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Assad: We were waiting for US attack & ‘no smoking gun linking Syria to gas attack’

by Martin Rowson

Assad: We were Waiting for US Attack, We’ll Emerge Victorious

Al Manar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the Syrians were waiting for such an intervention by the US, promising to get out from this war victorious.

During his latest meeting with Syrian military leaders after speculations grew on a US military strike on allegations of chemical attack on Damascus, Assad said that “since the beginning of the crisis, and we were sure that the moment will come when our real enemy knocks his head into our country intervening,” adding that he knows well that the Syrian leaders’ morals are high and “you are on full readiness to face any aggression and protect the homeland.”

But he ordered them to convey these high morals to their inferiors and to the Syrian citizens, according to Al-Akhbar newspaper.

“This is a historic confrontation that we will come out of victorious,” he ended up saying.

President Assad told a visiting delegation of Yemeni politicians also on Thursday that Syria will defend itself against any attack. “Syria will defend itself in the face of any aggression, and threats will only increase its commitment to its principles and its independence,” he said, according to Syria’s state television.

“Syria, with its resistant people and valiant army, is determined to wipe out terrorism which is being backed by Israel and Western nations to serve their own purposes of sowing division in the region, fragmenting its people and forcing them into submission,” the president added. “The people are the guarantors of victory and that is what is happening in Syria.”


Russia Sending Warships to the Mediterranean

Al Ahed news

The Russian Interfax news agency reported Thursday that Moscow “over the next few days” will be sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean as the West prepares for possible strikes against Syria.

“The well-known situation shaping up in the eastern Mediterranean called for certain corrections to the make-up of the naval forces,” a source in the Russian General Staff told Interfax.

It further mentioned that “a large anti-submarine ship of the Northern Fleet will join them [the existing naval forces] over the next few days.”

“Later it will be joined by the Moskva, a rocket cruiser of the Black Sea Fleet which is now wrapping up its tasks in the northern Atlantic and will soon begin a Transatlantic voyage towards the Strait of Gibraltar,” the agency stated.

In addition, a rocket cruiser of the Pacific Fleet, the Varyag, will join the Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean this autumn by replacing a large anti-submarine ship.
However, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited a high-ranking representative of the naval command who said the changes to the country’s forces in the region were not linked to the current tensions over Syria and called them “a planned rotation.”


Cameron Faces Mounting Opposition over Syria: Up to 70 Tory MPs Not Convinced by Case for Strike

Al Ahed news

The Guardian British daily reported Thursday that PM David Cameron is facing bigger opposition than expected over an attack on Syria, with up to 70 Tory MPs yet to be persuaded by the coalition’s case for military action.

The scale of hostility before Thursday’s initial vote in the Commons on intervention underscores why the prime minister felt it necessary to promise MPs a second vote before British forces have any direct military engagement in Syria.

He made the concession as a growing number of Conservatives publicly expressed their reservations about the case for action, including three of Cameron’s former ministers – Cheryl Gillan, Peter Luff and Sir Gerald Howarth.

Several ministerial aides, including David Burrowes and Daniel Kawczynski, have also spoken of their reluctance to back military intervention, raising the prospect of their resignations if they fail to be persuaded by the government motion.

Backbencher support will be crucial for Cameron as Labor leader Ed Miliband has said he will not back the coalition’s motion for action against Syria.

Instead, Miliband is planning to put forward a more cautious amendment favoring action only if certain conditions have been met in a move that could win round Labor opponents of strikes such as Diane Abbott.

The caveats include seeing the results of UN weapons inspections, compelling evidence that the Syrian regime was responsible for the use of chemical weapons, and clear legal advice that any strike is within international law.
Cameron and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, have a majority of 77 in the House of Commons, so they will need to win round skeptics in the debate, which starts at 2.30 and could run for eight hours.

However, the threatened rebellion may not materialize on Thursday, as Conservatives MPs may be mollified by the text of the motion promising a second vote.

But one Tory MP said it showed the prime minister’s weakness. Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, suggested the motion offering a second vote in future was a climbdown for Cameron in the face of major opposition. “What to do when you cannot command a majority in Commons for Syria strikes? Table a motion about something else,” he wrote on Twitter.

So far about 30 Tories have publicly come out as skeptics about military strikes, putting Cameron under pressure to set out a robust legal basis and strategy in Thursday’s debate. But there are thought to be more doubters in private.
One Tory MP said he believed at least 70 of his colleagues harbored reservations about handing the coalition a broad mandate for a strike on Syria without more details and a firm timetable being spelled out to parliament.

Gillan, a senior Tory backbencher, said on Wednesday that she and many colleagues had “great doubts”, and warned that intervention could lead to “absolute disaster”. She told the Guardian she did not know how she would vote, but felt “very strongly that we must have a clear objective and thought through the ramifications”.

“I’m very cautious,” she said. ” I sat in the House of Commons listening to Tony Blair and I really believed he was telling me there was no choice. We haven’t had the Chilcot Inquiry yet but I feel we were sold a pup. This is also too important to get wrong. I need to know they have thought this through.”

Peter Luff, one of Cameron’s defense ministers until last year, also told the Guardian he remained to be persuaded in favor of an attack on Syria. “I am yet to hear a compelling case that military action would be for the best,” he said.

Another former defense minister, Sir Gerald Howarth, said he was concerned that Britain was at risk of “getting our hand caught in the mangle” of a civil war between Syrian factions.

Howarth told the BBC Radio 4’s The World at One that he was still open-minded about the vote but skeptical about the benefits of military action as Britain had to “be realistic about what it is we can achieve”.

Davis, a former shadow home secretary, told the Times he could not see a “clear outcome” and was yet to be convinced about military action, but would make up his mind during the debate.

Kawczynski, a parliamentary private secretary to the Wales secretary, said: “People are very torn about the prospect of Britain being involved again in an overseas conflict.” Asked whether he would vote against the motion and give up his government role, Kawczynski said: “The wording will be crucial. It has to refer to the UN.”

David Burrowes, an aide to the environment secretary, wrote on his website that he was “very reluctant to approve the use of British weapons or military in Syria and would need an extremely compelling case to be made to change my mind”.

While many Tory MPs said they were waiting for the debate to make up their minds, some appeared ready to vote against.

One prominent Tory backbencher, Sarah Wollaston, the MP for Totnes, said she would vote against a military strike and called the lack of a free vote an abuse of power by her leadership. After reading the motion, she said it seemed like an “entrapment” to bury an endorsement for military action inside an “over-long and blindingly obvious essay”.

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said she was “extremely reluctant to support British interference”, and would be voting against any attack “as things stand”.

Among the Lib Dems, one senior politician said there was deep unease in the 55-strong parliamentary party, which was the only major one to vote against the Iraq war. There are believed to be several Syria sceptics in the party, but it was not possible to get a more precise estimate of numbers.

Lord Oakeshott, a Lib Dem peer, called on the coalition to release its legal advice about the basis for intervening before asking parliament to approve a campaign in Syria.

“This touches a very raw nerve for Liberal Democrats,” he said. “Now we’re in government there’s a very large responsibility to ensure the full legal advice on which any British act of war is based must published in full before any British button is pressed.”


China: No Excuse for West to Strike Syria

Al Ahed news

Chinese state media warned the West against strikes on Syria Thursday as momentum mounted for attacking Syria.

In an editorial headed “No excuse for strikes”, the state-run China Daily said the US and its Western allies were “acting as judge, jury and executioner”.

“Any military intervention into Syria would have dire consequences for regional security and violate the norms governing international relations,” it said, adding such a move “will only exacerbate the crisis and could have unforeseen and unwelcome consequences”.

Making a comparison with the war in Iraq, it said the international community should not allow “itself to be led by the nose by US intelligence, which after all was responsible for claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction”.

China is a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council.

In an unsigned commentary, the Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist Party, added that Washington lacked “a clear political end goal”.

“Citing ‘moral obscenity’ as an excuse to gear up for military action seems rash and hasty,” it said.

If strikes do take place, it added that “it is necessary for Russia and Iran to consider providing direct military aid” to al-Assad’s government.

In parallel, Beijing called for a “cautious” approach to the crisis, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi backing a UN investigation to “find out the truth as soon as possible”.

All parties “should avoid interfering in the investigation work or prejudging the results of the probes”, he told the official Xinhua news agency Wednesday.

Beijing says it opposes intervention in other countries’ internal affairs and has previously attempted to block moves leading to military action in overseas conflict.


NYT: No Smoking Gun Linking Al-Assad to Gas Attack

Al Ahed news

American officials said Wednesday there was no “smoking gun” that directly links Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to last week’s alleged chemical attack near Damascus, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

They said Thursday’s public intelligence presentation will not contain specific electronic intercepts of communications between Syrian commanders or detailed reporting from spies and sources on the ground.

According to the daily, “the White House faces steep hurdles as it prepares to make the most important public intelligence presentation since February 2003, when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell made a dramatic and detailed case for war to the United Nations Security Council using intelligence – later discredited – about Iraq’s weapons programs.”

“With the botched intelligence about Iraq still casting a long shadow over decisions about waging war in the Middle East, the White House faces an American public deeply skeptical about being drawn into the Syrian conflict and a growing chorus of lawmakers from both parties angry about the prospect of an American president once again going to war without Congressional consultation or approval,” it added.

The bellicose talk coming from the administration is unnerving some lawmakers from Obama’s party, who are angry that the White House seems to have no inclination to seek Congress’s approval before launching a strike in Syria.

“I am still waiting to see what specifically the administration and other involved partners have to say about a potential military strike, but I am concerned about how effective such an action could be,” said Representative Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat who is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I am worried that such action could drag the United States into a broader direct involvement in the conflict.”

Meanwhile, US Speaker John A. Boehner wrote a letter on Wednesday to Obama asking the president to provide a “clear, unambiguous explanation of how military action – which is a means, not a policy – will secure US objectives and how it fits into your overall policy.”

The discussion has even brought in former officials intimately involved in making the hurried public case for the Iraq war. In an interview with Fox Business Network, Donald Rumsfeld, who was War secretary at the time, said Wednesday that “there really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation.”

Americans over all have been skeptical about the United States getting involved in Syria’s war.

A poll published by Quinnipiac University last month found that 61 percent of people said it was not in the national interest to intervene in Syria, while 27 percent said it was. By a similar split, 59 percent opposed providing weapons to rebel forces, while 27 percent were in favor.


US policies & revival of Japanese militarism

by Yusuf Fernandez, source

On August 6, the anniversary of the US nuclear attack on Hiroshima in 1945, Japan launched the carrier Izumo, the largest warship built in the country since the end of the Second World War. Japanese deputy prime minister, Taro Aso, a figure known by his nationalist views, attended the ceremony, which turned into an exaltation of Japanese nationalism and militarism. The Japanese imperial navy flag, the Rising Sun, was seen in the carrier.

The carrier has been named after a Japanese warship which took part in the invasion of Shanghai by Japanese troops in 1937. Another carrier will be launched in 2016 and it will further strengthen Japan´s naval power and its capacities to carry out operations in the region.

The launch of the Japanese carrier has also been regarded as a political sign that Shinzo Abe´s government is clearly determined to change the Japanese Constitution, approved after the Second World War, to erase the peace clause and promote a rearmament policy. Abe has been trying for long to rewrite Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which prohibits “the maintenance of land, sea and air forces”. He wants the Japanese army, officially known as the “Self-Defence Forces”, to be liberated from the restraints included in the Constitution in order to make Japan “a proud nation” again. Actually, however, Japanese Self-Defence Forces are already one of the most powerful armies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Under the Constitution, Japan cannot send its troops to foreign countries. However, the Japanese ruling elites want the country´s military forces to take part in US-led military operations in different parts of the world. The Japanese governments have already deployed some troops in “reconstruction activities” to help US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Abe, like many members of the the country´s political establishment, continues to deny the atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War. In April, Abe stated that he was not bound by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama´s 1995 statement, which acknowledged that Japan had launched wars of aggression. Abe claimed that “aggression” could be seen in different ways depending on the side in which one is. However, after a wave of protests and criticism in Japan and abroad, he tried to soften his statement claiming that the interpretation of the history should be a task for historians.

Abe has also visited the Yasukuni Shrine where the ashes of war dead, including 14 Japanese “war criminals”, are kept, though he has not repeated these visits since he was re-elected as Prime Minister. Also and other leading members of the government have also visited the shrine, which is seen as a symbol of Japanese wartime militarism.

