions.

The exercise saw a low-yield Russian nuke deployed, and the US arsenal, still limited on lower options, ultimately decided that their only response was a much bigger strategic nuclear strike on Russia, starting a civilization-ending nuclear exchange.

Though seemingly the risk of such a war would be a deterrent against a Russian first-strike, the Pentagon is arguing they need more low-yield options so they can engage in tit-for-tat nuclear wars at a lower level.

Analysts have been very concerned about these developments, because the Pentagon very publicly views lower-yield nukes as more usable, and this risks the US deploying them in attacks on non-nuclear states.

(antiwar.com)

If there is NO arms race then why would the Pentagon be begging for more funds for nukes?

The US spends tens of billions of dollars annually on nuclear weapon modernization schemes. Every year, the Pentagon complains it is insufficient, and that continued with StratCom head Admiral Chas Richard, who warned that the US is “almost on a path to disarmament.”

Given how much the US spends, this is a vastly expensive sort of disarmament. Since the US outspends all other nuclear powers, it is hard to imagine that the problem is that the US needs to spend more, and while the admiral suggested the US should “invest smartly,” it’s clear he also wanted more money.

The narrative is that if the US continues at the current heightened level of spending they’ll still end up having to virtually rebuild their entire infrastructure or no longer be a nuclear power. This seems to be overly alarmist, but is just the sort of thing that would sell Congress on bankrolling more arms.

Still, while Strategic Command is built around always spending more money on more arms, and never couches it as an option, it must be considered if proper disarmament is worth considering. After all, if tens of billions of dollars every year can’t maintain an arsenal, the US could at least save that money by no longer pretending to be modernizing it.

(antiwar.com)

In case you want more info…..

he Pentagon’s five-year nuclear weapons plan calls for requesting at least $167 billion through 2025 — building from the $29 billion sought for next year to $38 billion, according to previously undisclosed figures.

The commitment includes research, development, procurement, sustainment and operations. It reflects a major boost to an effort started under President Barack Obama to replace aging nuclear systems, such as Minuteman III missiles and command and control systems.

It doesn’t include funding for the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which is requesting $19.8 billion for fiscal 2021, including $15.6 billion for nuclear weapons activities.

https://time.com/5790901/pentagon-nuclear-weapons-spending/

So all indications are that we are still in an arms race with the USSR….my bad….Russia.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

US In The Sahel

The Sahel?  That is Africa in case you were dashing for the Google button.

Image result for sahel

For years now the US has been in the region assisting local governments in their efforts to fight the specter of growing terrorism.

What got me thinking about our involvement in the Sahel was the announcement of a special envoy….

The United States has created a special envoy for Africa’s Sahel region, a State Department spokesman said on Friday, to counter rising violence from groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State which are expanding their foothold.

Envoy Peter Pham, started his new role earlier this week, the spokesman said. He has been serving as U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa since November 2018.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-sahel/u-s-creates-new-envoy-position-to-counter-rising-terrorism-in-sahel-idUSKBN20T2ZJ

But are US troops necessary?

A Review of the necessity for US troops in the region is on-going…..

Facing skepticism from members of Congress about plans to alter force posture in Africa, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told members of the House Armed Services Committee that he remains committed to keeping U.S. forces on the continent.

“There are no plans to completely withdraw all forces from Africa,” Esper said Wednesday.

As part of a broader review of the force structure for the combatant commands, Esper has been considering moving forces out of U.S. Africa Command’s area of operations. Reports emerged at the end of 2019 that the department was looking at removing several hundred forces from Niger, Chad and Mali.

https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2020/02/26/heres-what-espers-africom-review-has-decided-so-far/

Why do we continue to fight and die in this region?  I mean our so-called NATO allies are there as well then why not let them handle the hard lift in Africa?

For Washington’s foreign policy establishment, no nation is too unimportant to be considered vital to America’s security. No territory is too insignificant for the United States to dominate. No spot on earth is too distant to station an American soldier. How else to judge the hysterical criticism of the Trump administration’s proposed military drawdown in Africa?

Despite the fiscal crisis, strategic overreach, endless war, and political division, “the Blob,” as Washington’s foreign policy community is known, refuses to consider a world where Uncle Sam does not treat every region and nation as his personal sphere of interest. Washington is determined to protect more than a score of rich allies in Europe, multiple wealthy clients in Asia, and a gaggle of Middle Eastern nations.

Roughly seven thousand American personnel are stationed across Africa, primarily in Djibouti, Niger, and Somalia. Defense Secretary Mark Esper is considering rebalancing U.S. defense resources, shifting toward containment—not that he has used that word—of China and Russia. To advance that process, last fall the Pentagon asked each regional command for its resource needs. Explained Esper: “We’ve begun a review process where I’m looking at every theater, understanding what the requirements are that we set out for, making sure we’re as efficient as possible with our forces.”

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/americas-africa-enigma-why-us-troops-are-taking-unnecessary-risks-126031

Personally I say end this deployment of US troops…..we already have enough war in other spots why make a new one?

As the United States sensibly backs its military out of Afghanistan and considers drawing down the remaining 5,000 American troops in Iraq, it is time to review the expanded U.S. military presence in West and East Africa (~7,000 troops), particularly counterterror operations. Such a review was announced by Secretary of Defense Mike Esper in December 2019.

Our African deployments were practically invisible until October 2017, when four American soldiers died in an ambush in Niger. Suddenly Americans — including at least one U.S. Senator — realized that the U.S. military was in Africa getting the U.S. into deeper and deeper trouble.

It is time to pull back these forces. They reflect a militarization of U.S. foreign policy that has accelerated since 2001. Claims to the contrary, the military does not do these operations particularly well and there is growing evidence that they are counterproductive, generating more terrorists than they eliminate and exacerbating instability. They do nothing to counter Chinese or Russian influence in Africa, despite claims that they do. The threat they target is not a vital U.S. interest. In sum, by militarizing U.S. engagement in Africa, security assistance, training, and operations are harming U.S. security interests.

The U.S. military should end its counterterror operations in Africa

Time to end at least one armed conflict….I am sure that we will find another to replace the profits for the M-IC.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”