Category Archives: NATO

Fifteen years of U.S. crimes in Afghanistan

http://www.salon.com/2016/11/05/the-15-year-u-s-war-in-afghanistan-barely-gets-mentioned-even-when-nato-airstrikes-massacre-30-civilians/
Salpon.com, Nov. 5, 2016
The 15-year U.S. war in Afghanistan barely gets mentioned, even when NATO airstrikes massacre 30 civilians
The U.S. war continues to take a heavy toll on Afghan civilians, yet Clinton and Trump never even discussed it
Ben Norton

At least 30 civilians, including women and children, were killed in NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan on Thursday. Dozens more civilians were wounded.

The site of the attack, in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province, was near the remnants of a hospital bombed by NATO forces almost exactly one year before.

These new casualties come just after the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan entered its 16th year. The ongoing conflict, which gets little coverage in the media and has hardly been mentioned in the presidential campaigns, is one of the longest conventional wars in U.S. history, and has taken an enormous toll on the South Asian country’s civilian population.

Airstrikes were called in on Thursday after heavy fighting erupted between Taliban militants and U.S. and allied Afghan forces in the northern village of Buz Kandahari.

Kunduz Governor Asadullah Amarkhil called the attack “a horrible incident,” Reuters reported. Afghan villagers brought the bodies of the slain civilians into the nearby city of Kunduz and held angry protests.

“These bodies you see here are either children or women, they are not Taliban. All innocent children and women killed here — look at the bodies there,” a resident told Reuters.

Two U.S. soldiers were also killed in the fighting.

This latest attack took place roughly three miles from the center of Kunduz, where NATO forces bombed a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders in October 2015.

Last year’s attack killed another 30 civilians, including 14 hospital workers. A hospital nurse said there “are no words for how terrible” the bombing was, noting that “patients were burning in their beds.”

The U.S. military’s version of the story changed multiple times, and was full of contradictions. Ultimately, no U.S. officials lost their jobs because of the attack.

Doctors Without Borders called the hospital bombing a war crime. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights similarly said it could have been a war crime.

The medical humanitarian group, known internationally as Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF, emphasized that it had “communicated the precise locations of its facilities to all parties on multiple occasions over the past months.” Yet its facility was repeatedly bombed for more than 30 minutes, even after MSF “frantically phoned” Washington.

The Kunduz hospital was the only large medical facility in all of northeastern Afghanistan, yet MSF was forced to withdraw from the area after the attack.

Millions of Afghans have had their lives permanently changed by the U.S. war, which marked its 15th anniversary on Oct. 7 — an unpropitious date that came and went with little attention in the media, and virtually no acknowledgment by major American politicians.

More than a decade of nonstop war has pushed Afghanistan to the brink of catastrophe. And things are getting worse, not better.

At least 220,000 Afghans were killed in the first 12 years of the war, in a conservative estimate, according to a report by the Nobel Prize-winning organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

Since 2012, Afghan civilian casualties have increased, with children making up a growing portion of victims. The violence in 2015 was the worst since the U.N. began tracking the casualties.

In the first nine months of 2016, 2,562 Afghan civilians were killed, including more than 600 children, and another 5,835 were injured, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
A graph released by the U.N. mission shows how civilian casualties have gradually risen in the past several years.

http://media.salon.com/2016/11/casualties-afghanistan-un.jpg

A May report by Amnesty International noted that the number of Afghans “who have fled violence and remained trapped in their own country, where they live on the brink of survival,” has doubled in just over three years.

At least 1.2 million Afghans are displaced within their country — a rise by some 240 percent since 2013. Another roughly 2.6 million Afghans are refugees, stuck outside of their country’s borders.

Afghans make up one of the world’s largest refugee populations. Yet the European Union, which has backed the NATO war in Afghanistan that has displaced so many people, made a deal to send Afghan refugees to Turkey, in a plan experts said is illegal and immoral.

Even child refugees are not spared. From 2007 to 2015, the United Kingdom deported 2,018 unaccompanied children to Afghanistan — in another program human rights officials have warned is illegal.

None of this is to mention the enormous costs of the war for U.S. taxpayers. Numerous reports estimate that the war in Afghanistan has cost at least $1 trillion. That is money that could have been invested in social services, health care, infrastructure, education and so much more.

The war drags on. President Obama promised countless times that he would end it in 2014. Instead, he has extended it multiple times.

The Taliban was itself a product of U.S. war. In order to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the U.S. and its allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia trained, armed and funded extremist Islamist militants, giving birth to the extremism that haunts the region today.

While fighting between the Taliban and U.S.-led forces escalates, Obama nears his last days in office. Neither Hillary Clinton, the most likely candidate for U.S. president, nor her opponent Donald Trump has presented a strategy for ending the war. The Afghan people, meanwhile, cannot wait. They are dying, suffering, losing their homes and loved ones.

As Nicholas Haysom, the U.N.’s secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan, put it in February, mere statistics do not “reflect the real horror of the phenomenon we are talking about.”

“The real cost we are talking about in these figures,” Haysom continued, “is measured in the maimed bodies of children, the communities who have to live with loss, the grief of colleagues and relatives, the families who make do without a breadwinner, the parents who grieve for lost children, the children who grieve for lost parents.”

Ben Norton is a politics reporter and staff writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

Speech by NATO Secretary-General, 26 November 1993

SPEECH BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL AT INAUGURAL CONFERENCE OF THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM LONDON, 26 NOVEMBER 1993

Ladies and gentlemen,

Just a few years ago, we entertained the vision of a Europe “whole and free”, in which relations between peoples would be based not on ideology or military might but on tolerance and common democratic values. Now a gap has emerged between that vision of a new peaceful order in Europe and our willingness to pay the price to bring it about. This gap produces instability and undermines the credibility of Western institutions that have helped to inspire change. Today, four years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is not euphoria but increasing disorder and a crisis of confidence which dominate our European agenda.

Let us be honest. The international community has failed to deal effectively with the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, and this failure has affected all international institutions. Moreover, Somalia reminds us of how difficult it is to strike the right balance between the understandable impulse to intervene and the difficulties of implementation.

Does this mean that we should abandon our objective of building a new international order? Shall we just leave the world to the forces of disorder and limit ourselves to safeguarding our own national security, or at most, to containing the crisis spots so as to prevent them from spreading?

My answer is clearly no. We cannot live in security surrounded by chaos. I do not believe that we should succumb to pessimism. We must come to grips with the changed security environment. We have to realise that the end of the Cold War has spelled the end neither of history, nor of forward-looking security policy. Security still comes at a price, and we must pay it.

We enjoy a tremendous advantage over previous generations – namely, a structure of international institutions and an ingrained pattern of international cooperation which can enable us to build a better and more peaceful order in the era to come – if we use this advantage properly. That remains our challenge – the main challenge of our times.

We cannot meet this challenge without NATO; to master major security challenges you need NATO. To provide stability in a world that has become more unstable you need NATO. To prevent, manage and resolve major crises and conflicts in the wider Europe you need NATO. To prevent Europe from sliding back into renationalisation and fragmentation you need NATO. To keep transatlantic relations working smoothly and effectively you need NATO. To face the new kinds of risks emerging from proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, from mass migration and from extremism you need NATO.

So this Alliance is not sustained merely by nostalgic memories or by purely philosophical reflections on common values and destinies. It survives, indeed prospers, because it serves the concrete requirements of its member nations in North America and Europe.

I am aware, however, that a different view has been expressed by some, to whom the international community’s failure to prevent or reverse the conflict in ex-Yugoslavia is a demonstration of NATO’s irrelevance today.

I reject this argument. As much as I am personally disappointed with the way this crisis has been handled, I think we have to recognize that the international community was unprepared for the different security environment with which we would be confronted in the post-Cold War era, just as the West was initially unprepared for the type of challenge Soviet power would confront us with in the years immediately following World War II. The argument that we should disband NATO because of Yugoslavia is masochistic in the extreme; it is as if we were to banish doctors for the persistence of illness, or abolish police for the persistence of crime. What we need to do, obviously, is to draw the lessons of Yugoslavia so that there will be no more Yugoslavias.

It goes without saying that one lesson is that NATO must be used differently, and indeed that NATO itself must continue to adapt to a wholly different set of challenges from those we faced during the Cold War. That is why we are holding the NATO Summit in January. So today I want to address two questions:

– Why NATO?

– What kind of NATO do we need for this new era?

I. Why NATO

First, in a world full of crises and conflicts where history moves fast and is full of surprises NATO still serves its main strategic purpose: to maintain the common defence and security of its member countries. Today it does so with fewer troops and at lower cost. NATO serves as the insurance policy against the remaining risks and new dangers. Once dissolved an effective Alliance could not be recreated overnight.

Second, the transatlantic relationship is the most stable and valuable geopolitical asset on the globe today, bringing together the world’s two largest trading zones, and the two regions with the greatest global outreach and sense of global responsibilities. How could we seriously hope to achieve a more stable world without a strategic alliance of these two major power centres? Where else but in NATO could they coordinate their policies and pool their capabilities to deal with major security challenges, as was done so successfully in the Gulf War? Moreover, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe already rely upon the stabilising influence which the Alliance exerts around its periphery. The disintegration of NATO would increase the risk of conflict in Europe dramatically.

Third, one of the greatest achievements of the Atlantic Alliance has been to put an end to the bad habits of European power politics. There was simply no longer any need for secret pacts and cordial, or not so cordial, ententes. The American presence provided for a stable balance between former rivals and enemies. It even made possible the realisation of German unification without a major crisis in West European politics. By contrast the dissolution of NATO or the disengagement of the United States from Europe could and would undermine the European integration process. This would be damaging not only for Western Europe and the United States, but would also gravely affect the political and economic transition of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe which are urgently looking for links to the political, economic and security institutions of the West.

Fourth, NATO is the only organization that possesses the right package of political-military tools for effective crisis management. It provides the bedrock of “hard” security on which any new security order must be based. Only NATO has the means to turn political declarations into coherent action, a fact which the United Nations, after decades of viewing us with suspicion, has recognized in calling upon NATO to perform a range of peacekeeping functions in the former Yugoslavia. Which other instrument could you turn to in a crisis situation, assuming the political will was there to act? Which other institution could offer the integrated structure and the political/military consultation mechanism?

The Yugoslav crisis demonstrates not NATO’s irrelevance but its vitality and its potential. For the first time in our history we are both acting out of area and ready, if it is judged necessary to conduct air strikes, for actual combat operations. NATO has offered its support to the United Nations and it has done everything the UN has asked; and the Alliance has done so efficiently. We are enforcing the embargo at sea and the no-fly zone in the air. We have supplied UNPROFOR with command and control equipment and we have coordinated our military planning with the United Nations. We have also offered the United Nations our protective air power in case of attack against UNPROFOR and we are prepared to use air strikes, if necessary, to relieve strangulation of Sarajevo and other areas. All of these tasks are being performed with the professionalism and dedication you expect from this Alliance.

II. The Way Ahead: A New NATO for a New Era

So what is the way ahead for NATO? Contrary to what some have argued, NATO has not stood still since the end of the Cold War. This Alliance has changed more than any other international institution in the last three years, and remains a state-of-the-art model. We have had to accept two new missions to meet the demands of a vastly changed security environment: (a) projection of stability to the East and; (b) crisis management. We have adopted a new strategy and force posture. We have started to strengthen our European pillar. Most importantly, we have established close relations with our former adversaries by creating the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, and we have started participating in crisis management beyond our borders. So the slogan “out of area or out of business” is obviously out of date. We are acting out of area and we are very much in business.

Still, we need to continue to adapt the Alliance to play its role in stabilising Europe. Let me list five main areas which will be at the top of the Summit’s agenda.

The first and most important area where change must come is in further developing our ability to project stability to the East. Security is the oxygen of democracy; if we want our new democratic partners in the East to survive and to flourish, then we must seek to give concrete meaning to our 1991 Declaration in Rome that “our own security is inseparably linked to that of all the other States of Europe”.

I sense a growing consensus that, in principle, the Alliance should open up to new members. Even if there are no immediate plans to enlarge NATO, giving such a perspective would increase the stability of the whole of Europe, particularly if we are also willing to enhance fundamentally our security relationship with Russia. The same holds true for Ukraine and other cooperation partners. Nobody will be isolated. We intend to build bridges and not barriers.

But while incorporating new members is a long-term process, we are also studying new ideas which can be implemented already in the short term. I would like to mention, in particular, the proposal made by the United States for a “Partnership for Peace”.