The visits have outraged China and both Koreas, which were victims of Japanese militarism during the war. China was invaded and its cities and towns were devastated by the Japanese army and air force. One of the most notorious crimes of the Japanese Imperial Army was the Rape of Nanking, where about 300,000 Chinese people were massacred by Japanese troops. The South Korean Foreign Ministry expressed in a statement its “deep concern and regret” over the visits to a place “that glorifies Japan´s wars of aggression”. China has warned, for its part, that the visits to the shrine are “an obstacle” to the development of bilateral relations. China, the two Koreas and other countries in the region see Japan’s rising nationalism and militarism as a threat to the region and their national security.

The Japanese prime minister has also spoken about the need to acquire military capacities for pre-emptive strikes against “hostile nations”, which, he said, are essential in order to counter the threat of missile attacks from those countries.

After Abe took over as Prime Minister in December 2012, the Japanese government increased military spending for the first time in more than a decade. This decision took place in a framework of economic crisis. Japanese public debts have increased up to 200 percent of the country´s GDP and thus the rearmament agenda, which is very costly, will have to be financed with new taxes and borrowing, which will further damage the Japanese economy.

Anti-China policies
The Chinese government and media reacted to the Izumo launch claiming that Tokyo was trying to “restore former imperial glory”, when its navy was the second in the world and had more than twenty carriers. A statement from the Chinese Defence Ministry said, “We are concerned over Japan’s constant expansion of its military equipment. Japan’s Asian neighbors and the international community need to be highly vigilant about this trend.”

The Japanese Defence White Paper, released in July 2013, identifies China as the main threat and laid emphasis on increasing Japan’s military capabilities and stronger ties with the US. In contrast, last year´s Defence White Paper mentioned North Korea as the main threat for Japan. On the other hand, after winning the election in December 2012 Abe´s Liberal Democratic Party promised to make Japan stronger militarily to confront a rising China.

In 2012, China overtook Japan as the world´s second economy. Encouraged by Washington, Japan has escalated its territorial conflict with China over the tiny Senkaku/Diayovu islands, whose sovereignty is disputed by both countries. Japan has another territorial dispute with South Korea regarding the Dokdo/Takeshima islands.

Japan has also encouraged India for many years to enter an anti-China military alliance. Abe was a leading promotor of the “quadrilateral axis” including the US, Japan, Australia and India during his first term in office in 2006-07. China, for its part, called this axis “an Asian NATO”. Abe has also visited some South East Asian nations, such as Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, in order to expand Japan’s economic relations with the region and is trying to provoke a realignment of these countries against China, including those that have traditionally maintained close ties with Beijing, such as Burma.

For its part, the Obama administration is encouraging the Japanese rearmament in order to make Japan an active member of a network of alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, which is clearly aimed against Beijing. There is a convergence of interests between Japanese right-wing militarist circles and the US administration seeking to encircle and weaken China and see Japan as a very valuable base for its military deployment in Asia. There are 50,000 US troops stationed in bases in Japan.

In recent years, the US and Japan have jointly developed a missile defence system aimed at destroying ballistic missiles. Moreover, Japanese and US troops have recently held large military drills at Camp Pendleton, a Marine base located near San Diego, and San Clemente Island in California. The US has also sold offensive weapons to Japan, such as F-35 fighters.

However, there are concerns in Western countries that the revival of Japanese militarism and nationalism might become a two-edged sword. Although Abe has repeatedly expressed his support for the US-Japan alliance, Japanese ruling circles have their own independent interests and have never given up their ambition to make Japan the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific region.

Washington is worried about some of the positions of the Japanese government, which are considered as dangerous. A recent report of The Wall Street Journal claimed the US government was alarmed by Japan´s nuclear policy. Tokyo is preparing to start a nuclear plant that will produce up to 9 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium every year, enough to manufacture 2,000 nuclear warheads. Washington opposes the Japanese plan on the basis that it may encourage a nuclear arms race in the region and beyond.

On the other hand, Japan´s neighbors, including China and Russia, have also taken measures in order to warn Abe against Japanese military aspirations. On August 14, Moscow sent 16 warships north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. China, for its part, carried out a 10-day naval drill in the East China Sea from August 15. Beijing has also put forward a plan to develop its naval forces.

Abe´s plans are also facing resistance in Japan. Abe and his party lack the numbers (two thirds of the parliamentary seats) to change the Constitution. The New Komeito Party, Abe´s coalition partner, strongly opposes his military plans. The Japanese public opinion is not particularly enthusiastic about militarist plans, either. More than 50% of the electorate did not vote in last elections (a record in the country) and according to the polls, the majority of people are against a change in the Constitution, which has served as the foundation for collective security in the entire Asia-Pacific region in recent decades.

Many Japanese also think that the nationalist and anti-China policies pose a great risk for Japan and could disrupt the delicate balance in the region. They could trigger an arms race in Asia and escalate into a regional or even a global conflict, which would have very serious consequences for Japan. The Japanese peace movement has initiated a campaign aimed at preventing the government from amending Article 9 and the peace clause.

Iran, Russia, China, EU atop NSA piority list

Al Manar

Russia, alongside the EU, China and Iran, are on top of the NSA’s spying priority list, according to a document leaked by fugitive Edward Snowden and published by Der Spiegel weekly.

In the classified document, dated April 2013, countries are assigned levels of interest for NSA surveillance from 1 (the highest) to 5 (the lowest).

Among the top surveillance targets are China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and Afghanistan. The EU, as a whole is also ranking high, though individually its 28 member-states are of lesser importance to the US intelligence, with Germany and France representing mid-level interest, while countries like Finland, Croatia and Denmark are denoted as almost irrelevant in data gathering.

Specification is also provided on what areas of interest are to be mostly looked at in different countries. Der Spiegel, which published the leaked document on Saturday, focuses on which German issues interested US spying agency the most.

The top ranking areas marked with a ‘3’ are the country’s foreign policy and economic issues. Arms exports, new technology, advanced conventional weapons and international trade were all assigned a lesser priority of ‘4’. When it comes to the whole of the European Union, the spheres of interest are almost identical.

This most recent leak is complementary to the earlier ones, stating that EU offices in Brussels, Washington and New York were under NSA surveillance and that Germany was the most spied upon of all EU countries.

Chancellor Merkel has been criticized for the lack of response to the leaks, suggesting that Germany was not only spied on extensively, but actually cooperated with the NSA in its surveillance programs.

Merkel first denied all knowledge of the NSA spying, but soon afterwards turned to justifying the US, saying “intelligence was essential for democracies”.

Germans are seemingly not convinced by this type of reasoning, as Snowden’s revelations have sparked massive rallies across the country.

China, Russia kick off largest-ever joint naval drills

Al Ahed news

China and Russia kicked off their largest-ever joint naval drills on Friday in the Sea of Japan, a further sign of the broad-based progress in ties between the former Cold War rivals.

Eighteen surface ships, one submarine, three airplanes, five ship-launched helicopters and two commando units were taking part in the “Joint Sea-2013” exercise that runs through July 12. The drills will cover anti-submarine warfare, close maneuvering, and the simulated take-over of an enemy ship.
The drills are considerably bigger than anything China’s navy has previously held with a foreign partner.

China’s increasingly formidable navy is contributing four destroyers, two latest-generation guided missile frigates and a support ship, all of which sailed Monday from the port of Qingdao, where China’s Northern Fleet is based, to the rallying point in Peter the Great Bay near Vladivostok.

“This is our strongest line-up ever in a joint naval drill,” Rear Admiral Yang Junfei, commander of the Chinese contingent, was quoted as saying by state media.

China has long been a key customer for Russian military hardware, but only in the last decade have their militaries begun training jointly. The naval drills are to be followed by another round of anti-terrorism joint drills in Russia’s Ural Mountain region of Chelyabinsk from July 27 to Aug. 15.

China’s armed forces are eagerly pursuing stronger links with most regional militaries, with the notable exception of Japan, with which China is embroiled in a strongly emotional spat over control of an uninhabited East China Sea island group north of Taiwan.

China began deploying ships to the anti-piracy flotilla off the coast of Somalia in 2008 and in recent years its navy has joined in a series of joint drills in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Chinese land units also have taken part in border security and anti-terrorism exercises organized by the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Chinese state media warns Philippines of counterstrike in South China Sea

Al Ahed news

On Saturday, China’s state media warned that a counterstrike against the Philippines was inevitable if it continues to provoke Beijing in the South China Sea.

This comes as ministers from both countries are to attend an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Brunei on Saturday, hoping to reach a legally binding code of conduct to manage maritime conduct in disputed areas.

China and the Philippines have been disputing for decades over the South China Sea. Tensions escalated after the Philippines moved new soldiers and supplies last week to a disputed coral reef, prompting Beijing to condemn its “illegal occupation”.

The People’s Daily, the official state media in China, said that the Philippines had committed “seven sins” in the South China Sea; “illegal occupation” of the Spratly Islands, inviting foreign capital to engage in oil and gas development in the disputed waters and promoting the “internationalization” of the waters.

“The Philippines, knowing that it’s weak, believes that ‘a crying child will have milk to drink’,” the People’s Daily mentioned, accusing Manila of resorting to many “unscrupulous” tricks in the disputed waters.

Fake WMD “intelligence” and Orwellian double-speak

Washington Is Insane

by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, source

In the 21st century the two hundred year-old propaganda that the American people control their government has been completely shattered. Both the Bush and Obama regimes have made it unmistakenly clear that the American people don’t even influence, much less control, the government. As far as Washington is concerned, the people are nothing but chaff in the wind.

Polls demonstrate that 65% of the US population opposes US intervention in Syria. Despite this clear indication of the people’s will, the Obama regime is ramping up a propaganda case for more arming of Washington’s mercenaries sent to overthrow the secular Syrian government and for a “no-fly zone” over Syria, which, if Libya is the example, means US or NATO aircraft attacking the Syrian army on the ground, thus serving as the air force of Washington’s imported mercenaries, euphemistically called “the Syrian rebels.”

Washington declared some time ago that the “red line” that would bring Syria under Washington’s military attack was the Assad government’s use of chemical weapons of mass destruction against Washington’s mercenaries. Once this announcement was made, everyone with a brain immediately knew that Washington would fabricate false intelligence that Assad had used chemical weapons, just as Washington presented to the United Nations the intentional lie via Secretary of State Colin Powell that Saddam Hussein in Iraq had dangerous weapons of mass destruction.

Remember National Security Advisor Condi Rice’s image of a “mushroom cloud over American cities?” Propagandistic lies were Washington’s orders of the day.

And they still are. Now Washington has fabricated the false intelligence, and president obama has announced it with a straight face, that Syria’s Assad has used sarin gas on several occasions and that between 100 and 150 “of his own people,” a euphemism for the US supplied foreign mercenaries, have been killed by the weapon of mass destruction.

Think about that for a minute. As unfortunate as is any death from war, is 100-150 deaths “mass destruction?” According to low-ball estimates, the US-sponsored foreign mercenary invasion of Syria has cost 93,000 lives, of which 150 deaths amounts to0.0016%. If we round up, Washington’s 150 deaths comes to two-thousands of one percent.

In other words, 99.998% of the deaths did not cross the “red line.” But the 0.002 (rounded up) percent did.

Yes, I know. Washington’s position makes no sense. But when has it ever made any sense?

Let’s stretch our minds just a tiny bit farther. Assad knows about Washington’s “red line.” It has been repeated over and over in order to create in the minds of the distracted American public that there is a real, valid reason for attacking Syria. Why would Assad use the proscribed weapons of mass destruction in order to kill a measly 100-150 mercenaries when his army is mopping up the US mercenaries without the use of gas and when Assad knows that the use of gas brings in the US military against him?

As the Russian government made clear, Washington’s accusation is not believable. No informed person could possibly believe it. No doubt, many Americans wearing patriotism on their sleeves will fall for Washington’s latest lie, but no one else in the world will. Even Washington’s NATO puppets calling for attacking Syria know that the justification for the attack is a lie. For the NATO puppets, Washington’s money overwhelms integrity, for which the rewards are low.

The Russians certainly know that Washington is lying. The Russian Foreign Minister Larov said:

“The [Assad] government, as the opposition is saying openly, is enjoying military success on the ground. The [Assad] regime isn’t driven to the wall. What sense is there for the regime to use chemical arms–especially in such small amounts.”

