Thursday 22nd of March 2018

43 years ago... the mad men of yameryka...


Change Hanoi to Pyongyang ... The song is still sung vociferously in the corridors of the Pentagon... Picture by Jack Davis, words by Frank Jacob, pubished in Mad Magazine 1975 issue 34080

the big ugly fat fuckers are still flying high...

EARLIER THIS MONTH (April 2016) , a contingent of US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers landed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. They're there to support Operation Inherent Resolve, the push to eliminate the Islamic State throughout Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. The B-52s will drop GPS-guided smart-bombs and conventional 500-pound bombs on targets, and play other types of communication and monitoring roles.

The 160-foot-long bombers—built by Boeing and nicknamed BUFFs, for “Big Ugly Fat Fuckers”—have storied histories, including setting an around-the-world nonstop flight record, patrolling the Soviet Union’s border with nuclear warheads 24-hours-a-day for eight years straight, and making a memorable appearance in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. For 60 years, the bomber’s been a constant presence in America’s arsenal, seeing action in Vietnam, the Serbian conflict, the Gulf War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of the 744 B-52s Boeing built between 1952 and 1962, 76 remain in active service. They share bombing duties with the supersonic B-1 and the stealthy B-2, both far younger models, but aren’t going anywhere. The US Air Force Global Strike Command, which maintains the bombers at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and Minot AFB in North Dakota (with a few at Edwards Air Force Base in California) expects them to keep flying through the 2040s. That’s not a hard ceiling, though, and continued combat success and budgetary factors could keep the B-52 in action until it turns 100 years old.


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the new old shit...

Echoing previous administrations, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the “new” strategy in Syria will involve a long-term American military presence and regime change in order to secure US interests.

Speaking at Stanford University's Hoover Institution Wednesday, Tillerson sought to distance President Donald Trump’s policy in Syria from former President Barack Obama’s approach.

“We cannot make the same mistakes that were made in 2011, when a premature departure from Iraq allowed Al-Qaeda in Iraq to survive and eventually morph into ISIS,” Tillerson said.

Instead, he said, the US now intends to maintain an open-ended military presence in Syria, and that the American mission in the country will be “conditions based.”

Tillerson said the US will remain in Syria until several“key end states” are met. These include, the defeat of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and stamping out the Iranian influence in the country.

However, his talking points are eerily similar to those made by the previous administrations.

Islamic State

Tillerson made clear that US troops will remain in Syria until the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and Al-Qaeda are defeated.

“Let us be clear, the United States will maintain a military presence in Syria, focused on ensuring ISIS cannot reemerge,” Tillerson said, adding that the terrorist organizations are “still a grave threat.”

He said the US would stay in the country until “ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Syria suffer an enduring defeat; do not present a threat to the homeland; and do not resurface in a new form; and that Syria never again serves as a platform or safe haven for terrorists to organize, recruit, finance, train and carry out attacks on American citizens at home or abroad or against our allies.”

Secretary Tillerson: #Syria remains a source of severe strategic threats, and a major challenge for our diplomacy. But the United States will continue to remain engaged as a means to protect our own national security interest.

— Department of State (@StateDept) January 18, 2018

Ungoverned spaces, especially in conflict zones, are breeding grounds for ISIS and other terrorist organizations. The fight against ISIS is not over, he said.  

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empires will be empires...

running a dishonest empire...

By Neil ClarkImperialism – which today is usually referred to by the euphemism ‘liberal interventionism’ – went on Trial at the Waterside Theatre in Derry, Northern Ireland this week.

Five passionate and well-informed speakers, who included the former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford, detailed the carnage and chaos that has been unleashed around the globe by the aggressive, warmongering policies of the US and its closest allies.

The event could have been called ‘War on Trial.’ It might have been called ‘Regime Change on Trial.’ Or ‘Economic Sanctions on Trial.’ But it was – thanks to organizer Gregory Sharkey – called ‘Imperialism on Trial’ and, as the first speaker, the writer and broadcaster John Wight declared, that in itself was highly significant. 

For the truth is the ‘I’ word is the elephant in the room in contemporary discourse. We’re not supposed to acknowledge its existence. Imperialism, according to the dominant Establishment narrative, ended when the European empires gave their colonies independence in the 1950s and 60s. In fact, the ‘old’ imperialism was only replaced by a new variant which is even more destructive, and certainly more dishonest. At least the British Empire admitted it was an empire.

Today’s US-led neoliberal empire, which has Britain as its junior partner, does no such thing. Entire countries have been destroyed, with millions killed, and it’s been done under a ‘progressive’ banner trumpeting concern for ‘human rights’ and ‘enhancing freedoms.’