The “Partnership for Peace” is designed to intensify the process of cooperation and give it a new dimension. Let me first clarify that I do not consider it to be an alternative to eventual membership of Central and Eastern European Countries to NATO. The “Partnership for Peace” will be open to all cooperation partners and other states in Europe. The core idea of this initiative is that interested States will sign bilateral cooperation agreements with NATO. The extent of cooperation would be largely up to the partner countries themselves, depending on their individual requirements. This would lead to a flexible network of cooperative links within Europe and across the Atlantic. The goal is to make our partners more capable of interacting with NATO member states in a broad range of multinational missions such as peacekeeping and crisis management. While “Partnership for Peace” is a proposal that is still under discussion within our Alliance, the reactions so far have been favourable and I have no doubt that it could lead the way towards an ever closer relationship between NATO Allies and our cooperation partners.

The second major Summit issue, is how to re-balance the Alliance so that Europe assumes a greater share of responsibility for security in Europe and beyond. Let me state very clearly from the outset that I regard a greater European role not as a threat but as a precondition of NATO’s longer-term vitality. The WEU has an essential role to play in this regard, and I regard it as one of NATO’s accomplishments that we have established a very close working relationship between our organisations. For example, we are now running an efficient joint naval operation in the Adriatic. Our objective is to coordinate our planning so that forces assigned to NATO can operate under WEU authority in those crises that affect first and foremost European interests.

We now have to move to practical, operationally sound arrangements in this respect. For example, we are currently looking at the concept of Combined Joint Task Forces for peacekeeping and other contingency operations. Such a concept would earmark resources within the integrated military structure for non-Article V missions in addition to their role in defence. In a crisis these resources could be used in conjunction with non-NATO contributions. This could provide the basis for “separable but not separate” forces which could accommodate both the needs of NATO and of an emerging European Security and Defence Identity.

The third issue the Summit must address, is the further development of the Alliance’s capabilities for crisis management, peacekeeping and peacemaking. I would maintain — notwithstanding the frustration about Yugoslavia — that NATO’s track record in this area has been as good, as I set out earlier, and that we have established a good cooperation with the UN. But I believe that we can and must achieve more. We should not succumb to false modesty. The UN is overextended and underfunded. If it wants our support, it must accept that we will push for clearer mandates and that we will insist that the chain of command and the rules of engagement must be agreed in a satisfactory manner as a precondition to any major Alliance involvement. I have repeatedly stated that if NATO acts on behalf of another organisation it does so as a partner and not as a sub-contractor. The closer our interface with the UN, the better the chance of obtaining a mandate suitable for effective implementation.

And this is not all. As we all agree that prevention is better than cure, we must find ways of making Allied assets more relevant not only to peacekeeping and peace enforcement, but to crisis prevention as well. In this respect I believe that we should look for ways of enhancing the Alliance’s contribution to the CSCE.

The fourth issue concerns the need to address the question of what “defence fundamentals” will be required in future. Otherwise, there is a risk of free-fall, structural disarmament which would rapidly deprive our member nations of meaningful military capabilities for many years to come. This would affect our traditional collective defence mission as well as our new tasks in peacekeeping. So the stabilisation of defence budgets agreed by NATO Defence Ministers in May is of major significance. In handling any crisis, what you have available very much determines what options you have: the fewer deployable forces, the fewer options for decision-makers, and the less credibility accorded subsequent actions.

The fifth issue is counter-proliferation. Already in 1991 the Alliance’s Strategic Concept stated that the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction should be given special consideration. A viable solution to this increasingly serious problem requires a complementary approach of various elements, focusing first and foremost on traditional prevention mechanisms, such as export controls, but also including political disincentives and missile defence. We are currently examining ways to deal with this issue within the framework of the Alliance. I look to the Summit to draw up a road map for further action.

In closing, I want to underline that we need to make it clearer to our publics that NATO has been transformed, that it continues to change, and that it plays the leading role in Euro-Atlantic security. In particular, we must make it clear that security still comes at a price, whether the issues at stake are collective defence, peacekeeping or crisis prevention. We also have to make it clearer than before that the political strength of our Alliance as a cornerstone for European security derives directly from its perceived military value, and that to allow military atrophy means to deprive the Alliance of its political weight as an instrument to shape the peace.

The Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom has an important role to play in these efforts. NATO has been the most successful Alliance in history not only because its policies were the right ones, but also because they were consistently supported by the great majority of our public opinion. Indeed, if there is one lesson that we have learned from difficult times in the past, it is that the more we have explained those policies directly to the public, the more support we have gained.

The need to explain NATO’s roles and missions has become even more important now that we have adopted the new task of projecting stability into Central and Eastern Europe. Despite the NACC and numerous other contacts, there are still many misconceptions about our Alliance in some of our Cooperation Partner countries. So the Atlantic Council also has a vital role in building bridges between public opinion in our countries and in Central and Eastern Europe. Our aim must be to bring together the successor generations of future political leaders. We must foster among them a sense of common values, outlook and culture as well as the personal ties that make our vision of a Euro- Atlantic community a reality. These are our tasks. Let’s start tackling them today.

The Russian Loan and the IMF’s One-Two Punch: Ukraine Denouement

The Russian Loan and the IMF’s One-Two Punch

Ukraine Denouement

by MICHAEL HUDSON

The fate of Ukraine is now shifting from the military battlefield back to the arena that counts most: that of international finance. Kiev is broke, having depleted its foreign reserves on waging war that has destroyed its industrial export and coal mining capacity in the Donbass (especially vis-à-vis Russia, which normally has bought 38 percent of Ukraine’s exports). Deeply in debt (with €3 billion falling due on December 20 to Russia), Ukraine faces insolvency if the IMF and Europe do not release new loans next month to pay for new imports as well as Russian and foreign bondholders.

Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko announced on Friday that she hopes to see the money begin to flow in by early March.[1] But Ukraine must meet conditions that seem almost impossible: It must implement an honest budget and start reforming its corrupt oligarchs (who dominate in the Rada and control the bureaucracy), implement more austerity, abolish its environmental protection, and make its industry “attractive” to foreign investors to buy Ukraine’s land, natural resources, monopolies and other assets, presumably at distress prices in view of the country’s recent devastation.

Looming over the IMF loan is the military situation. On January 28, Christine Lagarde said that the IMF would not release more money as long as Ukraine remains at war. Cessation of fighting was to begin Sunday morning. But Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh announced that his private army and that of the Azov Battalion will ignore the Minsk agreement and fight against Russian-speakers. He remains a major force within the Rada.

How much of Ukraine’s budget will be spent on arms? Germany and France made it clear that they oppose further U.S. military adventurism in Ukraine, and also oppose NATO membership. But will Germany follow through on its threat to impose sanctions on Kiev in order to stop a renewal of the fighting? For the United States bringing Ukraine into NATO would be the coup de grace blocking creation of a Eurasian powerhouse integrating the Russian, German and other continental European economies.

The Obama administration is upping the ante and going for broke, hoping that Europe has no alternative but to keep acquiescing. But the strategy is threatening to backfire. Instead of making Russia “lose Europe,” the United States may have overplayed its hand so badly that one can now think about the opposite prospect. The Ukraine adventure turn out to be the first step in the United States losing Europe. It may end up splitting European economic interests away from NATO, if Russia can convince the world that the epoch of armed occupation of industrial nations is a thing of the past and hence no real military threat exists – except for Europe being caught in the middle of Cold War 2.0.

For the U.S. geopolitical strategy to succeed, it would be necessary for Europe, Ukraine and Russia to act against their own potential economic self-interest. How long can they be expected to acquiesce in this sacrifice? At what point will economic interests lead to a reconsideration of old geo-military alliances and personal political loyalties?

The is becoming urgent because this is the first time that continental Europe has been faced with such war on its own borders (if we except Yugoslavia). Where is the advantage for Europe supporting one of the world’s most corrupt oligarchies north of the Equator?

America’s Ukrainian adventure by Hillary’s appointee Victoria Nuland (kept on and applauded by John Kerry), as well as by NATO, is forcing Europe to commit itself to the United States or pursue an independent line. George Soros (whose aggressive voice is emerging as the Democratic Party’s version of Sheldon Adelson) recently urged (in the newly neocon New York Review of Books) that the West give Ukraine $50 billion to re-arm, and to think of this as a down payment on military containment of Russia. The aim is old Brzezinski strategy: to foreclose Russian economic integration with Europe. The assumption is that economic alliances are at least potentially military, so that any power center raises the threat of economic and hence political independence.

The Financial Times quickly jumped on board for Soros’s $50 billion subsidy.[2] When President Obama promised that U.S. military aid would be only for “defensive arms,” Kiev clarified that it intended to defend Ukraine all the way to Siberia to create a “sanitary cordon.”

First Confrontation: Will the IMF Loan Agreement try to stiff Russia?

The IMF has been drawn into U.S. confrontation with Russia in its role as coordinating Kiev foreign debt refinancing. It has stated that private-sector creditors must take a haircut, given that Kiev can’t pay the money its oligarchs have either stolen or spent on war. But what of the €3 billion that Russia’s sovereign wealth fund loaned Ukraine, under London rules that prevent such haircuts? Russia has complained that Ukraine’s budget makes no provision for payment. Will the IMF accept this budget as qualifying for a bailout, treating Russia as an odious creditor? If so, what kind of legal precedent would this set for sovereign debt negotiations in years to come?

International debt settlement rules were thrown into a turmoil last year when U.S. Judge Griesa gave a highly idiosyncratic interpretation of the pari passu clause with regard to Argentina’s sovereign debts. The clause states that all creditors must be treated equally. According to Griesa (uniquely), this means that if any creditor or vulture fund refuses to participate in a debt writedown, no such agreement can be reached and the sovereign government cannot pay any bondholders anywhere in the world, regardless of what foreign jurisdiction the bonds were issued under.

This bizarre interpretation of the “equal treatment” principle has never been strictly applied. Inter-governmental debts owed to the IMF, ECB and other international agencies have not been written down in keeping with private-sector debts. Russia’s loan was carefully framed in keeping with London rules. But U.S. diplomats have been openly – indeed, noisily and publicly – discussing how to “stiff” Russia. They even have thought about claiming that Russia’s Ukraine loans (to help it pay for gas to operate its factories and heat its homes) are an odious debt, or a form of foreign aid, or subject to anti-Russian sanctions. The aim is to make Russia “less equal,” transforming the concept of pari passu as it applies to sovereign debt.

Just as hedge funds jumped into the fray to complicate Argentina’s debt settlement, so speculators are trying to make a killing off Ukraine’s financial corpse, seeing this gray area opened up. The Financial Times reports that one American investor, Michael Hasenstab, has $7 billion of Ukraine debts, along with Templeton Global Bond Fund.[3] New speculators may be buying Ukrainian debt at half its face value, hoping to collect in full if Russia is paid in full – or at least settle for a few points’ quick run-up.
bubblehudson

The U.S.-sponsored confusion may tie up Russia’s financial claims in court for years, just as has been the case with Argentina’s debt. At stake is the IMF’s role as debt coordinator: Will it insist that Russia take the same haircut that it’s imposing on private hedge funds?

This financial conflict is becoming a new mode of warfare. Lending terms are falling subject to New Cold War geopolitics. This battlefield has been opened up by U.S. refusal in recent decades to endorse the creation of any international body empowered to judge the debt-paying capacity of countries. This makes every sovereign debt crisis a grab bag that the U.S. Treasury can step in to dominate. It endorses keeping countries in the U.S. diplomatic orbit afloat (although on a short leash), but not countries that maintain an independence from U.S. policies (e.g., Argentina and BRICS members).

Looking forward, this position threatens to fracture global finance into a U.S. currency sphere and a BRICS sphere. The U.S. has opposed creation of any international venue to adjudicate the debt-paying capacity of debtor nations. Other countries are pressing for such a venue in order to save their economies from the present anarchy. U.S. diplomats see anarchy as offering an opportunity to bring U.S. diplomacy to bear to reward friends and punish non-friends and “independents.” The resulting financial anarchy is becoming untenable in the wake of Argentina, Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and other sovereign debtors whose obligations are unpayably high.

The IMF’s One-Two Punch leading to privatization sell-offs to rent extractors            

IMF loans are made mainly to enable governments to pay foreign bondholders and bankers, not spend on social programs or domestic economic recovery. Sovereign debtors must agree to IMF “conditionalities” in order to get enough credit to enable bondholders to take their money and run, avoiding haircuts and leaving “taxpayers” to bear the cost of capital flight and corruption.

The first conditionality is the guiding principle of neoliberal economics: that foreign debts can be paid by squeezing out a domestic budget surplus. The myth is that austerity programs and cuts in public spending will enable governments to pay foreign-currency debts – as if there is no “transfer problem.”

The reality is that austerity causes deeper economic shrinkage and widens the budget deficit. And no matter how much domestic revenue the government squeezes out of the economy, it can pay foreign debts only in two ways: by exporting more, or by selling its public domain to foreign investors. The latter option leads to privatizing public infrastructure, replacing subsidized basic services with rent-extraction and future capital flight. So the IMF’s “solution” to the deb problem has the effect of making it worse – requiring yet further privatization sell-offs.