Larov is a relatively civilized person in the role of Russia’s main diplomat. However, other Russian officials can be more pointed in their dismissal of Washington’s latest blatant lies. Yury Ushakov, an aide to Russian President Putin said: “The Americans tried to present us with information on the use of chemical weapons by the [Assad] regime, but frankly we thought that it was not convincing. We wouldn’t like to invoke references to [the infamous lies o] Secretary of State Powell [at the UN alleging Iraqi WMD], but the facts don’t look convincing in our eyes.” Aleksey Pushkov, the chairman of the Russian Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, cut to the chase.

“The data about Assad’s use of chemical weapons is fabricated by the same facility that made up the lies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Obama is walking George W. Bush’s path.”

Here in America no one will ever hear straight talk like this from the US presstitutes.

Orwellian double-speak is now the language of the United States government. Secretary of State john kerry condemned Assad for harming “peace talks” while the US arms its Syrian mercenaries.

Washington’s double-speak is now obvious to the world. Not only Assad, but also the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, and every US puppet state which includes all of NATO and Japan, are fully aware that Washington is again lying through its teeth. The Russians, Chinese, and Iranians are trying to avoid confrontation with Washington, as war with the modern nuclear weapons would destroy all life on planet earth. What is striking is that despite 24/7 brainwashing by the presstitutes, a large majority of the American population opposes obama’s war on Syria.

This is good news. It means more Americans are developing the ability to think independently of the lies Washington feeds to them.

What the neocon[s], the bush/obama regime, and the presstitute media have made clear is that Washington is going to push its agenda of world hegemony to the point of starting World War III, which, of course, means the end of life on earth.

Russia and China, either one of which can destroy the United States, have learned that the US government is a liar and cannot be trusted. The Libyan “no-fly” policy to which Russia and China agreed turned out to be a NATO air attack on the Libyan army so that the CIA-sponsored mercenaries could prevail.

Russia and China, having learned their lesson, are protesting Washington’s assault on Syria that Washington pretends is a “civil war.” If Syria falls, Russia and China know that Iran is next.

Iran is Russia’s underbelly, and for China Iran is 20% of its energy imports. Both Russian and Chinese governments know that after Iran falls, they are next. There is no other explanation for Washington surrounding Russia with missile bases and surrounding China with naval and air bases.

Both Russia and China are now preparing for the war that they see as inevitable. Washington’s crazed, demented drive for world hegemony is bringing unsuspecting Americans up against two countries with hydrogen bombs whose combined population is five times the US population. In such a conflict everyone dies.

Considering the utterly insane government ruling in Washington, if human life exists in 2020, it will be a miracle. All the worry about future Medicare and Social Security deficits is meaningless. There will be no one here to collect the benefits.

Pipelineistan geopolitics at work: Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Qatar.

(File photo)

by Pepe Escobar, source

Construction is nearing completion on a natural gas pipeline linking Iran and Pakistan, a project that portends a huge geopolitical shift. As regional powers strengthen ties in this key energy market, they’re looking to China, and away from the West.

Since the early 2000s, analysts and diplomats across Asia have been dreaming of a future Asian Energy Security Grid.

This – among other developments – is what it’s all about, the conclusion of the final stretch of the $7.5 billion, 1,100-mile natural gas Iran-Pakistan (IP) pipeline, starting from Iran’s giant South Pars field in the Persian Gulf, and expected to be online by the end of 2014.

Nobody lost money betting on Washington’s reaction; IP would put Islamabad in “violation of United Nations sanctions over [Iran’s] nuclear program.” Yet this has nothing to do with the UN, but with US sanctions made up by Congress and the Treasury Department.

Sanctions? What sanctions? Islamabad badly needs energy. China badly needs energy. And India will be extremely tempted to follow, especially when IP reaches Lahore, which is only 100 km from the Indian border. India, by the way, already imports Iranian oil and is not sanctioned for it.

All aboard the win-win train

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Zardari met at the Iranian port of Chabahar in early March, that was a long way after IP was first considered in 1994 – then as Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI), also known as the ‘peace pipeline.’  Subsequent pressure by both Bush administrations was so overwhelming that India abandoned the idea in 2009.

IP is what the Chinese call a win-win deal. The Iranian stretch is already finished. Aware of Islamabad’s immense cash flow problems, Tehran is loaning it $500 million, and Islamabad will come up with $1 billion to finish the Pakistani section. It’s enlightening to note that Tehran only agreed to the loan after Islamabad certified it won’t back out (unlike India) under Washington pressure.

IP, as a key umbilical (steel) cord, makes a mockery of the artificial – US-encouraged – Sunni-Shia divide. Tehran needs the windfall, and the enhanced influence in South Asia. Ahmadinejad even cracked that “with natural gas, you cannot make atomic bombs.”

Zardari, for his part, boosted his profile ahead of Pakistan’s elections on May 11. With IP pumping 750 million cubic feet of natural gas into the Pakistani economy everyday, power cuts will fade, and factories won’t close. Pakistan has no oil. It may have huge potential for solar and wind energy, but no investment capital and knowhow to develop them.

Politically, snubbing Washington is a certified hit all across Pakistan, especially after the territorial invasion linked to the 2011 targeted assassination of Bin Laden, plus Obama and the CIA’s non-stop drone wars in the tribal areas.

Moreover, Islamabad will need close cooperation with Tehran to assert a measure of control of Afghanistan after 2014. Otherwise an India-Iran alliance will be in the driver’s seat.

Washington’s suggestion of a Plan B amounted to vague promises to help building hydroelectric dams; and yet another push for that ultimate ‘Pipelineistan’ desert mirage – the which has existed only on paper since the Bill Clinton era.

The Foreign Office in Islamabad argued for Washington to at least try to show some understanding. As for the lively Pakistani press, it is having none of it.

The big winner is… China

IP is already a star protagonist of the New Silk Road(s) – the real thing, not a figment of Hillary Clinton’s imagination. And then there’s the ultra-juicy, strategic Gwadar question.

Islamabad decided not only to hand over operational control of the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar, in ultra-sensitive southwest Balochistan, to China; crucially, Islamabad and Beijing also signed a deal to build a $4 billion, 400,000 barrels-a-day oil refinery, the largest in Pakistan.

Gwadar, a deepwater port, was built by China, but until recently, the port’s administration was Singaporean.

The long-term Chinese master plan is a beauty. The next step after the oil refinery would be to lay out an oil pipeline from Gwadar to Xinjiang, parallel to the Karakoram highway, thus configuring Gwadar as a key Pipelineistan node distributing Persian Gulf oil and gas to Western China – and finally escaping Beijing’s Hormuz dilemma.

Gwadar, strategically located at the confluence of Southwest and South Asia, with Central Asia not that far, is bound to finally emerge as an oil and gas hub and petrochemical center – with Pakistan as a crucial energy corridor linking Iran with China. All that, of course, assuming that the CIA does not set Balochistan on fire.

The inevitable short-term result anyway is that Washington’s sanctions obsession is about to be put to rest at the bottom of the Arabian Sea, not far from Osama bin Laden’s corpse. And with IP probably becoming IPC – with the addition of China – India may even wake up, smell the gas, and try to revive the initial IPI idea.

The Syrian Pipelineistan angle

This graphic Iranian success in South Asia contrasts with its predicament in Southwest Asia.

The South Pars gas fields –  the largest in the world – are shared by Iran and Qatar. Tehran and Doha have developed an extremely tricky relationship, mixing cooperation and hardcore competition.

The key (unstated) reason for Qatar to be so obsessed by regime change in Syria is to kill the $10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which was agreed upon in July 2011. The same applies to Turkey, because this pipeline would bypass Ankara, which always bills itself as the key energy crossroads between East and West.

It’s crucial to remember that the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline is as anathema to Washington as IP. The difference is that Washington in this case can count on its allies Qatar and Turkey to sabotage the whole deal.

This means sabotaging not only Iran but also the ‘Four Seas’ strategy announced by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2009, according to which Damascus should become a Pipelineistan hub connected to the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The strategy spells out a Syria intimately connected with Iranian – and not Qatari – energy flows. Iran-Iraq-Syria is known in the region as the ‘friendship pipeline.’ Typically, Western corporate media derides it as an ‘Islamic’ pipeline. (So Saudi pipelines are what, Catholic?) What makes it even more ridiculous is that gas in this pipeline would flow to Syria and then Lebanon –  and from there to energy-starved European markets close by.

The Pipelineistan games get even more complicated when we add the messy Iraqi Kurdistan/Turkey energy love affair – detailed here by Erimtan Can – and the recent gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean involving territorial waters of Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria; some, or perhaps all of these actors could turn from energy importers to energy exporters.

Israel will have a clear option to send its gas via a pipeline to Turkey, and then export it to Europe; that goes a long way to explain the recent phone call schmoozing between Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan and Israel’s Netanyahu, brokered by Obama.

Terrestrial and maritime borders between Israel and Lebanon remain dependent on a hazy UN Blue Line, set up way back in 2000. Damascus – as well as Tehran –  supports Beirut, once again against Washington’s will. And Damascus also supports Baghdad’s strategy of diversifying its means of distribution, once again trying to escape the Strait of Hormuz. Thus, the importance of the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline.

No wonder Syria is a red line for Tehran. Now the whole of Pipelineistan will be watching how far Qatar is willing to go following Washington’s obsession.

China will keep supporting North Korea against US

by Yusuf Fernandez, source

On April 3, Chinese officials called for calm in Korea as Washington announced that it would deploy missiles and more troops to East Asia, the island of Guam, Australia and the West coast of the US territory amid a crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program.

Shortly before, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui expressed his country’s “serious concern” over the Korean stand-off in two meetings with the US and South Korean ambassadors. He also appealed to both sides to exercise restraint and avoid provocations which might lead to an unwanted conflict.

For its part, the US has been deploying nuclear-capable bombers, warships and other military systems. The Pentagon has sent two F-22 Stealth fighters to the Osan Air Base and a B-2 stealth bomber on a round-trip training mission over South Korea. It has also positioned two guided-missile destroyers in the waters near the Korean Peninsula.

According to USA Today, the American B-1 bomber pilots at the Dyess Air Force Base in Texas have changed their training programs to focus on flights towards East Asia, instead of missions to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that the number of antimissile interceptors in Alaska and California will increase to 44 – 14 more than the current number. Although he claimed that this move was a response to Pyongyang’s “irresponsible and reckless provocations”, the plan to boost these systems had been in consideration for months.

At the same time, Washington has stepped up its threats against Pyongyang. US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US “will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state.” US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who recently visited Beijing, asked Chinese leaders to use their economic and political influence over Pyongyang to persuade the North Korean government to renounce its nuclear and missile programs. Given that Pyongyang has no intention to destroy its small nuclear arsenal, the statements by both American top officials sounded certainly threatening.

The US is also selling more military systems to South Korea and Japan, two main rivals of China in the region having two right-wing and nationalist governments headed by Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye respectively. The US Defense Department approved on April 3 the sale of 60 fighters – F-15 or F-35 – to South Korea.

The US Administration wants to use the Korea crisis to show South Korea and Japan that they can rely on the US nuclear umbrella. In Seoul and Tokyo, some media and political circles have been calling on their governments to develop nuclear weapons. The US rejects this idea alleging that it would lead to wider proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, the real reason of this opposition is that Washington wants to perpetuate these countries’ military dependency on the US.

A strategy against China

However, Washington is not only deploying these forces as a result of the tensions in the Korean Peninsula but as a part of its strategy to maintain its predominance in East Asia. China is becoming the most powerful country in the world and is blocking, alongside with Russia, US global plans to achieve global hegemony. It is also holding massive US debt and blocking US actions seeking to justify wars against Syria and Iran. It has also been one of the founders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS group, which challenge US and Western hegemony and promote a multipolar world.

Washington has been enhancing its military ties and alliances throughout the region to contain and encircle China. In this sense, the target of the US deployments is not only North Korea but mainly China. In fact, USA Today already mentioned the training shift towards the Asia-Pacific region at Dyess in an article published in August 2012. The article added that the new strategy, which was announced in January 2012 by President Barack Obama, sought to “counter the rising power of China”.

Moreover, during a recent meeting of Obama with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Washington, the US president announced the sending of more US warships to the area of the Malacca Strait, a waterway that connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans and is critical to Chinese energy imports and trade.

Warmongering Senator John McCain of Arizona has also used the Korea crisis to attack China. “Chinese behavior has been very disappointing, whether it be on cyber security, whether it be on confrontation in the South China Sea, or whether it be their failure to rein in North Korea,” he said.

For his part, James Hardy, the Asia-Pacific editor for Jane’s Defense Weekly – also thinks that Washington “is using the existence of this crisis as an excuse to ramp up its missile defenses in Asia.” He pointed out that this move is related to Washington’s plans for hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region.