In an electrifying address, Wight lambasted the pro-imperial propaganda to which we are relentlessly subjected to in the West. How absurd is it, he asked, that NATO troops are on Russia’s borders, while Russian troops have been fighting in Syria the same ISIS/Al-Qaeda terrorist groups who have been killing British citizens back home? Citing Marx, Wight reminded the audience of how the ideas of the ruling class become the dominant ideas, and the demonization of Russia is a classic example of this. Ordinary Britons don’t regard Putin as a ‘threat’ as they go about their daily business, but they do – rightly – regard the terrorist groups that Russia has been fighting as a danger to them. But the ruling class hate Russia because it has thwarted its imperial ambitions.

Wight said that opponents of imperialism should never go on the back foot when confronted by supporters of criminal wars of aggression, such as the Iraq War – which has led to the deaths of around 1 million people and the rise of ISIS. He mentioned that these people hate the fact that there are now alternative media channels such as RT which challenge the dominant neocon/neoliberal narrative.

“Alternative media and those who go on it are under attack because they have the temerity to ask the most subversive question in the English language which is: Why? Why did we go to war in Iraq? Why are there sanctions on Cuba? Why are we going after Iran but are close friends with the Saudis? This question is so powerful. We are attacked because we ask the question, why? I am reminded of the African proverb that until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. Now with the alternative media, the lions have their historians. We can put the case for the Syrian people; we can put the case for the Venezuelan people; we can put the case why Russia should not be our enemy.”

Speaking next, Peter Ford, the former British Ambassador to Syria and Bahrain, drew on his firsthand experience of many years as a diplomat and UN official based in the Middle East, to explain the current geopolitical situation.

“People who are not regular readers of the Morning Star might be forgiven for thinking that imperialism ended when the colonies became free. Nothing could be further from the truth. We now have a new more insidious but more powerful form of imperialism – one which hides behinds words in order to extend its hegemony. Expressions like ‘protecting our allies,’ ‘countering weapons of mass destruction’ or ‘defending human rights’ – and this one applies as much to the left as the right.”

“We on the left have to be particularly alert to ‘liberal interventionism’: this is actually the new version of ‘carrying the white man’s burden,” Ford continued. “In each case we are intervening in less developed parts of the world which are generally not able to strike back. Consider the appalling war in Yemen – one of the poorest and weakest countries in the world. It used to be a British colony but independence has not made it free. When the Yemenis dared to get rid of their pro-Saudi government, the Saudis, with British and American backing, started bombing and blockading Yemen. Conditions under siege and bombardment have led to a terrible epidemic of cholera.”

Any genuine humanitarians would be greatly concerned with the dire situation in Yemen, but guess what? The ‘liberal interventionists’ who egged on ‘humanitarian interventions’ elsewhere have been silent.

Looking at the global picture, Ford described how the US Empire operates.

“The Americans have nearly 800 bases around the world, spread over about 70 countries and territories. You show me a country with an American base and I’ll show you a de facto colony or vassal state. It’s almost mediaeval: You have to pay homage to the sovereign – America. That is our (the British) condition today. We are equivalent to a vassal state,” he said.

In my address, I stressed how important it was to see the US-led attacks, interventions and destabilization campaigns against sovereign states of the past 20 years as part of the same war, one waged for total global domination. Independent, resource-rich countries usually with socialist/socialistic governments and economies which weren’t controlled by global corporations, have been targeted, one-by-one. In each case, the leaders of the countries concerned were relentlessly demonized. They were called dictators, even though in the case of Hugo Chavez and Slobodan Milosevic they had won numerous democratic elections and operated in countries where opposition parties freely operated.

The ‘target states’ were subject to draconian sanctions which created economic hardship and a ‘pressure cooker’ environment, which usually resulted in street protests against the government, egged on by the US. The governments were then told ‘the world is watching you’ and ordered not to respond, even when violence was used by protestors. The same strategy was deployed in Yugoslavia in 2000, Ukraine in 2014, and Venezuela in 2017. In Afghanistan and Iraq, we had a full-scale invasion (based on the ‘fake news’ that Saddam possessed WMDs) and in Libya (and Yugoslavia) a NATO bombing campaign.

There has been endless war for the past twenty years and it won’t end until we understand what’s been going on and demand a new foreign policy in place of the current racist one which holds that the US and its closest allies have the right to say who should or shouldn’t be in charge of other countries, but denies the same rights to the ‘inferior’ countries targeted. 

Intrepid journalist Eva Bartlett, who had travelled all the way from Canada, came next and began by describing her experiences in the DPRK, another country that’s under threat of attack from the US.

“Many people believe that what is happening in North Korea is about a madman with a bad haircut and an itchy finger on the nuclear button. But no, it’s not about Trump,” she said to laughter from the hall. 

Bartlett told how we’re encouraged to see North Korea as a threat but no context is usually given, nor is there mention of the utter devastation caused by US bombing back in the 1950s. Down the decades, there have been regular threats from leading US figures to obliterate North Korea.

“What the North Koreans are doing is defending themselves,” Bartlett said.

Having seen what has happened to Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and other countries targeted by the US in recent years, who can possibly blame them?

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