This is why the IMF has been wrong in its economic forecasts for Ukraine year after year, just as its prescriptions have devastated Ireland and Greece, and Third World economies from the 1970s onward. Its destructive financial policy must be seen as deliberate, not an innocent forecasting error. But the penalty for following this junk economics must be paid by the indebted victim.

In the wake of austerity, the IMF throws its Number Two punch. The debtor economy must pay by selling off whatever assets the government can find that foreign investors want. For Ukraine, investors want its rich farmland. Monsanto has been leasing its land and would like to buy. But Ukraine has a law against alienating its farmland and agricultural land to foreigners. The IMF no doubt will insist on repeal of this law, along with Ukraine’s dismantling of public regulations against foreign investment.

International finance as war

The Ukraine-IMF debt negotiation shows is why finance has become the preferred mode of geopolitical warfare. Its objectives are the same as war: appropriation of land, raw materials (Ukraine’s gas rights in the Black Sea) and infrastructure (for rent-extracting opportunities) as well as the purchase of banks.

The IMF has begun to look like an office situated in the Pentagon, renting a branch office on Wall Street from Democratic Party headquarters, with the rent paid by Soros. His funds are drawing up a list of assets that he and his colleagues would like to buy from Ukrainian oligarchs and the government they control. The buyout payments for partnership with the oligarchs will not stay in Ukraine, but will be moved quickly to London, Switzerland and New York. The Ukrainian economy will lose the national patrimony with which it emerged from the Soviet Union in 1991, still deeply in debt (mainly to its own oligarchs operating out of offshore banking centers).

Where does this leave European relations with the United States and NATO?

The two futures

A generation ago the logical future for Ukraine and other post-Soviet states promised to be an integration into the German and other West European economies. This seemingly natural complementarity would see the West modernize Russian and other post-Soviet industry and agriculture (and construction as well) to create a self-sufficient and prosperous Eurasian regional power. Foreign Minister Lavrov recently voiced Russia’s hope at the Munich Security Conference for a common Eurasian Union with the European Union extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok. German and other European policy looked Eastward to invest its savings in the post-Soviet states.

This hope was anathema to U.S. neocons, who retain British Victorian geopolitics opposing the creation of any economic power center in Eurasia. That was Britain’s nightmare prior to World War I, and led it to pursue a diplomacy aimed at dividing and conquering continental Europe to prevent any dominant power or axis from emerging.

America started its Ukrainian strategy with the idea of splitting Russia off from Europe, and above all from Germany. In the U.S. playbook is simple: Any economic power is potentially military; and any military power may enable other countries to pursue their own interest rather than subordinating their policy to U.S. political, economic and financial aims. Therefore, U.S. geostrategists view any foreign economic power as a potentially military threat, to be countered before it can gain steam.

We can now see why the EU/IMF austerity plan that Yanukovich rejected made it clear why the United States sponsored last February’s coup in Kiev. The austerity that was called for, the removal of consumer subsidies and dismantling of public services would have led to an anti-West reaction turning Ukraine strongly back toward Russia. The Maidan coup sought to prevent this by making a war scar separating Western Ukraine from the East, leaving the country seemingly no choice but to turn West and lose its infrastructure to the privatizers and neo-rentiers.

But the U.S. plan may lead Europe to seek an economic bridge to Russia and the BRICS, away from the U.S. orbit. That is the diplomatic risk when a great power forces other nations to choose one side or the other.

The silence from Hillary

Having appointed Valery Nuland as a holdover from the Cheney administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the hawks by likening Putin to Hitler. Meanwhile, Soros’s $10 million on donations to the Democratic Party makes him one of its largest donors. The party thus seems set to throw down the gauntlet with Europe over the shape of future geopolitical diplomacy, pressing for a New Cold War.

Hillary’s silence suggests that she knows how unpopular her neocon policy is with voters – but how popular it is with her donors. The question is, will the Republicans agree to not avoid discussing this during the 2016 presidential campaign? If so, what alternative will voters have next year?

This prospect should send shivers down Europe’s back. There are reports that Putin told Merkel and Holland in Minsk last week that Western Europe has two choices. On the one hand, it and Russia can create a prosperous economic zone based on Russia’s raw materials and European technology. Or, Europe can back NATO’s expansion and draw Russia into war that will wipe it out.

German officials have discussed bringing sanctions against Ukraine, not Russia, if it renews the ethnic warfare in its evident attempt to draw Russia in. Could Obama’s neocon strategy backfire, and lose Europe? Will future American historians talk of who lost Europe rather than who lost Russia?

Michael Hudson’s book summarizing his economic theories, “The Bubble and Beyond,” is now available in a new edition with two bonus chapters on Amazon. His latest book is Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents.  He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. He can be reached via his website, mh@michael-hudson.com

Notes.

[1] Fin min hopes Ukraine will get new IMF aid in early March – Interfax, http://research.tdwaterhouse.ca/research/public/Markets/NewsArticle/1664-L5N0VN2DO-1

5:40AM ET on Friday Feb 13, 2015 by Thomson Reuters

[2] “The west needs to rescue the Ukrainian economy,” Financial Times editorial, February 12, 2015.

[3] Elaine Moore, “Contrarian US investor with $7bn of debt stands to lose most if Kiev imposes haircut,” Financial Times, February 12, 2015.

 

West’s agri-giants snap up Ukraine

West’s agri-giants snap up Ukraine

Frederic Mousseau, Asia Times, January 28, 2015

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/CEN-02-280115.html

OAKLAND, United States – At the same time as the United States, Canada and the European Union announced a set of new sanctions against Russia in mid-December last year, Ukraine received US$350 million in US military aid, coming on top of a $1 billion aid package approved by the US Congress in March 2014.

Western governments’ further involvement in the Ukraine conflict signals their confidence in the cabinet appointed by the new overnment earlier in December 2014. This new government is unique given that three of its most important ministries were granted to foreign-born individuals who received Ukrainian citizenship just hours before their appointment.

The Ministry of Finance went to Natalie Jaresko, a US-born and educated businesswoman who has been working in Ukraine since the mid-1990s, overseeing a private equity fund established by the US government to invest in the country. Jaresko is also the CEO of Horizon Capital, an investment firm that administers various Western investments in the country.

As unusual as it may seem, this appointment is consistent with what looks more like a takeover of the Ukrainian economy by Western interests. In two reports – “The Corporate Takeover of Ukrainian Agriculture” and “Walking on the West Side: The World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict” – the Oakland Institute has documented this takeover, particularly in the agricultural sector.

A major factor in the crisis that led to deadly protests and eventually to president Viktor Yanukovych’s removal from office in February 2014 was his rejection of a European Union Association agreement aimed at expanding trade and integrating Ukraine with the EU – an agreement that was tied to a US$17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

After the president’s departure and the installation of a pro-Western government, the IMF initiated a reform program that was a condition of its loan with the goal of increasing private investment in the country.

The package of measures includes reforming the public provision of water and energy, and, more important, attempts to address what the World Bank identified as the “structural roots” of the current economic crisis in Ukraine, notably the high cost of doing business in the country.

The Ukrainian agricultural sector has been a prime target for foreign private investment and is logically seen by the IMF and World Bank as a priority sector for reform. Both institutions praise the new government’s readiness to follow their advice.

For example, the foreign-driven agricultural reform roadmap provided to Ukraine includes facilitating the acquisition of agricultural land, cutting food and plant regulations and controls, and reducing corporate taxes and custom duties.

The stakes around Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector – the world’s third-largest exporter of corn and fifth-largest exporter of wheat – could not be higher. Ukraine is known for its ample fields of rich black soil, and the country boasts more than 32 million hectares of fertile, arable land – the equivalent of one-third of the entire arable land in the European Union.

The maneuvering for control over the country’s agricultural system is a pivotal factor in the struggle that has been taking place over the last year in the greatest East-West confrontation since the Cold War.

The presence of foreign corporations in Ukrainian agriculture is growing quickly, with more than 1.6 million hectares signed over to foreign companies for agricultural purposes in recent years. While Monsanto, Cargill, and DuPont have been in Ukraine for quite some time, their investments in the country have grown significantly over the past few years.

Cargill is involved in the sale of pesticides, seeds and fertilizers and has recently expanded its agricultural investments to include grain storage, animal nutrition and a stake in UkrLandFarming, the largest agribusiness in the country.

Similarly, Monsanto has been in Ukraine for years but has doubled the size of its team over the last three years. In March 2014, just weeks after Yanukovych was deposed, the company invested $140 million in building a new seed plant in Ukraine.

DuPont has also expanded its investments and announced in June 2013 that it too would be investing in a new seed plant in the country.

Western corporations have not just taken control of certain profitable agribusinesses and agricultural activities, they have now initiated a vertical integration of the agricultural sector and extended their grip on infrastructure and shipping.

For instance, Cargill now owns at least four grain elevators and two sunflower seed processing plants used for the production of sunflower oil. In December 2013, the company bought a “25% +1 share” in a grain terminal at the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk with a capacity of 3.5 million tonnes of grain per year.

All aspects of Ukraine’s agricultural supply chain – from the production of seeds and other agricultural inputs to the actual shipment of commodities out of the country – are thus increasingly controlled by Western firms.

European institutions and the US government have actively promoted this expansion. It started with the push for a change of government at a time when president Yanukovych was seen as pro-Russian interests. This was further pushed, starting in February 2014, through the promotion of a “pro-business” reform agenda, as described by the US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker when she met with Prime Minister Arsenly Yatsenyuk in October 2014.

The European Union and the United States are working hand in hand in the takeover of Ukrainian agriculture. Although Ukraine does not allow the production of genetically modified (GM) crops, the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, which ignited the conflict that ousted Yanukovych, includes a clause (Article 404) that commits both parties to cooperate to “extend the use of biotechnologies” within the country.

This clause is surprising given that most European consumers reject GM crops. However, it creates an opening to bring GM products into Europe, an opportunity sought after by large agro-seed companies such as Monsanto.

Opening up Ukraine to the cultivation of GM crops would go against the will of European citizens, and it is unclear how the change would benefit Ukrainians.

It is similarly unclear how Ukrainians will benefit from this wave of foreign investment in their agriculture, and what impact these investments will have on the seven million local farmers.

Once they eventually look away from the conflict in the Eastern “pro-Russian” part of the country, Ukrainians may wonder what remains of their country’s ability to control its food supply and manage the economy to their own benefit.

As for US and European citizens, will they eventually awaken from the headlines and grand rhetoric about Russian aggression and human rights abuses and question their governments’ involvement in the Ukraine conflict?

Frederic Mousseau is Policy Director at the Oakland Institute.

The Rise of German Imperialism and the Phony “Russian Threat”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40412.htm

The Rise of German Imperialism and the Phony “Russian Threat”

By James Petras

December 08, 2014 “ICH” – The principle Nazi ideological prop that secured massive financial and political support from Germany’s leading industrialists was the Communist and Soviet threat.  The main Nazi military drive, absorbing two-thirds of its best troops, was directed eastward at conquering and destroying Russia.  The ‘Russian Threat’ justified Nazi Germany’s conquest and occupation of the Ukraine, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Baltic states, with the aid of a substantial proportion of local Nazi collaborators.

After Germany’s defeat , division  and  disarmament, and with the extension of Soviet power,  the US reinstated the Nazi industrial and banking giants, officials and intelligence operatives. At first they were engaged in rebuilding their domestic economy and consolidating political power, in collaboration with the US military occupation forces.

By the late 1960’s Germany regained economic primacy in Europe and was at the forefront of European ‘integration’, in association with France and England. It soon came to dominate the principle decision – making institutions of the European Union(EU). The EU served as Germany’s instrument for conquest by stealth. Year by year, through ‘aid’ and low interest loans,the EU  facilitated German capitalist’s  market penetration and financial expansion,through out south and central Europe. Germany set the agenda for Western Europe, gaining economic dominance while benefiting from US subversion and encirclement of Eastern Europe, Russia and the Baltic and Balkan states.

Germany’s Great Leap Forward:  The Annexation of East Germany and the Demise of the USSR

Germany’s projection of power on a world scale would never have occurred if it had not annexed East Germany. Despite the West German claims of beneficence and ‘aid’ to the East, the Bonn regime secured several million skilled engineers, workers and technicians, the takeover of factories, productive farms and, most important, the Eastern European and Russian markets for industrial goods, worth  billions of dollars. Germany was transformed from an emerging influential EU partner, into the most dynamic expansionist power in Europe, especially in the former Warsaw Pact economies.