For its part, China is logically concerned by the deployment of these military systems near its borders. Chinese leaders have also seen the deployment of missile defense systems as a threat for their country. They have openly criticized the US for announcing a large increase in its anti-missile interceptors based in Alaska. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei warned that “strengthening anti-missile systems will intensify antagonism”.

Both China and Russia oppose the US deployment of these systems in Asia and Europe, which are not mainly aimed at Iran and North Korea, as Washington claims, but at undermining Chinese and Russian nuclear capacity. The ability to destroy missiles would allow the US to launch a “first nuclear strike” against China or Russia while avoiding a retaliation attack against its territory. As a response, Moscow and Beijing have already started to develop their military capacities, including the manufacture of new state-of-the-art nuclear missiles being capable of overcoming any anti-missile defense system.

No second thoughts on North Korea

Although there have been some claims in Western media that China could be having second thoughts on maintaining its support for North Korea, the truth is that the latter remains a key Chinese ally. Most Chinese think that the links with North Korea, despite all the difficulties and disagreements, remain useful for China. The Chinese leadership is probably conscious that Washington, in order to advance its own strategy, would like to see a rift between both traditional allies.

According to the Chinese publication Global Times, the economic importance of China-North Korea ties has grown in recent years. In terms of China’s total economic activity, it is still small, but in terms of Northeast China, it has gained importance.

On the other hand, “the strategic considerations that have kept China involved in the Korean Peninsula for hundreds of years have not suddenly disappeared”, wrote the Global Times. In this sense, North Korea is China’s sole ally in East Asia and a buffer state facing hostile powers as the US, Japan or South Korea. It is worth recalling that the Chinese army intervened in the Korean War in 1950 to prevent the occupation of North Korea by US and South Korean forces. Thus, it prevented the creation of a pro-US state directly on China’s border and a future US invasion of China itself.

Unlike Western countries, China has not blamed only North Korea for the current crisis but it has also criticized the US, Japan and South Korea’s hard-line positions and confrontational policies towards Pyongyang. Chinese media dismiss the idea that North Korea should eliminate its nuclear weapons, as the US demands. Actually, with examples such as Libya (denuclearized completely in accordance with US demands but subjected to US-backed regime change anyway), the North is not going to abandon its program because it is its best guarantee of survival.

Moreover, North Korea has already gone through a bitter experience over its negotiations with the US. In the 1990s and 2000s, Pyongyang sought to normalize its relations with Washington in exchange for putting an end to its nuclear program. In 2007, it shuttered the Yongbyon reactor, its sole one producing plutonium as a result of a nuclear disarmament agreement with the US. However, shortly after the deal collapsed and North Korea has just announced that the reactor will be restarted and used to produce more nuclear weapons from now on.

Therefore, China understands that it cannot abandon North Korea from a strategic perspective especially at a time when it has become the target of a policy of containment and strangulation by the US and its allies. Beijing can only go so far as to do “soft criticism” but not “hard criticism” of North Korean actions. Both countries have a common objective: opposing US-sponsored military alliances and deployments in the region, which are not just aimed at North Korea, but at China as well. Therefore, China’s policy of support for North Korea will continue.

Western media celebrates faux progress in Myanmar

(File photo)

by Tony Cartalucci, source

Even as mobs loyal to Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi hacked to death scores of Rohingya refugees in a racist, genocidal orgy of violence, the West has been of late, showcasing what it calls a  newly “open,” “independent,” and “free” Myanmar. The Los Angeles Times wrote a particularly absurd piece titled, “Myanmar pivots uneasily away from China,” where it states:

Myanmar’s recent pivot from China toward the West, and a more open government, came as a surprise to many outsiders. In rapid succession, President Thein Sein’s government suspended the $3.6-billion Chinese-built Myitsone hydroelectric project, held nominally free elections and released political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Times’ article is particularly deceitful on several fronts. First, such “progress” has not been underway for even a year, and considering the level of repression we have been told exists in Myanmar, nothing resembling a “free,” “open,” or “independent” nation could take shape in such short time even with the best intentions and most expedient reform policies in place. What the Times and its corporate-financier sponsors are really celebrating is the open doors their long ousted corporate-financier interests are now enjoying after decades of exclusion.

The Times also categorically fails  to mention who was really behind the derailment of the Myanmar-Chinese Myitsone hydroelectric project. While the Times, like many other outlets across the West’s media monopolies, attempts to portray it as the “will of the people prevailing,” it was in fact Aung San Suu Kyi and a myriad of Western-funded faux NGOs arrayed against the project specifically to disrupt and expel Chinese interests from the region.

One of the most prominent of these NGOs is the “Burma River Network” (BRN). While BRN’s website fails to mention where they get their funding or who they are affiliated with, California-based, Ford Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Tides Foundation, Open Society-funded “International Rivers (page 3)” who is also active in blocking the development of Myanmar’s rivers, gives them away by listing them as “partners” alongside the “Kachin Development Networking Group” (KDNG). Together these organizations interlock, cross-reference, and cross-post with other US-funded NGOs operating in Myanmar. These include the Irrawaddy, Era Journal, and the Democratic Voice of Burma, all admitted by the Burma Campaign UK (page 15) to be funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) along with “Mizzima” also fully funded by NED and Soros’ Open Society.

Of course, each weighed in on the proposed dam, and each portrayed it as having a negative social and environmental impact on Kachin State. US-based International Rivers hailed the halting of construction as a “huge success for civil society groups in Burma, China and internationally,” while NED-created Irrawaddy solemnly reported in 2008, “Irrawaddy Dam Construction Begins, Human Rights Abuses Begin,” where the article bemoans China’s investments in Myanmar before citing a single, anonymous “witness” who claims soldiers providing security for the construction site are disrupting people – as proof of “human rights abuses.” The Irrawaddy also makes reference to the “Kachin Environmental Organization,” a founding member of the above mentioned “Burma River Network,” who in turn has dedicated entire sections of their website to chastising all dam construction within Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi as well  played a leading role protesting and ultimately halting the construction of the Myitsone Dam. The Western-funded International Rivers reported, “Aung San Suu Kyi Joins the Campaign to Save the Irrawaddy,” while the NED-created Irrawaddy paper reported, “Suu Kyi Attends ‘Save the Irrawaddy’ Art Event.”

“Open Public Protests” (As Long as they are Against China)

The LA Times also celebrates what it calls “increasingly open, public protests.” However, these are only protests against Chinese interests in Myanmar. And while these “open public protests” take place with the full backing of the West and its media monopolies, with any attempt to crackdown on them decried as an assault on human rights, the West’s own proxies are slaughtering Rohingya refugees by the dozens with little or no serious action taking place.

Such double standards were acutely prominent when Aung San Suu Kyi spoke up against abuse alleged against her “Saffron monk” protesters during an anti-China rally at a mine, while she remained silent while these same protesters butchered Rohingya across Rakhine state.

In its article, “Suu Kyi demands apology for mine violence,” the Bangkok Post reported that:

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has demanded an apology for monks hurt in a violent police crackdown at a Chinese copper mine protest, after she held talks with the two sides.

The “monks,” of course, form the foundation of Suu Kyi’s so-called “pro-democracy” movement, as well as the leading front carrying out genocidal violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya population. Suu Kyi’s recent demand for an apology stands in stark contrast to her habitual silence over the plight of the Rohingya. The common denominator behind this consistent hypocrisy is the targeting of Chinese interests across the country.

In fact, Suu Kyi’s silent complicity with the genocide of the Rohingya is not mere double standards. The violence her supporters are creating as they exterminate the Rohingya serves to deliberately destabilize yet another epicenter of Chinese interests, its port and logistical hub in Sittwe, Rakine, and pipeline and road it is constructing across Myanmar and into Yunnan province, China.

The West has insidiously couched its hegemonic designs behind “freedom,” openness,” and “independence,” when under closer inspection, it is plainly obvious that it is implementing none of the above. That is of course unless by  “freedom” and “openness” one means for the West’s corporations to pillage and exploit Myanmar without nationalist boundaries obstructing them, and “independence” as meaning “independence” from its traditionally allies, to be replaced by a new servile dependency on Wall Street and London’s global financial order.

While it may be argued that China’s relationship with Myanmar falls short on many fronts, it is assured that Myanmar’s new relationship with the insidious, manipulative interests of Wall Street and London, the heirs of the imperialists who subjugated Myanmar so many years ago will, set new a new standard for exploitation, destitution, disparity, and subjugation – especially as the West attempts to array Myanmar along with its other Southeast Asian neighbors against China to fight its proxy war with Beijing well into the 21st century.

Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks” stalk streets with machetes – mass slaughtering refugees

by Tony Cartalucci, source

In Southeast Asia’s Myanmar, already 20 are reported dead in the latest genocidal violence carried out by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron monk” political movement. CNN’s, “Armed Buddhists, including monks, clash with Muslims in Myanmar,” reports that:

Buddhist monks and others armed with swords and machetes Friday stalked the streets of a city in central Myanmar, where sectarian violence that has left about 20 people dead has begun to spread to other areas, according to local officials.

The article also added that:

In the western state of Rakhine, tensions between the majority Buddhist community and the Rohingya, a stateless ethnic Muslim group, boiled over into clashes that killed scores of people and left tens of thousands of others living in makeshift camps last year.
Most of the victims were Rohingya.
“The ongoing intercommunal strife in Rakhine State is of grave concern,” the International Crisis Group said in a November report. “And there is the potential for similar violence elsewhere, as nationalism and ethno-nationalism rise and old prejudices resurface.”

CNN’s citing of the corporate-financier funded “International Crisis Group,” which has supported and engineered similar strife elsewhere around the world, including Egypt in 2011, is particularly foreshadowing. And as in previous spates of recent violence, Aung San Suu Kyi has once again allowed opportunities to call on her own supporters to stand down, slip by in silent complicity.

Rakhine state is the site of an expanding Chinese presence, including a port and the terminal of a trans Sino-Myanmar pipeline and logistical network leading to China’s Yunnan province. The violence unfolding in Rakhine over the past months appears to be the execution of the well-documented US “String of Pearls” containment strategy versus China, and mirrors similar violence being carried out by US proxies in Pakistan.

Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks”

Similar violence in September of last year revealed the name of one of the leading “monks.” AFP’s September 2012 article, “Monks stage anti-Rohingya march in Myanmar, refers to the leader of these mobs as “a monk named Wirathu.”

However, this isn’t merely “a monk named Wirathu,” but “Sayadaw” (venerable teacher) Wirathu who has led many of “democratic champion” Aung San Suu Kyi’s political street campaigns and is often referred to by the Western media as an “activist monk.”

In March 2012, Wirathu had led a rally calling for the release of so-called “political prisoners,” so designated by US State Department funded faux-NGOs. Wirathu himself was in prison, according to AFP, for inciting hatred against Muslims, until recently released as part of an amnesty, an amnestyUS State Department-funded (page 15, .pdf) Democratic Voice of Burma claims concerned only “political prisoners.”

Human Rights Watch itself, in its attempt to memorialize the struggle of “Buddhism and activism in Burma” (.pdf),  admits that Wirathu was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 25 years in prison along with other “monks” for their role in violent clashes between “Buddhists and Muslims” (page 67, .pdf). This would make Wirathu and his companions violent criminals, not “political prisoners.”

While Western news agencies have attempted to spin the recent violence as a new phenomenon implicating Aung San Suu Kyi’s political foot soldiers as genocidal bigots, in reality, the sectarian nature of her support base has been back page news for years. AFP’s recent but uncharacteristically honest portrayal of Wirathu, with an attempt to conceal his identity and role in Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron” political machine, illustrates the quandary now faced by Western propagandists as the violence flares up again, this time in front of a better informed public.

During 2007′s “Saffron Revolution,” these same so-called “monks” took to the streets in a series of bloody anti-government protests, in support of Aung San Suu Kyi and her Western-contrived political order. HRW would specifically enumerate support provided to Aung San Suu Kyi’s movement by these organizations, including the Young Monks Union (Association), now leading violence and calls for ethnic cleansing across Myanmar.

The UK Independent  in their article, “Burma’s monks call for Muslim community to be shunned,” mentions the Young Monks Association by name as involved in distributing flyers recently, demanding people not to associate with ethnic Rohingya, and attempting to block humanitarian aid from reaching Rohingya camps.

