Counterpunch, By William D. Hartung, April 3-5
With the end of the Obama presidency just around the corner, discussions of his administration’s foreign policy legacy are already well under way. But one central element of that policy has received little attention: the Obama administration’s dramatic acceleration of U.S. weapons exports.
The numbers are astonishing. In President Obama’s first five years in office, new agreements under the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program—the largest channel for U.S. arms exports—totaled over $169 billion. After adjusting for inflation, the volume of major deals concluded by the Obama administration in its first five years exceeds the amount approved by the Bush administration in its full eight years in office by nearly $30 billion. That also means that the Obama administration has approved more arms sales than any U.S. administration since World War II.
Marshall Islands, still plagued by U.S. nuclear bomb testing, says 9 nuclear nations must abide by non-proliferation, disarm.
Common Dreams, April 24
In an unprecedented legal action, the small Pacific nation and former U.S. nuclear testing site of the Marshall Islands has filed lawsuits “on behalf of all humanity” at the International Court of Justice against the U.S. and 8 other nations for their “flagrant denial of human justice” by failing to work towards nuclear disarmament.
The nations cited by the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) are the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China — all parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as nuclear-armed Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea — which are not parties to the NPT but which the challenge says are “bound by customary international law.”
In addition to the suits filed Thursday in The Hague against the 9 nations, an additional suit specifically calling out the United States was filed in U.S. Federal District Court.
A campaign site launched with the suits to garner support for the action explains that the RMI “knows firsthand the horror and consequences of living in a world with nuclear weapons.”
Hot fresh links!. This is a site everyone should have bookmarked!
(AFP) – Panama called Tuesday for UN investigators to inspect a shipment of suspected weapons parts aboard a North Korean-flagged ship as it tried to enter the Panama Canal last week.
INFILTRATION. SABOTAGE. MAYHEM. FOR YEARS, FOUR-STAR GENERAL KEITH ALEXANDER HAS BEEN BUILDING A SECRET ARMY CAPABLE OF LAUNCHING DEVASTATING CYBERATTACKS. NOW IT’S READY TO UNLEASH HELL.
Wired Threat Level, June 12
Inside Fort Meade, Maryland, a top-secret city bustles. Tens of thousands of people move through more than 50 buildings—the city has its own post office, fire department, and police force. But as if designed by Kafka, it sits among a forest of trees, surrounded by electrified fences and heavily armed guards, protected by antitank barriers, monitored by sensitive motion detectors, and watched by rotating cameras. To block any telltale electromagnetic signals from escaping, the inner walls of the buildings are wrapped in protective copper shielding and the one-way windows are embedded with a fine copper mesh.
This is the undisputed domain of General Keith Alexander, a man few even in Washington would likely recognize. Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy. A four-star Army general, his authority extends across three domains: He is director of the world’s largest intelligence service, the National Security Agency; chief of the Central Security Service; and commander of the US Cyber Command. As such, he has his own secret military, presiding over the Navy’s 10th Fleet, the 24th Air Force, and the Second Army.
(The Guardian) – Plan to spend $10bn on updating nuclear bombs goes against 2010 pledge not to deploy new weapons, say critics
Barack Obama has been accused of reneging on his disarmament pledges after it emerged the administration was planning to spend billions on upgrading nuclear bombs stored in Europe to make the weapons more reliable and accurate.
Under the plan, nearly 200 B61 gravity bombs stockpiled in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Turkey would be given new tail fins that would turn them into guided weapons that could be delivered by stealth F35 fighter-bombers.
“This will be a significant upgrade of the US nuclear capability in Europe,” said Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of Nuclear Scientists. “It flies directly in the face of the pledges Obama made in 2010 that he would not deploy new weapons.”
In its Nuclear Posture Review in 2010, the US undertook to do reduce the role and numbers of its nuclear weapons, in part by not developing new nuclear warheads, and pledging it would not “support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities”.
According to newly published budget figures, the US will spend about $10bn (£6.5bn) on a life extension programme for the B61 bombs, and another $1bn on adding controllable tail fins. Kristensen said the tail kit would give it a new mission and new capabilities, once some of the upgraded weapons were deployed as scheduled in Europe in 2019 or 2020. more
The word truth often signifies an expression of profound belief. Opponent of higher taxes insist that low tax rates promote new jobs and an expanding gross domestic product. Proponents of higher taxes insist that historical data shows just the opposite. Who knows the truth of these assertions or if there is any true answer? The foundations for these assertions of truth are often strongly held fixed beliefs based on a sense of justice or personal interest with empirical data and analysis playing a secondary role. However, some issues are amenable to truth.
Is the United States providing arms to the Syrian rebels?
The question is important for two reasons. The armed conflict between Syrian rebels and the Syrian government is dismembering the nation and killing tens of thousands of its citizens. The current estimate is 70,000 dead with a total of 150,000 anticipated should the conflict continue another six months. In addition, any military interference in Syria was strongly opposed by the public in a poll of March 2012 in which 64% of respondents said No to the question – “Does the U.S. have a responsibility to do something about fighting in Syria?” Morality and the responsiveness of leaders to their employers, the people, are at issue.
There is a true answer to the question about the U.S. provision of arms thanks to a March 24 investigative journalism article in the New York Times by C. J. Chivers and Eric Schmitt: Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board recently announced its decision to keep the Doomsday Clock at five minutes to midnight. Today, the Bulletin reprinted the Board’s open letter to President Obama explaining why and calling upon him to take concrete steps to address the three big problems that kept the clock unchanged: nuclear weapons, unsecured nuclear material and – of course – climate change.
Dear President Obama,
2012 was a year in which the problems of the world pressed forward, but too many of its citizens stood back. In the US elections the focus was “the economy, stupid,” with barely a word about the severe long-term trends that threaten the population’s well-being to a far greater extent: climate change, the continuing menace of nuclear oblivion, and the vulnerabilities of the world’s energy sources. 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States, marked by devastating drought and brutal storms. These extreme events are exactly what climate models predict for an atmosphere overburdened with greenhouse gases. 2012 was a year of unrealized opportunity to reduce nuclear stockpiles, to lower the immediacy of destruction from missiles on alert, and to control the spread of fissile materials and keep nuclear terrorism at bay. 2012 was a year in which — one year after the partial meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station — the Japanese nation continued to be at the earliest stages of what will be a costly and long recovery.
The stasis of 2012 convinces us, the Science and Security Board, to keep the hands of the Doomsday Clock in place. Mr. President, we see 2013 as a year for vision and engagement. We know that decisive action can make the world safer. Humanity awaits the US leadership that can secure a future free of nuclear weapons. US action can induce the world’s nations to negotiate international agreements to avert the worst calamities of climate change. We turn to you, Mr. President, to lead us toward a safer world and to help us turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock.
It remains five minutes to midnight.
Read the whole thing here.
OK, now that things have settled down a bit, I’m ready to take on what I think will be the key issue over the next few weeks: filling Obama’s Cabinet.
Shashank Joshi, of the Royal United Services Institute, examines Pakistan’s new strategy of developing tactical nuclear weapons and a doctrine of battlefield use for them, in an attempt to close the growing conventional warfare capability gap with India. Worth a read, scary in its future implications.