The annexation of East Germany and the overthrow of the Communist governments in the East allowed German capitalists to dominate markets in the former  Eastern bloc. As the major trading partner, it seized control of major industrial enterprises via corrupt privatizations decreed  by the newly installed pro-capitalist client regimes.  As the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgarian, the Baltic States “privatized” and “de-nationalized” strategic economic, trade, media and social service sectors, ‘unified’ Germany was able to resume a privileged place.  As Russia fell into the hands of gangsters, emerging oligarchs and political proxies of western capitalists, its entire industrial infrastructure was decimated and Russia was converted into a giant raw-material export region.

Germany converted its trade relations with Russia from one between equals into a ‘colonial’ pattern:  Germany exported high value industrial products and imported gas, oil and raw materials from Russia.

German power expanded exponentially, with the annexation of the “other Germany”, the restoration of capitalism in Eastern Europe and the ascendancy of client regimes eager and willing to submit to a German dominated European Union and a US directed NATO military command.

German political-economic expansion via ‘popular uprisings’, controlled by local political clients, was soon accompanied by a US led military offensive – sparked by separatist movements. Germany intervened in Yugoslavia, aiding and abetting separatists in Slovenia and Croatia .It backed the US-NATO bombing of Serbia and supported the far-right, self-styled Kosovo Liberation Army ( KLA),engaged in a terrorist war in  Kosovo .  Belgrade was defeated and regime change led to a neo-liberal client state.  The US built the largest military base in Europe in Kosovo. Montenegro and Macedonia became EU satellites.

While NATO expanded and enhanced the US military presence up to Russia’s borders, Germany became the continent’s pre-eminent economic power.

Germany and the New World Order

While President Bush and Clinton were heralding a “new world order”, based on  unipolar military supremacy, Germany advanced its new imperial order by exercising its  political and economic levers.  Each of the two power centers, Germany and the US, shared the common quest of rapidly incorporating the new capitalist regimes into their regional organizations –the European Union (EU) and NATO– and extending their reach globally. Given the reactionary origins and trajectory into vassalage of the Eastern, Baltic and Balkan regimes, and given their political fears of a popular reaction to the loss of employment, welfare and independence resulting from their implementation of savage neoliberal “shock policies”, the client rulers immediately “applied” for membership as subordinate members of the EU and NATO, trading sovereignty, markets and national ownership of the means of production for economic handouts and the ‘free’ movement of labor, an escape valve for the millions of newly unemployed workers.  German and English capital got millions of skilled immigrant workers at below labor market wages, and unimpeded access to markets and resources. The US secured NATO military bases, and recruited military forces for its Middle East and South Asian imperial wars.

US-German military and economic dominance in Europe was premised on retaining Russia as a weak quasi vassal state, and on the continued economic growth of their economies beyond the initial pillage of the ex-communist economies.

For the US, uncontested military supremacy throughout Europe was the springboard for near-time imperial expansion in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and Latin America.  NATO was ‘internationalized’ into an offensive global military alliance: first in Somalia, Afghanistan then Iraq, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine.

The Rise of Russia, The Islamic Resistance and the New Cold War

During the ‘decade of infamy’ (1991-2000) extreme privatization measures by the client rulers in Russia on behalf of EU and US investors and gangster oligarchs, added up to vast pillage of the entire economy, public treasury and national patrimony.  The image and reality of a giant prostrate vassal state unable to pursue an independent foreign policy, and incapable of providing the minimum semblance of a modern functioning economy and maintaining the rule of law, became the defining view of Russia by the EU and the USA. Post-communist Russia, a failed state by any measure, was dubbed a “liberal democracy” by every western capitalist politician and so it was repeated by all their mass media acolytes.

The fortuitous rise of Vladimir Putin and the gradual replacement of some of the most egregious ‘sell-out’ neo-liberal officials, and most important, the reconstruction of the Russian state with a proper budget and functioning national institutions, was immediately perceived as a threat to US military supremacy and German economic expansion.  Russia’s transition from Western vassalage to regaining its status as a sovereign independent state set in motion, an aggressive counter-offensive by the US-EU. They financed a neo-liberal-oligarchy backed political opposition in an attempt to restore Russia to vassalage via street demonstrations and elections. Their efforts  to oust Putin and re-establish Western vassal state failed. What worked in 1991 with Yeltsin’s power grab against Gorbachev was ineffective against Putin. The vast majority of Russians did not want a return to the decade of infamy.

In the beginning of the new century, Putin and his team set new ground-rules, in which oligarchs could retain their illicit wealth and conglomerates, providing they didn’t use their economic levers to seize state power.  Secondly, Putin revived and restored the scientific technical, military, industrial and cultural institutions and centralized trade and investment decisions within a wide circle of public and private decision makers not beholden to Western policymakers.  Thirdly, he began to assess and rectify the breakdown of Russian security agencies particularly with regard to the threats emanating from Western sponsored ‘separatist’ movements in the Caucuses, especially, in Chechnya, and the onset of US backed ‘color revolutions’ in the Ukraine and Georgia.

At first, Putin optimistically assumed that, Russia being a capitalist state, and without any competing ideology, the normalization and stabilization of the Russian state would be welcomed by the US and the EU.  He even envisioned that they would accept Russia  as an economic, political, and even NATO partner.   Putin even made overtures to join and co-operate with NATO and the EU.  The West did not try to dissuade Putin of his illusions .In fact they encouraged him, even as they escalated their backing for Putin’s internal opposition and prepared a series of imperial wars and sanctions in the Middle East, targeting traditional Russian allies in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

As the ‘internal’ subversive strategy failed to dislodge President Putin, and the Russian state prevailed over the neo-vassals, the demonization of Putin became constant and shrill. The West moved decisively to an ‘outsider strategy’, to isolate, encircle and undermine the Russian state by undermining allies, and trading partners

US and Germany Confront Russia:  Manufacturing the “Russian Threat”

Russia was enticed to support US and NATO wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya in exchange for the promise of deeper integration into Western markets.  The US and EU accepted Russian co-operation, including military supply routes and bases, for their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The NATO powers secured Russian support of sanctions against Iran. They exploited Russia’s naïve support of a “no fly zone” over Libya to launch a full scale aerial war. The US financed  so-called “color revolutions” in Georgia and the Ukraine  overt, a dress rehearsal for the putsch in 2014  Each violent seizure of power allowed NATO to impose anti-Russian rulers eager and willing to serve as vassal states to Germany and the US.

Germany spearheaded the European imperial advance in the Balkans and  Moldavia, countries with strong economic ties to Russia.  High German officials “visited” the Balkans to bolster their ties with vassal regimes in Slovenia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Croatia.  Under German direction, the European Union ordered  the vassal Bulgarian regime of Boyko “the booby” Borisov to block the passage of  Russian owned South Stream pipeline to Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and beyond.  The Bulgarian state lost $400 million in annual revenue . . .  Germany and the US bankrolled pro-NATO and EU client politicians in Moldavia – securing the election of Iurie Leanca as Prime Minister.  As a result of Leanca’s slavish pursuit of EU vassalage, Moldavia lost $150 million in exports to Russia.  Leanca’s pro-EU policies go counter to the views of most Moldavians – 57% see Russia as the country’s most important economic partner.  Nearly 40% of the Moldavian working age population works in Russia and 25% of the Moldavians’ $8 billion GDP is accounted for by overseas remittances.

German and the US empire-builders steamroll over dissenting voices in Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia, as well as Moldova and Bulgaria, who’s economy and population suffer from the impositions of the blockade of  the Russian gas and oil pipeline.  But Germany’s, all out economic warfare against Russia takes precedent over the interests of its vassal states: its theirs to sacrifice for the ‘Greater Good’ of the emerging German economic empire and the US – NATO military encirclement of Russia. The extremely crude dictates of German imperial interests articulated through the EU, and the willingness of Balkan and Baltic regimes to sacrifice fundamental economic interests, are the best indicators of the emerging German empire in Europe.

Parallel to Germany’s rabid anti-Russian economic campaign, the US via NATO is engaged in a vast military build-up along the length and breadth of Russia’s frontier.  The US stooge, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg, boasts that over the current year, NATO has increased 5-fold the warplanes and bombers patrolling Russian maritime and land frontiers, carried out military exercises every two days and vastly increased the number of war ships in the Baltic and Black Sea.

Conclusion

What is absolutely clear is that the US and Germany want to return Russia to the vassalage status of the 1990’s.  They do not want ‘normal relations’. From the moment Putin moved to restore the Russian state and economy, the Western powers have engaged in a series of political and military interventions, eliminating Russian allies, trading partners and independent states.

The emergent of extremist, visceral anti-Russian regimes in Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania served as the forward shield for NATO advancement and German economic encroachment.  Hitler’s ‘dream’ of realizing the conquest of the East via unilateral military conquest has now under Prime Minister Merkel taken the form of conquest by stealth in Northern and Central Europe, by economic blackmail in the Balkans, and by violent putsches in the Ukraine and  Georgia.

The German economic ruling class is divided between the dominant pro-US sector that is willing to sacrifice lucrative trade with Russia today in hopes of dominating and pillaging the entire economy in a post-Putin Russia (dominated by ‘reborn Yeltsin clones’); and a minority industrial sector, which wants to end sanctions and return to normal economic relations with Russia.

Germany is fearful that its client rulers in the East, especially in the Balkans are vulnerable to a popular upheaval due to the economic sacrifices they impose on the population. Hence, Germany is wholly in favor of the new NATO rapid deployment force, ostensibly designed to counter a non-existent “Russian threat” but in reality to prop up faltering vassal regimes.

The ‘Russian Threat’, the ideology driving the US and German offensive throughout Europe and the Caucuses, is a replay of the same doctrine which Hitler used to secure support from domestic industrial bankers, conservatives and right wing overseas collaborators among extremists in Ukraine, Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria.

The US-EU seizure of power via vassal political clients backed by corrupt oligarchs and Nazi street fighters in Ukraine detonated the current crisis. Ukraine power grab posed a top security threat to the very existence of Russia as an independent state.  After the Kiev take-over, NATO moved its stooge regime in Kiev forward to militarily eliminate the independent regions in the Southeast and seize the Crimea .thus totally eliminating Russia’s strategic position in the Black Sea. Russia the victim of the NATO power grab was labelled the “aggressor”. The entire officialdom and mass media echoed the Big Lie. Two decades of US NATO military advances on Russia’s borders and German-EU economic expansion into Russian markets were obfuscated.  Ukraine is the most important strategic military platform from which the US-NATO can launch an attack on the Russian heartland and the single largest market for Germany since the annexation of East Germany

The US and Germany see the Ukraine conquest as of extreme value in itself but also as the key to launching an all-out offensive to strangle Russia’s economy via sanctions and dumping oil and to militarily threaten Russia. The strategic goal is to reduce the Russian population to poverty and to re-activate the quasi-moribund opposition  to overthrow the Putin government and return Russia to permanent vassalage. The US and German imperial elite, looking beyond Russia, believe that if they control Russia, they can encircle ,isolate and attack China from the West as well as the East.

Wild-eyed fanatics they are not.  But as rabid proponents of a permanent war to end Russia’s presence in Europe and to undermine China’s emergence as a world power, they are willing to go to the brink of a nuclear war.

The ideological centerpiece of US-German imperial expansion and conquest in Europe and the Caucuses is the “Russian Threat”.  It is the touchstone defining adversaries and allies.  Countries that do not uphold sanctions are targeted.  The mass media repeat the lie.  The “Russian Threat” has become the war cry for cringing vassals – the phony justification for imposing frightful sacrifices to serve their imperial ‘padrones’ in Berlin and Washington –  fearing the rebellion of the ‘sacrificed’ population.  No doubt, under siege, Russia will be forced to make sacrifices.  The oligarchs will flee westward; the liberals will crawl under their beds.  But just as the Soviets turned the tide of war in Stalingrad, the Russian people, past the first two years of a bootstrap operation will survive, thrive and become once again a beacon of hope to all  people looking to get from under the tyranny of US-NATO militarism and German-EU economic dictates.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

Germany’s DW Reports ISIS Supply Lines Originate in NATO’s Turkey

Germany’s DW Reports ISIS Supply Lines Originate in NATO’s Turkey

November 28, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci -LD) Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) published a video report of immense implications – possibly the first national broadcaster in the West to admit that the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) is supplied not by “black market oil” or “hostage ransoms” but billions of dollars worth of supplies carried into Syria across NATO member Turkey’s borders via hundreds of trucks a day.

The report titled, “‘IS’ supply channels through Turkey,” confirms what has been reported by geopolitical analysts since at least as early as 2011 – that NATO member Turkey has allowed a torrent in supplies, fighters, and weapons to cross its borders unopposed to resupply ISIS positions inside of Syria

In one surreal scene from the DW report, anti-Syria terrorists are seen walking across the border and literally shot dead just on the other side by Kurdish fighters.