The Independent also notes calls for ethnic cleansing made by leaders of the 88 Generation Students group (BBC profile here) – who also played a pivotal role in the pro-Suu Kyi 2007 protests. “Ashin” Htawara, another “monk activist” who considers Aung San Suu Kyi,  his “special leader” and greeted her with flowers for her Oslo Noble Peace Prize address earlier this year, stated at an event in London that the Rohingya should be sent “back to their native land.”

The equivalent of Ku Klux Klan racists demanding that America’s black population be shipped back to Africa, the US State Department’s “pro-democratic” protesters in Myanmar have been revealed as habitual, violent bigots with genocidal tendencies. Their recent violence also casts doubts on Western narratives portraying the 2007 “Saffron Revolution’s” death toll as exclusively caused by government security operations.

While in late 2012 the Western media attempted to ignore the genocidal nature of Suu Kyi’s “Saffron Monks,” now it appears that more are catching on. The International Business Times published recently an article titled, “Burmese Bin Laden: Is Buddhist Monk Wirathu Behind Violence in Myanmar?” stating:

The shadow of controversial monk Wirathu, who has led numerous vocal campaigns against Muslims in Burma, looms large over the sectarian violence in Meikhtila.

Wirathu played an active role in stirring tensions in a Rangoon suburb in February, by spreading unfounded rumours that a local school was being developed into a mosque, according to the Democratic voice of Burma. An angry mob of about 300 Buddhists assaulted the school and other local businesses in Rangoon.

The monk, who describes himself as ‘the Burmese Bin Laden’ said that his militancy “is vital to counter aggressive expansion by Muslims”.

He was arrested in 2003 for distributing anti-Muslim leaflets and has often stirred controversy over his Islamophobic activities, which include a call for the Rhohingya and “kalar”, a pejorative term for Muslims of South Asian descent, to be expelled from Myanmar.

He has also been implicated in religious clashes in Mandalay, where a dozen people died, in several local reports.

The article also cites the Burma Campaign UK, whose director is attempting to rework the West’s narrative in Myanmar to protect their long-groomed proxy Suu Kyi, while disavowing the violence carried out by a movement they themselves have propped up, funded, and directed for many years.

Like their US-funded (and armed) counterparts in Syria, many fighting openly under the flag of sectarian extremism held aloft by international terrorist organization Al Qaeda, we see the absolute moral bankruptcy of Myanmar’s “pro-democracy” movement that has, up until now, been skillfully covered up by endless torrents of Western propaganda – Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize and recent “Chatham House Prize” all being part of the illusion. And just like in Syria, the West will continue supporting and intentionally fueling the violence while attempting to compartmentalize the crisis politically to maintain plausible deniability.

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Western Proxy

In “Myanmar (Burma) “Pro-Democracy” Movement a Creation of Wall Street & London,” it was documented that Suu Kyi and organizations supporting her, including local propaganda fronts like the New Era Journal, the Irrawaddy, and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) radio, have received millions of dollars a year from the Neo-Conservative chaired National Endowment for Democracy,convicted criminal and Wall Street speculator George Soros’ Open Society Institute, and the US State Department itself, citing Britain’s own “Burma Campaign UK (.pdf).”

And not only does the US State Department in tandem with Western corporate media provide Aung San Suu Kyi extensive political, financial, and rhetorical backing, they provide operational capabilities as well, allowing her opposition movement to achieve Western objectives throughout Myanmar. The latest achievement of this operational capability successfully blocked the development of Myanmar’s infrastructure by halting a joint China-Mynamar dam project that would have provided thousands of jobs, electricity, state-revenue, flood control, and enhanced river navigation for millions. Suu Kyi and her supporting network of NGOs, as well as armed militants in Myanmar’s northern provinces conducted a coordinated campaign exploiting both “environmental” and “human rights” concerns that in reality resulted in Myanmar’s continual economic and social stagnation.

The ultimate goal of course is to effect regime change not only in Myanmar, but to create a united Southeast Asian front against China. The unqualified “progress” the US claims is now being made in Myanmar moves forward in tandem with Myanmar’s opening to Western corporate-financier interests.

As reported in June, 2011′s “Collapsing China,” as far back as 1997 there was talk about developing an effective containment strategy coupled with the baited hook of luring China into its place amongst the “international order.” Just as in these 1997 talking-points where author and notorious Neo-Con policy maker Robert Kagan described the necessity of using America’s Asian “allies” as part of this containment strategy, Clinton goes through a list of regional relationships the US is trying to cultivate to maintain “American leadership” in Asia.

The US backing of puppet-regimes like that of  Thailand’s Thaksin Shinawatra, his sister Yingluck, or Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, installing them into power, and keeping them there is central to projecting power throughout Asia and keeping China subordinate, or as Kagan put it in his 1997 report, these proxy regimes will have China “play Gulliver to Southeast Asia’s Lilliputians, with the United States supplying the rope and stakes.” Two of these “Lilliputians” are Yingluck Shinawatra and Aung San Suu Kyi, the rope and stakes are the street mobs and disingenuous NGOs funded by the US State Department to support their consolidation of power.

It is essential to look past the empty rhetoric of “democracy,” “human rights,” and “progress” used to justify foreign-funding and meddling to install servile autocrats like Thailand’s Thaksin, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, or even Malaysia’s proxy dictator-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, and see the greater geopolitical game at play. It is also essential to expose the disingenuous organizations, institutions, and media personalities helping promote this global corporate-fascist agenda.

With Suu Kyi’s movement now being exposed as violent, sectarian-driven mobs rather than the “pro-democracy” front it was claimed to be by its sponsors in the West, it remains to be seen whether well-meaning people worldwide turn their backs on this carefully crafted hoax and the corporate-financier interests that created it – and instead seek genuine causes that abandon political strugglefor pragmatic solutions.

Twenty-first century Imperialism: Militarism, collaborators and popular resistance

by James Petras

Introduction: The configuration of 21st century imperialism combines patterns of exploitation from the past as well as new features which are essential to understanding the contemporary forms of plunder, pillage and mass impoverishment. In this paper we will highlight the relatively new forms of imperial exploitation, reflecting the rise and consolidation of an international ruling class, the centrality of military power, large scale long-term criminality as a key component of the process of capital accumulation, the centrality of domestic collaborator classes and political elites in sustaining the US – EU empire and the new forms of class and anti-imperialist struggles.


Imperialism is about political domination, economic exploitation, cultural penetration via military conquest, economic coercion, political destabilization, separatist movements and via domestic collaborators. Imperial aims, today as in the past, are about securing markets, seizing raw materials, exploiting cheap labor in order to enhance profits, accumulate capital and enlarge the scope and depth of political domination. Today the mechanisms by which global profits are enhanced have gone far beyond the exploitation of markets, resources and labor; they embrace entire nations, peoples and the public treasuries, not only of regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America but include the so-called ‘debtor countries of Europe’, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Iceland, among others.

Today the imperial powers of Europe and the United States are re-enacting the “scramble for the riches of Africa, Asia and Latin America” via direct colonial wars accompaying a rising tide of militarism abroad and police state rule at home. The problem of empire building is that, given popular anti-imperialist resistance abroad and economic crises at home, imperial policymakers require far-reaching expenditures and dependence on collaborator rulers and classes in the countries and regions targeted for imperial exploitation.

Any discussion of 21st century empire building – its dynamic growth and its vulnerability – requires a discussion and analysis of 1/the types and forms of ‘collaborator rulers and classes’; 2/the new forms of imperial pillage of entire societies and economies via debt and financial networks 3/ the central role of criminal operations in global imperial accumulation.

Imperial Pillage of Debtor Countries of Europe

The greatest transfer of wealth from the workers and employees to the imperial banks and state treasuries of the European Union, North America and Japan has taken place via the so-called “debt crises”. With the political ascendancy FIRE sectors (finance, insurance and real estate) of the capitalist class, the state and the public treasury became one of the key sources of capital accumulation, corporate profits and private wealth. Using the pretext of the crash of speculative investments, the FIRE ruling class extracted hundreds of billions of dollars directly from the public treasury and hundreds of millions of taxpayers. To secure the maximum wealth from the public treasury of the debtor states social expenditures were sharply reduced, salaries were slashed and millions of public employees were fired.

The state took over the private debts in order to restore the profits of the FIRE sector and in the process reduced the average wage and salaries of workers and employees across the entire economy. The centerpiece of this new structure of imperial pillage were the imperial states acting on behalf of the financial-real estate and insurance capital of the EU and North America.

The collaboration of the governing political class and their local financial elites was essential in facilitating the long term, large scale plunder of the local economy, taxpayers, employees, negotiating the terms and time frame for paying tribute to the imperial states: Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal because the site of the biggest suction pump for imperial enrichment in modern history: entire working populations are impoverished to transfer wealth for at least the next generation and beyond. Imperialism through onerous debt extraction payments and public pillage have created the perfect mechanism for imperial enrichment, deepening class and regional inequalities and the dispossession of homes, factories and land. Cheap labor, regressive taxes, open markets, a vast pool of unemployed, are results of imperial financial dictates complemented and enforced by the local collaborator political class (conservative, liberal and social democratic) and justified by a small army of media pundits, academic economists and trade union bureaucrats.

Criminality as the “Highest Stage” of Empire Building

Lenin, in his time spoke of finance monopoly capital as the highest stage of imperialism; since his time a new and more pernicious state has emerged: organized massive criminality has become the centerpiece for imperial exploitation and accumulation.

One has only to read the headlines of the major financial press to find trillion dollar swindles by the biggest and most prestigious investment banks, financial houses, credit agencies,risk rating corporations across Europe, North America and Asia. The famous French novelist Honore Balzac once wrote that “behind every great fortune there is a great crime”. In today’s financial world he would have to say that great criminal acts are perpetual and integral to the accumulation by great financial houses. Capital accumulation especially in the dominant international financial sector via criminality is evident in at least three major types of financial activity.

Trillion dollar swindles by all the major banks involve manipulation of the Libor inter-banking interest rates, deliberately puffing up and dumping stocks and bonds, fleecing pension funds and millions of investors of billions of dollars: packaging trillions in worthless mortgages and securities and selling them to small investors; conning Governments into taking over bad debts based on speculative bets gone south. The entire financial system for over two decades has engaged in systematic fraud, extortion of public wealth based on falsified credit and earnings reports – accumulating capital which is re-invested in new, bigger scams on a global level. Adam Smith’s “wealth of nations” would have to be rewritten to take account of the wealth of swindlers’ capitalism.

Complementary to fraud and swindles are the hundreds of billions of dollars that the leading banks accrue through laundering illicit income from billionaire drug cartels, sex slavers, body parts entrepeneurs, corrupt political leaders, tax evaders from five continents. Each year trillions are “packaged” by Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard educated MBAs employed by Barclays, Citibank, UBS and other financial leaders and dispatched to offshore accounts and ‘washed’ in upscale real estate in London, Manhattan , the Riviera, Dubai and other high end real estate sites.

Imperial capital’s profits and total wealth is enhanced by large scale illegal international capital flows from ‘developing countries’. Between 2001 to 2010 developing countries “lost” US 5.86 trillion dollars to illicit outflows. During the past decade China’s new billionaire capitalists, running the world’s biggest manufacturing sweatshops, shipped $2.74 trillion to Western imperial banks, Mexican plutocrats $476 billion, Nigerian corrupt elites pillaged oil wealth and poured $129 billion; India’s new and old rich rulers sent out $123 billion in illegal funds to the big banks of England and the Middle East. Obviously we need to update Marx and Lenin to take account of the systematic criminalization of capital as a central element in the process of capital reproduction. As capital becomes criminal, criminals become capitalists – on a world-historic scale.

Imperialism and the Central Role of ‘Domestic’ Collaborators

Contemporary Empire building is based on a complex network of overseas class, political and military collaborators who play an essential role in facilitating imperial entry and exploitation, defending its profits and privileges, and extracting wealth. Imperial armies, banks and multi-nationals operate within the framework of compliant clients, trained, selected, protected and rewarded by the imperial powers.

The US and France, together with other NATO powers have established military bases, training missions and special funds to create African mercenary armies to defeat anti-imperialist insurgents and to prop up puppet regimes which facilitate imperial plunder of the natural resources and vast agricultural lands. Imperial military commanders direct African mercenary forces from Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Libya and elsewhere. Without these mercenary collaborators imperialist politicians would face greater domestic opposition due to loss of their soldiers’ lives and higher military expenditures.