Local residents and merchants interviewed by Germany’s DW admitted that commerce with Syria benefiting them had ended since the conflict began and that the supplies trucks carry as they stream across the border originates from “western Turkey.” The DW report does not elaborate on what “western Turkey” means, but it most likely refers to Ankara, various ports used by NATO, and of course NATO’s Incirlik Air Base.

While DW’s report claims no one knows who is arranging the shipments, it does reveal that the very torrent of trucks its film crew documented was officially denied by the Turkish government in Ankara. It is a certainty that Turkey is not only aware of this, but directly complicit, as is NATO who has feigned a desire to defeat ISIS but has failed to expose and uproot ISIS’ multinational sponsorship and more importantly, has refused to cut its supply lines – an elementary prerequisite of any military strategy.

ISIS Menace Was NATO All Along

Image: Even by looking at the Western media’s maps of ISIS’ territorial
holdings it is obvious it is not a militant force springing up in Syria or Iraq but
rather an invasion force originating from NATO territory.
ISIS supply lines leading from NATO territory should be of no surprise.

As reported since as early as 2007, the US and its regional accomplices conspired to use Al Qaeda and other armed extremists in a bid to reorder North Africa and the Middle East. It would be Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” that explicitly stated (emphasis added):
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Of course, these “extremist groups” who “espouse a militant vision of Islam” and are “sympathetic to Al Qaeda,” describe the “Islamic State” verbatim. ISIS constitutes NATO’s mercenary expeditionary force, ravaging its enemies by proxy from Libya in North Africa to Lebanon and Syria in the Levant, to Iraq and even to the borders of Iran. Its seemingly inexhaustible supply of weapons, cash, and fighters can only be explained by multinational state sponsorship and safe havens provided by NATO ISIS’ enemies – primarily Syria, Hezbollah, Iran, and Iraq – cannot strike. DW’s report specifically notes how ISIS terrorists regularly flee certain demise in Syria by seeking safe haven in Turkey.

One of NATO’s primary goals since as early as 2012, was to use various pretexts to expand such safe havens, or “buffer zones,” into Syrian territory itself, protected by NATO military forces from which “rebels” could operate. Had they succeeded, DW camera crews would probably be filming convoys staging in cities like Idlib and Allepo instead of along Turkey’s border with Syria.

With the documented conspiracy of the US and its allies to create a sectarian mercenary force aligned to Al Qaeda, the so-called “moderate rebels” the US has openly backed in Syria now fully revealed as sectarian extremists, and now with DW documenting a torrent of supplies originating in Turkey, it is clear that the ISIS menace NATO poses as the solution to, was in fact NATO all along. What is  revealed is a foreign policy so staggeringly insidious, few are able to believe it, even with international broadcasters like DW showing ISIS’ supply lines leading from NATO territory itself.

Libya Then and Now: An Overview of NATO’s Handiwork

http://www.globalresearch.ca/libya-then-and-now-an-overview-of-natos-handiwork/5415563

Libya Then and Now: An Overview of NATO’s Handiwork

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, November 22, 2014
New Dawn Magazine

In 2011, as the entire world watched the Arab Spring in amazement, the US and its allies, predominately working under the banner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), militarily overran the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

The peaceful civilian protesters they claimed to be intervening to protect were not really what the US and its cohorts presented to the world. Many of these so-called “protesters” were armed, and when this became apparent they eventually began to portray themselves as “rebel forces.” These so-called “rebels” in Libya were not a military force that emerged spontaneously for the most part, but an insurgency movement cultivated and organised before any opposition activities were even reported in Libya.

Victims of NATO bombings. May  2011

After Libya’s rapprochement with the US and the European Union, it was unthinkable to many that Washington and any of its allies could even have been preparing to topple the Libyan government. Business and trade ties between Libya and the US, Britain, Italy, France, Spain, and Turkey had bloomed since 2003 after Colonel Muammar Qadhafi opted for cooperation with Washington. No one imagined that Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi’s “New Libya” with its neo-liberalism could be on a collision course with NATO.

Yet, the US and its EU partners for several years made preparations for taking over Libya. They had infiltrated the Jamahiriya’s government, security and intelligence sectors. Longstanding imperialist objectives existing since the Second World War, aimed at dividing Libya into three colonial territories, were taken out of government filing cabinets in Washington, London, Paris and Rome, and circulated at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

In league with these colonial plans, the US and its allies had been cultivating ties with different members of the Libyan opposition and had always reserved the option of using these opposition figures for regime change in Tripoli. Putting together their colonial designs and mobilising their agents, the US and its allies began organising the stage for establishing the Transitional National Council (TNC) – simply called the Transitional Council – and similar bodies to govern Libya as its new puppet leadership. The British and French even held joint invasion exercises months before the Libyan conflict erupted with the Arab Spring in 2011, while various intelligence services and foreign military commandos from NATO and GCC countries were also on the ground in Libya helping to prepare for the destabilisation of the North African country and the toppling of the Jamahiriya’s government and institutions.

Realities have been turned upside down and the victims were grossly portrayed as the aggressors in the conflict. While the Transitional Council’s forces, augmented by mercenaries and foreign fighters, were torturing, raping, and murdering civilians and those that were standing in their way with the aid of NATO and the GCC, Muammar Qadhafi was inflexibly and exclusively blamed for all the violence inside Libya. Nor were the atrocities an exclusively Libyan versus Libyan matter. During the conflict, NATO committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity in its effort to overrun and control the North African country. Not only did foreign journalists help justify and sustain the war, but they played major roles in assisting NATO’s war effort by passing on information about Libyan targets and checkpoint locations to the Jamahiriya’s enemies. The war, however, did not go as planned and Libyan resistance proved far stronger than the Pentagon and NATO initially imagined.

In the course of the confrontation and at the international level, a series of human rights organisations and think-tanks were utilised for preparing the stage for the conflict in Libya and the toppling of its government. These organisations were mostly part of a network that had been working to establish the mechanisms for justifying interventionism and creating the net of individuals and public faces needed for creating a proxy government in Libya in the false name of “democracy.” When the time came, these bodies coordinated with the NATO powers and the mainstream media in the project to isolate, castrate, and subjugate the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. These so-called human rights organisations and the mainstream media networks worked together to propagate lies about African mercenaries, Libyan military jet attacks on civilians, and civilian massacres by Muammar Qadhafi’s regime.

International news networks extensively quoted these human rights organisations in what would amount to a self-fuelled cycle of misinformation, while the same human rights organisations continued to make claims on the basis of the media’s reports. In other words, each side fed the other. It was this web of lies that was presented at the Human Rights Council in the United Nations Office at Geneva and then handed to the United Nations Security Council in New York City as the basis for the war in Libya. These lies were accepted without any investigation being launched by the United Nations or any other international bodies. Any Libyan requests for international investigation teams were ignored. It was from this point onward that NATO used the UN Security Council to launch its war of aggression against Libya under the pretext of protecting civilians and enforcing a no-fly zone over the Arab country. Although not officially accepted by the United Nations Security Council, the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine was being showcased as a new paradigm for military intervention by NATO.

All known advocates of Pentagon militarism and global empire demanded this war take place, including Paul Wolfowitz, John McCain, Joseph Lieberman, Elliott Abrahams, Leon Wieseltier, John Hannah, Robert Kagan, and William Kristol. The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the neo-conservative crowd was the realist foreign policy camp in Washington. The entire US establishment lined up to pick off Tripoli and reduce it a weak and divided African protectorate.

Libya & the New “Scramble” for Africa

To put NATO’s war in Libya within the framework of historic analysis, one only needs to be reminded that the main thrust of the sudden physical European colonisation of Africa, called the “Scramble for Africa,” started when an economic recession originally called the “Great Depression,” but in retrospect renamed as the “Long Depression,” hit much of Europe and North America from roughly 1873 to 1893. In this period the entire tempo of Western European contact with African nations transformed.

Prior to this economic recession, Western European companies and enterprises were content dealing with African leaders and recognising their authority. Few Western European colonies in Africa had existed aside from a few coastal strips based on strategically-placed trading posts in Sierra Leone and Lagos in the possession of Britain; Mozambique and Angola in the possession of Portugal; and Senegal in the possession of France. At this time the biggest external force in Africa was the Ottoman Empire, which was beginning its long decline as a great power.

Even with Western European colonial incursions into Africa by Britain, France, and Portugal, most of the African continent was still free of external or alien control. Intensified European economic rivalries and the recession in Western Europe, however, would change this. Britain would lose its edge as the world’s most industrialised nation as the industrial sectors of the USA, France and Germany all began to increasingly challenge British manufacturers. As a result of the recession and increased business rivalries, the corporations of Western European countries began to push their respective governments to adopt protectionist practices and to directly intervene in Africa to protect the commercial interests of these corporations. The logic behind this colonial push or “scramble” was that these Western European governments would secure large portions of Africa as export markets and for resource imports for these corporations alone, while these African territories would effectively be closed off to economic rivals. Thus, a whole string of Western European conquest began in Africa to secure ivory, fruits, copal (gum), cloves, beeswax, honey, coffee, peanuts, cotton, precious metals, and rubber.

Although appropriating Libya’s financial and material wealth were objectives of the NATO war in 2011, the broader objectives of the criminal war were part of the struggle to control the African continent and its vast wealth. The “Scramble for Africa” was repeating itself. Just like the first time, recession and economic rivalries were tied to this new round of colonial conquest in the African continent.

The emergence of Asia as the new global centre of gravity, at the expense of the nations of the North Atlantic in North America and Western Europe, has also primed the United States and its allies to start an endeavour to close Africa off from the People’s Republic of China and the emerging centres of power in Russia, India, Brazil, and Iran. This is why the Pentagon’s United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM/AFRICOM) played a major role in the war.

The London Conference on Libya, where the Libya Contact Group was formed on 29 March 2011, was a modern version of the Berlin Conference of 1884, which attempted to solidify the gains made by European colonial powers in their first rush to control African societies and territory. The Istanbul Conference on Libya, where the Libya Contact Group met for the fourth time on 15 July 2011, was virtually a declaration of the intentions of the US and these countries to appropriate Libya’s vast wealth. This is a template for usurping the wealth of other countries in Africa and beyond. In this regard, the Transitional Council has served as nothing more than a proxy that was designed to help embezzle Libya’s vast wealth.

Moreover, Libya had to be neutralised in line with the intentions of this project to reclaim Africa, because of Qadhafi’s pan-African ambitions to unify the African continent under Libyan leadership. Libya and its development and political projects were effectively erecting a barrier to the re-colonisation of the African continent. In this regard, the war was launched by “Operation Odyssey Dawn.” This name is very revealing. It identifies the strategic intent and direction of the campaign in Libya. ‘The Odyssey’ is an ancient Greek epic by the poet Homer that recounts the voyage and trails of the hero Odysseus of Ithaca on his voyage home. The main theme here is the ‘return home’. In other words, the military assault’s codename meant that countries like the US, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Turkey were on their own odyssey of ‘return’ into Africa.

The Crown of Africa

Libya is a lucrative prize of massive economic value. It has immense oil and gas resources, vast amounts of underground water from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, important trade routes, substantial foreign investments, and large amounts of liquid capital. Up until 2011, Libya was blessed with a rare gift in regard to its national revenue in that it saved a significant amount. In fact Libya possessed more than US$150 billion in overseas financial assets and had one of the largest sovereign investment funds in the world at the start of 2011.

Until the conflict in Libya ignited, there was a very large foreign work force in the Jamahiriya. Thousands of foreign workers from every corner of the globe went to Libya for employment. This included nationals from places like the Philippines, Turkey, sub-Saharan Africa, China, Latin America, Belarus, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and every corner of the Arab world. For years, these jobs inside Libya were an important source of economic remittances in the cases of some African economies, such as Niger. Moreover, many foreign workers from places like the Philippines and Italy even chose to make their lives in Libya and open their own local businesses.

Before the NATO war, Libyan society had come a long way since 1951 when it became an independent African country. In 1975, the political scientist Henri Habib described Libya on the dawn of its independence as a backward country saying: “When Libya was granted its independence by the United Nations on December 24, 1951, it was described as one of the poorest and most backward nations of the world. The population at the time was not more than 1.5 million, was over 90% illiterate, and had no political experience or knowhow. There were no universities, and only a limited number of high schools which had been established seven years before independence.”

According to Habib, the state of poverty in Libya was the result of the yoke of Ottoman domination followed by an era of European imperialism in Libya that started with the Italians. He explained that, “[e]very effort was made to keep the Arab inhabitants [of Libya] in a servile position rendering them unable to make any progress for themselves or their nation.” This colonial yoke, however, began its decline in 1943 after Italy and Germany were defeated in North Africa during the Second World War.

In 1959 Libya’s oil reserves were discovered. Despite political mismanagement and corruption, since 1969 these Libyan oil reserves were used to improve the standard of living for the country’s population. In addition to the revenue from Libyan energy reserves, the Libyan government played an important role in maintaining Libya’s high living standards. Although never fully nationalised, Libya’s oil would only, in progressive steps, fall under the control of Libyans after the 1969 coup against the Libyan monarchy by Qadhafi and a group of young military officers. Before 1969 most of the country’s oil wealth was actually not being used to serve the general public. Under Qadhafi’s leadership this changed and the National Oil Company was founded on 12 November 1970.

To a certain extent the isolation of Libya in the past as a pariah state played a role in insulating Libya economically and maintaining its standards of living. From an economic standpoint, most of the Arab world and Africa have become globalised as components of an integrated network of regional economies tied to the United States and the European Union. Libyan integration into this global economic system was delayed because of the past political isolation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya when Washington, London, and Paris were openly at odds with Tripoli.

Despite having vast sums of money stolen and squandered by Qadhafi’s family and their officials, social services and benefits, such as government housing and numerous subsidies, were available to the Libyan population. It has to be cautioned too that the apparatus of a modern welfare state does not mean that neo-liberal restructuring and poverty were not afoot in Libya, because they very much were. What this means is that economics was not the driving force for the internal dimension of the fighting in Libya. For years, up until 2011, Libya had the highest standards of living in Africa and one of the highest in the Arab world. There is an old Libyan proverb, “if your pocket becomes empty, your faults will be many.” In this regard, Libya’s faults were not many in economic terms.

In 2008, Libya had protests that were reportedly caused by unemployment. Most protests in Libya from 2003 to 2011, however, did not have any real economic dimension dominated by breadbasket issues. This set the Jamahiriya apart from Arab countries like Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan where breadbasket issues were important factors behind the protests that erupted during the same period in 2011. This, of course, does not mean the protest movements in the latter Arab countries were strictly the result of breadbasket issues and economics either. Demands for personal freedoms and backlashes against corruption were major motivating factors behind the fuelling of public anger in all these Arab states. In Libya, if anything, the frustration tied to the rampant corruption rooted amongst Jamahiriya authorities and officials had created shifting tides of resentment towards the government.

As briefly mentioned, Libya also has vast amounts of underground water stored in the ancient Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, which is situated under the territories of Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. Libya and Egypt hold the largest shares of this water source. In a joint initiative, called the Nubian Aquifer Project, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the financial organisation Global Environment Facility (GEF), have all worked with the governments of these four African countries to study this vast source of underground water beneath the Sahara Desert. Using isotopes, the IAEA three-dimensionally mapped the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.

In the Jamahiriya, the Great Man-Made River Project was initiated under the orders of Colonel Qadhafi followed by the establishment of the Great Man-Made River Authority in 1983 to exploit the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System for the benefit of Libya and the other regional countries in the Sahara and the Sahel regions. The project was domestically funded mostly by taxes on fuel, tobacco, and international travel, with the remainder of funding provided directly by the Libyan state. Up until 2008 the Libyan government had spent about US$19.6 billion dollars on the water project.

According to the Isotope Hydrology Section of the IAEA, the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System is the world’s largest fossil aquifer system and will be “the biggest and in some cases the only future source of water to meet growing demands and development” amongst Chad, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan. As fresh water supplies become limited globally, it was forecast Libya’s water supplies will be of greater value domestically and regionally. Huge water multinationals in the US, France and elsewhere were salivating at the idea of privatising Libyan fresh water and controlling the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System.

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) had shares and invested in major international corporations such as oil giant British Petroleum (BP), the world’s largest aluminium producer United Company RUSAL in Russia, the US conglomerate General Electric (GE), the Italian bank and financial giant UniCredit, the Italian oil corporation Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (ENI), the German engineering and electronic conglomerate Siemens, the German electricity and gas company Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), British publishing giant Pearson, and British telecommunications giant Vodafone (UK). Libya had purchased Exxon Mobil’s subsidiary in the Kingdom of Morocco, Mobil Oil Maroc, and bought half of Kenya’s oil refinery. The LIA bought all of Royal Dutch Shell’s service stations in Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Sudan in 2008. Tripoli announced in the same year that it was buying a major share of Circle Oil, an international hydrocarbon exploration company with operations in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. A Libyan agreement was also made with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to build a pipeline in the western part of its territory. Large investments were made by Libya in agricultural, industrial and service projects in Africa from Egypt and Niger to Mali and Tunisia.

In 2008 Goldman Sachs was given US$1.3 billion dollars by the Libyan Investment Authority. In unfathomable terms, Goldman Sachs told the Libyans that 98% of their investment was lost overnight, which means the Libyans lost almost all the money they gave Goldman Sachs. To Tripoli and other observers it was clear Goldman Sachs had merely appropriated the Libyan investment as a cash injection, because it needed the funds due to the global financial crisis. Afterwards, Jamahiriya officials and Goldman Sachs executives tried negotiating a settlement under which Goldman Sachs would give Tripoli huge shares in the Wall Street financial giant. These negotiations between Libya and Goldman Sachs for a settlement finally ended in 2009 with both sides failing to agree on a formula to replace the Libyan money that Goldman Sachs had effectively appropriated from Tripoli.

Goldman Sachs was not alone in filching Libyan investment funds: Société Générale S.A., Carlyle Group, J.P. Morgan Chase, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, and Lehman Brothers Holdings were also all in possession of vast Libyan investments and funds. In one way or another, NATO’s war on Libya and the freeze of Libyan financial assets profited them all. They and their governments were also not happy with Qadhafi’s ideas and proposal to the United Nations that the former colonial powers owed Africa almost US$800 trillion dollars.

The fact that Libya happened to be a rich country was one of its crimes in 2011. Oil, finance, economics, and Libyan natural resources were always tempting prizes for the United States and its allies. These things were the spoils of war in Libya. While Libyan energy reserves and geopolitics played major roles in launching the 2011 war, it was also waged in part to appropriate Tripoli’s vast financial holdings and to supplement and maintain the crumbling financial hegemony of Wall Street and other financial centres. Wall Street could not allow Tripoli to be debt-free, to continue accumulating international financial possessions, and to be a creditor nation giving international loans and investing funds in other countries, particularly in Africa. Thus, major banks in the United States and the European Union, like the giant multinational oil conglomerates, had major roles and interests in the NATO war on Tripoli.

An Overview of the African Geopolitics of the War on Libya

NATO’s operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya have helped erode Libyan political unity, which has had clear implications for the North African country’s spatial unity and all the nations bordering Libya. Libya and its region have been destabilised. The domino effect can clearly be seen at work in Niger, Mali, and the Central African Republic where there has been fighting as a result, at least in part, of the NATO war on Libya.

Within a strictly African context, Libya sits at an important geographic point. The country is a geographic gateway into Africa and connects the northeast and northwest sections of the continent. Libya’s national territory falls within the Sahara and Sahel regions and events in Libya directly influence Sudan, Egypt and the regions of the Maghreb, West Africa, and Central Africa. Libya is also one of the states that provide access to the open sea for landlocked Chad and Niger. Aside from Tunisia, all of the countries on Libya’s borders touch and connect the bulk of Africa’s regions with the exception of the southern region of the continent. Casting out the Tunisian Republic, these bordering African states are Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, and Algeria. Libya’s position is very special in this regard and this territorial embrace with these other large African states bordering multiple countries and regions is very important and would be pivotal if the Libyan project to connect the continent through a north to south and east to west transportation and trade corridor were to be developed fully.

From a socio-cultural standpoint, Libya has tribal and cultural ties to all of the bordering countries. Ethnic differences in Libya exist too, but are minor in degree. Libyans predominately consider themselves to be Arabs. The largest Libyan minority are the Berbers, which can roughly be divided into northern groups and southern groups. There was always awareness that tribalism in Libya, if given antagonistic political connotations, could be a very dangerous thing for Libya and the bordering countries. The tribes that Libyans belong go beyond Libyan borders and form a chain in an overlapping tribal network extending all the way from Niger into Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Tribal fighting in Libya could destabilise countries like Senegal and Mali in West Africa, Chad in Central Africa, Algeria in North Africa, and Sudan in East Africa. It is in this context that NATO powers began speaking about an Arab-Berber divide in North Africa in 2011. Regime change in Tripoli has left a political vacuum where politics has fuelled tribalism and regionalism in Libya, which is now warily watched by all of the countries bordering Libya and affecting them.

“A New Beginning” in Cairo: Obama’s attempts to Manipulate Islam

Identity politics and faith have also wound up as factors in the competing exchange of geopolitical currents governing the sea of events surrounding Libya. The questions of what is a Libyan and what is an ethnic Arab have been superimposed as factors in the war on the Jamahiriya as a means of attacking the pan-African movement and separating Libya, and North Africa in broader terms, from the rest of Africa. Faith and religiosity have also been mounted as dynamics that are being sought as geopolitical tools and weapons of influence.

President Barack Hussein Obama was elected by tapping into the hopes of the US public and presenting himself as a “prince of peace” and “messiah of hope.” Amongst his elegant speeches, he claimed to have a desire to reengage with the so-called Muslim World. Since 2009 Obama has consistently tried to utilise what he sees as both his African and Muslim credentials on the basis of having a Kenyan father who was a Muslim, to present himself as a “Son of Africa” and as someone sympathetic to Muslims. As part of his outreach to Muslims, President Obama gave a highly promoted speech at Cairo University on 4 June 2009. Obama’s presidential speech was named “A New Beginning” and was supposedly meant to repair the damages in the relationship between the US and the so-called Muslim World. The speech is described as such by the White House:

“On June 4, 2009 in Cairo, Egypt, President Obama proposed a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. Specifically, the President said that the U.S. would seek a more comprehensive engagement with Muslim-majority countries, countries with significant Muslim populations, and their people by expanding partnerships in areas like education, economic development, science and technology, and health, among others, while continuing to work together to address issues of common concern.”

Many people in predominantly Muslim states were fooled by his pledges of peace and mutual respect. In his actions, Barack Obama proved to be no less of a war hawk than his predecessors in the Oval Office. His Cairo speech was significant because it actually marked the start of a new campaign by the US to geopolitically use Muslims and their hopes and aspirations. In the same timeframe as his speech, the US State Department began to engage with the Muslim Brotherhood and even prior to the speech asked for members to attend Cairo University to hear him.Almost as if foreshadowing the coming of the so-called Arab Spring, the speech in Cairo’s fourth point was about the rise of democracy and the instability of regimes suppressing democratic values. Many of the organisations and figures that became involved in the Arab Spring and supportive of the war in Libya would all hasten to Obama’s calls for a “New Beginning.” Amongst them was Aly (Ali) Abuzaakouk, who helped found the Transitional Council.

From Jakarta, Indonesia, in late-2010, Obama would go on with his themes of engagement with the Muslim World and speak about democracy, faith, and economic development in his second speech addressing Muslims. From that point on Al-Qaeda faded from the spotlight of US foreign policy and, well into the upheavals of the Arab Spring, the US worked to put the ghost of Osama bin Laden to rest by declaring in statements that were altered several times that the Al-Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan by a team of CIA agents and US Navy commandos on 2 May 2010. What this all amounted to was the preparations for the fielding of US agents amongst opposition groups in the predominately Muslim countries of the Arab world and an attempt to subordinate the faith of Islam as a tool of US foreign policy by using fighters and proxy political parties that used the banner of Islam. Thus, Washington’s alliance with deviant militant groups claiming to fight under the banner of Islam was rekindled in 2011. This alliance manifested itself in the fighting in Libya and later further east on the shores of the Mediterranean in Syria and Lebanon.

Libya Now: Destitute, Divided, & in Conflict

The historic project to divide Libya dates back to 1943 and 1951. It started with failed attempts to establish a trusteeship over Libya after the defeat of Italy and Germany in North Africa during the Second World War. The attempts to divide Libya then eventually resulted in a strategy that forced a monarchical federal system onto the Libyans similar to that established over Iraq following the illegal 2003 Anglo-American invasion. If the Libyans had not accepted federalism in their relatively homogenous society they could have forfeited their independence in 1951.

During the Second World War the Libyans aided and allowed Britain to enter their country to fight the Italians and the Germans. Benghazi fell to British military control on 20 November 1942, and Tripoli on 23 January 1943. Despite its promises to allow Libya to become an independent country, London intended to administer the two Libyan provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica separately as colonies, with Paris to be given control over the region of Fezzan, which is roughly one-third of Libya, the area to the southwest of the country bordering Algeria, Niger, and Chad (see map on page 60). Following the end of the Second World War, the victors and Italy attempted to partition Libya into territories that they would govern as trust territories. The American, British, French, and Soviet governments referred the matter to the UN General Assembly on 15 September 1945. There, the British and the Italians made a last-ditch proposal on 10 May 1949, called the Bevin-Sfora Plan for Libya, to have Libyan territory divided into an Italian-controlled Tripolitania, a British-controlled Cyrenaica, and a French-ruled Fezzan. This failed because of the crucial single vote of Haiti, which opposed the partition of Libya.