Following Euro-American and Gulf States military intervention in Libya – over 26,000 bombing missions – the imperial forces recruited a mercenary army to protect the petrol installations and prepare public firms for privatization. France with its eye on the gold, uranium and other mining resources invaded Mali took political control and established a collaborator regime. Following popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt which overthrew established imperial client dictatorships, Euro-US imperialism endeavored to establish a new collaborator coalition composed of pro-capitalist Islamists and the security apparatus of the dictatorships.

In Asia, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kurdistan, imperial rulers despite over a decade of colonial wars are desperately trying to create mercenary armies to sustain client regimes to facilitate the plunder of oil wealth (Iraq and Kurdistan) and sustain strategic military bases facing China (Afghanistan). In Afghanistan after 12 years of war without victory, the US is forced to retreat, hoping to stave off an ignominious defeat by recruiting a 350,000 Afghan mercenary soldiers – proven to be of a very dubious loyalty. Despite conquering Iraq and imposing its rule, Euro-American imperialism is left with an unstable regime with growing links to Iran.

In the scramble to plunder African resources, amidst inter-imperialist competition, new imperial-collaborator partnerships have emerged: a new class of corrupt billionaire African rulers has opened their countries to unrestrained pillage. While imperial multi-nationals extract mineral wealth, the African collaborators transfer hundreds of billions in illegal flows to the imperial financial centers. Africa leads the way in the growth of illicit financial flows – 24% yearly between 2001-2010.

Western imperialism, more than ever, depends on the cultivation, maintenance of collaborators regimes – politicians, military officials, business elite – to open their countries to plunder, to transfer wealth to the imperial financial centers and to repress any popular opposition.

The entire imperial enterprise would collapse in the face of domestic anti-imperialist opposition movements ousting collaborator elites.

In Europe, imperial financial institutions depend on local political collaborators to impose and enforce so-called ‘austerity programs’, to assume the private financial debts and to transfer tribute to the imperial centers for indefinite time frames. Collaborator regimes are essential to maintaining tributary relations to their imperial rulers.

Imperialism, Militarism and Zionism

If we compare US imperialism to the expansion of Chinese global power, we will observe profound differences in the modes of operation and on-going trajectory. China’s overseas expansion is fundamentally economic – large scale investment in raw materials, markets for its manufactured goods and large scale infrastructure projects to facilitate the trade flows in both directions. It provides financial incentives, low interest loans and bribes to collaborator elites to propel economic expansion.

US-EU imperialism has emphasized and relied on military intervention, operates over 700 military bases, has military advisors in dozens of countries, is engaged in drone wars against Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere. Military conquests have enlarged the US military presence but at enormous economic cost, leading to unsustainable fiscal and trade deficits and hundreds of billions of losses for the private sector. The Iraq and Libyan wars and economic sanctions against Iran have undermined billions in oil profits. As the US economic empire declines, Chinese global economic power rises: and their conflict and competition intensifies.

The key to the rise of a military driven empire and the eclipse of the economic component of empire building can be attributed to three inter-related factors: the extraordinary influence of the Zionist power configuration in harnessing US imperial power to Israel’s militarist regional goals; the ascendancy of financial capital and its subordination of manufacturing and resource capitalists; the increasing importance of the military-security apparatus in the imperial state as a result of the ‘global war on terror’ ideology.

The subordination of US imperial power to a small, economically insignificant and isolated state like Israel is unprecedented in world history. As is the fact that US citizens whose primary loyalty is to Israel, have secured strategic policy-making positions in the power structure of the imperial state; including the Executive (White House), Pentagon, State Department and the Congress. The 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish organizations exercise power via million dollar funding of legislators,parties and electoral campaigns; appointment of Zionist loyalists to strategic government posts dealing with the Middle East; private consultants to the government (housed in Zionist funded “think tanks”) and their influence in the major mass media outlets.

Although the population identifying as Jews has decreased (the only major denomination to decline by as much as 14% over the past two decades), representing less than 1% of the US religious population, the wealth, organization, tribal zeal and strategic institutional location of Israel Firsters has magnified their power several fold. As a result Zionist policymakers played a dominant role in driving the US to war with Iraq, formerly a powerful supporter of the Palestinians, and staunch opponent of Israeli colonial expansion into Palestine. Because of the political power of the Zionist power configuration, Israel extracts $3 billion a year in aid and a total of over a $100 billion over the past 30 years – in addition to having the US military engage in wars against Arab , muslim and secular regimes which materially support the Palestine national liberation struggle. Never in the history of modern imperialism has the foreign policy of a world power been subject to tributary demands and served the colonial aspirations of a second rate state. This historical anomaly is easily understood through the role of its powerful overseas networks which wield power in the Imperial State at the service of Jewish colonial settlers in Palestine.

In sum, US imperialism has sacrificed major economic interests including hundreds of billions in petroleum profits, by engaging in destructive wars against Iraq and Libya and imposing economic sanctions on Iran – a telling statement of the power of Israel in shaping the US imperial agenda. Militarism and Zionism have dictated the direction of US imperial policy, greatly weakening the domestic foundations of empire and hastening its economic decline.

Militarism and Criminality Abroad and the Police State at Home

In the past imperialism was seen as compatible with democracy at home: as long as imperial wars were short in duration , inexpensive to the Treasury , resulted in the successful extraction of wealth and was based on collaborator mercenary armies, the masses enjoyed the constitutional rights and the vicarious pleasures and illusions of being part of a superior race.

Contemporary US-EU imperial expansion has provided neither material nor symbolic gratifications: prolonged wars and occupations with no definitive victories, imperial armies surrounded by overwhelmingly hostile populations and facing daily attacks from fighters blending with the population has led to profound disenchantment among the public,and sadistic and self-destructive behavior(high ratesof suicides) among the imperial soldiers and unsustainable budget deficits.

Unreliable and corrupt collaborators and the bankruptcy of the anti-terrorist ideology has provoked wide-spread political opposition to overseas military wars. No longer convincing the public via propaganda, the US executive has instituted a raft of police state measures, suspending habeas corpus and culminating in executive decrees claiming Presidential prerogatives allowing for the extra judicial assassination of terror suspects including US citizens: Militarism and criminality abroad has spread and infected the domestic body politic.

Conclusion: Imperial Wars by Proxy and Domestic Decay

Imperialism today is profoundly linked to the domestic crises – transferring billions from domestic programs to imperial wars abroad. The bulk of wealth extracted from the pillage abroad is concentrated in the hands of the FIRE ruling class. The “aristocracy of labor”, which Lenin identified as a beneficiary of empire, has shrunken and is largely confined to the upper echelons of the trade union bureaucracy, especially those who sign off on austerity programs, tributary payments and bank bailouts. Imperialism has reshaped the class structured budgets and economies of the neo-colonies and tributary states. In the first instance it has proletarianized the middle class, polarized the classes, concentrating income in the hands of a parasitic criminal financial elite of 5% and reducing living standards for the 70% of workers, unemployed, semi-employed, public and private employees and self-employed.

Given the deepening global polarization between empire and masses and the tiny minority of beneficiaries, the entire imperial architecture depends on the central role of domestic collaborators to sustain imperial power, administer the transfer of wealth, ensure the extraction of wealth, provide a veneer of electoral legitimacy to the entire criminal enterprise and where necessary apply muscular repressive force.

Faced with prolonged downward mobility , a permanent ‘class war from above’ and, above all, the near universal recognition that welfarism and imperialism/capitalism are no longer compatible, the working classes have turned to direct action: repeated general strikes have replaced the ballot box for the millions of unemployed young workers,downwardly mobile employees, bankrupt small business people and those dispossessed of their homes in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Millions of peasants,and artisan workers have shed the plow , the hammer and anvil, and picked up the gun to confront imperial powers and their political collaborators and mercenary armies in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa; Arab revolts, detoured from revolution by Islamic collaborators in the first round, are rising once again: the second round promises more consequential changes.

Imperialism with its powerful bankers and advanced arms, its hundreds of military bases and monstrous expenditures, rests on fragile foundations. Who now believes that the “war on terror” has replaced the class war? The overwhelming majority of people now recognize that Wall Street, the City of London and Brussels are the real criminals, pillaging billions, laundering illegal financial flows and extracting tribute from the public treasury. Who believes today that capitalism and the welfare state are compatible? Who believes that Israel is anything but a brutal police state administrating the world’s biggest open-air concentration camp for Arabs, administered exclusively by and on behalf of its Chosen People?

Today the struggle against imperialism is first and foremost a class struggle against the local collaborators: domestic politicians and business people who extract and transfer the wealth of a people to the imperial centers. Undermining the collaborators world-wide is already a work in progress. Conservatives, liberals,and social democratic collaborators in Europe have lost credibility and legitimacy – the task of the mass movements is to organize for state power.

The imperial offensive in Africa and Asia rests on unreliable mercenary armies and corrupt rulers: as the imperial armies retreat, their collaborator rulers will collapse.And out of the ruins, new anti-imperialist states will eventually emerge.

In Latin America, Venezuela, by defeating imperial military coups and electoral collaborators, demonstrates that a transition to socialism is still a historical possibility. In China the socialist revolution lives on in the hundreds of thousands of strikes and protests against imperial capitalists and their millionaire political collaborators. The capitalist counter-revolution was only a detour in the transition to socialism.

Destroying a nation state: US-Saudi funded terrorists sowing chaos in Pakistan

by Guy Billout

Baluchistan, Target of Western geopolitical interests, Terror wave coincides with Gwadar Port handover to China. The Hidden Agenda is the Breakup of Pakistan

by Tony Cartalucci, source

Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan province, bordering both US-occupied Afghanistan as well as Iran, was the site of a grisly market bombing that has killed over 80 people.According to reports, the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for the attack. Billed as a “Sunni extremist group,” it instead fits the pattern of global terrorism sponsored by the US, Israel, and their Arab partners Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The terrorist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group was in fact created,according to the BBC, to counter Iran’s Islamic Revolution in the 1980′s, and is still active today. Considering the openly admitted US-Israeli-Saudi plot to use Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups across the Middle East to counter Iran’s influence, it begs the question whether these same interests are funding terrorism in Pakistan to not only counter Iranian-sympathetic Pakistani communities, but to undermine and destabilize Pakistan itself.

The US-Saudi Global Terror Network

While the United States is close allies with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it is well established that the chief financier of extremist militant groups for the past 3 decades, including Al Qaeda, are in fact Saudi Arabia and Qatar. While Qatari state-owned propaganda like Al Jazeera apply a veneer of progressive pro-democracy to its narratives, Qatar itself is involved in arming, funding, and even providing direct military support for sectarian extremists from northern Mali, to Libya, to Syria and beyond.

France 24′s report “Is Qatar fuelling the crisis in north Mali?” provides a useful vignette of Saudi-Qatari terror sponsorship, stating:

“The MNLA [secular Tuareg separatists], al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and MUJAO [movement for unity and Jihad in West Africa] have all received cash from Doha.”

A month later Sadou Diallo, the mayor of the north Malian city of Gao [which had fallen to the Islamists] told RTL radio: “The French government knows perfectly well who is supporting these terrorists. Qatar, for example, continues to send so-called aid and food every day to the airports of Gao and Timbuktu.”

The report also stated:

“Qatar has an established a network of institutions it funds in Mali, including madrassas, schools and charities that it has been funding from the 1980s,” he wrote, adding that Qatar would be expecting a return on this investment.

“Mali has huge oil and gas potential and it needs help developing its infrastructure,” he said. “Qatar is well placed to help, and could also, on the back of good relations with an Islamist-ruled north Mali, exploit rich gold and uranium deposits in the country.”

These institutions are present not only in Mali, but around the world, and provide a nearly inexhaustible supply of militants for both the Persian Gulf monarchies and their Western allies to use both as a perpetual casus belli to invade and occupy foreign nations such as Mali and Afghanistan, as well as a sizable, persistent mercenary force, as seen in Libya and Syria. Such institutions jointly run by Western intelligence agencies across Europe and in America, fuel domestic fear-mongering and the resulting security state that allows Western governments to more closely control their populations as they pursue reckless, unpopular policies at home and abroad.

Since Saudi-Qatari geopolitical interests are entwined with Anglo-American interests, both the “investment” and “return on this investment” are clearly part of a joint venture. France’s involvement in Mali has demonstrably failed to curb such extremists, has instead, predictably left the nation occupied by Western interests while driving terrorists further north into the real target, Algeria.