The British then turned to King Idris to softly balkanise Libya through the establishment of a federal emirate. A National Assembly controlled by King Idris and an unelected small circle of Libyan chieftains was to be imposed. This type of federalist system was unacceptable to most Libyans as it was intended to be a means of sidestepping the will of the Libyan people. The elected representatives from the heavily populated region of Tripolitania would be outweighed by the unelected chieftains from Cyrenaica and Fezzan.

This did not sit well with many Arab nationalists. Cairo was extremely critical of what the US and its allies were trying to do and called it diplomatic deceit. Nevertheless, even with the opposition of most Libyans, federalism was imposed on Libya in 1951 by Idris. Libyans popularly viewed this as Anglo-French treachery. Idris was forced to abolish the federalist system for a unitary system on 27 April 1963.

The imperialist project to divide Libya was never abandoned; it was just temporarily shelved by different foreign ministries in the Western bloc and NATO capitals. In March 2011, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. testified to the US Senate Armed Services Committee that at the end of the conflict in Libya, the North African country would revert to its previous monarchical federalist divisions and that it would have two or three different administrations. NATO’s Supreme Commander, Admiral Stravridis, also told the US Senate Armed Services Committee in the same month that Libyan tribal differences would be amplified as the NATO war carried on. There were even multilateral discussions held about dividing the country, but the exact lines were never completely agreed upon and negotiations kept on waxing and waning with the frontlines in the desert and mountains.

US plans to topple the Libyan government that were put together in 1982 by the US National Security Council under the Reagan Administration were also revised or renovated for NATO’s war in 2011. One can clearly see how these plans played out through the dual use of an insurgency and military attack. According to Joseph Stanik, the US plans involved simultaneous war and support for CIA-controlled opposition groups that would entail “a number of visible and covert actions designed to bring significant pressure to bear on Qadhafi.” To execute the US plan, Washington would first have to encourage a conflict using the countries around Libya “to seek a casus belli for military action” while they would take care of the logistical needs of CIA-controlled opposition groups that would launch a sabotage campaign against the economy, infrastructure, and government of Libya. The code name for these secret plans was “Flower.” In the words of Stanik:

“The NSC restricted access to the top-secret plans to about two-dozen officials. Flower contained two subcomponents: “Tulip” and “Rose.” Tulip was the code name for the CIA covert operation designed to overthrow Qadhafi by supporting anti-Qadhafi exile groups and countries, such as Egypt, that wanted Qadhafi removed from power. Rose was the code name for a surprise attack on Libya to be carried out by an allied country, most likely Egypt, and supported by American air power. If Qadhafi was killed as a result of Flower, Reagan said he would take the blame for it.”

It also just so happened that the Obama Administration’s US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, who was the deputy director for intelligence at the time, endorsed Rose, the military subcomponent of Flower.

Since NATO toppled the Jamahiriya government, this is exactly what has happened in Libya. A free for all has come about, which has spilled over into neighbouring states such as Niger. There are multiple factions and different administrations including the Transitional Council in the District of Tripoli, the Misrata Military Council in the District of Misrata, several self-styled Emirates in Cyrenaica, and Jamahiriya loyalist and tribal governments in the Western Mountains and Fezzan. There have even been fusions where Jamahiriya loyalists and anti-Jamahiriya militias have joined to fight all others. The end product has been lawlessness and Somali-style civil war. The state has basically been “failed” by the US and its allies. Post-Jamahiriya governmental authority is only exercised by those in power outside of their offices and a few spaces. Violent crime has proliferated. Tripoli and other major cities are being fought for by different factions and Libyan weapons are being smuggled into different countries. Even US officials, which helped midwife the groups running rampant in Libya, have not been safe from the turmoil they helped create; the murder of US Ambassador John Christopher Stevens in Benghazi on 12 September 2012 is testimony to this.

Oil and gas production has been stopping. National assets have been sold off to foreign corporations and privatised. Libya is no longer a competitive economic power in Africa anymore. Nor is Libya a growing financial power. Tripoli virtually transformed from a debtless country to an indebted one overnight.

There is also a great irony to all this. The warplanes of the US-supported Libyan regime that has replaced the Jamahiriya began bombing Libyan citizens in 2014 as battles for control of Tripoli raged. The US, European Union, and NATO have said nothing about this whereas in 2011 they started a bombing campaign and war on the basis of false accusations the Jamahiriya government was doing exactly this. The deceit of these players is more than evident.

The above article first appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 8 No 5

Turkey shuts off YouTube after ‘Syria invasion plan’ leak

Turkey shuts off YouTube after ‘Syria invasion plan’ leak

http://rt.com/news/turkey-block-youtube-twitter-649/

RT.COM,  March 27, 2014

Access to YouTube has been cut off in Turkey after an explosive leak of audiotapes that appeared to show ministers talking about provoking military intervention in Syria. Other social media have already been blocked ahead of tumultuous local elections.

The latest leaked audio recording, which reportedly led to the ban, appears to show top government officials discussing a potential attack on the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire.

The tomb is in Syrian territory, but protected by Turkish soldiers.

On the tape, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is heard to say that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees any attack as an “opportunity” to increase Turkish presence in Syria, where it has staunchly supported the anti-Assad rebels. Security chief Hakan Fidan then goes one step further, and suggests staging a fake attack to give Turkey a casus belli to intervene in the conflict.

Turkish officials have recently vowed to protect the tomb as its “national soil.”

The Foreign Ministry in Ankara reacted to the tape by issuing a statement, calling the leak a “wretched attack” on national security. It also claims the tape was “partially manipulated.”

“These treacherous gangs are the enemies of our state and people. The perpetrators of this attack targeting the security of our state and people will be uncovered in the shortest time and will be handed over to justice to be given the heaviest penalty,” the ministry said.

A source inside the office of President Abdullah Gül, who has taken a softer line than Erdoğan over the series of government leaks, told Reuters that access to YouTube may be restored if the sensitive content is removed, even though the original video has been deleted.

Invoking national security and privacy concerns has been the government’s tactic in fighting off a stream of leaks showing top officials engaging in unsavory or downright illegal practices.

Erdoğan has also repeatedly claimed that most of the audio recordings are fakes. He labeled the latest audio revelation “villainous” during a stump speech in Diyabakir.

Twitter, another popular source for leaks, has already been shut down in Turkey since March 20, after a court order.

Since then, the California-based social network and organizations have fought in several courts to have the decision reversed, calling it “disproportionate and illegal.”

A court ruling in Ankara on Wednesday supported the appeal, but the country’s regulator has a month to unblock Twitter, leading to speculation that any such move would only take place after the election.

The incumbent party also enjoys the benefit of robust privacy legislation passed last month, which makes it easy to cut off any website even before any violation has been legally proven.

The US has led the chorus of international condemnation, calling the government’s moves “censorship” tantamount to “21st century book-burning.”
OSCE slams YouTube ban

Turkey is deliberately ignoring the fundamental right of freedom of the press by blocking access to social media platforms, Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media stated.

“A regulator exercising censorship by blocking is unacceptable in democracies, and it breaches numerous OSCE and other international standards that Turkey has committed to,” Mijatović said.

The OSCE calls on Ankara to immediately restore access to YouTube and Twitter.

“I call on the authorities to preserve the free flow of information and media freedom both online and offline, and immediately restore access to YouTube. I also urge TIB to reinstate Twitter services without delay following yesterday’s court decision annulling the ban on the website,” added Mijatović.

http://rt.com/news/turkey-block-youtube-twitter-649/ (http://rt.com/news/turkey-block-youtube-twitter-649/)

NATO After 9/11: Crisis or Opportunity?

NATO After 9/11: Crisis or Opportunity?

March 4, 2002
Council on Foreign Relations

Prepared Remarks delivered by U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar

at the Council on Foreign Relations

Washington, DC.

Monday, March 4, 2002

Note: Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Bob Kimmitt, for that warm introduction. It is a pleasure to be back at the Council on Foreign Relations among many old friends. I would like to thank Les Gelb and Chuck Boyd for providing me with the opportunity to speak tonight. The Council has done a wonderful job in sponsoring debate about the implications of the war on terrorism for American foreign policy — and I am honored to be part of it by co-chairing one of the CFR Roundtables on NATO after September 11th. Our discussions have helped shape some of the ideas that I will present tonight.

The title of my talk this evening is: NATO After 9/11: Crisis or Opportunity? If there is a single message I would like to leave with you this evening, it is the following: amidst all the current signs of crisis, we must not lose sight of the enormous opportunity that we have to build a new trans-Atlantic relationship that can be a central pillar in the war on terrorism and the constructive prospects for peace, which will follow. Unfortunately, this is an opportunity that, thus far, neither side of the Atlantic has enthusiastically welcomed.

The opportunity we have is two-fold. First, overcoming the division of Europe and fulfilling our vision of a Europe whole and free is within our grasp. In Prague and in Copenhagen later this year, NATO and the EU will hold summits at which they will make historic decisions on their respective enlargements. Both institutions are considering launching rounds of enlargement that will encompass many, if not all, of the countries from the Baltic to the Black Sea. In addition, both NATO and the EU have launched new initiatives to expand cooperation with Russia.

If we get this right, we should, by the end of the decade, be able to say that the job of securing a new peace in Europe is largely complete. That would be a truly historic accomplishment.

But we also have a second opportunity. September 11th has shown us, in all too tragic a fashion, that we still face existential threats to our societies and our security — and that these threats largely come from beyond Europe. For a number of years, experts have been writing about the threats to our security posed by terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. But such threats seemed too theoretical and too abstract for many people. In 1996, I made an unsuccessful bid for President. Three of my campaign television ads depicted a mushroom cloud and warned of the horrible threat posed by the growing danger of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorist groups. I argued that the next President should be selected on the basis of a perceived ability to meet that challenge.

At the time, those ads were widely criticized for being far-fetched and alarmist. Recently, the ads have been replayed on national television and are now viewed in a different perspective. The terrorist attacks on the United States of last September have graphically demonstrated how vulnerable we are. And when I say “we,” I mean the West in general, including Europe. The terrorists seek massive impact through indiscriminate killing of people and destruction of institutions, historical symbols, and the basic fabric of our societies. The next attack could just as easily be in London, Paris, or Berlin as in Washington, Los Angeles or New York. And it could involve weapons of mass destruction.

The sober reality is that the danger of Americans and Europeans being killed today at work or at home is perhaps greater than at any time in recent history. Indeed, the threat we face today may be almost as existential as the one we faced during the Cold War, because it is increasingly likely to involve the use of weapons of mass destruction against our societies.

The central question of the day in the trans-Atlantic relationship is whether the U.S. and Europe will be able to fashion a common strategy for a global war on terrorism. Will we stand shoulder to shoulder just as we confronted the Soviet Union during the Cold War? Are our political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic willing to make the same kind of political commitment to hammer out common objectives and policies and recast our institutions to meet this challenge? We must look in the mirror and ask ourselves whether we as leaders are prepared to draw the right conclusions and do what we can now to reduce that threat, or whether it will take another, even deadlier attack to force us into action.

A Clear Definition of Victory

Before I turn to NATO specifically, I would like to step back and discuss how we should define victory in the war on terrorism. It makes sense to first define what needs to be done and then look at what role NATO and our allies can play in helping to achieve success. As an elected official, I am sensitive to the need for a clear definition of victory in the war on terrorism that the American people understand and support. We have not yet found that definition. We must have it if we are going to sustain the support of the American people as well as that of our allies overseas.

The problem we face is not just terrorism. It is the nexus between terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. There is little doubt in my mind that Osama bin Laden or Al-Qaeda would have used weapons of mass destruction if they had possessed them. It is increasingly clear that they have made an effort to obtain them.

Without oversimplifying the motivations of terrorists in the past, it appears that most acts of terror attempted to bring about change in a regime or change in governance or status in a community or state. Usually, the terrorists made demands that could be negotiated or accommodated. The targets were selected to create and increase pressure for change.

In contrast, the Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States were planned to kill thousands of people indiscriminately. Osama bin Laden was filmed conversing about the results of the attack, which exceeded his predictions of destruction. He sought massive destruction of institutions, wealth, national morale, and innocent people. We can safely assume that those objectives have not changed. It is the possibility that future terrorists will use weapons of mass destruction that poses a new, potentially existential threat to our societies. As horrible as the tragedy of September 11th was, the death, destruction, and disruption to American society was minimal compared to what could have been inflicted by a weapon of mass destruction.

Victory must be defined not only in terms of finding and killing Osama bin Laden or destroying terrorist cells in this or that country. We must also undertake the ambitious goal of comprehensively preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Let me propose a fairly simple and clear definition of victory. Imagine two lists. The first list is of those nation- states that house terrorist cells, voluntarily or involuntarily. Those states can be highlighted on a map illustrating to all of our citizens who and where they are. Our stated goal will be to shrink that list nation by nation. Through intelligence sharing, termination of illicit financial channels, support of local police work, diplomacy, and public information, a coalition of nations led by the U.S. should seek to root out each cell in a comprehensive manner for years to come and maintain a public record of success that the world can observe and measure. If we are diligent and determined, we can terminate or cripple most of these cells.

But there is also a second list. It would contain all of the states that possess materials, programs, and/or weapons of mass destruction. We will demand that each of these nation-states account for all of the materials, programs, and weapons in a manner that is internationally verifiable. We will demand that all such weapons and materials be made secure from theft or threat of proliferation, using the funds of that country and supplemented by international funds if required. We will work with each nation state to formulate programs of continuing accountability and destruction.

Victory, then, can be succinctly stated: together, we must keep the world’s most dangerous technologies out of the hands of the world’s most dangerous people. This requires diligent work that shrinks both lists. Both lists will be clear and finite. The war against terrorism will not be over until all nations on the lists have complied with these standards.

The U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan has succeeded in destroying most of the Afghan-based Al-Qaeda network and the Taliban regime. The Bush Administration has made it clear that it will extend the military campaign to other countries and to other terrorist cells or governments that support terrorism. But as we prosecute this war, we must pay much more attention to the other side of the equation – that is, making certain that all weapons and materials of mass destruction are identified, continuously guarded, and systematically destroyed.

Globalizing the Nunn-Lugar/CTR Program Today, we lack even minimal international confidence about many weapons programs, including the number of weapons or amounts of materials produced, the storage procedures employed, and production or destruction programs. Unfortunately, beyond Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union, Nunn-Lugar-style cooperative threat reduction programs aimed at counter-proliferation do not exist. They must now be created on a global scale. Given the size of the problem and the resources needed, this is not a task that the United States can undertake by itself. It requires a multilateral solution. In other words, we need allies.

The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program has demonstrated that extraordinary international relationships are possible to improve controls over weapons of mass destruction. Programs similar to Nunn-Lugar program should be established in each of the countries in the coalition against terrorism that wishes to work with the United States and hopefully its NATO allies on safe storage, accountability and planned destruction of these dangerous weapons and materials.

Over the last several months I have explored a number of different ways to provide the Administration with the ability to engage in cooperative dismantlement and counter-proliferation efforts with states currently outside the legislative scope of Nunn-Lugar. I am working closely with the Administration to provide them with the authority they need to launch emergency operations to prevent a proliferation or WMD threat from “going critical,” as well as to extend cooperative threat reduction programs beyond the states of the former Soviet Union.

Some have pointed out that Pakistan and India might be future partners in Nunn-Lugar-style threat reduction efforts focused on improving the safety and security of weapons, materials, and delivery vehicles of mass destruction. Under the right conditions and with the requisite transparency, such programs would be a great service to U.S. national security interests.

In short, the first step in building new Nunn-Lugar threat reduction relationships is ensuring that our government has the power to explore options and engage with states outside the former Soviet Union. My goal is to provide the Administration with this power and capability. I will be offering legislation to accomplish these goals in the weeks ahead.

The precise replication of the Nunn-Lugar program will not be possible everywhere, but a satisfactory level of accountability, transparency, and safety can and must be established in every nation with a WMD program. When such nations resist such accountability, or their governments make their territory available to terrorists who are seeking weapons of mass destruction, then NATO nations should be prepared to apply all their collective diplomatic and economic power, as well as military force.

Some nations, after witnessing the bombing of Afghanistan and the destruction of the Taliban government, may decide to proceed along a cooperative path of accountability regarding their weapons and materials of mass destruction. But other states may decide to test the will of the U.S. and our allies. In such cases, the Alliance must have the fortitude to back up diplomacy with the military force necessary to eliminate the problem. Military force is less likely to be required if the NATO allies stand shoulder to shoulder now with the U.S. in pursuing such a counter-terrorism policy.

What Role for NATO

What does this mean for NATO? For me, the answer is clear: NATO must now become an effective organization in the war on terrorism and in addressing both lists. It must play a central role in addressing the central security challenge of our time. I say this not because of NATO nostalgia or a desire to keep the Alliance relevant, but because I believe that a U.S.-European strategic partnership is essential to winning a global war on terrorism.

We need the Europeans — their political support, their police and intelligence cooperation, their economic assistance and, not least of all, the military support they can provide. Americans do not want to carry the entire burden of the war on terrorism by ourselves. Nor should we. The last attack may have been unique in that regard. We were shocked by attacks on our homeland. The U.S. was prepared to respond immediately and to do most of the work itself. But what if the next attack strikes European and American targets at the same time?

Obviously, shifting its focus toward terrorism will require NATO to change dramatically. But the Alliance has shown before that it has the capacity to adapt to new challenges, particularly when the United States offers leadership. In 1993, after the collapse of communism and the Soviet Union, I was among the first to call for enlarging NATO to Central and Eastern Europe as part of a broader overhaul of the Alliance. At the time, there were many on both sides of the Atlantic, including some distinguished members of the Council on Foreign Relations, who said it could not be done. But President Clinton and European leaders did not succumb to the nay-sayers. They took the lead in setting a new strategic direction — and today we see the results. Both Europe and NATO are stronger and better off as a result.

It is now time for the Alliance to make another historic commitment. In the early 1990s, I often said that the task we faced was to reorganize the West to deal with the East. By that I meant that NATO had to switch from thinking about defending the Fulda Gap in the heart of Germany to assuming responsibility for the defense of Europe as whole, including the eastern half of the continent. I used the phrase that NATO had to go “out of area or out of business” to try to capture this shift in alliance responsibility.

Today we must advance the next logical step. In a world in which terrorist “Article 5” attacks on our countries can be planned in Germany, financed in Asia, and carried out in the United States, old distinctions between “in” and “out of area” have become meaningless. Indeed, given the global nature of terrorism, the old kinds of boundaries and other geographical distinctions that guided our thinking on NATO are without relevance. If Article 5 threats to our security can come from beyond Europe, NATO must be able to act beyond Europe to meet them if it is going to fulfill its classic mission today.

Are we — both the U.S. and Europe — up to it? Some observers will say: “No, Senator, expanding the role of NATO is a great idea, but it is simply a bridge too far. And it would be a mistake even to try because you might fail and that would hurt the Alliance.” I disagree, and ask in return how many more, and possibly far deadlier attacks, will we have to experience before we get our act together. If the U.S. and Europe — the most advanced Western democracies and the closest allies in the world — cannot organize ourselves to jointly meet this new threat, then something is truly wrong with us. If we fail to unite to fight terrorism, we will have given the terrorists a huge advantage, for there is nothing they would like more than to see the Western democracies divided on this key issue.

Let me add that I have no illusions that this is going to be easy. During my recent travels in Europe I have come away with a mixture of hope and concern. The tragic attacks of September 11th did bring us closer together. Many Europeans recognize that the threat is real and that Europe is also a target. While we don’t publicize it for understandable reasons, the support they are providing to us in terms of police cooperation and intelligence is unprecedented and has been essential in some of the progress we have made. Today there are more Europeans on the ground in Afghanistan than Americans. And it is Europe, not America, that is going to foot much of the bill for Afghan reconstruction. In these areas, they have been exceptional allies.

But I also have come away with a sober understanding of where we differ and the hurdles we need to overcome. Our views diverge sharply on how to deal with Iraq and Iran. The Europeans have neglected their defenses. While I detect a growing willingness to try to remedy that, it is not going to be easy while their economies are mired in recession. But there are many signs that our allies are aware of the challenges that lie ahead.

Europeans have doubts about the U.S., too. They ask me whether the United States wants to act together with our allies and whether we are willing to make the political investment and show the strategic patience this will require. They worry about the United States going into “unilateralist overdrive.”

In recent weeks, much has been made of President Bush’s State of the Union address and his naming of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as an “axis of evil.” I am sympathetic to President Bush from previous experience. At a point of fairly high Cold War tension, in July 1984, I led a U.S. delegation to Scandinavia. The Soviet news agency, TASS, charged that I was trying “to raise the waves of anti-Sovietism.” TASS reported that my mission was “to deceive public opinion and to wear down the opposition” with a “jungle of words” and “worn out fabrications about the alleged danger threatening northern Europe from the Soviet Union.” They called my trip a “raiding party … of feverish activity to pressure northern Europe against peaceful relations with socialist nations.”

This came as a great shock to me and to those who read John Goshko’s 1985 Washington Post headline: “Virtuoso Performance Surprises Hill: Mild-Mannered Lugar Rescues Reagan, Reinvigorates Foreign Relations Panel.”

So was President Bush’s “axis of evil” comment too provocative? I would suggest that he did not go far enough. To continue with a geometrical metaphor, I believe we are facing in the world today a “Vertex of Evil” – the intersection of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. The threat is greater and the response more sweeping than the debate surrounding the phrase “axis of evil.” September 11 was the wake-up call. The United States and our allies must be vigorously preparing to keep separated the lines of terror from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, materials, and know-how. The U.S. must lead this effort, but we need partners — and there are no better candidates than our NATO allies.

I believe it would be a historic mistake to let this opportunity to forge a new trans-Atlantic understanding slip through our fingers. America is engaged in a difficult and dangerous war, and we need allies and alliances if we are to win. Those alliances can no longer be circumscribed by artificial geographic boundaries. All of America’s alliances are going to be reviewed and recast in light of this new challenge, including NATO. If NATO is not up to the challenge of becoming effective in the new war against terrorism, then our political leaders may be inclined to search for something else that will answer this need.

It is a time to think big, not small. It is a time when our proposals should be measured not by what we think is “doable,” but rather shaped by what needs to be done. Specifically, it means that the question of new missions and the war on terrorism has to become the focal point of the Prague summit later this year. While NATO enlargement and deepened NATO-Russia cooperation will be central to the summit’s agenda, they must now be complemented by making the campaign against terrorism a central NATO mission.

To my way of thinking, it would represent a severe degradation of U.S. capabilities if NATO cannot be redirected at the Prague Summit toward combating the sources of international terrorism. Indeed, the current military nature of the campaign against terrorism suggests that the Prague agenda ought to be focused on development of a comprehensive plan for restructuring European military capabilities. This could extend to totally rethinking the current Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI) that was formulated with Bosnia and Kosovo in mind. In its place should be substituted what I call DCI-2 – namely, a capabilities package born of the lessons of Afghanistan. A Defense Capabilities Initiative designed to close the gap between the European allies and the United States is no longer feasible, if it ever was. More important now is a redirection of the Capabilities Initiative so as to create and harmonize counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation capabilities in a way that will serve both American and European interests.

To leave NATO focused solely on defending the peace in Europe from old threats would reduce it to a housekeeping role in an increasingly secure continent. If we fail to defend our societies from a major terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction, the Alliance will have failed in the most fundamental sense of defending our nations.

That is why terrorism has to be front and center on NATO’s agenda at Prague. The reality is that we can launch the next round of NATO enlargement as well as a new NATO-Russia relationship at Prague, and the Alliance could still be seen as failing – that’s right, failing – unless it starts to transform itself into an important new force in the war on terrorism.

The leadership of the President of the United States is crucial. President Bush has spoken out clearly on the need to continue to pursue NATO enlargement. His speech last June in Warsaw was historic in sketching out a vision of NATO embracing new democracies from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The President also has spoken out on his desire to expand the NATO-Russia relationship. But he has not spoken out on the need for NATO to assume a central role in the war on terrorism. I hope that he will do so — to send a clear message to friend and foe alike that he is prepared to lead a transformation of NATO to meet this new threat. Perhaps the Council on Foreign Relations could offer him a venue to do so.

President Bush needs to identify the critical components of a stronger Alliance that, if properly articulated at Prague, can define the foundation for a new NATO. This is not the time for the Administration to sit back and referee among competing interests as they jockey for influence over the Prague agenda. Last June in Warsaw, the President offered his vision of a Prague Summit that “does as much as possible.” It now falls to the President not only to envision Prague on a grander scale and to identify the key elements of a reinvigorated trans-Atlantic alliance, but also to sow in the ashes of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon the foundations of the Second Post-War order.

NATO has prevented war in Europe for more than fifty years. That, in itself, is a remarkable accomplishment. But if NATO does not now help tackle the most pressing security threat to our countries today, a threat that I believe is existential because it involves weapons of mass destruction, it will become increasingly marginal. That outcome is neither in the national security interests of the United States nor our NATO allies.

 

This is the moment for leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to focus on our rich heritage of cooperation and mutual sacrifice. This is the year to establish at the Prague Summit a NATO which has clearly defined the requirements of victory in the war on terrorism and is organized to win that victory.