Additionally, it should be noted, that France in particular, played a leading role along side Qatar and Saudi Arabia in handing Libya over to these very same extremists. French politicians were in Benghazi shaking hands with militants they would be “fighting” in the near future in northern Mali.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is Part of US-Saudi Terror Network

In terms of Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, as well as the infamous Lashkar-e-Taiba that carried out the 2008 Mumbai, India attack killing over 160, both are affiliates of Al Qaeda, and both have been linked financially, directly to Saudi Arabia. In the Guardian’s article, “WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists,” the US State Department even acknowledges that Saudi Arabia is indeed funding terrorism in Pakistan:

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.

“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” she said.

Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has also been financially linked to the Persian Gulf monarchies. Stanford University’s “Mapping Militant Organizations: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,” states under “External Influences:”

LeJ has received money from several Persian Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates[25] These countries funded LeJ and other Sunni militant groups primarily to counter the rising influence of Iran’s revolutionary Shiism.

Astonishingly, despite these admission, the US works politically, financially, economically, and even militarily in tandem with these very same state-sponsors of rampant, global terrorism. In Libya and Syria, the US has even assisted in the funding and arming of Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups, and had conspired with Saudi Arabia since at least 2007 to overthrow both Syria and Iran with these terrorist groups. And while Saudi Arabia funds terrorism in Pakistan, the US is well documented to be funding political subversion in the very areas where the most heinous attacks are being carried out.

US Political Subversion in Baluchistan, Pakistan

The US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has been directly fundingand supporting the work of the “Balochistan Institute for Development” (BIFD) which claims to be“the leading resource on democracy, development and human rights in Balochistan, Pakistan.” In addition to organizing the annual NED-BFID “Workshop on Media, Democracy & Human Rights” BFID reports that USAID had provided funding for a “media-center” for the Baluchistan Assembly to “provide better facilities to reporters who cover the proceedings of the Balochistan Assembly.” We must assume BFID meant reporters “trained” at NED-BFID workshops.

There is also Voice of Balochistan whose every top-story is US-funded propaganda drawn from foundation-funded Reporters Without Borders, Soros-funded Human Rights Watch, and even a direct message from the US State Department itself. Like other US State Department funded propaganda outfits around the world – such as Thailand’s Prachatai – funding is generally obfuscated in order to maintain “credibility” even when the front’s constant torrent of obvious propaganda more than exposes them.

Perhaps the most absurd operations being run to undermine Pakistan through the “Free Baluchistan” movement are the US and London-based organizations. The “Baloch Society of North America” almost appears to be a parody at first, but nonetheless serves as a useful aggregate and bellwether regarding US meddling in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. The group’s founder, Dr. Wahid. Baloch, openly admits he has met with US politicians in regards to Baluchistan independence. This includes Neo-Con warmonger, PNAC signatory, corporate-lobbyist, and National Endowment for Democracy director Zalmay Khalilzad.

Dr. Wahid Baloch considers Baluchistan province “occupied” by both the Iranian and Pakistani governments – he and his movement’s humanitarian hand-wringing gives Washington the perfect pretext to create an armed conflagration against either Iran or Pakistan, or both, as planned in detail by various US policy think-tanks.

There is also the Baloch Students Organisation-Azad, or BSO. While it maintains a presence in Pakistan, it has coordinators based in London. London-based BSO members include “information secretaries” that propagate their message via social media, just as US and British-funded youth organizations did during the West’s operations against other targeted nations during the US-engineered “Arab Spring.”

And while the US does not openly admit to funding and arming terrorists in Pakistan yet, many across established Western policy think-tanks have called for it.

Selig Harrison of the Center for International Policy, has published two pieces regarding the armed “liberation” of Baluchistan.

Harrison’s February 2011 piece, “Free Baluchistan,” calls to “aid the 6 million Baluch insurgents fighting for independence from Pakistan in the face of growing ISI repression.” He continues by explaining the various merits of such meddling by stating:

“Pakistan has given China a base at Gwadar in the heart of Baluch territory. So an independent Baluchistan would serve U.S. strategic interests in addition to the immediate goal of countering Islamist forces.”

Harrison would follow up his frank call to carve up Pakistan by addressing the issue of Chinese-Pakistani relations in a March 2011 piece titled, “The Chinese Cozy Up to the Pakistanis.” He states:

“China’s expanding reach is a natural and acceptable accompaniment of its growing power—but only up to a point. ”

He continues:

“To counter what China is doing in Pakistan, the United States should play hardball by supporting the movement for an independent Baluchistan along the Arabian Sea and working with Baluch insurgents to oust the Chinese from their budding naval base at Gwadar. Beijing wants its inroads into Gilgit and Baltistan to be the first step on its way to an Arabian Sea outlet at Gwadar.”

While aspirations of freedom and independence are used to sell Western meddling in Pakistan, the geopolitical interests couched behind this rhetoric is openly admitted to. The prophetic words of Harrison should ring loud in one’s ears today. It is in fact this month, that Pakistan officially hands over the port in Gwadar to China, and Harrison’s armed militants are creating bloodshed and chaos, attempting to trigger a destructive sectarian war that will indeed threaten to “oust the Chinese from their budding naval base at Gwadar.”

Like in Syria, we have a documented conspiracy years in the making being carried out before our very eyes. The people of Pakistan must not fall into the trap laid by the West who seeks to engulf Baluchistan in sectarian bloodshed with the aid of Saudi and Qatari-laundered cash and weapons. For the rest of the world, we must continue to uncover the corporate-financier special interestsdriving these insidious plots, boycott and permanently replace them on a local level.

The US-Saudi terror racket has spilled blood from New York City, across Northern Africa, throughout the Middle East, and as far as Pakistan and beyond. If we do not undermine and ultimately excise these special interests, their plans and double games will only get bolder and the inevitability of their engineered chaos effecting us individually will only grow.

‘Obama against Chinese nuclear great wall’

by Yusuf Fernandez, source

On January 2, US President Barack Obama signed the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which ordered the Commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to submit a report by August 15 on the “underground tunnel network used by the People’s Republic of China with respect to the capability of the United States to use conventional and nuclear forces to neutralize such tunnels and what is stored within such tunnels.”

According to, the US military will have to consider both conventional and nuclear capabilities to “neutralize” China’s underground nuclear weapons storage facilities, called “the Chinese Nuclear Great Wall” by US media, according to the new law.

The issue began to appear in US media about one year ago, when a group of students of the Georgetown University, under the supervision of their professor, former Pentagon official Phillip Karber, completed a 363-page study mapping out China’s huge system of underground tunnels, which allegedly stretches more than 3,000 miles and have been dug by China’s Second Artillery Corps, responsible for nuclear weapons. According to the study, these tunnels are used to hide advanced missiles and nuclear warheads.

During the Cold War, Karber, 65, was a top strategist who reported directly to the Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He led an elite research team created by Henry Kissinger, who was then the national security adviser.

The study has not yet been published, but has already sparked a congressional hearing and been circulating among top US defense officials, including the Air Force vice chief of staff, the Washington Post reported. “Its estimates are being checked against what people think they know based on classified information,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed Defense Department strategist as saying.

Actually, the existence of the tunnel network has never been denied by China. It was first revealed on national television in 2006, apparently as a reaction to claims by some US experts, who said that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) did not have credible “second strike” capability; i.e. the ability to survive a nuclear attack by another country with sufficient resources to deliver an effective counterblow.

In December 2009, a report by Chinese state-run channel CCTV claimed that China had more than 3,000 miles of tunnels including deep underground facilities that could withstand several nuclear attacks. It even opened their underground facilities to journalists in order to publicize the achievements of the country in regards to reinforce the survival of its nuclear arsenal and, therefore, maintain the credibility of its deterrence.

Controversy on numbers

However, the controversy broke out due to the study’s claim that the researchers had “accidentally discovered” that China might have up to 3,000 nuclear warheads, which sounded alarm bells in Pentagon. This figure is many times larger than arms control experts in the US intelligence estimate. These analysts have been consistently claiming that China have, at the most, 240-300 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, a much smaller number than the 5,000 warheads that the United States has.

But the strongest criticism has come from experts who worry that the study could give arguments for fuelling another nuclear race in Asia and the world. The Post said that critics of the report have questioned the methodology of the Georgetown students, which included Google Earth, blogs, military journals and documents and even a fictionalized Chinese TV show. But the Post also said the students were able to obtain a 400-page manual produced by the Second Artillery Corps and only available to Chinese military personnel.

Gregory Kulacki, a China nuclear analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, publicly condemned the study at a recent lecture in Washington. In a posterior interview with the Washington Post, he called the 3,000 figure “ridiculous” and said that the study’s methods were “incompetent and lazy.” “The fact that they are building tunnels could actually reinforce the exact opposite point,” he told the Post. “With more tunnels and a better chance of survivability, they may think they do not need as many warheads to strike back.”

Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project of the Federation of American Scientists, also views the study as erroneous. Kristensen said it has increased the danger of a war between China and the US. “The two countries are dancing a dangerous dance that will increase military tension and could potentially lead to a small Cold War in the Pacific,” quoted him as saying.

An excuse to increase the US military presence in Asia

Despite all this criticism, some officials in the Pentagon have welcomed the study because it contributes to present China as a growing threat to the United States. The Second Artillery Corps’s work on the network of tunnels was mentioned, for the first time, in the Defense Department’s annual report, partly as a result of Karber’s study, according to some Pentagon officials.

And last year, some in the office of then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates were briefed on the study shortly before his visit to China. “I think it is fair to say that senior officials here have keyed upon the importance of this work,” said one Pentagon officer who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The influence of the Georgetown study can be seen in the new NDAA’s authorization to “use conventional and nuclear forces to neutralize tunnels and what is stored within such tunnels.” This provision has worried experts because given the location, length and depth of the tunnel network, thousands of nuclear weapons would have to be used to eliminate the threat. This doctrine would lead to the complete destruction of China and to a Chinese all-out nuclear counterattack against the US territory.

The study has also become a convenient argument supporting the new US strategy of refocusing military priorities towards the Asia-Pacific region. Most of the US Navy’s ballistic-missile submarine force is now operating in the Pacific waters, new nuclear bomber squadrons are deployed to Guam and more naval forces are being sent to the region. These are only examples of the aggressive stance taken by the US, particularly under the Obama administration, towards China. Washington’s strengthening of alliances and partnerships throughout the Asia region and its naval build-up in the Pacific Ocean, threaten to encircle China.

Speaking in Australia in November, Obama promised that there would be no cuts in defense spending in the Asia-Pacific region. The Department of Defense’s new strategic guidelines, “Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” published in January 2012, singled out China as the US’s main enemy.

The US is also planning advancements to its ground and sea-based missile defense systems in order to undermine Russia and China’s nuclear deterrence. This threat is taken very seriously by both countries. Major General Zhu Chenghu of China’s National Defense University was quoted by Reuters as saying to a panel in Beijing, “The People’s Liberation Army will have to modernize its nuclear arsenal.” He also accused the United States of “undermining the strategic stability.”

In order to overcome this threat, China will have to build more and more sophisticated and capable intercontinental missiles and submarine-launched missiles that can strengthen its existing ability to deliver nuclear warheads to the United States and to overwhelm its missile defense shield.

Larry Wortzel, a retired US Army colonel who now serves on the congressional United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, told the New York Times that China is developing the capability to put as many as 10 nuclear warheads on the intercontinental ballistic missile DF-41, outfitted with independently-targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). This ability will give China a much larger nuclear arsenal, he said. Wortzel also told the Times that China has tested in recent weeks submarine-launched missiles JL-2, which are able to outflank US missile detection systems.

In 2012, China was also the second country, after the US, to pass a defense budget of over 100 billion dollars. It reached the amount of 670 billion yuan (106,4 billion dollars), which means an 11,2% increase from 2011, although it is still a figure seven times lower than the US military budget. The increase of the spending will be dedicated to building hi-tech weapons matching those of the US and to developing the country’s naval and air forces. All this is a reflection of Beijing’s determination to oppose US attempts to threaten China and undercuts its influence throughout the Asian region and worldwide.

So far, China has increased its military spending within the context of avoiding any confrontation with the United States and its official policy remains that of its “peaceful rise.” There are circles in Beijing, however, who consider that China needs a “stronger action” in order to confront Washington’s hostile policies.

US promotes new anti-China strategy in Asia

by Yusuf Fernandez, source

Recent statements by the White House and the US Defense Department on the new Asia-pivot strategy have made it clear that the focus of the American future military efforts have switched to the Asia-Pacific region with a rising China as the new enemy.

In the spring of 2001, the Bush Administration carried out a strategic review of the US global military policy led by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The document concluded that the Asia-Pacific region should become the most important focus of US military deployments, with China now seen as the principal threat to American world hegemony and its number one enemy.

The document National Security Strategy 2002 stated that it was of most importance that “our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.” A 1999 report by then US Secretary of Defense, Willian Cohen, also warned “the possibility that a regional great power or global peer competitor may emerge” and called the US to do its best to prevent it.

However, after the September 11, 2001 attacks the US started two expensive and failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a global war against terrorism, which forced Washington to waste enormous economic and military resources. Thus, the clear trend of the last decade has been the economic and political decline of US.

Meanwhile, China initiated a huge economic expansion since the beginning of the century. This Chinese economic success led the economies of East Asia and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to become more and more integrated into the production chains centered in China. Between 2000 and 2010, Chinese trade with the ASEAN countries increased from 40 billion dollars to almost 300 billion. China has signed some free trade agreements with these countries and other states of the region. All this has made China become the first economic actor in Asia.

As a result, the US became economically weaker while China steadily grew during that period and is now on the way to become the first global economic power in some few years. US political and military elites in Washington now fear that the last decade of wars in the Middle East has allowed China to increase its influence in the Asia-Pacific region, which now constitutes the “center of gravity” of world economic activity, at the US’s expense.

Currently, the Obama Administration is returning to the point in which President George W. Bush was before the 9/11 attacks. In July 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared at an ASEAN gathering that the US was “back in South East Asia.” At another ASEAN summit the following year, she stated that the US had a “national interest” in the regional disputes in the South China Sea. The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded by claiming that such a remark was “actually an attack on China.”

In another article published in the Foreign Policy magazine, Clinton wrote that an economically weakened US could no longer have the upper hand in multiple fronts at the same time. Therefore, it had to choose its battlefields and carefully deploy its limited resources in order to take advantage of them. She added that Asia occupied a “strategic centrality” in the world power, which would force the US to concentrate its assets there.

In 2011, some US media outlets published details of the Pentagon document, “Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defence,” which meant a decisive reorientation of the US military power globally towards the Asia-Pacific region.

On November 17, 2011, Obama made a speech to the Australian parliament in which he announced a new diplomatic, economic and military strategy to reassert US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region and roll back Chinese influence. In a clear message to Beijing, Obama declared that “the United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay.”

Even as the US government has made huge cuts in social services and military spending, Obama stated that the US military presence in Asia was “a top priority.”

“Reductions in US defense spending will not – I repeat, will not – come at the expense of the Asia Pacific.”

Obama spoke of “a broader shift” in the focus of US policy away from the Middle East to Asia.

Encircling China

Washington is also threatening Beijing with a set of US bases and alliances along Beijing’s borders in order to encircle China on every front. The US currently has key military bases in South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Guam and Australia.

During a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Obama announced plans for the deployment of a force of US Marines in northern Australia, the more extensive US use of this country’s ports and airports and more joint training and maneuvers between both armies.

At the same time, Obama called the US alliance with Japan “a pillar of the regional security.” He also praised India’s plans to become a most important role “as an Asian power,” a clear invitation to counterbalance China.

He also referred to an increasing US military presence, including ship visits, in the Philippines, and backed Manila in its dispute with Beijing over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. On November 18, both countries signed the Manila Declaration in which they envisage stronger military relations.

The US government has also announced plans to sell 24 F-16 warplanes to Indonesia and to establish closer military ties with Thailand. At the same time, it reiterated that the United States would be always committed to South Korea’s security. More recently, Obama visited Myanmar in order to woo this country, an old Chinese ally, away from Beijing’s influence.

The US is even rebuilding military and political ties with its former enemy, Vietnam, a country that has maintained another dispute with China in the South China Sea. The US and Vietnam held joint naval exercises in July 2011.

The new strategy has also led to the creation of the US-dominated regional free-trade area – the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP), of which China, despite being Asia’s biggest economy, is excluded. The US Administration has also tried to get rid of the Asian leaders who do not support its hard-line stance toward China.

In June 2010, Washington had a role in the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who had rejected the continuation of the US military presence at the base on Okinawa. He was replaced by a clear pro-US figure.

Energy control

The US presence in the Persian Gulf and the Asian waters and valuable points, especially the Malacca Strait, also seeks to control the energy transfers China depends on. As a result of China’s booming economy and the improvement of the particular economies of millions of Chinese, the country’s oil consumption is rapidly increasing. China used about 7.8 million barrels per day in 2008 but this figure, according to recent projections by the US Department of Energy, will reach 13.6 million barrels in 2020 and 16.9 million in 2035. In this last year, China will have to import 11.6 million barrels. It makes the country vulnerable to US strategy to control countries producing oil or gas.

China is trying to counteract this strategy by importing as much oil as it can through land pipelines from Kazakhstan and Russia. There are also plans to import Iranian oil by extending the pipeline that will link Iran and Pakistan to the Chinese-Pakistani border. However, the great majority of its oil will continue coming by tankers from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America over shipping lanes controlled by the US Navy. This is a reason explaining US strategy to put the South China Sea under effective US control.

There is no doubt that US escalation of military tensions with China is dangerous and provocative and will lead to tensions in the whole Asian continent and rivalries over the control of strategic sea lanes. This American strategy risks escalating these tensions in the future into an open confrontation between the United States and China that would threaten to push the world into a devastating conflict.

Japan v. China: A real conflict?

by CONN HALLINAN, source

Could Japan and China—the number two and three largest economies in the world—really get into a punch-out over five tiny islands covering less than four square miles? According to the International Crisis Group, maybe: “All the trends are in the wrong direction, and prospects of resolution are diminishing.”

That the two Asian superpowers could actually come to blows seems unthinkable, but a devil’s brew of suspicion, anger, ham-handed diplomacy, and a growing US military presence has escalated a minor dispute into something that could turn very ugly if someone makes a misstep.

And so far, the choreography in the region has ranged from clumsy to provocative.

A few examples:

On the anniversary of Japan’s brutal 1931 attack on China, Tokyo purchased a handful of islands in the East China Sea—known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China—whose ownership is in dispute. In response, China accused Japan of “stealing” the islands, and anti-Japanese demonstrations and riots broke out in 80 Chinese cities. Several major Japanese companies, including Toyota, Honda, and Panasonic were forced to shut down for several days.

Amidst this tension, Washington announced that it will deploy a second anti-ballistic missile system (ABM) in Japan, supposedly to guard against North Korea, but which the Chinese charge is aimed at neutralizing their modest nuclear missile force.

“The joint missile defense system objectively encourages Japan to keep an aggressive position on the Diaoyu Islands dispute,” charges Shi Yinhong, a professor of international studies at Beijing’s Renmin University. Tao Wenzhao, deputy director of United States studies at China’s Academy of Social Science, adds, “It is highly inappropriate and counter-constructive for the U.S. to make such a move at this highly sensitive time.”

Timing wise, the island purchase and the ABM announcement seem almost consciously provocative, but Tokyo and Washington are hardly the only capitols in the Pacific guilty of inept diplomacy.

Two years ago China declared the South China Sea a “core interest area,” which means Beijing essentially claimed sovereignty over 80 percent of one of the most heavily trafficked waterways in the world. China also insisted that several island groups—the Spratleys, Parcels, and Macclesfield Bank—were Chinese territory, and it backed this assertion up with ships and even a small garrison.

Some in China have gone as far as to claim sovereignty over the Ryukyu chain, which includes Okinawa, an island hosting several major US bases, with a population of 1.4 million Japanese citizens. Japan took control of the island group in 1879, but several hundred years earlier the independent Ryukyu Kingdom had paid tribute to China.

On top of all this, the Obama administration last year announced an Asian “pivot” and beefed up its military footprint in the region, including plans to send 2,500 Marines to Australia—the first time US troops have been deployed on the sub-continent since the end of World War II.

Not to be outdone, China launched its first aircraft carrier, introduced a new stealth fighter, and is apparently upgrading its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Dongfeng-41. According to the Pentagon, China has 55 to 65 ICBMs and 240 nuclear warheads. In comparison, the US has over 1,000 ICBMs, 1737 strategic warheads, and over 5,000 nuclear weapons.

Feeling a little nervous? You should be. The tensions are real even though it is hard to imagine countries in the area letting things get out of hand. But when you combine overheated rhetoric with gunboat face offs, a clumsy move, a misinterpreted act, or plain stupidity could spark something that might be difficult to contain.

So who is to blame for all this sturm und drang?

Depending on your perspective, the crisis is either triggered by the US and Japan trying to smother a rising rival in a resurgent China, or by Beijing’s aggressiveness in the region creating dangerous tensions. Actually, it is a little of both and a lot more complex than it appears. First, China, Japan and the US are not the only actors in this drama. Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Russia and South Korea all have pieces on the board.

South Korea, for instance, is locked in a fight with Japan over the Dokdo Islands (called Takeshima by the Japanese). Taiwan and China have a grievance with the Philippines over the Seaborough Shoal, and Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims on a host of islands, shoals, reefs and tiny coral atolls. Japan and Russia are at loggerheads over the Kuril Island chain that Moscow occupied in 1945.

Nor are issues in the South China Sea the same as those in the East China Sea. In the south the disputes are mainly economic: fishing rights, and energy reserves. In the east, imperial history and the echo of World War II plays an important role. For example, the Senkaku/Diaoyu and Dokdo/Takeshima islands were seized by Japan in its early imperial days, and neither China nor Korea have forgotten or forgiven Japanese occupation of their countries.

Countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei view the Chinese as heavy-handed bullies who throw their weight around and routinely arrest their nationals for fishing in disputed waters. They would like Beijing to negotiate boundary issues with them as a group through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), while China insists on talking with them individually. This standoff has allowed the U.S. to reassert itself in the region by presenting itself as a “fair broker” (and thus enraging China).

China, on the other hand, sees the US as surrounding it with potentially hostile allies, shifting yet more aircraft carrier battle groups into the region, and drawing up plans to spend $352 billion modernizing its nuclear weapons arsenal. What China doesn’t want is an arms race with the US, which already out-spends the Chinese five-to-one on defense. But the new US ABM system in Japan will force China to respond.

While China’s economy is in better shape than that of the US, its growth rate has plunged further than Beijing had hoped, and increased military spending will come at the expense of economic stimulation, energy efficiency, and infrastructure improvement. The Chinese smell a whiff of the Cold War, when the Americans hobbled the Soviet economy by forcing it to divert many of its resources to defense in order to keep up with the US.

So if the Chinese are feeling a little paranoid these days, one can hardly blame them.

There are a number of ways the current atmosphere of tension in the Pacific can be defused.

First, China should back down from its insistence that it will only negotiate boundary and access issues country by country. It is perfectly valid for smaller countries to collectivize their negotiating strategies, and ASEAN would be the obvious vehicle through which to work. That would have the added benefit of strengthening a regional organization, which can then be used to deal with other issues, from trade to terrorism.

Second, while the US is a Pacific power, it is not a western Pacific power. Putting warships in Beijing’s home waters is asking for trouble, and feeds a strong nationalist current in China. There should be a gradual de-militarization of the region, and a reduction in the number of US bases. And the US has to recognize that ABMs are trouble. They have soured the atmosphere for military reductions in Europe, and they will fuel a military buildup in Asia. The ABM Treaty produced sensible policy until the Bush Administration unilaterally withdrew from it. It should be revived and adhered to.

Third, provocations like China’s bluster over Okinawa, Japan’s purchase of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, Washington sending 2,500 Marines to Australia, and general chest-beating via gunboats needs to stop.

On one level it is unthinkable that Japan and China would actually come to blows, a conflict that could draw in the US though its mutual support treaty with Tokyo. China is Japan’s number one trading partner, and Japan is China’s number two partner (the US is Beijing’s first). Polls indicate that the average Chinese and the average American have favorable views of one another. A study by the Committee of 100, a Chinese-American group, found that 55 percent of Americans and 59 percent of Chinese had favorable views of one another.

It is a different matter with Japan and China, which makes the tension between the two countries much more dangerous. Some 70 percent of Japanese had an “unfavorable” view of Beijing, and those figures are matched in China. The islands crisis has brought out a powerful current of nationalism in both countries. It was the rightwing mayor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishimara, who kicked off the crisis by trying to buy the islands. Rightwing politicians from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have since seized the dispute to bludgeon the current government, and the LDP is likely to win the next election.

Passions are running high, distorted by bitter memories of the past, and fed by fear and political opportunism. “There is a real possibility that if diplomacy fails, there will be a war,” says Kazuhiko Toyo, a former career Japanese diplomat.

One hopes this is smoke, not fire.